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.


Another man’s Persian Another man’s Persian

The seventeenth-century works of Francisco Cavalli may be easier for modern audiences to accept.

on May 02, 2016 at 11:38 AM
Il giocondo Il giocondo

With six leads in Gioconda, you can reliably hope that three or four will be worth listening to, or why would they have revived the opera?

on April 21, 2016 at 3:41 PM
In harem’s way In harem’s way

Othello in the Seraglio is the rather unfortunate title bestowed by the ensemble Dünya on its “coffeehouse opera,” ossia The Tragedy of Sümbül the Black Eunuch.

on April 11, 2016 at 11:39 AM
Donizetti, lionized Donizetti, lionized

Just when you thought it was safe to return to Rossini and Verdi—blam!

on March 18, 2016 at 10:00 AM
French tickler French tickler

The concert presented by Opera Lafayette at the Alliance Française last Friday and Saturday was devoted to music of witty, short-lived Emmanuel Chabrier, notably Une Éducation Manquée.

on February 11, 2016 at 9:00 AM
I don’t sleep, I dream I don’t sleep, I dream

Bellini blossomed over us like a love fest.

on February 10, 2016 at 12:42 PM
Flying too high with some guy in the sky Flying too high with some guy in the sky

If only—if only half the creativity and spectacle that Encompass New Opera Theatre has lavished on its lively production of The Astronaut’s Tale (at the BAM Fisher through Sunday) had been expended on the pretentious libretto by the late Jack Larsonand the quirky, unappealing score by Charles Fussell…

on January 30, 2016 at 12:20 PM
Gold school Gold school

The name Joseph Rumshinsky might ring a bell (or a shofar).

on December 14, 2015 at 11:37 AM
Who’s that girl? Who’s that girl?

Diana Damrau is a great flirt.

on December 09, 2015 at 8:00 AM
To harness song to human tragedy To harness song to human tragedy

LoftOpera gives performances of exceptional musical and theatrical polish in offbeat corners of Brooklyn.

on December 06, 2015 at 2:00 PM
Humans of old Madrid Humans of old Madrid

Bare Opera, the feisty little company that gave Debussy’s exquisite L’Enfant Prodigue in Chelsea last spring, is now operating in chic, rundown Bushwick where so many original enterprises sprout.

on November 18, 2015 at 9:00 AM
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress” “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”

In New York, tradition insists, there are no limits to where a preposterous idea, talent and relentless determination will take you, in defiance of all the odds.

on November 09, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Multicolored Multicolored

Polish singers are chameleons. They have to be.

on November 05, 2015 at 9:00 AM
Outer Burroughs Outer Burroughs

New York is different now, and John Zorn has this hangout, The Stone, on Avenue C (you heard me) at Second Street, a performance space the size of a largeish dorm room.

on October 19, 2015 at 1:19 PM
Inappropriately touching Inappropriately touching

“Operatic” generally refers to sung drama, but there is another meaning of that term: grandiose, outsize, hysterical.

on October 11, 2015 at 9:00 AM
Beyond the blue horizon Beyond the blue horizon

Besides the heavens and a sweater in The Devil Wears Prada, it is the hue of Hibla Gerzmava’s soprano, in contrast to the red or rose or red-orange voices of most sopranos.

on October 09, 2015 at 12:56 PM
Bushwick leagues Bushwick leagues

LoftOpera is just one, though perhaps the liveliest, of many homegrown opera troupes in Brooklyn.

on September 27, 2015 at 1:45 PM
Cherubino jumps the shark Cherubino jumps the shark

Homer, inspired by many a muse, sang not of sequels to his Iliad.

on August 31, 2015 at 10:17 AM
Blow a kiss, take a bough Blow a kiss, take a bough

Richard Strauss’s many one-act operas make excellent concert programs, both for their length (usually under two hours) and the primary place each gives the orchestration, a specialty where Strauss’s brilliance seldom deserted him.

on July 16, 2015 at 12:38 PM
That sly come-hither stare That sly come-hither stare

Harry Lawrence Freeman’s Voodoo, begun sometime before 1914, was completed and first heard on radio in May, 1928, then staged on Broadway later that year—seven years before Porgy and Bess, please note.

on June 29, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Getting to know jews, getting to know all about jews Getting to know jews, getting to know all about jews

The creation of Kurt Weill’s The Eternal Road and its lately remodeled avatar, The Road of Promise, boiled down and premiered at Carnegie Hall Wednesday night by the Collegiate Chorale and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, was an intricate process, far more interesting than the work itself.

on May 08, 2015 at 6:44 AM
Bare de Lia Bare de Lia

On Saturday, a new company called Bare Opera gave its first performance, a double bill of Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, at the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea.

on May 04, 2015 at 10:24 AM
Pretty poison Pretty poison

It could get loud. It often does, especially when the soprano is mere inches from your ears, pleading with the duke for the life of the poor boy (parentage unknown) who insulted her notorious dynasty.

on April 05, 2015 at 8:51 AM
Et in Arcadia, libido Et in Arcadia, libido

A performance space called the Sheen Center has opened its doors way down the far end of Bleecker Street, a stoner’s throw from where CBGB’s used to thrive beside the itsy-bitsy Amato Opera House. (You never forget your first Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio.)  Sheen Center, sizable and modern and slim on personality, contains two…

on March 22, 2015 at 2:27 PM
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