Monday, May 15, 2017

News: Will Crutchfield's Bel Canto program to move to SUNY Purchase

Will Crutchfield announces Teatro Nuovo, a new Bel Canto opera program to debut in July 2018
The nine-day inaugural festival will feature semi-staged productions of Rossini’s Tancredi and Mayr’s Medea in Corinto at the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase

Teatro Nuovo will continue and expand upon Crutchfield’s acclaimed
Bel Canto at Caramoor series

Monday, May 15, 2017 — 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Will Crutchfield, longtime director of the Bel Canto at Caramoor series, announced today the formation of a new organization, Teatro Nuovo, that will continue and expand that program’s work as it departs from Caramoor next year. 
Teatro Nuovo will make its debut in July 2018 with a nine-day festival at the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase, a versatile facility with multiple performance spaces. Headline events will be semi-staged productions of Rossini’s Tancredi and Mayr’s Medea in Corinto, along with orchestral concerts, vocal recitals, chamber music, and the afternoon lectures and panel discussions that have been a popular feature of Caramoor opera days. Full details of the Festival, running from July 28 to August 5, 2018, will be announced in a forthcoming release. 
The Festival will be preceded by an expanded version of Crutchfield’s renowned training program for young singers, which already counts over 500 alumni singing on stages and serving on faculties worldwide. The intensive five-week program will now be opened to selected orchestral players as well. Teatro Nuovo and SUNY Purchase are currently finalizing a partnership to host the training program.
Crutchfield said of the new venture: “Teatro Nuovo is an exciting next step for us. It is a continuation of what our fans have enjoyed in Bel Canto at Caramoor, but goes far beyond that. Through a major expansion of the training program, the collaboration with SUNY Purchase, and the move to our own dedicated Festival, we are now poised to offer much more both to the operagoing public and to the young musicians who come to us in the summer.”
Thomas J. Schwarz, President of SUNY Purchase College, added: "Teatro Nuovo’s debut at the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase will add a rich and vibrant program offering to our summer months.  We are proud to be involved in continuing this fine tradition started at Caramoor 20 years ago.  I also look forward to the intensive five-week program that will expand our efforts to collaborate with organizations that provide the finest education and training in the performing arts.”
Bel Canto at Caramoor, in its 20 years of operation, presented over 40 operas by Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi, attracting consistent coverage and high praise from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Opera News, Opera (UK), and the rest of the national and international musical press. Alex Ross of The New Yorker spoke for many when he wrote that "Under Crutchfield, Caramoor has become an operatic paradise." The program will celebrate its 20th anniversary with five performances at the 2017 Caramoor International Music Festival, after which its team and their activities will move to Teatro Nuovo
Said Jeff Haydon, CEO of Caramoor: “Caramoor is immensely proud of its role in creating and supporting the first 20 years of the Bel Canto Opera Program and we are happy to hear about its new home. There is a tremendous legacy to continue, and with both Caramoor’s future plans and the launch of Teatro Nuovo, there will be rich operatic summers for all in the coming years.”
Further information about Teatro Nuovo, the training program, and the organization’s personnel and other plans will be found at www.teatronuovo.org.

 ABOUT WILL CRUTCHFIELD
Will Crutchfield has divided his opera career between conducting, musicology, and education. As Director of Opera for the Caramoor International Music Festival from 1997 to 2017, he has conducted over 30 titles by Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and soloists including Lawrence Brownlee, Angela Meade, Vivica Genaux, Ewa Podleś, Sumi Jo, Jennifer Larmore, Georgia Jarman, John Osborn, Michael Spyres, and Hei-Kyung Hong. He has also held posts as Music Director with the Opera de Colombia (Bogota) and Principal Guest Conductor of the Polish National Opera (Warsaw), and has made guest appearances with many theaters, including the Rossini Opera Festival (Pesaro), the Canadian Opera Company, the Washington National Opera, and the Minnesota Opera among others. For Ricordi and the Fondazione Rossini he prepared the critical edition of Aureliano in Palmira, also conducting the production in Pesaro that won first place as "Best Rediscovered Work" in the 2015 International Opera Awards. In the same year he was named a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation in recognition of his operatic work. He has contributed articles on historical performance practice to the New Grove Dictionaries of Music and numerous scholarly journals, and is currently completing a book on the same subject for Oxford University Press. 


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

More about Opera Delaware's 2017 Opera Festival

I wrote last week about Opera Delaware's charming production of La Cenerentola at Wilmington's beautiful Grand Opera House. I regret that I have not yet written about the performances of Semiramide presented concurrently, or about the lovely performance of Mr. Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle presented on Friday, May 5.

Lindsay Ohse and
Aleksandra Roman
c. Moonloop Photography
Briefly, the best feature of the Messe was the solo quartet, four very fine singers: soprano Colleen Daly, mezzo Chrystal E. Williams, tenor William Davenport, and bass Ben Wager. Miss Daly's O solutaris hostia and Miss Williams's Agnus Dei were especially beautiful.

Likewise, the singing was the best part of Semiramide--a good thing, since Semiramide requires only the highest level singing. One thinks of Sutherland and Caballe and Cossotto and Horne when one thinks of Semiramide. I am happy to report that every one of the principals was fully equal to the vocal demands of their roles. Soprano Lindsay Ohse, although a little light in timbre for Semiramide, nonetheless gave a dazzling and committed performance to the role, and delighted with fireworks and passion. Mezzo Aleksandra Romano also performed with great technical flair and musicianship, and the duets between the two women were stunning. Basses Daniel Mobbs and Harold Wilson, both featured on these pages before, are both very good singers and fully inhabited their roles of Semiramide's former main squeeze Assur and the High Priest Oroe, respectively. Young-Bok Kim gave the brief role of Nino's ghost (Semiramide's husband, in a Hamlet-like plot element--there are also Oedipal plot elements) gravitas and resonance. Conductor Anthony Barrese skillfully led the orchestra through a beautiful performance.

Lindsay Ohse and
Young-Bok Kim
c. Moonloop Photography
I am sorry to report the production was not at the same level as the great singing I heard, and certainly not the equal of the charming Cenerentola. Without focusing too much on specifics, I will say I was disappointed in the direction of Dean Anthony, who directed Opera Delaware's delightful L'Elisir d'amore a few years ago, and the numerous visual elements.  (The only other review I have found online agrees with my opinion of the visual elements and merely mentions the name of the director, but also agrees about the high level of singing.)

