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Macbeth, LA Opera

On Thursday evening October 13, Los Angeles Opera transmitted Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth live from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in the center of the city, to a pier in Santa Monica and to South Gate Park in Southeastern Los Angeles County. My companion and I saw the opera in High Definition on a twenty-five foot high screen at the park.

Jamie Barton at the Wigmore Hall

“Hi! … I’m at the Wigmore Hall!” American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton’s exuberant excitement at finding herself performing in the world’s premier lieder venue was delightful and infectious. With accompanist James Baillieu, Barton presented what she termed a “love-fest” of some of the duo’s favourite art songs. The programme - Turina, Brahms, Dvořák, Ives, Sibelius - was also surely designed to show-case Barton’s sumptuous and balmy tone, stamina, range and sheer charisma; that is, the qualities which won her the First and Song Prizes at the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.

And London Burned: in conversation with Raphaela Papadakis

Raphaela Papadakis seems to like ‘playing with fire’. After her acclaimed performance as the put-upon maid, Anna, in Independent Opera’s production of Šimon Voseček’s Beidermann and the Arsonists at Sadler’s Wells last year, she is currently rehearsing for the premiere this week of And London Burned, a new opera by Matt Rogers which has been commissioned by Temple Music Foundation to commemorate the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London.

The Nose: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

“If I lacked ears, it would be bad, but still more bearable; but lacking a nose, a man is devil knows what: not a bird, not a citizen—just take and chuck him out the window!”

Věc Makropulos in San Francisco

A fixation on death at San Francisco Opera. A 337 year-old woman gave it all up just now after only six years since she last gave it all up on the War Memorial stage.

The Pearl Fishers at English National Opera

Penny Woolcock's 2010 production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers returned to English National Opera (ENO) for its second revival on 19 October 2018. Designed by Dick Bird (sets) and Kevin Pollard (costumes) the production remains as spectacular as ever, and ENO fielded a promising young cast with Claudia Boyle as Leila, Robert McPherson as Nadir and Jacques Imbrailo as Zurga, plus James Creswell as Nourabad, conducted by Roland Böer.

Center for Contemporary Opera presents Jane Eyre (World Premiere)

Louis Karchin’s Jane Eyre, a full-length opera in three acts with a libretto by Diane Osen based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel, will receive its world premiere at The Kaye Playhouse (Hunter College) on Thursday, October 20, 7:30pm with a second performance on Saturday, October 22, 8pm. Jane Eyre is Karchin’s second opera, composed in 2014, following his critically acclaimed one-act comic opera Romulus.

A Venetian Double: English Touring Opera

Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s fifteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.

Boston Early Music Festival announces the appointment of Melinda Sullivan to the new position of the Lucy Graham Dance Director

Cambridge, MA–The Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Melinda Sullivan to the new position of the Lucy Graham Dance Director.

Academy of Ancient Music: The Fairy Queen at the Barbican Hall

At the end of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus delivers a speech which returns to the play’s central themes: illusion, art and the creative imagination. The sceptical king dismisses ‘The poet’s vision - his ‘eye, in a fine frenzy rolling’ - which ‘gives to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name’; such art, and theatre, is a psychological deception brought about by an excessive, uncontrolled imagination.

Vaughan Williams and Friends: St John's Smith Square

Following the success of previous ‘mini-festivals’ at St John’s Smith Square devoted to Schubert and Schumann, last weekend pianist Anna Tilbrook curated a three-day exploration of the work of Ralph Vaughan Williams and his contemporaries. The music performed in these six concerts was chosen to reflect the changing contexts in which it was composed and to reveal the vast changes in society, politics and culture which occurred during Vaughan Williams’ long life-time (1872-1958) and which shaped his life and creative output.

Bloodless Manon Lescaut at DNO

Trying to work around Manon Lescaut’s episodic structure, this new production presents the plot as the dying protagonist’s feverish hallucinations. The result is a frosty retelling of what is arguably Puccini’s most hot-blooded opera. Musically, the performance also left much to be desired.

English Touring Opera: Xerxes

It is Herodotus who tells us that when Xerxes was marching through Asia to invade Greece, he passed through the town of Kallatebos and saw by the roadside a magnificent plane-tree which, struck by its great beauty, he adorned with golden ornaments, and ordered that a man should remain beside the tree as its eternal guardian.

