I think we’re all aware by now of the wicked libel that the French dramatist Victor Hugo concocted about the fair Lucrezia Borgia with his depiction of her as a murderous virago. History tells us she was merely a lovely pawn in the Machiavellian machinations of her family’s ambitions and most decidedly not the siren serial killer that Hugo’s play conjures. Still, the story stuck and who could blame Gaetano Donizetti for rushing in and setting the blood-chilling tale for La Scala by the end of the very same year of the play’s premiere abetted by a libretto adapted by Felice Romani? Read more »
Ambiguity. That’s the theme of the operas of Benjamin Britten (ennobled as Baron Britten of Aldeburgh). Another theme is the corruption of innocence, always present, from Paul Bunyan (those innocent trees, who dream of becoming furniture) to Death in Venice (Aschenbach, who dreams that death will cure him of writer’s block). Read more »
We don’t go to Teatro Grattacielo’s annual concert opera to hear the rare (often unknown) Verismo opera that’s been dug up for the occasion, though sometimes these scores are surprisingly entertaining—surprising because you wonder how a score like Montemezzi’s La Nave or Zandonai’s I Cavalieri di Ekebu ever got lost. On other occasions, you’re not surprised at all. Read more »
I suspect most New York City opera-lovers had long since given up hope that the fascinating soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci would ever return to their city.
The simple fable at the heart of Die Frau ohne Schatten shouldn’t be difficult to parse, but Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s libretto juggles its vaguely Jungian, vaguely Arabian Nights symbolitry as if with intent to mystify and bewilder.
The abrupt withdrawal of Katharina Wagner from an abridged seven-hour Ring cycle she was to direct at the Teatro Colon last year prompted no shortage of scorn and Schadenfreude.
I can think of no other case that resembles Handel’s complex relationship to the story—derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses—of the ill-fated love between the shepherd Acis and the sea nymph Galatea.
Now that many of us are leaping to the altar unfettered by those pesky legalities of yore the problem of what to put on the bridal (or groomal) registry has become an atrocious head scratcher. So many of us have had housekeeping set up for so long now that we really don’t want for anything. Leave it to Prince Joseph Adam of Schwarzenburg, Duke of Krumlov to choose a most inspired present to give to his son upon his wedding in 1768; an opera. Commissioned for the occasion from Giuseppe Scarlatti, who history posits was nephew to either the more [...]