Opera Delaware has always done very fine work on a very limited budget, and the fact this show had some disappointments does not damage my high opinion of the company and its General Director Brendan Cooke (not to mention his very fine team, paid and volunteer).  Overall I call the 2017 Opera Festival a success, and I look forward to seeing more fine work from this crew. Already hints about next year's Festival indicate more excitement, and doubtless more great singing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Guest blogger Jeffrey Nytch reviews Pelléas et Mélisande at the Norwegian National Opera

Performance date: April 28, 2017
Music by Claude Debussy, libretto adapted from the play by Maurice Maeterlinck

New production by Maria Costa
Barbora Horáková Joly, director
Karl-Heinz Steffans, conductor

CAST:
Golaud: Paul Gay
Mélisande: Ingeborg Gillebo
Pelléas: Edward Nelson
Arkel: Anders Lorentzson
Genevieve: Randi Stene
Yniold: Aksel Rykkvin

Back in 1987 I went to my first production of Debussy’s masterpiece, Pelléas et Mélisande. It was one of those performances that remains with you for the rest of your life: the Met orchestra positively glowed under James Levine, José van Dam menaced as Goloud, and of course, Frederica von Stade’s grace and beauty were beyond compare.

My companion for that performance, my dear friend Barb, was not so impressed. Oh yes: the singing and the orchestra were magnificent, the music beautiful. “But nothing happened!” she declared.

Susanna Hurrell (who replaced an injured Ingeborg Gillebo)
 and Edward Nelson
Photo c. Erik Berg
“That’s not true!” I protested.

There was a pause. “Well?”

“Goloud gets jealous and kills Pelléas, and then she dies. Of…something.”

Barb shot me an exasperated look and said, “And it took THREE HOURS.”

Barb was a Verdi and Puccini sort of operagoer. She loved to quote a commentator who once had described Puccini’s music as “silver macaroni, exquisitely tossed.” [I tried to look up that quote, by the way, but all I found were recipes for mac ‘n cheese.] So for Barb, Debussy’s only opera was a bit of a stretch: adapted from the Symbolist play by Maeterlinck, the opera is low on outward action and vocal display, and high in psychological complexities and musical subtleties.

Premiered in 1902, smack dab between two of Puccini’s greatest hits, Tosca (1900) and Madama Butterfly (1904), Pelléas is simultaneously indebted (however grudgingly) to Wagner on the one hand, and also the first opera truly borne of the 20th century on the other. While Puccini was continuing the tradition of grand Italian opera, Debussy was looking ahead to what opera might become, a form less about outward actions and twists of plot and more about the human psyche; a form where the external world was merely an illusion, a reflection of the internal world. And lastly, a form in which the voice was merely a vehicle to explore that inner world, the goal being understanding, empathy, insight, pathos…not the vocal acrobatics at the center of the Italian opera circus. In an 1890 letter to Ernest Guiraud Debussy wrote about this new, and thoroughly modern, concept of what opera should be: "The ideal would be two associated dreams [the text and the music]. No time, no place. No big scenes [...] Music in opera is far too predominant. Too much singing and the musical settings are too cumbersome [...] My idea is of a short libretto with mobile scenes. No discussion or arguments between the characters, whom I see as being at the mercy of life or destiny."

Susanna Hurrell, Anders Lorentzen, Edward Nelson
Photo c. Erik Berg
With such a completely new view of what opera might be, it’s understandable that the piece took Debussy so long to finish. Debussy first encountered Maeterlinck’s script in late 1892, attended a performance in early 1893, and began composing the music later that year. It was a long and tortured process, though, as Debussy struggled with this new concept of the opera form at the same time his musical style was likewise evolving. He continued to revise his score for much of the next eight years, pausing periodically to work on other projects such as Prelude to the afternoon of a faun, the Nocturnes, and a number of piano works. Further revisions took place during rehearsals for the premiere, including expanding several orchestral interludes to allow sufficient time for scene changes. (It’s interesting that these expansive interludes, which now seem of such fundamental importance to the musical structure of the work, were not part of Debussy’s original conception.)

Now more than a century since the opera’s premiere, it would seem that opera audiences still struggle to come to terms with this enigmatic masterpiece. Last week in Oslo, where I happened to be presenting at a conference, I had the pleasure of attending the opera’s latest production (and its first-ever in Norway, something that is itself quite revealing). As I made my way to my seat, I overheard an English patron mutter to his wife, “Well it’s fine to hear this once, but once is enough for me!” It would seem that “silver macaroni, exquisitely tossed” is still what most patrons seek when they come to the opera.
Susanna Hurrell
Photo c. Erik Berg

Fortunately, the vast majority of Oslo’s enthusiastic audience didn’t share that sentiment: the National Opera & Ballet’s magnificent house was nearly full, and other than a few tubercular patrons the audience sat in rapt attention to this gripping production. So let’s get to that, for there is much to admire.

In a work that is so much about the interior world of the characters, expressing that internal world through the staging is everything. The set, lighting, and blocking all must serve to open up the characters so that we might glimpse a piece of their reality. Too often, productions of this opera stop at simply evoking the general mood of the piece (dark, glowering). Or, as they did at the Met, they go with the “fairy tale” aspect of the work, set in a place that doesn’t exist and a time out of reckoning. (I’ll never forget the stunning lace drapes that replaced the Met’s famed golden curtain for their Pelléas. It was a gorgeous evocation of “a dream…no time…no place.”) In Oslo, however, Maria Costa’s new production was designed from start to finish to serve as a symbolic portrait of the tortured interior world of the characters. As became very clear, very quickly, every detail of the staging was an expression of what lies beneath the surface, the suffocating confinement of a prison that is more psychological than physical.

The set, consisting of white walls and ceilings with harsh lighting, evoked a hospital setting: the heavy castle of the original is now an asylum, the characters are patients (or inmates). The doctor, who normally doesn’t appear until the final scene, is constantly in the background, silently observing. Mélisande’s prior trauma, never identified, is made explicit by her torn, blood-stained clothing and a catatonic stare, while the young boy Yniold is played as a deeply disturbed child in his own right, dismembering the dolls he carries and shooting his bow and arrow at whomever happens to be in his line of sight. The most striking use of the hospital metaphor was the two grotto scenes – first in the sea cave where Mélisande ventures at night, ostensibly to find her wedding ring, and later when Goloud takes Pelléas deep into the castle vaults for a not-too-subtle warning about the direction he’s headed with Mélisande. These locations are cast as the asylum’s infirmary, with rows of harsh beds and patients in various stages of illness (or madness). The message is clear: beneath this rich castle and beautiful gardens is a sickness, the kingdom rotten at its very core. The idea that these characters are trapped – either by fate or by their own tangled dysfunctions – is further made evident by the walls and ceiling of the set, which sometimes converge to literally box in the characters. In this production, everyone – not just Mélisande – is a prisoner in a fortress built on sickness and decay.

