Theatre and Opera

South Africa’s Richest And Smoothest Jazz

Experiencing any show at Brooklyn Academy of Music is as magical as seeing a show at LTC3, only I don’t have to leave my own borough. The opportunity to see South African jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim is magical on its own. Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) allows for their audience to bring back their signature BAM cup and receive a discount on their drinks, as well as drink in the theatre, which means you are already prepared to sit, sip, and listen to some wonderful sounds. The Jazz Epistles is Abdullah Ibrahim’s classics from his Jazz Epistle, Verse 1...

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Finding “Piramo E Tisbe”

Upon entering the theatre for Piramo E Tisbe, I was intrigued by the setup of the stage and the placement of the orchestra. On one side was a bed and blanket, and on the other side, an elaborate set up of an abandoned space taken over by the past of the Persian War, implying it would be inhibited by anyone seeking shelter. The orchestra consisted of five violinists, Danika Paskvan on viola, Anthony Albrecht on cello, David Ross on flute, two oboes, two bassoons, and Arash Noori on theorbo, and was conducted by Elliot Figg, who accompanied on the...

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“Jack The Ripper” Opera Will Not Glorify Sexual Violence Against Women Says ENO

The English National Opera has promised that the world premiere of a new opera about Jack the Ripper will not glorify sexual violence against women. Jack The Ripper: The Women Of Whitechapel, tells the story of “a disadvantaged group of working-class women who are drawn together in their determination to survive the murderous terror that stalks London in 1888.” Jack the Ripper, who stalked the slum streets around Whitechapel preying on prostitutes, will not be depicted on stage in the opera, composed by Iain Bell with librettist Emma Jenkins. ‘Humanity’ of victims Bell said this was in order to...

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The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble’s “Cendrillon” Showcases Talent But Misses Its Mark

The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble debuted their reimagined production of Pauline Viardot-Garcia’s hidden gem Cendrillon at Warehouse XI in Union Square Friday night to a full house. In only its second season, the Cambridge Chamber Ensemble is committed to presenting underperformed works that deserve attention. Pauline Viardot-Garcia’s chamber operetta was an excellent choice. Delivering on this promise to celebrate little-known artists, only the composer’s bio was included in the program. A brilliant female composer, Viardot-Garcia premiered Cendrillon at the age of 83 and her work is only now being rediscovered after over a century. The salon opera with a cast...

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Composer-in-Residence Clint Borzoni

My current collaborator, John de los Santos, approached me about Adonis after I had just finished the first orchestral reading of my first full length opera, Antinous and Hadrian, which was originally conceived of in the American Opera Projects Composer and the Voice Series and later commissioned by Operamission.  John told me he had this libretto that he had constructed based on select poetry by American poet, Gavin Dillard.  I asked “what are we composing this for?” to which John replied, “I don’t know.”  But, it was his initial passion, and he came up with the concept to create this new form of opera.  However, this piece, at first, was a stretch for me as a composer.

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The Problem Of The Unmarried Woman In “Old, New, Borrowed, Blue”

Metrowest Opera had a full audience in the BCA’s smaller space on Saturday evening for their double act of Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night, and The Beautiful Bridegroom, which they titled Old, New, Borrowed, Blue. Though seemingly disparate pieces thematically and certainly musically, the two pieces worked with the thread of the “unmarried woman” in each and certainly both pieces, written in the 20th and 21st centuries respectively, contain borrowed source material. After the voyeuristic feeling and emotional intensity of Argento’s musically avant-garde Miss Havisham, Dan Shore’s more tonal and comedic Bridegroom was like a lovely dessert with which to...

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At Carnegie Hall, Tianqi Du Chases After Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Naturally, I was eager to see how Du, a progressive, boundary-pushing artist, would interpret Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the epitome of Baroque purism. Inside Carnegie Hall, the evening began promisingly, with an elegantly shot video, reminding us again of Du’s multi-disciplinarian identity. For those in the audience unacquainted with the work, Du’s video passionately argues the significance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, tying the threads both musically and mathematically. A voiceover narration by Du describes the two years he spent at Boston’s New England Conservatory, devoted to unlocking the secrets of Bach, and ends on the cryptic statement that the Goldberg Variations rescued him “from the edge of darkness.”

