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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
February 5, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
Gunshots rang out backstage at the Academy of Music. Yet Opera Philadelphia's leading baritone, Jarrett Ott, kept talking as if nothing had happened. "That's pretty typical for us," he explained. "Gun practice. " The opera is Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain , and the academy's production opens Friday. Excitement is high: A week before opening, ticket sales already had surpassed those of both Oscar and Ainadamar (new operas from previous seasons). It's an adaptation of the Charles Frazier novel about Civil War Confederate deserter W.P. Inman.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 28, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
Admirers of the seldom-heard 1913 Italo Montemezzi opera L'amore dei tre re ( The Love of the Three Kings ) are used to having to hunt for it, if only because it was so popular in the first half of the 20th century and fell off the map during the second half. But at the intermission during the Academy of Vocal Arts presentation of the opera Tuesday at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, I was on a different search - for what I wasn't hearing. All the right things were on stage - a good, 60-strong orchestra under Christofer Macatsoris, a cast who, even if their voices weren't always up to the considerable task at hand, understood the piece so minutely as to know exactly how each scene functioned.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 28, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, Staff Writer
Ott for 'Cold Mountain' The most hotly awaited event of the opera season just got a new leading man. Cold Mountain , the years-in-the-works Jennifer Higdon opera based on Charles Frazier 's 1997 Civil War-era novel, was written with star baritone Nathan Gunn in mind - but he has been replaced by up-and-coming Jarrett Ott . Gunn withdrew from the Feb. 5-14 run at the Academy of Music. His stated reason was family illness. "It is in the best interest of my family, Opera Philadelphia, my colleagues, and me personally that I withdraw from February's performances of Cold Mountain ," Gunn said in a statement Opera Philadelphia released.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 26, 2016 | David Patrick Stearns, Classical Music Critic
After a bankruptcy beyond Wagnerian lengths, the New York City Opera is having a rocky resurrection, but not without hope. Having gone down in 2013, City Opera seemed to pop up only days after a reorganization plan was approved by bankruptcy court, with a six-performance run of Tosca at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater (now concluded) that was dogged by mixed reviews and weather-related cancellations. But having attended the Friday performance that ended just as the first flakes were falling, I see a niche in the making.
NEWS
January 22, 2016 | David Patrick Stearns, Music Critic
In nearly every genre, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote some grand but close to unperformable masterpieces - such as his opera, Fidelio . Despite being revised, retitled, and decked with four different overtures, Beethoven's brilliant operatic "shipwreck" (as the composer called it) defies easy performance solutions. "You'll never get your arms around it," star conductor Simon Rattle once said after multiple encounters. Yet Grand Harmonie, a group of young performers doing the piece at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Princeton's Richardson Auditorium, is attempting to do so with instruments authentic to Beethoven's time, starting with what's often the sticking point: French horns.
NEWS
January 15, 2016 | Peter Dobrin, Staff Writer
Opera Philadelphia has landed a $2.5 million grant for its upstart opera festival, pithily dubbed O, putting the total raised at $12.5 million toward a $15 million goal the company hopes to reach by May 31. The grant, from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, based in Miami, is one of the largest ever to the company, which plans to launch the first iteration of the festival in 2017. The Knight Foundation money will be applied to programing. It will also help establish a new ticketing system that will allow the company to withdraw as a partner in the Ticket Philadelphia consortium, used by several arts groups, most of them centered at the Kimmel Center.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 11, 2015 | By A.D. Amorosi, For The Inquirer
Despite recently retiring the Jethro Tull brand, British baritone singer-flutist Ian Anderson has conjured his onetime band's namesake - an 18th-century English inventor-agriculturalist who modernized farming - for something new, pretentious, yet weirdly winning, in Jethro Tull: The Rock Opera . Playing Saturday at the Academy of Music, this wasn't a reunion of Anderson's progressive-blues band, wasn't a theater piece, and wasn't some historically...
NEWS
October 22, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
In a bold move aimed at making Philadelphia a compelling stop on the opera-lover circuit, Opera Philadelphia is restructuring its season to create an opera festival each September that would draw tens of thousands not just to the Academy of Music but to other venues around the city as well. The first festival, in 2017, will mount six productions over 12 days, giving listeners a chance to package experiences traditional and/or edgy - including Komische Oper Berlin's innovative production of The Magic Flute that immerses live singers in fields of animation, newly created works that test the definition of the genre, and a recital by much-adored American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky that promises to be a particularly hot ticket.
NEWS
October 16, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
With enough cameras trained on the Metropolitan Opera stage often enough, something historic is bound to be captured - and possibly was this month with the emotional uproar that greeted Dmitri Hvorostovsky's performance in Il Trovatore . It was the Oct. 3 opening of the Met's 10th season of HD simulcasts, which are seen in six Philadelphia-area cinemas. The celebrated Siberian baritone was returning after treatments for a brain tumor. Too professional to break character, he fought back a smile while the audience cheered his first entrance.
NEWS
October 2, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
Opera Philadelphia has extended the contracts of two key members of its leadership team as the company expands plans for international co-productions, increases relationships with a glittering roster of singers and directors, and continues to blur the line of the opera genre - all while raising extra money to help pay for it all. General director and president David B. Devan and music director Corrado Rovaris have signed contracts that will keep...
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