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Three Operas Brought to You by the Letter ‘Z’

Friday, November 09, 2012

Other than Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), how many operas can you name that begin with the letter Z? Consult our Zagat-style guide to find out more.

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Three Letter Arias: Why Opera Still Loves Hand-Written Letters

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

In an age of texting, Twitter and e-mail, the hand-written letter can seem like a relic of ancient times. But not on the opera stage.

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Only the Best

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

"The idea of optimism becomes difficult in difficult times," writes Fred Plotkin. "And yet it is a renewable tonic, one that is not based on naiveté as much as belief."

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Tea and Bagels with Conductor Valery Gergiev

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Russian maestro speaks with Fred Plotkin about a range of topics, including concert hall construction in St. Petersburg, Russia, the stigma around Shostakovich and the benefits of constant touring.

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Top Three Moments for Verdi's Lady Macbeth

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Verdi's musical transformation of Shakespeare's Macbeth shines the spotlight so brightly on his ruthless and ambitious wife that perhaps the opera should be renamed in her honor.

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Sandy Meets The Tempest: The Met Opera Reopens

Thursday, November 01, 2012

After cancelling performances for two days, the Met returned Wednesday with – ironically – a scheduled performance of The Tempest, an opera based on Shakespeare by Thomas Adès.

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A Mystical Madwoman as Unlikely Opera Heroine

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Women and madness is a primal operatic theme, heard in everything from Monteverdi’s Arianna to Donizetti’s Lucia and on to Régine Saint Laurent, the overwrought title character in Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna.

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When Opera Characters Cast Their Spell

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spells, potions, black cats, tarot cards and incantations are the stuff of great opera plots. Fred Plotkin considers some of the great scary characters in the opera canon.

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Hans Werner Henze: The Last Interview?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Nobody should be surprised that composer Hans Werner Henze was at the premiere of a new work days before he died on Oct. 27 in Dresden," writes blogger David Patrick Stearns. "He was unstoppable."

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Master Class: Thomas Allen on Making Mozart's Music Sing

Friday, October 26, 2012

Baritone Thomas Allen emphasizes how both the music of Mozart and the words of da Ponte express a duality that must be captured by singers as both musicians and actors, writes Fred Plotkin

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Top Five Political Satires in Opera

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Saturday Night Live" and Comedy Central don’t have a monopoly on political satire. Commentary on the state of government has been showing up in for centuries in operas by Monteverdi to John Adams.

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Three Reasons Why Wagner’s Rienzi is Rarely Performed

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wagner’s Rienzi is an opera that hardly ever gets produced by major companies. On this edition of Opera in Brief, F. Paul Driscoll names its challenges.

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Review: The Met's Tempest Blows Hot and Cold

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thomas Adès’ operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest arrived at the Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday. David Patrick Stearns writes that it has "only fitful musical brilliance and many theatrical deficits."

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My Father’s an Opera Singer, and So Am I

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If your father is famous or accomplished in his field of endeavor, it creates particular difficulties in forging your own path in the same profession. Blogger Fred Plotkin considers some famed singing families.

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Planet Opera: In Valencia, Spain, the Arts Still Matter

Friday, October 19, 2012

Despite the enormous economic crisis that's crippling Spain, Valencia, its third-largest city, remains a destination for opera. Blogger Fred Plotkin was just there and shares his impressions.

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The Top Three Operas with Nerd Appeal

Thursday, October 18, 2012

From astronomy and math to physics and comparative literature, operas with nerd appeal are becoming increasingly popular.

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The Song of the Ancient Soprano

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"There are a still some very old singers who walk among us, heads only slightly bowed, and seem like messengers from that lost world of opera in the 1920s and 1930s," writes Fred Plotkin. "They actually did know Puccini."

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Thoroughly Postmodern Cecilia

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cecilia Bartoli is bald, vaguely sinister, and in ecclesiastical drag on the cover of her latest recording, "Mission." Tracing the evolution of her persona from the late 1980s to this can be revealing.

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Mirella Freni: La Prudentissima

Friday, October 12, 2012

For almost her entire life, when Mirella Freni sang, all people could do was stop and listen. Fred Plotkin considers why.

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James Levine Plans Met Opera Return in May

Thursday, October 11, 2012

James Levine plans to return to the podium at the Metropolitan Opera in May following a two-year absence, conducting from a wheelchair following a fall last year that left him partially paralyzed.

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