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NEWS
April 16, 1988 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
The houselights dim, the conductor brings down the baton and the curtain goes up on the 11 o'clock news. That's the way it is when Channel 12 airs John Adams' opera Nixon in China (3 p.m. tomorrow). The opera, obviously, is based on the momentous visit in 1972 of President Richard M. Nixon, his wife, Pat, and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to China. History changed in those five days, China began to open its doors and world political balances shifted radically. But is an opera a documentary?
ENTERTAINMENT
December 11, 2005 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
In our town, we like to think we have it all at holiday time - the Pennsylvania Ballet's million-dollar production of The Nutcracker, the Philly Pops' jazz-lush standards, a Philadelphia Orchestra Christmas series of high orchestral-butterfat content, and any number of Messiahs. But there's an important piece missing in action, something you can't see and hear. Something you should. And something that's a lot more than a holiday chestnut - in fact, a piece that could be the answer to what ails a lot of arts groups both short- and long-term.
NEWS
November 12, 1992 | By Lisa Schwartz, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
When it comes to opera, there's Vienna. There's Milan. New York. Now there's Pennsauken. Yes, Pennsauken - the town of 34,000 where an opera company that started in a living room is now hosting an American premiere. Mozart and Friends Festival, a Pennsauken-based community opera group, will present an American premier of The Beggar's Opera on Nov. 27 and 28 - an opera filled with colorful characters such as prostitutes, crooks and shady gentlemen. Beggar's is the fifth performance sponsored by Mozart and Friends, a nonprofit group that began in 1988, when Melinda Gaffney and 10 neighbors staged a performance of Mozart's The Magic Flute for their family and friends in her crowded Pennsauken living room.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 23, 1986 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
Richard Strauss worshiped at the shrine of Mozart. Strauss, composer of gargantuan works that used orchestras of more than 100 players and incorporated wind machines, nevertheless proclaimed his admiration of Mozart's transparent instrumental pieces and the clarity of the operas that Mozart wrote with Lorenzo da Ponte. Der Rosenkavalier was, to Strauss, the counterpart of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, and when Strauss came to write the music for Die Frau ohne Schatten, he had Mozart's Die Zauberflote in mind as his model.
NEWS
January 20, 1988 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
Arrigo Boito's great cantata on the Faust theme, Mefistofele, was staged Monday night at the Academy of Music in a way that argued for its continuing life as a cantata. The work, which will be repeated Friday, is the third in the Opera Company of Philadelphia series of operas on the Faust theme and the first with Paata Burchuladze in the pivotal role of Mefistofele. The choice of Burchuladze was significant, for the young Georgian bass is singing at the top of his form, his voice ringing through its full range.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 12, 1995 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Lee Breuer, librettist and director of American Music Theater's newly revived hit, The Gospel at Colonnus, was back in town Friday night. Lulu was back in town, too: Lulu, the 15-year-old nymphet who preceded Nabokov's Lolita. Few remember Frank Wedekind, the turn-of-the-century German playwright who created her and inspired Georg Pabst's film noir and Alban Berg's opera. Now, Breuer and composer/trumpeter Jon Faddis have made another Lulu opera. Lulu Noire simplifies the storyline Berg used and pares it down to five singers.
NEWS
November 18, 1989 | By Peter Dobrin, Special to The Inquirer
As Ilana Davidson rehearses her role in Viktor Ullmann's The Emperor of Atlantis, she concentrates on singing the right notes, finding the right place on stage, and listening for cues. The 23-year-old opera student at the Curtis Institute of Music can take in the beautiful score and appreciate the power of its story. But it won't be until the production at Curtis has ended its four-performance run, which begins today, that she'll be able to begin to think about the opera's composer and the circumstances under which the work was written.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 30, 1993 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Orchestra 2001, one of the area's more imaginative ensembles, concludes its season with excerpts from Andrew Rudin's brand new opera, The Three Sisters, based on the play by Chekhov. Soloists include the engaging mezzo-soprano Suzanne DuPlantis. The chamber orchestra, led by James Freeman, also will unveil a new work by Curtis student Shailen Tuli, which won the group's recent composition competition. Orchestra 2001 at Swarthmore College's Lang Concert Hall, College Avenue and Route 320, Swarthmore at 8 tonight and at the University of the Arts' Laurie Wagman Hall, 311 S. Broad St., at 8 p.m. Sunday.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 10, 1986 | By Daniel Webster, Inquirer Music Critic
The Santa Fe Opera is celebrating its 30th birthday in ways familiar to anyone who has shuddered at crossing that traumatic threshold. John Crosby's company, with its glorious home in the hills outside Santa Fe, is unique. Artists from all over are attracted not only to the setting but to the ambitious and stimulating productions of the company. The collegial atmosphere in the past has contributed to the quality of shows. The audience, too, is cosmopolitan, coming literally from all over the world to this mecca of American opera production, with its unusual repertory.
NEWS
May 25, 2010 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The New York Philharmonic is not where audiences typically go for end-of-the-world adventures with potentially scandalous music. But in an event that's sure to draw at least as many listeners from outside the city as from its core audience, the orchestra this week not only will perform its first-ever fully staged opera, but will do so with a prickly, sprawling work that the usual operatic institutions lack either the moxie or the money to mount....
