This past Wednesday I had the privilege of attending a special program at the Italian Embassy called “Verdi: Uncensored”. It featured a presentation by renowned musicologist, University of Chicago Professor Emeritus, Philip Gossett and performances by several Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists. The program was introduced by Kenneth Feinberg (best known as the administrator of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund), former President of the Washington National Opera (and owner of over 9,000 opera recordings!). The program revealed many original scores that scholars have unearthed, showing how intrusive church, court, and police censors had been over decades, sometimes totally distorting meaning and logic in the operas. Bravo to the National Endowment for the Humanities for supporting this scholarship for some thirty years! I learned a lot about Verdi and I had reason to reflect on the importance of free expression and the insidious impact of censorship on artistic expression.
On Oct. 29, the Phillips is one of eight venues world-wide to simultaneously premiere Matthew Burtner and Scott Deal’s telematic opera Auksalaq, addressing global climate change in the Arctic regions. The audience is encouraged to download the Auksalaq app and bring along their own laptops, iPads, or smart phones to participate in this interactive event. Yesterday, the Auksalaq team visited the Phillips for a test run in the Music Room. This sneak preview just hints at the experimental, layered experience to come.