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.