John Yohalem

John Yohalem's critical writings have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, American Theater, Opera News, the Seattle Weekly, Christopher Street, Opera Today, Musical America and Enchanté: The Journal for the Urbane Pagan, among other publications. He claims to have attended 628 different operatic works (not to mention forty operettas), but others who were present are not sure they spotted him. What fascinates him, besides the links between operatic event and contemporary history, is how the operatic machine works: How voice and music and the ritual experience of theater interact to produce something beyond itself. He is writing a book on Shamanic Opera-Going.


Infrequent flyers in unfamiliar skies Infrequent flyers in unfamiliar skies

Jonathan Dove’s Flight, which premiered at Glyndebourne in 1998 and is now being streamed by the Seattle Opera, is structured like one of those baroque extravaganzas where some half dozen characters find themselves (in every sense) on a magical island, its properties little understood.

on April 12, 2021 at 3:46 PM
Terracotta puppets of the gods Terracotta puppets of the gods

Dancing sheep! Flying sheep! Flying sheep who dance!

on January 20, 2021 at 1:12 PM
All about my moth All about my moth

The performance of an opera, indeed, seems almost a third narrative, atop the dreamer under the scientific microscope and the larva turning into a butterfly, and the mingling is not always clear—but then, clarity never seems to be the intention.

on January 16, 2021 at 1:24 PM
On the beach On the beach

The immediate and personal catastrophe interleaves with the general and universal and ancient.

on January 13, 2021 at 1:00 PM
Crossing over Crossing over

Without furnishings to distract them, the cast prowled the stage with sinister energy, exchanging significant looks and deadly secrets as though fearing Nihilists behind every drapery.

on January 12, 2021 at 9:13 AM
You aren’t any good to me dead You aren’t any good to me dead

The Murder of Halit Yozgat by Ben Frost and Petter Ekmann is flavorsome in its use of sound, vocal and otherwise, to explore the elements of the story, to keep you tied in, and guessing.

on January 11, 2021 at 8:54 AM
Nooks and crannies Nooks and crannies

Nathan Hull was an operatic Quixote who did not go it alone, but inspired bands of optimists, giving proper employment to the many worthy New Yorkers mad enough to study voice and pleasure rare elsewhere to those of us thrilled to take it in.

on August 16, 2020 at 11:22 AM
Civilized pleasures Civilized pleasures

We can delight in films that make use of motif to give opera-lovers an extra little jiggle.

on July 18, 2020 at 12:02 PM
What’s my motivation? What’s my motivation?

Wagner must intrude at some point because he invented film music.

on July 17, 2020 at 11:02 AM
Sextet education Sextet education

My first exposure to Lucia di Lammermoor came under the auspices of The Three Stooges.

on July 16, 2020 at 12:50 PM
Kebabs in the Persian Room Kebabs in the Persian Room

Ester, Liberatrice del Popolo Ebreo was presented in concert on Thursday night by Salon/Sanctuary Concerts in the Brotherhood Synagogue on Gramercy Park, in proper time for Purim.

on March 09, 2020 at 9:49 AM
My heart belongs to mama My heart belongs to mama

VIctor Herbert demonstrates in this slight, affectionate piece a talent for keeping his musico-dramatic balls in the air, as Madeleine’s spirits juggle, fall, rise again, and droop to elegant resignation at the last.

on March 04, 2020 at 11:31 AM
Bone voyage Bone voyage

In Winterreise, Peter Mattei’s persona is burly and brusque, a sarcastic introvert, full of contempt for his romantic weaknesses with squalls of anger and lyrical reflection by turns.

on February 04, 2020 at 10:00 AM
Pandelirium Pandelirium

We live in a time of open-season for jokes on ancient myths, mixing and matching, sometimes with great success, as The Book of Mormon and Hadestown demonstrate.

on January 19, 2020 at 5:41 PM
The ancient mourner The ancient mourner

Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero is a dance-music-theater piece that Prototype Festival presented at the Joyce Theater through Saturday night.

on January 19, 2020 at 5:09 PM
The Stuff and Nonsense Dreams Are Made On The Stuff and Nonsense Dreams Are Made On

The New York Gilbert And Sullivan Players is giving its umpteenth production of The Mikado through next Sunday at the Kaye Playhouse, and the show remains frisky and first rate.

on December 31, 2019 at 12:12 PM
A dark horse in every closet A dark horse in every closet

Mozart and Donizetti could humanize characters in a farce—Mercadante in I due FIgaro cannot get a handle on them.

on December 15, 2019 at 1:46 PM
Calling the shots Calling the shots

Heartbeat Opera has set Der Freischütz in a contemporary era, in a rural locale where gun culture reigns supreme and bullying is natural.

on December 10, 2019 at 8:25 AM
Los Aztecas Galantes Los Aztecas Galantes

What is opera for if not to commemorate a national epic tragedy and triumph?

on November 14, 2019 at 3:03 PM
Bloody Mary, Hold the Pepper Bloody Mary, Hold the Pepper

Come ye addicts of melody! After long eclipse, Bel Canto shines again!

on November 05, 2019 at 9:00 AM
The long listen The long listen

A conversation with maestro Gil Rose of Odyssey Opera.

on October 29, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Quicksilver messenger Quicksilver messenger

At the Park Avenue Armory, Barbara Hannigan chose to sing works that tested her metal in odd corners of vocalism.

on October 18, 2019 at 12:18 PM
A life for the zarzuela A life for the zarzuela

In El Barbero de Sevilla, as given through the weekend by the New Camerata Opera, there is far too much comic dialogue, all of it in English and none of it sparkling.

on October 18, 2019 at 10:05 AM
Three sisters who are not sisters Three sisters who are not sisters

Dell’ Arte Opera Ensemble’s “Scenes from the Tower” evening is devoted to three operas composed by women, and the metaphorical tower is women’s sequestration from the opera stage.

on August 24, 2019 at 11:33 AM
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