Category Archives: Opera

A Few Opera Riots

The most fully realized riot in all opera is the one that ends the second act of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. It’s a gigantic free for all involving everyone in the neighborhood including nine of the meistersingers. Beckmesser starts a serenade full of errors that are marked by Hans Sachs striking his cobbler’s hammer. “David wakes…


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Madama Butterfly Powerpoint Presentation

Below is a link that will download a PowerPoint presentation I gave before last night’s performances of Madama Butterfly by the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra. To use it download all the files and put them in the same folder. To hear the sound excerpts click on the sound icon on the slides that are associated with music. They are…


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La Traviata in HD – 2022

Verdi’s “poor sinner” was on the Met’s HD roster for an unprecedented fourth time today. Michael Mayer’s overstuffed production remains a motley melange of confused early to mid 19th century costumes speckled across a unitary set. But nobody goes to La Traviata because of the sets and costumes. It’s Verdi’s glorious and emotionally apposite music…


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Melody-2

Ask any professor of musical composition about what can be taught and he’ll tell you anything, with the notable exception of melody. The ability to consistently write great melodies is a gift capriciously bestowed that cannot be shared. Even defining what makes a melody great defies analysis. The brain seems hardwired to respond to melodies…


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Medea in HD

Cherubini’s semi extinct opera was televised across the globe for the first (and likely the last) time today. The opera owes its persistence to Maria Callas who performed the title role often during the 50s and early 60s. The part has a deserved reputation for difficulty, though there are many soprano roles just as demanding…


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Madama Butterfly – Program Notes

Below are the program notes I wrote for the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance of Madama Butterfly – Nov 11. The final version of the notes that appears in the program may be an edited version of what’s below. The four principals are: Cio-Cio-San: Yunah LeeSuzuki: Kristen ChoiPinkerton: Bryan HymelSharpless: Zachary Nelson Few works of art have both…


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Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk Returns to the Met

Yesterday evening the Met revived Graham Vick’s production of Shostakovich’s 20th century masterpiece Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. A few remarks about the production. The Met has mounted this staging in 1994, 2000, 2014, and now in this year. To its discredit the Met has yet to include the opera in its HD series. I suspect…


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Celestina Boninsegna

Celestina Boninsegna (1877-1947) was an Italian soprano best known for her facility with Verdi’s great soprano parts. Born in Reggio Emilia she was something of a vocal prodigy. Her first appearance on stage was as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale; she was 15. Following the completion of her vocal studies at the Conservatorio Gioachino Rossini in…


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Met Opera Opens Season with Cherubini’s Medea

This evening the Met opened its 2022-23 season with its first ever presentation of Luigi Cherubini’s opera Medea. Well, it’s mostly by Cherubini. He wrote Médée an opéra comique for the Théâtre Feydeau in Paris. After its premiere in 1797, it was largely neglected. It was subsequently translated into German and the dialogue replaced with…


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Victoria de los Ángeles

Victoria de los Ángeles (1923-2005) was a Catalan soprano who had a voice of haunting beauty. Though most of her roles were the mainstays of the Italian soprano repertory, she had a rich middle and lower register that allowed her to sing mezzo roles such as Rosina in Rossini Barber and the title role of…


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