Friday, March 1, 2013

Plotzing for Norma ... Excited for Levine.

Plotz . . . If you know me at all, you know that I think this word is too wonderful to be as underutilized as it is.

The word, which is an Americanized version of the Yiddish word platsn, loosely means: to collapse or faint, as from surprise, excitement, or exhaustion.

How would I use it in a sentence? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here's a great example: I plotzed a couple of days ago when the Met Opera announced that Angela Meade would be tag-teaming with Sondra Radvanovsky next season as Norma.

Honestly, Norma is one of my all time favorite operas. Yep. Probably even in the Top 3 category. In fact, I was so excited about this news that I took a screen grab right away and posted it on Instagram.

Wait ... you're not following @JNewmanNYC on Instagram? Shame on you!

I'll wait while you go rectify that issue this very second ...

[Insert whimsical elevator music here.]

And we're back ...

So, I'm not really plotzing over the following tidbit of news, but I am still pretty darned excited...

As you will remember, it was announced in October that the Met Opera's beloved Maestro, James Levine, will return to conducting on May 19, 2013 with the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He will then lead three operas in the Met’s 2013-14 season, including a new production of Verdi’s Falstaff and revivals of Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Berg’s Wozzeck, while conducting all of the Met Orchestra's Carnegie Hall concerts.

The 69 year old Maestro had been suffering from back pain for years. And even though he had transitioned to conducted while perched atop a chair, he was still conducting through excruciating pain due to, among other things, spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spine that puts pressure on the spinal cord.

Maestro James Levine at the Met Opera, 2011 (Ken Howard)
The Maestro underwent surgeries that for the first time in years made him pain-free. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, he fell while on vacation in Vermont and injured his already compromised spinal cord. These injuries left him unable to walk.

After two difficult years of being absent for rehabilitation, the Maestro is back to work - coming to the opera house between three and five days a week to coach members of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, hold artistic planning sessions, meet with the Met’s Orchestra and Chorus and, even conduct auditions. It appears that he will begin rehearsing the orchestra in April.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Maestro Levine is somewhat upbeat about the twilight of his legendary career:
"A year ago, I could barely move my legs, let alone walk," he said.

He now walks with the help of a walker and his physical therapists, though only for short distances.

After four decades at the helm of the Met orchestra and two difficult years away, the 69-year-old said Monday he was looking forward to next season and hoping that in his "older years," his conducting will reach new depths of insight.

"Sometimes, as you get older, your perception is redistributed in a constructive way," he said. "I hope to get us on the most constructive, productive, positive track I can." . . .

. . . The maestro said he took inspiration from great musicians who, in their later years, showed even deeper mastery and musicianship. He cited singers such as Jennie Tourel, a mezzo-soprano who continued to perform into her 70s, and Jan Peerce, a tenor who "was still selling out Carnegie Hall when he was nearly 80."

"His breath was shorter," Mr. Levine said, "but his insight was still increasing."

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