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The Price of Luck

Imagine there is a contest, one that will run in perpetuity until the end of time, in every city on Earth. There are no true losers, and there’s no limit to how many people can win. If you win this contest, you’re set for life: No matter where you live or how long you live […]

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Method Singing

“Operatic performers quickly learn how to make a declaration of love, to suffer, to meditate, to die, and so on, and they repeat these forms in all analogous situations that they happen to be in. These are well-known, rubber-stamp effects. Nearly everyone knows them all, and speaks of them scornfully, yet…a majority of singers go […]

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Metaphysical Relief

In September, the legendary German filmmaker, author, actor, opera director, and skateboarding-opinion-haver Werner Herzog turns 80. Herzog’s use of music in his films is noticeably more eclectic and more surprising than that of most of his director colleagues, according to our contributor Thomas von Steinaecker, who is currently finishing a documentary on the artist.  A […]

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A Vigil to a Life

When the world falls to pieces, it’s hard to stick to a single story. The best I could do in these three weeks was to put up signposts. It’s my way of trying to remember some important things. The first day of the war, I woke up and read the news. The world had crumbled […]

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Ethereum Voices

On March 31, 2020, the Metropolitan Opera suspended paychecks for the musicians of its orchestra as its productions ground to a pandemic-induced halt. Some performers left New York City, refinanced their mortgages, or took early retirement. Others survived on a combination of Zoom lessons and unemployment. By the end of 2020, concert venues had reopened […]

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Gated Debussy

The Paris Métro’s Line One to Étoile is pretty crowded this afternoon. There are slightly fewer smartphones than there were a couple of years ago; a few passengers are even reading books. Line Two is next, almost empty, and just two stops to Porte Dauphine, where the train disappears into the tunnel as I emerge […]

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Emotional Anatomies

In his forthcoming book, The Impossible Art, composer Matthew Aucoin likens his early immersion in opera not to the pageantry of going to a live performance, but rather to the solitude of reading a book. “Operas, like the young-adult fiction I was reading at the time, felt to me like interior adventures rather than extravagant […]

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Adaptation in America

Becoming an opera librettist was, for me, a natural extension of years spent working as a playwright in downtown New York theater and experimental music-theater. That fertile stomping ground provided an immersion into the dramaturgy of space and sound, the architectonics of tension, duration, and alternate modes of language and narrative. Writing for theater, I […]

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Necessary Shadows

Who invented black metal, that hateful, unholy, visionary genre? Potential candidates include bands Venom, Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, or, most likely, the revolutionary Bathory. But exactly 100 years before Venom’s 1982 album “Black Metal” codified the term, the world saw a work similarly infused with perverted religiosity, hatred, mutilation, darkness, extreme ideological stances, blood, racist […]

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Mad Scene

Sylvia Korman is a graduate student in English at CUNY in Manhattan. They curate one of the most striking corners of opera Twitter, the account People Mad at Opera (@operacomments). “I’m not actually a music person at all,” Korman tells me. “I have no non-dilettantish background in opera.” But their knowledge of opera is keen.  […]