Author Archive for Mike Paarlberg

Isango Ensemble’s Magic Flute and Venus and Adonis at Shakespeare Theatre, Reviewed

Classical operas played with impressive talent through a South African lens.

The Kennedy Center’s Michael Kaiser Steps Down to Do Less Managing, More Management Advising

Kaiser could be tone deaf at times, with "let them eat cake" moments and one alleged "go fuck yourself."

Giulio Cesare at Wolf Trap, Reviewed

There are arguments to be made against authenticity. In the classical music landscape, historically informed performance (HIP) has long since passed from niche trend to permanent fixture, applied especially to Baroque operas like Giulio Cesare. But when the original is over four hours long and calls for castrated singers, well, fuck authenticity, right?
So Wolf Trap [...]

UrbanArias’ Bastianello and Lucrezia, Reviewed

Sometimes being broke can be liberating. If you’re a smaller opera company with a limited budget, there are a number of directions you can go, all perfectly valid. You can do miniature versions of traditional operas, disposing of bit roles, whittling down orchestral scores to fit a string quartet. Or you can do chamber operas [...]

Big Talent, Not Much Personality: Nikolai Lugansky at the Kennedy Center

If you were to place classical pianists along a spectrum, you might picture one with Maurizio Pollini at one end and Lang Lang at the other. I'm not talking about skill—I'm talking about something a little less tangible: Call it panache, showmanship, self-aggrandizement, whatever. Of course, putting famous people on that spectrum skews to the [...]

Virginia Opera’s Carmen, Reviewed

Louis C.K. has a bit in which he notes how incredible it is that women continue to go out with men, given that the number one threat to women, and chief cause of injury and mayhem to them is, well, men. The number one threat to men? Heart disease.
So it’s worth remembering that in Carmen, [...]

Nas at the Kennedy Center, Reviewed

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Illmatic, the debut album by Nas that set the gold standard for East Coast hip hop, came out. Actually no, when you see Nas rapping in a tuxedo backed by the National Symphony Orchestra, it’s not that hard to believe. For rock bands like Metallica, doing [...]

Eschenbach’s Not Going Anywhere

The Kennedy Center announced it will extend the contract of National Symphony Orchestra director Christoph Eschenbach through 2017, the Washington Post’s Anne Midgette reported Monday.
Is this a surprise? No. NSO directors tend to stick around for a while: Antal Doráti had the shortest tenure, of just seven years in the '70s; Mstislav Rostropovich, his successor, [...]

Washington National Opera’s Elixir of Love at the Kennedy Center, Reviewed

Props to director Stephen Lawless for working a dick joke into his version of L’elisir d’amore. “His ego is large, I don’t know about the rest of him,” smirks Adina about her suitor Belcore, with a corresponding hand gesture that I guess was not in the original libretto (“È modesto il signorino!”: “The little gentleman [...]

You’ve Got Whale: Moby-Dick at the Washington National Opera, Reviewed

Opera fans don’t get many opportunities to see things that nearly no one in the audience has seen before. It’s a test of how a work of art stands up on its own, without any famous aria or overture as a point of comparison. Some opera nuts may have seen Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick in Dallas, [...]

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