Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Così Hero

In my last post, I mentioned that the blogosphere seems less energized than it was two to three years ago. As Elaine (a terrific blogger who hasn't slowed down) commented, some of the energy that once went into blogs has been rerouted onto Twitter and Facebook. The fact is, Twitter and Facebook are better when it comes to sharing links and keeping multi-threaded conversations going, while blogs are obviously better for more substantive content; but as blogs are used less and less for day-to-day contact and link-sharing, it stands to reason that the substantive content might get less attention.

Still, there are uniquely substantive experiences that can arise out of the Twitterverse (including operaplot, of course), and I'm particularly excited about one that will take place in the non-virtual world next week. That's right, real people, many of whom I've known exclusively through Twitter up to now, will be gathering in the Big Apple for a unique, multi-night, kind of hard-to-describe exploration/ performance of Mozart's Così fan tutte. The brainchild of NYC pianist/conductor/coach Jennifer Peterson, the event will feature professional singers and a true pick-up orchestra, with players picked up from far and wide at least in part via Peterson's Twitter connections. The two Acts of the opera will be split across four nights, with various singers taking on the roles each night and the orchestra showing up unrehearsed.

Naturally, this unrehearsed, "jam session" approach appeals to my Piano Hero instincts. This is not just because I'm lazy (although let's not completely discount that factor). No, I really like the way this kind of event embraces the joy of putting music together spontaneously. Of course, it's not completely spontaneous - Mozart did write down a lot of specific notes to be played, the singers will likely know their parts well, the musicians will be skilled. And, of course, there's nothing wrong with rehearsing a performance extensively and preparing it to be as good as possible, but I think we too often fool ourselves into thinking that great music can only be properly experienced in the idealized context of a fully prepared performance. This has a lot to do with the way we're trained and judged (we call our exams "juries!") and the way that critics tend to evaluate recitals and concerts.

But, oh yeah, sometimes the most exciting musical experiences occur in the fragmentary rehearsal stage. I know this because it's my experience all the time. Sometimes hearing just a fragment of a piece on the radio can be as moving and important as hearing it in full in a concert. Etc. So I'm really looking forward to seeing and hearing a bunch of talented musicians come together to tackle a great opera in a refreshingly informal, but sure-to-be deeply committed fashion.

I was going to bring my poor cello (poor because it only gets out of its case a few times a year) down to join in the fun, but it looks as if there are going to be plenty of real cellists on hand (though violinists are still needed!), so I think I'm just going to watch. This will also relieve me of the spontaneously improvisational experience of dragging a cello through the streets of New York. I'll only be able to get away for the first night, which will cover the Overture and the first half of Act I, but that's part of the fragmentary fun. The details are as follows:

operamission presents
Così fan tutte: Some Assembly Required

Mozart's Perfect Italian Comedy, Presented in Four Parts

• Full orchestra, unrehearsed, assembled on the spot
• A sublime cast
• Four hosts - dramaturg Cori Ellison, conductor Jennifer Peterson, stage director Ned Canty, and Italian language master Marco Nisticò

• Hosts will examine Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Lorenzo da Ponte's handiwork
• Lab, jam session, cabaret...? be determined by audience interaction

Presented by operamission
and Neke Carson at New York's Gershwin Hotel

ACT I, PART 1 - Tuesday, August 17, 7:00 PM
ACT I, PART 2 - Wednesday, August 18, 7:00 PM
ACT II, PART 1 - Friday, August 20, 7:00 PM
ACT II, PART 2 - Sunday, August 22, 4:00 PM

$10 general admission ($5 per session if attending more than one)

CONTACT -, +1 917 520 3163

1 comment:

S.Llewellyn said...

I was hoping to be one of the contingent visiting with Portland , Oregon, connections but alas I now cannot make it. I will be following the event very closely on Twitter of course and I am sure it is going to be heaps of fun. Bravo, Jennifer Peterson!