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October 30, 2008

NSO offers Wagner bash

Wagner seems to be making a come-back on area concert stages, Ivan Fischersomething I'm all for -- the man was a beast, but his music is sublime, and there hasn't been nearly enough of it performed by local orchestras (the situation is better operatically, thanks to WNO, but Baltimore Opera is over-due for a Wagner production). Marin Alsop and the BSO offered a slice of music from the Ring on its opening program of the season in September and will serve up even more of that epic on the closing program in June. Tonight through Saturday, Ivan Fischer and the NSO will deliver an all-Wagner feast, including the preludes to Meistersinger and Tristan (as well as the Liebestod from the latter), Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey from Gotterdammerung, and the final scene of Die Walkure. While the BSO is taking a voice-less path for its Wagner excursions, the NSO will be joined by soprano Elizabeth Connell and bass-baritone Juha Uusitalo (recently featured as John the Baptist in the Metropolitan Opera's sizzling Salome production that was simulcast to theaters around the country).

The only bad thing about the NSO's enticing program is the timing. I can't make any of the performances due to conflicting events. But if you are not similarly constrained, I'd bet the trip to the Kennedy Center would be well worth the effort. Fischer, who conducted a richly satisfying interpretation of Mahler's Third with the NSO a couple weeks ago, is likely to be just as persuasive and involving with Wagner. And I imagine the orchestra will be as fired up and virtuosic as it sounded in that Mahler symphony.


Posted by Tim Smith at 12:37 PM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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