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.


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
Lips together, teeth apart Lips together, teeth apart

Mr. Peabody, that Leonardo among canines, claimed she was suffering from toothache.

on February 21, 2015 at 5:28 PM
Trigger warning 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,

on February 19, 2015 at 11:05 AM
One for the woad One for the woad

Ellen Douglas finds herself in Act II of Rossini’s La Donna del Lago in the far from unusual operatic position of having her love claimed by two impassioned tenors in the bel canto version of a macho drag race.

on February 17, 2015 at 7:37 AM
Mourning becomes Iphigenia Mourning becomes Iphigenia

Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide (1774), the occasion of his Paris debut, gets far less respect than her sequel, Iphigénie en Tauride.

on February 11, 2015 at 12:06 PM
Alt folks at home Alt folks at home

A Countertenor Cabaret, starred no fewer than 14 of these once-rare songbirds, in the cabaret space of the Duplex on Sheridan Square.

on January 25, 2015 at 10:00 PM
A Magnetizer and a Wandering Goy walk into a bar A Magnetizer and a Wandering Goy walk into a bar

The visit of the Mariinsky Theater’s resident company to the glittering opera house of the Brooklyn Academy of Music consists of three ballet programs with starry casts preceded, last night, by a single performance of Rodion Shchedrin’s opera, The Enchanted Wanderer. 

on January 15, 2015 at 12:32 PM
Isn’t it necromantic? Isn’t it necromantic?

St. Paul’s Chapel is the perfect site for Saul, Handel’s finest dramatic oratorio.

on January 04, 2015 at 1:16 PM
The year in Yohalem The year in Yohalem

My memory is fading but the events I recall most vividly of the last season seem largely to have been concert performances.

on December 31, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Daggers are a thane’s best friend Daggers are a thane’s best friend

A Birnam Wood of Macbeths and Ladys has come traipsing through New York this year.

on December 12, 2014 at 9:55 AM
Puss perfect Puss perfect

Xavier Montsalvatge is best known in these parts for the songs of his “Antilles” period in the 1940s, the exquisite “Cinco Canciones Negras” and so on, making use of rhythms and melodies with a Caribbean flavor.

on December 08, 2014 at 7:34 PM
American verismo American verismo

The Little Opera Theater of New York (LOTNY) is presenting a double-cast run of two of Floyd’s early one-acts, Slow Dusk and Markheim.

on December 06, 2014 at 3:29 PM
As nature intended As nature intended

Meredith Monk and her Vocal Ensemble (five singers besides Monk, plus three instrumentalists) are giving a program called On Behalf of Nature through Sunday at BAM’s Harvey Theater.

on December 04, 2014 at 7:45 PM
Down in the depths on the ninetieth floor Down in the depths on the ninetieth floor

Teatro Grattacielo is New York’s homegrown organization to rescue Verismo operas from oblivion, one per annum, allowing for the occasional double bill.

on November 23, 2014 at 11:41 AM
He’ll take Manhattan He’ll take Manhattan

Purchase of Manhattan was given its world premiere on Thursday evening at the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue.

on November 23, 2014 at 11:28 AM
To the vixen belongs the spa To the vixen belongs the spa

A production as delectable as the current one (through Sunday) at the Juilliard Opera will make you wonder why Il Turco is not as well known as L’Italiana, Il Barbiere, La Cenerentola, even the odd and occasional Il Viaggio a Rheims.

on November 20, 2014 at 10:34 AM
Words to the heat of deeds to Colbran gives Words to the heat of deeds to Colbran gives

A young friend messaged me to ask if I knew Rossini’s Macbeth.

on November 17, 2014 at 1:21 PM
Anger’s aweigh Anger’s aweigh

It was a night a-tingle with excitement at the Metropolitan Opera House.

on October 22, 2014 at 3:20 AM
Martinu, very dry Martinu, very dry

Gotham Chamber Opera, which began to operate twelve years ago with a double bill of Bohuslav Martinu’s quirky little pieces, opened its 2014-15 season with two more, Alexandre bis (Alexander, twice) and Comedy on the Bridge.

on October 16, 2014 at 2:44 PM
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