February 7, 2016 |
The jungle drums began in September, weeks after the August 2015 season of the former Center City Opera, now rechristened Vulcan Lyric. They portended so much trouble that some opera administrators might think twice about repeating the experience. The 28 performances over 18 days at the Prince Theater were a mixed success. One of the best of the four productions, Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied , about a Vietnam War veteran, had played to as few as 20 listeners. Special discounted tickets sold well, but the discounts cut into revenue.
November 2, 2015 |
T he other day at the Metropolitan Opera, Philadelphia tenor Stephen Costello was about to sing his second-act aria in a Rigoletto rehearsal when Plácido Domingo walked in, just to watch. "Which wasn't intimidating at all," Costello said with molto irony. But the elder tenor-turned-baritone later ran into Costello in the Met cafeteria - a little hard to imagine - praised him to the skies, suggested he investigate a certain kind of phrasing favored by Enrico Caruso. "He's like this grandfather . . . he just makes you feel so good," Costello said.
February 15, 2013 |
So often, multitudes of theatrical sins in Metropolitan Opera productions are disguised by deft camera work in the live simulcasts that are beamed out to movie theaters around the world. But in the new Rigoletto , on local screens at 12:55 p.m. Saturday (with a March 6 encore), the sins are what we want. Now set in 1960s Las Vegas by Broadway stage director Michael Mayer, Rigoletto receives what has to be one of the most vulgar productions of its 160-year history, and it could well have caused an opening-night scandal.
January 28, 2012 |
The overture promises Verdi at his more dire - Rigoletto , only bloodier. And then his first-ever opera, the rarely performed Oberto , written in 1839 when the composer was 26, unfolds like a manifesto of operatic revisionism. The past is touched upon and the future is predicted in the concert version presented Thursday by the Academy of Vocal Arts at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater. The plot doesn't amount to much: Another strong-minded heroine named Leonora confronts another faithless seducer named Riccardo.
October 6, 2011 |
Julian Rodescu, 58, who parlayed a busy vocal career and a deep love of music into a day job helping young musicians reach the next career level, died Saturday. A large man with a tender heart and gentle mien, Mr. Rodescu was a familiar sight around Broad and Locust Streets, where he would often settle in with a cell phone to conduct business as artistic director of Astral Artists, an organization providing professional development for promising classical talent. He had assisted the two-decade-old group in its early days, and assumed the role of artistic director in 2009.
July 16, 2011 |
Like some nocturnal flower, opera tends to wilt when exposed to direct sunlight. Lucky for Rigoletto that it's mostly an indoor/nighttime opera in this latest site-specific TV film, produced by Andrea Andermann, who has also shot Tosca and La Traviata on location in their original places and time frames. "Rigoletto From Mantua," which comes to WHYY at 3 p.m. on Sunday from PBS's Great Performances , is more consistently convincing than the others. Though the veracity of original settings goes only so far, the novelty tends to galvanize audiences who might not normally make time for another Rigoletto , even one with Placido Domingo.
February 13, 2009 |
WITH A NAME like Flowers, you wouldn't think I was Italian. Don't be fooled. While only half my DNA qualifies me for paisana status, it's the dominant part of my personality. Which, in simple terms, means every emotion I've ever had has been pumped up on steroids. Italians don't feel, we emote. We don't hate, we despise. We don't love, we adore. And we don't steal. We plunder. To us, life is an opera. And quite frankly, Verdi would have loved to build a masterpiece around a man, who, depending upon your predilections, has been a valued and effective public servant or one of the most corrupt pols to ever grace the Philadelphia stage.
October 9, 2007 |
The success of any Rigoletto production is partly measured by its danger factor. If the opera makes you feel like a cornered animal (as did the Christofer Macatsoris-conducted Academy of Vocal Arts outing a few seasons back), it's delivering a true Verdi experience. This is a horrific tale of a hunchback court jester trying to assassinate his nobleman employer. And if it feels like a remote costume drama, you're probably watching the 1977 Metropolitan Opera DVD that's too nicely staged and beautifully sung (Placido Domingo, et al.)
October 5, 2007 |
Giuseppe Verdi's "Rigoletto," opening the Opera Company of Philadelphia season, is considered the first of the composer's mature works. His love of Shakespeare came through in the composer's complex characterizations and stories of conflict between the individual and rigid authority, which made for perfect theatrical drama. "Rigoletto" was based on a Victor Hugo play about a complex, philandering ruler that was banned in Paris after its first performance. Verdi saw more dramatic potential in the character of the hunchback jester, a mocking, capricious spirit whose only redeeming feature is his love for his daughter, Gilda.
September 30, 2007 |
Artistic crossroads are rarely serene periods in the lives of opera singers. Though new repertoire decisions can yield better careers, every James Morris (whose profile burgeoned when he took on Wagner) is vastly outnumbered by those who made bad decisions and ruined their voices. So when tenor Matthew Polenzani, 39, seems to be slipping effortlessly from Mozart to Verdi in his first staged Rigoletto, opening Friday with Opera Company of Philadelphia, seasoned operagoers can be forgiven for their incredulity when he says, "It's not a transition at all. " You can almost believe that, watching him stroll casually into rehearsal with Crosby, Stills and Nash on his iPod, chatting playfully on his cell phone with his wife at their home in Pelham, N.Y. When he sings, it's as light and lyrical as Verdi is ever likely to be. This is a voice that's also at home in the miniaturist world of Schubert art songs, which he'll sing in a recital Nov. 29 presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.