Posted inReview

Scouse Glyndebourne

It’s hard to approach events like “ENO does Eurovision” without a bit of skepticism, but I realize I might be going about things too cynically as I arrive in Liverpool in my Tár-inspired spring transition look: black trousers, black trench coat, black baseball cap, black sneakers, and a thick black jumper. I feel like a […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Grace Bumbry Playlist

Inevitably, many of the German obituaries for Grace Bumbry—who died on May 7 at the age of 86—have led with the phrase “Die schwarze Venus,” a reference to her barrier-breaking debut in Bayreuth early in her career. This is understandable (headlines only run so long), but also a shame: It reduces a decades-long career that […]

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 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 inReport

Pay to Sing

“When I was at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, I was so startled that all the singers were running around and doing anything other than what I could see seems necessary,” Mark Sampson, a bass and the founder and artistic director of the Berlin Opera Academy (BOA), tells me. “And they were too […]

Posted inEssay

In For a Pound 

09:31 11/2/2022 It’s a sunny, fall day in Lyon, and an email appears reminding me that I am young.  To be young in the opera world is to enter a transient realm, between the strictly policed age brackets of young artist programs, and an audience demographic fetishized by arts marketers; where young can mean anything […]

Posted inInterview

The Sound of Melting Ice

“Kateryna,” a new opera by Ukrainian composer Alexander Rodin, was scheduled to premiere in Odessa at the end of March 2022. Then Russia invaded Ukraine and the opera house had to temporarily close down. Against all odds, rehearsals resumed in the summer. Directed by Oksana Taranenko, the production celebrated its opening night on September 17 […]

Posted inInterview

Unfurling the Image

Have you heard a concert, seen a play, or watched an opera, any time in the last 30 years? (Or read VAN?) If so, you’ve probably come across a photograph by Monika Rittershaus. She’s one of Europe’s best and most in-demand theater photographers, working with leading houses, conductors and directors. Rittershaus is the first choice—and […]

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