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Rose to the occasion

Count on Gotham Chamber Opera to spice up the spring season with “the story of a man who even today remains infamous for his sexual appetites, his appointment of an all-female senate, and his well-deserved assassination.”

Neal Goren‘s troupe will present the US professional stage premiere of Eliogabalo by Francesco Cavalli March 15-29, 2013, “staged by James Marvel and produced in cooperation with Randy Weiner (Sleep No More) in one of New York’s most decadent nightspots: The Box, on the Lower East Side.”

40 comments

  • damekenneth says:

    I remain sad and angry about the (effective) demise of City Opera. However, the Gotham troupe provides a tincture of compensation in embodying some of the best elements of the earlier City Opera mission. (E.g., non-standard rep works performed well by good to great younger American singers who do not happen to be stars; production values that advance the notion of opera as theater.) I am grateful for their ascendancy on our local cultural landscape.

    • papopera says:

      Interesting comparison:

      New York = pop 8 240 000 = one opera house, the Met

      Paris = pop 2 235 000 = 4 opera houses, the Bastille, the Garnier, the Comique and the Chatelet.

      • isis00 says:

        Interesting indeed! And illustrates quite bluntly the importance of the arts in Europe vs here in the States.

      • Ilka Saro says:

        I like the Parisian math! Curious, does France give public support to Opera?

        I am also very interested in the opera itself. I was in a production of Cavalli’s La Calisto a couple years ago, and it was a blast. I wonder if Eliogabalo is also satirical?

        • oedipe says:

          Ilka,

          First, a couple of amendments.
          It is misleading to say that Paris has 2 million people, whereas NY has 8 million. There is what is called “Paris Intramuros”, which has a population of 2 million and which is comparable to Manhattan. And then there is the Greater Paris, which has about 10 million people and which is comparable to NY including the boroughs.

          There are 5 (not 4) opera houses in Paris: in addition to the 4 mentioned above, the TCE has an opera season of staged and concert performances.
          Also, numerous French cities have opera houses, some of them of very high quality (such as Lyon, Strasbourg, Monte Carlo, to name just a few). La Cieca often uses for her regie quizzes productions from provincial French houses. And the Met has already co-produced The Nose and Parsifal with the Lyon Opera.

          There is no question that French opera houses would not survive without public support from the French government. State subsidies cover more than half of the cost of running these houses.
          There is a HUGE philosophical difference between the French and the American views of culture, the nature of which cannot be addressed here. Suffice it to say that the French believe culture is an absolute priority, as important as national defense, and as such it needs to be subsidized in order to ensure its survival.

          • Ilka Saro says:

            Well, suffice it to say that not all Americans share the philosophical difference! Some of us believe that the arts should be subsidized. And we are currently being threatened to a terrifying future, with most arts now cut out of the local NYC schools budgets. I have participated in numerous campaigns and protests about this to no avail.

            When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s, even in conservative central Illinois our schools had vigorous arts programs. Now, in “progressive” NYC, this is no longer case. We not only extremely limited support for opera here, but we are spelling doom for our own future. So even if the numbers were stated imprecisely, I still love the Parisian math!

          • Clita del Toro says:

            NYC has 8 million. The boroughs ARE part of the NYC. Greater NY is MUCH larger, almost 19 million:
            The New York metropolitan area includes the most populous city in the United States (New York City); counties comprising Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley in New York State; the six largest cities in New Jersey (Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Trenton, and Clifton) and their vicinities; six of the seven largest cities in Connecticut (Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, and Danbury), as well as their vicinities; and Pike County, Pennsylvania.

          • oedipe says:

            OK, so that we don’t get bogged down in translations and imperfect comparisons:

            Commune de Paris: population 2.2 million
            Agglomération parisienne: population 10.3 million
            Aire urbaine de Paris: population 12.1 million

          • armerjacquino says:

            Oedipe, is it only the Bastille that is a ‘full time’ opera house? I know the Comique’s season is very short and the Chatelet does all kinds of stuff.

          • oedipe says:

            …and if you try walking on some streets during weekends or at Christmas time, it’s actually about a billion people in Paris and another billion people in NY (plus 2 in London).

          • oedipe says:

            Both Bastille and Garnier have regular opera seasons. The Comique has shorter seasons, they start in December. Châtelet has a regular length season, but it stages both opera and musicals (right now it is doing West Side Story, BTW; the reviews have been mixed). Théâtre des Champs Elysées does many things in addition to opera: classical concerts, recitals, etc.

        • grimoaldo says:

          “I wonder if Eliogabalo is also satirical?”

          The libretto of Eliogabulo, like many of Cavalli’s other operas, mixes amorous trials and travails of two high born couples with comic servants, one of which, an old lady after a younger man, was probably played by a tenor in drag, a tradition rather like the British pantomime dame.
          Eliogabulo is a bit different in that the title character is a monster of lust chasing all the ladies (the libretto does not go into his “gay” escapades such as his public marriage to his charioteer or his reputed visits to taverns to be used as a sex object by working class rough trade, his opening up the palace as a brothel with himself wearing make up importuning men as a prostitute, etc) and has a scene where he replaces the entire Senate with females (unhistorical, as is the story of him smothering dinner guests with rose petals).

