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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 […]

All Donizetti, All the Time

All Donizetti, All the Time

BY ELI JACOBSON | The Metropolitan Opera has scheduled five Donizetti operas this season — two comic gems, “L’Elisir d’Amore” and “Don Pasquale,” and the Tudor Queen Trilogy as a vehicle for Sondra Radvanovsky. The Metropolitan completed the trilogy with the company premiere of Donizetti’s 1837 opera “Roberto Devereux” directed by Sir David McVicar (who also […]

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 […]

Season’s Finale

Season’s Finale

BY DAVID SHENGOLD | My last Met show this season was Verdi’s “Un ballo in maschera,” very well conducted by veteran James Levine two days after he did an equally impressive “Rake’s Progress.” Perhaps these days it’s best to skip the opening night of a Levine revival; things seem to gel much more by the second […]

Warm Voices for Cold Spring Nights   

Warm Voices for Cold Spring Nights   

BY ELI JACOBSON | It seems that every year the Metropolitan Opera schedules a short revival of a difficult 20th century opera and it turns out to be one of the season highlights.  This season was bookended by two such revivals — a superb “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” in November and the sensational return of Stravinsky’s […]

Love and Deception

Love and Deception

BY ELI JACOBSON | I come late to the party in discussing Nico Muhly’s “Two Boys,” which just finished a run of seven Met performances –– indifferently received and poorly attended –– that marked the two-act work’s US premiere. The talented Muhly’s first opera, “Two Boys” premiered in 2011 at the English National Opera and was […]

Fumbling the “Ballo”

Fumbling the “Ballo”

BY ELI JACOBSON | Former bad-boy director turned respected grand seigneur David Alden made his Metropolitan Opera debut with a new production of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera.” Alden overlaid his production with three parallel dramatic concepts, but they failed to coalesce into a compelling unified whole, instead adding layers of distracting artifice undercutting Verdi’s solid […]