Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gone Daddy Gone

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Goodbye to All That

It has been a complicated week. On the one hand, as I write this, we've less than 48 hours left to witness the dying gasp (and no doubt spate of self-pardons) of this revolutionary putsch that has put America in dire Jeopardy for eight relentless years. Hoo-freakn'-ray to that, right? But as Obama's train makes its way from Philadelphia to what I and the majority of America hope is a new and brighter future, relentless sad news, fallout from the crash, keeps coming. For New Yorkers, this week saw the closing of the Zipper Factory, the Cutting Room, and Amato Opera. Three very different places where a range of very different people got to, for years, do very different--and for my money, extremely important--things. Insert sentence, appropriately, about the vast range of arts available in New York here. It certainly is true. This is of course part of the devastating cull of places and jobs and institutions that one can only hope is the ashes from which some kind of Phoenix rill be forced to rise. The words that keep going through my head as my heart gets broken over and over again: "Necessity is the mother of invention." (And as I am reading Dennis Dutton's pretty fantastic book The Art Instinct, I grow more convinced that what these places did service was not a want, a luxury, but a need.) But in the meantime, patience is, for me, an overtaxed virtue.

On a personal note, last April I was privelaged to be part of a small but mighty show called Opera After Hours at the Zipper Factory. We were the victims of New York Circumstance viz. the press in that our opening night coincided with the opening of Glass' Satyagraha at the Metropolitan Opera, which meant that literally every critic was busy that night. But I and Jennifer Griffith were blessed with a brilliant cast (that included Amy Von Roekel, Michael Zegarski, Constance Hauman and Jessica Miller-Rauch) an extraordinary pianist (Charity Wicks) and the absolute luxury of working with superstar director Chrisopher Alden. He spun our seemingly incompatible pieces--excerpts from an opera of mine based on Bluebeard as told from the heroine's point of view; three songs of mine, settings of poems by Philip Larkin, Djuna Barnes and Kate Gale; and two pieces of Jennifer's, The Dresser and Dream President--into a thoughtful hour of music and theatre that surpassed everyone's expectations as to how it would go off. Part of what made it so special, aside from the amazing personnel, was the space, Zipper's delightfully ramshackle theatre and elegant bar-restaurant (with excellent food). To top it off, the staff was wonderful and responsive, and we felt excellent working there. Sadly, I had plans to do much more there, and alas it is now not an option.

So farewell Zipper, Cutting Room, and Amato. You leave us bereft, and your loss will be felt. New York is simply less interesting without you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Some Sad Passings

In finally getting around to scouring some of the music news (I've been composing a lot, too much to spend a lot of time reading the news excessively), I found out two sad passings. The first, of course, the passing of Betty Freeman, whose extraordinary life is documented in a beautiful conversation with Frank Oteri here, mourned in the Times here , and appropriately lamented by Alex Ross here.

But today, also, apparently Amato Opera announced it will close its doors after six decades. This wonderfully quirky little company in the shadow of what was once CBGB (another fallen place now a John Varvatos outlet, sadly) has been a mainstay of the brighter side of New York Concert Life for its entire life. I am sure the sad paeans are to come from the opera community, but a quick summary of the facts can be found here.

As I've said before, our world is much much lighter now.

The First Day of the Rest of the Year

Hello Felsenreaders!

So it has indeed been a while, but I've been storing it up, ending the year, suffering the letdown and the hangover and all the attendant things that come with a season where the year ends, I officially age another year, and snow begins to fall, the cold settling in. Many concerts to see, this week including City Opera's lone production, Antony and Cleopatra, about which I am very excited, almost breathless (despite the poor quality of my seats).

Other than that, there's much coming up, and now that I am back and blogging and on a tear (of sorts) I will be filling whomever is reading, if anyone is in fact reading, in.

Stay tuned.