La Fenice 2017-18 Review – Un Ballo in Maschera: Gianmaria Aliverta’s Foray Into US Racial Politics Generates Insightful Take on Verdi Classic

La Fenice opened its 2017-18 season with an interesting and courageous production of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera,” a production which under the direction of Gianmaria Aliverta aimed at producing a deeper reading of the work, one which sought to uncover the underlying structural political conflicts that led to the assassination of a political leader. Verdi and his librettist, Antonio {…}

Lyric Opera of Chicago 2017-18 Review – The Pearl Fishers: Polenzani, Kwiecien, & Rebeka Shine in Bizet’s Messy Love Triangle

There have been a good number of performances of “The Pearl Fishers,” or “Les Pêcheurs de Perles,” around the country in recent years. Peggy Woolcock’s English National Opera production was seen at the Metropolitan Opera and LA Opera while the late Lee Blakely’s version was in Santa Fe’s 2012 season. The production viewed in probably the most locales is one {…}

Metropolitan Opera 2017-18 Review – Verdi Requiem: Dmitri Hvorostovsky Gets Loving Tribute In Form of Emotionally Engaging Performance

A performance of Verdi’s Requiem is a rather rare event at the Metropolitan Opera. That a run of the famed mass is currently underway with the company comes down to the fact that a proposed production for another opera was canceled. But the timing could not have been better. With the unfortunate passing of baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the Met was {…}

San Francisco Opera 2017-18 Review – Girls of the Golden West: John Adams’ Latest Work Thrills In Act Two, Though Opera As Whole Lacks Cohesion

What better way to celebrate America in the midst of moral decay? What better offering than a paean to the quest for independence, human dignity, the chance for actual freedom? Meet “Girls of the Golden West,” John Adam’s brand new opera, given its world premiere last night in San Francisco. A collaboration with the renowned artist and visionary, Peter Sellars, {…}

Juilliard Opera 2017-18 Review – La Finta Giardiniera: Mozart Comedy Gets Remarkable Production With Rising Stars

Despite fall’s chill blanketing Manhattan, opera-goers are delighting in the light-hearted comedy in Juilliard’s production of Mozart’s “La Finta Giardiniera.” Composed when he was just shy of turning 19, Mozart indulges in the fiery emotions that stir a garden party, gathered at the house of a small-town mayor. The opening scene reels in the listener while two maids whisper about {…}

Metropolitan Opera 2017-18 Review – Madama Butterfly: Hui He Leads Classic Anthony Minghella Production In Memorable Night

The beauty of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” could render any critique almost unseemly. After all, to hear that seamless music, the moments that turn transcendent — and then to cavil? I’d suggest that even a modest performance, say, even in the dense rainforest (echoing, of course, Werner Herzog’s “Ftizcarraldo”) would still, inevitably, move one. The score simply flows, with audience and performers {…}

San Francisco Opera 2017-18 Review – Turandot: Exquisite Nina Stemme, Leah Crocetto, Brian Jagde Lead Socially Relevant Interpretation of Puccini Masterwork

To wait for one whole act, plus a quarter of a second, just to glimpse the heroine, let alone hear her, is practically a crime. Especially, with all the talk. From the moment the curtain rises, what do we hear? Turandot, Turandot, Turandot. And so, where is she? On and on, troops of “the people” – boy chorus, various authorities {…}