pinter_diploma I find myself in serious conversation, all too often, with musicians who have been ignored or slightingly treated by the press. Today’s New York Times obituary of the great Harold Pinter has this passage that I will probably often refer them to in future:

The Pinters, who were temporarily unemployed and desperately poor, had an offer to act in Birmingham, and Ms. Merchant wanted to accept it. But Mr. Pinter said: “I have this play opening in London. I think I must stay. Something’s going to happen.” She replied, “What makes you think so?”

They turned down the acting offer. “The Birthday Party” opened in the West End in 1958 and received disastrous reviews. Then, prodded by the theatrical agent Peggy Ramsay, Harold Hobson, the eminent critic of The Sunday Times of London, came to see it at a matinee. What he wrote turned out to be a life-changing review.

… “Mr. Pinter, on the evidence of this work, possesses the most original, disturbing and arresting talent in theatrical London.”

It sometimes takes only one favorable, perceptive notice to turn the tide.

And Heav’n and Nature Ping

December 24, 2008

silentnighthollynight01 Blogging this year, instead of just reading the blogs of others, has been a revelation — as have been the ping-backs and other statistics that have grown far beyond what I expected. As the practice moves out of the realm of novelty into that of normal social behavior, this evolving way of relating to a wide and unpredictable public only becomes more fascinating. As millions of us use such phenomena as the increasingly venturesome YouTube and Google to make the season bright, I want to take the opportunity offered by my page, on the first Christmas of RogerEvansOnline to wish the best to all you friends, colleagues, and other readers of this little site.

It’s Not Just Me

December 13, 2008

edwardhopperhotelwindow1 The estimable Peter G. Davis has written, not just a rave review, but a just analysis of the aforementioned Later the Same Evening. Unfortunately, you need a subscription to Musical America (or an obliging friend who’s provided with one) to read it.

Now, however, comes Mark Adamo, a master of lucid criticism and pellucid prose, with his own evaluation, freely available to the commonwealth of the World Wide Web.

In case you’re coming late to the party, here’s an NPR feature on the piece.

UPDATE: The New York Times chimes in, however faintly.

12.11.08_QOnStage_LatertheSameEvening Last night in New York I had the privilege of witnessing one of those sensational musical-theatrical moments. Since I wrote the program notes for the event, and have other sympathies both personal and professional with various principals, I am hardly a disinterested observer. But the assembled luminaries and intelligent followers of the art seemed remarkably united in a community that, as the libretto said, “laughs together, weeps together … and then goes out into the night again.” And, since the New York Times critic assigned to the event came down with the ‘flu’ at the last minute and couldn’t come, I thought I’d do my compensatory bit by posting my own non-evaluative account of this work, written before last night’s New York premiere:

Few could have anticipated the kind or degree of interest and excitement that crackled through a wing of the National Gallery of Art on that summer morning in 2006. A press conference had been called to announce something utterly unprecedented in the illustrious history of the institution. As one of the Gallery’s prominent patrons said to me with a conspicuous overflow of joy: “We’re causing an opera!” — which they were in fact doing, in collusion with the fine opera program at the University of Maryland and its elegant Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
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A New American Opera

December 9, 2008

n48295432585_2654 This week sees the New York premiere of an American opera based on the works of an American painter. Sound intriguing? I’ve made a little Web site about it.