October 1, 2010
Giuseppe Verdi's love for Shakespeare overcame his reluctance, at age 66, to write another challenging opera. "Otello," with libretto by Arrigo Boito, was a masterpiece, a deeply compelling drama with stunning music. This is the first "Otello" in the Opera Company of Philadelphia 's 35-year history, with the role of the Moor sung by tenor Clifton Forbis . ( Allan Glassman steps into the role for Sunday's performance.) French soprano Norah Amsellem is Desdemona, with baritone Mark Delavan as Iago and tenor Jason Collins as Cassio.
September 23, 1987 |
The Metropolitan Opera House is often derided for being a star factory and, worse, a museum for the tried-and-true. Indeed, it has become fashionable in certain circles to use the phrase "turning into a museum" to mean the establishment's over-reliance on music of any time but our own - a fair complaint but, given the adventurousness of some of our art museums, an unfair analogy. Such thoughts were prompted by the Met's choice of Verdi's 100-year-old Otello to open its 105th season Monday night.
September 25, 2015 |
NEW YORK - The Metropolitan Opera doesn't always get out its big guns for the season's opening. But Monday's gala occasion was a new production of Verdi's Otello - one of those pieces that can truly fill the Met's hero-size auditorium, this time with musical thunderbolts engineered by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Production and casting weren't entirely successful. Much discussion was heard about the executive ruling that the Moorish title character would no longer appear in blackface.
June 5, 1987 |
It's established wisdom that nothing succeeds like success, but the flip side of the truism is that nothing draws lightning like success, either. A good example of this paradox is Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, whose success at popularizing grand opera through the medium of film invariably draws lightning bolts from the critics. Zeffirelli's plight came to mind while I was preparing a program for WDVT- AM this afternoon about that South Philadelphia operatic institution, Di Stefano's Victor Cafe, with such guests as Armand Di Stefano, of the founding family, and Guido di Giuseppe, who plays the recordings that recreate the golden age of opera every weekend in the cozy trattoria at 13th and Dickinson.
October 24, 2013 |
To say Ken Ludwig's 1986 farce Lend Me a Tenor is enjoying something of a resurgence is to ignore its ongoing popularity. It's one of the most-produced contemporary farces, and its 2010 Broadway revival spawned a flurry of regional activity. Bud Martin, who directed Act II Playhouse's entry last season, found it so nice he decided to mount it twice, importing much of that cast for Delaware Theatre Company's current production. And why not? Tony Braithwaite has proved his mettle on area stages as a farceur extraordinaire, with lightning timing and a performance style loose enough to allow for ad-libbing during inevitable bedding/running/door-slamming mishaps.
September 29, 1993 |
The Metropolitan Opera used tenor envy to its advantage, opening its season with a fund-raising gala that featured Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti in starring roles. Both tenors on Monday were marking the 25th anniversary of their debuts at the Met, and the Met's administrators found a way to give them equal time by casting each in a starring role for one act of different operas and then playing a little joke in the scene from Il Trovatore that closed the evening. The negotiations that produced the events seen on stage must have matched those that brought Israel and the PLO together, for tenor envy is a force that surges through every aspect of opera.
December 7, 2012 |
'Well, the singing was good. " Such were the comments heard after opening night of the Metropolitan Opera's latest foray into operatic controversy with its new, mid-to-high-concept production of Un Ballo in Maschera , though in this case, the above-mentioned praise isn't faint at all. The David Alden production, which has been running for the last month, will be beamed live to six area movie theaters at 12:55 p.m. Saturday, and is likely...
July 10, 2016 |
Could the timing possibly be better? Only weeks after his Metropolitan Opera appointment, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has come out with the latest installment of his series of Mozart opera recordings from Deutsche Grammophon, and it's the piece long regarded with the most affection - The Marriage of Figaro . It joins a cluster of on-demand Nézet-Séguin videos that includes the Shostakovich Symphony No. 13 on the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital...
October 16, 2015 |
Another triumph for Yannick Nézet-Séguin: The news leaked out Wednesday that the Philadelphia Orchestra music director is Musical America's Artist of the Year. The honor puts him on the cover of Musical America Worldwide: The International Directory of the Performing Arts, a phone-book-size $125 annual publication considered the bible of the classical music industry, a complete Who's Who and How to Find Them. "I am deeply and sincerely honored to accept this prestigious honor," said Nézet-Séguin in a statement released by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
April 22, 1988 |
Opera has always been celebrated for the unconscionable amount of time its heroes and heroines take to die. But we had to wait for Aria to see opera given the kitsch of death. Call it popera - even if conservative opera lovers will be calling it something else. Extravagant, flamboyant and occasionally just plain outrageous, Aria is the kind of project that will either incense or enchant. There is no middle ground on this stage. But even if you disagree with what the 10 - count 'em - 10 directors have done for - or to - your favorite aria, there is no denying the originality and daring of the film's concept.