Susan Hall


Recent Articles:

  • Kopernikus at the Image Project Front Page

    Claude Vivier Takes the Fear Out of Death

    By: Susan Hall - May 18th, 2019

    Claude Vivier died in 1983 at age 35. He lived in Paris at the end of his life and was stabbed to death by a young man he had been attracted to. His final opera which told this story before it happened was sitting on his work table. He never heard Koperikus produced, but in this century it has built up a head of steam. Its New York premiere was held at the Image Project in Brooklyn.

  • Patience & Sarah at Danny Kaye Theater Front Page

    Paula Kimper's Folktale of Love Come True

    By: Susan Hall - May 14th, 2019

    Patience & Sarah was one of the first same sex love stories produced in the United States. It was radical subject matter in the 20th century. It hardly seems daring today, as Brokeback Mountain has stormed opera houses and a transgender work, As One, will have a New York premiere later this month. Yet the production by Hunter College and American Opera Projects was lovely and hopeful.

  • A New Take on Immigration Front Page

    Sea Dog Theater Produces a Winner

    By: Rachel de Aragon - May 09th, 2019

    The Rare Biosphere, a new play by Chris Cragin Day presented by the Sea Dog Theater and directed by Christopher J Domig is a charming and poignant look at at the question of immigration. Through the lives of a very American adolescent lens we are confronted with realities which upset the norm-- and intensify choices

  • Emmeline by Tobias Picker Front Page

    Classic Contemporary Opera at Manhattan School of Music

    By: Susan Hall - Apr 27th, 2019

    Manhattan School of Music mounts a superb production of Tobias Picker's Emmeline this spring. Directed by the gifted Thaddeus Strassberger, the work has been moved into the present and resonates as a universal tale. George Manahan. who conducted the world premiere of the work at Santa Fe Opera over twenty years ago, led the orchestra, revealing all the richness of the score. Young talent created unforgettable characters in this re-telling of a Greek myth.

  • Hilma af Klint, The Opera Front Page

    Guggenheim Presents Benjamin Staern's Chamber Opera

    By: Susan Hall - Apr 23rd, 2019

    The Works & Process series at the Guggenheim Museum is full of surprise and delight. The notion that one’s experience of art can be enhanced by music is not new. Yet in the case of Hilma af Klint, the exhibit of whose works has been the sensation of the New York art season, using a chamber opera to take us inside her experience, was enormously helpful for a better understanding of the woman and her work.

  • ONE Festival at Opera Omaha Front Page

    Philip Glass, Ellen Reid and Charles Gounod Featured

    By: Susan Hall - Apr 21st, 2019

    The ONE Festival of Opera Omaha celebrated its 2nd anniversary this year. It has already become a must visit for opera lovers throughout the world. The productions here are first rate. Bringing in James Darrah, who is a director of choice for many of the best young composers, has excited opera fans. This year did not disappoint.

  • Ellen Reid Wins Pulitzer for Prism Front Page

    Composer's Generosity of Spirit and Notes

    By: Susan Hall - Apr 16th, 2019

    Ellen Reid has been a hot item this year. Four venues in Los Angeles commissioned work from her. Now Prism, a Beth Morrison production, has won the Pulitzer prize for music. We wandered her soundscape in Omaha created for her by Opera Omaha at the Josyln Art Museum. Distinguishing composing notes from the listener's experience, Reid brings new sounds to an audience.

  • Bound by Huang Ruo at Baruch Performing Arts Center Front Page

    Freshly Squeezed Opera Presents New York Premiere

    By: Susan Hall - Apr 16th, 2019

    Bound, Huang Ruo's chamber opera, is produced at the Rose Nagelberg Theatre in the Baruch Performing Arts Center. Originally commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, this production is the New York premiere. It is a fresh take by Freshly Squeezed Opera. Ashley Tate who specializes in multi-media production, directs.

