David Abrams

Feb. 5 Syracuse Opera: La Bohème

Danielle Pastin (standing) and Casey Finnigan star as Mimi and Rodolfo in the 2016 Syracuse Opera production of Puccini'd "La Boheme"

Syracuse Opera presents a well staged but vocally unspectacular ‘La Bohème’

The set, save for some ineffective props, looks good — but the production lacks the necessary chemistry between Mimi and Rodolfo

By David Abrams

I’m not sure what caused the fire alarms to sound at the Crouse-Hinds Theater shortly before the final act of the Syracuse Opera production of La Bohème. But it was easy to rule out what little sparks had been flying between the two principal characters up to that point…

Nov. 6 Syracuse Opera: Glory Denied

Cast of Syracuse Opera's production of "Glory Denied" (from left: Ashly Neumann as the younger Alyce; Kevin Newell as the younger Thompson; Jennifer Goode Cooper as the older Alyce and Gregory Gerbrandt as the older Thompson

Acting, singing, staging ignite in Syracuse Opera’s ‘Glory Denied’

The company mounts a riveting production of Tom Cipullo’s opera about America’s longest-held POW

By David Abrams

From 1964 through his release from North Vietnam in 1973, Colonel Jim Thompson held the unfortunate distinction of being America’s longest-held prisoner of war. Upon release he returned home to a country, and marriage, that was largely unrecognizable from what he had left nine years earlier…

Oct. 17 Met simulcast: Otello

Aleksandrs Antonenko as Otello and Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona in the Met production of Verdi's "Otello" (phpto: Ken Howard)

The Met delivers a colorblind ‘Otello’ whose Moor is as white as Desdemona 



Should dramatic integrity in Shakespeare be compromised in the name of “political correctness?”



By David Abrams

Opera audiences have long grown accustomed to colorblindness in the casting of principal roles, content to sacrifice some degree of dramatic credibility in order to experience a diversity of singing actors…

CD review: The Complete Viola d’Amore Concertos

VIvaldi: The Complete Viola d'Amore Concertos CD cover

Rachel Barton Pine, Ars Antigua connect on Vivaldi’s viola d’amore concertos

The concert violinist, fascinated with this richly resonant instrument since her teen years, “sings” Vivaldi in a new voice

By David Abrams

When Rachel Barton Pine places her six-stringed 1774 Nicola Gagliano viola d’amore under her chin, 12 strings spring to life…

Sep. 19 Pacifica Quartet

The Pacifica Quartet (file photo) opened the Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music 2015-16 season Sep. 15, (photo: Tristan Cook)

Pacifica Quartet returns to Syracuse, proves once again it is second to none

The Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music engaged the best of the best for its 2015-16 season opener

By David Abrams

The Pacifica Quartet returned to Central New York Saturday to open to the Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music’s 2015-16 season, and did so with the kind of program, playing and execution that has defined SFCM over the course of its 66-year history…

July 22 Cazenovia Counterpoint: Strawberry Fields

A view of the John Lennon shrine in New York's Central Park the setting for Michael Torke's one-act opera, "Strawberry Fields"

‘Strawberry Fields’ adds a touch of Central Park, and John Lennon’s imagination, to Cazenovia

Torke’s one-act opera, the centerpiece of Wednesday’s Society For New Music’s Cazenovia Counterpoint program, draws a capacity crowd

By David Abrams

Cazenovia turned into Central Park Wednesday evening, if only briefly, as the Society For New Music mounted Michael Torke’s one-act opera Strawberry Fields to the delight of a packed-house audience at Cazenovia College’s historic opera house, the Catherine Cummings Theater.

Strawberry Fields is the name of the 2.5-acre “shrine” in New York’s Central Park that serves as a memorial to Beatles’ songwriter-guitarist (and peace activist), John Lennon. At the center of the shrine lay a magnificent mosaic with the word “IMAGINE” radiating from its center…

July 18 Glimmerglass: Cato in Utica

John Holiday as Caesar in The Glimmerglass Festival's 2015 production of Vivaldi's "Cato in Utica" (photo: Dory Schultz)

Glimmerglass Festival’s ‘Cato in Utica’ hails Caesar — and John Holiday’s magnificent countertenor

But the handsomely staged U.S. premiere of Vivaldi’s opera seria, though interesting, pales in comparison with Handel’s operas

By David Abrams

The Glimmerglass Festival presented the long awaited U.S. premier of Vivaldi’s “lost” opera Cato in Utica Saturday to an enthusiastic audience that left little doubt as to which singer was the most noble Roman of them all…

July 11 Glimmerglass: Macbeth

Eric Owens as Macbeth and Melody Moore as Lady Macbeth in The Glimmerglass Festival's 2015 production of "Macbeth" (photo: Karli Cadel)

Glimmerglass Festival’s ‘Macbeth’ a vocal triumph fit for a king

Eric Owens roars and Melody Moore soars in the company’s first-ever production of the Verdi masterpiece

By David Abrams

Shakespeare’s Macbeth may have murdered his way to the throne, but in the new Glimmerglass production of Verdi’s operatic adaptation of the tragedy Eric Owens appears to get there on the sheer power of his colossal bass-baritone…

April 10 Covey Theatre: God of Carnage

‘God of Carnage’ a play for those unafraid of Virginia Woolf

Souls bare and tempers flare in this engaging Covey Theatre Company production

By David Abrams

Serious question: Is God of Carnage a play or a reality show? It’s difficult to tell, since the abstract dialogue leaves few clues as to the substance of the human interactions among the play’s four characters. But whatever logic may lurk between the lines in her script, French playwright Yasmina Reza deserves credit for finding the key to drawing crowds in America: staging couples that trade invectives and rip each other apart in the presence of total strangers. Just ask Jerry Springer…

Mar. 19 Met (Live): Lucia di Lammermoor

The Met’s ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ a vocal, though not dramatic, triumph

Mary Zimmerman’s still-fresh production is made fresher still by Shagimuratova’s glimmering voice, but the acting disappoints

By David Abrams

There’s lots of life left in Mary Zimmerman’s handsomely staged and remarkably fresh Metropolitan Opera production of Lucia di Lammermoor, which debuted in 2007 with Natalie Dessay in the title role and has been reprised here several times since.

There’s lots of life, too, in the voice of Albina Shagimuratova — the title character in the company’s 2015 reprisal that opened March 16…

Mar. 18 Broadway: On the Town

‘On the Town’ is off the charts

Dance is king in Broadway’s hottest show — but the staging, costumes and action will knock you off your feet as well

By David Abrams

The current Broadway revival of On the Town, now playing at the Lyric Theater on 42nd Street, will give you a taste of the Big Apple that will likely linger on your palette for some time to come. This two and one-half hour production is sheer joy from start to finish — with sparkling sets and costumes, spunky dance numbers and a clearly inspired 28-piece orchestra (the largest on Broadway, I am told)…

Mar. 13 CNY Playhouse: God’s Favorite

CNY Playhouse’s ‘God’s Favorite’ a divine comedy

Like the hero in the biblical tale, the company’s well-crafted reworking of the ‘Book of Job’ passes every test

By David Abrams

With friends like Joe Benjamin’s God, who needs enemies? That’s the question Neil Simon appears to raise in his quick-witted comedy God’s Favorite, a modern day setting of the Book of Job that opened on Broadway in 1974…