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The New Criterion

America’s leading review of the arts and intellectual life
- Harry Mount, the London Telegraph



In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Apr 24, 2015 10:50 AM

Critics and press recuperating at the new Whitney Museum. As an unnamed TNC editor put it: "The best parts of the museum are the windows -- they keep you from having to look at the building."

Recent links of note:

A monument to tastelessness
Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal
A frequent TNC contributor takes on the new Whitney Museum of American Art. In the words of one noted critic: "They'll need some ice for that burn."

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The usual suspects deliver

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Apr 24, 2015 10:41 AM

Dolora Zajick as Ulrica Arvidsson and Piotr Beczala as Gustavo III in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera.


Last night, the Metropolitan Opera opened a run of Un ballo in maschera, the Verdi opera. The production is that of 2012 by David Alden. I reviewed it when it was new (here). I won’t comment further today. Except to say this:

When the chorus brought out a mess o’ black chairs last night, I thought, “Are those the chairs from Cav?” The Met’s new Cavalleria rusticana (which I reviewed on Monday) is dotted with black chairs.

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The sound of silence

by Natasha Simons

Posted: Apr 23, 2015 02:40 PM


The cast of Small Mouth Sounds. Photo by Ben Arons.

Small Mouth Sounds, currently playing at ArsNova, is, without qualification, a delight. In it, playwright Bess Wohl and director Rachel Chavkin create transcendence out of the tiny frailties of human interaction. It is a rarity for theater, typically the most loquacious of artistic media, to be so quiet and yet say so much.

This is not experimental theater, but a play in which the principals spend most of the proceedings in silence cannot quite be called traditional. Six people of varying ages and dispositions arrive at a five-day spiritual yoga retreat (also known as an ashram) outside the city, each carrying profound and private pains. Over the course of the next hundred minutes, the play explores these depths with great humor and pathos.

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Yet another non-scandal

by James Bowman

Posted: Apr 22, 2015 02:23 PM


As a scandalologist of long standing, I am fascinated by the Clintons’ apparent invulnerability to the sorts of claims of wrong-doing that routinely cripple or disqualify other, lesser politicians, at least since Bill’s impeachment back in 1998. To some extent, of course, this is easily explained. For a scandal to be wounding or fatal, it has to be relentlessly pursued by the media to precisely that end, and the media are in no mood to wound or kill the reputation either of Bill or of Hillary. In this month’s New Criterion I ventured to suggest that this was because the media felt guilty about their scandal-enthusiasm during Monicagate, and that Ms. Lewinsky and her blue dress had only been for Bill the non-fatal, homeopathic dose of scandal which gave him immunity to much more serious scandals down the road. Hillary, too, as an unwilling participant in that affair, somehow emerged from it with an immunity of her own.

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Critic's Notebook for April 20, 2015

by Christine Emba

Posted: Apr 21, 2015 11:35 AM



The Detached Observer (Stereogram), Mike Nudelman and Mary Robnett.

On view at Storefront Ten Eyck as part of Arts in Bushwick's Making History exhibition. 


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Chairs and clowns

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Apr 20, 2015 02:15 PM

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza and Marcelo Alvarez as Turiddu in Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana." Photo by Cory Weaver/ Metropolitan Opera.

At the Metropolitan Opera, they have a new production of “Cav ’n’ Pag,” the most common double bill in opera. Cav is Cavalleria Rusticana, by Mascagni; Pag is Pagliacci, by Leoncavallo. The production is by Sir David McVicar, the Scotsman. He has become a go-to director for the Met.

His production of Cav ’n’ Pag replaces the Zeffirelli production of 1970. One by one they’re going, the Zeffirelli productions. Are there any left? The Turandot? Ah, well: “To every thing (turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn).”

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In review: An American in Paris

by James Panero

Posted: Apr 17, 2015 03:46 PM


The phrase “Inspired by the Motion Picture” does not generally inspire confidence on Broadway. More often than not, we’re talking about a popular movie repackaged for the discount crowd. But what if your inspiration is “An American in Paris,” the 1951 Academy Award-winning MGM musical starring Gene Kelly? And what if you are the English choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, one time dancer and resident artist at New York City Ballet? 

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Sarah Connolly, exemplar

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Apr 17, 2015 12:18 PM

Sarah Connolly

In the space of three days, New York heard recitals by two British mezzos. I can still say “British” because Scotland is not out of the Union (although separatists persist). On Friday night, Karen Cargill, the Scotswoman, sang in Weill Recital Hall. (For my review of that event, go here.) On Sunday afternoon, Sarah Connolly, an Englishwoman, sang in Alice Tully Hall.

Earlier on Sunday afternoon, Dorothea Röschmann, the German soprano, sang in Carnegie Hall. (My review here.) It was a banner weekend for singing. How was a guy supposed to watch Jordan Spieth win the Masters?

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Big voice, little hall, fine recital

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Apr 16, 2015 04:08 PM

Karen Cargill

Last Friday night, Karen Cargill gave a recital in Weill Recital Hall. If you’re going to give a recital, a recital hall is a good place to give it in. I wrote of the performer in question two seasons ago. She had appeared at the Metropolitan Opera. I said,

Les Troyens is filled with minor roles in which singers can make major impressions. Have you ever heard of Karen Cargill, a Scottish mezzo? I hadn’t either. She was Anna, Dido’s sister, and made a huge impression. She has a big, juicy, Met-sized voice—a little contralto-ish. And she knows what to do with that magnificent instrument.”

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A trio of stars wakes up

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Apr 15, 2015 03:07 PM

Anne-Sophie Mutter | Yefim Bronfman | Lynn Harrell

Last night, Carnegie Hall staged a concert of “The Mutter-Bronfman-Harrell Trio.” That’s what it said on the program. In the old days, the usual order for a piano trio was pianist-violinist-cellist. In fact, a famous story is told.

Heifetz complained that his name came second, not first. Rubinstein said, “Look, Jascha, that’s the way it is. If God were the violinist, the trio would be known as ‘Rubinstein-God-Piatigorsky.’”

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About ArmaVirumque


( AHR-mah wih-ROOM-kweh)


In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.


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April 29, 2015

Edmund Burke Award Gala

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