Category Archives: Books

WHY YOU SHOULD SEE SHAW’S MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION: PATERNITY

Despite the existence of DNA testing, and sites like Ancestry.com, genealogy can still offer major surprises and uproars in a person’s life. Just ask Oedipus Rex. Or Captain Adolph in Strindberg’s The Father. Or ask Bernard Shaw. The question of paternity tormented George Bernard Shaw all his life. His mother lived in a ménage a […]

THE MET’S AGRIPPINA: STELLAR MUSIC, UNFORTUNATE STAGING

Librettist Vincenzo Grimani had a wonderful idea for a comic opera: a neo-classical comedy of manners featuring history’s most monstrous tyrants as the main characters! The comic incongruity would be enormous, as  the murderous, depraved butchers of Rome’s ancient past acted with impeccable decorum and good taste. Imagine seeing Nero and his court in a […]

THE MET’S PORGY AND BESS: It’s Got Plenty of Vigor and Talent

The distinguished opera historian and critic Charles Osborne considers George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess to be “the most successful American contribution to twentieth century opera.”[i] Like all works for the stage, the final product is the result of a collaboration among many creative artists working to transform the play Porgy into a musical work. The […]

THE MET’S AKHNATEN: A HYMN TO THE TRUE LIGHT

When Philip Glass’ Akhnaten first appeared in 1984, the New York Daily News was moved to label Mr. Glass “the Ronald Reagan of composers. This time around,  no one is thinking of Ronald Reagan after experiencing the Glass/Kamensek/McDermott/Pollard/Pay  production at the Metropolitan Opera. Instead, the words ”breathtaking”, “hypnotic”, “gorgeous”, “luscious”, “overwhelming”, and “beautiful,” are most […]

THE MET’S MANON: THE “ETERNAL WOMAN” RETURNS

Jules Massenet (1842-1912) premiered  his new opera,  Manon,  on 19 January 1884 at Paris’ Opera Comique, the home to the city’s middle-class audience, an audience accustomed to the spoken dialogue featured in Massenet’s work. It was a hit. “Those who do not object on principle to being entertained in the opera house, rather than hectored, […]