Cher Public

John Yohalem

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.

How do you solve a problem like Medea?

Made cautious by the endless coloratura laments of the woman in red, groveling in a stage-wide sandbox and packing up her gilded rawhide fleece (soprano Claudia Barainsky, in a role created by Marlis Peterson), I was puzzled by my initial exposure to the Medea of Aribert Reimann, a work of 2010.  Read more »

A “Juive’ for the 21st century

At the premiere, in 1835, Fromenthal Halévy’s La Juive triumphed, in part, due to its spectacular staging –critics jested that the military processions could shatter the balance of power in Europe–and in part for the frisson of the opera’s horrific conclusion, Rachel and Eléazar tossed into boiling oil by a Christian mob singing merrily of its “vengeance” on the Jews.  Read more »

Clash of symbols

Ottorino Respighi’s operas are not much heard hereabouts—or anywhere else. My favorite, his Byzantine Verismo melodrama, La Fiamma, can be found in a superb Collegiate Choral performance among Parterre’s Unnatural Acts of Opera.  Read more »


Leos Janacek composed Adventures of Vixen Sharp-Ears, with its singing forest creatures of many species, in 1922-23.

Read more »

The power of fête

The New Amsterdam Opera Company presented a concert Forza (orchestra and chorus, yes; sets and costumes, no) at $35 a ticket.

Read more »

The Importance of Being Rudolph

Since Gilbert and Sullivan remain constant in the light-opera repertory, somewhere between Fledermaus and Les Mis in popular esteem, there must be good reasons their final collaboration, The Grand Duke, is seldom revived.

Read more »

Cross fit

Opera composers do not often change their spots.

Read more »

Pretty in Puritani

Pretty Yende was still hanging around after her last Barbiere and she knows the role of Elvira, having sung it in Zurich last June.

Read more »

“Thy power standeth not in multitude nor thy might in strong men”

An unstaged performance of Juditha Triumphans by five soloists and the Venice Baroque Orchestra under Andrea Marcon.

Read more »


strong>Christian Gerhaher does not appear at first to sing but rather to speak on pitches, telling stories, explaining words by lingering on them or biting them off short.

Read more »