Summer Classical Music Preview – The New Yorker

Operatic productions, given their ambitions and expense, are always planned at least a year in advance. But, in making their selections for this summer, the region’s major players uncannily reflected our moment of deep political unease. One of the two productions that Francesca Zambello, who runs Glimmerglass Opera, in Cooperstown, is directing herself is the Donizetti rarity “The Siege of Calais” (July 16-Aug. 19), which takes place during the Hundred Years’ War. Zambello has moved the setting to the present day, the better to reflect on the refugee crisis in which all of Europe is currently embroiled. (Zambello will also direct “Porgy and Bess,” an opera whose political dimensions are a permanent part of the American experience.) Those who prefer their bel canto straight up can always head to Caramoor, where Angela Meade, one of the Westchester festival’s artists-in-residence, will be featured in a semi-staged presentation of Bellini’s “Il Pirata” (July 8).

Dvořák’s “Dimitrij,” which will be mounted at Bard Summerscape (July 28-Aug. 6), also has a political thrust. The Bard Music Festival’s focus this year will be on Chopin (Aug. 11-20), a composer whose fierce love of his native Poland was wrapped in layers of personal and aesthetic contradiction. But without a Chopin opera to stage, Dvořák’s potent work, which plunges gamely into the ancient intra-Slavic conflict between Catholic Poland and Orthodox Russia which flared up after the death of the tsar Boris Godunov, makes a fine substitute.

Back in New York, Mostly Mozart has shown wisdom in bringing back the thrillingly radical production of “Don Giovanni” (Aug. 17 and Aug. 19) by the conductor Iván Fischer, one of several prominent Hungarian artists who have spoken out against that country’s increasing tolerance of anti-Semitism and homophobia. The festival’s other theatrical presentation is “The Dark Mirror,” a staging of Schubert’s “Winterreise,” featuring the captivating tenor Ian Bostridge (Aug. 12-13), which continues New York’s near-obsession with this most personal of composers. (Tanglewood also presents a series of Schubert concerts this summer.) Seeming to float above it all is Morton Subotnick, the electronic-music pioneer whom the Lincoln Center Festival is hosting at the Kaplan Penthouse (July 20-22). “Silver Apples of the Moon,” created, in 1967, specifically for a recording on Nonesuch Records, will provide a fix of analog-era high-tech bliss. But its new companion work, “Crowds and Power,” is based on Elias Canetti’s disturbing book from 1960, a volume that, sadly, remains just as relevant as ever. ♦

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