Cher Public

Patrick Clement James

Patrick Clement James is a writer and teacher based in New York City. His love of opera began in high school, leading to studies in vocal performance at the Manhattan School of Music. He currently studies English literature as a Ph.D. student at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and he teaches at Brooklyn College. As a writer, he is particularly interested in the ways that opera participates in the larger contexts of history and culture.



Not my dragoon

The Metropolitan Opera’s revival of Carmen began with a bit of drama Thursday night when tenor Rafael Davila replaced Marcelo Álvarez in the role of Don José at the last minute. The tenor, debuting at the house, was announced as a replacement from the stage. (Earlier in the week came the news that Clémentine Margaine—also making her Met debut—would jump in for Sophie Koch in the title role.)  Read more »

You give me fever

mimiFor me, the third act of La Bohème is the most important. Mimì, desperate to understand why her relationship is disintegrating, ventures to the outskirts of Paris to speak with Marcello. She wants to understand why her lover Rodolfo abandons her, turns from her, and accuses her of infidelity. When Rodolfo appears to speak with Marcello, she hides herself, and listens from a short distance. Rodolfo tells his friend that the real reason he wants to leave Mimì is because she’s sick, and he is poor; he doesn’t have the resources he needs to take care of her. He cannot bear to see her suffering, and not help.

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A little off the top

barbiereIn his fascinating book Domination and the Arts of Resistance, political scientist James C. Scott discusses what he calls the “infrapolitics of subordinate groups.” He defines this as “a wide variety of low-profile forms of resistance that dare not speak in their own name.” Infrapolitics is activism that happens offstage, beyond the scope of official observation—acts in the dark that seek to remain in the dark, though their ramifications extend outward into the public sphere. There is a bit of lawlessness to this work, a black market for the “unobtrusive realm of political struggle,” where trickery, deception, and defiance flare out “like infrared rays, beyond the visible end of the spectrum.”  Read more »

Musical theater of the absurd

It’s easy to see why Leonard Bernstein’s Candide was a flop when it premiered on Broadway.

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Foolish love

The Met ushers out this wretched year and rings in the new with an elegant and effective new production of Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.

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Conversion narrative

Blood-and-guts singing is the reason to see Nabucco at the Metropolitan Opera this season.

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Mourning glory

I can think of no other role that provides the most unique promise of humiliation, and consequently the most opportunity for glory.

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Chanson d’amour

Much like Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, which launched the Met’s 2016-2017 season, Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin is an opera about love and death.

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Flight of fancy

Jonathan Dove’s Flight is an opera that makes excellent use of setting.

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Gone girl

Anna Netrebko‘s Manon was deeply unforgettable for its wide scope, control, and incredible virtuosity.

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