The best joke in Offenbach’s delicious Orphée aux Enfers is the opening premise: Orphée and Eurydice are miserably married, due to her utter boredom with his old-fashioned music. That’s a thumb in the eye of classical myths adored by highfalutin Frenchies (and especially the deification of Gluck’s Orfeo, which is quoted in Act II). In Dona D. Vaughn’s production for the Manhattan School of Music’s Senior Opera Theater Workshop, mariage à la mode is wittily sent up by dressing the unhappy couple as the bride and groom on a wedding cake. Read more »
There has never been a successful vampire musical—so they say. But that’s just not true. There just hasn’t been one since 1828. That was the year Heinrich Marschner’s Der Vampyr appeared, derived from Dr. Polidori’s novella based, in turn, on the personality and reputation of the doctor’s employer, Lord Byron. Byron was but recently dead and there was an international craze for dark, mordant, accursed heroes irresistible to women who ought to know better. Read more »
Christoph Willibald Gluck wrote some fifty operatic works, not counting revisions and translations, and in every form extant in the two cities, Paris and Vienna, in which he made his career. There were opera seria, opéras-comiques, ballets-pantomimes and so on down to the great “reform” operas of his last twenty years that are all we ever hear nowadays. Read more »
It has always puzzled me—and I’m not the only one—that so few successful operas have been composed in Spanish.
“I didn’t think anything could be campier than Adriana. But this is nothing but camp. Adriana at least has tunes.”
In any narrative, the unmentioned—the unmentionable—will always be more alarming than that which is carefully described.
As with all good myths, certainly all the myths at the heart of Wagner’s operas, the juggling of symbols and archetypes and themes in Parsifal opens the piece to a great variety of interpretations.
Like Miss Adelaide the well-known fiancée in Guys and Dolls, the New York City Opera may be down but she’s not flat as all that.