Romantic opera – Repertoire Web Thu, 23 Jun 2022 05:49:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Romantic opera – Repertoire Web 32 32 Interviews with the Lead Actor Nominees – Soap Opera Digest Mon, 20 Jun 2022 18:12:45 +0000

What scenes did you submit for review? “What I submitted was the night Jack may have had too many glasses of juice. He was walking into a darker place when Phyllis stopped to check on him and he told her he never fell in love with her. It’s a calm conversation. I don’t raise my voice one time on this whole tape.
So your 15 minutes was one scene instead of sequenced excerpts? “To me, daytime TV is at its best when you watch people who have known each other for decades. I love it when the viewer says, ‘You saw that, she just changed her mind! Oh my God, I just saw him fall in love with her but he doesn’t know it yet and she doesn’t either, but I know it.’ Those are the magic moments of daytime television.
Do you like sharing the category with your TV brother, Jason Thompson (Billy)? “Jason is one of my favorite actors, who I really like as a person. I’m thrilled to be in any category with him. Jason and I decided that if one of us won, the other would come on stage and slap him.
How awesome is it that Melissa Ordway (Abby) got her first nomination? “I think it’s fantastic. What people don’t understand is all she does. She is expected to be funny, emotionally deep, romantic, sexy, glamorous and on top of all that, motherly. They really ask a lot of her, so I’m glad she got recognition.
We’ll see you then at the awards ceremony? “I’ll be there with my beautiful wife, Mariellen. She’s the best companion possible on a night like this. I’ll have a nervous stomach and she’ll just be calm, calm, calm. And then I can go home. home with her at the end of the night.

What do you think of your nomination? “It’s exciting. It’s always nice to be invited to the party. You know you work hard, and getting an Emmy nomination isn’t what it’s about, but still, it’s is good. It means something so it’s good and I feel very, very grateful. It’s kind of a record that I don’t suck.
What scenes did you submit for review? “Billy usually has fun things to do, but this past year has been a little tough. I kind of just put a few things together, like Billy trying to get his company back from the Newmans and he and Lily were in cahoots trying to make Adam think Billy was falling apart It was fun for me to hang out with Lily and have a good time at dinner and then light up a dime to pretend I was falling I felt that these scene combinations showed a range.
OWhat was it like winning a 2020 Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy under difficult circumstances? “Yeah, due to Covid, there was no awards ceremony as we know it, and all the acceptance speeches were pre-recorded, so it didn’t sound like what you dream of, going up up there and be able to say your thanks live in front of your colleagues and friends. It’s always something you imagine and repeat in your mind, but the truth is you never really know. So I think for me, it’s worth having something ready in my head.
So, will you be attending the awards ceremony? “I’ll be there, but I’m also at my friend’s wedding this weekend in Wyoming, so we’ll be catching a plane that night to make some connections into Wyoming the next day.”

How did you find out that you were nominated? “I got a call from our lovely new publicist, Lia [Maiuri]. I thought I was in trouble. Instead, she called with this unexpectedly good news.
What was your reaction ? When It Happened, Greg Vaughan [Eric] stood in front of my dressing room. Greg saw me and gave me a token air hug from the hallway, trying to maintain protocol. Then I discovered Ari [Zucker] was also named. She let out a scream or a howl, and I put two and two together. I realized that there was happiness in our hallways. It was definitely a good day.
This is your first time editing for the lead actor, isn’t it? “Yes. I’ve always sat on the soapbox suggesting that we support all players. That’s always been my mantra. I’ve always believed soaps are a team sport. Coaxed by a few colleagues, can -being production staff and my sons among everyone else, I decided to throw my hat in the seeding category. One night my boys said something like “Dad, how old do you have to be to be a leader?” I was like, ‘You little stinkers. I’m going to check that box, just because you said that.’
What scenes did you submit? “It was easy. I submitted the same scenes as Stacy Haiduk [Kristen/Susan] submitted, which was Brady and Kristen’s breakup. It was a set of very passionate, very emotional and extremely raw scenes.
Will you bring or wear anything to the awards that has special meaning to you? “It’s a very pertinent question at the moment. I would have said “No” a year and a half ago. I now wear my father’s collegiate ring from Michigan State University. He’s one of the main reasons I got into acting. I was scared to do it, and he said, ‘Don’t be scared. Dark. You like this.’ So I’ll have that ring on me, especially that night.

How did you hear the news? “That was cool. Brad [Bell, executive producer/head writer] called and it was boiling hot. He was excited and happy and congratulating and very proud that I got this nomination, and I said, “Thank you, Brad.” ”
What was your reaction to your fourth Daytime Emmy nomination? “It’s cool. I’m very happy, actually a lot happier than I thought. I’m tickled. My kids are really happy and I have to say I’m very happy to be nominated this year.
What did you submit? “The scenes with Eric and Ridge, where Eric said he didn’t want to be alone in this house.”
When B&B launched the controversial Eric/Quinn/Carter love triangle, did you ever imagine it would result in an Emmy nomination? “No I absolutely didn’t and the fact is that Brad called me into his office and he told me the story [about Eric’s ED] and he wanted to make sure I was comfortable with it. I said I would be happy to play it but I don’t want it to be pitiful. I want him to take control, and he made bad decisions by letting Quinn have a physical relationship outside of the house as long as she stayed with him. I thought it was really powerful. It wasn’t histrionic. It was quite the opposite. It was very emotional but no one was throwing things. That’s why I’m so surprised and thrilled that these scenes were nominated.
Do you think a fourth time can be a charm? “I guess so, maybe, but that’s not what I’m thinking. This is really not the case. It’s win, lose or draw!

