-Amanda Hick and Walter Aparicio, soprano and piano extraordinaires
Went to BAM for the first time last night to see the US premiere of Philip Glass’s new opera ‘Kepler,’ an hour-and-a-half work about the scientist’s exploration of the sky and his coming to terms with science and God: he arrives at the conclusion that astronomy and God are connected and it is up to humanity, through science, to find out God’s plan.
The music sounded great with the libretto, which included some of Kepler’s own quotes and the usual libretto filler. The harmonies and the rhythm were the strongest supporting elements of the ideas contained in the text. The musicians and conductor Dennis Russell Davies straight up had their shit together. Sound-wise, Kepler was fantasic.
The production itself, however, needs a makeover. At an opera strong visuals are expected, a must even. Aesthetics aside, visuals also help the audience follow the story better. For example, the main soloists dressed in plain black concert attire were meant to be the voices of Kepler’s thoughts, but that was not clear. At the very least, the scenery could have been, I dunno, a starry night perhaps? (This seems obvious to me.) I understand the budget was probably low, but creativity does not take thousands of dollars…and we can confirm that here at The Nouveau Classical Project! My mind was racing with ideas as I sat there. Anyway, you should still go see it!
Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the performers, as a rabid usher nearly clawed my boyfriend’s face off as he tried to take a photo of the closing bows. (She probably would have Tasered him if she had one handy. Thank God she is not in any real position of authority.) But enjoy these after-party photos (and a special video!), where, luckily, Ms. Anger Management Issues was not invited.
What: Philip Glass Violin Concerto No. 1
Bruckner Orchester Linz/Dennis Russell Davies, Conductor/Renaud Capuçon, violin
Where: Avery Fisher Hall
Wore: Bandage mini-skirt, eggplant v-neck tank, ankle boots, leather jacket, and tights (to keep it proper)
Interesting Fact: Got ‘booed’ back in 1987 (I was probably too busy watching ‘Jem and the Holograms’ to notice)
Feelings/Thoughts: Enjoyed immensely.
Why such an aversion (to say the least) to Glass by many classical music aficionados? Some people really HATE Philip Glass, with a passion. Whoever thought arpeggios could cause such a stir? I don’t hate on Missoni or Pucci for having a signature style.
Unless one really knows Glass’s works really well, most would not be able to readily distinguish one piece from another (I wouldn’t, beyond solo vs. chamber vs. concerto, etc.) because there are so many similarities. Lots of simple arpeggios, major, minor, 7ths, nothing un-analyzable. This is why his music has oftentimes been disregarded as having any sort of musical value: it is accessible, unpretentious, straightforward. However, even those who hate his music the most can probably instantly recognize Glass in 5 seconds (or less). Regardless of how one feels about the fact that, yes, Glass is repetitive (and not just within a piece of music but across his body of work as a whole) it’s undeniable that he’s done something original, created his own musical identity that no one else can claim, and that alone is deserving of respect.