One other aspect of the opera I hadn’t fully appreciated earlier is the role of Genevieve, the mother of Goloud and Pélleas (though by two different men). Most productions simply present her as the resigned enabler of the family’s various dramas, but in this production she was portrayed far more starkly: an alcoholic depressive, perhaps a picture of where Mélisande is headed in another 20 years. Related to this portrait of a woman brought down by the men around her is the exploitation of Mélisande, made explicit and sexual in a number of arresting scenes. Rather than just passively eluding to Mélisande as Goloud’s possession, this production adds a chilling layer of meaning to the libretto: while uttering empty words of comfort and admiration, Goloud, and later Arkel, grope and penetrate her. Though shocking, these scenes were not used for shock value: they made clear the degree to which Mélisande is nothing but an object to these men, something to be used by them for their own needs. Their words of admiration or comfort are only meant to ease their own consciences, even as they continue to abuse her. This aspect of the production made me wonder if this opera, in addition to being the first modern opera, was perhaps the first feminist opera as well.

Which brings me to the treatment of the relationship that is the title of the work: that of Pelléas and Mélisande. It seems to me that if one is going to amp up Mélisande’s exploitation by her husband and father-in-law, as was certainly done here, one then has to take a stand on whether or not Pelléas is himself just another instrument of exploitation: is he merely a handsomer and gentler version of his brother, or is his character fundamentally different? Maeterlinck’s text is, predictably, not very helpful in answering this question. It’s obvious that Pelléas is still an innocent: he is constantly patronized by his brother and the King – they practically pat him on the head while saying things like, “You’re still young. Someday you’ll understand.” – and yet he seems to hold no resentment of their condescension. At the same time, he strikes me as oblivious to what’s going on around him: he asks the King if he can go away to visit his sick friend – even while his father is dying in the next room; he doesn’t really seem to get that he’s treading on dangerous ground with his brother until things have progressed far past the point of no return; and perhaps most revealingly, though he praises Mélisande for her many physical attributes (her hair, her eyes), he doesn’t really indicate that he has any true empathy or understanding of her abiding sadness. So is Pelléas another male oppressor, or just clueless? There certainly is ample evidence to argue that he’s the former – just a prettier version of Goloud, unaware of how his actions are impacting the object of his alleged love, indifferent to her suffering, and destined to someday become as dark and cynical as his older brother.

But I don’t think that’s the correct reading of this character. I think the answer to this question can best be found in Mélisande, and in her music. For it is only through Pelléas that we see her come alive, expressing emotions and passion that are otherwise completely inert. This contrast is made all the more clear in this production: when she is being physically exploited by Goloud or Arkel, her body freezes, her post-traumatic stare returns. She has completely shut herself off from the world in order to bear what’s happening, lying inert and lifeless until the violation is over. But with Pelléas she is animated, expressive, her previously catatonic eyes sparkling with life. The music certainly supports this interpretation: the only moments in the opera that would approach anything like “silver macaroni exquisitely tossed” are the scenes with the two lovers, especially their final parting moments before Pelléas is murdered: as Goloud stalks them, they finally declare their love for each other – sealing their fate and completely, and consciously, submitting to it as well. The music soars ecstatically, the lovers kiss, and Goloud moves in for the kill.

In the end, Pelléas remains more of an enigma to me than Mélisande. Perhaps he is a symbol of those rare innocents whose fate always seems to be that they are either destroyed by the world or taken from it prematurely. In a world dominated by darkness (a constant presence in the opera, almost as if it’s a character in its own right), perhaps Pelléas is the one source of light, doomed to be extinguished.

No opera review is complete without talking about the singers, and in this case I have nothing but praise. Paul Gay was a brooding presence as Goloud, his rage only barely concealed (when it’s concealed at all). He sang with power and expression, switching his color on a dime while alternating between anger, regret, and supposed tenderness. Anders Lorentzson sometimes pushed his voice too hard, but his portrayal of Arkel powerfully conveyed an old man resigned to his helplessness in the face of fate. Boy soprano Aksel Rykkvin sang magnificently as Yniold (be on the lookout for where this lad’s career takes him once his voice changes!), and Randi Stene perfectly captured Genevieve’s emotional fatigue, her voice dark and morose with resignation. I found her presence on stage to be far more powerful and compelling than the norm for a relatively minor character – which in turn helped me appreciate Genevieve’s importance in this drama as an illustration of what this place does to its women. Just as Arkel shows us where Goloud is headed, Genevieve is the future shadow of Mélisande.

And lastly, of course, are the title roles. Ingeborg Gillebo was a mesmerizing presence as Mélisande, her voice conveying the proper mix of innocence and fear, her grief held tightly under wraps, just barely submerged beneath the surface, her elegant features shattered by eyes “that never shut.” Mélisande’s sadness resides in an outward beauty that stands in stark relief to an internal world of sadness and trauma. That’s not easy to convey to a vast and darkened auditorium, but Gillebo pulled it off magnificently.

And Edward Nelson was basically flawless as Pelléas, a role which is definitely not a run-of-the-mill baritone part. Not only should Pelléas be the embodiment of youthful, innocent beauty, the role requires a singer of extraordinary vocal range and flexibility. Debussy writes in such a high register that it could almost be sung by a tenor! (In fact, in the production I saw at the Met back in the 80’s, it was sung by a tenor: Douglas Ahlstedt.) Nelson delivered on all counts: a regular on the Barihunks website (and for good reason), he radiated youthful charisma on stage and ease of color and diction throughout his vocal range. He was an absolute treat in this, his European debut, and I hope I have the opportunity to hear him again soon.

