The Met premiere of Donizetti’s opera Maria Stuarda was on PBS. Joyce DiDonato sang Maria in a stupendous gripping, virtuoso performance. South African soprano Elza van den Heever sang Elizabeth. Matthew Pollenzani was an able Leicester. Joyce DiDonato rose to great heights in her performance, under Maurizio Benini’s conducting. The Chorus sang beautifully and performed with discipline in David McVicar’s moving and noble production.
The Met revived their gripping monumental production of LADY MACBETH OF MTVENSK by Shostakovich. Fortunately we saw it with discounted tickets by TDF and seats in the Orchestra.
PBS encored Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva as Mimì and Tenor Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo who were phenomenal.
Gaetano Donizetti’s late ironic comic moving opera DON PASQUALE (1843) was heard on WQXR radio in a encore program well worth hearing as well. While this observation may be overdue, when The Met stopped broadcasting on WOR radio it lost a huge chunk of popular awareness in the public. Too bad.
At Ramapo College I produced a Classical Music Series featured Emmanuel Ax, ; Ursulla Oppens; Fred Sherry and Joyce Mathis who were all on the roster of Young Concert Artists in the York Room and served tea to Mr. Ax in my dorm apt.
At the NYPhilharmonic I met Pierre Boulez after his RUGS Concert Series when he autographed my recordings of Bartok’s MIRACULOUS MANDARIN and Stravinsky’s PETROUCHKA.
At La Scala I watched Krystoff Penderecki fighting with the La Scala orchestra over his opera PARADISE LOST. Half the production was left at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Chorus sang Milton’s text phonetically in English. It was a mess in Milan.
Subsequently, I began a multi-year correspondence with Italian Composer Sylvano Bussotti. We met at the Guggenheim Museum when his music was heard there. The City of Florence gave him a major Festival when he turned 80 a few years ago. Unfortunately, much of his work has never been heard here, much to my regret.
For Kurt Weill, I produced HAAPY END at Snug Harbor. Earlier I worked on the ill-fated Broadway premiere from Brooklyn Academy of Music with Meryl Streep and Bob Gunton. It ran almost 3 hours. This was the failed successor to THREEPENNY OPERA. Set in 1920’s Chicago with gangland warfare and the Salvation Army. Surabaya Johnny is a highlight but Brecht and Weill wrote about a place they had never been and the show had no emotional moorings in faraway Java, Bali or Chicago in Berlin.
Earlier I worked on a MOTHER COURAGE with Olympia Dukakis that used the original Paul Dessau score in in Montclair. Dessau wrote a beautiful score almost never heard these days unfortunately.
We did gripping songs by Hanns Eisler in MIXED VOICE and HAPPY END in upstate New York and Snug Harbor. Music by Louis Morreau Gottschalk, and Stephen Foster as prologue to HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY. This 1877 play by John Maguire received an Award from The Irish Institute and is in the permanent collection of Theatre on Film (TOF) in the NYPublic Library at Lincoln Center. Now we want to transfer our VHS tape to DVD in 2023.