March 23, 2014 |
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.
February 17, 2014 |
'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.
February 5, 2014 |
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")
January 31, 2014 |
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.
December 21, 2013 |
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.
December 13, 2013 |
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.
November 24, 2013 |
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)
November 23, 2013 |
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.
October 28, 2013 |
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...
October 17, 2013 |
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.