I have but one gripe with this otherwise wonderful production – but unfortunately it’s a rather significant one. To be blunt, they totally botched the ending. What I’d hoped would happen, as Mélisande slips away into death, is that those oppressive walls and ceiling would gently, quietly lift away, finally releasing her from her prison. After the extensive use of those moving walls to symbolically illustrate the characters’ state, how could they do anything but be lifted away in the end? Such a gesture is absolutely suggested by both the nature of her passing (so quiet as to almost escape notice by the others in the room) and by the music: delicate, resolved, at peace. Instead, we see a video projection of Mélisande’s newborn baby on the back wall, while Yniold stands over the cradle with a camcorder in his hand, filming. While the intent was clearly to underscore Arkel’s statement that this newborn girl will have to carry on in Mélisande’s place – a line that is more or less tossed away but is pretty chilling when you think about it – the gesture was completely wrong for the moment. For one, projections had not been used at any other point in the production, so to introduce one into the final seconds of the piece is guaranteed to jar the audience during the most delicate of moments. Also, though props and costumes were suggestive of the 20th century, there was a sufficient mix of styles as to not suggest any particular moment in time – precisely the “no time, no place” that Debussy stated as being his ideal. Given that, the expressly present-day feel of Yniold’s camcorder was likewise out of place. Lastly, after all the symbolism and subtleties of the production, something this literal was far too on the nose, and completely out of sync with the sensibilities of everything else in the show. “Details” such as these are often underestimated, even by the finest theatrical directors, and the more delicate the moment the more such details end up being like taking a sledge hammer to piece of silk embroidery. I couldn’t escape the sense that the director wasn’t sure how to handle these last moments, and so she simply punted …an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise glorious evening.

Photo c. Erik Berg

In the end, what is it about this opera that is so beguiling? The work is filled with music of almost unbearable beauty, and simultaneously, a sadness as deep as the well in Mélisande’s garden. I think the juxtaposition of beauty and pain is at the heart of so much great art because it strikes right to the heart of what it means to be human. We see ourselves in Mélisande, perhaps not trapped as literally as she is, but trapped nonetheless in a life where death and loss are unavoidable, and where our own fragile state seems so completely inadequate to face whatever Destiny sends our way. We long for a Pelléas, but such purity is not meant for this world; in the end we end up like Arkel: unable to see the light, and resigned to our end. And when we weep, we don’t weep for Pelléas or Mélisande, we weep for ourselves.

Ultimately I don’t accept the notion that our fate is so completely out of our hands, or that we’re destined to darkness. Nonetheless, so much of our world still boils down to great beauty living side by side with immutable pain – with the latter being unavoidable. What Debussy reminds us, in this his crowning achievement, is that in the face of that pain we have beauty to salve it, if only for a little while.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Quest'è un nodo avviluppato*

Megan Marino and Jack Swanson
Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography
I wrote that Opera Delaware's 2013 production of L'Elisir d'Amore was cuter than a box of puppies, and I'll be darned if they haven't done it again with Mr. Rossini's comic opera La Cenerentola, part of the company's 2017 Opera Festival. A spirited and clever production by director A. Scott Perry, a cast of good singers and actors, and visual effects both comic and dazzling made this a highly enjoyable show.

From the first moments I was charmed by the antics of stepsisters Clorinda and Tisbe, quite capably sung by Jennifer Cherest and Alexandra Rodrick, and their blustering father Don Magnifico, given great comic flair by Steven Condy. (Mr. Condy graced Opera Delaware's stage last season as Falstaff.) I was even more delighted with the Angelina (Cenerentola, or Cinderella) of Megan Marino. She believably gave us Angelina's despair at her lot and and her love for Prince Ramiro disguised as a servant. With a pleasing sound throughout her voice and very clear coloratura singing, she was fully the equal of this demanding role. I especially loved her final aria and cabaletta, Naqui all'affano/Non piu mesta and her first act duet with the Prince. (I just learned Ms. Marino is the wife of dear Michael Mayes, who has graced these pages before—see this link and this additional link.)

Alexandra Rodrick, Sean Anderson, Jennifer Cherest
Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography
The Dandini of Sean Anderson was a joy to watch. His foppish appearance when he is disguised as the Prince is darling, with his mock-royal demeanor and his extreme wig. His singing was beautiful in sound, evenness and agility. His chemistry with Don Magnifico was comic and charming. (Mr. Anderson was Ford to Mr. Condy's Falstaff in last season's Falstaff at Opera Delaware.) I was pleased with tenor Jack Swanson's Prince Ramiro, as well.

I keep using the word charming in describing this production, and that is very much due to director A. Scott Perry. There were too many clever touches to list, but among them were the way in which the men's chorus pranced onstage for their first entrance, the way in which the storm in Act II was staged, the Don Magnifico's apparent delight at the misapprehension that the Prince (Dandini) wants to marry him instead of one of his daughters—the list goes on and on. I quite liked the effects Mr. Perry and Lighting Designer Driscoll Otto achieved in those "freeze" moments—when time stops and all those on stage try to grasp what is going on. The very first, in the Ramiro/Angelina Act I duet, brought well-earned chuckles from the audience.

Great credit goes to Brendan Cooke and the entire team at Opera Delaware for presenting a wonderful Opera Festival this year. I have long been a fan of Opera Delaware's work, and I am happy to say this production ranks among my favorites.


Megan Marino as Angelina and cast
Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography

*The title of this post means, literally, "This is a wrapped knot". It is the title of one of the exciting ensembles in the opera.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Servant Problem in Seville

We are exceedingly happy to report that it is still possible to present traditionally staged opera and make it fresh and exciting. Taminophile braved the New Jersey Turnpike (and lived to tell about it) in order to see Opera Philadelphia's delightful new production of Le Nozze di Figaro on Sunday. Well worth the trip!

Brandon Cedel as Figaro and
Ying Fang as Susanna
(c) Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia
One needs a first-rate cast when presenting any Mozart opera, and in this regard Opera Philly delivered, for everyone on stage was a good singer and actor. It is difficult to single out any of them, but Ying Fang gave us an especially enchanting Susanna. Crafty and high-spirited, but also wise and sympathetic, this was a Susanna who knew her power and how to use it. Ms. Fang also gave us beautifully spun vocal lines and a warm, easy tone. Her many recent accomplishments are no surprise, and we are pleased to learn she shared with Nadine Sierra the role of Ilia in the Metropolitan Opera's recent revival of Idomeneo.

To be fair, everyone in the cast has equally impressive accomplishments, and their performances were all very fine indeed. Figaro was given masculine voice and presence by Brandon Cedel. Layla Claire and John Chest gave beautiful singing and believable acting to the Count and Countess Almaviva. Cecilia Hall was delightfully gangly as the teenage boy Cherubino. We also liked Patrick Carfizzi as Don Bartolo, Lucy Schaufer as Marcellina, and Jason Ferrante as Don Basilio/Don Curzio (actually Don Basilio in disguise, a clever touch).

