ILYA KALER AND ALON GOLDSTEIN launch Distinguished Artists season in Santa Cruz. MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY THEATER opens Mamma Mia in Ben Lomond. BOBBY McFERRIN sells out the house at Rio Theatre. REGGAE VOCAL RECITAL at CSU Monterey Bay. SAXOPHONIST/COMPOSER STEVE LEHMAN listed under both Classical and Jazz for good reason. VERDI’S FALSTAFF at Vets Hall. For links to these and dozens of other live performance events click on our CALENDAR
CELEBRATED Monterey Peninsula opera and concert soprano won a competition sponsored by KDFC. Click HERE
BALTIMORE DESERVES A GREAT ORCHESTRA
THEY HAD ONE, they had great conductors—currently Marin Alsop (photo above)—but a troglodyte board of directors has sabotaged it at every turn. Click HERE
WHO INVENTS THE WORDS
GEORGE CARLIN spoofed the courtroom request “tell us in your own words.”
IT SEEMS EVERYBODY WANTS THEIR OWN WORDS. Someone in Estonia called Johannes Aavik made up so many of them that today’s Estonian went round the island. The Norwegians decided to chuck Danish. Click HERE
DOES TECHNOLOGY SPEED OR IMPEDE?
IT AIN’T NECESSARILY GRAMMATIC. Click HERE
SAM L JACKSON AND PHIL S HOFFMAN BEGIN CAREERS
LAW AND ORDER, first season (1991), episode “The Violence of Summer.”
NEW ORLEANS MUSICAL ARCHIVE REDISCOVERED
PRICELESS piece of history survives Katrina, in Southern California. Click HERE
ANNOYING JINGLES INVADING YOUR SPACE?
DOES YOUR CLOTHES WASHER play an inane tune to alert you when it’s done? Click HERE
HIP-HOP HISTORY ORCHESTRATED BY JIMEK
THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH
IN 2014 a new Bridge CD of vocal works by Louis Karchin, “To the Sun and Stars,” arrived in the mail. It was a revelation, a collection of boldly declamatory settings of verses from ancient Greece to the contemporary Russian-Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932-2017) for solo voices, chorus and vividly colorful orchestra. Karchin’s opera Jane Eyre, completed in 2014, proves to be more complicated. For it, librettist Diane Osen distilled Charlotte Brontë’s shocking—for its time—novel. The opera begins with a bedroom fire that the recently engaged governess Jane Eyre discovers in time to save her master, Edward Rochester, and ends two hours and ten minutes later with Jane’s return from self-exile to reconcile with Rochester after he has suffered grievous injuries in the fire and collapse of his Thornfield manor house. Very few operas based on great novels have survived transplantation to the stage. (One exception is Bernard Herrmann’s cinematic masterpiece based on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, which sadly has had bad luck in its very few stagings but is documented in a superb recording from 1966.) In his Jane Eyre Karchin seems to struggle with Osen’s libretto, whose dialog is frankly stilted and too wedded to a rhyme scheme to allow a natural flow of the dialog between the characters, notwithstanding the manner of the novel’s 19th century British formalities. This sets up a dissonance–a competition–between the libretto and Karchin’s colorfully opulent orchestral score, itself often dissonant as echoed by the conflicting emotions of the principal characters. While there are moments of gushing expression—sooner and later Eyre and Rochester know perfectly that they are in love—but Karchin builds up some heroic gestures that feel misplaced and his few attempts at brief duets between the lovers cancel each other out, like multiple conversations at a cocktail party. The final scene, lasting about six minutes, when Jane returns as she must to Rochester, describes the near-blind master playing the piano, though oddly Karchin chooses not to use a piano but to put the ‘piano music’ on the orchestra. Why? And then, as Rochester realizes that his beloved Jane has come back to him the orchestra suddenly sounds like Richard Strauss, like the finale of Der Rosenkavalier. As every reader knows—as film directors know—Jane Eyre is one of the great tragic love stories of 19th century British literature that–unlike Wuthering Heights–resolves in favor of the lovers. I hope Karchin and Osen conduct a major overhaul of their opera. Recorded in 2017, Jennifer Zetlan as Jane and Ryan MacPherson as Rochester, the rest of the cast and Karchin himself conducting the Orchestra of the League of Composers, deliver as intense a performance as anyone could ask for. SM
WHEN A RAPE ACCUSATION ENTERED THE LEGAL CANON
POWERFUL ROMAN POLITICIAN Gnaeus Plancius was accused of violent sexual assault against a child actress in 54 BC. Click HERE
KURT WEILL masterpiece sung by Frank Sinatra, orchestrated and conducted by Gordon Jenkins. From September of My Years.
FOR PETER PAN ON HER 70TH BIRTHDAY at the Western Stage. Click HERE
SONDHEIM’S COMPANY opens in Santa Cruz. MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL takes over Monterey Fairgrounds. GOSPEL MUSIC HIGHLIGHT in Monterey.
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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor