The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What should — and shouldn’t — the #MeToo movement mean for women in the opera world?

June 16, 2018
11 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

It is clear now that just about all aspects of life and culture in the United States are being affected more and more by the #MeToo movement that seeks to expose, punish, correct and prevent sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, sexual abuse and gender inequality in general.

But what does that mean specifically for the notoriously patriarchal and misogynistic opera world – meaning for the operas themselves and their themes, plots, characters and composers as well as for the people who put them on?

How, for example, should one now think of “Don Giovanni” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? (The womanizing Don Juan is seen below in a production of “Don Giovanni” by the Metropolitan Opera.)

A recent discussion on National Public Radio (NPR) covered many dimensions of the problem, and The Ear found what was said fascinating although he didn’t agree with everything.

One Italian production went so far as to change the ending of a famous and popular opera – Bizet’s “Carmen” — in order to redeem the doomed heroine.

That seems excessive to The Ear, something that recalls the 17th-century writer Nahum Tate who rewrote the tragedy “King Lear” by Shakespeare to give it a happy ending. (You can hear the original ending of “Carmen” in the YouTube video at the bottom. The 2009 production by the Metropolitan Opera features Roberto Alagna and Elina Garanca.)

It brings up the question: How far should one go in imposing contemporary values on the past? And does rejecting an artist also mean rejecting that artist’s work?

Read the edited transcript or listen to the entire 8-minute discussion for yourself. Besides the female host (Lulu Garcia-Navarro), three women – two singers (Aleks Romano and Leah Hawkins) and one administrator (Kim Witman) – ask questions and give their opinions and thoughts.

Here is a link to the story that was posted on the NPR blog “Deceptive Cadence”:

https://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2018/05/27/614470629/my-voice-should-be-heard-metoo-and-the-women-of-opera

Then decide what you think you would like to see done to address the concerns of the #MeToo movement in the opera world, and what is allowed and not allowed to you.

And let us know in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: Merry Christmas from The Ear! Here is a rescued compilation of Baroque holiday music to remind us how technology brings us the gift of the past as well as the future.

December 25, 2013
3 Comments

READER SURVEY: What piece of classical music do you most look forward to hearing — or most dread hearing — when Christmas arrives each year? Leave a comment. The Ear wants to hear.

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Christmas!

ChristmasTreeBranch.j

A lot of people, both young and old, will be opening hi-tech gifts like smart phones, desk-top and laptop computers, and tablet computers and iPads, to say nothing of digital cameras, video recorders and games.

hi tech items

But even though we think of technology as pointing us toward the future, it is also good to realize that it can return us to the past.

After all, CDs, which are relatively cheap to make, have brought back many performers and composers whose work had disappeared off the radar screen and fallen into neglect.

Take today’s example.

It is an old and acclaimed apparently out-of-print compilation album of Baroque Christmas music that was originally a vinyl LP.

And hearing the unfamiliar can be fun and informative, as I recently learned again at the third annual Holiday Baroque Concert (below) given by Trevor Stephenson and the Madison Bach Musicians.

MBM Chelsea Morris Vivaldi Gloria Holiday 2013

Not everything has to be George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” or Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” or Arcangelo Corelli’s “Christmas” Concerto Grosso – as critic John W. Barker pointed out in his recent review for this blog (a link is below):

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/classical-music-the-madison-bach-musicians-serve-up-a-superb-concert-of-holiday-baroque-music-that-goes-beyond-the-holidays-and-show-the-group-has-a-new-local-tradition-in-the-makin/

Anyway, someone has posted this old recording of a Baroque Christmas music album on YouTube, and the comments show that readers appreciate it.

You could stream it or run it through the computer as background music for gift-giving, or do even more focused listening.

I hope you enjoy it, especially since it features some rarely heard repertoire by Michael Praetorius, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Dietrich Buxtehude, Michael Haydn,  Charles Theodore Pachelbel (NOT the more familiar Johann Pachelbel of “Canon in D” fame, Johann Hermann Schein and Andreas Hammerschmidt. Here it is, at the bottom:

Merry Christmas, all!

And thank you for your gift to me of your readership of The Well-Tempered Ear.


Classical music: What is the best Devil-like scary music for Halloween?

October 31, 2013
15 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Halloween.

Oh, so spooky.

Trick or Treat!!!!

