Cher Public

Rooting for the underdoge

foscari“Take a good deal of trouble with it, because it is a fine subject, delicate and full of pathos,” Verdi wrote to his librettist, Francesco Piave. The product of their labors, the composer’s sixth opera, premiered in November 1844, six months following Ernani. The production commemorated by Opus Arte’s new DVD was first seen in Los Angeles in 2012. It traveled in the following years to Valencia, Vienna, and ultimately London, where it was filmed in 2014.

Not a great deal happens in I due Foscari. Characters anticipate events with dread, react to them with anger or resignation. Some of those events occur offstage. This short opera of mood and color is admired for its “experimental” nature but is of greater interest for its consolidation and refinement of musical techniques. Both the opera and Byron’s source play of 15th-century intrigue, The Two Foscari, place us in the shadowy, menacing Venice explored in many dramatic works through the centuries. Read more »

Higher and higher

BrownleeThis past week brought the first installment of the new “Renee Fleming’s VOICES!” series at the Kennedy Center. The bad news is that this is not the name of a new drag revue she is curating. The good news is that the first concert was devoted to the exceptional artistry of Lawrence BrownleeRead more »

You can’t hide your lion eyes

untitled-5The UK’s first-ever production of Poliuto, now available from Opus Arte on DVD, set the lions of Rome among the lambs of Glyndebourne. Donizetti’s dramatic opera (or tragedica lirica) was completed in the summer of 1838, a year following Roberto Devereux and two years before La fille du regiment and La favorite, closer to the end of the composer’s career than to the beginning.

The opera dramatizes conflicts of romantic and religious natures. In the third century A.D., Armenia’s Roman conquerors, the worshippers of Jupiter, seek to eradicate Christianity. Paolina (soprano), daughter of Mitilene governor Felice (tenor), has heeded her father’s urging to marry the principal magistrate, Poliuto (tenor).  Read more »


Mark, missed

Thoughtless direction stifled the epic drama.

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‘Tis new to thee

Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiece Lucia di Lammermoor returned to Chicago Lyric Opera on Saturday evening.

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Better call Saul

Director Barrie Kosky’s Glyndebourne 2015 production of Handel’s 1739 oratorio Saul (released on Opus Arte DVD) shows imagination as well as a strong cast and design team.

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Future imperfect

This year’s treat was Vittorio Gnecchi’s Cassandra, completed around 1905

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Period piece

Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s production of L’Italiana in Algeri for the Met remains steadfastly ignorant of postcolonial theory.

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A new beginning

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2016-17 season got off to an exciting start on Saturday night with Wagner’s Das Rheingold.

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Park and bark

Like Orest, I return to this house.

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