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
July 18, 2014 | By Samantha Melamed, Inquirer Staff Writer
On May 2, John Miles began the evening swathed in blue plastic, belting out Velvet Underground lyrics, and quoting Andy Warhol ("Oh wow! Oh gee!") at a pop-up performance with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At intermission, he left - and sped toward the Academy of Music in Friday evening traffic, to lend his baritone to the chorus in Opera Philadelphia's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni . That's the type of creative conflict that was bound to arise when Opera Philadelphia partnered with the scrappy 4-year-old collaborative-theater Bearded Ladies Cabaret.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 12, 2014 | By David Hiltbrand, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Nic Cage revenge opera. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Rage . It means that at several intimidating points, Cage will bark out his lines at the top of his lungs. He is, after all, the big screen's Big Screamer. His roar is so forceful, it flattens the ears of whoever is the recipient. It means there will be more blood than at a Red Cross drive. And it means there will be moments of anguish as Cage silently contemplates his sins. Or maybe he's thinking about his career.
NEWS
June 29, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
BROOKLYN - Among the half-dozen Philadelphia composers currently working on operas, the ultra-expressionistic Michael Hersch is the first to see his produced. On the Threshold of Winter was premiered Wednesday in a small-scale production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music by soprano Ah Young Hong and the Nunc contemporary music group - and emerged as something so uncompromising that any future presentation in a traditional opera house is unlikely. Based on Marin Sorescu's 1996 poems written in the weeks before his death from liver cancer, On the Threshold of Winter is a journey into fatal illness that, in Hersch's hands, acknowledges no distance, safe or otherwise, between a listener and the suffering protagonist.
NEWS
May 18, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
In what seems like a monthly new-opera announcement, Opera Philadelphia appointed its fourth composer in residence, this time one with a considerable operatic track record already: David T. Little. Based in Weehawken, N.J., and Winchester, Va. (where he teaches at Shenandoah University), Little is best known for the opera Dog Days that made several critics' best-of-the-year lists in 2012, and is currently working on JFK for a premiere by the Forth Worth Opera. "I came to opera indirectly and what I learned, I learned by doing.
NEWS
May 11, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
When it's all that it can be, the 100-minute musical volcano known as Richard Strauss' Salome goes to a place of barely contained frenzy in its story of a princess who desires John the Baptist right down to his severed head. The Philadelphia Orchestra's season-ending, mostly staged version Thursday went a step beyond, often seeming without restraint. That usual space between the music and its listener often vanished - as with Herbert von Karajan's live performances and, more recently, those of Gustavo Dudamel and Yannick Nézet-Séguin on good days.
NEWS
April 27, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Having recently announced a new opera on the unlikely subject of Charlie Parker, Opera Philadelphia goes a step further with a new work about a cultural icon who was a remote, chilly presence, and famously predicted that everyone would have 15 minutes of fame: Andy Warhol. Andy: A Popera was announced Friday in anticipation of a 2015 premiere, in a collaboration between Opera Philadelphia and the cabaret group the Bearded Ladies. It's not a joke. "Do we make people famous, or does their work make them famous?
NEWS
March 23, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Could anything be more basic than song? A singer, a piano, great words, and a fine melody? Nonetheless, classically inclined Philadelphians historically have found song recitals perfectly resistible, except for starry vocalists - Jessye Norman, Thomas Hampson - performing in large auditoriums. Too intellectual? Solemn? Rarefied? But anyone who has been away from Philadelphia for five years might have a Rip van Winkle moment witnessing small but packed halls for brainy artists such as baritone Gerald Finley, who sang Schubert's Winterreise in February for a rapt house that a decade ago might have used winter weather as a reason to stay home.
NEWS
February 17, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
'Without my death, who will I be?" That central existential question in the futuristic Tod Machover opera Death and the Powers threatens to reverse the usual leading-soprano dilemma: Instead of preparing to die, she decides she should live, possibly forever, in an alternative realm. And since the medium is its message, this acclaimed 2011 opera about billionaire Simon Powers, who downloads his essence into his possessions, arrives in Philadelphia in the apotheosis of virtuality.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 5, 2014 | By Nancy G. Heller, For The Inquirer
Take a MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient as your composer, add a Tony Award-winning playwright who has collaborated with the likes of Philip Glass and Elton John, and what do you get? In a word: Ainadamar . A Grammy Award-winning opera by Osvaldo Golijov, with a libretto by David Henry Hwang, Ainadamar premiered in 2003 at Tanglewood and later was lauded by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the most moving and meaningful operas of our time. " On Friday, Opera Philadelphia's production - unusual, in many ways - will open at the Academy of Music and run through Feb. 16. In a series of flashbacks, Ainadamar (pronounced "eye-nah-dah-MAHR")
NEWS
January 31, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Nicknamed "Bird" because of his airborne sense of freedom, jazz icon Charlie Parker will have his alto saxophone replaced by the tenor voice of Lawrence Brownlee in the opera Yardbird - being developed by Opera Philadelphia for a June 2015 premiere at the Kimmel Center. The project is to be announced Thursday at the National Opera Center in New York, partly to accommodate Brownlee's performance schedule in that city, where he sings regularly at the Metropolitan Opera. Also, the opera's Swiss-born composer, Daniel Schnyder, is based in New York, as is Gotham Chamber Opera, the development partner in an arrangement similar to the partnership that produced Nico Muhly's Dark Sisters . This time, though, roles will be reversed: The Philadelphia company will give the premiere, and thus, lead the opera's initial development.
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