What are the most scary pieces of classical music for Halloween that you can play for yourself – or perhaps in the background as you hand out your treats to Trick-or-Treaters?

halloween

In past years, I have chosen some favorites (Johann Sebastian Bach’s Organ Toccata and Fugue D Minor, Modeste Mussorgsky’s orchestral tone poem “Night on Bald Mountain” (at the bottom, in a popular YouTube video with almost 2 million hits), Maurice Ravel’s piano pieces “Le Gibet” (The Gallows) and “Scarbo” from “Gaspard de la Nuit,” Franz Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz” among others) and asked readers for their favorites.

Here are some links to the past:

2010: https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/classical-music-poll-what-is-the-best-music-for-halloween/

2012:  https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/classical-music-happy-halloween-what-is-the-spookiest-classical-music-you-know/

Ghost

This year, I found a website devoted to the very topic.

Imagine! A sonic House of Horrors!

How many different pieces are there listed as Halloween favorites?

Why 13 – of course!

See how many you would choose or guess are on the list?

Here is a link:

http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Article/278068,the-13-scariest-pieces-of-classical-music-for-halloween.aspx

Now be sure to leave a COMMENT with what you think is the best and scariest piece of classical music for Halloween!

Boo!

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: Merry Christmas from a garbage dump in Paraguay! It’s a gift from The Ear. Look, listen and enjoy – then realize how good we have it, and how saving and redeeming making music can be.

December 25, 2012
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Christmas Day.

Over the past several weeks, I have offered many postings about possible holiday gifts.

Now it is my turn to give you a gift.

Merry Christmas 1

It comes by way of one of The Ear’s oldest and most loyal friends and fellow music-maker.

It is also a very moving short video that shows us al how much we all have to be grateful for, and how redemptive and how saving making music can be.

I hope it adds as much to your holiday season as it did to mine.

If so, let me know what you think in the COMMENT section.

And please pass it along as a gift to others. No one I know who has received has been disappointed.

In fact, I already know that one professor will be using it for an Environmental Studies class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

So, Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! And Happy Holidays to you all.

May peace, joy and beauty reign in the coming year and years.

And thank you for coming to The Well-Tempered Ear.

Yours,

The Ear

Here is a lead-in story or backgrounder, as they say, from NPR:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/12/19/167539764/the-landfill-harmonic-an-orchestra-built-from-trash

And here is the actual gift:


Classical music: Happy Halloween! Vote for the spookiest classical music you know.

October 31, 2012
15 Comments

ALERT:  On Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Wind Ensemble Chamber will perform a FREE concert of “Integrales” b, Edgard Varese; “Rondino” by Ludwig von Beethoven; and Kammersymphonie (Chamber Symphony), Op. 9, by  Arnold Schoenberg. Scott Teeple (below) is the conductor and Scott Pierson is the guest conductor.

By Jacob Stockinger

Today, Oct. 31, 2012, is Halloween in the U.S., although many celebrations took place last Saturday night to benefit from the weekend.

It is the night of scary hobgoblins and ghosts. It is also the time when disguises and costumes often reveal rather than hide one’s true identity.

But most of all it is a chance for spooky art – Houses of Horrors, Ghost stories and Horror Movies – and The Ear wants to know what you think is the scariest or spookiest music ever written.

For many people, it is Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain.” Here is a link to one performance on YouTube:

The Ear knows one person who likes to play loud organ music – Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor – for young Trick-or-Treaters. And he is not alone. Take a look and listen at various versions of the famous organ piece at NPR’sDeceptive Cadence” blog where you’ll be treated, not tricked, by the blog’s makeover and new appearance:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/10/29/163701843/halloween-fright-five-versions-of-that-terrifying-toccata-and-fugue

You can also hear Halloween-related music today on Wisconsin Public Radio, especially on The Midday (noon to 1 p.m.), which will, I expect, have a Quiz Question related to Halloween. For information or to stream programs, visit ww.wpr.org.

I recently heard a wonderful and absorbing  live performance by the all-student University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra of the famous “Symphonie Fantastique” by Hector Berlioz (below)that includes hallucinatory drugs and a death march to the scaffold and gallows.

And I was struck how the clarinets are used to create a very eerie, even frightening sound, in the Witches Sabbath section. It is a masterful use of orchestration by Berlioz.

Take a listen and let me know.

What do you think is the spookiest or eeriest piece of classical music for Halloween?

Vote for your favorite by leaving a COMMENT in the blog section of this blog, preferably with a link a YouTube performance, if possible.

 


    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,204 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,090,411 hits
%d bloggers like this: