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NEWS
August 7, 1992 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Goethe's epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther is as good an introduction as you'll ever get to the spirit of German romanticism - to the quests and passion that rage through 19th-century art, literature and music. Goethe wrote his book in 1774. Its confessional, soul-wrestling hero was artistically revolutionary. Although its subject details spiritual angst and excess - Werther, poet, painter and manic-depressive, kills himself for love of the married Lotte - the telling of the tale is lucid and direct.
NEWS
August 10, 1992 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
A shale-gray cloud shaped like a shark lurks under a yellow moon. A white moon, lithe as a dancer, slips into chiffon-thin clouds. A half-moon, curved like an ear, beckons over a stand of tall cedars. Boredom is never a problem at performances of the Santa Fe Opera, whose open-air theater is nestled beneath the imposing Sangre de Cristo mountains. If tedium threatens, you can just look up at the spectacular sky above the New Mexican desert. No wonder the company, now in its 36th season, has a reputation for presenting visually polished, arresting productions.
NEWS
August 16, 1990 | By Mary Anne Janco, Special to The Inquirer
The rich sound of music filled the hospital lobby in Albuquerque, N.M., as members of the Santa Fe Opera performed for Linnea Saffran of Swarthmore. "It was wonderful," said Saffran's father, Bernard. "She really enjoyed it enormously. " The special performance was arranged after the Sante Fe Opera learned that the 19-year-old woman, who has a brain tumor, would be unable to attend a performance of La Boheme last week. Saffran, a graduate of Strath Haven High School, in Nether Providence Township, left Aug. 6 for a dream vacation to New Mexico and a trip to the opera.
NEWS
August 10, 1990 | By Mary Anne Janco, Special to The Inquirer The Associated Press contributed to this article
Performers with the Santa Fe Opera are determined to make a dream come true for Linnea Saffran of Swarthmore. Saffran, 19, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year, flew to New Mexico earlier this week for a dream vacation to the desert and a trip to the opera. But the young musician's visit to the opera had to be put on hold when she suffered a seizure Monday night and was admitted to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque. When the news reached members of the Santa Fe Opera, they decided that if she couldn't come to the opera, they would go to her. The principal cast members of La Boheme have offered to go to her hospital room and entertain her, Kevin Schwebke, a spokesman for the opera, said yesterday.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 16, 1992 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
If you get weary of the highbrow evenings at the opera here, there's always Rodeo Nights, a dance hall on strip-mall Cerrillos Road where the music is also plaintive and potent. Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" pours from the disc jockey's stand, as girls in flounced skirts are whirled by guys in cowboy hats, string ties and shirts with silver buttons. If you thought opera singers were stuffy, think again. Rodeo Nights is where many of the Santa Fe Opera singers spend Sunday nights, the only night the prestigious house - one of the nation's most respected for opera - is dark.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 23, 1995 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Benita Valente, the most prominent artist singing at the Santa Fe Opera this season, was diligently scouring aisle three at the Santa Fe Flea Market, where pots, pans, boot spurs, even an urn meant for someone's ashes, rested alongside finely wrought, expensive jewelry. Valente, who lives in Philadelphia, passed up the glass-enclosed case of designer bracelets for a more modest display of vintage costume jewelry. "How much?" she asked, fingering a pair of '40s-style twist-back earrings.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 18, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Opera Philadelphia's 2015-16 season is converging from more distant points than usual - or, possibly, ever. La Traviata (October) is imported from Bucharest. And though Andy: A Popera (September) hails from nearby neighborhoods, it's a product of the artistically distant FringeArts. The new Jennifer Higdon/Gene Scheer opera Cold Mountain will arrive in February from Santa Fe. With an epic Civil War-era production at the Academy of Music and such stars as Nathan Gunn and Isabel Leonard, it occupies the largest part of the season budget (approximately $2.4 million)
ENTERTAINMENT
April 25, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
NEW YORK - Five years in the making, star baritone Nathan Gunn's high-concept, high-style recital Wednesday at Carnegie Hall's Zankel auditorium could be heard as a precursor of his leading role in Jennifer Higdon's forthcoming Civil War-era opera Cold Mountain , co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and the Santa Fe Opera. The Anglo-American program concluded with Dooryard Bloom , a 25-minute Higdon work for baritone and orchestra that's among her best, heard here in the premiere of a new version replacing full orchestra with the Pacifica Quartet and pianist Julie Gunn, the singer's wife.