How did you find out that you were nominated? “I knew the nominations were coming, but I couldn’t remember when. I got a phone call from Lia [Maiuri] and she said, ‘I have good news.’ I was spinning in my mind and I said, ‘What is this?’ She told me I was nominated.
What was your reaction ? “I said, ‘Wow! Great.’ It was genuinely a surprise. I was very happy with it. I’m more than thrilled and more than happy, but I didn’t really expect that. It’s been a few years since I submitted anything. »
What scenes did you submit? “I submitted scenes from the standalone show, my birthday show. They were scenes where Abe met Lexie in heaven. They were very sweet and the young actress who played Lexie [Jennifer Lee] was wonderful. I felt a bit like Renee [Jones, ex-Lexie] could have been there. You never saw her face, but she looked like Renee and her voice was very similar. And she was such a generous actress. I was very happy with it. I put the scenes together in a slightly different way than I had before. So that contributed to my uncertainty. So to find out that everything was working? I was very, very happy.
Have you spoken to Eric Martsolf? “Yeah. I was talking to Eric the other day and we were like, ‘Maybe we’ll equalise.’ To be honest we would both be happy with that Everything was very nice and positive Eric is such a nice guy and we really enjoyed sharing the nomination.
Do you have a lucky charm or personal memento that you could bring with you to the event? “My wife [Lissa] is my lucky charm. Although a few years ago a friend gave me hourglass shaped cufflinks so I can wear them.

Rusalka, critic of Garsington – country opera worth seeing Mon, 20 Jun 2022 14:14:43 +0000

Ambition has trumped caution and there are great performances to be enjoyed at UK’s summer opera festivals. Two other large-scale and highly romantic opera houses opened over the weekend. Now halfway through the season, the Garsington Opera offers its first staging of Dvořák Rusalka, a production which will be the main operatic event of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. A key factor in Garsington’s high reputation is that he enjoys the Philharmonia orchestra in the pit, and Dvořák’s intoxicating score here vibrates with haunting color under the direction of Douglas Boyd.

The folk tale of the water nymph who longs for human love, only to find that the real world brings rejection and heartache, is open to many interpretations (other productions have offered the rite of passage of a girl to sexual maturity, sex workers luring men to their doom, even the imprisonment of Josef Fritzl and the rape of his daughter).

In Garsington, director Jack Furness is less interventionist, focusing on the chasm that separates the realm of fairies from the world of men. A misty lake, in which water nymphs splash, establishes the enchanted atmosphere of the first, while humans live in a Victorian industrial society, divorced from nature. Seeing a deer’s heart ripped out can turn some stomachs just before the all-important dinner interval.

The cast is good and the main couple is particularly worth the trip to hear. Natalya Romaniw sings Rusalka with unfailing fervor, although sometimes to the detriment of the beauty of the sound. Austro-Australian tenor Gerard Schneider is an advantageous find, embracing both the poetry and the passion of the Prince. With Christine Rice as the mighty witch Ježibaba, Sky Ingram as the foreign princess, and Musa Ngqungwana singing wondrous warnings as the water spirit Vodník, it’s uplifting to hear an opera on this scale in the theater of 600 places from Garsington to Wormsley.


On July 19, then on tour,

Desdemona (Elizabeth Llewellyn) and Emilia (Olivia Ray) in ‘Otello’ © Marc Brenner

The same could be said of Grange Park Opera’s otello. The visceral power of Verdi’s opera could not fail to be thrilling at the newly built Grange Park Opera House at West Horsley Place in Surrey.

Once again the music was in persuasive hands, with conductor Gianluca Marciano pushing the opera forward with momentum and step-by-step speed. Where the strength seemed to be lacking was probably because the acoustics of Grange Park favored the singers (the choir sounded powerful), although The Gascoigne Orchestra could also have benefited from additional string players.

If David Alden’s production has left a lingering impression of deja vu, it’s because he has already directed otello for English National Opera in 2014. It was similar, tense and compelling drama, well-defined characters, a timescale advanced into the 20th century, where Otello and Desdemona’s love is tested in the context of a modern military camp.

Even before the curtain rises, Simon Keenlyside’s Iago is present on the front of the stage. Attract him for otello is one of Grange Park’s aces in the peloton this season and Keenlyside delivers beautifully, singing with strength, style and tremendous command of the lyrics. He brings the character to life from within, as if he is experiencing the drama in the moment. No wonder Verdi thought of calling the opera Iago.

At his side, Gwyn Hughes Jones reaches the heights of Otello with power and intensity, but not always in the Italian way. Between gentleness and dignity, Elizabeth Llewellyn plays a beautifully judged Desdemona, although the vibrato in her voice can be annoying. In the end, Iago doesn’t take flight, as expected. He remains on stage examining the bloodshed he caused – a fitting conclusion for this Iago, who was the driving force from start to finish.


As of July 9,

Chicago Classical Review » » Haymarket Opera brings a romantic gem to life with Bologna’s “The Anonymous Lover” Sat, 18 Jun 2022 19:29:19 +0000
Nicole Cabell (left) with Nathalie Colas in the Haymarket Opera Company production of Joseph Bologne The anonymous lover. Photo: Elliot Mandel

The Haymarket Opera Company premiere in the Midwest The anonymous lover (The anonymous lover) by Joseph Bologna (Knight of St. George) Friday night at DePaul University’s Holtschneider Performance Center was a happy affair, in many ways.

This lively, period-perfect show continues the Chicago-based ensemble’s return to fully staged performances this season, which opened with Stradella’s oratorio. The Susanna in March.

These weekend performances, however, feature HOC audiences at Jarvis Opera Hall. Seating 160, it’s a perfect gem of a theatre, with good sight lines, clear acoustics and inviting intimacy perfectly suited to the Gallic romantic comedy Bologna of the Age of Enlightenment.

What a surprise also to discover the romantic Bologna confection of 1790, a light but quite charming piece which is the only surviving opera by the biracial composer of Franco-Senegalese lineage (1745-99). Formerly sadly labeled “The Black Mozart”, the composer has recently been the subject of a veritable boom in performance and recording in Bologna.

A stage work that languished in near obscurity for some 230 years has resurfaced as if it had just been struck. And there couldn’t be a more fitting set to deliver Chicago’s professional premiere than Haymarket. Since its first season in 2011, the company has enthralled local listeners with its excursions into a mostly obscure baroque and classical repertoire, crafted with meticulous attention to historically informed performance style, period stage mannerisms and costuming. and finely detailed decorations.

Under the faithful hands of Artistic Director Craig Trompeter and Director Sarah Edgar, the show was filled with lavish period costumes by Stephanie Cluggish, lengthy ballet sequences choreographed by Edgar, and an elegant hand-painted set. designed by Wendy Waszut-Barrett, subtly illuminated by designer Brian Schneider.

