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.

Yes, we have no Banat

Nineteenth-century opera comes in two varieties: With Gypsies or without. With Gypsies you get fortune tellers, stolen babies, wild dances and rhythmic metallurgy—unless they are metaphorical Gypsies, as in La Bohème. In The Gypsy Baron (Der Zigeunerbaron), currently (through Sunday) enjoying a revival by the Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, you get all of them, plus Strauss waltzes and patriotic marches.  Read more »

Mountain high, valley low

Be wary of operas that are famous for just one aria or just one famous opinion. Those of us who have attended Rusalka or Romeo et Juliette or Adriana Lecouvreur or Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung have been well-warned and had their fingers slightly burnt. But sometimes, in the proper circumstances, such works have their charms.  Read more »

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

A brilliant production of La Juive like that of Peter Konwitschny generalizes the message that mindless hate does not pay and the mindless mob is always the enemy of civilization.

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Clash of symbols

La Campana Sommersa (The Sunken Bell), which is being presented by the New York City Opera at the Rose Theater through April 7, is a true oddball.

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

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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.

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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.

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Cross fit

Opera composers do not often change their spots.

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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.

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