NEWS
March 13, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
How can something so easygoing excite such polarized reactions? Rossini's La Donna del Lago , the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday simulcast in six area theaters, has stars (Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez), attractive melodies, a plot line borrowed from Walter Scott ( The Lady of the Lake ) plus a theatrical and musical sheen at every turn. In fact, the 12:55 p.m. simulcast is a landmark of sorts for hardcore Rossinians, the apotheosis of a hugely influential 1819 opera that fell into deep obscurity from about 1860 until 1958.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 23, 1995 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Contemporary opera seems embarrassed by an aria, the device that enables characters to reflect upon their feelings, and Modern Painters is no exception. The work about John Ruskin that the Santa Fe Opera commissioned from composer David Lang and librettist Manuela Hoelterhoff and premiered earlier this month gives its attractive principals lots of narrative declamation but rather flimsy little tunes to sing. What a paradox, given the reams of lyrical, often effusive, prose that Ruskin penned exalting the joys of nature and art. The English critic who extolled J.M.W.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
March 13, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
How can something so easygoing excite such polarized reactions? Rossini's La Donna del Lago , the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday simulcast in six area theaters, has stars (Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez), attractive melodies, a plot line borrowed from Walter Scott ( The Lady of the Lake ) plus a theatrical and musical sheen at every turn. In fact, the 12:55 p.m. simulcast is a landmark of sorts for hardcore Rossinians, the apotheosis of a hugely influential 1819 opera that fell into deep obscurity from about 1860 until 1958.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 18, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Opera Philadelphia's 2015-16 season is converging from more distant points than usual - or, possibly, ever. La Traviata (October) is imported from Bucharest. And though Andy: A Popera (September) hails from nearby neighborhoods, it's a product of the artistically distant FringeArts. The new Jennifer Higdon/Gene Scheer opera Cold Mountain will arrive in February from Santa Fe. With an epic Civil War-era production at the Academy of Music and such stars as Nathan Gunn and Isabel Leonard, it occupies the largest part of the season budget (approximately $2.4 million)
ENTERTAINMENT
February 4, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The new opera Oscar , about the demise of Oscar Wilde - poet, playwright, aesthete, wit - arrives Friday at the Academy of Music courtesy of Opera Philadelphia, and at an uncertain juncture: Though its authors and cast resolutely stand behind it, and the piece had good audience support at its 2013 Santa Fe Opera premiere, critics were underwhelmed. The 1895 trial for "gross indecency" that left Wilde jailed for two years and a broken man, dead at 46, is considered one of the great tragedies of British literature.
NEWS
August 26, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Telling stories with music can be as thrilling and deep as it gets. And creating them can make or break a reputation - so much so that writing operas, musicals, or their various mutations has been compared to possessing the purportedly cursed Hope Diamond: It puts stars in your eyes, but it might kill you. Not that anybody is deterred, from seasoned veterans to newcomers like Tony Solitro, 29, whose in-progress opera Unclasped is replacing his...
ENTERTAINMENT
April 25, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
NEW YORK - Five years in the making, star baritone Nathan Gunn's high-concept, high-style recital Wednesday at Carnegie Hall's Zankel auditorium could be heard as a precursor of his leading role in Jennifer Higdon's forthcoming Civil War-era opera Cold Mountain , co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and the Santa Fe Opera. The Anglo-American program concluded with Dooryard Bloom , a 25-minute Higdon work for baritone and orchestra that's among her best, heard here in the premiere of a new version replacing full orchestra with the Pacifica Quartet and pianist Julie Gunn, the singer's wife.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 22, 2008 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Lincoln Center Festival's centerpiece event is taking shape nowhere near its West Side headquarters - or in anything resembling a theater. Instead, the infrequently staged Bernd Alois Zimmermann opera Die Soldaten will unfold, starting July 5, inside the Park Avenue Armory on a 25-ton foundation suggesting a world within a world. Festival director Nigel Redden popped into the construction site a few days ago, and his incredulous reaction wasn't printable. "I'd been away for a few days, walked in and thought to myself, 'Who had the idea to do this?
ENTERTAINMENT
August 6, 2006 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Opera audiences here seem to converge from different decades, whether they're dowagers unchanged since the 1950s, sun-baked disco bunnies from the 1980s, or the tattooed-and-pierced 21st-century set. How well the Santa Fe Opera serves this patchwork constituency is an annual source of curiosity that draws artistic directors from Philadelphia to Seattle. And that's why any given season here is an operatic crystal ball for much of the rest of the country. This year, the diva worshipers won the durable, oft-venerated mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter in the title role of Carmen (through Aug. 26)
ENTERTAINMENT
January 30, 1996 | By Daniel Webster, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The Opera Company of Philadelphia will stage Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor to open its 21st season in October. The opera will star rising young singers Maureen O'Flynn in the title role and tenor Stuart Neill in his debut with the company. General director Robert B. Driver, announcing his sixth season with the company yesterday at the Academy of Music, listed a program of four operas, each performed four times, and said the company would work with Scranton-born composer Richard Wargo to develop his opera, Ballymore, for reading performances this spring.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 23, 1995 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Contemporary opera seems embarrassed by an aria, the device that enables characters to reflect upon their feelings, and Modern Painters is no exception. The work about John Ruskin that the Santa Fe Opera commissioned from composer David Lang and librettist Manuela Hoelterhoff and premiered earlier this month gives its attractive principals lots of narrative declamation but rather flimsy little tunes to sing. What a paradox, given the reams of lyrical, often effusive, prose that Ruskin penned exalting the joys of nature and art. The English critic who extolled J.M.W.
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