Looks and sounds reminiscent of the late 18se century in France, when aristocrats in powdered wigs and silk adornments presented such a fare for the delight of their peers at the Sun King’s country palace. Never mind that the rumblings of the Revolution can already be heard beyond the manicured gardens of Versailles.

Photo: Elliot Mandel

That said, HOCs Anonymous lover carried a contemporary freshness and energy born from the caring care of a strong ensemble of period instrumentalists, singers and dancers. The six singers were rewarded for memorizing long portions of spoken and sung dialogue which they delivered with remarkable Gaulish diction – and without a prompter in sight.

The refined gallant know-how of his music for The anonymous lover amply justifies the modern revival. Parts of the score sound like Mozart, parts like French contemporaries like Gretry. Bologna may not have been his equal as a musical genius, but his gift for simple, straightforward lyricism shines through in the somewhat formulaic narrative conventions of his only extant opera.

The ritualized romantic plots of The Anonymous Lover, its libretto, adapted from a popular French play by Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis, no doubt meant something very different to the public of its day than to ours.

But the fulfillment of unrequited love is a theme that belongs as much to the present as to the past – hence the complexity love affair between the main characters, Léontine and Valcour, can and does touch the heart, given the kind of tender loving care he received from the lead singers of HOC’s worthy staging: soprano Nicole Cabell (cast of luxury indeed) as the young widow whose failed marriage makes her resistant to falling in love a second time; and tenor Geoffrey Agpalo as the titular swain who woos her from afar as he waits for his broken heart to heal. (It turns out that Valcour and Leontine’s ghost suitor are one and the same.)

Léontine is the only figure in opera who has developed with real depth in words and music. Cabell seized every opportunity with her radiant singing and touching characterization to take the audience through their conflicted emotional states, from indifference and confusion to restlessness and rapt abandon. Her idiomatic vocalism gave great pleasure throughout. She made a real hit in the ornate aria in the heroine’s second act in which Leontine admits her defenses are crumbling despite her vows to resist the power of love. It was gratifying to have this delightful singer back on a local stage after her many distinguished seasons with Lyric Opera.

Agpalo’s lyricism was also full-bodied and polished, his attention to word meanings relatively close. Added to this was a seductive French nasality to the timbre that suited Valcour’s fiery vocal lines quite well. The lyrical tenor has good stage instincts and he held his own against Cabell in the romantic chemistry department.

Rounding out a beautiful, well-balanced ensemble are Haymarket regulars Nathalie Colas as Léontine’s amused confidante Dorothée; David Govertsen as Ophemon, Valcour’s Don Alfonso-looking buddy; and Erica Schuller and Michael St. Peter as secondary lovers, Jeannette and Colin. A few of them might have resisted the urge to push their voices to the climaxes – unnecessary, given the warm and intimate acoustics.

The performances were based on a new interpretive score prepared for Haymarket by Gregg Sewell and based on surviving historical sources; according to Trompeter, it took hundreds of hours of editing and educated guesswork to produce a usable performing version. A similar endeavor has resulted in a new translation of chattering French dialogue and sung text by Mary Mackay and Edward Wheatley, translated into English surtitles by Alessandra Visconti, all with these performances in mind.

The trumpeter presided over a 17-piece orchestra on period instruments, playing at the lowest pitch of the late 18e-century France; their rhythmic articulation was crisp, their playing overall clear and elegant. The pair of valveless horns suffered a few mishaps but nothing that couldn’t be fixed before sessions begin on Monday for the opera’s planned first recording, for Chicago’s Cedille label. Fluid musical continuity kept the pit in sync with the stage. The elaborate ballet sequences found four dancers gliding gracefully through Edgar’s carefully considered and well-integrated choreography.

Haymarket Opera’s production of The anonymous lover will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Jarvis Opera Hall, Holtschneider Performance Center, De Paul University.

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Eugene Onegin, Opera Holland Park Young Artists review – iIntimacy and Reflection Tue, 14 Jun 2022 12:02:32 +0000

The main cast premiered the show on May 31, but two performances and two school matinees are given by this completely separate line-up, with its own actors, director and conductor. The focus is artist development, and it’s an impressive program, now in its second decade. Among Holland Park’s main productions this year, 17 artists are program alumni.

The production has already received rave reviews, which I am happy to amplify. The set, designed by a “takis”, is very simple: two inclined walls which can be moved into different positions around the back of the stage. High doors open in the panels, transforming them into series of pillars, and the interior of a palace becomes a colonnaded garden. A few rushes in the background suggest a rural setting. It is more or less that. Everything else is achieved through lighting effects (designer Robert Price), which are used to impressive psychological effect, drawing the audience into Onegin’s mind as events conspire against him.

The show is directed by Julia Burbach, but the Young Artists version by Emma Black. Presumably the overall concept came from Burbach, but the details of the Regulated person are in Black. If so, equal credit is earned. The minimal stage concept means drama is especially dependent on compelling and dramatic performances, and for the most part, that’s exactly what we get.

Younger singers always make for a more believable cast, at least for romantic lead roles. Like Tatyana and Onegin, Lucy Anderson (left picture) and Rory Musgrave are incredibly believable. Anderson has a complex, vibrato-rich sound. It’s more satisfying in the midrange than in the high end, but the part doesn’t require much top end. Musgrave completes its sound with an equally sophisticated and polished tone. A lack of power is all that separates these singers from their older colleagues; their tone and artistry are already assured.

Clever voice casting connects Tatyana with Onegin, and Olga with Lensky. Unlike the main couple, the Olga and Lensky of Anna Elizabeth Cooper and Jack Roberts (shown below) both have a clear and direct vocal style. Cooper particularly stands out, even among this fine cast, for his vocal agility and supple, clear phrasing. Jack Roberts has an old-school matinee idol tenor, or he puts one on for Lensky. This proves ideal for projecting the character’s stubbornness and jealousy. Jack Roberts and Anna Elizabeth CooperThe Holland Park stage has a lowered walkway around the front of the pit, which the production uses effectively. The sets of the first act risk becoming overcrowded, which the directors avoid by placing several characters in the foreground. But it’s never just the tracks that sing from here. The tablet the roles remain in the background, the only backdrop to the psychological drama. Despite everything, they are all well cast. More imagination is needed to incorporate young singers into these older roles, especially Emily Hodkinson’s Larina and Jane Monari’s Filippyevna (both pictured below). But, beyond the subtle costumes, the production does not excuse the youth of the singers, and vocally all are impressive. Russian pronunciation is a particular strength of this cast, especially in supporting roles. This speaks of careful preparation on the part of all the singers.

