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The Politics of Desire

The Politics of Desire

BY ELI JACOBSON | Opera does personal drama and emotional conflict very well but intellectual, social, and political concepts are less suitable for musical adaptation. Two operas about a pair of lovers caught in a web of political power and intrigue opened this month. One was an expensive new production of “Tosca,” a standard repertory staple […]

Following in Fellow Travelers’ Footsteps

Following in Fellow Travelers’ Footsteps

BY ELI JACOBSON | On January 12, the Prototype Festival presents the New York premiere of “Fellow Travelers,” an opera with music by Gregory Spears and a libretto by Greg Pierce that debuted at Cincinnati Opera in June 2016. Prototype is bringing the Cincinnati Opera production directed by Kevin Newbury to the Gerald W. Lynch Theater […]

Desert Arts

Desert Arts

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Golden Cockerel” has re-emerged in the last two years at Sarasota, at New Opera NYC, and now at Santa Fe. On August 3, Emmanuel Villaume led his orchestra thrillingly through the composer’s superb, challenging orchestration. Paul Curran’s spectacular production — witty and visually inventive — made Rimsky-Korsakov’s oddly structured satirical work […]

In Manhattan, Chicago, Two New Operas

In Manhattan, Chicago, Two New Operas

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | Lyric Opera of Chicago’s creation, on December 7, of “Bel Canto,” a first opera by out gay Peruvian-born Jimmy López was a big deal. The work had been “curated” by Renée Fleming, creative consultant to the company, resulting, impressively, in a near sold-out run of nine performances. Television cameras filmed the sixth […]

“Oscar” Winning, But Not for Best Score

“Oscar” Winning, But Not for Best Score

BY ELI JACOBSON | It is never a happy task to criticize a work which is created out of love for the best artistic and social reasons by gifted people –– but good intentions do not automatically make great art. (As well, great artists are not always great or even good human beings outside of their […]

Operatic Game-Changers

Operatic Game-Changers

BY ELI JACOBSON | Throughout the 19th century, opera composers strived to break away from the “number opera” format — a series of separate musical pieces in conventional forms interspersed with recitative or dialogue that moved the action forward. Through-composed operas created set pieces that carried the dramatic action forward without stopping the orchestra or […]