Category Archives: Opera

Jihae, the coolest Eileen Fisher model ever, will sing for you tonight

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Jihae and her “Fire Burning Rain” cast at (Le) Poisson Rouge. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

We have no idea what exactly what Jihae was trying to do when she made a musical with playwright John Patrick Shanley out of her Fire Burning Rain album a couple of years back.

When we saw it at (Le) Poisson Rouge in 2010, we were thoroughly entertained by its A Midsummer Night’s Dream-like characters and just as thoroughly puzzled by its inscrutable plot.

But it certainly was ambitious. That’s a word that seems to apply to just about everything Jihae (birth name Jihae Kim) does.

Jihae in an Eileen Fisher ad.

Jihae in an Eileen Fisher ad.

You may know her better as the lanky, dark-haired model for Eileen Fisher’s clothing. She’s been featured in Fisher ads for years, and is the most recognizable non-supermodel we can think of.

Tonight she’s back to music. She has an album coming out in the spring, featuring collaborations with her wide circle of friends, including the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart. But who knows what she’ll be performing at the Mercury Lounge for an early show tonight. She’s made three albums and one EP in her career, so she’s got plenty of material to draw from.

This could well be one of most unusual shows you’ve ever seen at the Mercury.

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Jihae at (Le) Poisson Rouge in 2010. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Or it could turn out to be a classic girl-with-guitar gig.

If the rehearsal pictures are any indication, she will have a string section on stage for at least part of the show.

While we wouldn’t count on Stewart making this show, you never know who might show up — whether someone from the fashion world or from her wide circle of musical and theatrical friends.

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“Rehearsal for next Tues show at Mercury Lounge (Credit: jihaemusic on Instagram)

It’s an early show, with doors at 6:30 and the music scheduled for 7:30, with the Doorbells as her opening act. Tickets are just $12. Snap them up online or at the door. You’re in for a real adventure.

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Tito Muñoz named music director of Ensemble LPR

Tito Muñoz

New York native takes baton for (le) poisson rouge nightclub’s resident orchestra as it prepares to reveal its first full season of concerts

(Le) Poisson Rouge

(Le) Poisson Rouge today announced the appointment of conductor Tito Muñoz to lead its bespoke house orchestra, Ensemble LPR.

LPR is one of New York City’s leading music venues, featuring everything from rock and folk to classical. But from its inception, LPR has been a champion of modern classical music, or so-called New Music.

Muñoz takes the baton just as the ensemble is preparing its final concert of  2012 as it accompanies British composer-performer Max Richter in the U.S. debut of his “Vivaldi Recomposed: The Four Seasons,” with violin soloist Daniel Hope.

Two performance of “Vivaldi Recomposed” are scheduled at LPR next month. Click here for more details and tickets.

(Both Richter performances will also stream live on LPR’s streaming channel.)

“Ensemble LPR is a special voice in the music world; an ensemble capable of performing anything, breaking barriers and genres,” Muñoz said in a statement released this morning. “I am excited to bring my passion for versatility and artistic excellence to the group, and look forward to all of our future musical adventures.” Continue reading

Donate to help New Amsterdam Records recover from Sandy’s devastation and you’ll be helping the cause of New Music, too

Nonprofit New Music powerhouse is really on the ropes in the wake of the storm

A photo of some of the losses is posted on New Amsterdam’s blog.

Please donate now to help New Amsterdam, if you can

Superstorm Sandy wasn’t kind to anyone in the New York metro area. But our friends at New Amsterdam Records, which became the virtual center of the New Music universe here in recent years, has really taken it on the chin.

Their Brooklyn headquarters at 98A Van Dkye St. in Red Hook — where they’ve been for just six month or so — has been devastated by the storm. The nonprofit New Amsterdam (they’ve had 501 (c)(3) status for a year) lost all its financial records. And the storm wiped out 70% of their CDs, which New Amsterdam held and distributed for the artists, who actually owned them.

