Monday roundup: of geniuses and Verdi operas


The Virginia Opera's production of "Falstaff" was one of many classical highlights this weekend. (Pictured: Courtney Miller, Ann McMahon, Amanda Opuszynski, and Elizabeth Caballero.) (David A. Beloff)

I was not at all happy about “La forza del destino,” or “The force of destiny” as they prefer to call it, at the Washington National Opera. (But don’t take my word for it; here are the views of Charles Downey on Ionarts.com, and my Post colleague Philip Kennicott on his own blog. Note: Downey and I did not speak during the performance, but clearly our experiences were similar.)

The opera to see this weekend (and one I’m very sorry I missed) was “Falstaff” at the Virginia Opera, with Elizabeth Caballero and Stephen Powell, conducted by Joseph Rescigno, and directed by Stephen Lawless, which evidently was as good in person as it appeared it was going to be on paper; Joan Reinthaler enjoyed it a lot. (In the Washington Times, Terry Ponick offered a contrasting view.)

Then there were recitals by two distinctive, original, and brilliant instrumentalists, both recent winners of MacArthur Foundation’s so-called “genius grant.” Claire Chase, the flutist, beguiled Stephen Brookes at the Atlas, and the pianist Jeremy Denk performed Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” at the Kennedy Center, and won over Robert Battey, who found his “rethinking and reexamining on the repeats... a source of constant delight.”

Above: Jeremy Denk explicates the aria from the Goldberg Variations in the start of a series of videos he did for NPR. He performed the entire work in Washington on Saturday.

Anne Midgette came to the Washington Post in 2008, when she consolidated her various cultural interests under the single title of chief classical music critic. She blogs at The Classical Beat.

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