The directors take some dramatic liberties to convey the psychological drama, mostly involving mute characters appearing as apparitions. In the letter scene, Onegin appears and Tatyana addresses him directly as she writes. In the introduction to the duel scene, Lensky appears to Onegin as a kindred spirit, before leaving and returning as an enemy. Lensky’s ghost also haunts Onegin at the Gremin Palace ball. It works well, though the idea is taken too far when the whole Polonaise turns into a nightmarish sequence, with Onegin imagining himself gunning down the entire cast. As Gremin, Henry Grant Kerswell has a suitably world-weary tone (despite his youth). Little effort is made to distinguish Gremin’s palace from previous sets, beyond the smarter costumes, and the production does little with the final scenes, or with Gremin himself.

Emily Hodkinson, Jane Monari and Anna Elizabeth Cooper in Eugene OneginMusically, this performance got off to a shaky start: the capricious tuning of the strings and the foursquare phrasing bode ill. Fortunately, the standards quickly rose with the entry of singers. The City of London Sinfonia appears here as a small pit orchestra, often having to overwork itself to sound like a big one, and the sound of the strings often suffers as a result. Some fine wind solos though, and an impressive performance from Tchaikovsky’s beloved bassoons. Rebecca Knight’s cello solo deserves special mention, her solos bringing real intimacy and warmth. Conductor Hannah von Wiehler lacks imagination with orchestral textures, but her guidance and management of singers is impressive. She is also particularly good at punctuating dramatic climaxes. And the letter scene was just beautiful, a triumph for her and Lucy Anderson. Like the orchestra, the Holland Park Chorus is small but punches above its weight.

Like any Russian opera, Onegin is usually associated with big, mature vocals and deep, rich musical textures. The Young Artists version in Holland Park presents it differently, with more intimacy and more reflection. It’s an impressive showcase for emerging talent, so watch out for all the above names at Holland Park, and further overseas, in the years to come.


“The Elixir of Love” will be presented by the Muddy River Opera Company on June 24 and 26 – Muddy River News Sun, 12 Jun 2022 17:19:42 +0000

QUINCY – Muddy River Opera Company presents Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” on stage for two live performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 24 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 26 at the John Wood’s Mary Ellen Orr Auditorium Community College.

“The Elixir of Love” is a lighthearted romantic comedy. In a small town, Adina and Nemorino have repeatedly denied their mutual affection, but the arrival of an army sergeant and a traveling salesman leads to a series of misunderstandings and ultimately a happy resolution. With sparkling tunes and the famous tenor tune “Una furtiva lagrima”, this comedy is sure to amuse and delight from start to finish.

Tenor Brad Bickhardt, tenor Brad Bickhardt, plays the rural lovesick, while soprano Penelope Schumate embodies Adina, the object of his secret affection. Baritone Rahim Mandal is the dashing Sergeant Belcore, who sets his sights on Adina. Local artist Steven Soebbing, a bass-baritone, is Dulcamara, a street vendor peddling love potions, while local artist Lisa Blake is Giannetta, a local friend of Adina.

The orchestra of local musicians will be conducted by David Galant. The choral ensemble made up of local performers is led by Jillian Miller. The production is directed by Culver-Stockton College drama professor Haidee Heaton.

Half an hour before each performance, Carol Mathieson will give a pre-talk in the auditorium to help people understand the enduring popularity of this light romantic comedy.

A special dinner was organized before the performance on June 24 at 4:30 p.m. at Thyme Square Café, 615 Hampshire.

Opera tickets are $25 for a single or $40 for two. Dinner tickets are $30 each.

Tickets can be purchased online at or in person at Codex Books, 3734 Broadway.

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Cincinnati Opera opens 2022 Summer Festival with LA BOHÈME this month Fri, 10 Jun 2022 10:41:52 +0000

From June 18 to 25 at the Music Hall, let yourself be carried away by one of the most famous love stories ever sung: Giacomo Pucciniit’s La Boheme. The Cincinnati Opera opens its 2022 summer festival with this beloved opera, marking the company’s return to Music Hall after nearly three years away.

La Bohème has captivated generations of viewers with its unforgettable music and sweet sentimental tale of young bohemian lovers in Paris. The romantic favorite is featured in a new Cincinnati production that brings a colorful and whimsical take on the City of Light to the Music Hall stage.

The Story: In his cold apartment on Christmas Eve, penniless poet Rodolfo prepares to celebrate the holiday with friends on the busy streets of the city. But gently knocking on the door, he meets Mimì, whose only candle has gone out. Searching for a match in the dark, hands touch, sparks fly, and lives change forever.

Cast and creative team:

Mimi… Talise Trevigne
Rodolfo … Ji-Min Park
Musetta … Raven McMillon
Marcello … Rodion Pogossov
Hill …André Courville
Schaunard … Ethan Vincent
Benoit/Alcindoro … Thomas Dreeze
Parpignol … Houston Tyrrell
Customs Officer…Dicky Dutton
Sergeant…Randell McGee
Prune Seller…Mitchell Sturges

Conductor…Mark Gibson
Director … Alain Gauthier
Scenography … Olivier Landreville
Costume design … Opéra de Montréal
Lighting design… Thomas C. Hase
Wig and makeup design…James Geier
Choirmaster … Henri Venanzi

With the Cincinnati Opera Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Tickets for La Bohème are on sale now and start at $35. For more information, visit

]]> REVEILS at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis Wed, 08 Jun 2022 14:17:32 +0000

Dr Sacks, Dr Podsnap and staff

“And what is so rare as a day in June? Well I would say a sweet evening in June, outside, on the lawn of the park of the Opéra Théâtre de Saint Louis, enjoying a picnic and wine. It was really beautiful. We had all come to see the world premiere of Alarm clocks. This is a work by composer Tobias Picker and librettist Aryeh Lev Stollman, based on the book by Oliver Sacks.

