The trailblazing African-American tenor George Shirley recently wrote an essay on race in opera that serves as a reminder of the opera field's past inequities and potential for progress, writes Fred Plotkin.
A scholarly book looks at the many depictions of people "of color" in opera, including the thorny stage practice in which performers apply heavy makeup to play leading roles such as Otello and Aïda. Fred Plotkin considers.
Opera company managers must decide how to balance the wishes of audiences with the larger goal of moving the artform forward. Those two priorities are not always in sync, writes Fred Plotkin.
"When outstanding singers appear in unfamiliar works, many current operagoers won’t buy tickets," observes Fred Plotkin. "This is a serious problem."
Today is the 256th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But who remembers his sister, Nannerl, who was an aspiring musician who lived in her brother's shadow?
It is one thing to be a famous, historical figure and quite another to be that person's relative. Inevitably, their own destinies are affected by their association with their famous relations.
He is a composer who had no notable success until he was well into his forties, one who is largely forgotten as the 150th anniversary of his birth approaches. But don't let that dissuade you from Frederick Delius.
Many producers believe they have to give an opera a spin or a concept to make it “relevant.” That's what makes The Enchanted Island so different, writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
La Scala, the theater whose stage was the launching pad for a political movement that led to Italy’s becoming a nation, is still at the center of things, writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
Only three of the 75 works voted on in the 2011 Classical Countdown could be called operatic. Blogger Fred Plotkin considers this dearth of vocal pieces and exhorts us to "listen without prejudice."
In anticipation of the world premiere of The Enchanted Island, the new pasticcio (pastiche) at the Metropolitan Opera, a question emerges: just what is a pasticcio?
Certain operas seem like a natural fit for holiday time, writes Fred Plotkin, from Hansel and Gretel to Rimsky-Korsakov's unjustly forgotten Christmas Eve.
La Scala, despite its famous history of temperamental divas and conductors and its frequent labor strife, also reminds us of the dignity, the glory and the sheer visceral thrill of opera, writes Fred Plotkin.
This week marks the 30th anniversary of the premiere of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of La Bohème. This production, more than any other, changed operagoing at the Met, writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
As long as words, whether in printed notes or projected titles, are part of opera- and concert-going, we need to think about better, more meaningful ways to integrate them into performances, writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
How does illness or disability affect creative and performing artists? As blogger Fred Plotkin writes, this question has confronted artists from Mahler and Britten to James Levine and Thomas Quasthoff.
In the past few years, several opera companies have shut their doors, seemingly due to a lack of funding. Blogger Fred Plotkin considers whether it's due to the Great Recession, or part of a larger trend.
It is not that we don’t have excellent singers now, writes Fred Plotkin. But Shirley Verrett’s generation was steeped in the kind of training to be an overall artist that is sorely missing today.
Why do some opera singers have such a hard time with what should be a key part of their job, namely, mastering foreign languages? Blogger Fred Plotkin has some theories.
Catania, Italy was the birthplace of Vincenzo Bellini, perhaps the greatest melodist of any opera composer. Blogger Fred Plotkin offers this guide.