Cher Public

Orpheus goes downtown

Marc-Antoine Charpentier came along at the wrong time for a composer of French opera. Lully had persuaded Louis XIV (his dancing partner) to give him a monopoly on composing stage music in France. One of the grandest dames about court, Mademoiselle de Guise, provided Charpentier a regular gig at her palace and an apartment over her stables for seventeen years. When he left, he worked for the Grand Dauphin, the king’s son, and for the Jesuits, for whom he produced oratorios like the currently much-revived David et Jonathas. But he didn’t produce much in the way of secular tragédie-lyrique—only two or three survive, notably a Médée and the abbreviated La descente de l’Orphée aux Enfers. Gotham Chamber Opera is presenting the New York stage premiere of the latter at St. Paul’s Chapel through Sunday, as part of Trinity Church’s annual Twelfth Night Festival.   Read more »

Desk set

“Two Boys demonstrates that Mr. Muhly is capable of very great things indeed, offering extended glimpses of the kind of masterpiece he just missed writing here, and, more happily, of the kind of masterpiece I feel confident he will write in the future.” [New York Observer] (Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

Breaking Baden

Baden-Baden 1927 is the title Gotham Chamber Opera has given to its evening of four brief operas that premiered together at a festival in, yes, Baden-Baden on July 17, 1927. Paul Hindemith, the theoretician who headed the festival, contributed a jokey piece of his own and commissioned young, avant-garde composers from three neighboring nations: Germany (site of the festival and homeland of Kurt Weill), Austria (Ernst Toch) and France (Darius Milhaud). Besides brevity and a certain satirical attitude towards traditional operatic form, the works have little in common.   Read more »

Sound please!

Magrets de canard

For our weekly meander through mendacity, we turn to no less than Gotham Chamber Opera’s own Neal Goren, who writes, “People repeat as fact that women ruin their voices, or at least sacrifice their high notes, by singing in chest voice. So untrue!”

Read more »

Fleur du mal

Nathaniel Hawthorne, the repentant Puritan—that is, he repented that his family had once been Puritans—describes the voice of Rappaccini’s Daughter, Beatrice, as “rich as a tropical sunset, … which made Giovanni, though he knew not why, think of deep hues of purple or crimson and of perfumes heavily delectable.”

Read more »

Different from the others

Those of you who so readily groan, “Oh, dear god, no, not another Carmen! Give it a bleeding rest!” (and you know who you are) may lose that long face, temporarily at least, when you hear the exotic repertoire promised by Gotham Chamber Opera next season.

Read more »

Emperor of the perverse

Short as Roman emperor Eliogabalo’s reign was, the world sighed in relief when it was over.

Read more »

The Roman stain

Gotham Chamber Opera stumbled so badly Friday night with Francesco Cavalli’s 1668 Eliogabalo at The Box, it was hard to know whether to feel sad or angry—or both.

Read more »