We are approaching the end of the season for the entertainment subscriptions. The stack of tickets that was so big and unwieldy last Fall is down to a scant few remaining. Arizona Opera closed out its season a couple of weeks ago. After last night’s performance, the Phoenix Symphony has only two more classical concerts. Ballet Arizona closes its subscription season next weekend and the Met’s “Live in HD” season ends tomorrow. I guess it’s time to start watching the “Real Housewives of…” Wherever. Do they have one set in Mayberry yet?
Last night’s Symphony concert was interesting. The first half was Liszt’s Dante Symphony. It is a musical version of the journey through Hell and Purgatory depicted in “The Divine Comedy“. I had never heard the symphony, or even heard of it, before last night.
I don’t know much about Liszt. I recognize “Liebestraum” when I hear it. Maybe that’s why I associate him with the piano. He was a well-known pianist in his day. I also think of him as associated with Wagner but, prior to checking with my BFF Wikipedia this morning, I could not have explained why. He was instrumental in supporting production of Wagner’s early work and Wagner married Liszt’s daughter. In any case, I saw “Liszt” on the ticket and assumed we’d be hearing a piano concerto. We did not.
The symphony is impressive. It starts in the lowest registers of the instruments and moves gradually upward until it ends in the highest. The Symphony Chorus was onstage as well but only the women. He only wanted the vocals on the highest ranges near the end; a ‘choir of angels’. I liked it very much. Here’s an bit from the beginning.
The second half of the concert was a piece by Venezuelan composer Antonio Estévez called La Cantata Criolla – Florentino el que canto con el Diablo. (“Florentino sings with the Devil“). Based on a poem by Alberto Arvelo Torrealba, it tells the story of a singing contest between the two title characters. I was envisioning kind of a highbrow take on “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band. I don’t know whether that was correct. We left at intermission so I didn’t hear it. I have something to look forward to next time the Symphony decides to do an ‘all Satan’ program.
At 9:00 AM tomorrow morning we’ll see the Met’s ‘Live in HD” simulcast of Handel’s Giulio Cesare. The reviews I’ve seen have been glowing. With countertenor David Daniels and soprano Natalie Dessay in the roles of Caesar and Cleopatra, it has the potential to be memorable. I have only seen a few Baroque operas and this is not among them so it will be new to me. I’m intrigued by the teasers we’ve seen all season. The costumes and set conjure an image in my mind more of Gilbert & Sullivan than Handel. I am also fascinated that Julius Caesar is a countertenor role. It seems incongruous to me. With a length exceeding four hours, I will have plenty of time to think about it. Any any case, we have tickets and I always love Natalie Dessay so I might as well go for it. [Get it?? ‘Go for it’?….’Go for’?… Gopher?…. Gopher Baroque? Stop groaning!]