Category Archives: Theology

Virginia Symphony: Bach to Reformation – Dinnerstein Dazzles

The occasion of the Virginia Symphony’s FROM THE MUSIC OF BACH TO THE REFORMATION SYMPHONY raises the subject of the overwhelming amount of Christian music associated with historic Protestantism. Why is that? The answer begins in the religious practices of the ancient Hebrew people. Jews, at the time of Jesus Christ, had a tradition 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 […]

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, […]

TIDEWATER STAGE’S THE CHRISTIANS: ONE HELLUVA SHOW

Few of the “educated elite” in society still believe in the reality of Satan. C.S. Lewis exposed Satan’s now completed program to spread disbelief in The Screwtape Letters[i]: I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern […]

Little Theatre of Norfolk’s NOISES OFF: A Joyous Celebration of Theater

Throughout history audiences have enjoyed stories about putting on plays or making movies. The highlight of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is always the rude mechanicals’ presentation of “the most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.” (The more lamentable, the better. Audiences especially love badly done attempts to make theater and […]

Raven Theatre’s ASSEMBLED PARTIES: A Doubter’s Christmas Carol

Christmas has been the occasion for two classic plays, Hamlet and Ibsen’s Doll’s House. Ironically, as the Christian Feast of the Nativity has become secularized, the occasion has been used by more and more contemporary playwrights to give dramatic resonance to their work. The late Harry Kondoleon’s Christmas on Mars, Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale, and […]

Lyric Opera: Chicago’s Third Great NORMA

As late as 1920, American musicologists considered Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma “an improbably old-fashioned, almost hurdy-gurdy work.” But thanks to Chicago sopranos, that opera has become a standard of the American operatic canon. Written when Bellini (1801-1835) was just thirty years old, Norma had played in Chicago since the mid-nineteenth century by various visiting opera companies. […]

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 […]

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 […]