December 29, 1997 |
Of the ABC's of opera - "Aida," "Boheme" and "Carmen" - surely the most familiar is "Carmen. " Almost everybody has probably hummed Carmen's "Habanera," "Seguedilla" (or gypsy aria) or the toreador's song - maybe without knowing what it was. Or they have seen "Carmen Jones," Oscar Hammerstein's English-language film update starring Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge. This tale of a soldier seduced and led to ruin and murder by a gypsy is now an operatic standard, but it was wildly controversial in 1875 Paris.
June 12, 2003 |
The cavernous Mann Center isn't a good place for flamenco, but apparently no one told that to Tuesday night's Flamenco Festival USA performers. As a result, headliners Farruquito and Mar?a Pag?s (plus the 18 other dancers, singers and musicians) consistently brought down the house through great skill, a total command of the audience's emotions, and tremendous enthusiasm. This one-night event gave Philadelphians a rare chance to experience both traditional flamenco (nonnarrative, mainly solo dances done with singers and guitarists)
November 6, 1992 |
When Denyce Graves sang Carmen to Placido Domingo's Don Jose last season in Los Angeles, the mezzo-soprano surprised the famous tenor by jumping on his back. During another scene, when she was supposed to be eating an orange, she decided to feed it to Domingo - who playfully ate it even though he had an aria to sing at the time. The flirtatiousness appealed to Domingo. He has sung the role so many hundred times, she says, that there is always the chance he could get bored.
March 6, 2013 |
With its history of inhabiting and mixing song genres, Lyricfest eventually was bound to find its way to the spiritual and its offshoots, and did so Sunday with singers who packed the First Presbyterian Church: Denyce Graves, Lisa Daltirus, and Kevin Deas. Lyricfest has a penchant for spoken commentary, and this "Journey Toward Freedom" program had the Rev. Charles Rice sketching the Civil Rights movement's progress, interspersed with songs by Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and more classically slanted pieces by Ricky Ian Gordon, a great champion of Langston Hughes.
May 11, 2005 |
Long before the curtain went up on the hotly anticipated Toni Morrison/Richard Danielpour opera Margaret Garner, the Michigan Opera Theatre premiere on Saturday was a public-relations triumph. The prospect of star mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves singing the words of Nobel Prize laureate Morrison prompted Rigoletto-size ticket sales. As an outreach effort, this opera about the 1856 trial of an escaped Kentucky slave indeed reached Motor City African Americans, who account for a gratifying 70 percent of the company's new subscribers.
September 24, 1997 |
Carmen's a spitfire, and so is performer Denyce Graves, who gives the-best-little-femme-fatale role a sizzle that's made it her signature in more houses than you or I can count. As for Don Jose, well, Placido Domingo's rather outgrown the part, in years and girth, but the passion that still inflames the world's best-preserved tenor voice still can make you cry for Carmencita as she goes laughing into jealous Jose's wild knife. Opera's most riveting death scene drew gasps again Monday night as the Metropolitan Opera opened the season whirling Bizet's vivacious sorrows into the night.
December 3, 1992 |
Charles Dutoit will conduct a concert version of Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila in the Philadelphia Orchestra's season at the Mann Music Center, which will open June 21. The orchestra will play 18 concerts and a children's program in the season, which will run through July 29. It will be the orchestra's 18th season at the theater in Fairmount Park. Dutoit, who conducts the Montreal Symphony and the French National Orchestra in Paris, will lead his fourth season as the series' artistic director, and then continue spending his summer nights with the Philadelphians in August in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He will conduct seven of the 18 concerts scheduled in six consecutive weeks.
February 21, 1996 |
Opera companies have a tendency to exaggerate Cosi fan tutte in the name of revealing truth. Is it a comedy or tragedy? Is the text sacred or profane? Who ends up with whom at the end? In many ways, Cosi is an operatic tabula rasa, and directors rush to fill the void. The Opera Company of Philadelphia's enjoyable new production of the Mozart-da Ponte favorite doesn't succumb to surety - or caricature. It vacillates rather elegantly between comedy and tragedy, and despite the humiliating circumstances foisted upon the characters, they emerge with their dignity (if not their convictions)
September 20, 1992 |
Carmen, the siren last seen at the Pennsylvania Opera Theater a season ago, will slink back into town to open the Opera Company of Philadelphia's new season at the Academy of Music on Nov. 9. At the Opera Company, insiders say that they are excited about Denyce Graves, the mezzo-soprano who'll play the seductress. Graves, who has been impressing audiences in Washington and San Francisco, sings Carmen to the Don Jose of Vinson Cole, a tenor whose singing has frequently been admired here.
July 26, 2010 |
Staging student opera productions might be more perilous than fielding excellent Phillies teams year after year. Lots of turnover. But in a 2000 review, Inquirer critic David Patrick Stearns saw a winning team. "Temple University Opera Theater's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream [the Benjamin Britten adaptation of the Shakespeare play] arrived . . . with such well-defined concepts that student singers of all levels were swept along . . . "Meanwhile, conductor John Douglas found such musical purpose in virtually every bar of the score - it really was a revelation . . . " Mr. Douglas, 54, of Elkins Park, music director and conductor of opera theater at Temple University since 1989, died of melanoma on Monday, July 12, at Abington Hospice in Warminster.