London: Fiona Shaw, the British stage and film actress (Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter films), returns to the English National Opera to stage The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s classic bittersweet comedy (Oct. 5–Nov. 10).
Zurich: José Saramago’s novel Blindness was made into a film in 2008 starring Julianne Moore. Now German composer Anno Schreier, 32, has set it to music as Die Stadt der Blinden for the Zurich Opera(Nov. 12–Dec. 4).
San Francisco: Composer Christopher Theofanidis’s powerful work, Heart of a Soldier, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, is based on the life of Rick Rescorla, who helped guide thousands of people out of Tower 2 before it collapsed. Baritone Thomas Hampson plays Rescorla. (Sept. 10–30).
Minneapolis:The Minnesota Opera presents the world premiere of Silent Night, by the composer Kevin Puts, based on the film Joyeux Noël, about a Christmas Eve truce between soldiers in World War I (Nov. 12–20).
New York City: The multimedia project Portals features the violinist Tim Fain and video and choreography by Benjamin Millepied in Philip Glass’s seven-movement Partita for Solo Violin at Symphony Space(Sept. 24).
On September 26, the Metropolitan Opera opens its season with Donizetti’s rarely produced Anna Bolena, with soprano Anna Netrebko (pictured) as the ill-fated second wife of Henry VIII (through Oct. 28; also Feb. 1–4). Later, the company presents The Enchanted Island, a Baroque pastiche with music by Handel, Vivaldi, and Rameau and starring David Daniels and Joyce DiDonato (opens Dec. 31).
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe/Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera
With the invention of the iPod and the digitalization of music, listening to the radio seems to be almost prehistoric. Whenever I start a sentence with the phrase, “I heard on the radio today…” my friends are at first confused, then immediately flabbergasted that I would partake in such a seemingly unhip activity (I guess it’s my nostalgic nature, or the fact that I’m too lazy to play DJ all the time).
But radio has been making a comeback, especially when Pandora Radio was launched in 2005, introducing the masses to the digital (i.e. cool) version of its dashboard predecessor. And now, with the iPhone spurring on the creation of a plethora of apps, radio is back.
Over the years, I’ve found one of the best ways to know a city’s best-kept secrets is to talk to its artists. I recently connected with one of Montreal’s rising stars—award-winning filmmaker and musician Daniel Isaiah, who's signed, appropriately, with music label Secret City Records.
When one thinks of Istanbul, what comes to mind? Perhaps some beautiful mosques silhouetted against the sky, exotic bazaars filled with spices and silks, maybe even the strains of the adhan (or the Islamic call to prayer). But what about jazz?
The Turks are crazy about it. One of the biggest cultural events of the year, the 18th annual Jazz Festival is taking over the city this month (until July 19), featuring acts like Herbie Hancock (who’s leading a quintet in tribute of jazz diety Miles Davis), Paul Simon, Joss Stone, and more. Not to be missed is Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, and Lizz Wright’s collaboration called “Sing the Truth,” which will incorporate songs from legendary female jazz, folk, and R&B singers like Aretha Franklin, Odetta, and Lauryn Hill.
It's not often a film evokes the spirit of a city the way John Turturro's Passione captures the musical exuberance that pulses through Naples, Italy. We're not talking opera, but a blend of genres that reflects the cultures of the city's invaders as well as its more recent immigrants. Greeks and Spaniards, Arabs and Americans, Turks and French—their songs and melodies have thrived, mixed, and married in a cultural petri dish warmed by the southern Italian sun. And that, in a nutshell, is the whole point of the movie.
Thanks in large part to the reopening of Goldeneye(doubles from $672), this Caribbean isle has been making waves, but you can experience its rich flavor without hopping on a plane. Now on iPods everywhere: the Jolly Boys, whose shuffling mento rhythm and twangy banjo evoke Jamaica’s movie-star days—after all, the band did entertain Errol Flynn there in the 1950’s. The septuagenarians are back this month with Great Expectation (Geejam Recordings), an album of covers (Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”; Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”) recorded at the Geejam Hotel, near Port Antonio. Listen to their tracks over slow-grilled jerk chicken and ginger beer at Miss Lily’s(132 W. Houston St.; 646/588-5375; dinner for two $76), in New York City; the restaurant was just opened by Paul Salmon, co-owner of Negril’s Rockhouse hotel.
Beginning in 2007 with the Berlin in Lights festival, Carnegie Hall has featured the music and culture of global destinations through wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary programming in its three concerts halls and at institutions throughout New York City. But right now, perhaps no other festival may be as important as JapanNYC (March-April), which celebrates the diversity of Japanese culture in more than 40 performances and events and pays special tribute to Japan and its people in the aftermath of this month’s earthquake and tsunami.
Lobby DJ’s are so last decade. The latest amenity: live concerts at hotels by Grammy Award–winning musicians.
As part of Renaissance Hotels’ new program RLife Live, guests may very well check in while listening to musicians—Thievery Corporation, Solange Knowles, or the Neon Trees—perform live. To know who’s playing where, visit rlifelive.com (dates are posted two weeks in advance). One recent showstopper: Bruno Mars’s New Year’s Eve concert at the R Lounge Times Square, with a certain crystal ball as the backdrop.
If you’ve never heard of this international artist—I say artist rather than musician because what she does is art, in so many forms—there’s a good chance you have spent the last two years living under a rock, or in complete isolation. A veritable overnight sensation, Gaga has such a devout fan base—whom she affectionately refers to as her “little monsters”—getting tickets to one of her live concerts can be near impossible. (Not only do her tickets sell out in a matter of minutes, when she performed for the Today Show on July 9 this year, a record 18,000 fans crowded the streets in NYC’s Rockefeller Center just for a chance to see/hear her perform a few songs, no ticket required.)
On August 13, Gaga will be taking the stage at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena and, though tickets have already sold out (naturally), there are two ways you have a chance to not only win a trip to Vegas to see this concert for free, but also meet her. (I know, dream come true, right?)
When was the last time you bought a new album at an actual brick and mortar record shop? In the age of iTunes, it’s become the norm to download music from the internet. I'm guilty, too, even though you can frequently find me and my camera jammed in the front row covering concerts for various music publications.
Tomorrow, take advantage of the spring weather and head over to your local record shop for Record Store Day, a celebration of independently owned record stores in the United States, and other countries worldwide, now in its third year.
In addition to special vinyl and CD releases being made exclusively for Record Store Day from the likes of Phoenix and Jamie Lidell, there will also be a number of in-store appearances and performances from a wide variety of musicians, including Slash, Emmylou Harris, and Yeasayer. Search for your local participating stores here. I’ve put together a short list of standout events after the break.