Sunday, December 26, 1999

'99 Classical music: Life imitates opera

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In Cincinnati's classical music scene, life imitated opera in 1999.

        • The overture: In February, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra appointed a 14-member search committee to find its 12th music director. CSO trustee Nancy Walker heads the committee.

        • The dress rehearsal: All eyes are on CSO guest conductor Paavo Jarvi, 36, who made three guest appearances in nine months. Although the search committee is mum about whether he'll succeed Jesus Lopez-Cobos as music director in 2001, the Estonian-born maestro is the top contender.

        • An important debut: The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music unveiled its dazzling $93.2 million CCM Village with a December gala showcasing its students. The new Robert J. Werner Recital Hall (named for the dean) was christened with a $2 million gift from arts patron Patricia A. Corbett.

        • Champagne aria: In May, music director James Conlon celebrated his 20th anniversary with the Cincinnati May Festival. The celebration included the U.S. premiere of Kurt Weill's biblical pageant, “The Prophets” from the spectacle, Der Weg der Verheissung (The Eternal Road) in the Isaac M. Wise Temple on Plum Street, downtown.

        • Act Two: In his second full season as artistic director, Cincinnati Opera's Nicholas Muni riveted fans with Benjamin Britten's uneasy ghost tale, The Turn of the Screw in July.

        • Nessun dorma: King-of-High-C's Luciano Pavarotti made his only area appearance at Columbus' Value City Arena in March. It was a slam-dunk.

        • A choral lament: Robert Shaw, a frequent guest conductor of Cincinnati May Festival since 1965, died at age 82 in January. For more than half a century, he created an American choral tradition. So far, no one stands out as the successor to his legacy.

        • Swan song: Keith Lockhart made an emotional farewell to the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in May. He left to devote his time to the Utah Symphony and Boston Pops. His farewell concert ended with bravos while Mr. Lockhart went into the orchestra to shake hands with, hug or kiss each musician.

        This marked an end to his Cincinnati professional ties, which began in 1990 as assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

        • Pants role: Guest conductor Barbara Yahr made a strong case for becoming the next music director of the Chamber Orchestra, when she conducted in October. If she is appointed, she will be the first woman to occupy an important Cincinnati podium.

        • Curtain call: In September, Erich Kunzel's 100th recording, Magical Musicals, was released by Telarc. The same month, the 64-year-old maestro re-recorded the 1812 Overture, making what will be the Cincinnati Pops' debut on a Super Audio Compact Disc — a pioneering new technology. “I hope this opens the door for the 21st century,” Mr. Kunzel says.


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'99 Nation/World: A fitting finale to the century
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'99 Pop music: Cincy back on the charts
'99 Television: A million reasons to watch
- '99 Classical music: Life imitates opera
'99 Dance: Comings and goings
'99 Theater: A year to remember
'99 Visual art: All eyes on Vontz Center