Thaïs Opera Review

Thaïs: Religion Versus Sexuality On an Epic Scale Jules Massenet’s Thaïsis a tale of religion and sexual repression, with baritone Plácido Domingo as Athanaël, a meddler of epic proportions, masquerading as a monk in order to hide his inner psychological conflicts. Finding the Egyptian city of Alexandria to be swept by sin (translation: people are […]

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire: Night of the Soprano: The Ballad of Blanche DuBois Translating an artwork composed for one medium into another is a fascinating aesthetic adventure (except when it’s done primarily to cash in on a piece’s high profile name recognition factor). Tennessee Williams’ classic New Orleans-set A Streetcar Named Desire, which opened on the […]

Lucia Lammermoor Opera Review

Lucia Lammermoor Opera: In Cold Blood: This Way Madness Lies LA Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor Opera in LA is an unforgettable tour de force of acting, story, sets, singing, sound and fury. With this powerful production’s themes of thwarted love, grand music, stellar performances and imaginatively eye-popping scenic design, Lucia certainly ranks high among this reviewer’s operatic […]

Billy Budd Opera Review

Decoding Herman Melville, E.M. Forster and Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd When Herman Melville died in 1891, the Great American Writer was all but forgotten. After his first novel was published in 1846 Typee became an instant bestseller and the young New Yorker who had called a whaling ship his Harvard skyrocketed to the 19th century […]

The Magic Flute Opera Review

The Magic Flute Opera Review Re-Introducing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Propagandist, In a New Rendering of an Old Classic The current version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute being presented by LA Opera raises two essential artistic questions (plus, perhaps, eyebrows).  Pouring vintage works into new bottles can be problematic, and in this reviewer’s opinion, […]

Einstein on the Beach

Einstein on the Beach: A Prematurely Air-Conditioned Opera: Crashing the Musical Glass Ceiling So, you know, I was in “a prematurely air-conditioned” opera house to experience composer Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach. Instead of the traditional opera with horned helmets and bronze breastplates I encountered a four hour, four act, nonstop multi-media happening that shatters […]

Madame Butterfly – Opera Review

East is East, West is West, racial inter-mixing is never blessed. There’s no ifs, ands or but-terflies about it — Giacomo Puccini’s 1904 Madame Butterfly is among the most beloved operas of all time, and rightfully so. From our 21st century “post-racial” (as if!) perch it’s easy to get up on our high horses and […]

The Two Foscari Opera Review

Giuseppe Verdi not only composed operas such as the tragic love story La Traviata and the Egypt-set epic Aida (which, when I was a boy, I saw performed at the Roman Forum with real camels and donkeys onstage!). He also created classics with explicitly political overtones, such as Simon Boccanegra, based on a similarly named […]