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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
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 21, 2013 | By Monica Peters, For The Inquirer
Mainstage Center for the Arts presents its annual Holiday Concert & Family Festival this weekend at the Dennis Flyer Memorial Theatre at Camden County College. The two-day festival will feature performances by the Harmony and Encore Show Choirs, members of the Mainstage Dance Company (and the School of Dance), and the Mainstage Hip Hop performance group. Featured vocalists will be opera soprano Robin Wilson, who has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera, and country recording artist Sherry Lynn, who has performed with Crystal Gayle.
NEWS
December 13, 2013 | By Stephan Salisbury, Inquirer Staff Writer
It seems an unlikely place for a performance: three deep, concrete trenches, aqua- and ochre-streaked walls, a slightly ribbed, concrete ceiling. Ancient graffiti is scrawled along the trench walls - 1977, ZEP, ROO, MIK, JIM. Decayed paint is largely scraped away. A turbulent river roils just outside arched windows. Yet, this is the place, the old Kelly Pool beneath the historic Fairmount Water Works, unused and deteriorating since it was swamped by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, where one of the city's newest and least likely impresarios will present the world premiere of a cantata.
NEWS
November 24, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Any university-level opera operates by particular rules, with casting dictated by who's available rather than what's possible, and by where student singers are in their vocal metamorphosis rather than what wows audiences. In Curtis Opera Theatre's The Elixir of Love , however, all priorities fused - singers, production, repertoire - with the kind purpose that leaves everybody happy, at least at Thursday's opening at the Prince Music Theater. Those who wonder why such a silly opera is performed at all (the Donizetti score is enjoyable but rarely great music)
ENTERTAINMENT
November 23, 2013 | By Nick Cristiano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Like Elvis, Paul Thorn grew up in Tupelo, Miss. In fact, he still lives there. And as he tells it, this most entertaining of roots-rockers and the King of Rock and Roll have at least one other thing in common: Both drew from the musical traditions of black and white churches. "My dad being a Pentecostal minister, we went to both churches, because we were open to everybody," Thorn, 49, says from Beaumont, Texas. "The thing that I got from the church experience is the same Elvis did: When he'd go to black churches he'd sing with a rhythm-and-blues style of gospel, and when you'd go across town to the white churches, they'd sing more of country-western style.
NEWS
October 28, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The opera rehearsal could be mistaken for a meditation circle. That's because the six women who make up the cast of Svadba (Wedding) , standing quietly with arms crossed over their chests, need all the centering they can get in an hour-long opera full of tight Balkan harmonies and physical movement - with virtually no accompanying instruments to help them out. Vocalization starts with seemingly no music at all, just organized Serbian-language chatter...
ENTERTAINMENT
October 17, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
No opera takes well to being caged. But in The Emperor of Atlantis , produced by Curtis Opera Theatre last weekend, the innate expansiveness of opera couldn't have been more appropriately contained than by a chain-link fence erected inside Curtis' studio theater - and not just because the piece was written in the Nazis' Terezin concentration camp. Inside the fence, singers were knee-deep in trash. Outside, authority figures came, went, and made proclamations without necessarily being physically present, through impersonal phone lines.
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