In our modern world of opera, there is little room for the prima donna. They are capricious, hard to work with, often hard to live with. But they are never dull, writes Fred Plotkin.
More than 40 great singers, composers, directors and actors were present at a tribute to Marilyn Horne this week. Blogger Fred Plotkin reflects on her singular career.
This weekend will see a preview of parts of an opera about Salomon Sulzer, a composer known to Schubert and Liszt who was Vienna’s chief cantor during the 19th Century.
A great opera can be loud but not overbearing. That's not the case in many restaurants and other public spaces, where increasing noise has deadened our senses, writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
The centennial of Benjamin Britten's birth is 2013 and blogger Fred Plotkin fears he'll be overlooked amid the bicentennial celebrations of Wagner and Verdi. Here's why he shouldn't be.
Antonin Dvorak's vision of a "New World" still speaks to people today, writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
In the previous dispatches of this series about staging opera in tough economic times, we explored many choices opera companies can make to do great art without descending into financial disaster, whether it be cutting productions, re-using old ones or sharing costs among companies.
When times are tough, many opera companies play it safe. Blogger Fred Plotkin argues for the importance of diverse programming, particularly in light of the recent headlines about the Met's finances.
Like him or not, Christopher Columbus is one of the foremost figures in world history and, as such, more complex than even opera can do justice to. Yet some have tried, writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
When an opera company takes a beloved old production and replaces it with something new and potentially controversial, audiences become alarmed. Blogger Fred Plotkin considers the keepers at the Met.
Even during these tough economic times, the Metropolitan Opera has been charging forth with ambitious projects in the belief that this energy and visibility will keep opera consequential. Blogger Fred Plotkin considers the costs versus benefits.
After the Met's opening night gala, blogger Fred Plotkin considers a cast that was more Moscow than Manhattan, some concerns about Italian singing and house traditions both bygone and emerging.
"The Metropolitan Opera premiere of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena is a cause for celebration and reflection for those of us with long memories," writes Fred Plotkin. And at least one advocate of bel canto opera deserves special credit for its arrival.
They are partly about the fancy wardrobe, air kisses, sparkling wine and finger food. "But a gala is really about the conviction," writes blogger Fred Plotkin, "that art matters and it is incumbent on us all to do our part to keep it front and center in the lives of us all."
Say “Bordeaux” to most people and it is synonymous with the gold standard of wine. But as blogger Fred Plotkin discovered on a visit to the French city, there's also a generous mix of opera, recitals, concerts, dance and plays.
The numbing effects of our everyday lives have been brought into the theater, writes Fred Plotkin. As a result, "most opera audience members do not activate their eyes, ears and other senses to fully take in the experience."
When singers perform music without words, they might perform a vocalise. "Language is a wonderful thing, but sometimes there are no words to express feelings that might be complex, wrenching or exultant," writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
On WQX-Aria, Fred Plotkin asks "Does creative genius reside exclusively in those who write words and music, or also in those who speak or sing these words and music? And are there different types of genius? What defines each?"
For an analogy to modern-day labor-management relations, consider the works of Richard Wagner. "Wagner might have been a bad manager of his own money, but he was very attuned to the dignity of work," writes blogger Fred Plotkin.
The connective thread to the great Italian singers of the past is frayed, writes Fred Plotkin. "I wish Italians would come to feel not only proud of their cultural heritage but actively protective of it and expert in it," he writes.