Category Archives: Opera

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 MADAMA BUTTERFLY: THE POWER OF UNIVERSALS

The most recent study names Puccini’s Madama Butterfly as the sixth most popular opera in the world. In fact, seeing the opera at the age of sixteen prompted Yoko Watanabe (1953-2004) to a singing career, eventually to the position of the most famous of Japanese opera singers, certainly to be one of the most acclaimed […]

CARMEN IN WILLIAMSBURG

Following a decade of teaching Biblical Hebrew to college students, one should welcome retirement as a time to catch one’s breathe and enjoy the easy things of life. Not so for Naama  Zahavi-Ely. Professor Zahavi-Ely decided that her retirement needed her to found a new opera company. At a time when the most established opera […]

THE MET’S LUISA MILLER: A TALE OF THREE FATHERS

Tragedy has been defined as a family destroyed and comedy as a family being created. Due to his own tragic experiences, Giuseppe Verdi was always interested in putting families on stage. The deaths of his children and his first wife had a profound and permanent effect on Verdi. In addition, he was a dutiful son […]

THE MET’S COSI FAN TUTTE: MOZART IN A BOX

During the overture, and before a gaudy show curtain, the canary-colored zoot-suited con man Don Alfonso, presents his co-conspirator and inamorata Despina with a magician’s bouquet of flowers and a very large travelling box, tied up with a bow. She hits him with the flowers, but helps him remove the bow and open the gift […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]