Slow Listening Saturdays: My Own Special Island

Again, I’ve missed a Saturday, but this time I have the best excuse: opening night of Ariadne in Naxos. I can’t say enough about my gorgeous cast, expressive orchestra, and the best creative team anyone could desire. We were poised to have a good opening, but the element we could not have expected was our completely wild audience. You could feel the energy surging up at the stage! Live theater is an exchange, something vital and alive. We don’t really become who we are as performers  until the public is there, informing the hours we spend together. At those times, the theater feels like a charmed place. Our own enchanted island.

So with a grateful heart I ask you to to Slow it down today for these phenomenal live performances. They are great because of the performers and the listeners. We live for and through each other, hallelujah.

Listen slow, and share.

First up, something old, Palestrina sung live by the incomparable Tallis Scholars. Maybe you’re not familiar with this music. It goes back many centuries and was written for the church. Palestrina was considered to be on the fancy side as a composer, and certainly his music is very technically demanding. I love how this group makes the music so precise and yet so limpid – it flows, but its structure is firm. And their sound in that big space is lovely and clear. When they’re done, even though their music is from another time, the listeners can’t wait to applaud.

Many of you probably saw this amazing moment televised, when Led Zeppelin was honored at the Kennedy Center and Ann Wilson sang “Stairway to Heaven.” She’s just incredible here, and the choir is over the top, and the band is good, and the audience – I mean, the president and LED ZEPPELIN are there, just to name a few. More than that, the whole crowd has probably rocked to Zeppelin their whole lives. Incredible energy.

Last but not least, in honor of last night’s Ariadne, this live clip from Christine Goerke’s phenomenal performance last fall as the Färberin in Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten. I was in that crowd and got to experience a few thousand people holding their collective breath, hanging on every note, eager for every new sound and word. She had the necessary gift, and had done the necessary work, to have the chance of holding the whole audience in her hand. And they as a group gladly gave themselves over.

Heaven, when this happens. I hope these clips give you a taste.

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