In Joyce DiDonato’s album Songplay we have the epitome of what we Brits call a ‘Marmite’ experience with elements to love and/or loathe whether or not you buy the concept in the first place.
New York City Center Encores – an NYC haven for neglected or forgotten shows – have now revived Brigadoon six times, a testament to its enduring appeal, and this latest manifestation with the delectable Kelli O’Hara as Fiona is most welcome.
I have often been asked if I listen to music differently when reviewing or not reviewing. It’s an interesting question. There is, you could say, a heightened level of awareness when ‘in working mode’.
The recent revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess at English National Opera and the prospect of comparing all its available recordings in BBC Radio 3’s Record Review has prompted me to look a little deeper into this landmark score and to reassess its significance in the chronology of American music theatre.
Renée Fleming’s choices are shrewd and wide-ranging in her Broadway album, embracing the contemporary and the classic in pretty much equal measure whilst demonstrating that style in this repertoire probably has more to do with attitude than technical adjustment. More, but not all.
It’s the earnestness that doesn’t ring true in Simon Rattle and LSO’s recording of Bernstein’s Wonderful Town, the way in which that which should come naturally simply sounds overworked.
This is also a beautifully sung revival of Carousel on Broadway – and even having not seen it I can tell that these terrific artists are truly ‘acting through song’.
There wasn’t much that Leonard Bernstein didn’t try his hand at at least once – and wanting, needing, to experience it all applied as surely to the music he wrote as to the music he conducted.
It’s an amazing time for diversity of style in “musicals” on both sides of the pond. Hamilton’s hip-hop, street poetry, storytelling, David Yazbek’s middle-eastern infused charmer The Band’s Visit, Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home (newly arrived at London’s Young Vic while her dazzlingly original Caroline Or Change plays at the Playhouse Theatre).
The sound of tapping feet invokes a whole era of classic Broadway and Hollywood musicals and when the curtain rises on this tap-infused extravaganza it pauses 18 inches or so off the stage to afford us our first glimpse of the source of that pulsing, kinetic sound – 42nd Street.