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 regionâs 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 âThe Siege of Calaisâ (July 16-Aug. 19), which takes place during the Hundred Yearsâ 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 âPorgy and Bess,â 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 festivalâs artists-in-residence, will be featured in a semi-staged presentation of Belliniâs âIl Pirataâ (July 8).
DvořÃ¡kâs âDimitrij,â which will be mounted at Bard Summerscape (July 28-Aug. 6), also has a political thrust. The Bard Music Festivalâs 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, DvořÃ¡kâs 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 âDon Giovanniâ (Aug. 17 and Aug. 19) by the conductor IvÃ¡n Fischer, one of several prominent Hungarian artists who have spoken out against that countryâs increasing tolerance of anti-Semitism and homophobia. The festivalâs other theatrical presentation is âThe Dark Mirror,â a staging of Schubertâs âWinterreise,â featuring the captivating tenor Ian Bostridge (Aug. 12-13), which continues New Yorkâs 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). âSilver Apples of the Moon,â 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, âCrowds and Power,â is based on Elias Canettiâs disturbing book from 1960, a volume that, sadly, remains just as relevant as ever.Â â¦