          Act One of the opera, audio only, with still pics of a production by Vincent Boussard, cond Rene Jacobs, with Lawrence Zazzo and Annette Dasch in the cast:

          Act Two:

  • tannengrin says:

    Just read the first paragraph and thought “Oh fun, they’re doing ‘Nerone’” but I seem to have gotten my Roman history mixed up. Nero was just a misunderstood artist

    I memories serves (oh, well, see above…) I think Gotham Opera did a fabulous Purcell “Dido” at the Henry Street Settlement in one of their first seasons? The Queen was larger than life, i.e. being wheeled around on some sort of scaffolding. Very ‘minimalist’ production, but quite enchanting. Can’t remember the name of the mezzo but she was one of the best Dido’s I ever heard.

  • Hans Lick says:

    “well-deserved assassination” ???

    Aw c’mon. Whom did he ever hurt? He liked to sex it up. He was a kid, barely adolescent. (Murdered at the age of 17, on the orders of his grandmother.) Compare him with other child-monarchs like Nero or W.

  • ianw2 says:

    This looks amazing.

    Back when we were all putting together fantasy NYCO seasons, this was the kind of thing I thought they could be doing, but how happy that Gotham is stepping up.

    • 98rsd says:

      If City Opera had not had the Mortier disaster and done this work at the State Theater, people here would be (rightly, in this case) be complaining that it’s much too large a house for Cavalli.

      But it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity to throw an insult at City Opera.

      • ianw2 says:

        If City Opera’s wand’ring minstrel plan was motivated by artistic, not financial, reasons this is exactly the kind of thing they could be doing. This was the discussion we had at the time when their ‘let’s roam the city!’ season was put out (I believe I was going to put them in Central Park with Punchdrunk and the Marine Air Terminal at LGA).

        • 98rsd says:

          Most of the posters here (and I would include you, since you call using different theaters the “wand’ring minstrel plan”) have been complaining that the City Opera isn’t what it used to be. Of course it isn’t. It was almost destroyed by a one-two punch of Gerard Mortier/severe recession.

          Rather than address those problems, posters here have blamed George Steel and ridiculed the theater changes (which are a financial necessity.) Further, it is only a few months since City did that awful Telemann piece, so obviously they are doing exactly what you said they should--but getting no credit for it. (We don’t know whether the Eliogabolo will be any good, btw. Gotham’s last show wasn’t.)

          How exactly do you complain about not doing Cavalli and ignore the Telemann they did do? Is a company that does Telemann a different kind of group from one that performs Cavalli, or, as more than a few do here, do you like to moan about City Opera?

          Let’s face it, for some people here, ANY move by City will be met with ridicule. Here City Opera wasn’t even involved, and yet it met with invective.

          And that’s so productive.

          • ianw2 says:

            Well I’m glad you’ve got that off your chest.

            NYCO’s woes have been hammered out on this site more or less continously since Mortier was announced (not really his fault though it is when he was promised one figure then given another?).

            I don’t care whether they do Cavalli or Telemann, quite frankly. My admiration of Gotham’s program, vis a vis NYCO, is that Gotham actually creatively uses the spaces of the city as more than a venue for hire, which is exactly what I thought NYCO should do when it announced its ill-prepared shuffle-round-town plan.

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            Well, the Telemann production stank, for one thing, apart from one or twe of the singers.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            With all of the linguisting change going around, I’ve forgotten: is it stank or stunk ? It stank more than their production of Gesualdo, or it sank even more than that.
            [Gunther Schuller, “The Fisherman and his Wife”: It stinks of fish… pfew!

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            oops: linguistic not linguisting !
            Yours truly,
            The Cunning Little Linguist

  • Camille says:

    What IS “The Box”, pray tell?
    I thought that was US here @ parterrelandia.
    Is it safe for a small, delicate elderly lady of refined tastes (such as petite moi) to traverse such an outpost?

    What I have been waiting INVANO a lifetime to hear is Marcantonio (or Pietro) CESTI’S Il Pomo d’Oro. Doubt if there is enough time left on my parking meter to ever hear it but from descriptions I have read, it was a spettacolo to end all and it fires up the old imagination.

    Why is there no CESTI Liebe? What has La CeCe Bean done of his music?

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Return to 1989 for the start of a new Ring:

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Or go to San Francisco for the Trittico:



  • efrayer says:

    Getting us back to Eliogabalo, I am excited to see it, especially after hearing about the collaboration with Sleep No More’s Randy Weiner. I LOVE Sleep No More, saw it twice--although I’ve received negative feedback from the dancers about the work conditions in Sleep No More. Still, I look forward to the production of Eliogabalo AND seeing it at The Box.