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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2018 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Verdi Project: Nabucco

By the waters of Babylon, Verdi's legend begins.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Historic bas-relief of the Babylonian king Nebachudnezzar, hero of Verdi's third opera Nabucco.
Nabucco put Giuseppe Verdi on the map. The composer's third opera premiered in Milan in 1842. It was an absolute smash. Its success would not only alter Verdi's fortunes, but the popularity of its message and its famous chorus "Va, pensiero" may claim some credit for reshaping the political map of Italy. It was Verdi's music and the eventual rallying cry "Viva Verdi" (code for "Vittorio Emmanuel, Re d'Italia") that would help propel that collection of nation-states toward revolution and eventual political unity.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Opera Review: Making Assyria Great Again

The Metropolitan Opera gambles on Rossini's hazardous Semiramide.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Uneasy lies the head: Angela Meade (center) in Semiramide, with Ildar Abdrazakov (right) and Ryan Speedo Greene (left).
Photo by Ken Howard © 2018 The Metropolitan Opera.

Even in the rarified aviary of the Metropolitan Opera House, Gioachino Rossini's Semiramide is an exotic species. The composer's final opera for the Italian stage was written in 1823. It brought down the curtain on opera seria, the genre that had been at the heart of Italian operatic tradition for well over a century. Brought to the Met in 1892, it had to wait ninety years for a revival, only to be mothballed again for another quarter of a century On Monday night, the Met finally revived Semiramide as a vehicle for Angela Meade, the American soprano who has enjoyed some success in the current craze for bel canto repertory.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Metropolitan Opera Preview: La bohème

Death, romance and the rooftops of Paris in Puccini's timeless opera.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Sonya Yoncheva, having survived her death-drop from the Castel Sant'Angelo, is Mîmi.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2018 The Metropolitan Opera.
The star of this year's Tosca, soprano Sonya Yoncheva, is Mimi in this winter revival of La bohème.  Metropolitan Opera markets Puccini's fourth opera as "the most popular opera of all time." That may be debatable, but the show returns this year in Franco Zefirelli's elaborate and constantly rehabilitated production.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Concert Review: The Human Stain

Philip Glass' Music With Changing Parts at Carnegie Hall.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Philip Glass.
Photo by Andras Bitesnich for Orange Mountain Music.
Is there a point, in the creation of art for the entertainment of others, where the value of that creative act has to be weighed against the limitations that the human body can endure? That question applies to both the audience and performers attending Friday night's concert at Carnegie Hall featuring the first New York concert performance in 38 years of Philip Glass' 1970 composition Music With Changing Parts. This performance formed the centerpiece of Mr. Glass' residency at the Hall this season, and of the venue's ongoing festival celebrating the music and culture of the 1960s.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.