Author Archive for Mike Paarlberg

The Sleigher: Power Flow, “Forever Alone en Navidad”

HO HO QUIÉN: José Rubén Bernal, aka Power Flow, a notoriously tone-deaf reggaetonero from El Salvador known for his creative use of low-budget CGI in such YouTube hits as “Bun Bun” and “Jaqueando Tu Amor” (that’s “Hacking Your Love”). He is joined, as always, by an ever-expanding cast of “DJs” who don’t seem to actually [...]

The Sleigher: Joshua Bell, “Christmas Confusion”

HO HO WHO: Joshua Bell, virtuoso violinist—aka that nice boy who posed as a street musician in L’Enfant Plaza and helped Gene Weingarten prove that Washingtonians are philistines—teaming up with classical comedy duo Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo. As in, they play classical music and are moderately funny, not that their comedy is in any [...]

Nutcracker Smackdown! Washington Ballet vs. Momentum Dance Theatre

Every December, Arts Desk provides readers with a consumer report on a different holiday tradition which those in the Christmas spirit are obligated to attend whether they like it or not. This year we look at the great ballet Tchaikovsky composed to keep American dance companies afloat, The Nutcracker. We compare two D.C. staples, the [...]

Washington National Opera’s Tristan and Isolde, Reviewed

We've all been there. Falling for the wrong guy, the one you know will break your heart, the one who killed your last boyfriend and you are scheming to kill in a murder-suicide revenge plot, only to be foiled when your handmaiden swaps your poison for a love potion.
Don’t laugh—love potions are a totally legit [...]

Cabaret Barroco: Interludes of Spain’s Golden Age at GALA Hispanic Theatre, Reviewed

Language is a funny thing. On one long distance bus ride in Mexico, I had the pleasure of seeing Fast Five (Rápidos y Furiosos 5) dubbed into Spanish; they took the liberty of also dubbing Don Omar and Tego Calderón’s dialogue from Puerto Rican Spanish to “normal” Spanish.
Ostensible Spanish speakers might have benefitted from similar [...]

John Adams With the National Symphony Orchestra, Reviewed

John Adams’ City Noir, which he describes as the score for an imaginary Hollywood film, is an odd work for a composer who famously refuses to write scores for Hollywood films. By his own account, he’s been approached by directors including Francis Ford Coppola, even expressed interest, but ultimately decided studios’ turnaround demands would leave [...]

Composer John Adams Talks Hollywood, Social Media, and His Sensitivity to Coughing

America’s most celebrated living composer is in town for a two-week festival spanning multiple venues. This week, the Library of Congress hosts Adams in residency. Various chamber groups and soloists will perform his work beginning tonight, including the premiere of a newly commissioned piece on Friday with the International Contemporary Ensemble. The following week, Adams [...]

Washington National Opera’s Show Boat, Reviewed

The Washington National Opera’s new production of Show Boat, the 1927 musical, opened only a few weeks after the release of “Accidental Racist,” the misbegotten country-rap duet in which Brad Paisley and LL Cool J team up to set back American racial politics by 90 years. As we now know, eradicating racism comes down to [...]

DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story, Reviewed

History seldom gives us figures of pure good or evil, but if it ever does, it’s either through sports or politics. Such are the circumstances surrounding the death of Roberto Clemente in 1972. The baseball legend died in a plane crash delivering medical supplies to Nicaragua, which had suffered a catastrophic earthquake earlier that year. [...]

Composer Gregory Spears on Paul’s Case of Disaffected Dandyism

On Saturday, UrbanArias gives an opera treatment to “Paul’s Case,” Willa Cather’s 1905 short story that continues to make high school English class reading lists despite being seriously depressing. Cather’s “study in temperament,” or coming-of-age tale, tells of a Pittsburgh teen named Paul who is described as “dandy” with an “itch to let his instructors [...]