Thursday, December 01, 2016

Live arts binge

My Japanese friend H just passed through for a whirlwind week of culture, most of which I joined her for. So on Friday we walked across Central Park to the Met Breuer to see the remarkable Mastry and then to Met for Max Beckmann in New York and chamber music at the balcony bar. After the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket on Saturday morning we went to a matinee of the New York Philharmonic, which started with Dvorak's American quartet and concluded with his 8th symphony, Iván Fischer conducting. On Sunday we saw a somewhat overdone production of Goldoni's commedia del'arte "Servant of Two Masters" at Theater for a New Audience, after peeking in to the Brooklyn Flea. Monday I took a day off (well, schoolwork) but Tuesday we were at it again, on Broadway for "The Color Purple" with the spectacular Cynthia Erivo, and on H's last night we went to the Metropolitan Opera (only tickets for which we paid full price) for Richard Eyre's rather clunky production of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut," where tenor Marcello Alvarez swept us away. Whew! So busy were we that we didn't know where the week had gone. Over already?!

H returned to Japan this morning (the arts center she runs needs her) but my performing arts binge had one more item: the premiere of the Met's production of my pal Kaija Saariaho's opera "L'Amour de Loin." I hadn't planned to go tonight - I had a ticket for next week - but my friend T's friend's wife wasn't able to go so I joined him. The gratuitous busyness of tuneful "Manon Lescaut" still in my memory from last night, Saariaho's minimalist story of love and death with a shimmering LED set by Robert LePage was in some ways the complete antithesis... but continuities there were, too. Saariaho's opera isn't yet two decades old but it has some of the satisfactions of romantic opera (love and death? of course! just like Puccini!). T, whose very first opera this was, thought the story (a Troubadour becomes enamored of a distant beauty and is distressed when she hears about the love poems he's written about her, the purity of his love based on their never having met, etc., etc.) seemed like something people write in high school, but the music, as for those other medieval high school lovers Tristan and Isolde, does sublime things...

 Time for me to take a breather, though!

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