Rusalka caught between fantasy and reality

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The nymphs. © Eléna Bauer/Opéra de Paris

April 2015: I am at the Opéra Bastille in Paris and the final curtain on Antonin Dvorak’s opera “Rusalka”, Op. 114 has just fallen. An exhilarating experience. I remember I left the opera in a kind of trance, perpetuated at least for some time by a glass of wine at the opera restaurant. The magnitude of the performance, directed by Robert Carsen and conducted by Jakub Hrusa, probably was the main reason why I never resolved myself to write a post about it even though I had one scheduled for autumn 2015. I was worried that the unique impression of music, the acting and the stage design would dwarf anything I would feel when listening to a mere recording and prevent me from rendering justice to Dvorak’s work (the casting is available here).

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Overwhelmed by a sparkling trio of divine length

After the concert. © Charles Thibo

You probably know this feeling: You have been to an extraordinary concert, you exit the concert hall, dumbfounded, unable to cast into words what you just heard. Here is a piece that has this effect upon me each time I listen to it: Johannes Brahms’ Piano Trio in B major, Op. 8. The emotional impact it has upon my soul and my body is hard to explain – an overwhelming experience every single time.

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A new type of music for a new society

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Dystopia. © Charles

A cry of pain. Madness, loss of orientation. Suffering and desperation. Such emotional outbursts dominate Langgaard’s String Quartet No. 2, BVN 145. It seems to reflect the conflicts a tortured mind has to endure in the face of an hostile environment, a world marked by adversity. A dark and fascinating piece, in its emotional expressiveness close to Franz Schubert’s musical language. At the same time it gives an outlook to a better future, the source of hope being music.

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In the data maze or a hype of Beethovian scale

Beethoven Fifth final
No notes, no music. © Charles Thibo

Tadadadaaa – the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is effective as of now! Can you feel it? Does it make a difference? No, it doesn’t. It reminds me of the question: “So how does it feel to turn 40?” Well, the world did not stop turning back then, did it? And it didn’t tonight. All this excitement in the blogosphere over the past weeks – I wonder whether we are not taking all this a little too serious.

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