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Russian Opera Singer Sets 2 World Records In St. Petersburg

Soprano sang highest ever note by a human, and also the most notes in a single second. On April 11 Russian vocalist Svetlana Feodulova set two Guinness world records while performing Mozart’s Rondo during the Show Opera concert in Russia’s cultural capital, St. Petersburg. Not only did she belt out the highest note ever recorded by a human, but she also sang 13 notes in one second – nailing another record The singer is no stranger to setting records. In 2010 Feodulova officially became “the highest coloratura soprano in the world.” In 2013 she also participated in the popular Russian TV...

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Cell Phone Addiction Focus Of Opera Performance

Artists of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet (ADOB) will present the favorite arias of the most-performed operas in a show: NOMOFOBHIA 2018. Nomophobia is described as the phobia that concerns not having a mobile phone or being without phone contact. According to an ADOB statement, on April 23 at 08:00 p.m. on the Opera Stage they will present a performance based on a social reality that shows that the use of mobile phones has recently become crazy, an addiction and even an illness. The musical performance, directed by Aydın Buğra Güven, will make listeners experience the entertaining pleasure...

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Boheme and Beer: an Unconventional Production by Boston Opera Collaborative

Audiences found themselves amidst fermentation vessels and set dressings alike this past Thursday at Turtle Swamp Brewing in Jamaica Plain for the opening night of Boston Opera Collaborative’s modern take on Puccini’s popular La Boheme. From Musetta’s waltz to the lovers’ duet, this timeless piece is a favorite amongst opera-lovers with melodies that ring in your ears and pulse through your heart long after they are over. Overall, this modern treatment was a valiant effort to reconceive this classic with a talented cast of young artists in an alternative space. Despite questionable musical and directorial choices, the astounding energy...

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Love, Death And Soviet Spies: Boston Playwrights’ Theatre Stages Its First Opera, “The Rosenbergs”

It was like the Dreyfus Affair. The Sacco-Vanzetti Trial. Any of those singular moments in history that polarize public opinion, which catapult the guilt or innocence of the few into notoriety. Enter the Rosenbergs. In the 1950s, at the height of Cold War paranoia, the fate of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg drove the left to see a government wielding totalitarian authority, and drove the right to find “commies” in every closet. History has colored the story with different shades — more subtle shades — than the black-and-white, guilty-or-innocent depictions that first emerged when the Rosenbergs were tried and executed...

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Socialist Morality in “The Threepenny Opera”

On Friday, March 23rd, Boston Lyric Opera continued its run of The Threepenny Opera to a sold-out audience at the Huntington Avenue Theatre, another of new venue in a time of flux for the company as they seek a permanent home.  Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s 1930’s adaptation of John Gay’s The Beggars’ Opera imposed a Socialist moral on an essentially nihilist piece of unrepentant characters as Weill and Brecht had become increasingly interested in a Communist solution to the political strife of 1930’s Germany.  Much like different revisions of Bernstein’s Candide, directors are faced with several editions and...

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German Politicians Invest In Opera When Seeking Re-Election–Here’s Why

In virtually all rich democracies, governments subsidize expensive highbrow culture, such as theatre and opera. And they hire artists to work for these theatres and operas as public employees. At first sight, this might seem to pose a puzzle. After all, highbrow culture is elitist. And it seems electorally irrelevant. Parties don’t really compete on culture in elections. It’s unlikely that hiring artists to turn them into grateful voters (patronage) makes electoral sense. Even if it did, the number of actors, singers, dancers, and musicians working in these roles is simply too small to make any meaningful electoral impact. In...

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“La Traviata” at the Teatro Sociale in Rovigo

On February 18th, 2018, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata was staged at the Teatro Sociale in Rovigo.  This Traviata is marvelous in all its parts, but particular attention should be paid to the direction of Alessio Pizzech, and to the sets and costumes of Davide Amadei. The director transformed the house of Violetta Valéry, and then Flora’s house, in two kinds of high-class brothels, where theme parties take place, and consequently, the clothing of the characters was rather irreverent.  While the audience was used to seeing the first scene of the Traviata in a luxury parlor frequented by high society,...

