Friday, May 30, 2008

Mark no longer dualing, but 'Dido' still has it: The Globe Review


Thea Singer reviewed the Mark Morris Dance Group in "Dido and Aeneas" for today's Boston Globe. Thea was around and reviewing for the first go-round of "Dido" with Mark in the dual-lead roles of Dido, Queen of Carthage and the Sorceress, so her take on Morris' switch from stage to orchestra pit is doubly informed. But first, a little extra historical perspective . . .

Reviewing the U.S. premiere of "Dido" in 1989 (in this same Majestic theatre, no less), Christine Temin wrote:

"Morris dominates the production, and his great original contribution to it is the dual role -- similar to that of the ballerina in "Swan Lake," who plays both the Swan Queen and her evil opposite. The force of his presence astonishes: His Dido achieves real grandeur in death, arms stretching wide enough to embrace the world."

Morris stopped dancing the dual roles in 2000 and for this engagement conducts the orchestra and singers, not a surprising turn of events given Morris' deep relationship to music, but very unusual for a choreographer. Here is a bit of Thea Singer on "Dido and Aeneas" now:

"No one, I thought, could take the place of Morris - big-boned and master of the shimmy, curly locks flying - in the dual role. But Wednesday night's performance, presented by Celebrity Series of Boston at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, proved that maybe no one has to."

There is more, of course: Reimagining 'Dido and Aeneas'

And when you're finished, here is the link to buy tickets, there are still a few left...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rite of Spring Anniversary Today

Today is the 95th anniversary of the 1913 premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (famous as the thunderclap of modernism and, in part, for causing a riot. Read more). In honor of that anniversary (and not of the riot), here is a clip of the Joffrey Ballet's recreation of that 1913 production. Hang in there through the credits and just enjoy the overture.

Keith Powers reviews Mark Morris' (and Purcell's) "Dido and Aeneas" for the Herald

A rare (lately, anyway), elusive and most welcome sighting was made this morning: an overnight arts review in The Boston Herald. Keith Powers got the call: Shorter, sparcer Dido opera will leave audiences satisfied.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Siegmund "Sigi" Nissel (1922-2008)


The Amadeus Quartet (left to right): Cellist Martin Lovett, first violinist Norbert Brainin, second violinist Siegmund Nissel, and violist Peter Schidlof

I recently learned of the passing of Siegmund "Sigi" Nissel, the beloved teacher and the second violinist and administrator of the Amadeus Quartet, the top-notch English string quartet that performed together for over 40 years. The Amadeus Quartet was founded in 1947 by three Viennese violinists who had fled Nazi-subjugated Austria for England - Norbert Brainin, Peter Schidlof (who later switched to viola), and Nissel - and the English cellist Martin Lovett.

The Amadeus Quartet disbanded in 1987 upon the death of violist Peter Schidlof. Boston Globe critic Anthony Tommasini wrote of the Amadeus Quartet following their Celebrity Series concert in 1987, their 40th, and last, year together, "...their homogeneous ensemble, their collective palette of coloristic nuances, and their ability to inflect their readings with telling detail all remain marvels." Mr. Nissel was part of that marvel for its entire lifespan, the sort of thing most of us can only dream about.

The Amadeus performed on the Celebrity Series four times: in 1961, '74, '78, and '87.

The Times (UK) obituary

Siegmund Nissel wikipedia page

New York Times obituary

Boston Globe obituary

Telegraph (UK) obituary

The Washington Post obituary

The Independent (UK) obituary

On An Overgrown Path: In memorium Siegmund Nissel

Video of the Amadeus Quartet: from Beethoven's Op. 135 Quartet

Video of the Amadeus Quartet: from Bartok's String Quartet No. 4

We made the papers . . .

They've been talking about us in the papers, lately. Here is a quick guide (to be updated, if I missed anything) to the previews, reviews and other attention lavished on the Celebrity Series and her stellar performing artists in the last month.

Mark Morris Dance Group, "Dido and Aeneas"
May 28-June 1, Cutler Majestic Theatre

Boston Phoenix preview, Lloyd Schwartz

Boston Globe preview

Alisa Weilerstein, cellist in recital, with Inon Barnatan, piano
May 4, NEC's Jordan Hall

Boston Globe preview

Boston Globe review

May 9, Sanders Theatre, Cambridge

Boston Globe preview

Boston Globe review

Return to the world of the posting

This is one of those, "I-am-back-I'm-sorry-here-is-what-I-have-been-up-to," blog posts, or at least a variant of the type. The difference with this one is that I will not bore you with excuses or details (I have my writing to bore you with). I just want to acknowledge that a page of Mark Morris Dance Group related info has been greeting regular readers for quite some time, and while I can't promise I won't put up a similar bulletin board in the future (actually, I can promise you I will), I pledge to feel a nagging guilt throughout the page's life and I will not enjoy the 12-course meals, sumptuous desserts, manicures, pedicures, cruises, inner tube trecks through Bhutan, extended massage therapy, weekends at the Rolfing Institute, jaunts down Parisian thoroughfares, hikes in the Swiss Alps grind of critical business that takes me away from you, gentle reader..

So how have you been?