Posted inInterview

The Abyss

With his beard and penetrating eyes, Georg Nigl looks a bit like Hugo Wolf. In rehearsal, he sings, whispers, growls—Hans Neuenfels, the 76-year-old director of Manfred Trojahn’s opera “Orest,” can barely tame the extreme moods of the baritone, and the rehearsal is viscerally exciting. At breaks, the two get together for a smoke. The premiere […]

Posted inInterview

Emotional Weapon

Tonight, the Latvian soprano will debut in a Sofia Coppola production of “La Traviata” alongside Plácido Domingo and Arturo Chacón Cruz at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain. When I reached her last week via Skype for this interview, she was already there for rehearsals, and seemed lively and engaged. Would […]

Posted inReview

Listening to Homelessness

It’s arguable whether Robert Ashley’s 1998 opera “Dust,” scored for solo voices, prerecorded orchestra, and electronics, is a masterpiece of opera—but it is certainly a masterpiece of political art in its evocation of empathy for marginalized people. During the 90 minute work, we hear the conversations and monologues of a cast of five homeless characters, […]

Posted inHistory

Siegfried Idyll

Some babies are put in swaddling clothes. Others are born into families where expectations are so great that they begin to resemble similarly physical restrains. Siegfried Wagner, the only son of Richard, was born in 1869. Richard wrote the “Siegfried-Idyll” to mark the occasion, a work with and flashes of mesmerizing genius. As the male […]

Posted inInterview

Nonlinearity

Yuval Sharon is the founder and artistic director of Los Angeles’ home for experimental opera, The Industry. In 2014, The Industry worked with composer Christopher Cerrone and choreographer Danielle Agami in an adaptation of Italo Calvino’s novel, “Invisible Cities.” The production took place in LA’s historic Union Station and was a finalist for the 2014 […]

Posted inEssay

The Savior’s Gaze

Upon hearing her own stepmother the Kostelnička guiltily admit that she was the one who killed her infant child—whose frozen corpse the people of the Moravian village have now discovered—Jenůfa, initially shocked and appalled, first orders her to “stand up.” Then, going against the general bloodthirsty tenor of the crowd surrounding them, she grants her […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Barrie Kosky Playlist

Often, music from childhood and youth doesn’t merely bring back memories of those times: it evokes real, physical sensations like adrenaline, sweat, and heartbreak. For this playlist, Barrie Kosky, the Artistic Director of the Komische Oper Berlin, mined his experiences as a gay kid growing up in Australia and the influence of his grandmother. His […]

Posted inInterview

Confinements

Round-number anniversaries of composers’ births and deaths can often feel arbitrary, excuses to keep programming the same music. Not Monteverdi’s 450th birth year. His operas are universal, important reminders that us humans have always had the same struggles, that we’ve been here before: 450 is a number that puts things in perspective. The conductor John […]

Posted inInterview

Amour

On December 1, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City will perform its first opera by a female composer since 1903. Kaija Saariaho’s 2000 opera “L’Amour de Loin” is a haunting tale of love transcending the bounds of distance and death, adapted from a medieval troubadour’s fictionalized life story. There are only three characters: Jaufre […]