Category Archives: Poetry

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 […]

Lyric Opera’s Eugene Onegin: Tatiana’s Triumph

Like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Pytor Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is not eponymous. The play is named, not, as Dostoyevsky famously argued, for the play’s main character, but rather for the character who sets the main character in action. The main character in Tchaikovsky’s opera is, instead, the country girl, Tatiana Larina. And Tatiana might owe her […]

CST’s Love’s Labor’s Lost: A Charming Delight

Harold Bloom, Yale’s Sterling Professor of the Humanities, has a particular desire to see Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost: I have never seen a production of this extravagant comedy that could begin to perform to its vocal magnificence, but I always live in hope that some director of genius will yet deliver it to us. Marti […]

Lyric Opera’s DON QUICHOTTE: A Hymn to a Holy Fool

A dying Jules Massenet wrote Don Quichotte knowing the woman he loved, soprano Lucy Arbell, would play the courtesan-lady Dulcinee after his death. Rather than create his own libretto from Cervantes’ mammoth novel, Massenet used Jacques Lorrain’s bastardized and abridged verse play, Le Chevalier de la longue figure, for his libretto. La Lorrain’s short play […]

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 […]

CST’s King Charles III: The Tragedy of a Virtuous Man

Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper was my favorite novel as an elementary school student. I easily identified with young Tom Canty and saw the young Prince of Wales as my own contemporary Prince of Wales, Charles, whom I was fascinated to learn was but six weeks younger than I. I have maintained my […]

Lyric Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor: Superlative Voices Reign Supreme

+ You can hear it in films – not just in The Great Caruso (1951), but also in The Departed (2006), Man on the Moon (1999), two Mickey Rooney  movies, Captain January (1936),Little Women (1933), Scarface (1932) , with the Marx Brothers in Animal Crackers (1930), and even in the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979). […]

CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE’S TUG OF WAR: CIVIL STRIKE- Suffering Outside of Divine Providence

From his earliest plays to his final works, William Shakespeare confirmed his world’s confidence in Divine Providence. Divine Providence is the means by which God leads his creatures to their destined end. To thwart or reject this movement, is to risk the attainment of one’s destiny. Man is assured of Providential guidance, if, in conformity […]

CST: Shakespeare’s Globe’s The Merchant of Venice: The Quality of Malice

Despite what you may read, or hear, in the news, Jews remain the most hated people in America. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports: Hate Crime Statistics, there were 1,140 victims of anti-religious hate crimes in the U.S. last year. “Of the 1,140 victims of anti-religious hate crimes: 56.8 percent [56.8%] were victims of […]

Chicago Shakespeare’s TUG OF WAR: FOREIGN FIRE: Theatrical Magnificence

“Man is a predator whose natural instinct is to kill with a weapon.” So wrote Chicago playwright and anthropologist Robert Ardrey after years of observing human nature in action all over the world. His words aptly summarize the theme of Barbara Gaines’ thrilling Tug of War: Foreign Fire, a stage edition of three of Shakespeare’s […]