OTSL is a world-class opera “destination” and is renowned for its productions of new American operas as well as classics. Commissioned by the Opera Theater Saint Louis alarm clocks for its 2020 season, but that production was delayed due to the pandemic. Now it’s coming to the beautiful theater at the Loretto-Hilton Center.

Oliver Sacks was a neurologist – an Oxford alum who spent his career in America. He was a man with great empathy and a deep curiosity for the mysteries of the human brain, of which he was a keen observer. His brilliant essays help us understand these mysteries. He was a central figure in the growing acceptance of “neuro-diversity” around the world – the concept that neurological abnormalities are differences, not necessarily defects. Sacks died in 2015 at the age of eighty-two.

Dr. Sacks’ 1973 book, alarm clocksdescribes his experience with twenty patients at a Bronx hospital who had survived the 1916 pandemic lethargic encephalitis. They had been more or less asleep for decades. Sacks read about a new drug, L-dopa, and thought it might help these patients. He obtained permission to experiment with L-dopa on these twenty people. At first, it seemed like a remarkable success. Many of these patients, who had been nearly comatose, came back to life. They talked, they walked, they even danced! But soon after, strange side effects appeared and the patients eventually relapsed into their old “sleep” conditions.

Dr. Sacks’ book has been adapted into a film, a ballet (by composer Picker) and a one-act play (by Harold Pinter). Her study of the blind Molly Sweeny became a play by Brian Friel.

Many stars were clearly aligned to allow the birth of this new opera. Tobias Picker, who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, was a patient and friend of Dr. Sacks. Librettist Aryeh Stollman was also friends with Sacks. Stollman is a neuro-radiologist and is Picker’s husband. The creators therefore have a deep understanding of this history.

But that’s not quite a story.

We enter to see a scene of disconcerting simplicity. It’s in a hospital. Six large glass panels on wheels serve as partitions, and are moved with agility as needed to provide the patient rooms, the day room, a botanical garden, etc Nurses take care of patients in wheelchairs. In the back we have some institutional radiators. Above and behind is a large projection screen, which will display the outside world: trees, the sky, a climatron. The images sometimes move strangely as befits the confusion in the minds of these afflicted people.

Much of the production team is exactly the same as for EmmelineTobias Picker’s opera presented here four years ago:

DirectorJames Robinson

Scenography Alan Moyer

Suits James Schuette

Lighting Christopher Ackerlind

Video projection Greg Emetaz

They work superbly together.

Librettist Stollman wisely chooses to focus on just three of the twenty patients – Rose, Miriam and Leonard – who will adjust quite differently to their awakening.

Dr. Sacks is sung by baritone Jarrett Porter, who expresses the doctor’s deep empathy – even love – for his patients. Porter has a beautiful, rich voice, but sometimes, at the low end of his range, his lyrics struggle with a slightly too loud and busy orchestra. I found myself relying on surtitles.

The medical director, boss, and nemesis of Dr. Sack, is Dr. Podsnap. (Like Dickensian!) This role is wonderfully sung by bass-baritone David Pittsinger. It emanates from power and authority.

Marc Molomot plays a patient, Leonard, who was torn from life at ten and is now middle-aged. His aging mother comes to read to him every day. Molomot has a beautiful, soft and clear tenor voice – and we can understand every word. Leonard awakens to disturbing new teenage desires that seem most awkward – even embarrassing – in this middle-aged (and, we find, gay) man. Molomot handles these cravings with courage.

Another patient, Miriam, is played by soprano Adrienne Danrich. She gives a moving performance as Miriam meets her lost daughter and granddaughter, who were told she was dead. Miriam gives in to self-pity, becoming tearful as she laments “all those wasted years”, but Ms. Danrich sings it all beautifully. His duet with Rose – “What’s the time for us who choose to live in our dreams?” – is simply beautiful!

For me, the most endearing character is Rose, sung by Susannah Phillips. Mrs Phillips wrung our hearts as Birdie in Regina four years ago, and she wins us over again as the gently optimistic Rose. Of all these patients, it is Rose who most clearly expresses our emotions. She almost always dances dreaming of her love from long ago. Rose receives some of the most listenable songs, and her warm, flowing voice makes for memorable musical moments.

Andres Acosta brings an incredibly beautiful tenor voice to the role of Rodriguez, a nurse. Her duet with Leonard is another highlight of the evening.

The very beautiful voice of Katherine Goeldner and her fine dramatic qualities enrich the role of Iris, Leonard’s mother.

Great chorus work is done throughout, from the sweet opening, where they evoke the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, through some catchy, even chaotic scenes, and the conclusion, which takes us back to the sweet tale. fairies. Congratulations to conductor Kevin J. Miller.

The music is varied, strong and interesting, although there is little real melody. There is often a haunting intensity in the lower part of the orchestra as the vocals float above. Much seems atonal, and very similar to recitative–small repetition, almost a rhyme. A waltz or two are welcome when they come. Conductor Robert Kalb directs the members of the Orchester symphonique de Saint-Louis in a refined and dynamic performance.

But is alarm clocks really a story – a dramatic story?

All in all, it feels more like a case story than a drama. The librettist wisely limits our primary focus to three patients; he wisely allows them to interact with other patients (which is missing from Dr. Sacks’ book). Yet despite everything, none of these patients do anything that affects their fate. things happen at their. They sleep, they wake up, they rejoice, they are afraid, they go back to sleep. There’s pain along the way, but they don’t do anything dramatic choice. You never wonder what these patients are going to do do.

But is alarm clocks really about the patients? Or is it Dr. Sacks, the creators’ beloved friend? He made a choice, and his conscience ached when that choice went wrong. But Picker and Stollman are not content with that. They add a sad little love triangle: Leonard is in love with Mr. Rodriguez, the nurse. Rodriguez is smitten with Dr. Sacks. And bags. . . ? Not yet on the market. It’s almost Chekhovian: everyone is in love with the wrong person.

Of course, none of this is in the book. However, Oliver Sacks was a gay man known for his shyness. He certainly never wanted to be a notoriously gay and shy man. His reluctance to go public with his erotic predilection lasted until he mentioned this predilection in an autobiography a month before his death. Would he have been comfortable seeing that reluctance was the very public central theme of an opera from his book about suffering patients? And would he have made the tragic sleep of these patients a metaphor for his reluctance? Maybe not.

