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Stories by Garrett Harris

Greatest of the great

The 50th Anniversary Gala at San Diego Opera may be a monumental experience

The voice was bouncing off the back wall of the house and echoing back onto the stage. The goosebumps were making their rounds through the assembly. It was obvious that this was going to be ...

When Dido pulls the trigger — gasp!

Point Loma Opera Theater undergrads continue to put in work.

Point Loma Opera Theater is cranking out performances like mad these days. I caught their double bill of Trouble in Tahiti and Dido and Aeneas on Sunday evening. These were the fourth and fifth productions ...

More than a little self-congratulatory

Garrett's clout grows as the esoteric pick of the week influences the Brits

The BBC Music Magazine awards were held recently and a few of them are worthy of comment. The BBC Music Magazine Awards are similar to the Gramophone awards, which are similar to the Grammys. Of ...

Samples at the Symphony

The weekend is booked with classical music

The San Diego Symphony is offering a pay-what-you-want sampling of next year's season. The orchestra will be performing sections of the 2015-2016 season. There will be an open bar. I mean, the bar will be ...

Who wants to be the philosopher king?

A cultural meandering

I think we're stuck with Shostakovich as the last composer to write a great symphony. Michael Tippett is also a candidate, but he doesn't have Shostakovich's stature. I hate to play the blame game but ...

But would audiences love him?

The esoteric pick of the week may suffer from a branding problem

I'm starting to wonder if a composer's name helps maintain their status? Think about that for a moment. How many composers have names that are difficult? There are a few, mainly Russian, but by and ...

Immediate masterpiece at San Diego Symphony

Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony was an instant classic at release

"There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men for this treachery." I'm going to switch up that Tolkien quote and say, "There is no sufficient honor in Elvish, Entish, or the ...

I am the very model of modern major composer

Arthur Sullivan gets all serious on us

What if Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a symphony? What would it be like? First off, I suppose Gilbert wouldn’t have much to do, so I should say, “What if Sullivan wrote a symphony”? We’re in ...

Mainly Mozart starts its engine

Two chamber concerts and a big ol' symphony this weekend.

Mainly Mozart is giving two Spotlight Series concerts this weekend in two enticing locations. The music is a transcription of Bach's Goldberg Variations for string trio. The concert is at the Scripps Research Institute on ...

Difficult man, difficult plot, masterful work

The esoteric, and acerbic, pick of the week.

The esoteric pick of the week is Palestrina. Not the composer, Palestrina, himself, but the opera based on events late in his life by German anti-modernist Hans Pfitzner. Hans Pfitzner was born in Russia to ...

The maturity we need

An exegesis: understanding the ballet in Nixon in China

People I’ve talked to about the ballet scene from the end of Act II of Nixon in China have been a little confused. Why is Henry Kissinger writhing on stage and whipping peasant girls to ...

The fist of God

Only the locals do work on the Berlioz Requiem at La Jolla Symphony

We could say, for comparison's sake, that Mozart's Dies Irae is something like an 18th Century cavalry charge and Verdi's Dies Irae is like a choreographed shock and awe campaign. Berlioz's Dies Irae? Berlioz is ...

People must hate the Swiss

Joachim Raff, esotericist

Joachim Raff was one of the most popular and influential composers of the Romantic era. Sadly, he is also the esoteric pick of the week. Raff "balled out" during the 19th Century with eleven symphonies, ...

Not quite Don Pasquale, but certainly not Iago

The conclusion of our interview with Nixon in China's Kissinger, baritone Patrick Carfizzi

Nixon in China opens on Saturday, March 14 at the Civic Theater. We continue with our interview of big-bad-Kissinger, Patrick Carfizzi. Part 1 and part 2 of this interview are also available. San Diego Reader: ...

"Kissinger" keeps it to a low rumble

The Reader's interview with Patrick Carfizzi continues in part 2 of 3

Nixon in China opens on Saturday March 14th at the Civic Theater. The showtime is 7 p.m. We continue with our interview of big-bad-Kissinger, Patrick Carfizzi. Part 1 of this interview is also available. San ...

Backroom operator

Patrick Carfizzi, Nixon in China's man behind the "Secretary of State," grants an interview

I got the rare chance to interview Henry Kissinger. Henry doesn’t do many interviews these days, but since he’s in San Diego for a few weeks, he relented. Okay, in truth, Patrick Carfizzi, who is ...

