My Daughters – by Michele Brourman and Hillary Rollins
In this week when women (and men) throughout the world are mourning US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I have been looking for an adequate cry of grief for our loss of this extraordinary woman whose life’s work may soon be threatened by the appointment of a judge with totally different views on the roles and rights of women than those RBG fought for. Instead, this is a song that illustrates beautifully what she gave us, written by two women who have understood in its music and lyrics that there is no replacement for RBG, she is simply irreplaceable, but that the doors she opened will never close because they remain open in the minds and hearts of all the women who come after her, ourselves and all our daughters. May her memory be as a blessing and, as Michele says, also as an inspiration.
Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare’s Globe
I often wish I could experience favourite plays for the first time and once again be surprised by what happens next. Some years ago, I saw Denzel Washington play Brutus in Julius Caesar in front of an audience that had never seen the play before. After a while, I stopped watching the stage and concentrated on watching the audience. They showed me a play I knew almost by heart as if it were totally new. The oohs and ahs, the gasps of shock when Caesar was assassinated, the laughter at lines I never knew were funny before, reunited me with my love of the play and separated me from my jaded critic’s view. On September 28th at 7pm BST, Shakespeare’s Globe is live streaming Romeo and Juliet, a production deliberately designed for young people who have never seen the play before. The cast is very young, the adaptation – 90 minutes, no interval - is clever, and, if you have a person in your house who would like to discover an easy Shakespeare, this is the one.
Kelli O’Hara ‘They Don’t Let you in the Opera
(If You’re a Country Star)”
Regular readers know that I love Kelli O’Hara and consider her, along with Audra Macdonald, as one of the glories of the American musical theatre. I’ve always believed she and her miraculous voice can do anything and here, in seven minutes of sheer heaven, she proves it. We always knew she could sing. We always knew she could act. Look up her credits if you don’t believe me. But this, one of the all-time great comedy songs by Dan Lipton & David Rossmer, was recorded at a benefit concert in Orlando, Florida, and it tells us what kind of comedienne she is. Only someone with her chops, and that’s a vanishingly small list, could even attempt this and if it doesn’t make you laugh, there’s no hope for you.
Met Opera Streams – Week 29 – Mozart
The Metropolitan Opera is in trouble, along with every other arts organisation on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s just that the Met is bigger and its troubles are therefore writ larger. They have had to cancel two of their much-vaunted solo recitals because of the virus in the locations where the concerts were to have been performed. The concerts they’ve held in the series up to now, with Jonas Kaufmann and Joyce DiDonato and others, have been very successful so these cancellations are a blow.
But the Met is still gifting us with free nightly streams of their apparently bottomless archive. This week all the operas are Mozart – how wonderful. As a reminder, there’s a different opera every night at 7.30 EST but they each remain available for the following 24 hours for those of us in another time zone. We even get two bites at the apple of Le Nozze di Figaro – that unforgettable classic production from 1998 with Renee Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, and Bryn Terfel, and the newer, 2014 production with Amanda Majeski, Marlis Petersen, and Ildar Abdrazakov both conducted by James Levine.
Alastair Macaulay’s Ballet - City Center Studio5
All virtual Studio 5 events are streamed for one week on City Center’s YouTube page and website at NYCityCenter.org/Studio5.
On Wednesday, September 30 at 5 EST, (but then available on YouTube until Tuesday, October 6), Alastair Macaulay, Dance Historian and formerly Principal Dance Critic of the New York Times, introduces another of his riveting City Center series showing the working world of ballet dancers. This series shows famous dancers at different stages of their careers, working together to refine their interpretation and technique. This episode has Misty Copeland, the first African American principal ballerina with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, along with international ballet star and ABT principal dancer Alessandra Ferri, now aged 57, and still dancing with ABT, working on Juliet’s solo scenes from Act Three of Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. As a bonus, and one well worth having, if you hurry you can catch the last few days of the previous livestream, NYCB principal dancer Sara Mearns working with choreographer Pam Tanowitz to explore new solo material created for her. This one is only available through September 29th.
Judy Collins at Carnegie Hall
This is an odd, disjointed show with the incomparable Judy Collins and a variety of ill-assorted guests from Jimmy Webb to Alan Cummings. For much of the show she wears the worst wig ever invented and so much makeup that you’re not sure whether it’s really Judy Collins or a female impersonator until the end, when she sings Both Sides Now as only she can. And then you know for sure.
Philip Higham and Susan Tomes at Wigmore Hall
My friend Rosemary Harthill is my most reliable scout and she found this beautiful chamber music concert for us. It includes Beethoven, Suk, Janáček, Debussy and Boulanger, but it begins with Beethoven’s 7 Variations from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte which is just 10 minutes long and purely beautiful. Here’s cellist Philip Higham and pianist Susan Tomes at Wigmore Hall. The concert is available to watch on HD video until 15 October. How good it is to see live music being played again in Wigmore Hall.
Rosh Hashanah – Fiddler on the Roof style
As many of you know, this week is Jewish New Year, the time for reflection and for looking forward. I’d like to wish Shanah Tovah (a Good Year) to all the readers of this blog, Jewish or not, because it can’t hurt to invite blessings at any time of the year and this year we all need them more than ever. I was looking for something appropriate to the season to end this week’s roundup and here it is – the Sabbath prayer from Fiddler on the Roof, sung by all of the original 2004 Broadway revival cast.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Ruth Leon is a writer and critic specialising in music and theatre.