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.
At the Caramoor Bel Canto Festival’s performance of Aureliano in Palmira (a North American premiere, I believe), a friend who doesn’t go to quite so much opera said, “The music’s fun, but doesn’t Rossini repeat himself?” Read more »
You don’t often hear the grand operas of Benjamin Britten on smaller stages. They re such subtle interactions of precise, detailed orchestral and choral effects with so many demanding (and highly rewarding) vocal parts, besides calling for a naturalistic acting style of a sort seldom called for by the grand operas of a previous era that only a company of tremendous resource, musical and otherwise, can give them without risking serious humiliation. Read more »
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.
In how many operas does the heroine drink poison and then go lengthily mad?
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!