Conductor Bruce Hangen made his Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra debut Thursday evening in the Amphitheater, leading the first of two season appearances.
If Douglas Moore is no longer a name to inspire even a flicker of recognition, then his signature work, The Ballad of Baby Doe, still has a place in the collective consciousness of opera buffs. After all, no less a soprano than Beverly Sills turned the piece into a star vehicle two years after its 1956 premiere, and no less a label than Deutsche Grammophon made a recording — back when making a recording meant something.
The pas de deux tradition at Chautauqua has become a highlight demo for the Charlotte Ballet, the long-time resident dance company here, and what a night — oh, what a night it was — with 10 sample experiences by eight choreographers for 12 dancers the Institution is privileged to call neighbors each summer.
This could have been designed as a sexy show. Well, at least provocative. Maybe PG-13.
This season, every concert represents a podium audition for Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra music director, a coveted position that has been vacant since 2011. The audience has been given a chance to vote in this democratic process, with some weight also given the musicians — who can tell in eight bars if a maestro has the real goods.
This young man, his name is Cristian Macelaru, put his brand on the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Tuesday evening in the Amphitheater. For this was no ordinary New World Symphony they played together, even though there is a world full of the New Worlds now — too many, really, some of them like weeds growing in music videos and advertisements and ever more on the variety of airwaves.
Flowers … let me count the ways. From 17th-century Dutch painting to Andy Warhol, flowers have provided inspiration and imagery for countless works of art.
Discipline and precision were very much in evidence in the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra program of this past Thursday, conducted by Bulgarian-born Rossen Milanov, music director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and the training orchestra Symphony in C — both in New Jersey — and principal conductor of Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Spain.
Mary Dunleavy, who was the Butterfly Saturday evening, carried the full Amphitheater audience through a launch of anticipation and joy and then shivered down the other side into a gut-wrenching despair and suicide. Not many functions in life have such range, delivered within just a few minutes, but this virtuoso soprano was mother, maenad, lover, child and sage, and it wasn’t only with the well-made words she used, for this was performance — chilling performance.
Forget fairy tales and romances. For its first performance of the season here at Chautauqua Institution, Charlotte Ballet took up environmental themes.