Levine was such an institution at the Met that some writers have suggested that the impact will be decisive:The Metropolitan Opera suspended James Levine, its revered conductor and former music director, on Sunday after three men came forward with accusations that Mr. Levine sexually abused them decades ago, when the men were teenagers.Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, announced that the company was suspending its four-decade relationship with Mr. Levine, 74, and canceling his upcoming conducting engagements after learning from The New York Times on Sunday about the accounts of the three men, who described a series of similar sexual encounters beginning in the late 1960s. The Met has also asked an outside law firm to investigate Mr. Levine’s behavior.“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these news reports the Met has made the decision to act now,” Mr. Gelb said in an interview, adding that the Met’s board supported his actions. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”
For decades, the Met was essentially the Levine Company. Its identity was intertwined with his. His taste in composers, his relationships with singers, his hires, orchestra, conducting style, and even, for a while, his eye for productions all shaped what happened onstage in seven performances a week. Divas remained loyal to the Met because they felt safe onstage so long as he was in the pit. Audiences burst into applause as soon as his corona of springy curls bobbed into the spotlight. Critics — and I include myself — lauded his leadership as well as his musicality. His cheery, seemingly eternal presence thrilled the board and helped keep the spigot of donations open.
I’m not sure the Met can survive Levine’s disgrace.Let's hope that is not the case.
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At a time when so many pillars of the intellectual elite seem to be falling like so many palm trees in a hurricane, perhaps we should take a moment to honor those very few that speak truth instead of lies and hypocrisy. Among those has to be Canadian university professor and psychologist Jordan Peterson. Here is an excerpt from a talk in which he goes full bore against one of the most insidious political stratagems of our day: the industry of the oppressed.
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We are in the middle of the holiday season and some of us, myself included, will be doing some cooking. So let me share with you a recent discovery, Chef John from Foodwishes.com who is not only a very fine cook, a master of the pan sauce, but also an engaging YouTube personality with a host of expert videos like this one:
Excellent recipe that I have tested myself. Two things: my cooking time turned out to be longer than his, so be sure to use your food thermometer and second, go easy on the lemon juice. I think he puts in too much. Terrific recipe, though!
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Alex Ross has a review of the new John Adams opera over at the New Yorker:
Like all of Adams’s stage works to date, “Girls of the Golden West” was directed by Peter Sellars, who also assembled the libretto. Both Adams and Sellars are California residents, but neither is inclined to romanticize the state. In forty years of collaboration, they have addressed all manner of provocative topics—Richard Nixon’s visit to China, the Achille Lauro terrorist incident, the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the Trinity atomic-bomb test—yet they have never launched such a frontal assault on our national mythology. The California gold rush was the proving ground of Manifest Destiny, transmuting rugged individualism into wealth and glory. Here it becomes a grotesque bacchanal of white-male supremacy, capped by a Fourth of July party that degenerates into a racist riot. Clappe’s closing aria is therefore no rhapsody: the majesty of nature sits in silent judgment.That is certainly a familiar trope, indeed, the subhead of the article reads: "John Adams’s new opera, “Girls of the Golden West,” is an assault on American mythology." Honestly, for how many decades have artists been doing their best to assault all the "mythologies" that often turn out to be nothing more than the history of Western civilization? Is this one any different? I suppose we will have to wait and see. But I for one am just a tad tired of the dismantling, problematizing, nuancing and, at the end of the day, destruction of everything connected with American exceptionalism. As a Canadian I always want to say, "hey, we up in Canada have constructed a pretty terrific society as well, prosperous and well-regulated with a fairly honest government and legal system. Not to mention a few other places like Australia and New Zealand." But at the same time, any honest estimate of history will conclude that whatever the United States has been doing over the last couple of hundred years has been spectacularly successful and perhaps it is a better attitude to examine what has been going right than to be constantly tearing it down. But that has been the engine of artistic creativity for a long time and we have yet to truly transition into something else. For now we are still trapped in this kind of artistic vision (quoting from Ross' review):
What resonates most in Donald Trump’s America is the way that empty, stupid boasting devolves into paranoid rage.
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Here is an hour-long documentary on one of the last century's finest musicians, harpsichordist and organist Gustav Leonhardt (1928 - 2012). It is in Dutch, but with English subtitles:
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Leading contenders in the most awkward way of performing Bach competition are Les objets volants, a French ensemble:
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For our envoi today a new clip on YouTube. This is the Emerson String Quartet in a performance of the Quartet no. 16, K. 428 by Mozart in Tokyo in 1991. How young and slim they look!