English National Opera: Tosca

Poor Puccini. He is far too often treated as a ‘box-office hit’ by our ‘major’ opera houses, at least in Anglophone countries. For so consummate a musical dramatist, that is something beyond a pity. Here in London, one is far better advised to go to Holland Park for interesting, intelligent productions, although ENO’s offerings have often had something to be said for them.

Don Pasquale in San Francisco

With only four singers and a short-story-like plot Don Pasquale is an ideal chamber opera. That chamber just now was the 3200 seat War Memorial Opera House where this not always charming opera buffa is an infrequent visitor (post WWII twice in the 1980’s after twice in the 40’s).

“Written in fire”: Momenta Quartet blazes through an Indonesian chamber opera

“Yang sementara tak akan menahan bintang hilang di bimasakti; Yang bergetar akan terhapus.” (“The transient cannot hold on to stars lost in the Milky Way; that which quivers will be erased.”) As soprano Tony Arnold sang these words of Tony Prabowo’s chamber opera Pastoral, with astonishingly crisp Indonesian diction, the first night of the second annual Momenta Festival approached its end.

English National Opera: Don Giovanni

Some operas seemed designed and destined to raise questions and debates - sometimes unanswerable and irresolvable, and often contentious. Termed a dramma giocoso, Mozart’s Don Giovanni has, historically, trodden a movable line between seria and buffa.

World Premiere Eötvös, Wigmore Hall, London

Péter Eötvös’ The Sirens Cycle received its world premiere at the Wigmore Hall, London, on Saturday night with Piia Komsi and the Calder Quartet. An exceptionally interesting new work, which even on first hearing intrigues: imagine studying the score! For The Sirens Cycle is elegantly structured, so intricate and so complex that it will no doubt reveal even greater riches the more familiar it becomes. It works so well because it combines the breadth of vision of an opera, yet is as concise as a chamber miniature. It's exquisite, and could take its place as one of Eötvös's finest works.

Walter Braunfels : Orchestral Songs Vol 1

New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.

Manitoba Underground Opera: Mozart and Offenbach

Manitoba Underground Opera took audiences on a journey — literally and figuratively — as it presented its latest installment of repertory opera between August 19–26.



Jennifer Zetlan [Photo by J & J Photography courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.]
19 Oct 2016

Center for Contemporary Opera presents Jane Eyre (World Premiere)

Louis Karchin’s Jane Eyre, a full-length opera in three acts with a libretto by Diane Osen based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel, will receive its world premiere at The Kaye Playhouse (Hunter College) on Thursday, October 20, 7:30pm with a second performance on Saturday, October 22, 8pm. Jane Eyre is Karchin’s second opera, composed in 2014, following his critically acclaimed one-act comic opera Romulus.  »

Recently in Commentary

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07 Apr 2007

Ruth Ann’s Rampage: Nobody Wins

Based on reading the New York Times’ account of Met opera soprano Ruth Ann Swenson’s distemper with her home company in New York, published Thursday 5 April over the byline of Daniel J. Wakin, it is hard to find either motivation or reasonable expectation of reward for any of the participants in this travesty – reporter, newspaper, opera manager Peter Gelb (who comes off best), or, least of all, the distraught diva. »

08 Mar 2007

Conlon makes his mark at LA Opera

To his work as music director of the Los Angeles Opera James Conlon brings two commitments that some in music would find incompatible. »

22 Feb 2007

Launch of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007

Record number of singers auditioned Three countries competing for first time New sponsorship and increased prize money »

14 Feb 2007

The Handel Singing Competition 2007 – Win or Lose?

Singing competitions are a mixed blessing. »

08 Feb 2007

HGO announces season

Two Mozart operas — “Magic Flute” and “Abduction from the Serail” — head the list of works to be performed by the Houston Grand Opera in its 2007- 08 season that opens with Verdi’s “Masked Ball” on October 19. »

15 Nov 2006

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007

The worldwide search is on for opera’s rising stars to compete for the coveted title BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007 and a £15,000 prize. »

07 Nov 2006

On The Academy of Vocal Arts

The Academy of Vocal Arts, based in the hub of Philadelphia, has one of the richest traditions of training and nurturing operatic singers. »

16 Oct 2006

Opera at Curtis

Curtis, America’s top fully funded conservatory, is on the move as one of the nation’s leading opera preparatory programs. »

08 Oct 2006

“A voice so beautiful, it will break your heart.”