The romantic thing felt very “stuck” to me.

But alarm clocks is given a very beautiful staging at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis. Strange, exciting, often beautiful music, and wonderful voices. It is played until June 24.

For more information visit

(Photos by Eric Woolsey)

‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ returns to SF Opera where it was born | Culture Mon, 06 Jun 2022 21:15:00 +0000

“Dream of the Red Room”, which went from San Francisco Opera to success at the 2017 Hong Kong Arts Festival and then touring China, was the last major contribution of former SF Opera general manager David Gockley, before retiring.

As San Francisco Opera resumes its 2016 world premiere of “Dream of the Red Chamber,” June 14-July 3, Bright Sheng’s musical treatment of a classic Chinese novel is produced by a pan-Pacific cast and crew – Taiwanese, Chinese, Chinese Americans, Koreans, Singaporeans.

Sung in English with English and Chinese surtitles, the opera, which went from the War Memorial to a hit at the 2017 Hong Kong Arts Festival and then on tour in China, was the last major contribution of the former managing director of the SF opera David Gockley, before retiring. He has commissioned 43 new operas over his long career, including eight for the San Francisco company he began directing in 2006.

The source is a huge work, a precursor to endless television series. Cao Xueqin wrote the first 80 chapters of “Dream of the Red Chamber”, first published in 1790, then collaborators added another 40 chapters later. The book, a source of movies and TV series, is so important in China that the word “Redology” was coined for its study.

The most prominent redologist was Zhou Ruchang, who spent seven decades studying the work. Originally supported by Mao Tse-tung, who claimed to have read “Red Room” five times. Zhou, who died in 2012 at the age of 94, still ended up in prison during the Cultural Revolution.

The novel has been compared to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with its tragic romance between Bao Yu (sung by Korean tenor Konu Kim) and Dai Yu (Chinese soprano Meigui Zhang), against the family plan to have him marry the wealthy Bao Chai (the Chinese mezzo Hongni Wu). Important roles are held by the Korean mezzo-soprano Hyona Kim, the Taiwanese soprano Karen Chia-ling Ho; the conductor is the Singaporean Darrell Ang. Director Stan Lai and designer Tim Yip are both Chinese-American.

The librettist is David Henry Hwang, whose first piece – at age 22 – was 1979’s “FOB,” but there’s nothing “freshly landed” from the Los Angeles-born, New York-based author. . Chinese and Asian themes dominate in his vast work of theater and opera, although he freely admits that “my Chinese is practically non-existent”.

The playwright knew Cao Xueqin’s original novel “by its formidable reputation, but I have never read it, not even in translation.”

Known for his many plays, including the Tony Award-winning “M. Butterfly”, Hwang – whose mother was a piano teacher – has a passionate interest in opera. He is the librettist of half a dozen successful operas.

Hwang knew that “of the four great Chinese novels, ‘Dream’ was the domestic and sexiest story. I also knew that it is generally considered the greatest work of Chinese literature.”

Other most acclaimed Chinese classics are “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, attributed to Luo Guanzhong; “Journey to the West”, attributed to Wu Cheng’en; and “Water Margin” or “Outlaws of the Marsh” (All Men Are Brothers), attributed to Shi Nai’an or Luo Guanzhong.

Composer Bright Sheng co-wrote the libretto, crediting Sheng with “a vision for how to approach adaptation”. Hwang only agreed to take on the project if the composer joined him as a co-librettist. He read David Hawkes’ five-volume translation of the novel, known in English as “The Story of the Stone”.

Among those who grew up with Red Chamber is tai chi master and Taoist scholar Chungliang Al Huang, who says the work is a touching story of a love triangle between Bao Yu and his two cousins, Dai Yu and Bao. Chai.

“Even as a teenager,” says Huang, “I was infatuated with this beautifully written, romantic, intriguing and sad story of unrequited love, especially in sympathy with Dai Yu, the tragic heroine who embodies female fragility. poetic. This mega-saga needs time of immersion and maturity for readers to gradually enter the long story with 40 main characters and nearly 500 minor characters.

“Dream of the Red Chamber” was first published in 1791, during the Qing Dynasty. An NPR report on a recent English adaptation offered this summary from Cliffs Notes: “Boy meets Girl #1; then Boy meets Girl #2. Boy loves them both, but he’s in love with girl #1. So when the boy is forced into an arranged marriage with girl #2, tragedy ensues.”

Known for his fusion of Chinese and Western music, Sheng, 67, was born in Shanghai, spent seven years near Tibet during the Cultural Revolution, and has lived and worked in the United States since 1982. His years in Tibet and his interest in folk music led him to collaborate with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project. He said he considers himself and his music to be “100% Chinese and 100% American”, although he also said he rarely thinks about it now.

San Francisco-born actor Francis Jue will portray the non-singing role of the monk. Jue is well known for his theatrical work, including his roles in David Henry Hwang’s plays ‘Soft Power’, ‘Yellow Face’ and ‘M. Butterfly’. Among her many film and television credits are appearances in “Madam Secretary” as Chinese Foreign Minister Chen and The Good Wife.

Jue’s grandfather, Joseph Sunn Jue, was the founder of the Grandview Theater and Grandview Studios in Chinatown. The name Grandview is based on Grand Garden in “Dream of the Red Chamber”. Additionally, Bruce Lee’s father was in Joseph Sun Jue’s film productions and Francis portrayed Bruce Lee’s father in an off-Broadway play. These are just a few of the connections to San Francisco’s Chinatown in Francis Jue’s family history that now tie into his work with “Dream of the Red Chamber.”


“Dream of the Red Room” at the San Francisco Opera

Where: SF War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave, SF

When: June 14-July 3

Tickets: $26 to $408, Live stream at 2 p.m. on June 19 for $25

Contact: (415) 864-3330,

Donkey makes his Met Opera debut Sat, 04 Jun 2022 21:00:00 +0000

Wanda, the donkey making her Metropolitan Opera debut this season, prepares to take the stage for the Cafe Momus stage of ‘La Boheme,’ in New York City. photos: DINA LITOVSKY/nyt

Backstage at the Metropolitan Opera, before the curtain rose recently on a revival of Puccini’s La Bohème, a donkey wearing a pink jester’s hat waited patiently for his cue.

