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Cher Public

  • "that was beautiful; thanks for sharing that touching performance by Mr...." - antikitschychick
  • "Seem to be having problems copying the link. httpv://youtu.be/X _AArumG76U" - mjmacmtenor
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  • "Here’s one who could pull it off. Should have recorded it with him and..." - mjmacmtenor
  • "This is only the second year I’ve missed the Whitsun Festival in ten years..." - willym
  • "naturally; and if Dudamel should fall ill, we should know whom to expect to..." - antikitschychick
  • "W Zauscher’s Salome is a personal favorite. I love this clip. Thanks,..." - Sempre liberal
  • "Wonderful article JJ. I loved your profound comment about the Marschallin..." - Quanto Painy Fakor

Between the dragon and his wrath

Aribert Reimann’s 1978 opera Lear, based of course on Shakespeare’s titanic tragedy King Lear, is a major achievement in modern operatic scoring. In a DVD from a deeply interesting 2014 production from Staatsoper Hamburg, we find a fascinating if flawed direction by Karoline Gruber, propulsive and insightful conducting from Simone Young and a breakthrough performance by Bo Skovhus in the title role.

Shakespeare’s Lear has been an important part of my acting career. I’ve had the great good fortune to perform in eight productions of King Lear (three Lears, two Fools, Gloucester, Albany, and the Duke of Burgundy) and the title role contains such depth and complexity that I’d love to play it again and again. I had real concerns about how this astonishing drama could be adapted into an operatic form.   Read more »

A monster, without being a myth

Before this recording arrived in my mailbox, I: ( a) didn’t know there was an operatic version of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, one of my favorite plays; and (b) was unfamiliar with the works of composer Gerald Berry.  After several hearings, I’m still not convinced that there is an operatic version of Earnest.  Barry has created what I would call a narrative set to a series of sound effects.  Now many of these effects are clever, occasionally amusing, and purposely bizarre, but they rarely seem to fit the brilliant verbal wit of Wilde’s original.  I kept thinking that, if Lulu was a comedy, it would sound a lot like this.   Read more »

Between two worlds

If works like Salome and Erwartung defined modernism in the first decades of the 20th century, Die Tote Stadt and Palestrina represented the regressive avant garde. Though they had tormented protagonists, themes of death and other ingredients for a frenzied geschrei, neither could break free of the Romantic era’s pull, instead inhabiting a netherworld that’s sometimes described as “post-Wagnerian” or “Straussian.” Read more »

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Mais nous voyons à nouveau La Carmencita

The opening night of the Metropolitan Opera of September 1972 was supposed to be the dawn of a new era.

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Fresh princes

Imagine two tenors releasing French opera aria collections at the same time without duplicating a single track!

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Queen sized

The last day of December a parcel arrived in the mail containing an absolute delight: “Semiramide—La Signora Regale.” One of best vocal recordings of 2014, this sumptuous 2-CD set on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi features the marvelous Italian mezzo-soprano Anna Bonitatibus and includes 90 minutes of rarely-heard music written for the legendary Babylonian queen.

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Pazzo son, guardate!

Manon Lescaut was Giacomo Puccini’s first big international success. His publisher, Giulio Ricordi, tried to put him off the project by citing Jules Massenet’s very successful adaptation just nine years previously. Puccini was intent on making the story his own, insisting, “A woman like Manon can have more than one lover… I shall feel it like an Italian, with desperate passion.” Desperation is certainly the feeling this reviewer got from a new recording of Manon Lescaut from our friends at Decca Classics, but I’m also quite certain it’s not the same type that the Maestro had for his subject.

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Saxon violence

His shaved head in striking contrast to his dark beard and glinting eyes, the implacable Tartar conqueror glowers at us from the CD cover, while the uncropped photo of countertenor Xavier Sabata (above) is even more disturbing, featuring his raised fist and forearm tightly wrapped in a leather belt.

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No such Gluck

When Richard Wagner reached into the past and revised Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide, he went beyond the accepted boundaries of tinkering and more or less created a new work that’s fomented aesthetic debates ever since.

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Panning for gold

Giacomo Puccini’s horse-opera version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,”  La Fanciulla del West, based on David Belasco’s play, The Girl of the Golden West, enjoyed the status of a curate’s egg for quite a while.

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