Cher Public

Tragically Hippolyte

From the moment months ago that Juilliard Opera announced it would be staging the first US production in nearly 20 years of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s monumental Hippolyte et Aricie my heart has been filled with admiration and gratitude. But just before the generally admirable first performance concluded Tuesday evening at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater the assembled forces committed such a catastrophic misstep that I had my head in my hands groaning in disbelief instead of joining in the general applause around me.  Read more »

Stout fellow

Luckless Otto Nicolai belongs to the large company of opera composers who never reached forty. Barely out of his twenties, he went south to Milan and scored a palpable hit, Il Templario, based on Ivanhoe. On the strength of this, he was offered a confused but epic libretto, a Biblical farrago entitled Nabucodonosor. He turned it down, and the impresario gave it to an even younger composer named Verdi. When this came to the stage, Nicolai said, “I told you no one could write music to that libretto,” and returned to Prussia.  Read more »

Animal, vegetable

Everything in the garden.

A buddy once remarked that if a conservatory’s doing evening-length Mozart, it’s probably La finta giardinera, an early opus about fakery in a garden. (“Well, that, or I guess maybe like Amadeus or something…?”) Read more »

Flight of fancy

Jonathan Dove’s Flight is an opera that makes excellent use of setting.

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I don’t sleep, I dream

Bellini blossomed over us like a love fest.

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She who gets slapped

All those who have been in a rage since the news broke this week that the Metropolitan Opera has invited Calixto Bieito to stage Verdi’s La Forza del Destino can relax and embrace the Juilliard Opera’s new Le Nozze di Figaro which opened Friday night.

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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,

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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.

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