Category Archives: Art

LA SCALA’S GIOVANNA D’ARCO: When an Opera is a Lie

As of 2009, ten percent of Americans thought Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.[i] Since then most people probably won’t even guess as to her identity. And where could they learn of Joan of Arc? Schools, where any hint of Christianity is outlawed? In mainline churches, where scientific rationalism filters the majesty and mystery of […]

THE MET OPERA’S IL TROVATORE: THE TRAGEDY OF VENGEANCE

Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore is probably best known as the center of the Marx Brothers great film comedy A Night at the Opera. Ridicule, parody, burlesque and satire have followed the opera almost even from composition. Based on the classic Spanish Romantic drama El Trovador by Antonio Garcia Gutiérrez, librettist Salvadore Cammarano sent Verdi a […]

THE MET’S LA BOHEME: DEATH COMES TO NEVERLAND

A band of lost boys, living high above the twentieth century’s urban world, who won’t grow up, led by a free spirit unable to trust the love of the girl who loves him totally. J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan? Think again. Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme. Imagine Peter cradling a dying Wendy in his arms and you […]

VIRGINIA SYMPHONY: THE BEST OF WAGNER’S RING

The Virginia Symphony presented THE BEST OF WAGNER’S RING CYCLE, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, narrated by bass-baritone Jake Gardner. ” Entry of the Gods into Valhalla” from Das Rheingold, “Ride of the Valkyries” and “Wotan’s farewell & Magic Fire Music” from Die Walkure, “Forest Murmurs’ from Siegfried, and “Siegfried’s Rhine Journey” and “Siegfried’s Death and […]

A TALE OF TWO AIDAS

This past August witnessed the opening of two distinct productions of Verdi’s historic opera AIDA, one in Salzburg, Austria, and the other in Washington, DC. Each was directed by a woman. Shirin Neshat, a photographer and video artist directed her first opera, the Salzburg Festival version, under the watchful conducting of Riccardo Muti, the purist […]

The Goodman Theatre: Uncle Vanya , Our Contemporary

Todd Rosenthal’s sublime setting which greeted the audience entering the Owen theater alerted us to what was to come. Among the period pieces of furniture sat a 1950s-style blond wood arm chair and a chrome dinette chair. A 1920s-radio rested upon the piano and a goose-neck electric light roosted nearby. Then came the note by […]

Lyric Opera’s CARMEN: Ashford and Calleja Make History

“Bullfighting is the only art form that both represents something and is that thing at the same time: the matador’s elegant immobility in the face of the bull not only represents man’s defiance of death, it is a man defying death, and there are women who do it too.”[i] In Rob Ashcroft’s magnificent new telling of Bizet’s Carmen, the […]

LYRIC OPERA’S MAGIC FLUTE: A Metatheatrical Spectacular

Reviewing an 1879 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the anonymous Chicago Tribune critic noted, “it would be absurd to try to explain the plot…. All sorts of explanations have been attempted but, if anyone ever really knew what it meant, he died before he said anything about it. It is a hodge-podge, nonsense, and […]

Lyric Opera’s THE TROJANS: The “Most Profoundly Moving Experience”

“For grandeur of conception, nobility of tone, and imaginative range [Berlioz’ The Trojans] has scarcely a rival in operatic history.”[i] The words of the great musicologist Winton Dean would seem impossible to fulfill in production. But, after seeing the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s brilliant production of The Trojans, Mr. Dean may have been understating the […]

Interrobang’s THE AMISH PROJECT: An Icon of Forgiveness

In his famous Law of the Drama, the French critic Ferdinand Brunitiere (1849-1906) insists on the primacy of  “conflict” in dramatic literature: “Drama is a representation of the will of man in conflict with the mysterious powers or natural forces which limit and belittle us; it is one of us thrown living upon the stage […]