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By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 28, 2006
Faith didn't come easily, if at all, to Giuseppe Verdi. He saw too many failings in humankind to believe much in divine goodness, let alone an afterlife. But when confronted with the death of poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, someone he idolized, Verdi turned to the ancient Latin Mass for the Dead to express his feelings. In his Requiem, the composer spoke for believers and nonbelievers alike about the fear of death and the nature of supplication. Understandably, coming from Italy's greatest creator of operas, Verdi's Requiem owes as much to the theater as to liturgical idioms.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | December 15, 2007
In his last years, Verdi drew extraordinary inspiration from Shakespeare, producing two equally compelling swan songs - Otello and Falstaff, each with its own remarkable combination of musical sophistication and theatrical sureness. This being the age of directorial license, both works are candidates for rethinking. If you go Verdi's Otello will be performed at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 22, 2002
The words "bleak" and "Russian history" tend to go together; "confusing" often gets added as well. When set to music, however, bleak, confusing Russian history can engage the senses in a mighty way. That's certainly the case with Khovanschina, Modest Mussorgsky's epic work about the bloody shift in politics and religion that prefaced Peter the Great's rise to power. It's hard to know who, if anyone, to root for as the work makes its way toward a gruesome version of Gotterdammerung. Ultimately, lines sung by a chorus of Muscovites in the first scene linger in the air after the final chord sounds: "Oh, Mother Russia, there is no peace for you; the oppressor is not the evil alien, but your own people."
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun music critic | December 13, 2007
When it comes to letting loose with unbridled emotion, no one does it better than Tchaikovsky. If you go The Queen of Spades will be performed at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington. $45-$195. 800-444-1324 or kennedy-center.org.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | February 3, 2007
The Kirov Opera took machine guns, knives, whips and even a chain saw to Verdi's comic masterpiece Falstaff this week. The result proved fascinating and sometimes funny, occasionally pretentious and even vulgar. Revisionism is so common now in opera that it can be almost a letdown to see a work presented in traditional, literal fashion. But there's still something unsettling about Producers Gone Wild (or Amok). Poor, decon- structed Falstaff never had a chance. If you go The Kirov Opera's Falstaff will be performed at 7:30 tonight at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 26, 2002
As Yuri Temirkanov can attest, Westerners love to typecast Russian artists. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's music director invariably is thought of first as a conductor of Russian repertoire, even if his approach to, say, Gustav Mahler is every bit as potent. Likewise, the Kirov Opera at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg invariably is thought of first as a company that performs Russian works, no matter how many other things it effectively puts on stage. Not surprisingly, then, the Kirov Opera's memorable visit to the Kennedy Center had the public clamoring most for performances of a Russian item, Mussorgsky's Khovanschina, rather than Verdi's early masterwork, Macbeth.
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 2, 2006
The Kennedy Center will be awash in "sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not" during the six-month Shakespeare in Washington festival that starts in January. But that's just a portion of a typically wide-ranging lineup for 2006-2007, announced yesterday. The many Bard-related items include performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company (Coriolanus), Kirov Opera (Verdi's Falstaff) and Kirov Ballet (Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet). The center will revive the 1961 Bob Merrill-Michael Stewart musical Carnival!
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 18, 2002
In the early 18th century, John Addison wondered why his fellow Londoners liked "to sit together like an audience of foreigners in their own county" and listen to operas performed "in a tongue they did not understand." That tongue was Italian, and the craze for Italian operas in non-Italian-speaking countries was hardly confined to Britain. Addison's question could have just as easily been raised at the same time by a citizen of the newly founded Russian imperial capital of St. Petersburg, where Italian opera reigned supreme until a fortuitous fire in 1859 burned down the Circus Theater.
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun | August 19, 1994
The U.S. Naval Academy Music Department's 1994-1995 Distinguished Visitors Concert Series promises to be the most exciting in the history of Alumni Hall.The season begins on Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. with a performance by the Kirov Orchestra of St. Petersburg, under the direction of Valery Gergiev. The talented Russian's career has advanced steadily since he won the Karajan Competition in Berlin at age 23 and moved to the Kirov Opera as Yuri Temirkanov's assistant.Mr. Gergiev will conduct Wagner's Prelude to "Parsifal," Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto and the wrenching Eighth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,sun music critic | April 19, 1998
A story about Herbert von Karajan, when the German maestro was simultaneously music director of orchestras in London, Berlin, Paris and Vienna, has him hailing a cab in front of Carnegie Hall."
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | February 3, 2007
The Kirov Opera took machine guns, knives, whips and even a chain saw to Verdi's comic masterpiece Falstaff this week. The result proved fascinating and sometimes funny, occasionally pretentious and even vulgar. Revisionism is so common now in opera that it can be almost a letdown to see a work presented in traditional, literal fashion. But there's still something unsettling about Producers Gone Wild (or Amok). Poor, decon- structed Falstaff never had a chance. If you go The Kirov Opera's Falstaff will be performed at 7:30 tonight at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | March 2, 2006
The Kennedy Center will be awash in "sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not" during the six-month Shakespeare in Washington festival that starts in January. But that's just a portion of a typically wide-ranging lineup for 2006-2007, announced yesterday. The many Bard-related items include performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company (Coriolanus), Kirov Opera (Verdi's Falstaff) and Kirov Ballet (Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet). The center will revive the 1961 Bob Merrill-Michael Stewart musical Carnival!
