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.


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
Hamstrung by Maeterlinck Hamstrung by Maeterlinck

Whitney George’s music falls pleasingly upon the ear and is wittily scored for a small ensemble conducted by herself.

on August 19, 2019 at 4:37 PM
The Isle is full of noises The Isle is full of noises

Dell’ Arte Opera Ensemble theme this summer is women composers, which is timely, and the more to be applauded as likely to turn up unusual works.

on August 15, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Winterstorms that go bump in the night Winterstorms that go bump in the night

A hefty thunderclap shook Tanglewood’s Koussevitzky Shed just as Andris Nelsons raised his baton for the third act of the weekend’s concert Die Walküre.

on July 31, 2019 at 10:31 AM
Crimes of a ragged century Crimes of a ragged century

The Mac-Haydn Theatre are giving Ragtime, a musical about turn-of-the-century race relations, unwelcome immigrants, labor revolts against brute force and the collapse of the traditional family.

on July 27, 2019 at 8:30 AM
She’s a stranger here herself She’s a stranger here herself

The four leading roles in La Straniera were all attractively cast by Teatro Nuovo with fresh, promising young voices that did not seem quite ready for the big time.

on July 19, 2019 at 11:17 AM
When off-off was on to something When off-off was on to something

Promenade is a powder keg but the powder may not be as explosive as it hints.

on July 15, 2019 at 9:16 AM
Nixon in Jersey: The Renixoning Nixon in Jersey: The Renixoning

The singers and the orchestra carry the show, but where do they carry it?

on June 25, 2019 at 10:48 AM
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