Culture Magazine

A Hazy Shade of Winter: The January Short List

By Superconductor @ppelkonen

A Hazy Shade of Winter: The January Short List

I hated the movie, but I like this picture:  Kevin Kline and friend in The January Man.
Image © 1989 MGM/UA.

The month of January is dominated by the great cultural institutions of Lincoln Center: the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. But don't worry, there's plenty to keep the music-lover occupied as we roll forward into 2012. Here's the rundown.
At the Met, the second (ever) performance of The Enchanted Island takes place on Jan. 4. And this one isn't a gala. Assembled by playwright Jeremy Sams, The Enchanted Island compiles music by Rameau, Vivaldi, Handel and others as the backdrop for the following Shakespearean scenario: the four lovers from A Midsummer Night's Dream winding up on Prospero's mysterious island from The Tempest. An all-star cast includes David Daniels, Joyce Di Donato, and Plácido Domingo as the god Neptune.
On Jan. 5, music director Alan Gilbert returns to the New York Philharmonic, leading a program featuring the New York premiere of Polaris by composer Thomas Ades. Mr. Ades' work is paired with Mahler's Ninth Symphony.
Jan. 12 
sees the Philharmonic welcome back former music director Zubin Mehta. He leads Anton Bruckner's powerful Eighth Symphony, also known as the "Apocalyptic.". The following week, Lang Lang drops by Avery Fisher Hall to play Bartók's Second Piano Concerto with Mr. Gilbert. The program also features a new work by Composer-in-Residence Magnus Lindberg. The Philharmonic's busy January ends with the return of artist-in-residence Frank Peter Zimmerman, featured in the Beethoven Violin Concerto.
Jan. 10 features yet another revival of the Met's Luc Bondy production of Tosca. What was once a revered, popular opera has become something of a running joke, thanks to constant directorial tweaks and changes, mostly to the end of the first Act, the beginning of Act II, and the opera's climax. So, nothing major. This year's cast features Roberto Alagna, Patricia Racette and George Gagnidze as Scarpia.
On Jan. 15, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra comes to Carnegie Hall with a program featuring soprano Renée Fleming singing songs by Mahler, Barber and Bernard Herrmann, along with clarinet concertos by Mozart and Aaron Copland. Fabio Luisi conducts, doing sub duty for the incapacitated Met music director James Levine.
On Jan. 17, the 92nd St. Y opens Will to Create, Will to Live: The Music of Terezin. This week-long festival celebrates the art created by imprisoned Jews in the Nazi concentration camp located in Czechoslovakia. (The German name is Theresienstadt.) This was an extraordinary flowering of talent under the most horrible circumstances, an artists community that was allowed to exist in order to show how "humane" the Nazis were.
Most of the composers on these programs (a list that includes Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas and Hans Krása) died at Auschwitz. Their music survived--all the more powerful and brilliant for being created under such deadly circumstances.
Jan. 18 at Juilliard features the first 2012 concert by Steven Blier's New York Festival of Song. This exciting program includes dance numbers and songs about dancing, pairing songs by Brahms with Broadway greats Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Stephen Sondheim. Juilliard also presents the Focus! festival on Jan. 27, which kicks off with the music (and anti-music) of John Cage.
At Dicapo Opera, the Upper East Side's favorite opera company presents Giancarlo Menotti's The Consul, opening on Jan. 26. This is Dicapo's first production of the Menotti opera in its history, and a folow-up to last year's successful performances of The Saint of Bleecker Street.

Jan. 27 sees the unveiling of Götterdämmerung, the final chapter in Robert Lepage's "Machine" Ring. Two big supports, twenty-four spinning mechanical planks, and Deborah Voigt singing Brunnhilde. Hopefully, Mr. Lepage can figure out where to put a chorus of spear-carrying Gibichungs on his contraption. Fabio Luisi conducts.

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