Cher Public

Technical difficulties

La bohème returned to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera once again last night (does it ever leave?) The cast was notable; in particular, Sonya Yoncheva provided a significant reason to see the company’s numbingly repetitive production. She followed Angel Blue and Anita Hartig in the role of Mimì.  Read more »

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 »

Puritani, as the driven snow

“My love for you will last as long as these costumes.”

Going to the opera in Chicago in winter can be a difficult journey. On Sunday afternoon, Lyric Opera of Chicago opened its revival of Bellini’s I puritani in the midst of a snowstorm, a gale warning, and, for us near the lake, a “Heavy Freezing Spray Warning” (a new one on me!).  Read more »

Fifty shades of Grail

The Met’s magnificent revival which opened on Monday night with a superb cast under the mesmerizing leadership of Yannick Nézet-Séguin nearly converted me into a devoted Parsifal disciple.

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The not so great outdoors

For all the company’s good intentions this opera-dance combo was not one of its happiest outings.

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Melody and more

The arrival of a new recording of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello into the catalogue, to say nothing of a new tenor capable of singing Otello, is generally cause for hosannas all around in operatic circles.

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King song

While Farinelli and the King isn’t the only Broadway play to have explored castration (Sweet Bird of Youth, anyone?) it’s likely the first to concern a legendary 18th century opera star.

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Safe passage

A Met HD cinema broadcast of Puccini’s Tosca on Saturday, 27 January, concluded the first run of a production marked by upheaval in the ten months between its announcement and its New Year’s Eve premiere.

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Okay by me in America

Mariachi bands travel the world, make appearances in Hollywood, and moonlight on Linda Ronstadt albums.

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That time of year

One of the greats of classical music, Franz Joseph Haydn was a bit of an “also-ran” as an opera composer.

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