It was Wanda, a 15 year old teenager, with beautiful brown stripes on her back and on her tail. Making her Met debut this season, Wanda plays a brief but notable role in this romantic and tragic opera: during the big scene in Cafe Momus, she pulls a brightly colored cart full of toys, which peddler Parpignol hands out to excited children.

Wanda, with manager Martyn Blackmore, left, and John Allegra and Nancy Novograd, backstage at ‘La Boheme’. DINA LITOVSKY/nyt

In Franco Zeffirelli’s lavish production, the moment is an awe-inspiring spectacle, evoking the Latin Quarter in Paris and bustling with some 250 people on stage – and a donkey and a horse, which pulls a carriage across the stage for a dramatic entrance.

Wanda has big clogs to fill. For 16 seasons, the role was played by the same donkey, Sir Gabriel, adored by the cast and crew behind the scenes. “He was very present at the Met, in Barber of Sevillein Bohemia; he was really loved,” said Nancy Novograd, who runs All Tame Animals, the animal agency that works with the Met. (The agency has also portrayed hissing cockroaches and lion cubs, among other things, for film, fashion, theater and more.)

Handler Max Torgovnick backstage with Wanda the donkey, and Lord, a horse in ‘La Boheme’. DINA LITOVSKY/nyt

Sir Gabriel retired from opera this year at a farm Ms Novograd owns in Maryland. That’s no dark understatement: he’s started a second act as a pet donkey for a mare who lost her mate on a farm down the road. At first the two were distant towards each other, standing on either side of the paddock, but after a few months they grew closer and closer, until they eventually bonded.

And so Wanda took over the torch in Bohemian. She’s in her prime – donkeys often live to be 30-35 – and has prepared for this moment with a wide variety of roles. She’s been to a petting zoo and once stood outside a bar to attract customers. She acted in commercials. And she’s a recurring star of Palm Sunday services at St. Paul and St. Andrew’s Church, as the donkey that Jesus rides in Jerusalem. This season, however, was her first time on the Met stage – and Ms Novograd said, so far so good.

What makes a good opera donkey? It’s not that different from what makes any good opera star. “When it comes to hoofed animals like horses and donkeys, you want one that’s bold rather than calm, which sometimes surprises people,” Ms Novograd said. “There are a lot of things going on that may seem scary or dangerous, and if they’re too shy it will overwhelm them. Confidence is the most important thing, whether it’s a horse, donkey or dog.”

Donald Maxwell and Aleksandra Kurzak enter the Cafe Momus stage during ‘La Boheme’ at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. DINA LITOVSKY/nyt

Every evening of Bohemia run, Wanda comes in a trailer from either Wallkill, New York or the Bronx, where she stays when she has a regular gig in town. Mrs. Novograd and her handlers drag Wanda out of her trailer and head for what is known as “the horse gate”, a grand entrance on the street that leads to the Met’s maze of hallways, past stored costumes, lockers for the cast and stagehands, set pieces and miscellaneous behind the curtain. On opening night, Ms Novograd and three men – carrying buckets and shovels in case of an accident – led Wanda and her equine co-star Lord, a dark chestnut horse, to their waiting spot in the backstage, next to Wanda’s colorful trolley.

Lord pulls a hansom taxi, transporting Musetta’s character and her wealthy, aging lover to Cafe Momus, where they meet Mimi, Rodolfo, and Musetta’s old flame, Marcello. It’s a spectacular entrance, one that Lord, a 19-year-old former racehorse, has been making for years. (He also has a number of other notable roles, including recurring appearances on the TV show Golden ageand was made up as a zebra in The greatest showman.) John Allegra, his owner and on-stage manager, said, “Anyone, really, could ride this horse.”

Mr. Allegra owns 45 horses on a Connecticut farm, many of which are frequent performers. He had two in a recent revival of Aida, whose triumphal scene is one of the most animalistic of the opera. “When the horses hear those horns,” Mr. Allegra said. “They are ready.”

Wanda returns backstage after the Cafe Momus scene from ‘La Boheme’. DINA LITOVSKY/nyt

Behind the scenes of Bohemia, as Act 1 began and snippets of arias drifted offstage, the animals and their handlers slowly put their costumes together. Mr. Allegra donned his 19th century period hat and coat to walk around the stage. Martyn Blackmore, who ran Wanda, also dressed up. Gregory Warren, who plays Parpignol, appeared in his clown make-up and tested the toys in Wanda’s cart, to see which were attached and which weren’t, so he could hand them out to children on stage.

“Animals and children,” Warren said. “Having them on stage really changes things. That’s one of the best things about performing live, it changes every night.”

Wanda’s hat was put on, along with a colorful fabric, blue and gold with a purple fringe, which covered her back. Like a seasoned starlet, she wasn’t fazed by all the tweaks and fuss. Lord chewed on his hat, and sometimes the two huddled together. But Wanda was mostly staring off into space, her big donkey eyes swirling.

Then everyone swung into action. “A donkey is coming down,” someone shouted, urging people to move aside, as the animals were led backstage. A team of machinists and material handlers tied down Lord’s shed, and Musetta and her lover loaded into it, with their paraphernalia purchase packages. A taxi driver stood on it with a whip, and Mr. Allegra, dignified in his period dress, stood beside him.

The signal finally came and Wanda led the way offstage. She emerged amidst the roar of music and crowds, Parpignol peddling her wares, and Mimi and Rodolfo falling in love against the backdrop of the wild and colorful display. It was Wanda’s fleeting moment in the lights.

Wanda pulls a toy cart onstage during the Cafe Momus stage of ‘La Boheme,’ in New York City on May 15.

Just as quickly, she crossed the stage into the wings on the other side, where she was unclipped, stripped, stripped, ready to head to Wallkill, before doing it all again the following night.

But first: time outside and hay.

“After the show,” Ms. Novograd said, “she always gets treats.”

In “Awakenings”, Opera Theater presents the real Oliver Sacks Thu, 02 Jun 2022 10:03:00 +0000

Dr. Oliver Sacks has won worldwide acclaim for writing about his experiences with people with unusual neurological disorders. His work has resulted in several adaptations for stage and screen.

