Visiting Ypres today is a somber affair. The surrounding farmlands were the main battlefield, but the town itself was almost totally destroyed by German bombardment in the autumn of 1914. The devastation was so great that Winston Churchill wanted to depopulate the town and transform its environs into a vast memorial site.
It is hard to imagine a more complex piece than Korngold’s Violin Concerto. It stands on the cusp of classical music’s transformation from an art form confined to the concert hall, into a multimedia concept.
American composer Michael Dellaira secured the operatic rights to Lampedusa’s novel after rereading it following a trip to Sicily in 2014. Pandemic complications froze the entire performance world for two years, so the opera only had its world premiere in March 2022, in a run of two performances by the Frost Opera Theater.
Set against the production’s dismal sets, the action unfolded as a five-hour dirge of funereal hopelessness before ejecting spectators into equally gray Manhattan surroundings where after-theater conviviality is long dead.
Listening to Renée Fleming in an intimate recital nearly five years after her semi-retirement, one has to wonder if she left too soon. She has upcoming April concerts in France, Germany, Lithuania, and the UK.
Interested readers should know that, in what is billed as “the return of one of the greatest pianists of our time” spanning from Beethoven’s “Appassionata” and Chopin’s “Third Sonata,” Yefim Bronfman will perform a piano recital at the Teatro Auditorium Manzoni in Bologna on February 28, 2022.