Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Star Tribune reviews the Minnesota Opera production of Bernard Herrmann's Wuthering Heights available for streaming.
Based on Emily Brontë's classic novel of twisted emotions and tragedy on the Yorkshire moors in England, Herrmann's opera has a predictably dark and brooding quality. That's evident in the glowering orchestral prelude, with icy strings and thorny woodwind figurations painting a gloomy counterpoint to the wood-paneled interiors of Neil Patel's set, representing the ancestral home of the work's title.
Vocally the opera is strongly cast, led by American soprano Sara Jakubiak, who sings the passionate role of Catherine with untiring vibrancy and emotional commitment.
Her Heathcliff, baritone Lee Poulis, easily matches Jakubiak in intensity. Swarthy and Poldarkian in profile, he looks every inch the dangerous romantic lead, and his virility of tone is often thrilling.
But what kind of "hero" is Heathcliff, and why exactly does Catherine find him so fatally attractive? Director Eric Simonson plays their relationship fairly straight, as a tale of high Victorian passion.
Yet there are clear hints in the opera's libretto and in Herrmann's music of something nastier — Heathcliff the gaslighter, wrecker of two women's lives and perpetrator of a toxic masculinity, which is far from conventionally "romantic."
Little of that comes through in Simonson's more mainstream conception, which nonetheless has its fair share of impactful moments.
Many of these come in Act 3, where Catherine's husband, Edgar, gets a Puccini-like aria lacking only in the Italian composer's killer instinct for a clinching melody. Tenor Eric Margiore sings it splendidly.
As his sister Isabella, mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala is marvelously impassioned — another victim of Heathcliff's wild emotional inconstancy, and arguably the only major character in the opera who is fully sympathetic.
Conductor Michael Christie draws a sharply atmospheric account of Herrmann's score from an on-form orchestra, and overall it's hard to find a weakness in the production musically.
Dramatically, though, "Wuthering Heights" has its imperfections. There's endless talk of love, but precious little evidence of it in the onstage action, where hot clinches are largely left to the imagination. Herrmann also overplays the grim finale, where Catherine dies and Heathcliff emotes obsessively over the relationship he wishes could have been.
Even the excellence of Jakubiak and Poulis can't save their overwrought and protracted encounter, which eventually becomes wearisome.
That is not to criticize Minnesota Opera's decision to show "Wuthering Heights" again. It's a historic production showing the company at or near its best, and is one of the best sung shows of recent seasons. (Terry Blain)
Noticias (Argentina) reviews the production of Wasted available for streaming.
Este inspirador espectáculo cuenta con un elenco sobresaliente, tanto en la forma que habitan sus personajes como en el poderío vocal. Natasha Barnes (foto) está brillante como Charlotte, la pragmática hermana mayor, dividida entre vacilaciones y ser reconocida por su trabajo. Siobhan Athwal (Emily) deslumbra en su criatura escéptica, frágil y obsesiva con la muerte. Mientras Molly Lynch (Anne) logra reflejar la angustia casi humorística de la menor. (Jorge Luis Montiel) (Translation)
In Vogue, Monica de La Villardière discusses pregnancy, morning sickness and miscarriages in the age of picture-perfect, Instagrammable lives.
Disturbed by my normally dynamic sister-in-law’s affliction, I began researching hyperemesis gravidarum. I found it was still on the list of non-fatal female diseases that we hadn’t yet bothered finding a cure for. (You may recall that the Duchess of Cambridge suffered from a severe case of it during her three pregnancies – her trips to hospital were much documented at the time.) It’s not like this is a new disease. In fact, there’s an increasingly popular theory to suggest that hyperemesis gravidarum is what killed one of my favourite novelists, Charlotte Brontë. According to Brontë’s close friend, fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte became pregnant shortly after her wedding in 1855 but was “attacked by a sensation of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness”. She died shortly thereafter. At the time, Brontë’s death was ascribed to then-common tuberculosis but a growing number of biographers, including Claire Harman, suggest she died from dehydration and malnourishment due to vomiting caused by severe morning sickness.
Glossing over pregnancy problems, then, is not native to the Instagram age.
Commonweal Magazine reviews the new book Suppose a Sentence by Brian Dillon.
Part of the joy of Suppose a Sentence lies simply in encountering, or re-encountering, the gems Dillon has selected. [...] And here’s Charlotte Brontë in Villette, describing with brilliantly strange grammar the effects of laudanum: “The drug wrought.” (Anthony Domestico)
Río Negro (Argentina) reviews Margo Glantz's essay collection El texto encuentra un cuerpo.
En esta obra de 40 ensayos que integra la colección Lectores de la editorial Ampersand, Margo Glantz se declara fragmentaria –su texto puede leerse de manera lineal o por capítulos– y pone en primer plano su mirada feminista, desarmando estereotipos y apoyándose en lo lúdico para hablar, entre otras cosas, de la infelicidad que le produce leer novelas francesas sobre amores no correspondidos, de la novela epistolar y la usurpación que hace el escritor de la voz de la protagonista, de la cuestión de la moralidad e inmoralidad en las novelas de correspondencia, de la incisiva mirada de Jane Austen y su sátira de la moda romántica que propagó la novela gótica a fines de los siglos XVIII y principios del XIX, la cual propiciaba una visión conformista e irreal del mundo; de la maldición de Emily Brontë, de la hipocresía del cortejo y el fetichismo de las frases consagradas en una comedia de Tirso de Molina, del acceso de las mujeres a la escritura y del mito de la mujer mártir por el que Frida Kalho pasa a la historia menos por su pintura que por su vida de sufrimientos. (Translation)
Palatinate recommends Rebecca (the novel, not the new film adaptation) as a Halloween read for the non-horror reader.
Readers of Jane Eyre will find similarities between the two stories, but where Jane remains the heroine of her story, Rebecca’s narrator is constantly overshadowed by the seeming shining perfection of Rebecca, the wife of Mr de Winter who tragically drowned in an accident. (Anna Short)
While Film Post (Italy) reviews the new film adaptation.
Al livello di atmosfere non si possono non riconoscere gli elementi gotici con gli standard del genere già visti in letteratura. Da Jane Eyre al Il castello di Otranto, con il grande maniero dall’aspetto torvo, il mistero celato da una porta chiusa, la potenza dei segreti e delle ossessioni. (Francesca Imperi) (Translation)
Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights is one of 'The 10 best songs inspired by books' according to Far Out Magazine.
Wuthering Heights’ – Kate Bush  
Born on the same day as the author of Wuthering Heights’ Emily Brontë, albeit over 100 years apart, Bush had an affinity with the written word that would permeate all her songs. But none more so than this record breaker (making Bush the first female to write and record a chart-topping single), which saw Bush take Bronte’s characters into the modern world. 
The song was written in 1977 when “There was a full moon, the curtains were open and it came quite easily,” Bush told her fan club in 1979. Bush lifted lines straight from Brontë’s work as she used Earnshaw’s plea “Let me in! I’m so cold” among other quotations from the novel. It’s clear that Bush truly connected with the song, and in fact, the novel too. She told Record Mirror in 1978, “Great subject matter for a song. I loved writing it. It was a real challenge to precis the whole mood of a book into such a short piece of prose.” 
Bush continued, “Also when I was a child I was always called Cathy not Kate and I just found myself able to relate to her as a character. It’s so important to put yourself in the role of the person in a song. There’s no half measures. When I sing that song I am Cathy. (Her face collapses back into smiles.) Gosh, I sound so intense. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is so important to me. It had to be the single. To me, it was the only one.” (Jack Whatley)


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