This week: Verdi, William Bailey, French organ music & more.

Production card listing printings of the libretto of Otello, 1887–99, Archivio Storico Ricordi, Milan. Courtesy Morgan Library & Museum.


William Bailey, Still Life—Table with Ochre Wall, 1972. Oil on canvas. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery.

“William Bailey: Looking through Time,” at the Yale University Art Gallery (through January 5): Paintings of the nude can be shocking, just not in the way you might think. The real nudity of “William Bailey: Looking Through Time,” now on view at the Yale University Art Gallery, is painting denuded of contemporary pretense. That’s the actual shock of the career survey of this living master and longtime Yale professor: a love for painting, past and present, without modern adornment. Bailey’s depictions of nudes, still lifes, and landscapes reach back to Piero della Francesca and the early Italian Renaissance to draw out compositions of consummate craft and uncanny tranquility. Paired with examples of his drawings and prints, the paintings in the must-see exhibition make us grateful for this artist who has looked through time and shared his vision. —JP


The organist Paul Jacobs. Courtesy Julliard School.

“The Great French Organ Tradition, Pt. I,” featuring Paul Jacobs, in Paul Hall at the Juilliard School (September 10): Perhaps no instrument suffers in audio recordings so much as the organ. It breathes life into the space that it fills: listening to Saint-Saëns with headphones is one thing, but in a church or concert hall his compositions for organ make the walls, the seats, and even the audience vibrate with the pure stuff of music. This Tuesday, September 10, the organist Paul Jacobs will give the first of three concerts featuring music from some of the greatest French composers for the instrument. In addition to garnering wide acclaim as a performer, Jacobs serves as the chair of the organ department at Juilliard, so concertgoers can expect the benefit of a thoughtful and illustrative program. —RE


A new house in Wiltshire, England, designed by Ben Pentreath, 2014. Courtesy Ben Pentreath.

 “Adventures with the English Country House,” with Ben Pentreath, at Sotheby’s (September 16): While Sotheby’s “Treasures from Chatsworth” exhibition closes this Friday, the auction house continues its English country house programming next Monday. Ben Pentreath, an architect and interior designer known for his subdued classicism, will speak on how historical examples of country houses continue to inspire him today. —BR


Carlo Ferrario, Otello: Vanity table, Desdemona’s room, 1887, Watercolor on paper, Archivo Storico Ricordi, Milan. Courtesy Morgan Library & Museum.

“Verdi: Creating Otello and Falstaff—Highlights from the Ricordi Archive,” at the Morgan Library & Museum (through January 5): Anyone who’s ever seen an opera has a basic sense of the massive effort required to put on such a show, especially a new one. The sets, the costumes, the promotional material, the hours of work the singers and musicians put into practicing—that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But what did these preparations look like back in the 1800s, when many of the greatest operas were being produced? A new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum looks at the creation of two of Verdi’s incredible contributions to operatic history—Otello (1887 premiere) and Falstaff (1893)—to show what exactly it took to get to opening night. The manuscripts, contracts, publicity, and of course set designs and costumes at the Morgan will give any opera lover a greater appreciation for the art. —RH

Upcoming at The New Criterion:

“Leninthink: On the pernicious legacy of Vladimir Lenin,” featuring Gary Saul Morson (September 25). Presenting The New Criterion’s First Annual Circle Lecture.

From the Archive:

“Let’s tickle the ivories,” by David Dubal (February 2012). On the joys of playing the piano.


“1619 and all that,” by Timothy Jacobson. On archaeology, history & remembrance.

“Long live the King,” by Katrina Gulliver. On Brooklyn: The Once and Future City by Thomas Campanella.

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