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Musical Futures: Japanese Vocaloid Opera Arrives In Spain

Hatsune Miku, the most famous non-human pop singer in the world, will visit Spain for the first time this month. Keiichiro Shibuya and Hatsune Miku’s Vocaloid Opera The Endwill showed in Madrid’s Naves Matadero between March 22 and 24 and in L’Auditori in Barcelona on March 27th. This is in no way a traditional opera, as there are no singers, no orchestra, and no stage. Instead, all images and music are produced electronically, as is Hatsune Miku herself. Six screens will project animations in 3D, in a technological and artistic event unlike any other. All the music is produced...

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How Does Poland Celebrate Its Independence Through Opera?

Poland in 2018 marks the centenary of the restoration of its sovereignty. The biggest national cultural institutions–museum, galleries, theatres, and concert halls–have developed special projects to celebrate the independence this year, and Teatr Wielki–the Polish National Opera in Warsaw–is no exception. It has been preparing for the occasion since 2015. This change is clearly seen in the repertoire politics of the theatre. The National Opera under the leadership of Mariusz Treliński and Waldemar Dąbrowski Mariusz Treliński and Waldemar Dąbrowski–the team of directors reigning from 2008–transformed the Warsaw opera into a vibrant spot on the cultural map of Poland and...

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“Anæsthesia Transopera” – Interactive Transmedia Opera

In 2016 the art & science collective Dæd Baitz (Agnieszka Jelewska, Michał Krawczak, Paweł Janicki, Rafał Zapała, Michał Cichy, Exu Arin) created a concept and a prototype for an interactive environment for experimental transopera. The project was commissioned by the Polish Theatre Institute in Warsaw. The main dramaturgy was based on texts of the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov. At the end of the nineteenth century, Fyodorov created the concept of Russian Cosmism–a philosophy which literally in many parts prefigures the modern theory of transhumanism, with a deep Christian twist. In Fyodorov’s vision, all people should be resurrected and get...

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Opera Forward Festival: Amsterdam, March 2018

If you ask any resident of Amsterdam: “how did the National Opera House look from the opposite side of the Amstel last weekend?” their answer should very well be: “glowing.” Through the charge of the audiences, the urgency of the moment and the boldness of the craft, DNO’s architectural was shocked with a pulse of electricity from the buzz of the artists and audience who inhabited the building. That’s because the DNO played host to the annual (and undoubtedly successful) “Opera Forward Festival:” an invitation from artists and general public alike to witness the development and craft of the...

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“La Principessa Della Czarda”: Do You Know What Operetta Is?

Do you know what operetta is? Literally, it indicates a small opera, mostly in one act, with a tragic or comic nature. The Operetta became a proper musical genre during the nineteenth century; it designates a music show (orchestra, solos, duets, choir, dances) presented with prose dialogues, which–regardless of any severe stylization for its light mood in contrast with the serious opera and the great comic opera–finds in the frivolous and sometimes lascivious gaiety in the explosions of noisy buffoonery and in the whimsical fantasy of his stage story. It’s a kind of musical! The La Principessa Della Czarda or...

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SIFA’s “Trojan Women”: An Allegory For Modern Times

Euripides’ play Trojan Women has been adapted and performed numerous times around the world, from a version written by Jean-Paul Sartre to American playwright Charles Mee’s 2003 adaptation that included Holocaust and Hiroshima testimonials. This time, it has been given a Korean pansori makeover by SIFA Festival Director and Cultural Medallion winner Ong Keng Sen in a collaboration with the National Theatre of Korea and performed at Victoria Theatre, Singapore. Ong conceived and directed this luminous and mesmerizing Korean opera while the pansori was composed by Korean “living cultural asset,” Ahn Sook-Sun (pictured below), with music composed by Jung Jae Il. Pansori, a Korean folk musical storytelling...

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