Headshot of La Cieca

Cher Public

  • Cocky Kurwenal: I don’t agree about Haroutounian. Thrilling though her huge and very reliable top is, I... 4:52 AM
  • Cocky Kurwenal: That’s absolutely right ArmerJ, and I’d add that the singer might sing better not... 4:49 AM
  • NPW-Paris: My hair is not just grey, it’s white and has been for years. But I want to see the opera of... 3:42 AM
  • stevey: Flora, I’m so happy to have gotten your attention, and thank you for responding to my post. In... 2:19 AM
  • parpignol: totally agree about Haroutounian, extraordinary voice, beautifully suited to Elisabetta, and I... 12:50 AM
  • Flora del Rio Grande: stevey – I’d say you know plenty as regards Anna Tomawa Sentow. I heard... 12:33 AM
  • Porgy Amor: A deep bow of gratitude to Nestor Almendros, one of those DPs who is among the gods. And another... 11:20 PM
  • Krunoslav: In the cast of ANKLES AWEIGH was Janet Pavek, whose Met career 8 years later looked like this:... 11:19 PM
  • stevey: Zinka! I have long wanted to ask you about someone, as I value and respect your thoughts and... 11:01 PM
  • ducadiposa: Nothing truer was ever said! Odd, as I just commented on another blog about much the same thing... 10:35 PM

Magic “Flute”

A confession:  I have a real love/ hate relationship with Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.  I have always found its music to be an unfortunate mix of the sublime and the cloyingly cutesy.  I abhor the trend toward Disneyfied productions of this opera, usually to establish it as “family-friendly” (another term I abhor.)  So I must admit I was a bit dismayed when I opened La Cieca’s package to me and found this DVD of a 2014 production at the Dutch National Opera.

Happily, I find this production to be the best Zauberflote of my experience, because it takes the trials of Tamino and Pamina very seriously, making their quest to find love a genuinely human experience and a very human effort to determine the nature of good and evil.

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Dongs of mirth and triumph sing!

Donkey dick and other Asian fusion vaudeville acts arouse “The BAM Effect” at Handel’s Semele. [New York Observer]

The devil is in the details

Certain operas are better in theory than practice. Boito’s Mefistofele has some undoubtedly fine tunes, and is perhaps neck-and-neck with Boris Godunov as a top bass star vehicle. But as an opera, it only works in fits and starts. For one, the fidelity to Goethe’s Faust gives the libretto a rather episodic, detached feel.

Gounod’s Faust might be a lot cheesier but it’s also more tightly focused and thus better theater. Boito’s opera has some some stunning choral work in the Prologue and Epilogue, a famous tune in Margherita’s lament “La altra notte” and an extremely enjoyable “Walpurgis Nacht” act but also a lot of filler. It’s not a long opera but it feels endless.   Read more »

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Coming out

Christian Thielemann’s spirited, precise conducting and the superb, sumptuous playing of the Staatskapelle Dresden are the finest features of this strongly cast performance of Strauss’s Arabella.

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My name is Barbiere

James Conlon, Music Director for the LA Opera, often does the pre-game lecture in the huge open space on the second floor lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion and it’s almost always a standing room only crowd.

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Fresh princes

Imagine two tenors releasing French opera aria collections at the same time without duplicating a single track!

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Trigger warning

The Rape of Lucretia, now (through Sunday) enjoying a superb three-performance run at the Juilliard Opera’s Willson Theater (tickets are scarce; hie thee to the waiting list), was Benjamin Britten’s third opera and first “chamber opera,” composed for the tiny original theater at Glyndebourne,

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Star, crossed

The key to enjoying Bellini’s I Capuleti e Montechi is to do a hard factory reset and reformat your brain to forget all other works based on Romeo and Juliet.

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Queen sized

The last day of December a parcel arrived in the mail containing an absolute delight: “Semiramide—La Signora Regale.” One of best vocal recordings of 2014, this sumptuous 2-CD set on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi features the marvelous Italian mezzo-soprano Anna Bonitatibus and includes 90 minutes of rarely-heard music written for the legendary Babylonian queen.

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Mattei

Singular sensation

“If Mozart had only had the sense to write Don Giovanni in a… single-performer format, last Wednesday’s revival at the Met would have been one for the ages.

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