Friday, November 20, 2009

Musical History

Last night I sipped wine and wandered through the wonderful new Schubert Club Museum. Attendees were serenaded by the piano, noshed on fine hors d'oeuvre and resisted the temptation to touch the ice sculpture. It was quite the event- attended by Mayor Chris Coleman and generous museum donor, Gilman Ordway. In retrospect the ice sculpture thing was probably just me.
Go immediately to this museum. It's free.

After undergoing extensive renovation the grand opening yesterday revealed a whole new look, new, and elegant. You may half-forget you're walking through a museum. If someone were to arrange a musical collection in their (grand) home they might take inspiration from this graceful display of pianos, instruments, manuscripts and photography. The whole collection feels quite personal, several pianos have been played by the likes of Schuman and Bach, and there's nothing like seeing one of Mozart's private letters. To top it all off the museum is located in the fantastic Landmark Center, a must visit St. Paul site.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Be still my fluttering heart

Last Saturday the Minnesota Opera presented the second show of the season, 'Casanova's Homecoming'. A newer opera, written about 25 years ago by local composer Dominick Argento, this was one of the more hilarious, clever shows I've seen.
Musically, I'll admit to a below average level of understanding. This opera doesn't have the usual signature, melodic arias and I base my good opinion principally on the fact that Beverly Sills loved it. After hearing maestro Vordoni comment on the complicated, challenging music I paid close attention to the orchestra and noticed some really beautiful melodies I would have otherwise missed.
As I mentioned the show is quite funny, full of the type of humor one might expect from a story of the legendary womanizer. After the opera, I loved seeing the composer come on stage for bows. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but my neither of my grandfathers ever made a joke about the 'thrust' of a battleship or an 'erect' soldier.