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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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NEWS
August 21, 2015 | By Jenny DeHuff
For the mother of 12-year-old Arielle Baril , it was "like hitting the lottery" when Heidi Klum smacked her golden buzzer on a recent Tuesday night, sending Baril to the live shows of NBC's "America's Got Talent. " With her performance this past Tuesday night at Radio City Music Hall, Baril received enough viewer votes to propel her into the semifinals. The young opera singer hails from Drexel Hill and will be starting the seventh grade at Abington Junior High School next month.
NEWS
August 7, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
If any of the four productions in Vulcan Lyric's first summer festival claims a solid place on the Philadelphia landscape, it's Glory Denied , a tough, uncompromising piece by Tom Cipullo that seemed to light a fire under the cast in an effective if bare-bones presentation Tuesday in the Prince Theater's black-box space. Though the opera tells the true story of Col. Jim Thompson - the longest-held prisoner of war in American history, imprisoned in Vietnam from 1964 to 1973 - this is no docu-opera: While sketching the general outlines of Thompson's story, Glory Denied embraces the artificiality of the medium in ways that get at the emotional truth of the situation as nothing else can. Obviously, it's not a tune-inspiring story.
NEWS
August 5, 2015 | By Matthew Westphal, For The Inquirer
Who knew that Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a fairy tale? Yes, the author of The Scarlet Letter , that epitome of Puritan repression and angst, published a short story that ticks all the fairy-tale boxes. There's the once-upon-a-time medieval setting; the fair maiden sequestered by an obsessive and overprotective father; the young man who glimpses her, falls in love, and offers to spirit her away; the wise bystander who warns the two, to no avail, of the dangers they face if they pursue their plans; the inanimate objects that come to life and sing.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 29, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
With witches, temptresses, and all manner of homicidal activity, Center City Opera Theater's first season under its resurrection moniker Vulcan Lyric would seem to be operatic business as usual. But the four productions clustered into Vulcan's 18-day festival Thursday through Aug. 16 are all new to Philadelphia. That's the plan that came out of a two-year hiatus full of soul searching, and, of course, market analysis. "Is there a role for us? How do we fit in? We've emerged with a much clearer vision," general director Andrew Kurtz said.
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.
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