Schubeeeeeert!

After a week of listening to Schubert, it's time to vent

My colleague in the opera chorus was aghast when I mentioned that I think Schubert is a third- or fourth-rate composer. In the past this type of encounter was full of loud talking/shouting and expletives. ...

Three Bs in the Jewel

March 6 is a busy night for classical music in La Jolla

La Jolla is keeping the classical music going on Friday, March 6, with three quality concerts covering all of “The Three Bs”. Of course, “The Three Bs” are Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, but we’re also ...

The Great? Not at all!

Schubert's Ninth is bad, bad music and the San Diego Symphony is in a slump.

I'm renaming Schubert's Symphony No. 9, known as The Great Symphony. I'm going to call it The Great Tediousness. This symphony goes nowhere, and for what feels like an eternity. I must admit that when ...

The Dream of... who?

The esoteric pick of the week is a scrappy poem about the afterlife.

I present Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius as the esoteric pick of the week. The Dream of Gerontius is a "Divine Comedy-esque" poem by John Henry Newman. Newman was a complex and controversial figure. ...

Greatness abounds

Two excellent and celebrated pieces will be played at two major venues this weekend

The Great Symphony — it's not the title that Schubert chose, or would have chosen, but it has stuck. The nickname was intended to differentiate this C major symphony from the Little C major Symphony ...

Schiff, Giovanni and death

The weekend is ripe with world-class classical-music concerts

Andras Schiff has been knighted for his ability to play the piano and he’s going to be giving a concert this weekend at Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla next the Contemporary Art Museum at 8 ...

Engagement by the community is so enheartening

Tenor Paul Appleby discusses the future of the opera form.

Paul Appleby: I’m hopeful that the crisis that was averted here at San Diego Opera was averted by the people. That’s what’s so inspiring with this story. So many of us across the country were ...

Alternate Giovannis

Tenor Paul Appleby discusses the challenge of different versions and stagings

Paul Appleby: You know there are two version of Don Giovanni. There’s the Prague version and the Vienna version. The Prague version does not include Dalla sua pace. That was written later for the Vienna ...

He's no wimp

Tenor Paul Appleby talks opera and the cost of living.

Paul Appleby is a smart guy. He is also performing the role of Don Ottavio in San Diego Opera’s Don Giovanni. Paul went to Juilliard and then into the Metropolitan Opera’s young artist program. During ...

To Hell with the ruling class

Mozart had a rebellious side.

I’ve recently learned a thing or two about Mozart’s Don Giovanni that I think are worth passing along. Keep in mind that I’m not a musicologist, but I’m going to put my best foot forward. ...

Art of Élan

“Have you been to an Art of Élan concert?” Whenever I get this question it is asked at a hundred miles an hour with the enthusiasm of true belief. What is Art of Élan? On ...

Puccini partisanship

Reviewing a review could get ugly.

This could get ugly — really ugly. I’m about to “review a review” of San Diego Opera’s La Boheme. The production closed on Sunday so now is a safe time to do this. Why don’t ...

Musical genius dies at age 25

The esoteric pick of the week is all about the big symphony

There is one piece of esoteric music which I wish, above all others, the San Diego Symphony or La Jolla Symphony would perform. That music is Hans Rott’s First Symphony in E major. Rott wrote ...

No more grouch

The conclusion of the interview with Malcolm MacKenzie, in town for La Boheme

We continue with our interview of Malcolm MacKenzie. As it turns out, he isn’t so much an old grouch as a father of two who has figured out a way to balance an opera career ...

Old fogey or keeping it old school?

Opera singer Malcolm MacKenzie schools us on the art-form.

It’s almost opera season. I sat down to talk with Malcolm MacKenzie, who will be singing the role of Schaunard “the musician” in San Diego Opera’s new production of La Boheme. I asked him about ...

Rienzi: failed politician, failed opera

The esoteric pick of the week is a failure.

The esoteric pick of the week continues in the German tradition with Wagner’s Rienzi. This was Wagner’s first “successful” opera even though it was the third he wrot,e and it has not entered into the ...

Relax, it'll all make sense

Why can Mimi and Rodolpho fall in love immediately?

La Boheme is the first opera of the still-in-existence San Diego Opera. Boheme is generally considered the world’s favorite opera and there is good reason for that. The story is moving and the music is ...

