Coming up soon on this site : György Kurtág Kafka Fragements, a preview of Alexander Raskatov's A Dog's Heart, Franz Schreker Irrelohe and at last the second CD of Ma Sicong Music for Violin and Piano. which has been top of my listening list for months. So beautiful that I haven't been able to write well enough to do it justice. Strange, how the more you love something the harder it is to fully express.
Which is why I've been slower than usual about writing up Kurtág Kafka Fragements, at the Barbican Hall with Dawn Upshaw. This is a piece I care about passionately. It's radical because it presents a different listening experience, where the music "happens" when ideas connect on a deep level in the listener's psyche. Maybe that's what happens with all music, but more so with Kurtág's extreme concision. Ideas distilled into homeopathic intensity that expand in your soul. Peter Sellars' staging, on the other hand, ignores Kurtág's whole concept. Thanks to Sellars, now Kurtág undergoes the equivalent of what would happen to European and Japanese art cinema if it were remade for daytime TV soaps. Full review coming up in Opera Today.
This is particularly tragic because the Barbican has been doing wonderful things for contemporary music and opera. Last year they did Eötvös's Angels in America, and Michael van der Aa's After Life. This is courageous programming, for which the Barbican deserves praise, particularly as the South Bank has lost its vision. In the past they've done the Saariaho operas, which Peter Sellars' semi staging did wonders for, even if his Kurtág was a self-indulgent misreading. Starting soon, the Barbican's continuing its acclaimed series of baroque opera, with Handel's Alcina. This is important because Barbican baroque choices are very good indeed. Definitely one of the hippest venues in London.
At the ENO, Simon McBurney's Raskatov A Dog's Heart looks extremely interesting. Anything premiered at The Holland Festival is likely to be challenging, so we're lucky that the ENO has brought this over. Fascinating concept, executed by Complicite, one of the finest modern drama ensembles around. This is serious drama, real music theatre people, as opposed to directors moonlighting from elsewhere. I've seen clips and read up on it - this should be exciting. Please come back to this site as I'll be writing lots. And get to the show, which starts 20th.
And of course Francesco Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur at the Royal Opera House Thursday. When this was done at another venue two years ago some of my friends adored it (others said it was toffee). I missed it then, but heard it on BBC Radio 3. So I can't miss it now with a megastar cast. Angela Gheorghiu, Alessandro Corbelli, and Jonas Kaufmann in a role that should suit him well.