The Perfect American is the ironic title of Philip Glass’ latest opera which premiered in Madrid last year. It’s about Walt Disney and set at the end of his life looking back at his life and forward to his death. It’s a not very flattering portrait. It depicts Disney as blinkered, racist, virulently anti-Communist and, in fact, only comfortable with a sort of Leave it to Beaver America; though passionate about that.
The 2003 Royal Opera House recording of Die Zauberflöte has a terrific cast and it has Sir Colin Davis conducting. The production is by David McVicar and it’s one of those that make one wonder how he ever got a “bad boy” reputation. It’s perfectly straightforward though rather dark (emotionally and physically) and has a vaguely 18th century vibe. In places it seems a bit minimalist, as if the director couldn’t really be bothered with things like the Trials. The interview material rather suggests that McVicar was a bit overawed by doing Mozart with the great Sir Colin and tried very hard to match his rather old fashioned theatrical sensibilities.
My “to watch” pile now consists entirely of older productions of 19th century operas (pretty much the dregs of the Toronto Public Library collection) and the COC season doesn’t start for another six weeks or so. I have one other live performance booked before then; a rather peculiar Handel piece performed in various locations at a local hotel. I’ve been listening to some new CDs then at least partly as a form of procrastination.
The first two were part of an ENO “goody bag” that I scored on Twitter. Songs of Muriel Herbert is a most worthwhile project. Herbert, like so many women composers, has never had the recognition she deserves. Not as “romantic” as a drug addled loon like Peter Warlock I guess. The CD contains thirty six songs setting texts ranging from Peter Abelard to James Joyce. I’d say they stand up well against other early twentieth century English art songs and would be well worth mining by anyone looking for some less well known recital repertory. The works are most sympathetically performed by Ailish Tynan, James Gilchrist and David Owen Norris. Continue reading