FEATURED ARTICLES
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 17, 2015 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
Trudy Cohen, 83, a photographer and longtime Center City resident, died Wednesday, July 8, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital of a cerebral hemorrhage. Born in New York City, Mrs. Cohen graduated from Hunter High School there. She attended classes for three years at the University of Richmond in Virginia in 1952. In 1976, after marrying and moving to Philadelphia, Mrs. Cohen completed a bachelor's degree in photography from Moore College of Art and Design. From 1977 to 1994, she was the official photographer for the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
NEWS
June 16, 2015 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
Ethel F. Semser, 98, of Philadelphia, an international opera singer and linguist, died Thursday, June 4, of complications from pneumonia at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse. Born in 1917 and reared in Philadelphia, she was the daughter of Nathan Frey, a violist for the Philadelphia Orchestra. She graduated from Germantown High School and received a bachelor of arts degree from Temple University and a master of arts in foreign languages from the University of Pennsylvania. She also trained privately as an opera singer.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 28, 2015 | BY TOM DI NARDO, For the Daily News
SIXTY years after his death, Charlie Parker's status as a jazz alto saxophonist supreme remains one of American music's most enigmatic legacies. Plagued by drug abuse, racism, the compulsive need for female guidance and the burden of musical genius, the man known as "Yardbird" - or simply "Bird" - lived a brief life filled with passion, tragedy and unforgettable characters: the core ingredients of opera. "Yardbird," Opera Philadelphia's first world premiere since its first season 40 years ago, is told in flashbacks after Parker's death at only 34, in 1955.
NEWS
April 24, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Among Verdi's many beloved operas, Don Carlo stands apart by virtue of its psychology. In a genre whose theatricality is so charged with elemental, unwavering motivations, Don Carlo finds moral complexities in matters of church and state, freedom and repression, with no clear path of rightness in the intractable world of the 16th-century Spanish Inquisition. Even the orchestra - not typically the primary focus of Verdi operas - speaks of ambivalence and paradox in orchestral preludes to important scenes and in Verdi's surprisingly precise use of silence.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 15, 2015 | By Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer
'Two hours is a long time for a dance," Robert Ashley intoned laconically, early in his opera Dust . But when choreographer Megan Bridge first heard the original 1999 recording, she didn't think so. It made her want to "jump, flail, arch, swoon, and simply walk forward toward an imaginary audience in a straight line that extends infinitely. " She first made a short solo, and performed it last year at a Scratch Night, the free Monday teasers at the FringeArts space across from the Race Street Pier.
NEWS
March 8, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
Is there a more gorgeously depicted transformation in all of Western music than the last seven or eight minutes of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos ? With the emotional intelligence of Mozart, the score moves from mystery and tension, through elation and serenity, into the bright radiance of human love. Strauss traverses a great distance so magically that Ariadne herself wonders out loud: Are we on the other side already? The beauty of that stretch stopped the opera's characters in their tracks Wednesday night in the Curtis Institute of Music's production, a welcome moment of introspection after all the silliness.
NEWS
March 4, 2015 | BY VALERIE RUSS, Daily News Staff Writer russv@phillynews.com, 215-854-5987
AFTER A North Philadelphia church that owned the historic Metropolitan Opera House began a partnership with developer Eric Blumenfeld, the pastor had a hard time finding him to discuss the planned $10 million renovation. According to a lawsuit filed Feb. 5 in Common Pleas Court, the Rev. Mark Hatcher, pastor of the Holy Ghost Headquarters Revival Center at the Met Inc., "was reduced to chasing down his 'partner' on the street to secure a face-to-face meeting with him. " On another occasion, the suit says, Hatcher "visited Blumenfeld's offices to discuss the project's progress [or lack thereof]
ENTERTAINMENT
February 18, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Opera Philadelphia's 2015-16 season is converging from more distant points than usual - or, possibly, ever. La Traviata (October) is imported from Bucharest. And though Andy: A Popera (September) hails from nearby neighborhoods, it's a product of the artistically distant FringeArts. The new Jennifer Higdon/Gene Scheer opera Cold Mountain will arrive in February from Santa Fe. With an epic Civil War-era production at the Academy of Music and such stars as Nathan Gunn and Isabel Leonard, it occupies the largest part of the season budget (approximately $2.4 million)
ENTERTAINMENT
February 11, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Opera Philadelphia's winning streak with modern opera came to an abrupt halt in the first act of its current production, Oscar . This new work about Oscar Wilde's "gross indecency" conviction was so one-dimensional in its first half Friday at the Academy of Music that the opera - which might as well be titled St. Oscar - forgot how to be theater. Those committed to attending should take heart: Act II has far more dramatic viability, though it may be too little too late. Premiered in Santa Fe in 2013, Oscar promised a signature role for countertenor David Daniels.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 4, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The new opera Oscar , about the demise of Oscar Wilde - poet, playwright, aesthete, wit - arrives Friday at the Academy of Music courtesy of Opera Philadelphia, and at an uncertain juncture: Though its authors and cast resolutely stand behind it, and the piece had good audience support at its 2013 Santa Fe Opera premiere, critics were underwhelmed. The 1895 trial for "gross indecency" that left Wilde jailed for two years and a broken man, dead at 46, is considered one of the great tragedies of British literature.
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