All stories by Mark Swed on BroadwayStars

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review: For Merce Cunningham’s 100th birthday, an exceptional ‘Night of 100 Solos’ by Mark Swed

Merce Cunningham died 10 years ago at 90. He was easily the greatest choreographer of the second half of the 20th century and a teeny bit into the 21st. He left behind an enormous body of wo…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 11:18AM

Want the West Coast’s best in opera? You have to go to Europe by Mark Swed

How would have Yuval Sharon’s bewildering new production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” gone over in Los Angeles? That was the first thing that crossed my mind as I walked out of the …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 11:18AM
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Review: It's all Stravinsky all the time, but let's not forget Schoenberg by Mark Swed

It’s going to be a Stravinsky spring, right? The Los Angeles Philharmonic is about to kick off a two-week Stravinsky festival, Esa-Pekka Salonen celebrating Stravinsky’s association with…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 05:15PM
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: At 'Dreamers' premiere in Berkeley, neo-Romantic oratorio is the sound of hope by Mark Swed

As political pawns in a long-running congressional chess game, Dreamers, those children of immigrants with aspirations for a promising life in the United States, make dispassion very difficu…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 06:38AM
Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: ‘(M)iyamoto Is Black Enough’ and then some at the Wallis by Mark Swed

Well, that was a surprise! “(M)iyamoto Is Black Enough” — the first in what will be an ongoing collaboration between the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hill…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 06:22PM
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Operas in Berlin and Hamburg go Babylonian, with Trump and an immigration crisis by Mark Swed

For whatever reason — a worry about looming dystopia, perhaps — Germany is having its Babylonian moment. Major new opera productions here in Hamburg and in Berlin last weekend proved med…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 02:00PM
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Review: A day of fringe ritualistic opera and jazz orchestra quirkiness by Mark Swed

Hollywood has its under the radar, whatever-the-cat-drags-in Fringe Festival. Los Angeles has its fill of venturesome large institutions — notably the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Roy and Edn…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:00AM
Monday, July 16, 2018

With pomp and power, Dudamel fits Verdi's 'Otello' into the Hollywood Bowl by Mark Swed

From its earliest days, the Hollywood Bowl has thought of itself as a Hollywood-size opera house. And why not? Opera likes all things outsize. Full summer opera seasons in the amphitheater o…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 07:15PM
Friday, June 29, 2018

Before ‘Hamilton,’ 100 years of American music theater and how it’s told the story of who we are by Mark Swed

“Hamilton” didn’t come out of nowhere. For the past century, American music theater has been struggling with how exactly to represent our national character on stage and who we are. It…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 08:00AM
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
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Yo-Yo Ma does the impossible at the Hollywood Bowl by Mark Swed

He was a very small figure seated on a wide expanse, a large stage empty but for a cellist on a chair. The Hollywood Bowl shell was lighted midnight blue. The amphitheater was probably kept …

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 05:30PM
Monday, September 4, 2017

Why do music festivals matter? For an answer, America, look to Salzburg by Mark Swed

America lacks a truly great international music and theater festival. It's time we create one like the Austrian event where top talents push their art forward.

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 09:00AM
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
Sunday, June 18, 2017

Death haunts Frida Kahlo's long and clumsily winding road to the lyric stage by Mark Swed

When Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s “Frida” had its premiere in 1991 at the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia, Frida Kahlo was certainly well known, but not the art-world roc…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 06:30PM
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
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Getting down to the basics in Peter Brook's 'Battlefield' by Mark Swed

Peter Brook’s “Battlefield,” which opened at the Wallis on Wednesday for a brief run through Sunday, is itself the ultimate brief run. It is the last word in concentrated compression b…

Linked From Los Angeles Times at 04:55PM
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

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