  • All Our Children at the Sheen Center Front Page

    Stephen Unwin's Play Explores Eugenics

    By: Susan Hall - Apr 15th, 2019

    The Sheen Center's Black Box Theater is stacked with files containing the case records of 'defective' young people who are institutionalized and awaiting their death. All Our Children takes up a theme developed in Florian Henkel von Donnersmarck's latest film. The doctor in the film and the doctor running a clinic for children in the play, both are charged with duties best left to God. Who is to live, and who must die, is in play because upkeep is expensive and the State needs money for munitions.

  • Norma Jeane Baker of Troy at The Shed Front Page

    Ben Whishaw and Renee Fleming Star

    By: Susan Hall - Apr 10th, 2019

    Poet Anne Carson has a special touch, embedding a conversational tone in lilting lines. While Norma Jeane Baker of Troy is billed as a melologue in which some words are sung and some spoken. It asks the question opera composers always ask: what words should be spoken, and what words sung? As a struggling writer's secretary, Fleming becomes muse, moving from speech to song. She is glorious. So too is Ben Whishaw, who moves from writer to the embodiment of Marilyn Monroe.

  • Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish Front Page

    Language Roots the Musical in its Native Soil

    By: Rachel de Aragon - Apr 08th, 2019

    Directer Joel Grey delivers a rare and rich revival. Fiddler on the Roof has come back, a comment and conversation in Yiddish about a time and place that indeed did shake the world. In the language of the people who lived it, this production is more rooted in their world, earthy, funny, deeply-moving.

  • Jeremy Gill and Port Mande at National Sawdust Front Page

    Genre-breaking jazz to Contemporary Classical

    By: Susan Hall - Apr 08th, 2019

    Mark Dover and Jeremy Ajari Jordan worked Debussy, Schubert and angst into a wild evening of jazz. Jeremy Gill has a quiet about his work from which he builds and to which he then retreats. There is something satisfying in this bracket, in which we share in the rougher emotions of the interior.

  • The Cradle Will Rock at Classic Stage Company Front Page

    Marc Blitzstein Delivered for Our Times

    By: Rachel de Aragon - Mar 30th, 2019

    Marc Blitzstein was a critic of the music and politics of his time. Often expressing his dissatisfaction with the “privileged society” he felt dominated the creative impulses of his colleagues. As he wrote in 1936, “the unconscious (sometimes not so unconscious) prostitution of composers in today’s world is one of the sorry sights,” warning that “music in society, with us these many years, is dying of acute anachronism; and that a fresh idea, overwhelming in its implications and promise, is taking hold.” Prostitution, the exchange of one’s body for payment, became an important symbol for Blitzstein during the interwar period. It was a brash allegory for capitalism’s influence over (and failure of) the working class throughout the Great Depression.

  • Choir of King's College at Saint Thomas Front Page

    Lenten Season Music

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 29th, 2019

    Concerts at Saint Thomas continue their 2018-19 season with a guest performance by the acclaimed Choir of King’s College, Cambridge at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. This marks the choir’s final North American tour with current Director of Music Stephen Cleobury, who will retire after 37 years in September. His position will be filled by current Saint Thomas Organist and Director of Music Daniel Hyde.

  • The Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini Front Page

    Sam Mendes Directs at Park Avenue Armory

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 28th, 2019

    In a co-production with National Theatre and Neal Street Productions, the Park Avenue Armory is presenting a multi-generational story of the Bavarian family Lehman in America. Captivated by Ben Powers' Biblical translation of Stefano Massini's The Lehman Trilogy, director Sam Mendes has worked with three brilliant actors to create a cast of hundreds. It is a testimony to the talents of Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles that we believe one man can be a young woman, a child, and an aging patriarch if not all at once, certainly standing next to each other.

  • Richard II at DeSotelle Studios Front Page

    C.A.G.E Commited to Shakespeare Realized

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 24th, 2019

    DeSotelle Studios is committed to doing staged readings of eight Shakespeare plays in eight months. Richard II seems perfect for this form. Perhaps no Shakespeare play rests more securely in its lyric laurels. Rhymed couplets and parallel constructions abound for listening pleasure. The cast took full advantage under Katrin Hilbe's direction.

