James Darrah likes to point out that he has curated the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s “Pelleas Trilogy” in three different phases of Music Hall’s renovation.
CSO music director Louis Langrée’s three year project exploring Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1893 play, “Pelléas et Mélisande” began with Arnold Schoenberg’s tone poem in Music Hall – pre-renovation. It continued last year with Gabriel Fauré’s incidental music to the play when the orchestra was displaced at the Taft Theater.
This weekend, the project culminates in Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” in the newly renovated Music Hall. The performance is in collaboration with Cincinnati Opera.
“It’s been really fun to bring an opera to life in this space,” says the Los Angeles-based director and designer. “We’re all still learning what we can and can’t do (in the theater). Some things are familiar and some different.”Read More »
Issac Selya, conductor and founder of Queen City Opera, is adding a new title to his resume: Producer. For the first time since founding Queen City Opera in 2012, he is not conducting, but is producing Rossini’s “La Cenerentola,” Friday and Sunday at the Dunham Arts Center on the West Side. The production’s conductor is Queen City Opera’s Associate Music Director Jesse Leong, and the stage director is Jacquelyn Mouritsen, coming from Indiana University.
“Since the company’s mission is to launch the careers of emerging artists, I am glad we can feature a new accomplished emerging conductor as well,” Selya says.
While the company has often featured musicians and singers from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, this production will be in close collaboration for the first time with the CCM Opera Department and its chair, Robin Guarino. Current CCM students will take the starring roles.
The production is presented in memory of Dr. Bob Hasl – “Dr. Bob” — who was very fond of the opera’s alternative title “Bonta in trionfo,” or “Goodness triumphs.”Read More »
It’s been a privilege. I can truthfully say I have loved every minute of writing about the arts in Cincinnati for the Cincinnati Enquirer. I am thankful to you, the readers of both print and digital, the people who have called me, written letters, followed me on social media, come up to me at Music Hall to say hello or to talk about music, and who have taken my OLLI class, “Behind the Scenes in the Arts.”
It has been a wonderful, totally unexpected ride that became 26 years almost overnight.
From the first day that I walked into the newsroom, never having taken a journalism course, I was starstruck by the people who worked there. What talent and creativity! In those days, I filed a review right after the symphony concert on Friday nights, which meant I raced to my car behind Music Hall, tore Downtown to the Enquirer building while forming the opening lines in my head, and wrote on a deadline of 45 minutes with a copy desk editor barking, “Where’s that review?” Loved those late-night editors, who would fix my typos and write the headlines. The best one described a pianist, to be nameless here, who slogged through a bizarre performance of Rach 2: “(Pianist) phones it in — From Mars.” I was usually home by 2 a.m. and the review was in the morning paper.
But besides the reviews, I have loved writing stories about people. Sometimes I think that the whole artistic world has passed through Cincinnati. I’ve interviewed and met opera stars, violin legends, conductors, composers, crooners, rockers and movie stars. I couldn’t believe going backstage at the Met to interview Cincinnati’s own James Levine, who had pictures of his childhood home behind his desk. He knew everything happening in the Queen City. His mother, Helen, it turned out, had been sending him all of my clippings.
When Erich Kunzel died in 2009, I was proud that Reds announcer Marty Brennaman mentioned during the game the next day that The Enquirer had done a nice job on his obituary. Early that morning, I was interviewed on NPR about the Cincinnati Pops maestro, and the force of nature that he was. And about a week later, I was on tour in Japan with the CSO. On a day off at the mountainous shrine of Nikko, a man in my tour group said as we ate lunch, “Cincinnati. I heard you just lost a conductor there.” He’d heard my interview, 6,000 miles away.Read More »
There are a lot of misconceptions in the online posts I’ve read about the Music Hall bridge that the city now says it will demolish and rebuild over Central Parkway. The elephant in the room that people are missing: There is no easy and safe pathway to the front door of Music Hall on Elm Street if you park behind the building, in the Town Center Garage on Central Parkway.
If the city-owned bridge, which leads from Town Center Garage to Music Hall, is rebuilt, the renovation team is pledging to construct a passageway into Music Hall from the Ballroom entrance on the second level — the new back door.
Somehow amid expenditures of at least $135 million, planners decided not to provide a rear entrance to Music Hall. This intentional omission adversely affects many of the organizations that make Music Hall their home. People have been deciding not to renew subscriptions or to attend fewer concerts because of inconvenience and pedestrian safety.Read More »
It seems that the end of a year always results in lists — looking back and looking ahead. And invariably, my list is different from your list. There were so many other great performances that I could have added here — the Polish Festival at CCM, the Ariel Quartet, the great jazz heard every week in our community, and the high-energy shows by John Morris Russell and the Cincinnati Pops… not to mention the entire opening season this fall at the CSO, with Emanuel Ax, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Gil Shaham and Branford Marsalis!
I loved it all. But here’s my column, in case you missed it, for better or worse. At the list’s end, I look back at two of the big stories in the arts that I covered, and look forward to the opening of Music Hall next October.
Here’s one of the performances I’ve been lucky to catch this fall in Cincinnati.
Last month, Queen City Chamber Opera mounted the final installment, Act III, of Wagner’s opera “Siegfried,” at the Dunham Performing Arts Center on the West Side. The performance, which was well attended on a bright Sunday afternoon, marked the first complete performance of “Siegfried” in Ohio in a century. (It was in collaboration with the Wagner Society of Cincinnati.)
(The first two acts were performed in the previous two years. It’s a rather epic way to perform a Ring Cycle… )
What is so remarkable about the efforts of the company’s founding music director Isaac Selya is the quality that he has been able to achieve on a shoestring. His orchestra — complete with five extraordinary horn players, harp and timpani — filled nearly half of the auditorium floor.Read More »