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.

Exactly the kind of boy he had always wanted to be

“Paul’s Case,” the short story by Willa Cather, is excellent material for an opera. It has a simple, linear plot; but its straightforward narrative belies complex ideas—ideas that become galvanized upon dilation. (Like those odd little toys you find in drugstores. Just add water and watch it expand!)  Read more »

Skeleton key

It makes so much sense for the Metropolitan Opera to program Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta alongside Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Both pieces use themes of vision and revelation to ask compelling questions about knowledge, responsibility, and gender.  Read more »

Discomfort zone

I primarily returned to Sir Richard Eyre’s production of Carmen at the Met to hear Roberto Alagna. After his misfire earlier this season, in Samson et Dalila, I wanted to see how he fared in repertoire with which I’m a bit more familiar. And indeed, his over-the-hill Don José was worth a revisit to the ubiquitous opera Read more »

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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Sondra Radvanovsky changed my opinion of her through a single performance—I’ll never think of her the same way again; the power of her singing overwhelmed my previous impressions.

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Bland date

With a program of Schumann, Wagner, Ravel and de Falla, mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca and pianist Kevin Murphy delivered a underdone performance at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday night.

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American beauty

It’s surprising to read that, as of this writing, La fanciulla del west has only had 105 performances at the Metropolitan Opera.

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