Category Archives: Opera

The Ring Operas And Anti-Semitism

That Wagner was anti-Semitic is indisputable. The extent to which his prejudice entered his operas is much less certain. Eric Nelson, the Robert M. Beren Professor of Government at Harvard, recently published Wagner and the Anti-Semitism of ‘the Ring’ in Commentary. Professor Nelson approaches this subject from an unusual position. He knows the Ring operas…


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Ben Heppner

This article was originally published here on May 29, 2019. It was damaged beyond repair such that I had to reconstruct it anew. Ben Heppner (b 1956) is a now retired Canadian tenor. At his peak, the 1990s, he was as fine a tenor as can be imagined. His career at the Met lasted from…


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Matteo Manuguerra

Matteo Manuguerra (1924-1998) was born in Tunis to Italian parents. His family moved to Buenos Aires where he received his initial vocal training. Rare among great singers was his extremely late start. He didn’t begin studying voice until he was 35. He first was a tenor, but after moving to France in 1961 he retuned…


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Serious Operas With Happy Endings

Serious operas typically end with some, or even all, of the principals dead. Death is as frequent in opera as corruption is in politics. I thought it would be interesting to present a few that don’t require an undertaker after the final curtain. My definition of a serious opera is one that is not a…


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Finale 32 – I Vespri Siciliani Act 3

Verdi’s The Sicilian Vespers was written to a French text by Eugene Scribe – Les vêpres siciliennes. It first appeared at the Paris Opera in 1855. Its French iteration was unsuccessful and it disappeared from France, and most of the rest of the operatic world, until fairly recently. In its Italian form is was more…


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Rigoletto in HD – 2022

The Met seems to have a problem finding the locale of Verdi’s dark masterpiece. They moved it from Mantua to Las Vegas in 2013. That production didn’t last long; it was replaced this year by one set in the capital city of the Weimar Republic. Why? Who knows? Which site is weirder? Hard to tell….


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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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