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.


No sex please, we’re German No sex please, we’re German

Why is so twinkling, tuneful a score so little known?

on April 23, 2022 at 9:00 AM
Work on ‘Progress’ Work on ‘Progress’

Young voices ringing out Stravinsky’s witty melodies at close quarters gives great pleasure if you are fond of this witty score and its many parodies of early operatic cliché.

on February 20, 2022 at 8:00 AM
There are fascists at the bottom of our garden There are fascists at the bottom of our garden

It’s 1938. We know, even if the characters do not, how the story will end.

on February 02, 2022 at 1:59 PM
You’ve got male You’ve got male

Two hours of bedazzlement await you.

on February 01, 2022 at 11:15 AM
Anyone can puzzle Anyone can puzzle

Steve adored puzzles, solving them and creating them, so it makes you wonder that this one continued to fester—was that so few of his songs attained the rank of “standard.”

on November 29, 2021 at 2:00 PM
A seacoast of Bohemia A seacoast of Bohemia

The people—I assume most of them were natives—seemed pretty happy at La Boheme at the San Carlo on Saturday night. For one thing, the theater was packed to the top tier, all of us masked (vigili di fuoco—firemen—made sure of that)

on October 19, 2021 at 10:25 AM
Real Housewives of Verismo Real Housewives of Verismo

New Camerata Opera is presenting its first staged and indoor program in some time, at “The Muse,” a lofty cabaret space up against a cemetery in Bushwick, and their singers sound like they’ve been champing at the bit for eighteen months and are bursting to vocalize!

on September 24, 2021 at 1:31 PM
Goodbye, Nostalgia! Goodbye, Nostalgia!

The program was set around themes of loss, of unfulfilled wishes, the endurance of loss, triumphant or depressed.

on September 22, 2021 at 12:29 PM
Great and happy, but not quite live Great and happy, but not quite live

This was a great and happy event, but it wasn’t so much a musical one.

on September 07, 2021 at 11:14 AM
Skyscrapers marching on Skyscrapers marching on

If you have not been following the exploits of Teatro Grattacielo during lockdown, it’s not because they haven’t been exploitatory all over the place.

on June 21, 2021 at 11:47 AM
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
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