Stout fellow

Luckless Otto Nicolai belongs to the large company of opera composers who never reached forty. Barely out of his twenties, he went south to Milan and scored a palpable hit, Il Templario, based on Ivanhoe. On the strength of this, he was offered a confused but epic libretto, a Biblical farrago entitled Nabucodonosor. He turned it down, and the impresario gave it to an even younger composer named Verdi. When this came to the stage, Nicolai said, “I told you no one could write music to that libretto,” and returned to Prussia.  Read more »

Animal, vegetable

Everything in the garden.

A buddy once remarked that if a conservatory’s doing evening-length Mozart, it’s probably La finta giardinera, an early opus about fakery in a garden. (“Well, that, or I guess maybe like Amadeus or something…?”) Read more »

Flight of fancy

02_Act IJonathan Dove’s Flight is an opera that makes excellent use of setting. Inspired by a true story of an Iranian refugee, it takes place in an airport—the emotionally charged space where people are constantly departing and arriving. Here, in this amorphous, liminal zone, travelers move forward—excited, scared, nervous—leaving behind past identities and former attachments; and yet, they are also always arriving, entering into new understandings of the self—what they love, what they long for, and what they value.  Read more »

I don’t sleep, I dream

Bellini blossomed over us like a love fest.

Read more »

She who gets slapped

All those who have been in a rage since the news broke this week that the Metropolitan Opera has invited Calixto Bieito to stage Verdi’s La Forza del Destino can relax and embrace the Juilliard Opera’s new Le Nozze di Figaro which opened Friday night.

Read more »

Trigger warning

The Rape of Lucretia, now (through Sunday) enjoying a superb three-performance run at the Juilliard Opera’s Willson Theater (tickets are scarce; hie thee to the waiting list), was Benjamin Britten’s third opera and first “chamber opera,” composed for the tiny original theater at Glyndebourne,

Read more »

Mourning becomes Iphigenia

Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide (1774), the occasion of his Paris debut, gets far less respect than her sequel, Iphigénie en Tauride.

Read more »

To the vixen belongs the spa

A production as delectable as the current one (through Sunday) at the Juilliard Opera will make you wonder why Il Turco is not as well known as L’Italiana, Il Barbiere, La Cenerentola, even the odd and occasional Il Viaggio a Rheims.

Read more »

Ash Wednesday

Joyce, Javier and now Julia—this week these three remarkable Js brought New York City memorable “Cinderella stories.”

Read more »

Fox news

In Leos Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, the heroine is shot and skinned for her fur.

Read more »