Articles by Bogdan Fedeles
October 11, 2013
Imagine Mozart and his librettist Schikaneder enlisting the help of a contemporary dramaturg to pitch their singspiel The Magic Flute to the American public. This unlikely premise was exactly what Boston Lyric Opera was going for with their world premiere of a new English adaptation of Mozart’s famous opera. Bolder than most, the new production featured a more comprehensive backstory, altered geographic setting, clearer symbolism, and delightful English lyrics. The stage décor was enchanting, the costumes eye-catching, and the singing breathtaking. 222 years after its premiere, Mozart’s opera sounds incredibly fresh in this ingenious reimagining, delivering its potent mix of jovial humor and nuggets of wisdom with a renewed vitality, and a surprising up-to-date relevance. Attending the BLO’s production of The Magic Flute made for a spectacular night at the opera, at once entertaining and inspiring.
October 4, 2013
This year, the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO), New England’s largest opera company, has an exciting season lineup. Their first production, a new English adaptation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, marks the highly anticipated debut of soprano So Young Park, currently a student at the New England Conservatory (NEC). She will be interpreting the iconic role of the Queen of the Night.
August 23, 2013
The first feature-length biopic about Steve Jobs, the iconic entrepreneur of our times, hit the theatres last week. While the movie comes out a year and a half later than the approved Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, it is not, in fact, an adaptation of the book. Director Joshua Michael Stern managed to beat the establishment by releasing his own emotional tribute to the creator of Apple computers, an ingenious movie that strays from your typical boring biopic, both in content and in the manner of presentation. The intense criticism that this movie met recently left me very disappointed, as it was clear that neither the critics nor the audience truly got it; most people seemed to get bogged down disputing the factual accuracy of scenes and individual lines, or the prominence of various characters, while ignoring the artistic merits of the movie itself. This movie is a compelling, thought-provoking drama, full of nuance. Akin to Steve Jobs, it challenges the biopic genre, going further on innovation and originality. Whether you’re a Steve Jobs worshiper or not, an Apple fan or a Linux nerd, this movie is a must see.
June 7, 2013
They’re back! The star-studded cast of the venerable 12-year-old franchise, with its explosive combination of fast cars and furious drivers, returns to deliver another high-octane action thriller. Justin Lin is once again at the helm of the movie, continuing his stellar directing performance on the franchise. Lin was in fact instrumental in resurrecting and rebooting the series after the first few mediocre sequels.
May 11, 2012
Dustin R. Katzin ’12 is a quintessential MIT renaissance scholar, whose impressively diverse achievements are a testament to the remarkable breadth of MIT education and simultaneously set stratospheric standards for the rest of us. A scientist and artist in one, in the four short years of college, Dustin has managed not only to complete a double major in physics and mathematics, dazzle his peers with musical artistry and stay involved in myriad other extracurriculars, but also to have fun while doing it. His crowning artistic achievement is Schrödinger’s Cat: a Musical Journey into the Strange World of Quantum Mechanics, a programmatic orchestral work that was premiered by MITSO last Friday. I sat down with Dustin to talk about music and life at MIT.
January 18, 2012
Two years ago, the Boston community eagerly welcomed James Levine’s vision to survey the symphonic music of the world-renowned local composer and MIT faculty John H. Harbison. Indeed, over the last season and a half, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, directed by Levine, performed in chronological order all of Harbison’s five symphonies to date. Last week, this symphonic cycle reached its zenith, as BSO premiered Harbison’s newest Symphony, his Sixth, specifically commissioned by (and dedicated to) Levine. While precarious health kept Levine away from the podium for the premiere, David Zinman, a long time friend and champion of Harbison’s music filled in. He enthusiastically conducted the concert series, which in addition to the new symphony, featured music by Weber, Beethoven and R. Strauss. Given the eclectic blend of music featured, this program was sure to be a crowd-pleaser; indeed, the Saturday performance that I attended was top-notch throughout and enthusiastically received.
September 16, 2011
Imagine the chilling prospect of a deadly pandemic throwing the entire world into chaos. In Contagion, Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh takes us on a high-pace cinematic experience depicting the emergence of a novel, highly contagious viral pathogen, and mankind’s dramatic struggle to contain the disease and find a cure. Unlike other disaster movies, the science behind Contagion is highly plausible and described in significant detail, often making the movie feel like a documentary — it’s appealing to the typical (nerdy) MIT crowd. Additionally, the movie features a star-studded cast — a key element for closely connecting with the audience and delivering an intense psychological drama. While highly ambitious and far-reaching, Contagion succeeds in being both an original artistic movie and an entertaining thriller.
April 8, 2011
Ever felt that going to the opera is old-fashioned? Fear not. With his latest dramatic work Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, MIT composer Tod Machover attempts to bring the operatic art solidly into the 21st century and a little beyond. Machovers’ opera is the most recent and most compelling display of technology-enabled art and technology as an art form. The show, which had its American premiere on March 18 in Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theatre, is a remarkable artistic achievement, enabled by cutting-edge MIT Media Lab technology that permeates all aspects of the production. The audience is exposed not only to stunning visuals and lighting effects, but also to innovative soundscapes generated by a mix of traditional instruments and electronic hyperinstruments — one of Machover’s pioneering inventions. The opera features human singers and, as the title suggests, robots (which are indeed real, sophisticated robotic machines, not just stand-in props). All performers, human and machine, interact seamlessly and compellingly. However, Death and the Powers also remains true to the operatic tradition and features a challenging, thought-provoking story, which persists in our minds long after the music has stopped and the technological flash has faded away. The opera was enthusiastically received at the sold-out premiere, with the audience engaged in a frantic, standing ovation at the end.
October 22, 2010
A night at the opera transfiguring into a trip to the tropical paradise of Bali sounds like an excellent selling point to all the weather-ridden Bostonians. Yet, Evan Ziporyn’s recent opera “A House in Bali” has only now been staged in our beloved city after more than a year since its American premiere, which took place in San Francisco last fall.
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October 8, 2010
Artistically, October is often a busy month at MIT, and this year is no exception. Vicky Chow’s recital, as part of the Bang on a Can Residency (sponsored by MIT Music and Theatre Arts department) was the first notable musical event of October. This concert was highly anticipated, given the artist’s strong ties with Bang on a Can All-Stars, a chamber ensemble renowned for its free and experimental approaches aimed at blurring the distinction between all forms of music. Chow’s recital was a vivid demonstration of piano contemporary music, showcasing the possibilities of the instrument extended with the aid of computer generated effects. While this contemporary music might initially sound inaccessible and strange, the showmanship of Chow and her feisty technique kept the audience engaged and thoroughly entertained. In many ways, this recital was a veritable eye-opener, offering a glimpse of the distant future of classical music (and music in general), and highlighting the enormous range of the expressive possibilities of the piano, most of them still untapped today.