All stories by Mark Swed on BroadwayStars

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
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Audra McDonald captivates a Bowl audience, but she's meant for more by Mark Swed

The Los Angeles Philharmonic turned to New York of the 1940s and '50s Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl, for which Bramwell Tovey drolly apologized to his Angeleno audience. I certainly no…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 10:46PM
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New York Philharmonic sticks with American classics at Santa Barbara Bowl by Mark Swed

Unlike the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony, which have outdoor summer homes, the New York Philharmonic wanders when the weather gets hot. In …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 10:51PM
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

San Francisco Opera looks backward with the World War II-set 'Two Women' by Mark Swed

On a day in which this city ecstatically celebrated the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage, "Two Women," you might think, could mean only one thing Sunday afternoon.

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:06PM
Monday, June 22, 2015

Work-in-progress 'LSD: The Opera' is powerful musical theater by Mark Swed

On April 19, 1943, a Swiss chemist in Basel treated himself to a small sample of a fungi-based substance, LSD-25, and rode his bicycle home, taking the first acid trip. A month earlier, a on…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 06:53PM
Tuesday, June 9, 2015

S.F. Opera makes an epic effort with 'Les Troyens' by Mark Swed

Berlioz' "Les Troyens" -- a five-hour epic opera after Virgil's "Aeneid" with touches of Homer, Shakespeare and music like none ever written before for the lyric stage -- is the grandest Fre…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 10:21AM
Sunday, June 7, 2015

After 32 years, 'Available Light' brighter than ever by Mark Swed

The idea of reviving a 32-year-old collaboration between composer John Adams, choreographer Lucinda Childs and architect Frank Gehry that had been commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 11:12PM
Monday, May 25, 2015

Opera review: 'Anna Nicole' premieres in London's Royal Opera House by Mark Swed

Could “Anna” come home to America? I would like to think that with the example of John Adams and Peter Sellars, Americans might object to the opera's lack of a woman’s poin…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 05:58PM
Monday, May 4, 2015

A protean John Zorn musical marathon at LACMA and UCLA by Mark Swed

John Zorn is a defiant, protean musician, inescapable on the American scene everywhere it would seem except Los Angeles. But after a 25-year absence, he was back this weekend to proteate.

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 07:00AM
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Monteverdi's 'L'Orfeo,' the first modern opera, has lessons for digital age by Mark Swed

The myth that opera was born of a miracle dies hard. Musicologists no longer insist that what has proved to be a uniquely innovative art form for four centuries was the exclusive product of …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 07:45AM
Friday, April 24, 2015

Lincoln Center artistic director Jane Moss conducts surprising successes by Mark Swed

From the day it opened, Lincoln Center, one of the world's grandest arts complexes, has struggled to get it right. That first night in 1962 in Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall and so…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 01:00PM
Monday, April 6, 2015

Claire Chase creates theater of the lung in enthralling flute recital by Mark Swed

Claire Chase, a flutist and MacArthur "genius," on Saturday afternoon did what only a brilliant flutist and MacArthur "genius" could do: She turned UCLA's Schoenberg Hall into a giant lung.

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 07:00AM
Monday, March 16, 2015

San Diego Opera seizes the hour with prophetic 'Nixon in China' by Mark Swed

"We live in unsettled times," the president sings at the beginning of John Adams' opera "Nixon in China." He has just arrived in Peking (now Beijing) for his 1972 meeting with Chairman Mao, …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 07:15AM
Sunday, March 1, 2015

Singing best part of L.A. Opera's slapsticky 'Barber of Seville' by Mark Swed

I have not seen so happy an audience at Los Angeles Opera this season as the crowd in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday night. The company revived its slapstick 2009 production of Ro…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 10:09PM
Sunday, February 22, 2015

Exploratory 'First Take' presents six operas in progress by Mark Swed

Opera as an art form about investigation might seem a radical idea in a modern world where so much about contemporary arts and entertainment is defined by conventional narrative. But such wa…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:40PM
Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cinematic techniques at the Met mingle light and dark operas by Mark Swed

In Tchaikovsky's last opera, "Iolanta," a blind princess who knows nothing of sight learns to embrace threatening light. In Bartók's early opera, "Bluebeard's Castle," a young bride seeking…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:45PM
Sunday, January 25, 2015

Long Beach Opera puts its own spin on 'Thérèse Raquin' by Mark Swed

Tobias Picker, whose "Thérèse Raquin" was revived by Long Beach Opera on Saturday night at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, is a New Yorker with a melodramatic style that seems to su…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 09:40PM
Monday, October 27, 2014

L.A. Opera goes cutting edge in double bill of Purcell, Bartók by Mark Swed

Four cautious years after staging Achim Freyer's cutting-edge but coffer-draining "Ring" cycle, Los Angeles Opera has once more sharpened its edge, and dangerously so. On Saturday night, it …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:30AM
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' is a compassionate feat by Mark Swed

The Metropolitan Opera had a mess on its hands.

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 11:15PM