Category Archives: Uncategorized

MET OPERA’S EUGENE ONEGIN: TCHAIKOVSKY’S MASTERPIECE

Tchaikovsky didn’t care if his new opera was any good. You may well be right in saying that my opera, [Eugene Onegin], will not be effective on the stage…I have no dramatic vein, and now I don’t worry about it…I wrote this opera because I was moved one day with the unutterable force to express […]

CARMEN IN WILLIAMSBURG

Following a decade of teaching Biblical Hebrew to college students, one should welcome retirement as a time to catch one’s breathe and enjoy the easy things of life. Not so for Naama  Zahavi-Ely. Professor Zahavi-Ely decided that her retirement needed her to found a new opera company. At a time when the most established opera […]

FAVORITE LIVE PERFORMANCES 2017-2018

Every year I note the favorite  performances I have seen. Last year I noted productions themselves. This year I note individual acting performances which I found quite wonderful. (In alphabetical order) Bradley Armacost, Hugh, Translations Piotr Beczala, Rodolfo, Luisa Miller Judy Yerby Burke, Linda, Death of a Salesman Joseph Calleja, Pollione, Norma Ryan Clemens, Various, […]

National Theatre Live: The Expressionist Hamlet

Lyndsay Turner’s Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is strikingly different from other recent Hamlets. Rory Kinnear ‘s Hamlet directed by Nicholas Hytner, Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 self-directed Hamlet, and Greg Doran’s 2009 David Tennant Hamlet all evidenced the influence of John Barton’s magisterial elucidation of how Shakespeare’s language needed to be played. Barton insisted on a detailed […]

VIRGINIA OPERA’S DREAM: THE MYSTICISM OF HAPPINESS

The great British essayist G. K. Chesterton considered Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be a masterful presentation of “the mysticism of happiness.” He went on to explain: “That is to say, it is the conception that when a man lives upon a borderland he may find himself in the spiritual or supernatural atmosphere, not […]

THE MET’S TOSCA: GRAND RETURNS TO THE OPERA

Sonya Yoncheva’s Violetta was the heart of the most beautiful and exciting event I have ever seen on the stage – Willy Decker’s essentialist La Traviata, with Michael Fabiano (Alfredo) and Thomas Hampson (Germont), so the prospect of seeing Yoncheva’s Floria Tosca was greatly anticipated, to say the least. Decker’s Traviata realized that Dumas’ story, […]

REGENT THEATRE’S DEAR RUTH: A COMEDY REDISCOVERED

“God moves in a mysterious way” Since hymnist William Cowper wrote those words in the late 18th century, the phrase has attained a triviality not merited by its truth. The famous Cowper line is from his last hymn prior to the onset of a struggle with mental illness which included at least one suicide attempt […]

VIRGINIA ARTS FESTIVAL: YO-YO MA & KATHRYN STOTT – RECALLING EDEN

The power of beauty breaks incomprehensibly, unnaturally, and completely irrationally into this world and rules it, for beauty is regal and cannot fail to rule, and the whole world stretches out to beauty as to the light. It is our special recollection of Eden, of ourselves in our true condition.                               […]

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 […]

Metropolitan Opera’s MAGIC FLUTE: Saved by the Singing

During the Civil War, President Lincoln was criticized for attending the opera so often. He replied, “I must have a change, or I will die.” No opera that he saw was as different from everyday life, even wartime life, than Mozart’s MAGIC FLUTE. Mozart scholar, and a former director of the Glyndebourne Festival, Myer Fredman […]