John Yohalem’s critical writings have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, American Theater, Opera News, the Seattle Weekly, Christopher Street, Opera Today, Musical America and Enchanté: The Journal for the Urbane Pagan, among other publications. He claims to have attended 628 different operatic works (not to mention forty operettas), but others who were present are not sure they spotted him. What fascinates him, besides the links between operatic event and contemporary history, is how the operatic machine works: How voice and music and the ritual experience of theater interact to produce something beyond itself. He is writing a book on Shamanic Opera-Going.
Gluck composed Ezio for the Carnival in Prague in 1750, a dozen years before he entered his so-called “reform” era. The piece was a hit for a year or two, then (as was usual) forgotten, its music available for judicious recycling. But its success was no freak: This is an exciting score, waiting for the properly schooled forces to restore it to the stage. There have been several happy European revivals lately but none in America. Read more »
The grand illusion is that we know it all. From four hundred years of opera, we’ve distilled the worthy survivors. There are opera lovers who believe that—there are certainly impresarios who believe it—in the teeth of all the evidence: the forgotten rep that is revived with astonishing success (baroque, bel canto, verismo). And then there are operas that were never part of the repertory, stuffed in a drawer and forgotten, today recovered and necessary: Les Troyens, Gezeichneten, Mitridate, Ermione, Maria Stuarda. Will Franco Faccio’s Amleto join them? Read more »
In how many operas does the heroine drink poison and then go lengthily mad? Only Tsar’s Bride comes to mind. But also: In this opera, the baritone is fought over by two adoring women. That happens to tenors all the time—and, in Mozart, to basses—but a baritone? Add characters named Morna and Wortimer, and if you’re not in a Harry Potter adventure and singers are warbling coloratura, you know it must be an obscure bel canto masterpiece. But whose? Donizetti wrote seventy and, admit it, you only know twenty of them. Mercadante wrote almost as many and you know even fewer. Verdi? Ridiculous. Rossini? Absurd. The Ricci brothers? Read more »
The seventeenth-century works of Francisco Cavalli may be easier for modern audiences to accept.
With six leads in Gioconda, you can reliably hope that three or four will be worth listening to, or why would they have revived the opera?
Othello in the Seraglio is the rather unfortunate title bestowed by the ensemble Dünya on its “coffeehouse opera,” ossia The Tragedy of Sümbül the Black Eunuch.
Just when you thought it was safe to return to Rossini and Verdi—blam!
The concert presented by Opera Lafayette at the Alliance Française last Friday and Saturday was devoted to music of witty, short-lived Emmanuel Chabrier, notably Une Éducation Manquée.
If only—if only half the creativity and spectacle that Encompass New Opera Theatre has lavished on its lively production of The Astronaut’s Tale (at the BAM Fisher through Sunday) had been expended on the pretentious libretto by the late Jack Larsonand the quirky, unappealing score by Charles Fussell…