Tchaikovsky’s Pikovaia Dama (The Queen of Spades) is the longest Mad Scene in opera. Ghermann is already half nuts when we meet him in the park in St. Petersburg on a windy day, and he gets crazier from scene to scene.
Strict courtly hierarchies and the repressed formality of ritual juxtaposed
with violent sexual jealousy and lurid erotic excess … a stage-world
more suited to the Straussian insalubrity of SalomÈ than to the epic
grandeur of Verdi’s Aida, perhaps?
It costs a lot to look cheap. And it takes a village to raise a child. In
the case of the Metropolitan Opera’s current revival of Donizetti’s
Lucia di Lammermoor, it takes a lot of talent to produce underwhelming
A major label release of a new studio recording of a full opera — with the traditional booklet/libretto — wanders onto the scene almost like a lost and lonely unicorn.
A key measure of operatic star power is the ability to get an obscure work staged — think Joan Sutherland and her run in Massenet’s Esclarmonde, an outlandish wallow in orchestral excess ladled over a libretto of unfathomable goofiness.
Francesco Maria Piave’s Italian libretto for Giuseppe Verdi’s
opera La Traviata is based on the French play La Dame aux
Commanding soprano performances of put-upon heroines securely anchored two recent evenings at the Bastille Opera House.