Back when I was a sweet young thing of 15, I had already started studying voice and my teacher had me sing “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” with a soprano who was as white as I am. I had no idea at that time that there is a long history of white singers performing in this opera. Right after the Broadway debut, Lawrence Tibbett and Helen Jepson recorded excerpts. And there was a long period during which all-white or mostly-white casts sang it in some of the opera houses of Europe. It wasn’t until 1976 that Porgy and Bess was produced by an American opera company when the Houston Grand Opera cast Donnie Ray Albert and Clamma Dale, a production that eventually ran on Broadway—and won a Tony Award). Read more »
Joyce DiDonato is taking her Mary Stuart on the road, so to speak. She’ll sing it in London, Berlin, and Barcelona. She’ll be working with Patrice Caurier as director. For those who want an idea of what to expect, the Met has now released on DVD last season’s production of Maria Stuarda. It’ll be interesting to see how DiDonato’s portrayal changes and grows with different directors and increased familiarity with the role. I’m also curious to see how she’s received in this role abroad. Read more »
George Benjamin’s 2012 opera Written on Skin received great acclaim at its opening at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and the Royal Opera quickly mounted it in March 2013. Seen in this DVD from Opus Arte, the work has a great deal going for it: an impeccable cast of committed singing actors, Benjamin himself as conductor, a libretto (here called “text”) by the modernist British playwright Martin Crimp, and the excellent forces of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Read more »
The sea, the sky, the wind, the storms that are so frequently depicted in the music of Benjamin Britten are brilliantly illuminated in the new DVD of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach, a collaboration between Aldeburgh Music, film director Margaret Williams, and stage director Tim Albery.
As part of the celebration of the three-year long restoration of the Theatre Royal de Liege (and, from what we can see in this DVD it is a glorious restoration indeed), the Opera Royal de Wallonie went all the way to find as Belgian an operatic experience as was possible.
Verdi’s Macbeth poses a challenge to any company with the audacity to mount it.
Having recently reviewed Glass’s The Perfect American on this site and participated in spirited discussions about the film Saving Mr. Banks, it is perhaps not surprising that Walt Disney should spring to my mind as I watched the Unitel Classica video of Die Zauberflote from the floating stage of the Bregenzer Festspiele.