1. I went to the concert performance this past Wednesday of Strauss’s Elektra at Carnegie Hall with Christine Goerke in the title role. I normally prefer my operas four hours long and highly stylized; there is however much to be said in favor of brief and terrifying. I believed every word Goerke sang. It was hair-raising, in the best possible way – hearing her voice at full power with the Boston Symphony right behind her instead of in a pit was unforgettable. We should have more concert performances of Strauss operas around here. Elevating the orchestra (literally and perhaps a bit figuratively too) really works.
2. I have been dragged – well, not really dragged – to a number of piano recitals recently. Maurizio Pollini a few weeks ago, and again tomorrow because I am married to a piano nut, and then we scored some free tickets to hear Andras Schiff on the 30th. Piano nerds are real, and I was surrounded by them during the last recital. They do air piano on their programs during the encores. I am not making this up.
3. I got stuck on the subway the other day – one of the less attractive qualities of the New York subway system is that if a butterfly in Brooklyn flaps its wings in the wrong direction, all the express trains in Queens start running local, and it takes me an hour to get anywhere – and I was listening to that Mozart arias album again. It gets better on repeated listening. I always end up in this distressing epistemological quandry whenever I form an opinion about anything: I am never sure afterward whether my opinion was formed under the right circumstances and whether it might not have been different and which one would have been right.
4. As part of training to be a volunteer tour guide at Carnegie Hall, you have to tag a long on a bunch of tours to absorb what the other guides are doing and what the route is (there is also a booklet). I’m starting to feel like a regular at screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – I know what all the jokes are going to be in advance.