Layla Claire as the Countess and Cecilia Hall as Cherubino
(c) Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia
No post-apocalyptic freeway underpasses or luxury penthouse apartments here--we knew we were in a wealthy nobleman's mansion outside of Seville. The scenery and opulent costumes by Leslie Travers and the lighting design by Thomas Hase were quite creative. We loved the lighting effect of casting a shadow of the bed frame on the walls to frame the action in certain moments. We loved the reversible wall backdrops that suggested interior and exterior scenes, featuring cameo portraits of the primary characters. We quite liked director Stephen Lawless's use of four supernumeraries as wigged footmen to help move the action along, and to move the scenery as well. The suggestions of revolution in Act III (including Eric Sean Fogel's choreography) were unexpected but not totally out of place, although the anti-nobility sentiment seemed to fade as the wedding festivities continued and was nowhere to be seen in Act IV. (Speaking of Act IV, we were a bit puzzled by the garden set--the same backdrops, which were very good, but it seemed like the garden furniture was discarded house furniture. Not what one would expect in the garden of such a fine mansion!)

As usual, we were pleased with the leadership of Opera Philadelphia Music Director Corrado Rovaris. We like his spritely tempi, especially in arias that are often performed too slowly, and we like the phrasing he achieved with the fine orchestra and ensemble of singers. All in all, we found it a delightful production, and we highly recommend seeing one of the remaining performances.
John Chest as the Count, Lucy Schaufer as Marcellina,
Patrick Carfizzi as Bartolo, Jason Ferrante as Basilio
(c) Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Una volta c'era un rè....

We have written before of The Opera Platform, a site where one can see live streaming performances from European opera houses. We recently enjoyed Mr. Rossini's charming opera La Cenerentola from the Opéra de Lille, a live performance from October 16 of last year, that will be available until April 13. I would recommend viewing this performance.

Emily Fons
Photo: (c) Patrick Delacroix
We're always most excited by thrilling performances, and this cast supplied many. Young American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons was a charming Angelina. Her singing was free and even throughout, her coloratura clear, her characterization both humble and mischievous. One especially enjoyed her chemistry with the Ramiro of Taylor Stayton and the Dandini of Armando Noguera. Mr Stayton, also an American, is not unknown to us, having an internet presence dating back several years. We enjoyed his singing, particularly his thrilling high notes, and found his Ramiro effectively noble and stoic but with a good sense of fun.

Dandini (Armando Noguera) and Ramiro (Taylor Stayton),
pursued by Clorinde (Clara Meloni) and Tisbe (Julie Pasturaud)
Photo: (c) Patrick Delacroix
Mr. Noguera, an Argentinian baritone with an active career in Europe, gave Dandini an endearing naughtiness and healthy, robust singing. We especially enjoyed his first entrance in Act I. Roberto Lorenzi was an impressive Alidoro, with warm, booming sound and a gentle, wise portrayal. Renato Girolami was quite the blustery Don Magnifico.

We quite enjoyed the Orchestre de Picardie and the Chorus of Opéra de Lille under the baton of Antonello Allemandi. We weren't so sure about the production. Sets by Jean Bellorini and Charles Vitez, costumes by Nelly Geyres, and make-up by Laurence Aué were puzzling. Along with Mr. Bellorini's lighting, the team created some dazzling visual effects, but one wondered why. (Longtime readers know that at Taminophile Enterprises, we often wonder why settings are updated in opera productions.) We don't know whether this production team claimed the tired excuse for updating of clarifying social and power structures, but if so, they didn't succeed. Frankly, the costumes and makeup seldom flattered anyone, with the possible exception of Mr. Lorenzi, who would look great in anything!. (Are you reading this Roberto? Call me!)

All in all a most enjoyable performance. The singing of all far outweighed my quibbles with the production.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Those crazy Greeks!

On Saturday I saw the Live in HD broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's Idomeneo, a revival of the 1982 Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production. I found it thrilling, not least because dear Maestro James Levine was in the pit. I am always touched by the tremendous ovation that showers Mr. Levine the moment he arises, almost god-like, from within the bowels of the Met to sit at the podium. (In the broadcast we could see the remarkable elevator device bringing him and his wheelchair into position from below.) In interviews singers sometimes talk of the almost sacred experience of working and performing with Mr. Levine, and I believe it.

Your intrepid reporter actually saw this production in 1982, while on a college choir tour. At age 19 (go ahead—do the math), sitting in the Family Circle, ignorant of the amazing work I was witnessing, I was more excited about simply being at the Met than about the opera. Since then I have seen several productions of Idomeneo, and I sang chorus in the Greater Miami Opera's 1990 production. My appreciation has grown immensely. Hence my joy at seeing this production again, even if budgetary concerns force me to see it in HD rather than in the house.

Nadine Sierra and Alice Coote
Photo: Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times
From the get-go we see what makes this work and this production amazing. The single set shows steps representative of rocks and cliffs, and an ever-present image of Neptune, ready to destroy one and all at his whim. Although employing opera seria conventions, which can sometimes lead to difficulty in portraying drama adequately, this Idomeneo hasn't a single dull moment. The action flows smoothly, and the acting of the four principals kept audience interest at all times.

Opera requires conflict, and Idomeneo offers plenty. Idomeneo, King of Crete, was forced to offer to Neptune the sacrifice of the first person he sees upon his safe return from the wars in Troy. That person turns out to be his son Idamante. The young Trojan princess Ilia, prisoner of war, is conflicted about her love for Idamante. Fortunately Idamante loves her, too, and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth the two end up together. Sorry if that's a spoiler. And Elettra (Elektra), having finished her own opera, has come to Crete to stir up trouble, and has decided she wants Idamante for herself. Not knowing of Idamante's love for Ilia, Idomeneo tries to resolve his sacrificial victim dilemma by ordering Idamante to accompany Elettra on her journey home. Hilarity ensues. Well, if not hilarity, much amazing singing.

Elza van den Heever as Elettra
Photo: Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times
Every singer will tell you that Mozart requires the finest vocal technique, for without it his music is nearly impossible to sing! This cast did not disappoint. A beautiful and nuanced performance of the overture transitioned immediately into Ilia's stunning aria Padre, germani, addio, sung with great feeling and sensitivity by Nadine Sierra. Ms. Sierra's singing never failed to please, with its free and even sound throughout, and she portrayed Ilia's vulnerability and strength quite well. She was this reporter's favorite among an exceptionally fine cast of singers. Elza van den Heever was also amazing as Elettra. We witnessed the same fiery temperament and dazzling singing (and ability to negotiate a raked stage in a costume the size of a city block) that so impressed us as Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda, with Mozart's even greater technical demands. Ms. van den Heever gave us Elettra's madness and arrogance while singing her torturous vocal lines with apparent ease.

