Joel Rozen

Joel Rozen is a culture critic, anthropologist, and audiophile living in New York. His doctoral thesis at Princeton—still underway—is based on some field research he did in North Africa a few years ago; since then he’s enjoyed teaching in the city and writing about music. His love of opera can probably be traced back to high school, when he used to poach from his girlfriend’s dad’s CD collection. The orientation has changed and so has the digital format. What hasn’t is the Domingo/Studer Otello, which remains awesome, and unreturned.



Morning glory

Immersive theater doesn’t do opera singers many favors. Like a photonegative of theatre in the round, it forces performers into an up-close-and-personal relationship with their audience and breaks down the fourth wall, lending most spectators an HD view of everyone’s tonsils. Singing technique, usually kept at a safe distance onstage, is here made loudly, oppressively available.  Read more »

BASTA: Witness for the persecution

The day the story broke, Evan Ingersoll was pumping iron in the basement gym of his friend Jesús Halévy’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment complex, Hyundai Hut. The two had recently attended a midnight screening of Deliverance and were now determined to look their best.

“Jesus! Jesús! Jesus!” Evan screamed suddenly from the squat rack. “Get over here!”  Read more »

BASTA: Once more from the top

With just under a week to go before dress rehearsal and opening night, the principals of Algonquin Opera’s season-opener, Lucia di Lammermoor, assembled for a run-though of Acts I and III.  Of all the production’s leads, only its headlining soprano, Katarina Nippelnaya (“The Parakeet from Petersburg”), had performed the opera before. And yet they all wished, for reasons at once superstitious and deeply misguided, to avoid over-rehearsing the sextet.  Read more »

BASTA: Significant mother

At last, Jesús Halévy had found the right size. The small ecru sweater was buried beneath a stack of extra-larges at the Macy’s on Herald Square.

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BASTA: Stridono lasso

Supernumerary callbacks for the Big Apple Singing Theater Association’s spring production of Bison Don’t Cry were held later that night at the Mariachi Playhouse.

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BASTA: The overt and the subliminal

As if the corner of Broadway and 53rd weren’t already busy enough, Evan Ingersoll couldn’t believe the line leading into the Mariachi Playhouse where BASTA tryouts were held.

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BASTA: Super, tanks for asking

The day of the big BASTA audition, Evan found the flier Paul Upczuk had passed him the previous weekend at Aura Bar.

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BASTA: Call me by your game

It was already nearly two o’clock in the morning, late for a work night, and Nixon Ben Mahmoud was ashamed to find himself crying real tears.

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Okay by me in America

Mariachi bands travel the world, make appearances in Hollywood, and moonlight on Linda Ronstadt albums.

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BASTA: Press your luck

Jerold Offerman had spent the day readying the Algonquin Opera orchestra for a high-profile, high-stakes revival of Lucia, and things weren’t going well with the glass harmonica.

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