Yes, this all really, really sucks. But New Amsterdam ‘s co-founders, Judd Greenstein, William Brittelle and Sarah Kirkland Snider didn’t get this far by being wussies. They’re a plucky bunch and they’re already looking toward brighter days.

Here’s where we come in: Let’s help them get to those brighter days faster. If you care about New Music, especially the artists that New Amsterdam has brought to attention in New York and the world with its CDs and its amazing Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall, kick in some cash. Help them out.

Click on their Hurricane Recovery page to make a tax-deductible donation.

And don’t forget to buy New Amsterdam products. Go to a record store, if you remember what that is. Or go online and buy from any of the wonderful online sites that carry NewAm CDs and downloads. Given the tremendous loss of product at HQ, it’s unlikely NewAm will be shipping anything anytime soon. But if you want to see what’s in the NewAm catalog, click here.

Much of the money goes directly to the artists, but New Amsterdam benefits from ever sale as well.

Once you’ve done your bit, follow New Amsterdam’s recovery on Facebook and Twitter, and check out photos on its Flickr stream.

And if you’re nearby, offer your time, too. Judd, Bill and Sarah are going to need all the help they can get.

After the storm comes the calm: Thomas Ades’ The Tempest at The Met

It’s wonderful to see a truly grand opera – with more than 50 people onstage at once – that feels intimate at the same time.

That’s exactly what Thomas Ades has done with his opera The Tempest, seen in its U.S. premiere tonight at The Metropolitan Opera.

Robert Lepage’s production was masterful and fully equal to the score. It used an intriguing conceit of an opera within an opera. I’m not sure what it was supposed to mean, but it proved visually interesting.

The approach set Act I upstage, looking out on what appeared to be a classic European opera house.

Act II turns the idea around, playing out beneath the proscenium with the audience viewing the action from the house.

Act III was first played out backstage and then transported to a section view from stage right.

The staging hit all the expected marks. But Lepage’s threw Ina few curve balls, including a bit of business in Act III that appeared to be an homage to Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.”

Without spoiling the surprise, think a cross between Arachne and Green Goblin from the troubled musical’s original iteration.

Ades knows how to do opera by the rules and still create something fresh. This isn’t avant garde opera, but simply great opera in a modern idiom. Ades is one of our greatest living opera composers

The performance was conducted by the composer, and The Met Orchestra rose ably to the challenge under his baton.

The singing was uniformly great, with exceptional turns by Simon Keenlyside as Prospero, Isabelle Leonard as his daughter Miranda and Audrey Luna as the ephemeral Ariel.

Thano goodness for the Met Titles, though, as many of Ariel’s lines were nearly in the “only dogs can hear” range. I had to wonder if her repeated expression of “bow-wow” was a direct comment on that. Her character was a little tough to connect with at first. But she grew on me after awhile.

The premiere lived up to my expectation that it would be a Met must-see. A half-dozen or so performances remain. Don’t miss out. Get tickets now at The Met’s website.

David T. Little’s ‘Dog Days’ will blow you away

John Kelly as Prince and Lauren Worsham as Lisa in the world premiere performance of "Dog Days." (Photo: James Matthew Daniel)

John Kelly as Prince and Lauren Worsham as Lisa in the world premiere performance of “Dog Days.” (Photo: James Matthew Daniel)

Be prepared to hold onto your seat if — as you really should — go to see “Dog Days,” the new opera from composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek now in its world premiere run at the Alexander Kasser Theater in Montclair, N.J.

Composer David T. Little (Photo by Merri Cyr)

Composer David T. Little (Photo: Merri Cyr)

While the extremely dark, comedic piece is clearly a team effort (Jim Findlay‘s scenery, live video and video design lend the piece extra oomph), it’s Little’s powerfully dramatic music that makes the tale so compelling. The emotional score, with spiky, jarring moments, never loses its lyrical bearings. “Dog Days” signals Little as one of the great compositional voices of his generation.