  • Skinnamarink at New York Theater Workshop Front Page

    Little Lord Skewers US Education with Style

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 23rd, 2019

    Little Lord transforms the Fourth Street Theater of New York Theater Workshop into a one room schoolhouse. We the audience get to face the demons of our early education where "Run Dick Run" at the very least bored us to tears. Based on the educational theories of William McGuffey, who after roaming the midwest as an itinerant teacher, created elementary readers for grades one to six, McGuffey's texts were used throughout the US for a hundred years.

  • Boston Symphony at Carnegie Hall Front Page

    Thomas Adès Conducts

    By: Paul J. Pelkonen - Mar 22nd, 2019

    Although the first conductors were themselves composers, the wearing of both hats at the helm of a symphony orchestra is always cause for comment. On Wednesday night, the British composer Thomas Adès, who is currently in the new role of "Artistic Partner" with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, led that band at Carnegie Hall in a program featuring the New York debut of his Piano Concerto.

  • Theatre of Voices at Carnegie Hall Front Page

    Arvo Part and David Lang Featured

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 21st, 2019

    Theatre of Voices returned to Zankel Hall in Carnegie Hall to perform the music of Arvo Pärt alongside the New York premiere of visual poems accompanied by a picture poem by Phie Ambo. No Mickey Mousing was intended. Instead the pictures were suggested by changing seasons, and a farm in Denmark. Both Pärt and David Lang were beautiful, deep meditations on nature, man's the the world's.

  • Man of La Mancha in Annapolis Front Page

    Patrick Gerard Lynch Plays the Don and his Creator

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 18th, 2019

    Man of La Mancha acted and sung with all the passion it can arouse, is revived by the Compass Rose Theater in Annapolis, Maryland. It is a treat. While its score may be Broadway- lite, a reminder that there is hope for humans who dream is a welcome.

  • Ashes by Plexus Polaris Front Page

    Yngvild Aspeli Directs at HERE

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 18th, 2019

    Ashes is touring the world and landed at the adventuresome theater HERE in New York. Billed as a puppet show, yet so much more, Ashes tells the tale of a pyromaniac in 1970s Norway as the story is being woven by Gaute Helvoli. In his novel Before I Burn, the author strives to tell the story of arson in his own town at the time he was a very young child. Parallels between his story, typed on a scrim and intermittently woven into Dag, the arson's story, are Biblical in dimension. Fathers and sons are the subject.

  • Baruch Performing Arts Center's Spoken Songs Front Page

    Spears and Argento Sung by Brian Mulligan

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 14th, 2019

    Baruch Performing Arts Center presented a Thoreau song cycle by Gregory Spears and Virginia Woolf's Diaries by Dominic Argento. Spears, a phenom among contemporary composers, loves Henry David Thoreau, but found his poetry less than thrilling. Diving into his prose, he decided to take up the more difficult challenge of setting prose to music.

  • HERE Presents Nick Lehane's Chimpanzee Front Page

    Puppetry Moves Like No Other Form

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 11th, 2019

    Chimpanzee is a delightful and superlatively moving account of memories and dreams re-captured in captivity by a primate. Nick Lehane has created this compelling portrait. From the moment lighting director Marika Kent takes us from blackness into the light on the Chimpanzee, graceful light gestures, and some searing white light suggest the chimp's changing moods as does the soundscape by Kate Marvin.

  • New Federal Theater Probes Leroy aka Amiri Baraka Front Page

    Weighty Ideas and Dazzling Characters Entrance

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 10th, 2019

    The New Federal Theater and Castillo Theater are presenting Looking for Leroy, a fascinating and enthralling exploration of the work of Leroi Jones aka Amira Baraka. Written with a masterful combination of character detail and theoretical exploration, Larry Muhammad has created a forceful, touching and provocative work.

  • Sonja Friseli's Aida Is Retired at the Met Front Page

    The End of Aida As We Loved Her

    By: Susan Hall - Mar 09th, 2019

    The production mounted at the Met thirty years ago is to be replaced, under the injunction: if it's not broken, break it. Sonja Friseli's Aida is perfect and satisfies audience members of all ages and all hues. Why should a new one be created? If you are having financial troubles, spend more in the wrong place?

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