Monday, September 26, 2011

First week of the NY opera season (Sept. 26-Oct. 2)

With City Opera in exile, James Levine re-injured and in limbo, the least appetizing Met season in memory even before Levine's mishap and consequent cancellations, tenor Salvatore Licitra recently dead in a scooter accident, and the entire European financial system (a vital indirect source of Met revenue, among other things) perhaps set to implode, this is the gloomiest start to an opera season I can remember. Nevertheless, big opera returns, as does this weekly feature. A revised Met season preview will shortly follow, along with a post on Atys.

Metropolitan Opera:
Anna Bolena (M/F), Nabucco (Tu/SE), Barber (SM)
I confess I have no interest in seeing the new Donizetti production with Netrebko, whose bel canto days are a distant memory. Garanca's pregnancy-induced cancellation has deprived the rest of the intriguing cast of some star power but not, perhaps, much musical interest, as mezzo Ekaterina Gubanova gets a meatier part for her talents than her appearance in the 2009 Hoffmann offered; meanwhile tenor Stephen Costello gets to show if the buzz from his 2007 opening night Arturo was warranted. We've already seen Nabucco's exciting tenor -- Yonghoon Lee -- in a cornerstone role, though of course Ismaele doesn't sing nearly as much as Don Carlos. Still, he and the rest of the cast -- including Lucic, an apparently-rejuvenated Guleghina, and, in a tiny tiny debut part, 2007 Met Council winner Amber Wagner -- should give the Met's most recently-discovered warhorse some life. And yes, the only real reason to see yet another Barber revival is Peter Mattei in the title part, but that is a good reason.

Please note the new, less civilized start time of 7:30PM for non-gala evening shows.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The first big operatic show of the season is next week's Atys at BAM, but tomorrow brings a Fashion Week diversion: Pocket Opera of New York's collaboration-mashup with BOOK HOMME's spring collection (2pm at 157 W24th St., RSVP by email). Electronic Monteverdi (Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria), a Greek-fisherman-inspired menswear line, and -- probably of most interest to readers -- the singing of countertenor Nicholas Tamagna will be on display.

Those who've followed this blog from the beginning may know that I have a pronounced lack of fondness for the countertenor voice, but Tamagna impressed considerably in this company's March staging of Alcina -- one of the dozen or so shows last season I meant to write up but didn't. Mind you, I'm not sure how much of the dramatic and character skills Tamagna showed in the fully-staged Handel will get aired in this context, but there are less entertaining ways one could spend a New York afternoon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


If, in the wider world, the process of papering over the terrible impolite truths of September 11 with repellent attempts to be inoffensive is well advanced, the blogger who begat my own blog-writing offers a different proposition:
The story of September 11 must for all time become the story of how a certain date became unspeakable to al-Qaeda and its followers; a tale of how this day of all others, became the blackest day in the history of Islam. It should forever be a date that can never be mentioned without arousing a deep sense of shame throughout the Middle East so that in generations hence, people should still come up to strangers unbidden and say, "I'm sorry for September 11." Until then it is unfinished business.

We have no right to forgive. We have no right to forget. We have no right to move on until this final condition is met. That in the holy of holies of our civilization’s enemies, in the innermost recesses of their sanctum sanctorum they should say with heartfelt ardor: never again. Never again. Never, ever again.





Wednesday, September 07, 2011

New page

As perhaps with many of you, I only sporadically follow opera during the offseason, so it wasn't until the Met emailed me its cancellation of Levine's conversation next week that I discovered, belatedly, that things had become this serious:
Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine has canceled his fall conducting engagements after reinjuring his back, and Italian conductor Fabio Luisi has been named principal conductor.
Even though I don't really want to see him as a long-term first option in the pit, Luisi has done well or better in most of his engagements here. I wish him well for the season.

In more blog-specific news, I've finished the summer hiatus. Unlike, you know, City Opera, a lone electronic pamphleteer can vanish for a while and reappear pretty easily. But that's a topic for another post...