From the Desk of Artistic Director, Jonathan Pell – NYC – 4

by Jonathan Pell

Thursday’s auditions were extremely productive and I heard most of the singers currently involved in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists Program, as well as some of the singers from the Juilliard Opera Center. It is a day like this that makes me really sad that we aren’t able to do more productions because there are so many talented singers I would like to be able to engage.

Thursday evening I took a night off from the opera (there wasn’t anything on that night that I hadn’t already seen) so I went to see Holland Taylor’s one woman play based on the life of former Texas governor Ann Richards, which turned out to be quite informative as well as entertaining. Holland Taylor, perhaps best known from her year’s on the sitcom TWO AND A HALF MEN, not only wrote the play but stars in it as well. With the help of an extraordinarily good wig she looks startlingly like Ann Richards, and she captures the inflections, mannerisms and spirit of the woman. I don’t know how New Yorkers will respond (the play had just started “previews” a few nights before), but as someone who lived in Texas during Ann Richards’ term of office I found the play fascinating.

Friday was the opening night of a revival of the Nicholas Hytner production of Verdi’s DON CARLO at the Met. The production still looks beautiful (Bob Crowley is a brilliant theatrical designer) but the evening wasn’t one for the memory books. Other than Ferruccio Furlanetto and Eric Halfvarson, both electrifying in the confrontation scene between King Phillip and the Grand Inquisitor, the singing was disappointing and the conductor seemed just to plod along.

Saturday night I ventured down to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, one of the new venues for the New York City Opera, and their new production of Thomas Ades’s opera POWDER HER FACE. Based on the scandalous life of the late Duchess of Argyll, when it was premiered in the UK nearly twenty years ago it was an audacious work that introduced the then 24 year old composer to the music establishment.

It is still audacious, and the production while very clever, aimed to shock, and succeeded brilliantly. Extremely well performed by a fearless young cast, it certainly caused quite a stir and the capacity crowd really seemed to enjoy it.

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