Posted inPlaylist

An Operatic Coronation Playlist

In Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie, there’s a portrait of Emperor Francis I of Austria (1792-1806) that bears a marked resemblance to King Charles III. Unsurprisingly, given how prone royals are to marrying within their own family, the pair are distantly related. At times, working on this playlist, which charts the royal lineage into which Charles officially […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

What You Sow

What’s the carbon footprint for a beheading? And why is this seemingly the one question I am unable to answer via Google?   I mean, yes, I could just review the new studio recording of Puccini’s “Turandot,” including the role debuts of Jonas Kaufmann as the Calaf and Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, as well […]

Posted inBreaking

An Imperfect Cassandra

For a while, it seemed like the lasting legacy of oboist and Mozart in the Jungle author Blair Tindall, whose April 12 death was confirmed late last week, would be that she had a short-lived, invalid marriage to Bill Nye that ended with the Science Guy taking out a restraining order against her.  According to […]

Posted inRankings & Roundups

The Most Deserved Deaths in Opera, Ranked

There are countless rankings of the best deaths in opera that grade by the most memorable (“La Bohème,” “La Traviata”), the most epic (“Dialogues of the Carmelites,” “Götterdämmerung”), and the most difficult to stage (“La Wally,” “La Juive”). All of those criteria are well and good, but what I want—what I really, really want—in an […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Weary Deserts and Distant Sounds

If I had to name a favorite Strauss opera, “Daphne” would make a Cinderella-run to the center of my bracket. It doesn’t have the revolutionary spirit of “Salome,” nor the orgiastic horns of “Der Rosenkavalier.” It’s weird, but not in the way that “Die Frau ohne Schatten” is weird, and in terms of Strauss’s affinity […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Organized Systems

Among Leo Tolstoy’s many near-death experiences (he did, after all, serve in the army, receive multiple threats against his life, and lived in a time before antibiotics) was one that took place when he was 25. In January 1854, the young count was lost overnight in a snowstorm with his servant while traveling by troika […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing


“You can’t go out there right now,” says my interpreter. “Because of the landmines,” adds my driver. Earlier this month, we were driving through eastern Ukraine as part of a convoy for the NGO I work with (when I’m not writing about Tchaikovsky’s spit or monkey masturbation as it relates to the offstage life of […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Historical Pauses

Early on in “The Factotum,” Will Liverman and K-Rico’s setting of “Il barbiere di Siviglia” in a Black barber shop, Liverman’s Figaro-ish character, Mike, sings about the legacy of carrying on the barber shop he inherited from his father. When Lyric Opera of Chicago shared a sneak peek of “The Factotum” in 2021, it included […]

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