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Sideshow Distractions

Sideshow Distractions

BY ELI JACOBSON | This month, the Metropolitan Opera unveiled a new production by Phelim McDermott of Mozart’s unsettling sex comedy “Così fan tutte,” a co-production with the English National Opera. McDermott resets this intimate chamber piece from a Neapolitan villa to the Coney Island of the 1950s, featuring a bustling boardwalk with bumper cars, sideshow […]

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 […]

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 […]

Boston, Houston, Manhattan Transfer

Boston, Houston, Manhattan Transfer

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | Lincoln Center’s annual White Light Festival kicked off with a pleasing program November 1 at the Rose Theater, focused on a reprise of the Pergolesi “Stabat Mater,” some of the most inspiriting — and certainly influential — music of the 18th century, directed and choreographed by Jessica Lang. First seen at Glimmerglass […]

No Exit

No Exit

BY ELI JACOBSON | One of the more adventurous offerings of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2017 – 2018 opera season is the US premiere of Thomas Adès’ “The Exterminating Angel.” The Adès opera, based on Luis Buñuel’s enigmatic 1962 surrealist film “El Ángel Exterminador,” arrived in New York after premiering last summer at the Salzburg Festival with […]

“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 […]

Italian Verismo with International Flavor

Italian Verismo with International Flavor

BY ELI JACOBSON | The reconstituted New York City Opera is a strange beast. Often their performances are co-productions with other theaters, utilizing their artistic and performing resources. The orchestra and chorus are pick-up groups, not a resident ensemble. So the company identity and artistic profile seem to change radically with each production. Last September’s […]

The Three Faces of Pretty

The Three Faces of Pretty

BY ELI JACOBSON | Peter Gelb has been on the hunt for new operatic stars throughout the decade he has been at the helm of the Metropolitan Opera. Several of his discoveries have not lived up their anticipated potential, and the current galaxy of stars will age and gradually drop from the operatic firmament. (Renée Fleming […]

Home games

Home games

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | The Met production of “La bohème” dates from 1981; my database tells me I had seen it 15 times before going again December 8. Franco Zeffirelli’s behemoth concept of Act II – an audience “set applause” machine rendering the principals all but invisible – is usually balanced by the wintry beauty of […]

Loves Lost and Won, 18th Century Style  

Loves Lost and Won, 18th Century Style  

BY ELI JACOBSON | In recent months opera companies (large and small) and touring ensembles have been exploring the vicissitudes of love won and love lost as viewed through an often cynical 18th century Enlightenment sensibility warmed by the kindling fires of nascent Romanticism. The Metropolitan Opera presented a rare revival of Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus […]

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