Opera in America seeks to avoid a swan-song moment

The Metropolitan Opera House’s “Sputnik” chandeliers. Photo: Paula Soler-Moya, Flickr creative commons.

The Metropolitan Opera House’s “Sputnik” chandeliers. Photo: Paula Soler-Moya, Flickr creative commons.

Who knew that opera’s story is, in some ways, a mirror of America?
Its most hallowed hall, the Met in New York, remains an icon of an elite art form.
But to thrive elsewhere, opera might need to find a more common touch. — Mark.

NEW YORK, NY — The Christian Science Monitor published the following in The 30 Sec. Read. Written by Weston William.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera finished its 2016-17 season on a high note: Its May broadcast of “Der Rosenkavalier” was seen by a vast global audience. And that same month the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary in its Lincoln Center home.

But offstage things were less celebratory. Although opera lovers argue that performance standards have never been higher, ticket sales are lagging, as is the enthusiasm of American audiences.

Opera is struggling, says Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, as it transitions “from an aging audience to a new one.” That’s why, across the United States, some opera companies are turning to smaller-scale, more unusual works that address the problems of the modern world, productions like Philip Glass’s “The Perfect American,” based on the life of Walt Disney.

At its best, opera draws on something universal that does not alter with time or trends, says Douglas Clayton, general director of Chicago Opera Theater. “[A]s long as we’re human beings … we will still have this desire to connect with other people, and to be creative about how we do that.”

I am intrigued by the idea of Philip Glass’s “The Perfect American.” Hmmm.

Opera: Lucia Popp singing Queen of the Night and O mio babbino caro.

Lucia Popp. A 1986 recording session. © Clive Barda/ArenaPAL 2014.

Lucia Popp. A 1986 recording session. © Clive Barda/ArenaPAL 2014.

One of my favorite sopranos of all time, Lucia Popp. Here are two of my favorite arias sung by this divine singer.

Queen of the Night. Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by Mozart.

 

If anyone sings  “O mio babbino caro” any lovelier than Ms. Popp I don’t know who it is. Gianni Schicchi by Puccini.

Opera: One to watch — Ekaterina Bakanova

Ekaterina Bakanova in the role of Musetta in La Bohème at the Royal Opera House in 2015. Credit: Royal Opera House.

Ekaterina Bakanova in the role of Musetta in La Bohème at the Royal Opera House in 2015. Credit: Royal Opera House.

LONDON — The 30-year-old soprano Ekaterina Bakanova was in the midst of a routine rehearsal at the Royal Opera House in July 2015 when she was rushed into the spotlight. The star of that evening’s “La Traviata” performance at the same venue was unwell — could Ms. Bakanova step in and sing the title role of Violetta in Verdi’s opera five hours later?

Stunned and incredulous, the Russian-born singer paused briefly to think about it, then accepted. Her performance earned a standing ovation and glowing reviews, followed by offers from major opera houses in Barcelona, Spain, and Dresden, Germany.

On June 14, Ms. Bakanova is scheduled to be back at Covent Garden in the same role (this time in her own right) for five performances.

Music critics and opera managers all recognize her artistic abilities and stage presence. Whether she is the next big opera star, they say, is something that only time will determine. Continue reading »

Source. New York Times (by Farah Nayeri, 2 June 2017).

* * *

Here’s the lady in action.

Related Video

Final Scene — “La Traviata”, Act 3.
G. Verdi, Opera Astana Kasakhstan, October 2014
Violetta Valéry: Ekaterina Bakanova
Alfredo Germont: Vincenzo Costanzo

Opera in the Park makes Opera and musical theater accessible

Image Source: James Gill Photography LLC.

Image Source: James Gill Photography LLC.

MADISON, Wisconsin — Back for its 16th year comes Madison Opera’s Opera in the Park, which offers the public a glimpse of operatic beauty — at no charge.

Throughout the evening, performers will be “singing things from the upcoming season,” said Kathryn Smith, general director of Madison Opera.

“From ‘Carmen’ to ‘The Abduction from the Seraglio’ and ‘Florencia en el Amazonas’ and then they’ll be singing other opera things, musical theater or operetta things. The audience might know or might not know them.”

As Garner Park further darkens into night, the concert is set aglow by different kinds of glowing objects such as glow sticks, light-up rings and necklaces.

At one point in the evening, audience members can even help “conduct” the music using their glow sticks. The sticks and necklaces are sold for $1 and the rings are $2. Continue reading »