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The New Criterion

Quite simply, the best cultural review in the world
- John O’Sullivan



Levine's Progress

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: May 12, 2015 02:17 PM

James Levine; photo by Jonathan Tichler

The Metropolitan Opera season has now ended, and it ended with James Levine conducting a doubleheader: The Rake’s Progress (Stravinsky) and Un ballo in maschera (Verdi) on Saturday. It is remarkable, and remarkably good, to have Levine back, after a host of medical problems sidelined him. Every performance seems like a bonus.

I heard Levine conduct The Rake’s Progress on Monday, May 4. This opera, as you know, is an example of Stravinsky’s neo-Classical style. It is based on the engravings of Hogarth, and the libretto is by Auden (with Chester Kallman). The Met’s production is that of 1997 by Jonathan Miller (now Sir Jonathan).

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Westminster Election Diary

by David Pryce-Jones

Posted: May 08, 2015 01:36 PM


May 8th. 16.00 hours. High Noon.

One of Winston Churchill’s most famous bon mots is that democracy is the worst of systems except for all the others. What a tribute!  If Britain were a third world country this election would have ended in violence. Instead, the country’s political scene has been cleansed with an efficiency only slightly less brutal than that of the firing-squad. Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, leaders of three parties unable to perform, had all resigned by lunchtime and will not be heard from any more. The electorate had the chance to expel unwanted figures into the limbo reserved for politicians who failed the tests they are expected to pass.
Out with George Galloway, voluntary trumpeter of Arab dictators. Out with Ed Balls, whose ideological games had wrecked the economy. Out with Vince Cable, who embodied disloyalty to colleagues. Nothing is to be learnt from them and numerous others of the same stamp.  The fate of Ed Miliband, though, has a moral. He intrigued against his brother David, in order to appropriate his place as leader of the Labour Party, only to fail in that position without any possibility of reprieve. The ancient Greeks attributed such self-seeking to hubris, with the necessary payoff of nemesis. This election offers an unforgettable illustration of this age-old understanding of cause and effect in human affairs.

May 8. 0600 hours. First light.

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On the road with Verdi

by Eric C. Simpson

Posted: May 08, 2015 09:26 AM

Troy Cook and Eric Owens in Verdi's Don Carlo at Opera Philadelphia; photo by Kelly & Massa photography

Over the weekend, I visited my home city of Philadelphia to check in on its opera company. It had been almost a decade since I’d set foot in the Academy of Music at Broad and Locust; the thrill is no less than I remembered. This is one of America’s great concert halls, even if it no longer hosts one of America’s great orchestras. Its auditorium is beautifully decorated in old-world splendor, and at 2,300 seats it feels positively cozy next to the cavernous Met.

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: May 01, 2015 05:05 PM

Edgar Degas, Jockeys in the Rain, 1886
It's May, our new issue is out, and the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow!

Recent links of note:

Is the West's loss of faith terminal?
Douglas Murray, Standpoint
Life in modern liberal democracies has become thinner and more shallow. What does this mean for the future of our society?

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Charles Murray to receive third Edmund Burke Award

by Rebecca Hecht

Posted: Apr 29, 2015 12:18 PM


NEW YORK, April 29, 2015 — Distinguished social scientist Charles Murray will receive the third Edmund Burke Award for Service to Culture and Society at The New Criterion’s gala tonight in New York City. The event benefits The New Criterion, an influential monthly review of the arts and intellectual life, and the award, which was first presented to Dr. Henry Kissinger in 2012, gives homage to the inspiration provided by Edmund Burke, the eighteenth-century political philosopher.

Charles Murray will be the guest of honor and will be delivering remarks on "Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission."

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A profile in reviewing courage

by James Bowman

Posted: Apr 29, 2015 12:09 PM


Just over a year ago I wrote of the Twitter-bombing I had received on account of having written that the movie 12 Years a Slave would have been better, and even more effective as propaganda, if it had allowed itself to present an ever-so-slightly more benign portrait of slavery in the antebellum South than the exaggeratedly moralistic one it had in fact presented. A few months later, The Economist got an even more severe bombardment for publishing a review of Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Basic Books) which made much the same point—and subsequently made the career and fortune of Mr. Baptist when the review had to be withdrawn (though you can still see it in a segregated “special page” of the website “in the interests of transparency”) with a groveling apology from the editors for having run it in the first place.

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Tragically misguided

by Kyle Smith

Posted: Apr 27, 2015 11:46 AM

Peter Sarsgaard as Hamlet in the Classic Stage Company production of HAMLET

Peter Sarsgaard’s Hamlet is a flippant, cocaine-snorting party boy with a shaved head and sleek contemporary clothes. His silky shirt and impeccable sport jacket say, “Point me to the dance floor.” He makes impertinent gestures, delivers many of his lines in a high-pitched trill, and frequently interrupts himself with girlish titters. He says “conscience does make cow-aa-aa-ards of us all” and balls his fists up under his chin when he’s angry. His Dark Prince of Elsinore is the most sarcastic gay waiter you’ve ever met.

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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 New Criterion

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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