Monthly Archives: October 2002

The Lady Is a Tramp

Nine years separate Dmitri Shostakovich’s start on his Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and the completion of his Sixth Symphony; hearing them both within a week at the Music Center constituted, among other pleasures, an interesting historical overview. In those nine years (1930–39) the composer‘s official esteem rose and plummeted like an out-of-control roller coaster. The […]

The Prose and the Passion

Two more hearings of Osvaldo Golijov‘s La Pasion Segun San Marcos have not dimmed the slash of its colors, its power to exhilarate, to stop the breath. Last weekend’s performances, as the peak of this year‘s Eclectic Orange Festival, did not quite draw the turn-away crowds I might have hoped for, nor was there a […]

Sole Possessions

Slim indeed was the turnout for Lorraine Hunt Lieberson‘s solo recital at Royce Hall last week; bountiful indeed were the rewards. She is every kind of phenomenal artist: majestic in stage manner, overpowering in her command of the shape of a vocal line. Just her opening phrase, a lightning bolt from Handel’s Ariodante, served notice […]

Commencement Exercises

A new season begins, in this land of no seasons. Three of our local orchestras sprang into action last week: two with brand-new music, one with older music of newer outlook. The week before, the much-admired Kronos Quartet brought in some new music, in a program appropriately titled “Nuevo,” most of which was quite comfortably, […]


For the San Francisco Opera to undertake Olivier Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise – as the American stage première of the opera  now 19 years old – represented an act of faith several times over: above all the faith of Pamela Rosenberg’s new management that an audience coddled on easy-listening new operas (Dead Man Walking, A […]

Most Eloquent Banalities

I left the Paris Opera, late on a cold November night in 1983, convinced of two things. One was that the opera whose world premiere I had just suffered through, Olivier Messiaen’s Saint Francois d‘Assise, had no chance whatever of earning a place in the international repertory. The other was that, if such an unthinkable […]