Cher Public

Live and empoisoned

MalvinaIn 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 »

Another man’s Persian

YaleThe seventeenth-century works of Francisco Cavalli may be easier for modern audiences to accept, their dramatic pace proceeding with little pause through melodic statements, their mingling of coy drama with much comic relief, than the spectacular stop-action vocal showiness of opera seria that succeeded them in fashion. The operas themselves have a certain sameness of melody and texture, an interchangeable tinta, but the inventive stories offer many opportunities to stage directors. Read more »

Il giocondo

Gioconda

As Enrico Caruso once said to me, “All you need for a good La Gioconda is the six greatest singers in the world and a few dancing elephants.” “Are there that many great singers?” I retorted. He just smiled, pinched my cheek and gave me a sketch he’d done of me while I was sleeping through a Meistersinger in standing room. I guess I should have hung on to it, huh? Be worth something today. Anyway, fortunately, he was wrong: You can do a thoroughly enjoyable Gioconda with far fewer great singers than six, and I heard one in Englewood just last Sunday.  Read more »

Dünya

In harem’s way

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.

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Poliuto

Donizetti, lionized

Just when you thought it was safe to return to Rossini and Verdi—blam!

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Education

French tickler

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.

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Sonnambula Juilliard

I don’t sleep, I dream

Bellini blossomed over us like a love fest.

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Astronaut

Flying too high with some guy in the sky

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…

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Golden Bride

Gold school

The name Joseph Rumshinsky might ring a bell (or a shofar).

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Diana Damrau

Who’s that girl?

Diana Damrau is a great flirt.

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