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Surroundings

On the New York Opera Fest By · Photography © Pavel Antonov, from On Site Opera’s “The Marriage of Figaro” · Date 06/23/2016 I honestly thought I knew all about the New York City opera scene. I tracked Opera On Tap. I had been to LoftOpera in Brooklyn. I spent years going to local opera […]

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I Am Singing About Myself

Conversations with Black Otellos By · Title Image © Roy Peters · Date 06/09/2016 Introduction On a late night this past spring, I saw a headline in The Independent that would soon provoke exasperation in parts of the opera world, outrage in others: “Otello: Why is a white tenor leading the Royal Opera House’s new […]

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Chains Are My Reward

While awaiting his execution by firing squad, the painter Cavaradossi sings, “I die in despair, and never before have I loved life so much!” It’s an aria of reverie, lament, and implicit protest against his captors. In this opera, Puccini’s “Tosca” (1900), power and evil aren’t abstractions: the chief of secret police has arrested and […]

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Answers

Elīna Garanča stunned audiences when I saw her in the Metropolitan Opera’s “Roberto Devereux” in March, with a memorable performance even against Sondra Radvanovsky’s history-making role. She received an Opera News Award along with Waltraud Meier at the Plaza Hotel in New York on April 10, where we spoke to her about new versus old […]

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Depth Psychology

The German mezzo-soprano Waltraud Meier performed her last Kundry, a complex figure from Wagner’s “Parsifal,” on March 28 at the Staatsoper in Berlin. On April 10, she will receive one of five Opera News Awards at The Plaza in New York. We spoke with her, in the middle of her final preparations, about Wagner, “updated” […]

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Heartbeat Opera

Heartbeat Opera’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” By · Photography Russ Rowland · Date 03/31/2016 The issue with having a transformative experience in the arts is that it opens the door to a lifetime of disappointments. I fell completely for opera when I saw Natalie Dessay in Mary Zimmerman’s production of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the […]

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Broken Heartbeat

George Benjamin’s opera “Written On Skin” telescopes back and forth through past and present. Based on a vida of the 12th century Catalan troubadour Guillaume de Cabestanh, it takes place in a medieval world where books are precious objects, but references air travel, pornography, and modern feminism. The work, which premiered three years ago, makes […]

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Singing By Radar

I met Thomas Hampson for an interview before the meeting of a Munich opera club, where he was scheduled to speak. He was only very slightly late, but the well-meaning members of the of the club seemed worried. “Thomas Hampson never shows up alone,” I was told. At one point in our conversation, a painting […]

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Queen Of The Gods

“My heart is aghast, / my mind’s in a whirl” sings Fricka, goddess of marriage, hearth, home, and family, faced with her husband Wotan’s latest disruption to their family life. In Richard Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” the queen and king of the gods struggle over how to manage their and other people’s marriages, unruly […]