Category Archives: Opera

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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Recording of the Month – Benvenuto Cellini

Hector Berlioz (1803-66) was a composer of such unique gifts that he deserves a place among the great composers all to himself. So original were his ideas and talents that even after more than a century and a half after his death, we still struggle to keep up with him. He invented the modern symphony…


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More on Mario Lanza

Mario Lanza has been dead for more than 60 years, yet with the passage of each one he seems to get even better. This is an excuse to post a few more of his recordings. What’s clear is the both the beauty of his voice and its ability to still resonate and move the listener….


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Jonathan Tetelman – Arias

Jonathan Tetelman is an American tenor (b 1988) who is making his presence felt at an increasing number of important opera venues. A schedule of his upcoming engagements is here. The tenor recently signed a recording contract with DGG and his first disc Arias has just been released. It’s very difficult to form an accurate…


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Finale 35 – Attila

I’ll start this one with the beginning rather than the end. Verdi’s 9th opera is one of his roughest. There’s a lot coarse music that nevertheless has a certain grainy impact. The title role is what keeps the opera around. Sam Ramey sang the role with astounding regularity. The work begins with a short prelude…


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Verdi’s Priests

Giuseppe Verdi as was typical of 19th century liberal intellectuals was distinctively and typically anti clerical. Accordingly, the priests in his operas are not usually sympathetically portrayed. Here are a few depicted in different ways. Verdi’s first success, Nabucco, was about the Babylonian Captivity of the Hebrews. It starts in the Temple of Solomon. The…


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