In your opinion, what is the difference between opera and musical theater? Jack Beeson, Composer

Jack BeesonPhoto by Dietrich Dettmann, courtesy Boosey & Hawkes Surrounded by Columbia composers, faculty and students, Stephen Sondheim was asked, “Since a couple of your musicals have been performed in opera houses, why don’t you write a real opera?” Answer: “Because I don’t like their audiences.” Then he asked, “Why don’t you write musicals, Jack?” […]

AAAL Announces 2001 Award Winners

American Academy of Arts and Letters (seal) On February 27, 2001, the American Academy of Arts and Letters announced the seventeen recipients of this year’s awards in music, which total $185,000. The winners were selected by a committee of Academy members: Jack Beeson (chairman), Leslie Bassett, Andrew Imbrie, George Perle, and Ned Rorem. The awards […]

Soundtracks: April 2001

The relationship between music and theater has always been controversial – and productive. On one end of the spectrum are pieces in which text is obviously or completely dominant. Though there are no solely text-based pieces in this month’s new discs — if you want one, try Randy Hostetler’s Happily Ever After, featured in the […]

In your opinion, what is the difference between opera and musical theater?

Stephen Sondheim“…opera is musical theater that takes place in an opera house in front of an opera audience…” Jack Beeson“…In musicals, all the words…are to be understood. Opera audiences…are awed when…they understand an English libretto, and forget to watch the supertitles…” Philip Glass“…Basically, I don’t care what you call it…” Elizabeth Swados“I don’t think those […]

Robert Ashley: You Can’t Call It Anything Else But Opera

Robert Ashley at his home in New York City March 13, 2001, 1:00pm Transcribed by Julia Lu Filmed by Jenny Undercofler Download the Entire Transcript [52K Acrobat PDF] FRANK J. OTERI: I’ve been following your music for over 20 years and am a huge fan of your work which is often hard to describe to […]

The Form Without a Name: American Music Theater

Barry DroginPhoto by Lindsay Drogin Here’s a frustrating parlor game: Come up with a term for the form that includes the operas of Gian Carlo Menotti, the musicals of Leonard Bernstein, the dance-theater of Meredith Monk, the music-theater of Robert Ashley, and such hard to classify works as Porgy and Bess, Four Saints in Three […]

Masterprize Semi-Finalist: Anthony Iannaccone

Anthony IannacconePhoto by Dick Schwartz Anthony Iannaccone’s Waiting for Sunrise on the Sound was commissioned by the NOVA fund. It was given its premiere in 1998 by the Plymouth Symphony, with the composer conducting, and was recorded in February 2000 by the Czech Radio Orchestra, conducted by Vladimír Válek. In addition to a planned commercial […]