Alice Coote sang Idamante's difficult vocal lines quite skillfully (the role was originally written for a castrato in a soprano range), and looked very much the part of a sturdy young prince, ready to take on the world. Her dynamic shading, particularly her pianissimo singing, was quite impressive. Matthew Polenzani was a fine Idomeneo, showing the king's emotional turmoil and singing the challenging music well. One does wonder, however, why the Met didn't use the 1786 Vienna version of the aria Fuor del mar, which has considerably fewer coloratura demands than the original version, from its 1781 Munich premiere.

One also wondered about the casting of baritone Alan Opie in the tenor role of Arbace. Mr. Opie's credits include Figaro, Rigoletto, Sharpless, and Don Alfonso. Arbace is usually sung by the sort of tenor who would sing Tamino or Don Ottavio. This was not a successful bit of casting, in this reporter's humble opinion.

It should surprise no one that the Metropolitan Opera Chorus performed at its usual stellar standard, as did the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Mr. Levine's subtle hand was evident throughout this performance. One is very sorry this was the last performance of Idomeneo, for it deserves repeated viewing.
Full company of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's Idomeneo
Photo:  Metropolitan Opera

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Forza del Destino at New Amsterdam Opera

I had the pleasure on Friday evening of hearing the New Amsterdam Opera perform Mr. Verdi's La Forza del Destino in concert. Forza isn't performed as often as it should be, partly because it takes over a half hour to explain the story. It sort of makes "Oops! Wrong baby in the fire!" seem like it makes sense.

New Amsterdam Opera and its Founder and Artistic Director, Keith Chambers, have been featured in these pages before. I've often stated I'm a big supporter of organizations that offer opportunities to young professional singers. The cast for Forza had singers still in the formative stages of their careers alongside veterans of the opera stage. The result was an evening with many exciting and electrifying vocal performances.

Stephen Gaertner
Photo: Arielle Doneson Photography
The male principals deserve the lion's share of my attention. The star of the evening was Stephen Gaertner as Don Carlo. His singing was powerful and subtle, with a beauty of tone that never failed and an intensity of character that was very convincing. Mr. Gaertner's program bio lists many impressive credits in Verdi baritone roles, all of which must surely fit him like a glove if his Don Carlo is any indication. Tenor Errin Brooks brought a very large, free sound and a gripping stage presence to the role of Don Alvaro. Mr. Brooks held one's attention and never wavered in his commitment to the dramatic intent of the story, even during the well-deserved lengthy ovation following his Act III aria. Mr. Brooks is capable of a great amount of range, subtlety, and delicate phrasing, and must be commended for that, but one occasionally wished for even more. When Mr. Gaertner and Mr. Brooks were together on stage, the effect was magic. Their shared dramatic intensity, commitment to their roles, and passionate singing nearly had the audience on the edge of their seats.

Kelly Griffin
Photo:  kellygriffinsoprano.com
Kelly Griffin also brought a large, beautiful voice and stage presence to the role of Leonora, but we did detect more scooping than we were comfortable with, and wished her pianissimo high notes were a little more secure. As the gypsy Preziosilla, Janara Kellerman brought a rich and ample voice, but we rather think the role doesn't fit her. We would love to hear her Carmen or Azucena instead.

Fra Melitone lends comic relief to an intense story, and he was well embodied by Daniel Klein. Stefan Szkafarowsky gave Padre Guardiano dignity and wisdom. Metropolitan Opera veteran Robert Brubaker ably sang the peddler Trabuco. Japanese bass Hidenori Inoue gave exciting vocal quality to the old Marquis.

Even in the capable hands of Mr. Chambers, the pick-up orchestra seemed a bit ragged at times. The chorus, too, seemed somewhat ill prepared. Budgets being what they are, these shortcomings are understandable. Neither prevented me from enjoying the performance. It seems a shame there was only one performance, for I would surely recommend attending subsequent performances if there were any.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Having a really big clock is overrated

Your faithful correspondent has reported on opera far too little in the past year or two. To get back into the habit, and to practice his craft, your reporter witnessed Saturday's Metropolitan Opera Live in HD performance of La Traviata. Let us be clear about one thing—an HD broadcast in a movie theater is far from the same thing as a performance in the opera house, and to this reporter's mind, not its equal. Opera is simply better in the house. Stage sets were meant to viewed as a whole, and most operatic voices sound better when heard from a distance than when miked. But when front row recliners in the movie theater go for the same price as Family Circle (the very highest balcony) seats at the Met—or even less—one must make choices.

Sonya Yoncheva as Violetta and Michael Fabino as Alfredo
And a really big clock.
Photo: Marty Sohl, Metropolitan Opera
This is the Willy Decker production of La Traviata, which first saw the light of day in Salzburg in 2005 and subsequently came to the Met in 2010. It is known for its minimalist design and updated costumes. And a really big clock. (Set and costume design are by Wolfgang Gussmann.) Critics have called the use of the clock to symbolize Violetta's measured days heavy handed, and we don't disagree. It is interesting in such a context that, in Act II, scene 1, the clock is shrouded in flowery slipcover fabric, as is all the furniture. (As Violetta accepts the sacrifice she must make, she removes the slipcovers from clock and sofas—and herself as well, since her dressing gown is made of the same fabric.) Dr. Grenvil is present in most scenes to symbolize Violetta's mortality. There is a particularly effective moment in Act IV when Alfredo talks of leaving Paris and tries to coax Violetta toward the door, but Violetta's eyes are glued to Dr. Grenvil. She knows well her fate. Although such clever touches abound in this production, on the whole one is left with the awkward and unsatisfying feeling of being inside a very large, ornate, Victorian mansion that had been redecorated in mid-century modern style.

Michael Fabiano and Sonya Yoncheva
Photo:  Metropolitan Opera
The singing was quite good on Saturday. Sonya Yoncheva was a very effective Violetta, imbuing the courtesan with passion and intelligence. With the exception of some pianissimo high notes in Act IV, Ms. Yoncheva was very much the equal of this very demanding role. Her tone was warm and mostly even throughout, her coloratura clear, and her acting very convincing. She was paired with the Alfredo of Michael Fabiano. Mr. Fabiano first gained notoriety as one of the contestants in the 2007 documentary The Audition, and this reporter has only heard excerpts of performances since then. We at Taminophile Enterprises believe Mr. Fabiano's singing to be much more beautiful and free than in The Audition, particularly his high voice. His Alfredo was certainly passionate and had many more dimensions than many productions give him.

