Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Royal Opera House 'William Tell' with Gang-Rape Scene Draws 'Unprecedented' Booing

A scene from Rossini's 'William Tell' at the Royal Opera HouseA scene from Rossini's 'William Tell' at the Royal Opera House (ROH)
The opening night performance on Monday of a new production of William Tell at London's Royal Opera House was marked by loud and prolonged booing over a scene in which a woman is raped by soldiers.
The production, by Italian director Damiano Michieletto, updates Rossini's classic tale of the 14th-century Swiss hero William Tell to the 1990's Balkan conflict. Music critics – largely on the side of the booers – described the audience's reaction to the third-act ballet scene as unprecedented in the company's recent history  More

Q&A: Bartok's Biographer Addresses Questions of Asperger's Syndrome

Bela Bartok (center) collecting folk musicBela Bartok (center) collecting folk music (N/A)

Bela Bartok (center) collecting folk music Bela Bartok (center) collecting folk music (N/A)
Dvorak his Slavonic Rhapsodies, Brahms had his Hungarian Dances.

But few of history's major composers went as far to harvest melodies and rhythms as Béla Bartók (1881-1945), who published nearly 2,000 folk tunes and collected many more in journeys that spanned "awful roads and terrible carriages," as the composer once wrote during a visit to a small Transylvanian village.

Bartók lugged his primitive recording equipment across the countryside of Eastern European (including his native Hungary), collecting songs that were on the verge of extinction. He transformed many of them into string quartets, violin sonatas, dramatic works and orchestral pieces.

A new biography by musicologist David Cooper (Yale University Press) delves into the ethnic traditions that Bartók drew from and also explores his relationships with famous performers. It also raises some more disputed ideas. We spoke with Cooper about Béla Bartók.

Your book has generated some debate for its suggestions that Bartók may have had Asperger's Syndrome. How did this come to light?  More