All stories by Mark Swed on BroadwayStars

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Kathleen Battle, Julia Bullock and the saga of opera singers of color by Mark Swed

A year from now we will celebrate the 80th anniversary of one of the most important concerts in American history. Richard Powers set the scene in his epic novel, “The Time of Our Singing,…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:00AM
Monday, March 26, 2018

I survived 24 hours of Taylor Mac: a necessary 246-song attack on the heteronormative narrative by Mark Swed

Taylor Mac’s “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music” is a necessary and great American epic for our time. It is, on the surface, like nothing else, a queering of American history with t…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:00AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In praise of musical tourism: Huayin Shadow Puppet Band and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre by Mark Swed

If it’s Tuesday, this must be Huayin, a scenic village in Northern China on a tributary of the Yellow River at the foot of Hua Mountain. OK, it was a Thursday. And it was Santa Barbara. Bu…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:00AM
Monday, March 12, 2018

Joffrey Ballet dazzles in L.A. Opera's 'Orpheus and Eurydice' by Mark Swed

Gluck’s “Orpheus and Eurydice” may be based on the Greek myth of a singer capable of beguiling even hell’s furies, but the opera has long been catnip to choreographers. One of the de…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 09:40PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The musical view from Mexico and Bali (by way of Northridge and Santa Monica) by Mark Swed

How do cultures on opposite sides of the planet interpret the Earth and its mythology? A notebook comparing the mariachi opera "To Cross the Face of the Moon" and the elaborate gamelan/dance…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 09:00AM
Sunday, January 28, 2018

L.A. Opera and a 'Candide' for all by Mark Swed

In his Los Angeles Opera program note for Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” which opened at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday night, music director James Conlon points out that th…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 05:35PM
Monday, January 22, 2018

'Candide' on the coast, Part 1: San Francisco finds a spiritual glow in Bernstein's music by Mark Swed

In the annals of Leonard Bernstein, it is common to dismiss the West Coast. The composer was a native Bostonian and a New York icon who didn’t have all that much to do with us. Though a me…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 07:25PM
Sunday, January 21, 2018

Three L.A. cellists save the day with last-minute musical theatrics for the Phil by Mark Swed

New principal guest conductor Susanna Mälkki led the L.A. Phil through a program centered on a extremely difficult 1968 cello concerto by the German composer Berndt Alois Zimmermann, whose …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 03:55PM
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Schubert's lonely hearts club band and a heart throb tenor by Mark Swed

A mill. A brook. A body. A pretty, fickle daughter. A blithe wanderer. A hunter. Nixies. A broken heart. An atmosphere of underlying weirdness. A strophic soundtrack underscoring all that is…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 05:15PM
Thursday, January 11, 2018

Leonard Bernstein at 100: Why the music world is making this the Year of Lenny by Mark Swed

On the first day of 2018, a dozen cities in Germany, from Augsburg to Wiesbaden, celebrated a new year with concerts that included music by Leonard Bernstein. No matter America’s fraught r…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 11:00AM
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Robert Mann: A musical revolutionary on par with Cage, Bernstein, Callas and Gould by Mark Swed

Robert Mann once explained in an interview that, zealously fired up after founding the Juilliard String Quartet in 1946, he went so far as to obtain an orgone accumulator. It wasn’t enough…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 04:45PM
Sunday, December 10, 2017

An L.A. Phil reminder that but a mile, and fate, separate Disney Hall from skid row by Mark Swed

Has any country ever suffered victory as Russia did at the end of the World War II in 1945? Loses were incalculably terrible, and the future was as scary as ever with Stalin still in power. …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 04:15PM
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A musical saint and her discontents at the Monday Evening Concerts by Mark Swed

The first composer in the Western canon whose name we know and whose voice continues to exert considerable contemporary resonance was a woman — the 12th century Benedictine abbess Hildegar…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 05:50PM
Friday, November 3, 2017

Shakespeare in Disney Hall: An L.A. Phil 'Dream' deferred by Mark Swed

Mendelssohn’s beloved overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” can be used two ways, both wondrous. One is as the standalone piece that the 17-year-old composer originally intended. I…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 03:50PM
Friday, October 20, 2017

Mirga meets an old master at Disney Hall by Mark Swed

When Gidon Kremer has a farsighted cause, it is wise to pay close attention. Over an uncompromising half-century career, the Latvian violinist and one of the last of the legendary artists to…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 05:55PM
Monday, July 24, 2017

