Saturday, October 27, 2007


I'm about to call the Met to donate my parterre ticket to this afternoon's Madama Butterfly at the Met - its last performance this season. I just have too much work. :(

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Wallflowers at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square

1) Jakob Dylan is an extremely good-looking man. This should be mentioned more often.

2) I hate drunk people.

SET LIST (with my binoculars I could read it pretty clearly):

Shy of the Moon
6th Avenue
Hand Me Down
Mourning Train
Up from Under
God Says Nothing Back
God Don't Make Lonely Girls
Closer to You
Nearly Beloved
Everybody out of the Water
Baby Bird
3 Marlenas
Everything I Need


'Nuff Said: Golijov's Ainadamar in Boston

Following today's matinee performance at the Cutler Majestic, there was an "Artist Talkback" moderated by Richard Dyer. To close, he asked of the four-person panel, "Can art save the world?" Dawn Upshaw eagerly gestured for the microphone and simply answered, "Yes." And that was that.

Today's performance reminded me of the first time I saw Brokeback Mountain. I had read Annie Proulx's story, which moved me immensely, and I thought the film was beautiful, but it also left me cold. I didn't shed a tear. But on the walk home, I realized, as I approached my building, that a massive pool of emotion had been quietly accumulating during the film.

The metaphor serves Ainadamar well, not in the least because the title means "Fountain of Tears." Tears were shed during the performance, but the work ends quietly, almost soothingly. No crashing fortissimo chords. It just fades, folding into memory.

And then there's the walk home.

I have more thoughts to share - I have to head to Somerville Theater for The Wallflowers...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tori Amos in Boston

So, after Kiri's beautifully sung and extraordinarily satisfying recital on Sunday, I thought I'd be pretty bored at Tori Amos's concert - especially since I found her Paris stop on this tour to be a snooze (she was extremely subdued that night), ditto recent TV appearances (Leno a couple weeks ago). The new album has a silly concept (four characters that are not Tori, and their names come from Greek goddesses and it's all very kitschy).

On this tour, Tori starts "Act I" as one of the four characters that are not Tori, and changes into her Tori costume for the rest of the show. It's sorta interesting in a performative sense (think Judith Butler), but, eh. I went to the fourth show on the tour, in Paris, and there Tori debuted Clyde, the fourth character she presented. Tonight in Boston, it was Clyde again.

I wasn't disappointed to see the same character, for two reasons. One, Clyde's makeup and wig suit Tori extremely well - she looked lovely. Two, Clyde has some nice songs, and "Bouncing Off of Clouds" is a killer opening number.

The voice was a bit weak in this song, her current single, but it was out in full force for the rest of the show, starting with "Little Earthquakes." Tori uses both chest and head extensively - she spends much time in her gravel-toned lower register, and for special moments she soars into a shimmering soprano realm, often above the staff. In "Little Earthquakes," she dazzled with her coloratura runs near the end. "Sugar" (!), "Northern Lad", and the closing number, "Hey Jupiter" (Dakota version), all featured extended passages that allowed her to shine vocally. It's a classical sound, very unusual in rock/alternative music, and Tori exploits it extremely well.

Her phrasing is never careless. She means the text. The gorgeous lyrical interlude of "Space Dog" tugged at the heart strings, and "Merman" made me cry. There was another song I did not recognize - perhaps an improv (she does an improv at each of the shows on this tour, and she did one tonight on border-crossing, but this isn't the song I'm referring to) - that was the most moving thing I had ever heard her song. Something about a well and having an ocean to swim in. I thought it might be dedicated to her niece, who was in the audience. She said her niece called her a "MILF" and keeps her "fucking hot" (Tori touched her ass and made a sizzling noise).

I haven't even mentioned her keyboard-playing. She had a Boesendorfer grand piano (as always) as well as an organ and a keyboard. Many times she straddled her piano bench, her left hand working the piano, her right hand on the organ or keyboard. At the opening of "Bells for Her," her mic had come undone at the back, and she kept playing like this, at times trying to fix it with one hand, until she gave a cut throat signal to a stage hand who came to fix her mic pack as she continued playing. Once her mic has been fixed, she began singing as if nothing had happened. Can we say ambidextrous?

There was much impressive playing, but "Cornflake Girl" contains some of the most awe-inspiring and virtuosic passagework you'll ever see at a rock concert.

Tonight was special. It was good to see Tori perform another great show - the Paris show this year was the only disappointing one I have seen, and that may be because just two years earlier I'd heard her solo (where she's best - the current tour is with her band) at four amazingly moving concerts.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Kiri Te Kanawa in Boston

Kiri is an impossible 63 and her voice is as beautiful as ever, her technique just as flawless, her cool elegance just as cool and elegant.

I feel incredibly lucky to have heard the perfect "Morgen!".

Click here for the revised program. I was delighted to hear the two Puccini arias, and Kiri's vamping during the Ginastera number (and her sensuous, idomatic command of Poulenc) suggested that she would make an awesome cabaret singer.

Kiri will always be remembered for her crisp diction, ineffably beautiful voice, and gorgeous stage presence.

When a fly threatened to upstage her [brb]

Friday, October 12, 2007

Drew Faust's Inauguration at Harvard

So, we have a new president. At the inauguration, the use of African and Indian music was very welcome, and Simon Estes gave a beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace." I enjoyed watching Toni Morrison on the stage. People don't talk about this enough, but her preternaturally striking and unforgettable face, like Beckett's, is as interesting as her prodigious oeuvre. I missed her reading yesterday, but of course I was there at the Louvre about a year ago, where she first read from the novel she's currently writing (still "very, very, very much in progress").

Faust delivered a well-written [brb]

Monday, October 08, 2007

Boston Symphony Orchestra's All-Ravel Programs (Oct. 4th and 6th); Lucia at the Met; Honk! at Harvard Square

I had a fun weekend.

Excellent Interview with Kiri Te Kanawa

You've got to hear Dame Kiri tell the story of her Met debut, make reference to the personal sacrifices she's made for her career, and wistfully state, "Fate doesn't give you that chance," when asked if she would do anything differently.

She's the picture of cool elegance, and she was my first diva.