Review time

“She sang equally well lying on her back or kneeling atop her lover. This technique reduced Masetto to an obedient puppy – and probably many Eastman Theatre patrons as well.”
- the D & C’s Stuart Low, writing about Mercury Opera’s recent production of Don Giovanni

What do you want to read about in a review? Background info on the musicians? What about the hall, the crowds, or the color of the conductor’s hair? Critics debate about this stuff all the time. Some say they should stick to the music and only the music. Others want to capture the flavors, sights, and smells of the hall.

Writer Stephen Marc Beaudoin sent me a link to a website run by NYC’s widely read opera queen slash critic “La Cieca," who dissected a review by New York Times critic Bernard Holland and created a pie chart showing the contents of the review. It was an all-Schubert recital at Carnegie Hall. This pie chart analyzes what Mr. Holland wrote about.

Inspired by this bit of silliness, I analyzed a recent review by staff music critic Stuart Low of the (Rochester, NY) Democrat and Chronicle. Mr. Low reviewed Mercury Opera’s production of Don Giovanni by Mozart. As you can see, he wrote (mostly) about the performance.

Clearly, Mr. Low was in the room and paying attention. Bravo!

Read the rest of Stuart Low’s entertaining review:

Bernard Holland’s review:

See “La Cieca," her pie chart, and the ensuing debate here:



Andrew Kuo

Hmmm. Analyzing something with a pie chart. Interesting.

The work of Andrew Kuo might amuse you. He contributes to the New York Times music section, and takes this chart idea several steps further. He doesn't analyze concert reviews by other critics. He uses graphics to review actual concerts (Bjork at Carnegie Hall), films (I'm Not There) along with a variety of other subjects. If you have the idle time to explore it, there's an insanely detailed color-coded, letter-indexed, multi-chart spread documenting Andrew's reaction to a summer music series in Brooklyn. Among the breakdowns: quality of the concerts (predicted and actual), how upset Andrew was to miss the shows he missed, duration of sets, sponsor logos displayed, etc.

On top of all that, he even wrote a short article. It's at...

Andrew Kuo

The charts and graphs on his site make my head spin. Fun! Now that I've mastered the art of pies charts, I'm eager to graph other things, too, though I'm not sure I'd want to publish a bar graph of my mood swings.