The first of the season’s haute culture weekends has arrived in Harper’s Valley. Last night the Phoenix Symphony performed an interesting program. The first half was all Beethoven starting with the overture from Egmont; a Goethe play for which Beethoven wrote an overture and incidental music, and finishing with Piano Concerto #4. The latter was made more interesting by presence of Andrew von Oeyen at the piano. Aside from being quite a gifted pianist he is as cute as a bug’s ear.
The second half was more diverse; Richard Stauss’ Don Juan followed by Debussy’s La mer. I was not familiar with the Strauss piece and didn’t love it but La mer is familiar ground and they covered it well.
The guest conductor for the evening was Philip Mann. Mr. Mann is dynamic to watch and, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, reminds me of Harpo Marx; though he speaks more eloquently.
This morning kicks off the Metropolitan Opera’s Live In HD simulcast season with Tchaikovsky’s 1879 opera, Eugene Onegin. Based on a story by Pushkin, the opera tells the story of the ill-fated love between the title character and the lovely Tatanya. She’s a comely lass who’s read too many romantic novels. He’s an aloof country gentleman who doesn’t want her until he can’t have her. In un-operatic fashion, both principals are still alive when the curtain comes down. In true Russian fashion, however, their ever-after is not a happy one.
This opera marks the first of our visits to the new venue with assigned seats. The drive to the theater was 25 minutes instead of 3 but, because of the assigned seats, we are able to leave 45 minutes later.