The Metropolitan Opera yesterday afternoon was an uncommonly cozy place, as the auditorium was packed to the rafters with friends and family members of the nine National Council Audition Finalists. For the finalists I’m sure the experience was nerve-wracking but it was heartwarming to see the huge cheering crowds for each finalist. Read more »
Certain operas are better in theory than practice. Boito’s Mefistofele has some undoubtedly fine tunes, and is perhaps neck-and-neck with Boris Godunov as a top bass star vehicle. But as an opera, it only works in fits and starts. For one, the fidelity to Goethe’s Faust gives the libretto a rather episodic, detached feel.
Gounod’s Faust might be a lot cheesier but it’s also more tightly focused and thus better theater. Boito’s opera has some some stunning choral work in the Prologue and Epilogue, a famous tune in Margherita’s lament “La altra notte” and an extremely enjoyable “Walpurgis Nacht” act but also a lot of filler. It’s not a long opera but it feels endless. Read more »
The key to enjoying Bellini’s I Capuleti e Montechi is to do a hard factory reset and reformat your brain to forget all other works based on Romeo and Juliet. Forget Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture. Forget Prokofiev’s ballet score. Most importantly, forget Shakespeare’s play. If you can do all those things, you can enjoy Bellini’s opera for what it is—a primo ottocento relic with some very beautiful music.
Romani’s libretto makes the “star-crossed” lovers story less a tale of missed chances and senseless violence than a very conventional love triangle. There’s Romeo who is in love with Giulietta, daughter of Capellio. Giulietta is of course bethrothed to another (Tebaldo). And Romeo and his Montechi family are responsible for killing Capellio’s son. Much singing and sadness results. Romeo does indeed die of poison in the tomb but Giulietta expires from the same Unexplained Operatic Death that afflicts her Wagnerian sisters Elisabeth, Elsa, and Isolde. As I said, forget the Bard and it will all make sense. Read more »
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The Met’s planned premiere of Iolanta/Bluebeard’s Castle was cancelled due to the Great Blizzard That Wasn’t.
Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of the Met’s revival of Les Contes d’Hoffman is the opera version of the charming homeless drunk.
Verdi must have gotten tired of tossing and turning by now and has gone back to resting in peace.
One of the major complaints about the five year casting system (as well as the shared productions by different companies) is that operatic events are rarely surprises anymore.
Every year I say I’m not going to another La Bohème because I’ve seen this too many times.