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“Norma” Rises from the Ashes

“Norma” Rises from the Ashes

BY ELI JACOBSON | Vincenzo Bellini’s “Norma” is considered the summit of bel canto, a masterpiece that inspired Wagner and Schopenhauer. Felice Romani’s libretto and Bellini’s music elevate the character of Norma to profound tragedy, the Medea-like druid priestess’ vengeful fury transformed into sublime self-sacrifice in the opera’s finale. Too often, however, hacks are put in […]

18th Century Joys to Cure Today’s Blues

18th Century Joys to Cure Today’s Blues

BY ELI JACOBSON | The mood of the country over the last year has been one of disaffection, discord, disunity, and disgust. The music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Handel is a balm to the ears and the soul, assuring us that there are immutable beauties of the mind and soul that historical aberrations cannot deface or […]

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 […]

Holiday Hollers

Holiday Hollers

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | Steven Blier –– the energizing genius behind New York Festival of Song — pulled off a fascinating “Schubert/ Beatles” evening December 8 at Merkin Hall. With typical generosity, Blier credited the inspiration to publicist extraordinaire Aleba Gartner and Juilliard’s wildly talented Wunderkind baritone, Theo Hoffman. What binds Schubert and the Beatles? […]

The Swan of Pesaro’s Highland Fling

The Swan of Pesaro’s Highland Fling

BY ELI JACOBSON | The standard mid 20th century critical trope regarding Gioachino Rossini was that his genius was limited to opera buffa and his musical legacy would consist of the “The Barber of Seville” and the “William Tell Overture” (the latter due to the “Lone Ranger” television series). The last 40 years have been a […]

Endora’s Year-End Encomiums

Endora’s Year-End Encomiums

BY DAVID NOH | Every year, we give out the Agnes Moorehead Awards for outstanding live and film performance, realizing full well that despite her mammoth body of excellent work, she is probably best known as Endora on TV “Bewitched.” So, it’s appropriate to introduce this year’s Aggies with memories from two of her co-stars […]

Late Autumn Voices

Late Autumn Voices

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | Juilliard Opera did very well by the good — not great — Rossini comedy “Il Turco in Italia” on November 19. Speranza Scappucci, conducting and playing continuo, guaranteed a scintillating, stylish performance for the fine orchestra, though a few inevitable first night “accidents” obtruded. One hopes to hear much more of her […]

Bad Girl Gone Wild in a Gulag

Bad Girl Gone Wild in a Gulag

BY ELI JACOBSON | Some operas take a while to click with audiences — it may take a revival with the right cast and a crowd receptive to its message. The Metropolitan Opera’s current revival of Dmitri Shostakovich’s scandalous 1934 opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” is a case in point. When the Graham Vick production premiered […]

Claire De Couture

Claire De Couture

BY DAVID NOH | The history of fashion is awash with the names of male gay designers, but there have been surprisingly few women couturiers who have identified as queer. There were once bisexual whispers about Coco Chanel and, recently, Jill Sander has been quite open about her lesbianism. A couple of summers ago, I […]

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 […]

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