Cher Public

Porgy Amor

A cynical member of Generation X, Louisville native Todd Koenig rejected a society that told its youth the answers could be found in the MTV video games. His exploration of 20th-century popular music led to a study of piano and a love of jazz. In his twenties, he began to listen to classical music – first symphonic works, chamber music, and keyboard literature, then song cycles, masses and oratorios. Five years into that period, he ventured into one of the few remaining uncharted territories: opera. He has familiarized himself with the standard repertory and much outside of it, and has advocated the art form to friends his age or younger who love music and theater. Since September 2015, as “Porgy Amor,” he has written reviews, history and think pieces (sometimes all at the same time) for parterre box. The opera he loves above all others is Verdi’s Falstaff, which he has described as the work of a very old man, with which a listener can grow old.

Double Doge dare

Plácido Domingo‘s lengthy career began in the 1960s, when recorded opera was at its apex. Never exclusive to a particular label as some colleagues were, the Spanish superstar tenor made two or more complete recordings of many calling cards: Manrico, Riccardo/Gustavo, Don Carlos (with and without the “s”), Radamès, Samson, Hoffmann, Otello, Des Grieux, Cavaradossi. Over 50 years, the formats for complete operas recordings changed more than once. There were the decline of the LP and the rise and fall of the CD. Videocassettes and laser discs gave way to DVDs and Blu-rays.  Read more »

C’est une chanson qui nous ressemble

She never cancels.

“The only thing about reviewing movies that makes me unhappy is that I can’t get to the opera often enough,” wrote one of our famous film critics in 1975, when both she and the art form she covered were at their high noon. I have that problem in reverse. Before I was listening to and occasionally writing about opera, I was quite the cineaste. I regret that I no longer find time to keep up properly. In the battle of interests, something always cedes territory.  Read more »

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

An opera set in a luxurious country house, treating on the topic of class: hardly the sort of thing one would expect Brits to fancy!

The tendency to rank—to create subjective lists of best or greatest, or to organize things in ascending or descending order—is a human compulsion. Inevitably, these rankings inspire objection, criticism, sputtering outrage. “How can you put X above Y?” “How can you leave Z off altogether?” “This is so stupid. There is no ‘best’!”  Read more »

Star and garters

 Dans les roles d'amoureux langoureux...

Dans les roles d’amoureux langoureux…

No amount of scholarly diligence has kept Les contes d’Hoffmann from being the messiest of all standard-repertory messes. The opera was unfinished at the time of Offenbach’s death in 1880, and in this case “unfinished” means not a deficit but a surplus of material, some added by other composers, some authentic but not unearthed and sorted out until the late 20th century. Read more »

The frailty of everything earthly

If everything you see is great, you are either new to opera or chronically easy to please.

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Mitigated Gaul

Kevin Newbury‘s familiar production of Bellini’s Norma with its most frequent leading lady, the American Sondra Radvanovsky.

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‘Ja, ja’ land

We leave behind the Vienna of the 1740s, the time of breeches, fans and white wigs.

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And in the ‘how’

Our selected Rosenkavalier video overview closes out the 20th-century selections, crosses the millennial mark, and includes the first of our performances to depart from the opera’s prescribed 18th-century setting.

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