"In my unfamiliar role as plain audience member, and parent, I found myself partaking of a protective view of the live performing arts that I generally abhor. All too often, I feel, live performance is treated as an invalid, something that needs to be shielded from the harshness of the outside world. It shouldn’t need […]
"Boards are less a problem than a symptom of a larger, systemic issue: a pervasive loss of creativity in large performing arts institutions. I'm not the only one to notice that our largest performing arts institutions have become fundamentally inartistic bureaucracies... Companies have to work so hard to maintain their status quo, to keep […]
Anne Midgette: "It’s important not to cling too tightly to tradition, but it remains unclear exactly what vision WNO, under Zambello, is offering to replace it."
"It seems arbitrary to assert that Broadway musicals exist in a separate category from an art form that happily embraces popular forms such as opéra comique, Singspiel and operetta (all of which involve spoken dialogue interspersed with sung numbers). Those opera lovers who profess to look down on musicals act as though the genre were […]
That's what Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter is doing, and Midgette "understand[s] the instinct. The performing arts have increasingly devolved into a field in which artists become cogs in a machine operated by other people, from managers and programmers through to stage directors and conductors.... Putting artists in the driver's seat may seem like […]
"Expanding the concert experience is a pet theme of classical music these days. And if you wonder why the concert experience needs expanding, it's because the term 'classical concert' tends to translate as '19th-century music played in a stuffy setting' - at least, to the people who aren't coming. In fact, classical concerts are more […]
For reference. Am I missing anything? Michael Cooper, NY Times. A New York Philharmonic Coup: Deborah Borda Is Named the New Leader Anne Midgette, Washington Post. The once and future president: Deborah Borda will return to the New York Philharmonic Deborah Vankin, LA Times. Show More Summary
Anne Midgette compares two piano concerts and comes away pondering the difference between playing music very well and communicating well.
"It's not just a question of whether you like the music, or think you like it; it's a question of knowing that it exists. Although Glass has written 11 symphonies, [conductor Dennis Russell] Davies says that when a major American orchestra was recently approached about performing Glass, the response was, 'But he doesn't write symphonies.'" […]
After all, there's no better way to learn how to make your voice heard over a lot of noise without wearing yourself out.
A couple of articles to leave you depressed at the state of the world. Anne Midgette, Donald Trump, Taste, and the Cultural Elite Philip Kennicott, A Trump Attack on the Arts Would Be More Than Just Symbolic My suggestion: get out there and volunteer or protest or both. Show More Summary
Anne Midgette: "My keenest experience of the Kennedy Center Honors this year had to do with the marginalization of the high arts. This is not usually my position: I have no problem celebrating the artistry of popular culture, placing Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” above the level of many works of contemporary art music or recognizing the quality […]
Anne Midgette: "This kind of conceptual kinship, an inspiration of approach, is the only real link between a painting and the work of music it inspires. Yet the idea that music can convey something literal, and that conveying it will make the resulting piece more “accessible,” is widespread, and pernicious."
"Argerich’s is a story about someone with superhuman gifts trying to find a way to live a normal life. Many musicians live a life of monkish order, focusing on the discipline of music. Argerich, by contrast, has seemed to go out of her way to be disorganized. She’s so given to canceling performances, sometimes at […]
“The work of the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson is all about the quest for beauty and the ways in which that quest is doomed to failure, bogging down in mediocrity or kitsch, or, in these works, the trappings of Las Vegas. But the work radiates so much theatricality and glitz and humor that it feels […]
“When it comes to musical performance, the Museum’s tacit mandate is to spotlight all of African American music – which is like trying to put a frame around a living person and call it a portrait. It’s tough to pick ‘African American’ music out of the fabric of American musical history, of which it is […]
“What’s the difference between an opera and a musical? Theories abound. Some say opera is through-sung while musicals include spoken dialogue (although there are many operas with spoken dialogue; think Carmen). Some say opera is unamplified, while musicals are mic’d (except that there are many operas written for amplification, and many musicals that weren’t). But […]
Anne Midgette: “With its emphasis on spectacle and size, Phantom certainly reflects a particular era of musical theater: the stage equivalent of 1980s-style big hair.” Philip Kennicott: “Phantom looks better today than it did when it was new … [it] seemed to me then as it does now a testament to the degradation of theatrical […]
Happy birthday to critic Anne Midgette.
David Gockley has been a leading figure in American opera for four decades. As he prepares to step down from the San Francisco Opera, he shares his thoughts on the field with Anne Midgette.