Category Archives: Opera

Operatic Suicides

An art form that focuses on the extremes of human emotions will certainly have self annihilation as a regular subject. Suicide appears so frequently in opera that I could devote scores of articles to it. It’s such a common event that it’s even stimulated medical journals to comment on it. See Four centuries of suicide…


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Drums

The beat of a drum stirs some ancient center deep in our psyches. Opera presents numerous opportunities for percussionists. Alas, anemic conductors often fail to realize their impact. Here are a few excerpts in which the drum(s) plays an important part. First, three by Verdi. Everybody knows the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore. The struck…


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Miguel Fleta

I’ve briefly touched on the singing of the Spanish tenor Miguel Fleta (1897-1938), but until now have not devoted a full piece to him. His career was as brief and brilliant as the firing of a flashbulb. I want to mostly focus on his singing rather than his story. There are several excellent biographical sketches…


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Eurydice

More operas likely have been written, including the one that introduced the art form, about the Orpheus myth than any other subject. Today the Met’s HD series presented Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice set to a libretto by Sarah Ruhl based on her 2004 play of the same name. The story in this version is told from…


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Vissi d’Arte

Giacomo Puccini knew as much about the workings of the theater as anyone whoever entered one. Accordingly, his mature works are models of dramatic cohesion. He lashed his librettists like galley slaves until they gave him scripts that satisficed his very high standards. These standards are why he produced only 12 operas in 40 years…


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Finale 31 – L’Elisir d’Amore Act 1

Donizetti’s comic opera L’Elisir d’Amore has been performed frequently throughout the opera world since its premiere in 1832. The Met has done it 302 times. Despite its ubiquity it sometimes seems like a tenor aria in search of an opera so popular is ‘Una furtiva lagrima’. That this search is typically successful speaks to the…


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Ferruccio Tagliavini

Ferruccio Tagliavini (1913-95) was and Italian tenor famous for his mezza voce singing which was of exceptional sweetness. He made his debut in Florence in 1938 as Rodolfo in La Bohème. He was hailed as a successor to Beniamino Gigli and Tito Schipa, though his sound was much closer to the latter. Tagliavini was born…


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Curses

Click on the red links to access the referenced audio file. Given the florid character of opera, it’s no surprise that curses are a frequent feature of the genre. I’ve collected 12 examples from eight operas that involve the imprecation. I’ll start with the opera that was once named La Maledizione – The Curse. Of…


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Fire Shut Up In My Bones in HD

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first. In a repeat of the 2014 telecast of Werther featuring Jonas Kaufmann, the signal from the Met’s broadcast of Fire Shut Up In My Bones was lost at the opera’s climax and did not return until the middle of the curtain calls. I was told…


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Met Opera Cancels Next 100 Seasons

Metropolitan Opera general Manager Peter Gelb announced that following this season the venerable company will take a century long sabbatical. The not unexpected action followed Anthony Tommasini’s likening of the current run of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Puccini’s final opera Turandot to “anti-asian” hostility. Mr Tommasini, music critic for the New York Times, has pointed…


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