Mary-Lou Vetere-Borghoff interviews Soprano Jennifer O’Loughlin of the Vienna Volksoper »

08 Oct 2006

Settling the Score — An Interview with Philip Gossett

Introduction: Philip Gossett is one of those rarities in academia: a scholar of the first order and a consummate teacher. »

01 Oct 2006

Pairing and Elaboration

The character configuration in Vivaldi’s Tito Manlio is unusual because of its musical pairing of the prima donna Servilia with the seconda donna Vitellia not just once, but twice in the second act of the opera. »

01 Oct 2006

Pratolino, Venice, Mantua: Musings on Vivaldi’s Tito Manlio

Tito Manlio, Vivaldi’s second opera in Mantua for the 1718/19 season, is fraught with political and familial tensions.1 »

12 Sep 2006

Opera in Paris

What a difference a year makes. Music lovers who rely on their memories to find the right places to hear music in Paris could be for a surprise if they do not check beforehand what France has now to offer. »

01 Sep 2006

The Bostridge Phenomenon

The curious phenomenon of British tenor manqué, Ian Bostridge, continues to astound, as his concert and even operatic dates, primarily in Europe, mount; his recordings increase, and his appeal to a certain section of the classical audience (they would likely call themselves, “cognoscenti”) endures. I have to wonder why? »

23 Jun 2006

"Castrato" — In Search of a Lost Voice

Nestling artistically in a bowl, carefully arranged and lit to suit the camera early in the programme, the testicles seemed to glow softly with their hidden history, their inherent potential and, now, their very lack of future. »

08 May 2006

Hello, cruel world

With its mismatched couples and absurd plot, Cosi Fan Tutte is thought of as Mozart's 'frivolous' opera. »

07 May 2006

Andrew Clark: All the world’s his stage

The scene is an urban wasteland at night. A young man is having sex with a woman in the back of a car while his sidekick keeps watch. An older man appears, hell-bent on attacking his daughter’s seducer. »

20 Apr 2006

Alex Ross on Adriana Mater

A new opera from the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. »

09 Apr 2006

The Guardian on Helen of Troy and Opera

She'll always have ParisSexual icon, dark temptress or a smutty comedienne? Helen of Troy has fascinated writers and composers for centuries. »

07 Apr 2006

Rosie Millard on the price of tickets at Covent Garden

The Royal Opera House is publicly funded - so why does it charge more than £100 per seat, asks Rosie Millard »

03 Apr 2006

Young Man in a Hurry — Iestyn Davies

I met with Iestyn Davies at 1330 hours precisely, on the steps of the Hippodrome theatre, Bristol, England, where he was singing the role of Hamor in Welsh National Opera’s riveting production of Handel’s “Jephtha”. »

20 Mar 2006


Ian Bostridge sings Benjamin Britten. »

20 Mar 2006

Snip judgment

Rupert Christiansen laments the lost art of the castrato »

28 Feb 2006

Fabulous Mister Fat Belly

He's a terrible old rogue - but to opera composers, he's irresistible. Tim Ashley on the deathless appeal of Falstaff »

16 Feb 2006

LA Times: A sense of adventure lost. And found.

Conservatism is once more on the rise in the orchestral world but the starchy old Met, under new boss Peter Gelb, is trying to buck the trend. »

16 Feb 2006

The Guardian Interviews Violeta Urmana: 'My voice decides what's good for me'

First she was forced to sing mezzo roles. Then she was invited to be president of Lithuania. Violeta Urmana tells Tim Ashley why she prefers life as a soprano »

10 Feb 2006

Remembering Schumann

According to Charles K. Moss, "Robert Schumann was one of the driving forces of the young Romantic movement in Germany. And like many in his generation, Schumann did not seem destined to become a composer, let alone one who would be so influential in the development of a new style. But music became all-important to Schumann, and he displayed multiple talents as a performer, composer, and literary exponent of Romanticism, championing new composers and their works and influencing the musical tastes of a generation." This year marks the 150th anniversary of Schumann's death. »

08 Feb 2006

The truth about Shostakovich in his centenary year

Dmitry Shostakovich survived Stalin's rule by the skin of his teeth. But is his music really the Soviet propaganda that many people claim? »

30 Jan 2006

Alex Ross on Beethoven's Great Fugue

Secrets of a Beethoven manuscript. »

17 Jan 2006


It must not have been an easy life, being Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Perhaps even more so after the fact when scholars began to do their research and “wanna bes” began their intimations and psychoanalyzing. In the more seventy-five years of Mozart scholarship and its coming of age, one must ask: How much more is there to learn, to research? »

