June 22, 1998 |
In opera, like real estate, the issue is location, location, location. When the Opera Festival of New Jersey moved this year to McCarter Theatre from its former home at the Lawrenceville School, it stepped up a level in its ability to create musical credibility and scenic theatricality. The pit at McCarter better accommodates an orchestra physically while enhancing the sounds that come out of it. The larger stage and its greater scenic capacities offer possibilities to refine a festival tradition of staging that has valued and thrived on economy.
January 12, 1998 |
Richard Strauss wrote some rich autumnal roles for soprano, rewards for long and thoughtful lives onstage. The role of the Countess in Capriccio holds a special place in that collection, and in Kiri Te Kanawa, the Metropolitan Opera has found a special singer for the part. The Met opened its first-ever production of Strauss' last opera on Friday, stirring a little controversy with its staging but confirming with the care of its musical preparation the opera's intelligence and surpassing beauty.
January 28, 1997 |
Good art has several characteristics, including the ability to stimulate and provoke. In a season full of rehashes, frivolous musicals and so-so comedies, Arden Theater Company's production of "The Countess Cathleen" is an example of theater doing more than strutting pretty on the stage. It's a disservice to say that this staging of William Butler Yeats' little-performed first play is daring. Making his Arden directorial debut, Ozzie Jones has layered the piece - already huge in allegory, symbolism and moral dilemma - with an entirely new social and political context.
December 17, 1993 |
In the elegantly appointed universe depicted in The Earrings of Madame de . . . , those armoires full of ball gowns and that array of beveled mirrors initially reflect the shallow preoccupations of its self-titled heroine, a 19th-century Parisian aristocrat and flirt. But in the words of Monsieur de, a count who is also a general, this sumptuous spectacle is "only superficially superficial. " You see, for although Max Ophuls' 1953 masterpiece (recently restored and re-released)
August 22, 1993 |
Nobody can say Tom Robbins doesn't know the value of the spoken word. The particular word in question is "cowgirl. " And in Robbins' novel, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, one of the most bizarre and wonderful characters ever to hit the pages of an American novel says to her cowgirl friend: "When you say the word, you make it sound like it was painted in radium on the side of a pearl. " Wow! You know exactly what that phrase means even though, like poetry, it defies dissection and literal translation.
October 4, 1990 |
This is a story about a doctor and a countess. It is a story of a dark-haired woman in an old raincoat and a weary man in medical whites, of her secret identity and his long-suffering medical staff. This story is set in Newark, N.J., in a sprawling public hospital complex that cares for the victims of pediatric AIDS. It is the story of a man who answers a telephone because it is ringing. And a woman who takes the PATH train into Newark at 7:30 p.m., a raincoat draped over her sweatsuit, to meet a man she does not know, because she hopes to give him money to help children suffering from AIDS.
November 24, 1989 |
On the last night of 1953, a father sat down and wrote the older of his two daughters a remarkable letter, so brimming with affection and pride that it remains a testament of absolute paternal love. "I have sometimes regretted that you turned into such a very lovely and attractive woman because I would certainly have loved you just as much, and very possibly more, if you had remained the ungainly, lanky creature with odd teeth and slightly receding chin that you presented when you first went to school.
November 6, 1989 |
Something seems amiss. Here is Susan Fletcher, high-flying daughter of former Eagles owner Leonard Tose, the team's former vice president and legal counsel, a blonde-on-blonde vision in her sequined white sweater and silver jewelry. But outside the window is gritty Pennsauken, not the lush green of Veterans Stadium. And what's this? Fletcher is running a polished fingernail along . . . a slab of ham? Strange, but true. Fletcher, once a step away from the rarefied circle of NFL ownership, has traded the silver-winged helmet for the hard hat and butcher smock.
July 15, 1988 |
For three seasons, restudying the three operas that Mozart wrote with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte has given the Summerfare Festival a musical and philosophical center. Peter Sellars, the director and visionary, has moved backward chronologically through the operas, completing the project this season with Le nozze di Figaro. For Sellars, the operas' power and significance are proved by transferring the action into the present, finding social, musical and political situations in modern New York City to parallel those of 18th century Seville or Naples.
April 27, 1987 |
You can bet your bottom dollar that Princesses Diana and Grace did not matriculate at Switzerland's exclusive Von Pupsing Academy, where the daughters of would-be sovereigns learn how to be royal pains. Despite this alpine setting, The Princess Academy is spiritually located in the bowels of Beverly Hills where, reputedly, rich girls go to meet rich boys to make rich babies. Von Pupsing's status-crazy students are not, alas, born with silver spoons in their mouths but with gold cards in their crimson talons.