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Cato in Utica

by B.A. Nilsson August 20, 2015


  “Et in Arcadia ego” is inscribed on one of the trompe l’oeil stones forming the backdrop to Cato’s encampment in north Africa. “I am in Paradise,” the phrase suggests, and it’s an inscription often found ...

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Adventures in Mexico

by B.A. Nilsson August 13, 2015


  You can count on the Bard Music Festival for textural extremes. Last Saturday’s programs ran a gamut from a charming sonata for guitar and harpsichord by Manual Ponce to the outsized, relentless Piano Concerto by ...

0 comments Bard College Richard B. Fisher Center

Entry-Level Mozart

by David King July 30, 2015


  The Magic Flute has and always will be absurd, nonsensical and up for wide interpretation. The Glimmerglass performance of the piece wasn’t designed to change any of this but instead offer modern audiences, youth especially, ...

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The Best of All Possible Shows

by David King July 30, 2015


  Voltaire’s Candide is a satire aimed directly at the teachings of philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who preached that our world is the best of all possible worlds that God could have created despite the horrors ...

1 comment Glimmerglass Festival

Glimmerglass Festival

by B.A. Nilsson July 23, 2015


  Even as the characters of Macbeth and his wife inspire each other to greater acts of infamy, so too do the roles that Verdi created vie in the realm of vocal demands. But with two ...

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Opera Saratoga

by B.A. Nilsson July 16, 2015


  As Brian Castner and three of his fellow Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists are driving back to base from yet another mission while deployed in Iraq, the tension of the moment is jolted by a pigeon. ...

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Boston Early Music Festival

by B.A. Nilsson June 25, 2015


  The greatest tribute to the power of Claudio Monteverdi’s music (and the damn fine story it set) occurred during the second half of Orfeo, as the title character made his way out of the underworld, ...

0 comments Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

The Emerson Quartet

by B.A. Nilsson May 7, 2015


  The concert finished abruptly, in mid-phrase. The players lowered their instruments and it became clear to the puzzled audience that, for whatever reason, the piece they were playing had finished. The reason is that Bach died ...

Union College Memorial Chapel

A Romantic Weekend in Annandale

by B.A. Nilsson August 14, 2014


  In the end, Malcom Bilson was right. The distinguished pianist and early-music specialist spoke and performed during a 10 AM panel titled “Invention and Reinvention: Who Was Schubert?” and, comparing a piano from Schubert’s time ...

Bard College Olin Hall

High and Low

by B.A. Nilsson August 7, 2014


  Two fish-out-of-water stories that nevertheless couldn’t be more dissimilar find a young Japanese woman trying to please her American lover by herself becoming as American as possible--and a starry-eyed composer forced to allow a commedia ...

Glimmerglass Festival

Doom, Glorious Doom

by B.A. Nilsson August 7, 2014


  Poor Grace Brown! She was a small-town factory worker who would have lived an anonymous life had she not drowned in Big Moose Lake in 1906. Instead, she achieved a posthumous fame that lives on ...

Glimmerglass Festival

The Old Master

by B.A. Nilsson July 31, 2014


  Although the protean Peter Schickele has proven himself a success as a composer of an enormously wide variety of music; a songwriter; a performer of great skill who can play piano and bassoon and, when ...

Colonial Theatre

Better Than Broadway

by B.A. Nilsson July 17, 2014


  On the heels of Oklahoma, their first collaboration, came Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, based on a depressing but popular play by Ferenc Molnár. Liliom presented a charming but hotheaded protagonist who gets a chance to ...

Glimmerglass Festival

Hilary Hahn

by B.A. Nilsson April 24, 2014


  O Hilary: Why do you seek to drag us into the 21st century? Or the 20th, for that matter? You’re an international star, one of the finest of violin soloists, and you could have eased ...

Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

Itzhak Perlman

by B.A. Nilsson March 6, 2014


  There’s a published edition of Bazzini’s “Round of the Goblins” that reads, “For the player who has mastered all technical difficulties, because they’re all there in this brief violin showpiece. Not only must your left ...


A Perfect Trio

by B.A. Nilsson December 12, 2013


  The sun was setting, the hall was warm, so I drifted into a kinda-conscious twilight in which the music became an emotionally laden dialogue, a passionate exchange between lovers. Words weren’t needed. Spoken communication requires ...

Union College Memorial Chapel

The Orchestral Zelda

by David King November 13, 2013


  It’s intermission at Proctors last Friday night and a mix of people of all ages are streaming out into the lobby—from five-year-olds in Mario Bros. shirts to elderly couples in neat, crisp formal attire, and ...

1 comment Proctors

Virtuoso Showcase

by B.A. Nilsson October 17, 2013


  Those who expected to be awed by the legendary Red Violin learned an important lesson last week. Elizabeth Pitcairn, who owns and plays that particular Strad, gave a recital at the University at Albany Performing ...

1 comment University at Albany PAC Recital Hall

Genius, Wit

by B.A. Nilsson October 10, 2013


  Bach’s Goldberg Variations run about the length of an early Marx Brothers movie, but conceal their humor more deftly. Like the movies, the variations are episodic, drawing from long-standing entertainment traditions, but lacing those traditions ...

Union College Memorial Chapel

Entertaining and Scholarly

by B.A. Nilsson August 22, 2013


  If you can devote but one day to a Bard Summerscape composer series, you should go whole hog. A Saturday, for example, starts with a 10 AM talk, and breaks in time for you to ...

1 comment Bard College Olin Hall

Comedy Is Not Pretty

by B.A. Nilsson August 15, 2013


  A large, ornate picture frame dominates Court Watson’s set for the Glimmerglass Festival’s production of the Verdi’s rarely seen Un giorno di regno, presented in English as King for a Day. Smaller frames periodically fly ...

Glimmerglass Festival

Unamplified Glory

by B.A. Nilsson August 7, 2013


  The Lancelot problem keeps the Arthurian writers and scholars on their toes. According to Thomas (“Tom of Warwick”) Malory, he slavishly follows the Pentecostal Oath; by the time T.H. White gets hold of him, he’s ...

Glimmerglass Festival

Glorious Suffering

by B.A. Nilsson August 1, 2013


  Musical portraits of suffering and pain probably go back to the beginnings of song, and the musical techniques of rendering it have since then grown ever more intricate. Our ears are long accustomed to the ...

Glimmerglass Festival

Master and Commander

by B.A. Nilsson July 10, 2013


  First let’s salute scenic designer James Noone. If we’re not going to inhabit Norwegian cliffs, we need something as eye-catching as the abstraction of ship and rigging that framed the stage. But then let’s thank ...

Glimmerglass Festival

Forever Young

by B.A. Nilsson June 5, 2013


  The name of this ensemble, drawn from the very fine ranks of the Albany Symphony, was chosen by music director David Alan Miller when it proved, of the many choices he compiled, most distasteful to ...