Cher Public

Outdoor voice

We see the excited crowd at the Arena di Verona, the ancient structure lit by enormous stadium lights, the passing of candlelight through the audience, and tourists snapping pictures. The flash bulbs keep popping, right through the performance. And as the opera unfolds, there is that feeling of watching a tired Broadway cast walk through yet another Phantom or Rent on a dreary Tuesday.

At first glance, this DVD of a 2006 performance of Tosca looks promising. At the podium, Daniel Oren leads a solid performance. Fiorenza Cedolins and Marcelo Alvarez star as the doomed couple, with Ruggero Raimondi as Scarpia. None of them are at the top of their game. Read more »

Off the air

tony_amazonI’ve found myself procrastinating endlessly over this review. I’m always excited by the chance to hear recently composed operas, and have a weak spot for the American repertoire.

So I had overly high hopes for Paul Salerni‘s Tony Caruso’s Final Broadcast. At first listen, I found myself underwhelmed, slightly off put by the blending of genres without a strong commitment in any particular direction. Read more »

Recovered, covered

zwerg_amazonIn the process of unearthing forgotten musical works, sometimes we stumble across a gem.  World War II saw an entire generation of European composers forced into internment or diaspora, and their works are only slowly being rescued from obscurity.

In a recent DVD release from the LA Opera, a part their Recovered Voices series, we are treated to a double bill of short operas by Viktor Ullmann and Alexander Zemlinsky, two composers unjustly thrust aside by the rise of fascism.  James Conlon conducts both with great tenderness and care, explaining his commitment to the works in an accompanying essay.

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You must meet my knife

Which cord does one snip to make a castrato? So goes a running joke in The Last Castrato by Guy Fredrick Glass, a play about Alessandro Moreschi, the last living castrato and the only one ever recorded. Much of his career was spent as the first soprano of the Sistine Chapel Choir, both because of his virtuosity and because there were no other venues open to castrati by the end of the 19th century. Those who take issue at Stoppard or Shaffer are probably not going to be pleased with the historical accuracy, but Glass presents a chilling image of […]

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Child’s play

Simpler can be better, as Pocket Opera of New York demonstrated in the back of the Bechstein Showroom on Wednesday evening for their double bill of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Debussy’s La chute de la maison Usher.  When I heard these operas would be presented in English with piano accompaniment, I was initially dubious, but found myself won over by the strength of the production and the enthusiasm of the singers.

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