For those who like their Handel loud, with no forfeit of baroque finesse, one promising solution is to make the hall smaller. The WhiteboxLab>Sound Lounge, presented at a gallery on Broome Street off the Bowery (what neighborhood is that? Let’s just call it the Bowery—where they say such things and they do such things), is a fine size for baroque opera if the voices are the tiny, refined sort who used to inhabit early music venues. For R. B. Schlather’s presentation of Alcina (continuing through tonight), the voices are huge without loss of agility (or acting chops), and the entire occasion is theatrical without compromising musical standards worthy of this brilliant score. Read more »
They say that Boston, despite many cultural distinctions, ain’t no opera town, and for some decades—generations?—this has been true. But tides of change will break, even on the shores of the Hub. There is a baroque opera revival, spawned by the Boston Early Music Festival (a Monteverdi trilogy arriving next spring) and leading to hi-jinks at the region’s many schools, and to Boston Baroque, which gives Handel’s Agrippina in April. The somewhat traditional Boston Lyric Opera presents everything from Lizzie Borden (last month) to La Traviata (next month), though confining itself to three or four productions a year.
Then there’s a lively newcomer, Odyssey Opera, which debuted last year with Rienzi to celebrate the Wagner bicentennial. Last Saturday night, Odyssey gave Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s best-known opera, Die tote Stadt, in the New England Conservatory’s lovely, 800-seat Jordan Hall, and sold the place out. A very impressive cast sang and acted the concert with brief (mezzanined) contributions from the New World Chorale and the Boston Youth Chorus. Read more »
Has anyone made Balzac’s “Sarrasine” into an opera? That’s the tale of a French artist in Rome falling in love with an opera diva—who turns out to be a castrato en travestie. (Women were forbidden the stage in Pope-land.) The story is simple, an anecdote, but the MacGuffin of gender is kept writhing in the air by the diva’s fear of her lover’s fury should he learn that the appealingly feminine creature he loves is, in fact, a man. Kind of like M. Butterfly. Roland Barthes wrote a charming structuralist analysis of the possible improbabilities of this tale, S/Z, and it has been given as a play, with two women, one melodramatic, one hilarious, and a drag performer (the great Bette Bourne), all playing the diva. At once. Read more »
Two operas both alike in dignity, set in dimly lit Renaissance towns ruled by seething, conspiratorial courts.
“Who will dare dance with me the ancient Dagger-Dance of the Californians?”
Opera-lovers who attend too much modern opera may find that it feels like duty.
Zofia Posmysz spent two years as a prisoner in Auschwitz—and she’s still alive and standing pretty tall, in New York for the Lincoln Center Festival God bless her.
The operas of Franz Josef Haydn are seldom presented in the great opera houses of the world, but then, they weren’t composed for the great opera houses of his own world.