Classical California gold

Notable classical music events in San Diego, January 15-16

Here’s a quick rundown of some upcoming classical music events of note. The San Diego Museum of Art is holding the first a monthly series of concerts on Thursday, January 15 at 7 p.m. The ...

"That was good" — yes, very good

San Diego Symphony and Edo de Waart play nice together

As mentioned, Edo de Waart made his San Diego Symphony debut this past weekend. I attended the Sunday afternoon concert of January 11. The format of the concert was typical: overture, concerto, large symphonic piece. ...

Mignon isn't just a cut of beef

Esoteric pick of the week is a Schumann rarity

Esoteric pick of the week: Requiem für Mignon by Robert Schumann. Schumann is not an esoteric composer, but Mignon is definitely a specialized topic of interest. In Europe she is considered the most successful heroine ...

Butterfly reborn

Learning about Japanese tradition recreates the Butterfly experience.

My leisure reading of late has been all about Japan. I'm not sure why I've been reading the bestsellers of the past such as Memoirs of a Geisha and Shogun but they have both made ...

Performances of note

Some highlights of 2014 in classical music.

I wasn’t able to go to every concert or event in 2014 but of those I did attend, here are some highlights. Since I was in Un ballo in Maschera and Verdi’s Requiem I did ...

Sir Neville out, de Waart in

Neville Marriner was to conduct the San Diego Symphony but is ill

Sir Neville Marriner, known to many as the founder of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, was supposed to be conducting the San Diego Symphony on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this week. ...

Preach it!

Classical music could use some evangelical zeal.

I remember a phrase from my evangelical youth which went a little something like this: “You need to give until it hurts.” The phrase was talking about money and was framed by the ancient biblical ...

Swaps at the top

2014 saw the two big guys change their leadership.

A quick review of 2014 is in order. For all the drama, I believe it was a good year for classical music in San Diego. We’ll start with the organizational bits. There were significant changes ...

Unbrighten the season

Playlist for the "depressed Disneyland Dad at Christmas when his ex has the kids"

We’ve all heard about people being depressed and alone on Christmas and if you haven’t heard about that, you have now. There are several tips on how to avoid holiday depression such as reading a ...

Silent Night of unrelated music

PBS broadcast of new opera is more of the same.

I tried to watch Silent Night on PBS on Sunday, December 21. I was drawn in by the promise of one of my favorite stories. The story is the Christmas Eve truce of 1914. German ...

Six-foot orgasm

Rachmaninoff's symphony of requited love.

During intermission I exchanged the awkward tight-lipped smiles symphony goers give each other. I texted a few friends about the David Bruce piece which, by the way, was entitled Fragile Light. Then the lights went ...

Just let it go, old man

David Bruce guides us toward the light in world premiere.

An old man sitting behind me said, "Gil Shaham is good" to the lady accompanying him. God help me to stop being that guy. If we ever go to a concert together and I try ...

Dessert followed by veggies

San Diego Symphony ends the concert with the vegetable dish.

Sometimes we’ve gotta eat our veggies after we have dessert. I’ve never tried it, but it’s basically what happened during the last half of the San Diego Symphony concert on Saturday night. The first half ...

Kate Smith sings again

Stephanie Blythe to sing standards for San Diego Opera.

Stephanie Blythe is bringing her one-woman show about Kate Smith, "We'll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith," to the Balboa Theater on Thursday, December 11 at 7 p.m. Blythe was here last April to ...

Forty La Bohemes for ten bucks?

The popular music streaming site offers a robust selection of classical music.

I resisted Spotify for years. Years, I tell you. I found their classical music to be spotty at best. I would search for Tannhauser and Placido Domingo and get all kinds of crazy unrelated items ...

Go away, Professor Baker

A British academic tries to take on Venezuela's system.

A book just came out on November 28 which thinks it’s going to expose Venezuela’s El Sistema as a tyrannical and corrupt petty kingdom. The author published an article about his findings in The Guardian. ...

The Messiah and pals are upon us again

Three amigos of Baroque provide the Christmas thing with three events December 7.

It’s December, which means the Messiah and pals are upon us again. Who are the pals of the Messiah? Bach and Vivaldi for sure. Sometimes Vaughan Williams gets invited to play, along with Puccini, but ...

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