Matthew Gurewitsch
Matthew Gurewitsch
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

And did you know that he was married at St. Patrick's?
A tribute to James Conlon at 65

April 3, 2015

James Conlon. How Delphic that the parents of the future Principal Conductor of the Paris Opera should have given their boy from Queens just the initials they did.

Les initiales? Plaît-il?

Mais oui...

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Coda: Revisiting Ravenna

April 2015  •  Opera News

It was the spring of 1990, and I was working on a profile of Riccardo Muti when he suggested I visit the new festival in Ravenna, the former hub of the Western Roman Empire and his adopted hometown. On July 1, I dropped off my luggage near the station and sauntered over to the basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, where the maestro was rehearsing Mozart's crystalline Linz Symphony and his soul-shattering Requiem. The portal stood open to the cooling breezes, allowing discreet passersby to listen in.

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How Hope Grows
A contemporary requiem for victims of terrorism

January 8, 2015

What could this music be? An unknown choral elegy, in a language not immediately recognizable… Somehow it called to mind the first-act finale of Puccini's last opera, Turandot. No sooner has the unknown prince resolved, "though the universe crumble," to woo the cold-hearted daughter of the Emperor of China than the universe itself—reflected in the voices of the singers onstage and the brooding orchestra in the pit—cries out in lamentation. The mystery music had just this sweep, this pathos, the same oceanic undertow. Then came something very different: a soprano solo, perhaps Byzantine in flavor, the high-floating melody looping like a garland, embedded in lunar sonorities of chimes over a slow-moving bass line. Then the mood changed again. All hell broke loose in crashing percussion, blaring brass, and panic-stricken song. It was here that I figured out that I was listening to a Requiem. The text, unmistakably in Latin, was the "Dies irae" sequence, conjuring up the Last Judgment. Of the many who have set the Mass of the Dead, none has surpassed Mozart or Verdi for fear and terror. Yet here was another composer, likely of our day, bold enough to compete on equal terms. Who could it be? And why?

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From the Archives: Roll-Player
A Whipping Boy In His Element

January 6, 2015

On the eve of the publication of Allen Kurzweil's second novel, The Grand Complication, I went spelunking with him in the bowels of the New York Public Library. For a grandly uncomplicated reason--we got scooped--my editor never ran the resulting story. On the eve of the publication of Whipping Boy, Allen's queasy but hypnotic saga of a trauma victim stalking the tormentor who bullied him decades before, I have retrieved the unpublished manuscript, which as it happens retains a certain timeliness.

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La Divina Goes Hi-Def
A new high-definition set of recordings shows why Greek-American soprano Maria Callas remains a legend

December 17, 2014  •  Wall Street Journal

The voice, the look, the gossip, the headlines: The Greek-American soprano Maria Callas (1923-1977), known as La Divina, gave new meaning to the cliché "a legend in her own time." And a legend she remains, hands down the most influential diva in opera since Thomas Edison patented the phonograph. From generation to generation, her recordings have perpetuated her mystique. Ranging from jewels of bel canto to indispensable Verdi and Puccini, with Bizet's smoldering "Carmen" in the mix just to shake it up, the Callas discography, originally on the EMI label, has proved an enduring gold mine.

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Books by Matthew Gurewitsch

Cover of Rafal Olbinski Women Cover of When Stars Blow Out


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