We are not of one mind about the character of Giorgio Germont. Is he administering tough love to protect his daughter, or is he a controlling swine interested only in his social position? In the hands of baritone Thomas Hampson and director Willy Decker, he was a bit of both. We never believed his gestures of regret in the last act. Very telling is the moment when Germont takes the focus off of Violetta's and Alfredo's suffering to make them aware of his own supposed remorse. We're also not of one mind about Mr. Hampson's portrayal of the role. He has had great success as Germont for many years, but on Saturday one heard some occasional vocal fatigue, and his low notes were not powerful. One is reminded of his younger days, when he was a delightful Guglielmo, Figaro, and Count Almaviva (in Le Nozze di Figaro)—all higher, lighter roles. We must admit the playful, self-congratulatory air he occasionally had with those roles converted well into a self-absorbed air as Germont.

As usual, the Metropolitan Opera Chorus sang and acted well as revelers in the party scenes, although some of the directorial and costuming choices left one confused or simply dissatisfied. The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, under the skillful hand of Nicola Luisotti, played the score with precision and expression.

Would I recommend this opera? The cast is a very good reason to see it. Will I see it again? Only for a new cast as exciting as the current one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Forward: Second Annual NEW YORK OPERA FEST!


NEW YORK OPERA ALLIANCE presents the second annual NEW YORK OPERA FEST May & June 2017

The festival showcases the breadth and diversity of opera in New York City through 28 events, ranging from virtual reality to improv opera, with productions in theaters, gardens, garages, bars, playgrounds and more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 — The New York Opera Alliance (NYOA), a consortium of New York opera companies and producers, proudly presents the second annual New York Opera Fest (http://nyoperafest.com), a two-month celebration of opera during May and June with over 20 New York City-based companies putting on 28 events in venues around the city.
The festival showcases New York’s vibrant and varied opera scene, with repertoire ranging from the traditional operatic canon to innovative world premieres, taking place in diverse venues such as theaters, bars, gardens, garages, and playgrounds. With the New York Opera Fest, the Alliance shows how NYC’s opera scene is truly a living, breathing community of people who are working together to produce new work, develop new artists and engage with communities of all ages and backgrounds.
“The festival is a reminder that opera doesn’t need a 3,000-seat theater to be grand, and some of the more innovative, impassioned, exciting and vital – as well as affordable – productions are coming out of these smaller, more nimble companies.” 
-WQXR

“I honestly thought I knew all about the New York City opera scene…I was barely scratching the surface.”
-VAN Magazine
In addition to performances, the festival also includes forums, film screenings, and workshops, as well as a kickoff event on Thursday, April 27 featuring excerpts from the 2017 festival. The evening will honor soprano Lauren Flanigan for her contribution to the NYC Opera Community with the 2nd annual NYOA Service Award.
The New York Opera Alliance works in partnership with OPERA America, the national service organization for opera and the nation’s leading advocate for American opera, based in the National Opera Center in New York City. The New York Opera Festival is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

PERFORMANCES INCLUDE:

  • American Opera Projects presents the New York premiere of Robert Paterson’s Three Way, three playful one-act operas, on the present and future of sex and love.
  • Bronx Opera closes their 50th anniversary season with an English-language production of Verdi’s Falstaff.
  • Heartbeat Opera presents their spring festival featuring new interpretations of Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
  • Experiments in Opera presents Flash Operas, six newly commissioned 15-minute operas based on ‘Flash Fiction’ stories.
  • Opera on Tap releases The Parksville Murders, the world’s first virtual reality horror opera, in addition to performances in two bars and a school playground.
  • On Site Opera presents new site-specific productions of Mozart’s The Secret Gardener in the West Side Community Garden and the U.S. premiere of Darius Milhaud’s La mère coupable at The Garage.                    
  • Sign & Sing incorporates American Sign Language into the opera experience with “EXPLORATIONS”: three stories of love and travel.
  • Family friendly operas include New Camerata Opera’s rendition of Peter Rabbit and Ardea Arts’s performance of George Plimpton’s Animal Tales.                    

ABOUT THE NEW YORK OPERA ALLIANCE

The New York Opera Alliance (NYOA) is a consortium of New York City opera companies and producers established to enhance and support the visibility and viability of opera in NYC. Founded in 2011, NYOA has grown from 4 organizations to more than 40, and counting. Since 2013, NYOA has been fiscally sponsored by OPERA America.
They believe that New Yorkers and visitors to New York alike can be better informed about the breadth, range and vitality of New York City’s opera-producing community. NYOA is a community-driven organization; together, they aspire to increase awareness of participating organizations, share ideas and resources, and generate revenue for collaborative projects.         

ABOUT OPERA AMERICA

OPERA America leads and serves the entire opera community, supporting the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera. Artistic services help opera companies and creative and performing artists to improve the quality of productions and increase the creation and presentation of North American works. Information, technical and administrative services to opera companies reflect the need for strengthened leadership among staff, trustees and volunteers. Education, audience development and community services are designed to enhance all forms of opera appreciation. OPERA America provides organizational and project support to NYOA, through convenings, facilitated discussion, professional development leadership and access to OPERA America member resources. For more information, please visit https://www.operaamerica.org/

