With today’s autumn equinox already drowning in a tsunami of must-see, must-hear, must-taste sensations, it’s time to get out your calendar and your credit card and get down to business.
Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) opens its new house in Brooklyn —the Polonsky Shakespeare Center—with a Very Big Gun: A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Julie Taymor, with an original score by Eliot Goldenthal. It’s been 29 years since Taymor and Goldenthal created a 60-minute version of the play for TFANA at the Public Theater ; now they have time, space, and a budget for a full-length version with a cast of 36. It will be fascinating to see what Taymor makes of Shakespeare’s forest and addled lovers! Tickets are likely to go quickly, so speed is of the essence. Dream’s previews begin on October 19 for a November 2 through January 12 run. Tina Benko and David Harewood star as Titania and Oberon. And don’t forget to check out the rest of TFANA’s inaugural season: http://www.tfana.org/season-2014
One of last season’s greatest pleasures were master classes by world-class singers: Joyce Di Donato (at Juilliard) and Thomas Hampson (at the Manhattan School of Music). Working with graduate students who had previously learned how to produce their best sounds, both singers dispensed with the details of vocal technique to concentrate on interpretation of text: Di Donato (opera) Di Donato Hampson (lieder) Hampson
They zeroed in not only on the meaning of the words, but of the story being told and of the character doing the telling. For those of you who know only the bright lights and bling of our television talent shows, these classes are a revelation. Having a good well-trained voice is only the beginning; knowing what to do with it is as complicated (and as rewarding) as advanced Dungeons and Dragons. There are so many choices…
To give you a heads-up on this season’s riches, a few hints: MSMNY has expanded its vocal master classes to include some personal faves: Lauren Flanigan, Martin Katz (one of the world’s best coaches), Stephanie Blythe, and the Met’s Dwayne Croft (the best Sharpless in living memory). Hampson will return and, as has been his practice, enable his class to be streamed live. See http://mastercalendar.msmnyc.edu/MasterCalendar.aspx for schedules. A precious bonus: master classes at both institutions are free.
And while we’re singing the praises of singing, here’s one very long-lead tip: Juilliard’s luminous Julia Bullock (currently in Perm starring in Purcell’s Indian Queen) will return to New York in 2014 to present a recital in Merkin Hall on March 11, and to light a fire in Massenet’s Cendrillon at Juilliard in April. I know it’s early. But get your tickets any way you can. Trust me on this one…..