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Sophie's Choice, Zorn's MacArthur

September 20, 2006
                    Nikki Kahn - The Washington Post
Nicholas Maw'
s opera "Sophie's Choice" gets its American debut tomorrow night at the Kennedy Center, with Marin Alsop conducting and the wild anti-diva Angelika Kirschlager in the title role.  It's been substantially shortened and tightened up from the messy 2002 premiere at Covent Garden -- but will it fly?  We shall see ...

I have a longish backgrounder on it in today's Post:

The Washington Post 9/20/06: "Sophie's Choice," William Styron's searing 1979 novel, is nothing if not operatic. The tale of Auschwitz survivor Sophie Zawistowska's attempt to build a new life in America is almost unbearably tragic, careening through a nightmare of passion, madness, cruelty and death, until it reveals the devastating act of brutality at its core.

Operatic, definitely. But is it opera? Or, more precisely, is the sprawling, troubled opera that British composer Nicholas Maw unleashed on the world four years ago finally ready for prime time?  (read whole article ... )


zorn16.jpgGreat news yesterday that the relentlessly inventive and frighteningly creative saxophonist/composer John Zorn has been named a MacArthur Fellow.   Zorn's been one of the most influential figures on the New York improvisation and new music scene for decades, and shows no signs of slowing down.  His Tzadik label  is producing some of the most bleeding-edge music around (new releases by Anthony Coleman, Billy Martin and Evan Parker are out this month), and he also started The Stone, an East Village performance space dedicated to new music.  


Came across the band Matmos the other day -- two guys who incorporate a warehouse of field sounds (laser eye surgery? latex fetish clothing?) into their  dry and ironic music.  

matmos.jpgFrom their website: "In their recordings and live performances over the last nine years, Matmos have used the sounds of: amplified crayfish nerve tissue, the pages of bibles turning, a bowed five string banjo, slowed down whistles and kisses, water hitting copper plates, the runout groove of a vinyl record, a $5.00 electric guitar, liposuction surgery, cameras and VCRs, chin implant surgery, contact microphones on human hair, violins, rat cages, tanks of helium, violas, human skulls, cellos, peck horns, tubas, cards shuffling, field recordings of conversations in hot tubs, frequency response tests for defective hearing aids, a steel guitar recorded in a sewer, electrical interference generated by laser eye surgery, whoopee cushions and balloons, latex fetish clothing, rhinestones on a dinner plate, Polish trains, insects, ukelele, aspirin tablets hitting a drum kit from across the room, dogs barking, people reading aloud, life support systems and inflatable blankets, records chosen by the roll of dice, an acupuncture point detector conducting electrical current through human skin, rock salt crunching underfoot, solid gold coins spinning on bars of solid silver, the sound of a frozen stream thawing in the sun, a five gallon bucket of oatmeal."

Ok, why not.  Have a listen to "Lipostudio," which straddles hilarity and nausea. And, you can dance to it!

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 09:11AM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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