Category Archives: Opera

Mario Lanza – 100th Birthday

For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’. John Greenleaf Whittier January 31, 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the birth Alfredo Arnold Cocozza known to posterity as Mario Lanza; Lanza was his mother’s maiden name. A native of Philadelphia, he was the son of Italian immigrants…


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The Ghost in the Machine – A Cautionary Tale

This article is almost a quarter of a century old. I wrote it for a print magazine and then published it here more than a decade ago. It’s buried in the site’s archives. I thought I’d give it fresh exposure and accordingly am resurrecting it. There’s a companion piece that I may also renew. It…


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Finale 27 – The Marriage of Figaro Act 2

The famous finale to Mozart’s comic opera begins when the door to the closet in a room Count Almaviva’s estate is opened. Both the Count and Countess think Cherubino, the Count’s page, is in the closet. The Count is about to break down the door and then decides to use his sword on the page…


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Richard Crooks

Richard Crooks (1900-72) was an American tenor. Born in New Jersey he started his singing career as an oratorio specialist. He studied with baritone Leon Rothier and vocal coach Frank La Forge. In 1927 he went to Germany where he made his operatic debut as Cavaradossi in Tosca. In 1930 he made his American operatic…


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Megan Marie Hart

Megan Marie Hart (b 1983) is an American soprano based in Germany. [Thanks to a German reader (Franco) who alerted me to Ms Hart’s impressive voice] Born in Eugene Oregon, she studied with Mignon Dunn and then with Marilyn Horne. She won Horne’s Song Competition in 2010. She began her career more than a decade…


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Nonets and More

Writing for nine distinct voices in opera is rare. I can only think of two examples without a deep dive into opera arcana [If there are other examples, let me know]. First, Act 1 scene 2 of Verdi’s Falstaff. And if that’s not enough Verdi goes on to write for 10. This complex writing occurs…


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No! Pagliaccio Non Son

Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci was first performed at Milan’s Teatro Dal Verme in 1892 – Arturo Toscanini conducted. It rapidly spread throughout the operatic world and like its frequent partner, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, it was its composer’s only unalloyed success. The opera’s protagonist, Canio leader of a band of itinerant performers, is married to a much younger…


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Leyla Gencer

Leyla Gencer (1928-2008) was a Turkish soprano who made most of her career in Italy. She was a lirico-spinto who like Maria Callas could sing just about anything in the Italian repertory. Unlike Callas, because of an outstanding technique she was able to do so for a long career. To my ears she had a…


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Valentin’s Aria

The famous baritone aria from Gounod’s Faust, ‘Avant de quitter ces lieux’, was not in the opera’s original French version. It was written by Gounod to an English text by Henry Chorley especially for the great English baritone Charles Santley (1834-1922). ‘Even the bravest heart’ was loosely translated into French for subsequent performances. Santely was,…


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Le Rêve

Massenet’s Manon was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1884. It rapidly became a staple of the operatic repertory and has remained so to this day. I’m ignoring the shuttered state of everything public at present. The opera has two big roles. The title character and her hormone addled lover the Chevalier Des…


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