Last year, when Bartlett Sher’s production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown opened on Broadway, Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times, “The distractedness of Women the musical mostly feels born of indecision and even boredom, as if it kept getting tired of whatever it was doing.” The show promptly closed, Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 3/22/11 11:18pm
In Robert Lepage’s program notes for his production of an evening of Igor Stravinsky’s short musical fables, which opened in Toronto in 2009 and came to the Brooklyn Academy of Music a few weeks ago, the director remarks on how curious it is that, given the high style and complexity of opera in general and Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 3/15/11 11:48pm
Stefania Dovhan curled up on a bench inside New York City Opera. She leaned her head against the railing of the lobby balcony and gazed out over the Lincoln Center plaza toward the Metropolitan Opera House. She had been there a few days before to see the famous Zeffirelli production of La Bohème, and she’d Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 3/02/11 8:08pm
These days, when James Levine conducts, it makes a statement. And in the midst of a series of health-related cancellations over the past month, he left three opera performances conspicuously untouched. They weren’t the performances with the biggest stars, or even those with the most immediate implications for his career. In fact, they weren’t even Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 2/15/11 10:59pm
The first opera production I ever saw was a Franco Zeffirelli production. As was the one after that. And the one after that.
If you started going to the Metropolitan Opera in the ’80s or ’90s, chances are that Mr. Zeffirelli’s work was the first thing you saw. After all, he directed the classic introductory Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 2/09/11 1:08am
“The American people may not like my face, but they’re going to listen to what I have to say,” Richard Nixon said during the 1968 presidential campaign. Nixon’s embarrassments up to that point, after all, had been primarily visual ones: the disastrously five-o’clock-shadowed 1960 debate, the shine of sweat at his “final” press conference in Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 2/02/11 3:04am
Susan Graham doesn’t want to be your friend.
“Everyone asks me, ‘Are you on Facebook? Do you have a thousand friends?’” the eminent mezzo-soprano said recently in her apartment near Lincoln Center. “I do not. I’m not interested in being friends with people I don’t know in real life. I’ve gotten criticism for it. I Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 1/26/11 12:57am
“A Cosi fan tutte that will haunt me for the rest of my life,” Peter G. Davis wrote in his 1984 New York review of Peter Sellars’ landmark production of Mozart’s opera. The performance took place at the Castle Hill Festival in Ipswich, Mass.; critics noted that the opera’s roadside diner set resembled the places Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 1/19/11 1:26am
For the kind of wrenching, blatantly ironic flourish that opera is known for–”You should know that was your brother you just killed”–there’s really nothing that can beat the end of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca.
The audience watches as dawn breaks over a prison in Rome. The year is 1800. Just a few minutes ago, we heard Read More
By Zachary Woolfe 1/05/11 1:18am
Sometime in the fall of 1852, the composer Giuseppe Verdi decided that his next opera would be based on Alexandre Dumas’ play The Lady of the Camellias. The play, which had been a hit in Paris earlier that year, was a semi-autobiographical story about a high-end prostitute, her love for a young bourgeois gentleman and Read More