August 26, 1988 |
Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict asks more than the usual impossibilities of opera singers. In addition to requiring voices able to finesse grandly florid arias and intricate ensembles, in addition to requiring characterizations credible enough to suggest those in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing - on which the opera is based - Beatrice and Benedict expects its singers to speak great chunks of Shakespeare's blank verse. That last challenge is one that most performers in the American theater have not yet mastered.
August 8, 1990 |
As operas go, Intermezzo by Richard Strauss paints a portrait of a woman that is so unflattering, it surpasses even the dementia of the composer's Salome and Elektra. If one has ever cringed over the vexatious nature of Pauline Strauss as sketched in her husband's tone poem, Ein Heldenleben, or Symphonia Domestica, this opera domestica, based on a foolish incident that once pushed the Strausses to the brink of divorce, exposes far more of the sour-tongued shrew. Christine, Intermezzo's very antagonistic protagonist, is the wife of famous composer Robert Storch.
August 3, 1992 |
Benjamin Britten's literary tastes were as astute as his musical ones. And one of the joys of encountering a Britten opera is being able to revisit compelling tales - such as Herman Melville's Billy Budd and Thomas Mann's Death in Venice - without having to sacrifice the integrity of the author's vision. A visit to the Glimmerglass Opera's excellent new production of The Turn of the Screw on Thursday reminded us of Britten's ability to translate into music masters such as Melville - and particularly Henry James, for whom the English composer had an uncanny affinity.
August 15, 1991 |
Since building its first permanent house here five years ago, the Glimmerglass Opera has gained confidence and deepened qualities that are reflected by its lovely pastoral home. Professionalism and a splendidly unpretentious aesthetic defined the Alice Busch Opera Theater from the start - its pale-wood exterior fitting with Shaker simplicity into the surrounding hills. It seats only 900, so its sightlines and acoustics are hospitable to singer and listener. It is a hall that Philadelphians, who endure opera in a variety of make-do spaces, can't help coveting.
August 8, 2000 |
Although there are those who say opera can never be cool, the mind boggles when asked to consider what would be the height of operatic uncool. One of those retro-Wagner productions with fat women in ill-fitting horned helmets? An overblown Franco Zeffirelli production of Amahl and the Night Visitors? An operetta by John Philip Sousa? Surprise: The latter entity is indeed in our midst and is the hit of the Glimmerglass Opera's summer season. The title is The Glass Blowers, and is one of Sousa's 21 stage works.
August 8, 1996 |
A Sunday morning lecture on baroque opera may seem a bit of a yawn, but a talk here a couple of weeks ago about Francesco Cavalli's La Calisto drew more than several dozen people. Listening and nodding attentively, they appeared intrigued during a discussion centering on the opera's sexual intrigues. The talk on La Calisto, one of four works the Glimmerglass Opera is presenting here through Aug. 26, was offered by Ellen Rosand, a musicologist from Yale, and David Rosand, her husband and an art historian from Columbia University.
June 22, 2008 |
Lincoln Center Festival's centerpiece event is taking shape nowhere near its West Side headquarters - or in anything resembling a theater. Instead, the infrequently staged Bernd Alois Zimmermann opera Die Soldaten will unfold, starting July 5, inside the Park Avenue Armory on a 25-ton foundation suggesting a world within a world. Festival director Nigel Redden popped into the construction site a few days ago, and his incredulous reaction wasn't printable. "I'd been away for a few days, walked in and thought to myself, 'Who had the idea to do this?
November 1, 2005 |
Word travels emphatically in opera circles, and the one most often associated with the New York City Opera's current run of The Mines of Sulphur is a terse, imperative "Go. " The opera is unknown to most, the cast is solid but not starry, and the composer, Richard Rodney Bennett, is best known for film scores to Enchanted April and Far From the Madding Crowd. Yet, not only is this a worthy, fully substantial piece, but it has two elements rarely delivered in opera: sex and suspense.
November 10, 1998 |
Carlisle Floyd's opera Of Mice and Men opened Saturday at the New York City Opera with an air of triumph. The opera had a long and bumpy road to its premiere in 1970 in Seattle, mirroring the 72-year-old Floyd's own road to grudging recognition as the leading voice in 20th-century American opera. Now, the opera has leapt from question mark to classic as attitudes have reshaped themselves about what opera really is. Opera is, for Floyd, universal themes embodied by ordinary characters moving in a musical plan that naturally absorbs opera's tradition of melody, arias, duets and coherent scenes focused on expressing emotion.
August 25, 1987 |
"I'm probably a foolish optimist, but it's a part of my nature that I can't do anything about," says Paul Kellogg, general director of the Glimmerglass Opera. Blink and you'd miss the narrow, walkup office where he sits taking stock of his company. It's one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame, on a Main Street as striking for its sports-dominated storefronts as for its pleasing turn-of-the century houses. Eight miles outside this gracious resort town, founded in 1786 by James Fenimore Cooper's father, the Glimmerglass Opera two months ago opened the Alice Busch Opera Theater, an edifice of which Kellogg and his 13-year-old regional company can well be proud.