Category Archives: Acting

THE VIRGINIA STAGE COMPANY: OUR TOWN AT THE WELLS

Thornton Wilder loved New Hampshire. Thornton Wilder spent parts of the summers of 1924, 1926, 1929, 1932, and 1937 as a resident of the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, the southwestern New Hampshire town known as the “real” Grover’s Corners. As a poet he loved the sounds of the words, the cadences, the tones and hesitations […]

IRISH REPERTORY THEATRE: ON BECKETT – THE CLOWN KNOWS

Under the unassuming surface, the four great initial plays of Samuel Beckett embrace the fundamental themes of existence and, like no others in English since Shakespeare’s, wrestle them to the ground. For each of mankind’s defeats – by faith, love, society, and mortality – Beckett conjures up a tremendous theatrical master image that, supported by […]

GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY – A THIN PLACE FOLK OPERA

Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan asked Conor McPherson, the world’s greatest English-language playwright, if he would be interested in using his songs in a theater piece. The result is the magnificent folk-opera Girl from the North Country. Critics of the work ignore the key to understanding the work’s deep center: Conor McPherson was most interested […]

THE GRANDEST OF GRAND OPERAS, THE GRANDEST OF AIDAS

Anna Netrebko. You can admire her through the Met HD LIVE broadcasts, but to really appreciate her power one must see her perform live on stage. At New York’s Lincoln Center, we caught her final rendition of the princess Aida in the Metropolitan Opera’s current production of the Verdi classic. Nothing speaks to the culture […]

VIRGINIA OPERA’S STREET SCENE – A TRIUMPH

      Last week Terry Teachout, the wisest theater critic in America, noted the significance of regional opera companies in both maintaining a high standard of excellence and simultaneously attracting an audience. “It is not that grand opera is incapable of appealing to American theatergoers. Even now, there are many Americans who love it […]

NT’S CHICHESTER KING LEAR: A FATHER ABUSED, A FATHER RESCUED

  The recent discovery by University of Roehampton Shakespeare historian Glyn Parry that Shakespeare’s father, John, was driven into debt through betrayal by secret informers, may give insight into the playwright’s depiction of fathers in his plays. John Shakespeare, like Timon of Athens, had large debts and writs against him, including ones authorizing sheriffs to arrest […]

TOI’s HANSEL AND GRETEL: BEAUTIFUL AND FUN AND UNIVERSALLY TRUE

Why a fairy tale? A fairy tale explains the world to both youngsters and to adults, who may have forgotten important truths. As the fairy tale master Bruno Bettelheim explains, the fairy tale expresses in words and actions the things which go on in the child’s, or childlike adult, mind. Or as G.K. Chesterton rightly […]

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 […]