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Mozart: Amusing and profound

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Oct 16, 2014 01:13 PM


Ana Durlovski as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

At the Metropolitan Opera last week, a fellow critic asked me, “Have you seen The Magic Flute here yet this season?” I said I had not, but soon would. “It’s great,” he said, “just great.” My experience turned out to be the same as his: great, just great.

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Pretty is as Pretty does

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Oct 15, 2014 10:56 AM


Two nights ago, Pretty Yende gave a recital in Weill Recital Hall. And what better place for a recital than a recital hall? Weill is the fetching upstairs annex in the Carnegie building.

Yende is a South African soprano, not yet thirty. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut during the 2012-13 season in Rossini’s Comte Ory. Right now, she is singing Pamina in the Met’s Magic Flute (a Mozart opera, as you know).

This singer is true to her name—her first name, Pretty. When she appeared for the second half of her recital, in a different gown from the first half’s, a man called out, “Gorgeous.” She smiled. And she has a million-dollar smile, and an utterly winning stage presence.

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Mozart, Mahler, and others

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Oct 13, 2014 12:28 PM


James Levine leads Maurizio Pollini and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra played Mozart on Friday night (The Marriage of Figaro). They played Mozart on Saturday night (The Magic Flute). And they played Mozart again on Sunday afternoon. Playing Mozart—that’s not a bad way to live.

On Sunday afternoon, the orchestra was in concert in Carnegie Hall. Conducting them was their music director, James Levine. The concert began with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major—a typically perfect Mozart creation.

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Oct 10, 2014 01:44 PM


Money in the abstract: the back of the new Norwegian 100 kroner bill, designed by Snøhetta (all images via norges-bank.no)

 

Links of interest from the past week:

Confessions of an Aesthete: “To be an aesthete in an idea-driven age is to run the risk of being dismissed as irrelevant by those who prefer ideas to beauty.”

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Science by hand

by Bria Sandford

Posted: Oct 09, 2014 11:16 AM


Johann Friederich Wilhelm Herbst (German, 1743-1807). Illustration of Cancer reticulatus from Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse… (Attempt at a natural history of crabs and crayfish…)

Sometimes the human eye, a good aesthetic sense, and a steady hand are the best scientific tools. During the late 1700s, the German churchman-turned-naturalist Johann Herbst demonstrated this when he produced a three-volume encyclopedia of crabs and crayfish. A skilled artist, he engraved and hand-tinted meticulous drawings of each species he identified, most notably of Cancer reticulatus and Cancer cedonulli. Later scientists, dismissing as overzealous Herbst's careful differentiation of the crabs' coloring, concluded that the two species were really one. They were wrong. DNA testing eventually vindicated Herbst's powers of observation; his classification had been correct all along. 

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Oct 03, 2014 02:58 PM


From Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River, by W. O. Dement for Harold Fisk (1944)

 

Choral music not heard since era of Henry VIII has been played for first time in 500 years
A book of songs given to Henry VIII was unearthed in the vaults of the British Library; it has now been brought to life with a choir and period instruments. ("One died, one survived..." is not one of the tunes).

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Opening Night at Carnegie: Who could forget Dohr?!

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Oct 02, 2014 01:48 PM


Sir Simon Rattle; photo by Jim Rakete

Outside Carnegie Hall last night, there was a red carpet. Not just for celebs, but for everybody. It was Opening Night. Inside the hall, there were red flowers. Critics with horticultural skills could tell you what they were. Let me say they were poinsettia-like, sort of.

The orchestra last night was the Berlin Philharmonic. The conductor was the BPO’s longtime music director, Sir Simon Rattle. And the soloist was Anne-Sophie Mutter, the starry German violinist.

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Mozartean and Da Pontesque

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Sep 30, 2014 10:43 AM


Isabel Leonard and Marlis Petersen in Le Nozze di Figaro; photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

When James Levine appeared in the pit on Saturday night, the crowd at the Metropolitan Opera went nuts. They were happy to see him, because the conductor has had a host of health problems, and is back in action. Of course, they were happy to see him even before these problems set in. On Saturday night, he waved at the audience for a good long time, expressing his appreciation. Then he got down to work.

His work was The Marriage of Figaro, the Mozart–Da Ponte opera. The overture was not Levine’s crispest or most stylish. But it was plenty good. So was his conducting of the rest of the opera. I have often spoken of Levine’s “just rightness,” especially in Mozart: a sure sense of tempo, phrasing, weight, and overall spirit. I have also spoken of a “natural law” of Mozart—a law to which all good Mozarteans conform. At his best, Levine conveys a sense of inevitability and inarguability: “This is not interpretation. This is the way it goes, period, according to the law.”

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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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November 04, 2014

Friends and Young Friends Event: Election Night Party


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Friends and Young Friends Event: Book Launch Party with Andrew Roberts


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