Attended three hours or so of a 4.5 hour Meredith Monkathon at Zankel. No kidding. It was an accident that I missed the first hour+ but...not a deeply lamented one. Not entirely bloggable as opera, maybe not at all, except to say that Bjork (of whom I'm going to come out as not a big fan, before saying anything more) gave a corker of a performance in a short piece called Gotham Lullaby which I think she may also have put on one of her albums. [Yeah, I'm dating myself...everything's an album to me. The 78 will rise again!] If kunst and stimm there be in pop, Bjork Whatsitsdottir is in my book all kunst--the range of vocal effect seems to me, and this may be blasphemy, to focus now on whisper, now on growl and not much between 'em.
So anyway that all worked out nicely with her singing downtown art music, got up in a fairly conservative and completely flattering pink frock and little red boots she took off (surely a bit gesturally--why wear them for the fifteen steps from the side of the stage?) She gave a brief and moving, if automatically so, account of having sung the song spontaneoulsy in concert on September 11, 2001 after hearing of the events of the day, and then, accompanied by harp, delivered in the kind of tightly coiled, in-the-moment performance I'd like to see more on opera stages, wringing her hands and pacing with a little dance in her step--pacing not from lack of things to do, but apparently from inner reaction to the music that required kinetic expression.
Moron that I am, I didn't bring any kind of recording device (shocking revelation: I don't own one) or I should not be posting here for making my fortune on ebay! [Personal to Carnegie Hall types: note counterfactual nature of posting.]
Of the rest, insofar as I heard, Dolmen Music was the closest thing to opera. Regrettably, I missed the excerpts rom Atlas, her one opera as such. But Dolmen Music, without having words, has a lot of peculiarily enthralling interaction and vocal doings that stand in just fine for narrative events, especially to someone like me who at times prefers to ignore the libretto. Very accomplished and athletic singing from Ms. Monk's troup and the composer herself. The audience laughed a fair amount, as audiences do at everything lately*, because the effects are at times so outside what we're told to think of as singing as to be disconcerting and hard to know quite how to react to. It'd be easy to make fun of...fish in a barrel like Phillip Glass to the Simpsons. But they're sounds worth making and worth rehearing.
Meanwhile, I've been linked on two sites written by people far better versed than I: The Rest is Noise, and in a piece on Parterre by the Londonist's dauntingly erudite musicperson--both of which made me jump up and down just a little. But also made me think: dear god, I may have to edit the crap I'm spouting.
*seriously, I'm thinking of going only to the most unambiguously tragic theatrical events so as to avoid one day being dragged out of the theater screaming, "Why are you all LAUGHING!! Glengarry Glenn Ross is NOT FUNNY!"