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Audra McDonald and Philip Glass Honored with National Medal of Arts

Audra McDonald and Philip Glass Honored with National Medal of Arts

Broadway and classical icon Audra McDonald and minimalist composer Philip Glass were among the 12 recipients of the 2015 National Medal of Arts which were awarded in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House this morning.

Summer School: “Così fan tutte” at the Mostly Mozart Festival

Summer School: “Così fan tutte” at the Mostly Mozart Festival

This was Così, straightforward and unaltered. While it would have been great to see Christophe Honoré’s provocative production, what arrived at Lincoln Center was a musical presentation of the highest quality.

Red Scare: “Sweeney Todd” and “The Crucible” at Glimmerglass

Red Scare: “Sweeney Todd” and “The Crucible” at Glimmerglass

A misguided “Sweeney Todd” and an adaptation of “The Crucible” round out a weekend at the Glimmerglass Festival.

The Old Ball and Chain: “Fidelio” and Beethoven Lieder at Caramoor

The Old Ball and Chain: “Fidelio” and Beethoven Lieder at Caramoor

While this performance was cast to perfection from top to bottom, the success of Sunday’s presentation was due in no small part to the incredible Leonore of Elza van den Heever, her first performance of the part.

Butterfly, Fly Away: Mascagni’s “Iris” at Bard SummerScape

Butterfly, Fly Away: Mascagni’s “Iris” at Bard SummerScape

Pietro Mascagni’s grim opera about a stultifyingly naïve girl who is kidnapped from her blind father by a lecherous young man and then sold into prostitution in legendary Japan seems unnecessarily nauseating and indeed, it sometimes feels that way. But sordid stories often yield stunning operas, and Iris, now seeing the light of the sun (Ha!) in a rare revival as part of Bard College’s 2016 SummerScape festival, is everything verismo should be: Devastating, provocative, and direct.

General Angst: “Aureliano in Palmira” Arrives at Caramoor

General Angst: “Aureliano in Palmira” Arrives at Caramoor

Clocking in at nearly four hours and receiving a uniformly committed and capable presentation from the Bel Canto at Caramoor forces, this Rossini rarity is a fine example of the young composer’s music that would only tighten, both musically and dramatically, as his career progressed.

Some Enchanted Evening: MasterVoices’ “Dido and Aeneas” with Kelli O’Hara

Some Enchanted Evening: MasterVoices’ “Dido and Aeneas” with Kelli O’Hara

You can imagine my initial reticence when it was announced that Broadway superstar Kelli O’Hara would be performing in Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas with MasterVoices. And you can also imagine my surprise when O’Hara’s cleanly-sung, introspective interpretation of the Carthaginian queen won the day at City Center last Friday.