‘Sondheim on Sondheim’: A Broadway baby in symphonic clothes by Mark Swed

“Sondheim on Sondheim” is, no surprise, all about Stephen Sondheim. But a new “symphonic version” given its premiere by the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Sunday night at the Hollywood …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:35PM
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

'Young Caesar' finally conquers: Troubled 1971 opera is reborn at Disney Hall by Mark Swed

Now we know. It has been 45 years since Lou Harrison’s “Young Caesar,” an overtly gay opera for puppets with penises, had its hapless premiere in Pasadena, to the outrage of some of it…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 06:10PM
Monday, May 1, 2017

Want to hear the real La La Land? Lend an ear to the L.A. composers of the Hear Now festival by Mark Swed

The music of “La La Land” is not really the music of La La Land. It may be only in the obvious but narrow sense that this was music written for a film made here and celebrating freeway c…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 09:10PM
Monday, March 13, 2017

An opera about Walt Disney, in commuting distance of Disneyland by Mark Swed

“The Perfect American” is the operatic portrait of an idealist American artist as a less-than-perfect old man, which is to say a blend of sunshine, supremacy and insecurity. In Philip Gl…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:50PM
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bernstein by the Bay: S.F. Symphony brilliantly delivers 'On the Town' by Mark Swed

You could make a Broadway show about the making of the musical “On the Town.” It’s got everything. Then again, no one would believe it. In 1944, a 26-year-old composer and a couple of …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:47AM
Monday, May 30, 2016

A 'Carmen' in San Francisco breaks down barriers by Mark Swed

Calixto Bieito is Catalan for Eurotrash. Not really.  But Bieito is the provocative opera director who first comes to the mind of many worried about an art form sinking into Tarantino-esque…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 06:43AM
Monday, March 28, 2016

Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner play in the transforming spirit of Beethoven by Mark Swed

A prodigious builder of musical bridges, Jennifer Koh is a violinist with a number of ongoing projects meant to connect people, disciplines and eras. To gain insight into a musician's mind, …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 07:25AM
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Is 'The Trial of Anne Opie Wehrer' even opera? Why nearly 50 years later it stands apart by Mark Swed

With "Hopscotch" last fall, opera roamed to parts of downtown and Boyle Heights the art form had never ventured, its audiences escorted in safe environments of limousines. Sunday evening the…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 10:00PM
Monday, March 14, 2016

Long Beach Opera's 'Fallujah' tackles the Iraq war with authentic anguish by Mark Swed

All war is hell. But it is a special hell for those expected to fight without understanding why, as it is a special hell for civilians caught up in the battle, unsure who are the good guys a…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 10:34PM

As for Los Angeles Opera's 'Madame Butterfly,' go for the music by Mark Swed

Los Angeles Opera came into being in 1996 with a stellar production of Verdi's "Otello." It was a historic occasion at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The next evening the company presented P…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 09:54PM
Sunday, March 13, 2016

A ballerina of the boardroom and activist for the arts -- say hello to the new Music Center CEO by Mark Swed

I have a long history with the Music Center. I know the nooks and crannies of the campus' four theaters. But the one place I had not been until recently is the office of the president and CE…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 06:34PM
Tuesday, February 16, 2016

L.A. Opera again casts an enchanting spell with its silent-movie-styled ' Magic Flute' by Mark Swed

Barely two years after Los Angeles Opera first mounted Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade's popular silent-movie take on Mozart's "The Magic Flute," the company brought it back to the Dorothy …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 04:13PM
Friday, January 29, 2016

Gustavo Dudamel and Youth Orchestra L.A.'s Super Bowl halftime show will be a win for the arts by Mark Swed

The announcement that Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel will conduct members of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles in the Super Bowl halftime show is big news for the world of…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 06:41AM
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A fresh recording of 'Long Christmas Dinner' serves plenty to be thankful for by Mark Swed

Christmas, we like to remind ourselves, is about family. But the season tends to offer surprisingly little familial music of any real significance. The subject matter of holiday oratorio, ca…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 11:14AM
Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dance review: 'Fase' a mesmerizing Minimalism map to Steve Reich's music by Mark Swed

In "Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich," which Flemish choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker brought to Royce Hall on Tuesday night, one plus one equals two, allowing for an…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:45AM
Monday, November 2, 2015

With L.A. Opera's 'Moby-Dick,' call it a success by Mark Swed

On the cover of its July issue, Opera News dubbed Jake Heggie "U.S. opera's most successful composer." It was an odd pronouncement for the in-house publication of the Metropolitan Opera Guil…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 10:30PM

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