A 1990 film adaptation of his 1973 book “Awakenings” starred Robin Williams as a doctor based on Sacks and Robert Deniro as one of his patients. It earned three Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.

Months before Sacks died in 2015 At 82, he revealed something he had previously felt uncomfortable talking about publicly: he was gay.

Now two of Sacks’ longtime friends have written an opera based on “Awakenings.” For the first time, an adaptation of Sacks’ writing will present him, with accuracy, as a homosexual.

“Awakenings” world premiere at Opera Theater St. Louis This weekend.

Brian Munoz


St. Louis Public Radio

Composer Tobias Picker, left, and his librettist husband Aryeh Lev Stollman Tuesday at the St. Louis Opera Theater in Webster Groves. Picker and Stollman adapted Oliver Sacks’ book “Awakenings” about his experiences treating patients with lethargic encephalitis.

“I knew Private Dr. Sacks. The fact that he came out meant we could really write about him, because we knew him personally,” the composer said. Tobie Picker. “He wanted the world to know who he really was, as much as possible. That became essential to telling the story.

Picker wrote the opera with her husband, Aryeh Lev Stollman, who also knew Sacks. Stollman is an acclaimed novelist who had never written a libretto before. But he had a different qualification on his CV: a neuroradiologist, he works at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

James Robinson is the opera director and Roberto Kalb conducts the members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

“Awakenings” chronicles Sacks’ time with patients with lethargic encephalitis at a hospital in the Bronx. The mysterious illness had left them functionally asleep for decades. Sacks tried experimental therapy, which temporarily awoke them from sleep.

“There is a great weight of responsibility that rests with everyone involved in the project. We all want to treat these people with the utmost respect because what they have been through is so huge,” said Susana Phillips, who appears in the opera as Rose, a patient with lethargic encephalitis.


Brian Munoz


St. Louis Public Radio

Susanna Phillips rehearses as Rose, a patient who pretends to dance with the love of her life, on Tuesday during a scene set at the New York Botanical Garden in the first act of the opera “Awakenings.”

At the time of the events described in the book, Sacks was still 46 years from coming out publicly. By revisiting the story now, the people behind the opera aim to paint a fuller and more accurate picture of the man.

“There’s a chance to go back and tell that story again, with the perspective of where it came from later in life,” said baritone Jarrett Porter, who plays Sacks. “It makes me feel this immense responsibility and sensitivity to this.”

A doctor and a friend

Picker was already a successful composer of European classical music when he first contacted Sacks years ago, hoping the doctor could help him with his Tourette syndrome.

The composer still experiences symptoms, which he describes as a burden. But Sacks was the first person to show genuine interest in how Picker felt about his own condition.

“He helped me come to terms with Tourette syndrome and feel like it was good to have it,” Picker said.

Composer Tobias Picker

Brian Munoz


St. Louis Public Radio

Composer Tobias Picker before the world premiere of the opera ‘Awakenings’ on Tuesday at the St. Louis Opera Theater in Webster Groves

Sacks wrote about his new friend in two books, theorizing a connection between Tourette’s syndrome and Picker’s early compositional style, which may feature abrupt shifts in tone and dynamics.

Picker returned the favor by teaming up with choreographer Aletta Collins to write a ballet inspired by “Awakenings.” It premiered in 2010 and toured the UK. He also wanted to write an opera based on Sacks’ life, which the neurologist encouraged.

“That says so much about him”

The missing piece was Sack’s decision to come out publicly as a gay man, which he did in his 2015 memoir. It was published months before his death.

For their opera, Picker and Stollman augment the actual events of the book with an unrequited love triangle between Sacks, a doctor known as Mr. Rodriguez (Andres Acosta), and patient Leonard Lev, sung by Marc Molomot. Adrienne Danrich and Susanna Philips play two other patients, Miriam and Rose. At a workshop last year at Opera Fusion in Cincinnati, Matthew DiBattista sang Leonard and Joyner Horn sang his mother, Iris.

This “Awakenings” includes a flashback to an incident Sacks related in his memoir. When he was a teenager, his mother found out he was gay and became furious. She called him an abomination and said she wished he had never been born.

This episode is key to understanding Sacks and the empathy he had for people whose medical conditions made them strangers, Picker said.

“It explains so much about him, and his attitude towards his job and his attitude towards wanting to help these patients,” he said.

For years, Sacks has spoken freely in interviews with his decades-long celibacy. But traumatized by his mother’s response many years ago, he lived most of his life unwilling to live openly as a gay man.

It is a struggle that has weighed on several generations of men associated with opera, including its subject, its librettist and its star.

“As a gay man, I’ve also struggled with how I’m going to live my life,” Stollman said. Like Sacks, Stollman grew up in a family of Orthodox Jews. His father was a rabbi. “Am I going to pretend all my life? Or have a life filled with love, which I have. So for me, it’s actually a very personal aspect of this story.

Porter had a comparable experience.

“In my generation, I felt late to coming out as a gay man – I had just turned 29. It’s very different from Oliver, who came out as a gay man. he was over 80 years old.

“But I certainly understand that struggle and what it felt like. It makes me feel like I have a lot to hold on to, with him,” Porter said.

Composer Tobias Picker with Oliver Sacks color.jpeg

Saint-Louis Opera Theater

Tobias Picker and Oliver Sacks became friends after Picker approached the doctor for help with his Tourette syndrome. Sacks has written about Picker in two books, and Picker has adapted “Awakenings” into ballet and now opera.

A missing friend

Sacks paid close attention to how Williams portrayed him in the 1990 film “Awakenings,” attended Picker’s ballet, and occasionally asked his friend about the status of his opera plans.

He reportedly showed up for opening night at the St. Louis Opera Theater this weekend, the composer said.

“I think he would have been a little embarrassed and shy about it, but I think he would have been just thrilled – and extremely excited and nervous,” Picker said. “He loved opera, he loved music, and it would have been a great pleasure for him, I think. And for me, to be with him here.

Sacks finally found the love of his life. During the last six years of his life he was in her first romantic relationship — a happy pairing with writer Bill Hayes.

After spending decades struggling to acknowledge his sexuality, the great storyteller finally imagined a happy ending.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin