The Classical period in music, which can very roughly be said to have spanned the 18th century—and arguably ended with the French Revolution in 1789—was a time that seemed to value elegance and symmetry more than the individuality, inventiveness and stirring drama that characterized the Romantic period that was to follow.
Nicholas McGegan, who is conducting the St. Louis Symphony in a program of (mostly) Mozart this weekend, is clearly a man who enjoys his work. When I've seen him conduct the orchestra, he practically bounds out to the podium, his face alight with a cherubic smile. His body language shouts: "this is going to be FUN!" And so it always is.
From the moment that Scott Schoonover raised his baton to invoke that incredible athletic overture it was re-confirmed to me that "Don Giovanni" is indeed the zenith of 18th Century opera.
Gateway Opera's production of Mozart's The Impresario is one of the most delightful evenings of opera that I've ever experienced.
There was something vaguely disconcerting about leaving Powell Hall Friday morning after hearing the SLSO and guest conductor Hannu Lintu perform Shostakovich's harrowing 1943 "Symphony No. 8" in C minor. Walking out into that bright spring morning was a bit like suddenly waking up from a nightmare. For just a moment, the light seemed a little dimmer.
In the introduction to his chapter on Shostakovich in the 1967 Penguin Books edition of "The Symphony," British musicologist Robert Layton described the Russian symphonist somewhat dismissively as a "documentary composer, far more bound up with this time than...Prokofiev, or any other of his Soviet contemporaries."
We may never know who first applied the nickname "Jupiter" to Mozart's last symphony—American musicologist Daniel Heartz posits that it was impresario Johann Peter Salomon—but it's not hard to see why the name stuck.
Kicking off its eighth season, Winter Opera staged its first Mozart opera, "Le Nozze di Figaro." The company's rendition of Mozart's tapestry of love, trickery and royal buffoonery bubbled onstage like champagne, bursting from a fountain of melodies.
Franz Schubert died at age 31 and Mozart never made it to 36. So their music will always have the freshness and enthusiasm of youth.
There's never a dull moment in the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis production of "The Magic Flute." That's because director Isaac Mizrahi keeps his performers (including a cast of seven dancers) in constant motion. The resulting stage pictures are impressive, but they often threaten to eclipse the music and text.