NEW YORK OPERA FEST EVENTS

For additional event details, please visit: http://nyoperafest.com
APRIL 27: New York Opera Festival Kickoff  
Marc A. Scorca Hall; OPERA America’s National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Ave
Featuring excerpts from the 2017 festival and honoring soprano Lauren Flanigan for her contribution to the NYC Opera Community with the 2nd annual NYOA Service Award.
MAY 1: New Camerata Opera presents Peter Rabbit
Venue TBA
A rollicking, action-packed introduction to the world of classical music, featuring the timeless melodies of Gaetano Donizetti. About thirty minutes long, with a brief question and answer session, children learn and laugh at the same time!
MAY 5: Experiments in Opera presents Flash Operas
Symphony Space, Thalia Theater, 2537 Broadway
Experiments in Opera partners with Symphony Space to commission six new short operas based on inventive ‘Flash Fiction’ stories by Jack Handey, A.M. Homes, Patricia Marx, Andrew McCuaig, Peter Mehlman, and Keith Scribner.  
MAY 6 & 7:  Bronx Opera Company presents Verdi’s Falstaff
Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College, 695 Park Ave
An English-language version of Verdi’s Falstaff closes out BxO’s 50th season celebration. Additional performances April 29 & 30 at Lehman College’s Lovinger Theatre.
MAY 10: Regina Opera Company presents a preview of Donizetti’s L'Elisir d'amore 
Our Lady of Perpetual Help school auditorium, 5902 6th Ave, Brooklyn NY
FREE EVENT
Regina Opera Company offers a free “sneak-peek” of their upcoming performance of Donizetti’s sparkling comedy, L’Elisir d’Amore.
MAY 11: Opera on Tap presents Home Brewed Opera
Freddy's Bar and Backroom, 627 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
FREE EVENT
Have a Stella with your Strauss! The Divas of Opera on Tap bring you funny, irreverent, immersive operatic concerts in a casual setting.
MAY 11-13: On Site Opera presents Mozart’s The Secret Gardener (La finta giardiniera) 
The Westside Community Garden, 123 West 89th Street
FREE EVENT
On Site Opera and The Atlanta Opera join together to bring Mozart’s The Secret Gardener (La finta giardiniera) to life in a new site-specific production at the Westside Community Garden.
MAY 11 & 12: Hunter Opera Theater presents Fireworks and Lady Bird
Danny Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue
The NYC premieres of Fireworks by Kitty Brazelton and Lady Bird by Henry Mollicone.
MAY 13, 14, 20 & 21: Regina Opera Company presents Donizetti’s L'Elisir d'amore 
Our Lady of Perpetual Help School Auditorium, 5902 6th Ave, Brooklyn NY
A shy bumpkin – a rich girl – a swaggering soldier – a quack doctor – a love potion. All these add up to sparkling comedy in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love).
MAY 18: Encompass New Opera Theatre presents Paradigm Shifts: Music & Film Festival
Baruch Performing Arts Center, Engelman Recital Hall, 55 Lexington Avenue
A music, opera and film festival, celebrating true stories of courageous change-makers preserving our planet, oceans and wildlife.
MAY 18-20: New Opera NYC presents Rimsky-Korsakov’s Golden Cockerel
Sheen Center for the Arts, 18 Bleecker St
A cornerstone of the Russian opera heritage, based on faux fairytale by a great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and set to a libretto by Vladimir Belsky.
MAY 19 & 20: Rhymes With Opera presents Bonnie Lander’s Coping Mechanisms 
124 Bank Street Theater, 124 Bank St
An improvisatory opera, in which an ensemble of singers create their own narrative, textures, characters and vocalizations, focusing on our need for both privacy and communication in modern society.
MAY 20 & 21: Ardea Arts presents George Plimpton’s Animal Tales
Location TBA
A rambunctious masterpiece bursting with fun, optimism, and insight into the human journey for audiences of all ages. Seven animals and their veterinarian, assisted by a children’s chorus, will raise the curtain on a new family favorite that speaks to the child in all of us.
MAY 20-28: Heartbeat Opera presents annual Spring Festival
Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue
In a new four-character adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen with a brand-new instrumental arrangement, love is a fire that burns everything in its path and leaves no prisoners. A newly orchestrated Puccini’s Madama Butterfly investigates the stereotypes, racism, and misogyny embedded within the foundations of this masterpiece.
MAY 21: SIGN & SING presents Explorations
Symphony Space, Thalia Theater, 2537 Broadway
EXPLORATIONS examines three stories of love and travel – Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus, Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel and Elgar's Sea Pictures  reimagining great works of classical music in sung English and American Sign Language. Open captions and assisted listening devices will be provided.
JUNE 2, 3, 9 & 10: Opera Upper West presents Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied
Baylander IX-514, West Harlem Piers, New York, NY 10027
Board a Vietnam war aircraft carrier and be immersed in the story of Colonel Floyd James Thompson, America's longest serving Prisoner of War. Experience the culture shock of the 60’s and 70’s, and observe how media and memory forge American identity.
JUNE 2: Opera Lafayette presents Rameau’s Les Indes Galates - Part IV
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue
The cast, Opera Lafayette Orchestra, and Gallery Voices, an acclaimed chamber vocal ensemble, highlight the incomparably rich music of this most famously gifted of French composers in this multinational love story set in North America.
JUNE 2: Opera on Tap presents New Brew: Pint-Sized Opera Edition
Barbes, 376 9th St., Brooklyn, NY 
An irreverent and entertaining concert filled to the brim with very short operas that pack a punch (shots of opera, if you will), written by some of today's most exciting composers.
JUNE 5: Vertical Player Repertory presents Britten’s Phaedra
LEIMAY CAVE, 58 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY
A staged performance of Britten's solo cantata for mezzo soprano, featuring Judith Barnes, presented in partnership with LEIMAY, the interdisciplinary ensemble and producing organization, and performed with a reduced chamber ensemble as part of SOAK.
JUNE 15: Opera on Tap presents The Elixir of Love: The Playground Opera
The Playground, Public School 129, 425 W 130th St
FREE EVENT
Opera on Tap returns to Harlem PS 129 for the third year in a row, presenting a colorful re-imagining of Donizetti's Elixir of Love, co-produced by the students and performed in their school playground.
JUNE 15-18: American Opera Projects presents Robert Paterson’s Three Way
BAM Fisher - Fishman Space, 321 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn, NY
The New York premiere of Robert Paterson’s Three Way, a new opera, comprised of three playful one-acts, on the present and future of sex and love.
JUNE 17: Martina Arroyo Foundation presents MAF Prelude to Performance Opera Highlights Concert
Ida K. Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College, East 69th St
Join the exciting young artists of the MAF Prelude to Performance program for excerpts from the upcoming Prelude operas, Bizet's, Carmen and Puccini's, Suor Angelica/ Gianni Schicchi.
JUNE 20 & 22-24: On Site Opera presents Darius Milhaud’s La mère coupable
The Garage, 611 West 50th Street
The U.S. premiere and new site-specific production of Darius Milhaud’s La mère coupable (The Guilty Mother).
JUNE 23: OperaRox Productions presents A New Works Concert
Location TBA
A concert of entirely new songs, featuring OperaRox Young Artists.
TBA: Indie Opera Podcast presents Women in Opera
The National Opera Center, 330 7th Avenue, 8th Floor
FREE EVENT
Prominent women gather from various aspects of Opera Production to discuss issues facing women in opera today. Is access and influence fair or still a loaded game?
TBA: Victor Herbert Renaissance Project LIVE! presents Victor Herbert and the Grand Opera Natoma
Location TBA
VHRP LIVE! will give you an overview of Herbert's place in American musical theatre, the opera's history, our restoration, excerpts from the vocal score, and a comparison of an excerpt on piano with the same excerpt as heard with a full orchestra -- utilizing portions of Herbert's grand opera Natoma.
    
For more info, full schedule and tickets, visit: http://nyoperafest.com