Well-trod cinders in fitting slippers

Forgotten operas when revived may prove to be only their own reward. But if an opera was a hit in 1810 and circulated Europe for decades, even reaching New York in 1827 (in those days, not technically part of Europe), then it must be of some quality, right? However, not even the most optimistic can have expected Nicholas Isouard’s Cendrillon to be quite such a treat as it proved Friday night, in the first of four performances given by the Manhattan School of Music at Florence Gould Hall.  Read more »

Yes, we have no Banat

Nineteenth-century opera comes in two varieties: With Gypsies or without. With Gypsies you get fortune tellers, stolen babies, wild dances and rhythmic metallurgy—unless they are metaphorical Gypsies, as in La Bohème. In The Gypsy Baron (Der Zigeunerbaron), currently (through Sunday) enjoying a revival by the Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, you get all of them, plus Strauss waltzes and patriotic marches.  Read more »


No one else seems to have pointed it out so I may as well do so. Leos Janacek composed Adventures of Vixen Sharp-Ears, with its singing forest creatures of many species (birds, bugs, frogs and primates as well as foxes—the current production of the Manhattan School of Music Senior Opera Theater even has singing birch trees), in 1922-23.  At that very time, Karel and Josef Capek, were writing The Insect Comedy, in which ants are militant fascists, beetle-eat-beetle types are the bourgeoisie, and butterflies are flighty aristocrats.  Read more »

Daggers are a thane’s best friend

A Birnam Wood of Macbeths and Ladys has come traipsing through New York this year.

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Haydn in plain sight

The operas of Franz Josef Haydn are seldom presented in the great opera houses of the world, but then, they weren’t composed for the great opera houses of his own world.

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He who gets kicked

A last minute scheduling conflict at the New York Post (curse you, Tony season!) meant that my planned review of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at Manhattan School of Music had to be 86ed.

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With a little bit of Gluck

The best joke in Offenbach’s delicious Orphée aux Enfers is the opening premise: Orphée and Eurydice are miserably married, due to her utter boredom with his old-fashioned music.

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