I never heard of the Baroque composer Agostino Steffani until last year, when the Boston Early Music Festival presented the North American premiere of Steffani's Niobe, an opera about the mythical queen who bragged so much about her many children, the gods killed them all in revenge. One of the leading roles, Niobe's husband King Amphion, was played by the early-music superstar countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who sang the opera's most sublime aria — a hymn to the harmony of the spheres. I couldn't wait to hear Jaroussky again, and was eager to hear more Steffani.
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 11:03 am
Dave Alvin makes his sixth appearance on Mountain Stage alongside his band The Guilty Ones, recorded live in West Virginia. Since 2009, Alvin has explored his acoustic honky-tonk side, but his latest album, Eleven Eleven, marks a return to his fiery electric roots. Alvin's road-worn '64 Stratocaster screams throughout "Harlan County Line," which he wrote for the TV show Justified.
Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 10:07 am
It's beginning to look a lot like craziness — end-of-the-year craziness, to be precise. Now that Gray Thursday has officially reduced Thanksgiving to carbo-loading for the holiday shopping marathon, many people's winter holidays have become little more than a massive spinout.
It's true — opera is totally over the top. Plots can strain even the barest semblance of credulity (too many cases of ghosts and mistaken identities to count), with characters that could get you thrown out of an introductory writing course, down to the blushing ingenues and the evil connivers who might as well be twirling waxed mustaches.