Category Archives: History

VIRGINIA OPERA’S LUCIA: DON’T MISS THIS ROMANTIC TRAGEDY

What one sees on the Harrison Opera House stage with Lucia Di Lammermoor (1835) represented an historic change in tragic storytelling. It is also an opera production you should not miss, whether you are a seasoned opera-goer, or a would-be rookie thinking about trying out the art for the first time. In Lucia, the hero […]

NATIONAL THEATRE’S JULIUS CAESAR: THE JOHN WILKES BOOTH INTERPRETATION RETURNS

Julius Caesar opened Shakespeare’s new Globe Theatre in 1599. Having completed his history cycle, Shakespeare turned to a political drama set in the ancient past. History was fertile ground through which to make  political points about the issues of the day. Julius Caesar was to Rome as Elizabeth I was to England – an aging […]

LITTLE THEATRE OF NORFOLK’S DEATH OF A SALESMAN: THE SOUL SURVIVOR

Jack Kline, president and chief operating officer of Christie Digital Systems USA, Inc. says “people like to do business with people they like. That’s just a natural part of the way people operate.” People prefer the people they like. Jurors prefer the more likeable attorney. Voters prefer the more likable candidate. Buyers prefer to purchase […]

The Met’s SEMIRAMIDE: Glorious Singing

Shakespeare’s great comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not the only drama with a scene set at “Ninny’s Tomb.” When the rude mechanicals enact “The Most Lamentable Comedy, and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisby,” Bottom and Snug mispronounce King Ninus’ tomb as “King “Ninny’s Tomb”. There is no mistaking King Ninus’ Tomb in […]

National Theatre Live: The Expressionist Hamlet

Lyndsay Turner’s Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is strikingly different from other recent Hamlets. Rory Kinnear ‘s Hamlet directed by Nicholas Hytner, Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 self-directed Hamlet, and Greg Doran’s 2009 David Tennant Hamlet all evidenced the influence of John Barton’s magisterial elucidation of how Shakespeare’s language needed to be played. Barton insisted on a detailed […]

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 OPERA’S DREAM: THE MYSTICISM OF HAPPINESS

The great British essayist G. K. Chesterton considered Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be a masterful presentation of “the mysticism of happiness.” He went on to explain: “That is to say, it is the conception that when a man lives upon a borderland he may find himself in the spiritual or supernatural atmosphere, not […]

The Met’s ELIXIR OF LOVE: Wine, Women and Song

I first heard about elixirs of love in 1959 when, through my transistor radio, I heard Jed Lieber’s words about that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth She’s got a pad on Thirty-Fourth and Vine Sellin’ little bottles of Love Potion Number Nine But the idea of a potent which causes love is ancient. At the […]

THE MET’S TOSCA: GRAND RETURNS TO THE OPERA

Sonya Yoncheva’s Violetta was the heart of the most beautiful and exciting event I have ever seen on the stage – Willy Decker’s essentialist La Traviata, with Michael Fabiano (Alfredo) and Thomas Hampson (Germont), so the prospect of seeing Yoncheva’s Floria Tosca was greatly anticipated, to say the least. Decker’s Traviata realized that Dumas’ story, […]

LES MIS: THE ENERGIZER MUSICAL

The musical Les Misérables premiered on  September 24,1980; Duracell’s Energizer Bunny debuted nine years later, but unlike the pink bunny, Schonberg’ and Boubil’s musical keeps getting stronger and stronger. Over 70 million people in 44 countries never grow tired of this magical stage work. (Aside from Hamlet, Kathleen and I have seen Les Mis more […]