Category Archives: Opera

VIRGINIA OPERA’S THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST: IMPORTANT OPERA, WONDERFUL REJUVENATION

The occasion of the Virginia Opera’s production of Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West offers the opportunity to discuss a man whose name was once almost synonymous with the American theater – David Belasco. Belasco (1854-1931) was born in San Francisco, educated by Jesuits, and on the stage from childhood. Author or adaptor of […]

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 […]

Metropolitan Opera’s MAGIC FLUTE: Saved by the Singing

During the Civil War, President Lincoln was criticized for attending the opera so often. He replied, “I must have a change, or I will die.” No opera that he saw was as different from everyday life, even wartime life, than Mozart’s MAGIC FLUTE. Mozart scholar, and a former director of the Glyndebourne Festival, Myer Fredman […]

The Metropolitan Opera presents A NORMA for the Ages

The term “Dream Team’ was first used in 1992 to describe the United States Olympic basketball team, comprised of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, and Christian Laettner. “It was,” said Coach Chuck Daly, “like Elvis and the Beatles […]

VIRGINIA OPERA PRESENTS RARE SAMSON AND DALILAH

The occasion of the Virginia Opera’s production of Camille Saint-Saens’ 1877 SAMSON AND DALILAH underscores the fact Camille Saint-Saens’ work is one of only a handful of operas based on Biblical stories. Why is that? Many historical factors account for the phenomenon. First, during the late sixteenth century, when opera was being developed, the Pope, […]

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 […]

LA CENERENTOLA at 100: OPÉRA NATIONAL DE PARIS PRODUCES A LANDMARK

Napoleon is dead, but a new conqueror has already shown himself to the world; and from Moscow to Naples, from London to Vienna, from Paris to Calcutta, his name is constantly on every tongue. The fame of this hero knows no bounds save those of civilization itself; and he is not yet 32! The 1823 […]

Gran Teatre del Liceu: A Stark Rigoletto

The Rigoletto at Barcelona’s elegant Gran Teatre del Liceu reminded me again that Verdi can be considered the Shakespeare of opera. Not only did he compose a Macbeth, Othello, and Falstaff, but his great fondness for King Lear was spread among several operas. The king driven mad by his evil daughter centers Nabucco, while Rigoletto […]

Tidewater Opera Initiative: Fearless Performance

If you need proof as to the truth of Henri Matisse’s observation, “Creativity takes courage,” you need go no further than the weekend performances at Norfolk’s funky Hugh R Copeland Center of Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor and Henry Purcell’s  Dido and Aeneas. The Tidewater Opera Initiative (TOI), a self-described “boutique opera company”, presented the pair of […]

EUGENE ONEGIN at the Met: Netrebko Redefines Tatiana

Some fans of Alexander Pushkin’s great and iconic verse novel Eugene Onegin can’t stomach Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky’s operatic version. Too much of the master Russian author’s brilliance is lost, they say, in the opera’s simplified libretto, written in only nine days. Pushkin’s 1833 novel is a text that “divides Russian literature into a ‘before’ and […]