In Review

In Review Stage Reviews
Opera di Firenze, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino 2017 Review – L’Elisir d’Amore: Magical Cast & Production Give Donizetti Comedy Dramatic Depth
Review written in collaboration with David Salazar, Editor-in-Chief Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” is often portrayed as an innocent tale of a country bumpkin often getting the girl of his dreams. Most of the time, Nemorino’s strife emphasizes his luck in landing his beloved, first through the fact that his beloved Adina does, in fact, love him and simply needs a spark to spur her on to him. Secondly, is a deus…
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Festival della Valle D’Itria 2017 Review – Orlando Furioso: Imaginative Production & Vocal Artistry Make Case for Vivaldi’s Operatic Talents
During his lifetime Vivaldi was a prolific composer of operas, responsible for setting at least 45 libretti, linked to at least 67 stage works, although Vivaldi claimed it to be 94. Yet, today his operatic output has been largely forgotten, being at best, of marginal interest to the opera-going public, restricted to recordings, rare concerts, and even rarer staged performances. During the latter part of the 20th century, Vivaldi’s contemporary,…
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Performance Santa Fe 2017 Review – Festival of Song: Brief Encounters: Vocal Quintet & Three Short Operas Deliver Memorable Evening
On July 30, 2017, at the Scottish Rite Center, Performance Santa Fe presented a vocal quintet and 3 short operas. Fifteen-year-old Ezra Shcolnik, a graduate of Performance Santa Fe’s young artist program who currently studies at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, wrote the Quintet. Mark Adamo, Jake Heggie, and Joe Illick wrote the short operas. Maestro Illick also accompanied at the piano. The concert opened with Shcolnik’s “Madrigal on…
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Bard SummerScape Festival 2017 Review – Dimitrij: A Flawed Production Makes Compelling Case For Dvořák’s Rarely Heard Sixth Opera
Let me start off by saying "Dimitrij" is not Dvořák's melodic masterpiece nor is it the most important work by the composer. But Dvořák's sixth opera is a compelling grand opera that deserves more exposure and more productions. In sum, while listening to this unique opera, one can certainly hear hints of the dramatic prowess Dvořák would eventually utilize to create his greatest operatic masterpiece "Rusalka." Attending the second performance…
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Festival della Valle D’Itria 2017 Review – Un Giorno di Regno: Great Musicians Elevate Verdi’s Undercooked Early Comedy
In 1840 Verdi’s second opera, and his first attempt at comedy, "Un Giorno di Regno," was premiered at La Scala in Milan to widespread criticism, criticism that the composer took to heart to the point that it took more than 50 years before he would write another comedy. Of course, we know how that second comedic experiment turned out as "Falstaff" is widely seen as one of the greatest operas…
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Festival della Valle d’Itria Review 2017 – Margherita d’Anjou: Director Shifts Plot From 15th Century to Reality TV Setting… And It Works
Martina Franca, situated in Puglia in south east Italy, is home to the annual Festival della Valle d’Itria, which is largely, although not exclusively, devoted to the presentation of obscure, neglected, and rarely-performed operas. Its stated mission is “dedicated to researching and deepening our knowledge of Italian bel canto," and it is in this light that it selects operas and other musical offerings for performance. Venues are scattered throughout the…
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Verbier Festival 2017 Review – Elektra: Esa-Pekka Salonen Leads Dramatic Performance Worth Watching Many Times Over
From start to finish, Strauss’s "Elektra" pulls us into the dark night of the soul and its tormented landscape. There Electra does with us what she does to herself – rages, grieves, strains, plots and plans, and violates any chance she has for peace of mind or human freedom. If she thinks that such a prospect will grant her ease, she is wrong: there is no redemption for Elektra and…
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Bayerische Staatsoper 2016-17 Review – La Forza Del Destino: Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros Dominate In A Personal Narrative Encapsulated In A Far Larger Context
Verdi's "La Forza del Destino" has had an uneven performance history despite containing some of the composer's most memorable music, not least its well-known overture, made famous through concert performances, and the emotionally charged duets that characterize the work. The problem, however, stems not from its music, but from its sprawling structure and the complex tensions that drive the narrative. Too often directors fail to highlight the underlying historical dynamics…
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The Glimmerglass Festival 2017 – The Siege Of Calais: Francesca Zambello, Leah Crocetto & Aleks Romano Make A Great Case For Donizetti’s Forgotten Work
It’s no surprise that most of Donizetti’s output is rarely performed, with many operas becoming obscure to many audiences. Only a few of his works have actually had a chance to make their way into the repertoire and remain there consistently. But this is not the case with “L’Assedio di Calais” which premiered in 1836 and has since been performed few times with a minuscule number of recordings. Thanks to…
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Filarmónica de Bogotá Review 2017: Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ Gets Sublime Rendition At Teatro Municipal Jorge Eliecer Gaitán
The Teatro Municipal Jorge Eliecer Gaitán is not among the most aesthetically pleasing of auditoriums in the city of Bogotá, Colombia. Dedicated to one of the great tragic figures in Colombian history, a man known for his support of the disenfranchised (his assassination led to one of the most prominent massacres in Colombian history), the theater is rather minimal in its design with two levels standing out among the sea…