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.

What’s at stake for a soul on fire?

Remember NBC Opera Theater? For 15 years, back in the dawn of television, that visionary company brought opera into the living rooms of America, always in English (imagine Boris Godunov and The Love of Three Kings in English!), often contemporary (Poulenc’s brand new Dialogues of the Carmelites; too, Menotti composed Amahl for NBC and Bernstein Trouble in Tahiti), often using not-yet-world-famous performers—Leontyne Price sang their Tosca, Pamina and Madame Lidoine, Giorgio Tozzi their Boris. The project died, of course. Read more »

Kiss the pearls goodbye

Idol gossip

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s spectacularly colorful and glitzy new production of The Pearl Fishers, which opened on Sunday, seems to date from the era before Orientalism became a dirty word.  Read more »

Girls on horseback

Joy cometh in the mourning

Once you’ve assembled the musical materials for a first-rate Die Walküre—and the new production at the Lyric Opera of Chicago has a fine conductor and six excellent singers in its six big roles, and when did you last encounter that combination?—you still need to make sense of the intricate stage drama with a vision that can expand to encompass the entire Ring.  Read more »

Allowing the birds to nest in your hair

In the seventies and eighties Dominick Argento (who turned ninety this year) was one of the most oft-performed of American opera composers.

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The last ruse of summer

Flotow’s Martha, a work of 1847 that was popular around the world for a hundred years.

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The piccolo on the hearth

Riccardo Zandoni’s Il Grillo del Focolare is an opera after all.

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Triumphal Arc

Tchaikovsky’s Orleánskaia Djeva (The Maid of Orleans) kicked off Odyssey’s Opera’s fifth season

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A Frabjous Day: The Siege of Calais

The turntable set looks much the same from any angle: gutted concrete tenements and perilous alleys, instantly recognizable as a scene of urban guerrilla mayhem.

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Imogenary beings

Will Crutchfield’s Bel Canto at Caramoor program of concert operas concluded with a bang on Saturday with Bellini’s first success, Il Pirata.

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In the River Rhine. In it.

It is always a pleasure to hear a great orchestra take on a major score that might sound half-muffled emerging from the pit of an opera house.

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