In a slight detour from the usual all-opera-all-the-time format of parterre box, the queer opera zine, issue #44 centers on Ben Letzler‘s superb appreciation of film and cabaret diva Zarah Leander. This feature-rich installment also includes a gaggle of high-concept operas devised by Dawn Fatale, a reimagining of La gioconda as performed by the cast of TV’s Friends (courtesy of Hans Lick) and Our Own JJ‘s glowing review of Astrid Varnay‘s awesome autobiography. And don’t miss La Cieca‘s breathless accounts of Graham Vick‘s Trovatore at the Met and Renata Scotto‘s role debut as Klytämnestra in Elektra! (“At times she reminded me of Vivien Leigh in Streetcar Named Desire or Ship of Fools in the way she seemed on the very brink of dissolving in hysterical tears, though never quite losing control.”) [Download Issue #44]
“The finale of Sweeney Todd left the stage of Avery Fisher Hall littered with corpses, but the evening, for all its flaws, felt vibrantly alive. If only the Met could get similarly revved for its production of Wozzeck. On Thursday night, the opera, whose graphic violence quotient is small potatoes compared to the Sweeney Todd bloodbath, played to a listless half-empty house.” [New York Observer] (Photo: Chris Lee)
“The last place you’d expect to find opera at all, let alone good, exciting opera, is in still-scrappy Bushwick, Brooklyn. But that’s where a new and vital company called LoftOpera has popped up for a two-weekend run of Puccini’s La Bohème in a performance that is as true and moving as any I can remember in 40 years of opera-going.” [New York Observer]
Even when the opera performed is a masterpiece, a truly superb opera performance is exceedingly rare.
“A charming musical performance welded to a dramatic production so old and stale that, like fish left out too long, it’s starting to smell.”
“…a perfect marriage of text and music, creating a series of tableau-like scenes, as if Paul’s story is being related through a series of exquisitely posed still photographs…”
“…the Met’s brand new production of Die Fledermaus, which premiered on New Year’s Eve, is overproduced, undersung and interminable, less a holiday entertainment than a checklist of opera-making skills the company can’t seem to master.”