14 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Dmitri Shostakovich

In from the cold »

13 Jan 2006

The New San Francisco Opera

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA [11 January 2006]: "The San Francisco Opera today unveiled a new visual identity for the Company, heralding the beginning of a new era under the leadership of David Gockley, who became the Company’s sixth general director on January 1, 2006. Elements of San Francisco Opera’s new image include a new logo, a glamorous and sophisticated new look for the print materials, and a major redesign of the Company’s Web site." »

12 Jan 2006

Tributes to Birgit Nilsson

Birgit Nilsson died on 25 December 2005 at age 87. Her death was announced on 11 January 2006. Here are three tributes to this great soprano. »

09 Jan 2006

DNA detectives discover more skeletons in Mozart family closet

Scientists reveal results of tests on skull unearthed by Viennese gravedigger »

07 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Beaumarchais

How to stage a revolutionBeaumarchais, the dramatist behind The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville, was more than a mere playwright - he shaped the 18th century. »

07 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Lorenzo da Ponte

The phoenixA poet, priest and womaniser, who ended his days as a grocer, he also wrote the words to some of the greatest operas. On the eve of Mozart's 250th anniversary, Anthony Holden looks at the colourful life of his librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte »

01 Jan 2006

A musical genius? No, Mozart was just a hard-working boy

With the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth just weeks away, the source of his brilliance is being disputed. Alice O'Keeffe reports »

20 Dec 2005

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe himself as a musical hero: The case of Lehár’s Friederike

Franz Lehár was not the first to think of Goethe as an opera or operetta hero. There was the precedent of Giacomo Meyerbeer himself who in his old age wrote theatre music for a piece called La Jeunesse de Goethe. The piece was never performed. »

11 Dec 2005

Grammy Award Nominees — Classical Vocal Music

The following are the nominees for the Grammy award in selected categories pertaining to classical vocal music. »

10 Dec 2005


Giulio Cesare in Egitto was the fifth of the full-length operas composed by Handel for London’s Royal Academy of Music, the opera company founded in 1719 by a group of noblemen with the objective of staging Italian opera seria. »

08 Dec 2005

A Fresh Look at Giulia Grisi

Giulia Grisi must be, by whatever standard is applied, regarded as one of the greatest and most important soprano singers who ever graced the operatic stage, »

15 Nov 2005

Symphony and Opera take different paths to getting new behinds into those velvet seats

Classical performing organizations are feeling a little antsy nowadays, all except for the ones that are flat-out running scared. »

11 Nov 2005

FeedBlitz Subscribers

For those who are subscribers to FeedBlitz, please take notice that changes have been made to the settings to correct certain errors. Subscribers to Opera Today (All Articles) will receive articles but no news headlines. Subscribers who want both articles... »

01 Nov 2005

vilaine fille: Turandot

Puccini's Turandot is an opera to whose sinister charms I was long immune. I'm not sure what happened in recent years to make me love it. »

29 Oct 2005

The Paris Opera Scene

The city-funded Théâtre du Châtelet, an operatic David to Paris Opera’s Goliath, managed to make the biggest artistic splash of the new season. Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre, which opened October 21, following Das Rheingold by two days, was generally well cast, surely conducted and, as staged by Robert Wilson, brimming with theatrical interest. The two final operas will follow in November/December with two complete cycles offered in April. »

27 Oct 2005

“La Muette de Portici” : a small revolt in Ghent

No opera history is complete without mentioning that Auber’s La Muette de Portici caused Belgium’s revolution against Holland in 1830. As a historian I know there are three falsehoods in that one small sentence. »

23 Oct 2005

The twists and trysts of Tosca

A few years ago, I had the rare experience of attending a performance of Tosca in a small farm community where opera was a fairly new commodity. After the second act ended, with Scarpia's corpse lying center stage, I happened to overhear a young, wide-eyed woman say to her companion, "I knew she was upset, but I didn't think she'd KILL him!" »

17 Oct 2005

Alex Ross on City Opera’s fall season

New York City Opera opened in February, 1944, at the height of the battles of Anzio and Truk. If skeptics thought it frivolous to start an opera company in the middle of a world war, Fiorello LaGuardia straightened them out: the music-loving Mayor believed that opera was essential to city life, and he wanted lower- and middle-class New Yorkers to have it at affordable prices, without pretension. »