(Click here for a video preview.)

Focusing on one American family that has, so far, survived a vaguely described apocalypse, the opera grapples with questions of human relationships, their limits and even what it means to be human.

The opera is based on a short story of the same title by Judy Budnitz. While the opera makes the story arc understandable, I regret not reading the story before seeing the sold-out first performance at the Kasser, a jewel of a theater on the campus of Montclair State University.

Continue reading

Quite an event with Antony and the Johnsons

Antony Hegarty with his 60-piece orchestra on the Radio City Music Hall stage. (Photos © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

What can we say about the wonderfully strange singer Antony Hegarty, who on Jan. 26 managed to transform Radio City Music Hall into his own special dreamscape?

Antony, who often performs with a band as Antony and the Johnsons, had some members of his band as part of a 60-piece orchestra for this light-and-music show dubbed Swanlights.  He attracted a sold-out crowd that included celebrities such as Tilda Swinton, Jenny Shimizu, Rufus Wainwright, Lady Bunny, Michael Stipe and many more.

Lady Bunny in the lobby of Radio City Music Hall.

(Check out The New York Times review of the show here.)

The show, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art and originally designed for presentation in the museum’s atrium, reached so far that it was doomed to fall a bit short. But even so, the evening was stunning and engaging, as the transgender Antony, dressed in a simple, flowing gown, came out an sang a selection of his marvelous songs with lush accompaniment, a visually stunning set, and, for the most part, well-done lighting.

All New York City Opera tickets for shows at BAM are $25 to celebrate settlement

20120120-181251.jpgGreat news: Not only has City Opera averted a strike, it’s found some angels to allow it to offer all tickets for its operas at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for just $25.

George Steel, the general manager and artistic director made the announcement in an email blast late Friday afternoon:

I am also delighted to report that as a gift to the City of New York, The Reed Foundation and The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation have bought the remaining seats for all performances at BAM, allowing us to offer these seats at a special price of $25 to celebrate our new beginning. I invite you to purchase tickets today to take advantage of this incredibly generous and thoughtful gift.

That means you can see Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna and Giuseppe Verdi’s  La Traviata for a song. Go here to get your tickets now.

While the three-year deal struck by the struggling opera company with its singers and instrumentalists keeps things going, it’s not a happy ending it means less money for an already hard-hit group of musicians. But without the deal, it appeared NYCO would have vanished forever.

Great news: As predicted, Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival returns to MASS MoCA in 2011

When Wilco arrived at MASS MoCA last summer, the band even took over the museum's sign. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Fantastic festival can only get better

We don’t like to brag (well, okay, sometimes we do), but Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? predicted that Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival would become an annual event — even before this year’s inaugural gathering wrapped up.

Wilco HQ announced the news with an email this morning:

Greetings and Happy Holidays. We’ve got a last bit of news before heading home for the break. The big story here is that Solid Sound 2011 is officially ON and happening the weekend of June 24-26, once again at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. if you were there last year, we know you’ll be back. If not, well, this year you should know better. Ticket information and more will be announced on January 18. So keep an eye and ear out.

Safe travels and sweet holidays to you all. Thanks again for another great year in Wilcoworld. We’ll see you in 2011 with what will undoubtedly be a whole bunch of news regarding Wilco tours, records, the festival and so on. Cheers.

the HQ Staff

This years three-day event was held  in mid-August. It gave thousands of fans of all ages the run of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in the Berkshires town of North Adams, Mass. Participants got to hear lots of music from Wilco, the side projects of band members like Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, their friends, and got to sample comedians and films along with the spectacular art on the gritty former factory campus. It was well run, well curated and surprisingly chill.

The music was great, the scheduling tight without being overwhelming, the facilities were superb and the food and drink never seemed to run out. Everything worked together to make it one of the best and most memorable festivals around.

Wilco perfoms on the main stage in Joe's Field at MASS MoCA.

Museum management was thrilled to have as many as 5,000 well-behaved patrons on site at once, and obviously saw the festival as something worth bringing back. Museum Director Joe Thompson was singing the praises of the event all weekend, and made no secret of the fact that he supported the idea of doing it again in 2011.

And Cline brimmed with excitement about the festival when we spoke with him at Joe’s Pub in New York City, where he and fiancee Yuka Honda were checking out Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl‘s new project, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

Next year’s festival is earlier in the summer — June instead of August. So save the date and stay tuned for an update in a month.

New Music Bake Sale: Music, Conversation, Beer and, yes, actual baked goods!

Arturo en el Barco's Bake Sale table featured cupcakes and particularly tasty flan de queso. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

The 2nd Annual New Music Bake Sale took over the decrepitly beautiful Irondale Center’s space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on Saturday, Sept. 25 for more than six hours.

The concept was pretty simple: Bring together a bunch of people who make new music — performers, producers, record companies and the like — in a place where they can make music, talk about music, drink beer and sell sweet and savory baked goods to raise money for their efforts.

Kathleen Supové at her Bake Sale table.

We don’t know how successful the financial part of the evening was, but the place was constantly full of people and activity throughout the event. We sampled the food, beer and music and found it excellent — especially the Sixpoint Sweet Action!

Many of our favorite New Music folks were there throughout the evening, including, but hardly limited to, Todd Reynolds, Matt Marks, Mellissa Hughes, Courtney Orlando, Ken Thomson, Jessica Schmitz, Ted Hearne, David T. Little, Steven Swartz, Glenn Cornett, Franz Nicolay, Caleb Burhans, Kathleen Supové and Oscar Bettison.

Todd Reynolds and Ken Thomson perform Ken's "Storm Drain."

We can hardly wait for next year’s event.

But enough words. Let’s get to the images. Click through to the jump for more photos. Continue reading

New life for Matt Marks’ The Little Death

Composer Matt Marks and soprano Mellissa Hughes are Boy and Girl in the Incubator Arts Project presentation of The Little Death: Vol. 1 on Thursday, July 8. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Something magical happened to Matt Marks‘ post-Christian nihilist pop opera The Little Death: Vol. 1, when it was preparing for its current staging at Incubator Arts Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. What had been a great collection of smart, sometimes silly, pop songs in the guise of a gently confusing pop opera has evolved into a smartly staged, well focused piece of musical theater.

The stars of the show sell lemonade and cookies before the performance.

While Marks’ excellent music provided the building blocks, director Rafael Gallegos has built a solid foundation and has cemented the building block  together to form an elegant theatrical environment for the Marks’ eerie love story.

A little less wholesome.

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? was blown away (pun intended) by Thursday night’s premiere performance of the staged version. That’s quite a contrast to my reaction to the semi-staged version presented by Marks’ label, New Amsterdam Records, in March. Although I loved the sample- and hymn-heavy music, the overall feel of the piece left me a bit uneasy. It was hard to discern what Marks was trying to do. Was he making fun of Christianity or exploring the quirks and limitations of the faith context in which he was raised? Songs like “I Like Stuff,” are the types of catchy tunes that every producer wants in a musical — ones that the audience can easily hum on the way out of the theater. The lyrics are no less catchy, but that where things became a bit unsettling — when the singers compare liking hamsters and ice cream and rainbows to liking Jesus.

The piece uses recognizable samples and large chunks of Christian hymnody as the basis for some of its songs that loosely tell the story of a blossoming love affair between Boy (Marks) and Girl (soprano Mellissa Hughes), backed up by a four-member choir. Another thing that left me feeling uneasy in that early viewing was the fact that the story starts with Boy shooting Girl before time-traveling back to the start of their relationship. Marks describes Vol. 1 as “the first half of our story.”

The last temptation of Christ?

Continue reading