Tucson Desert Song Festival 2017-18 Review: Phillippe Sly and John Charles Britton Deliver Mesmerizing Night of Schubert

On February 3, 2018, the Tucson Guitar Society and the University of Arizona Bolton Guitar Studies Program presented bass-baritone Philippe Sly and guitarist John Charles Britton in an all-Schubert recital. This was yet another part of the Tucson Desert Song Festival. At first, I wondered about Schubert with a guitar instead of a piano, or to be more historically informed {…}

Houston Grand Opera 2017-18 Review – The Barber of Seville: Laughs Not Up To Par In Uneven Production

Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” has always been the gold standard for Italian opera buffa as it is based on the Figaro plays of 18th-century French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais. It seems that the buffa-style laughs and gags endemic to this masterpiece were not enough for Spanish director Joan Font, whose version is currently running at Houston Grand Opera. What {…}

Houston Grand Opera 2017-18 Review – Elektra: The Great Goerke Is the Finest Elektra Of Our Time

The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey forced the Houston Grand Opera out of its regular space in the Wortham Theater Center and into a temporary one, dubbed HGO Resilience Theater inside the cavernous George Brown Convention Center in downtown. Experiencing a performance in such an unusual setting wasn’t a unique experience for me after seeing a production of “Tannhauser” inside a {…}

Theater an der Wien 2017-18 Review – Maria Stuarda: Alexandra Deshorties & Marlis Petersen Put On Revelatory, Sublime Performances

Mary Stuart was executed in 1587 after spending almost twenty years as Queen Elizabeth’s prisoner, bringing to end a turbulent relationship between the two Queens that stretched back over their entire lifetimes. It was a relationship that was to fire the imaginations of future generations and give rise to the productions of many works from plays and operas to numerous {…}

Palazzetto Bru Zane 2017-18 Review – Le Tribut de Zamora: Gounod Bicentennial Year Off to a Great Start in Munich

Charles Gounod (1818-1893) is probably best known for his opera “Faust” or perennial arrangement of Bach’s “Ave Maria,” which countless choir boys have crooned with cherubic innocence if not perfect intonation. In fact the pious Parisian composer was extraordinarily prolific having written twelve and a half operas (“Maître Pierre” was not completed), six oratorios, three ballets and countless masses, motets and {…}

Croatian National Opera 2017-18 Review – Der Fliegende Holländer: Great Musicianship & Artistry Salvage Shipwreck of a Production

Many directors who dabble in the lyric theatre seem to think that they know better than the librettist or composer what an opera is about.  “Improvements” can range from the introduction of a new character into the drama (eg. Mariusz Treliński’s ubiquitous  “Mr. O” in “Yevgeny Onegin” for the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw) to scrawling a specific word onto the {…}