Around the Carousel at the NY Phil

I went to see the classic American musical Carousel as performed by the New York Philharmonic with Nathan Gunn, Kelli O’Hara, and Stephanie Blythe, and I wrote about it for Bachtrack.

While musicals are normally outside the
purview of major symphony orchestras, fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein
can only be grateful for the New York Philharmonic’s beautiful staging
of Carousel, currently onstage at Avery Fisher Hall. Broadway has changed a lot since Carousel
premièred in 1945, and the big voices, big string sections, and
homespun spirit that the Philharmonic has brought to this
five-performance run arguably serve the material better than today’s
Great White Way could. It is a treat to hear this score performed so

You can read the rest here. Go see this if you can, it’s gorgeous. It’s a troubling and in some ways very disturbing show, but I think they deal with the problematic elements in a way where they seem like part of the difficulties of life and love (Julie is clearly, particularly in this production, a lady with issues) not an endorsement of anything violent. That last line, though–you’ll see what–is pretty awful in any context.

I love musicals, but don’t go to them too often on Broadway because the tiny, heavily synthesized orchestras and heavily amplified singing really grate on my ears. Even some of the nominally classy productions like Sunday in the Park with George feature awful synthesized bands and I just can’t enjoy them much. (I did like the orchestra in the recent Follies revival, though the production itself was flawed.) I’d rather go see a college production with a full band. Additionally, college musical theater is more reliably fun than college opera, because the music is far less technically demanding to sing.

But there are still a ton of great Broadway singers out there, so it was a real pleasure to hear them in this production with a proper orchestra and relatively natural acoustic. (I neglected to mention this in the review, but Carousel was, as one would expect with a musical, amplified, noticeably but not nearly as artificially as you hear on Broadway–and keep in mind that Avery Fisher is far larger than a Broadway theater.) I’m not very up on many current Broadway performers (see above) other than the really obvious ones, so it was great to discover Jessie Mueller as Carrie, who has a wonderful voice.

Carousel runs through Saturday and will be broadcast on PBS in April. Highly recommended.

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