Cher Public

Patrick Clement James

Patrick Clement James is a writer and teacher based in New York City. His love of opera began in high school, leading to studies in vocal performance at the Manhattan School of Music. He currently studies English literature as a Ph.D. student at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and he teaches at Brooklyn College. As a writer, he is particularly interested in the ways that opera participates in the larger contexts of history and culture.

Strangers in the night

Michael Grandage’s production of Don Giovanni for the Metropolitan Opera is possibly the worst production I’ve ever seen at the house. It represents the very nadir of conservatism. Neither rudely provocative nor richly traditional, its listless laziness snuffs out the opera’s incendiary potential. It is startlingly unimaginative, managing, in its ineptitude, the rare achievement of insulting western culture.  Read more »

Oh my goddess!

As the Met continues its steadfast march through Wagner’s magnum opus Der Ring des Nibelungen, the second installment (Die Walküre) crystallizes the cycle’s questions, ideas, and stakes. Read more »

Domino theory

The Metropolitan Opera delivers on the promise of Wagner’s Gesamtkunswerk in a revival of Robert Lepage’s Ring.  The first installment, Das Rheingold, initiates one into ancient mythology and the composer’s harmonic landscape with conservative elegance.  Read more »

Exactly the kind of boy he had always wanted to be

UrbanArias’ recording of Paul’s Case is an antidote to the intellectual pretensions that regularly drag contemporary opera performance toward tediousness and boredom.

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Skeleton key

Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle both use themes of vision and revelation to ask compelling questions about knowledge, responsibility, and gender. 

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Discomfort zone

Roberto Alagna’s physical and vocal embodiment of Don José lent his particular narrative a complication I hadn’t anticipated.

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Shrieking violet

Diana Damrau‘s performance as Violetta was the work of a very ordinary artist, one susceptible to vocal flubs, poor intonation, and an all too banal approach operatic performance.

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War horses

The proceedings took the virtue of longevity too much to heart; the night stretched on interminably. 

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