Opera

June 30 SF Opera: Two Women

Anna Caterina Antonacci (Cesira) with the Allied troops in the San Francisco Opera production of "Two Women" (photo: Cory Weaver)

‘Two Women’ a powerful story full of operatic potential — and music that doesn’t quite match

Marco Tutino’s accessible musical score, steeped in pleasant tunes and harmonies, is largely too tame to confront the violence and grittiness of the story

By James Sohre
Contributing writer

With an intentional nod to verismo opera, its lush melodies and orchestral effects, San Francisco Opera successfully presented the world premiere of composer Marco Tutino’s Two Women…

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…

Feb. 6 Syracuse Opera: A Little Night Music

Syracuse Opera’s ‘A Little Night Music’ a little too lean

With a pit orchestra of only six players and no projected titles, Sondheim’s “operetta” doesn’t seem whole

By David Abrams

There’s little point in arguing whether Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music is, at its core, a musical or an operetta. It could be either, depending on the resources put into the production effort. Syracuse Opera chose to trumpet the work as “operetta,” not musical theater, during the weeks leading up to Friday’s premiere. And that label calls into question the company’s use of a chamber-sized pit orchestra…

Jan. 7 Met (Live): La Traviata

The Met’s ‘La Traviata’ lean on glamour, rich in insight

Beyond the austere set and surreal visuals, Willy Decker’s controversial 2010 Met production probes deeply into the heroine’s psyche

By David Abrams

Willy Decker’s now five-year-old Met production of La Traviata, like the bottles of champagne uncorked during the bubbly Libiamo, appears to improve with age…

Jan. 9 Met (Live): Les Contes d’Hoffmann

A paucity of memorable stage moments in the Met’s ‘Tales of Hoffmann’

David Rubin reviews the final dress rehearsal of the reprise of the 2009 Bartlett Sher production and finds that the director lacks a strong point of view

By David Rubin

The first question to ask about any performance of Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann is which version of the piece was performed. The opera was left unfinished at the composer’s death in 1880; there is no accepted critical edition…

Nov. 22 Met simulcast: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

The Met’s nicely coiffed ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’ a vocal delight, but the laughs don’t ‘cut it’

The comedic elements take a haircut in this revival of Rossini’s beloved opera buffa

By David Rubin

Bartlett Sher’s 2006 Metropolitan Opera production of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia has been acclaimed for its wit, effervescence and a distinctive feature of the set: a passerelle…

2014 Wexford Festival Opera

Wexford Festival Opera, champion of ‘unjustly neglected’ works, draws opera lovers worldwide

Reviewer James Sohre recaps 63rd season of the international festival, which has now been designated ‘Ireland’s National Opera House’

By James Sohre
Contributing writer

Before a note sounded at Wexford Festival Opera, the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht got the season off to a rousing start by announcing that the venue had been designated henceforth as “Ireland’s National Opera House…”

Nov. 1 Met simulcast: Carmen

The Met mounts a well sung but dramatically unconvincing ‘Carmen’

Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?

By David Abrams

Operagoers have long grown accustomed to sacrificing dramatic integrity for a rewarding musical experience. Joan Sutherland was in her ‘60s when she sang Gilda in scenes from Verdi’s Rigoletto at a Met Gala concert in 1987. Her singing brought the house down, though it’s unlikely that anyone in the theater believed this could be the title character’s teenage daughter…

Oct. 24 Syracuse Opera: Die Fledermaus

Syracuse Opera’s ‘Die Fledermaus’ bubbles over with fun, laughter and irresistible music

The company uncorks its 40th Anniversary season with a visually and musically satisfying production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s farcical operetta

By David Abrams

First, a disclaimer: If you attend Sunday’s final production of Die Fledermaus, don’t come expecting anything even remotely serious. This isn’t Don Giovanni. It’s more like Dom Perignon. But if you’re looking for a good time, you’re headed for the right place…

Oct. 18 Met (Live): Le Nozze di Figaro

The Met’s ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ a happy marriage of ensemble singing and acting

The cast of supporting roles was especially strong in the company’s new production of Mozart’s matchless masterpiece

By David Rubin

If I could bottle one production of one opera to pour for friends who have never seen an opera before but are curious about the art form, it would be this new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York…

Oct. 11 Met simulcast: Macbeth

Anna Netrebko, now a dramatic soprano, shines in the Met’s dark and murky ‘Macbeth’

The former lyric soprano holds up well — and survives the intrusive close-up camerawork of the ‘Live in HD’ transmission

By David Abrams

Ever since the September 24 opening of the Met’s current production of Verdi’s Macbeth, critics have been pretty much unanimous in their acclaim for Anna Netrebko’s portrayal of the iconic Lady Macbeth. The praise is well deserved, all the more so considering the transformation of vocal timbre she had to undergo to prepare for this role. By the time of Saturday’s Live in HD simulcast, about the only question remaining was how the Russian superstar would withstand the intense scrutiny of the close-up camerawork…