Author Archives: Paul Kuritz

LYRIC’S FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: SWAN SONG FOR TRADITION

Fiddler on the Roof, the world-famous musical adaptation of the stories of Sholom Aleichem, opens with the glorious song, “Tradition”, which proudly announces the subject of the musical story about to unfold. The dean of American theater critics Harold Clurman explains what is meant here by “tradition”: “This tradition, which might superficially be taken to […]

RED-BLOODED ERNANI OPENS LYRIC SEASON

None of Verdi’s four previous operas did as much as Ernani for his reputation. Ernani (1844) owed its popularity to the coattails of Victor Hugo’s monumental Hernani (1830). Critics who complain of Ernani’s plot devices totally misunderstand what Victor Hugo was trying to do. The play Hernani was a full-scale assault on the reigning New-Classicism […]

Handel’s JEPHTHA: Being Right in One’s Own Eyes: The Music of the Baroque’s Electrifying Performance

The most commonly used word to describe Georg Friedrich Handel’s 1752 oratorio Jephtha is “dark”. And the word has nothing to do with the fact that the composer was going blind as he was composing. Jephtha, Handel’s last oratorio, is his most troubling masterpiece. The work contemplates the often inscrutable role of the divine in […]

RAVINIA OFFERS A MAGNIFICENT DON GIOVANNI

When opera arrived in Chicago, Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni lagged behind in public approval. The Chicago Tribune reports that in 1867 “Don Giovanni has literally fought its way into public favor here. When first produced it attracted only musicians who recognized its intrinsic worth. But year after year Don Giovanni audiences grow larger and larger. […]

CITY LIT OFFERS BEAUTIFUL, HEARTBREAKING PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD

In 1904 the Great Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw used a character in his new play John Bull’s Other Island to comment on his fellow Irishmen’s character: Oh, the dreaming! the dreaming! the torturing, heart scalding, never satisfying dreaming, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming! [Savagely] No debauchery that ever coarsened and brutalized an Englishman can take the […]