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 28, 2006
Faith didn't come easily, if at all, to Giuseppe Verdi. He saw too many failings in humankind to believe much in divine goodness, let alone an afterlife. But when confronted with the death of poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, someone he idolized, Verdi turned to the ancient Latin Mass for the Dead to express his feelings. In his Requiem, the composer spoke for believers and nonbelievers alike about the fear of death and the nature of supplication. Understandably, coming from Italy's greatest creator of operas, Verdi's Requiem owes as much to the theater as to liturgical idioms.
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 21, 2006
The Kirov Opera can be counted on to grab ears and eyes on its annual visit to Washington. The famed company from the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg is back at the Kennedy Center through the weekend, this time focusing on non-Russian repertoire -- swan songs by Wagner and Puccini and, in concert, Verdi's Requiem. On Sunday afternoon, the residency opened with a frequently stirring production of Turandot, Puccini's fable of ancient Peking. Although an occasional whiff of provincialism clouded the venture, there was enough high-voltage singing and orchestral playing to unleash the opera's combustible mix of passion, exoticism and pure, delectable kitsch.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 26, 2002
As Yuri Temirkanov can attest, Westerners love to typecast Russian artists. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's music director invariably is thought of first as a conductor of Russian repertoire, even if his approach to, say, Gustav Mahler is every bit as potent. Likewise, the Kirov Opera at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg invariably is thought of first as a company that performs Russian works, no matter how many other things it effectively puts on stage. Not surprisingly, then, the Kirov Opera's memorable visit to the Kennedy Center had the public clamoring most for performances of a Russian item, Mussorgsky's Khovanschina, rather than Verdi's early masterwork, Macbeth.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 22, 2002
The words "bleak" and "Russian history" tend to go together; "confusing" often gets added as well. When set to music, however, bleak, confusing Russian history can engage the senses in a mighty way. That's certainly the case with Khovanschina, Modest Mussorgsky's epic work about the bloody shift in politics and religion that prefaced Peter the Great's rise to power. It's hard to know who, if anyone, to root for as the work makes its way toward a gruesome version of Gotterdammerung. Ultimately, lines sung by a chorus of Muscovites in the first scene linger in the air after the final chord sounds: "Oh, Mother Russia, there is no peace for you; the oppressor is not the evil alien, but your own people."
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 21, 2002
The Kirov Opera, Ballet and Orchestra strutted its collective stuff impressively in a nearly three-hour "Tribute to Tchaikovsky" Tuesday evening at the Kennedy Center Opera House. It was a midway celebration of the Kirov's Washington visit, the first of 10 annual residencies. And it marked the only time that the ballet wing of the company was accompanied by the Kirov Orchestra (the Kennedy Center's own orchestra played for the full-length dance evenings last week). To say that the biggest star of the concert was Valery Gergiev, director and principal conductor of the Kirov, is not to slight the rest of the ensemble.
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 21, 2006
The Kirov Opera can be counted on to grab ears and eyes on its annual visit to Washington. The famed company from the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg is back at the Kennedy Center through the weekend, this time focusing on non-Russian repertoire -- swan songs by Wagner and Puccini and, in concert, Verdi's Requiem. On Sunday afternoon, the residency opened with a frequently stirring production of Turandot, Puccini's fable of ancient Peking. Although an occasional whiff of provincialism clouded the venture, there was enough high-voltage singing and orchestral playing to unleash the opera's combustible mix of passion, exoticism and pure, delectable kitsch.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 21, 2002
The Kirov Opera, Ballet and Orchestra strutted its collective stuff impressively in a nearly three-hour "Tribute to Tchaikovsky" Tuesday evening at the Kennedy Center Opera House. It was a midway celebration of the Kirov's Washington visit, the first of 10 annual residencies. And it marked the only time that the ballet wing of the company was accompanied by the Kirov Orchestra (the Kennedy Center's own orchestra played for the full-length dance evenings last week). To say that the biggest star of the concert was Valery Gergiev, director and principal conductor of the Kirov, is not to slight the rest of the ensemble.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | February 18, 2002
In the early 18th century, John Addison wondered why his fellow Londoners liked "to sit together like an audience of foreigners in their own county" and listen to operas performed "in a tongue they did not understand." That tongue was Italian, and the craze for Italian operas in non-Italian-speaking countries was hardly confined to Britain. Addison's question could have just as easily been raised at the same time by a citizen of the newly founded Russian imperial capital of St. Petersburg, where Italian opera reigned supreme until a fortuitous fire in 1859 burned down the Circus Theater.
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