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The Met When It’s Good

The Met When It’s Good

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | It’s a real if rare pleasure to walk out of the Metropolitan Opera thinking, “That was an extraordinary performance, worthy of the company’s highest legacy.” I felt that after — and indeed during — February 20’s “Parsifal.” Wagner’s final opera deals meaningfully in redemptive miracles; above all what mattered here was Yannick […]

Gypsies, Troubadours, and Divas

Gypsies, Troubadours, and Divas

BY ELI JACOBSON | In Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” everyone is fighting with each other, everyone fights back, and everyone loses. Still, despite the dark, convoluted story, this is an exhilarating opera with one sensational tune after another. This season’s Met revival of the David McVicar production featured one familiar performer (tenor Yonghoon Lee) with three rising […]

Subs Surface at the Met

Subs Surface at the Met

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | In any of the much-discussed “golden eras” of the Metropolitan Opera, keeping casts of a production together was rarely a priority. Sometimes voice fans loved this. For example, in 1964-65 one could hear six Toscas, six Cavaradossis, and seven Scarpias divided among 16 house performances, virtually all of them international artists, many […]

Tudor Queens  

Tudor Queens  

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | Sondra Radvanovsky –– one of the world’s most ambitious sopranos and, in the right roles, one of the most capable — has embarked on a huge project this Met season. Setting aside the weightier Verdi scores in which she’s pretty close to matchless today — “Ernani,” “Un ballo in maschera,” “I vespri […]

In the Met’s New “Otello,” Moor is Less  

In the Met’s New “Otello,” Moor is Less  

BY ELI JACOBSON | The elimination of traditional blackface from Bartlett Sher’s new Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi’s “Otello” has occasioned considerable controversy online and in the print press. Both the Shakespeare play and Arrigo Boito’s libretto for Verdi’s opera refer to the Moor of Venice as “black.” By the Renaissance, “moor” (often “blackamoor”) referred to […]

Send In the Clowns  

Send In the Clowns  

BY ELI JACOBSON | Though “Send in the Clowns” is Sondheim’s most popular song, very few people understand the significance of the title. It was generally thought to be a circus reference — whenever an accident or injury occurs in the ring, the ringmaster will send in the clowns to divert the audience’s attention. However, Sondheim […]

Late Winter Voices

Late Winter Voices

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | February 21 witnessed a bittersweet occasion at City Center –– fabulous to see, but with acoustics often jarringly opaque. The valiant New York City Opera Orchestra under the versatile George Manahan paid tribute to the late lamented “people’s opera” with a 70th anniversary concert as a benefit for Local 802’s Musician’s Emergency […]

Ancient Airs and Dances

Ancient Airs and Dances

BY ELI JACOBSON | The Metropolitan Opera presented its first ever Handel opera, “Rinaldo,” in 1983. Five years later, it got around to his most popular opera, “Giulio Cesare,” in a John Copley production that originated at the English National Opera. This April, the Met unveiled its second production of “Giulio Cesare” — also a British […]