Articles by Philip Hodge

The Magic Flute Review – Pocket Opera is Magic

The Magic Flute Review –  Pocket Opera is Magic I have lived on the peninsula for 21 years, and have subscribed to Pocket Opera for all of that time. Many of the performers keep coming back, and I always delight when I look at the program and see more and more names that I recognize and remember

Madama Butterfly Review – Opera San Jose’s Provocative Take on Puccini’s Classic Favorite

Madama Butterfly Review  –   Opera San Jose’s Provocative Take on Puccini’s Classic Favorite Conductor David Rohrbaugh's handling of the extended quiet musical passage at the end of Act I was exquisite; the audience paid him the ultimate tribute: they held their applause until the last quiet note had been played and he had lowered his arms

Elixir of Love Review – West Bay Opera produces another gem

Elixir of Love Review – West Bay Opera produces another gem I am amazed all over again at the overall excellence of this small company. Every ingredient outstanding, and they all combine and are so compatible with each other that the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts

Barber of Seville SFO Review – Some new Twists on an old Favorite

Barber of Seville SFO Review – Some new Twists on an old Favorite Rossini’s The Barber of Seville has music so basic, characters so stock, and plot so simple that a director can put almost anything on stage without creating any blatant inconsistencies.

GALA Review – West Bay Opera starts a tradition?

GALA Review – West Bay Opera starts a tradition? Do you wonder that I rave about WBOpera’s casts? When sopranos of this quality were only understudies during the regular season!

Hansel & Gretel Review – An Afternoon of Sheer Delight

Hansel & Gretel Review  –   An Afternoon of Sheer Delight The two children are lost, it’s getting dark, and there are mysterious noises in the woods

Irene Review – Revival of the 1919 hit Musical

Irene Review – Revival of the 1919 hit Musical What does the Opera Nut do on November 1, 2013, when faced with a two-week vacation after seeing 6 operas (and reviewing 4 of them) in October?

Flying Dutchman SFO Review – Who says Wagner is Inaccessible?

Flying Dutchman SFO Review –  Who says Wagner is Inaccessible? Be careful what you wish for - you may get it

Falstaff SFO Review – A first rate Treatment with a strong Bass

Falstaff SFO Review – A first rate Treatment with a strong Bass When you start with a plot by Shakespeare, music by Verdi, libretto by Boito, an orchestra conducted by Nicola Luisotti, and title role sung by Bryn Terfel, it is not surprising that the result is a wonderful evening of entertainment

Tosca Review – West Bay Opera’s #1 Performance of a #1 Opera

Tosca Review – West Bay Opera’s #1 Performance of a #1 Opera Tosca’s poignant Vissi d’arte, Mario’s lovely O dolce mani, and Scarpia’s doom-threatening motif are competing for attention in my head

Eugene Onegin MetHD Review – Anna Netrebko IS Tatiana

Eugene Onegin MetHD Review – Anna Netrebko IS Tatiana Anna Netrebko is in a class by herself; every muscle of her face and body, every note of her voice tell you exactly what she is thinking and feeling; it almost seems indecent to expose a teen-age girl’s innermost being to a world-wide audience

Dolores Claiborne Review – Grim but Fascinating

Dolores Claiborne Review – Grim but Fascinating The role of Dolores Claiborne was played by Patricia Racette, but you can’t fool me; The woman who walked into her dressing room may well have been Patricia Racette, but the woman who walked on stage Sunday afternoon was Dolores Claiborne

Mefistofele Review, Part II, the Production – San Francisco Opera does full justice to Boito’s masterpiece

Mefistofele Review, Part II, the Production – San Francisco Opera does full justice to Boito’s masterpiece I won’t go far as Faust: “If I would haply say to the moment flying, ‘Stay thee, for thou art blissful’ Ah! let me die then, And let hell there engulf me!” but the 4 hours in the War memorial Theatre with Boito's Mefistofeles were indeed Blissful

Mefistofele Review – Boito’s Opera is truly epic

Mefistofele Review – Boito’s Opera is truly epic I walk into the War Memorial Opera House, I show my ticket, the usher hands me a program, I glance at the cover, and WOW!

Falstaff OSJ Review – ‘Tis the Season to be Merry (Wives of Windsor, that is)

Falstaff OSJ Review  –   ‘Tis the Season to be Merry (Wives of Windsor, that is) To the world, Falstaff is elderly, obese, ridiculous – an object of scorn – a butt for amusement; he is totally oblivious of all of this and regards himself a handsome, dashing nobleman in the prime of life – completely irresistible to all women

Iolanthe Review – A Gilbert and Sullivan Masterpiece

Iolanthe Review  – A Gilbert and Sullivan Masterpiece No other operetta can match the procession of haughty peers as they first march on to the spirited "Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes! Bow, bow, ye tradesmen, bow, ye masses! Blow the trumpets, bang the brasses! Tantantara! Tzing! Boom!"

Cyrano Review – Victor Herbert’s Operetta with a new Libretto by Alyce Mott

Cyrano Review – Victor Herbert’s Operetta with a new Libretto by Alyce Mott One of the most beautiful and moving musical performances I have ever seen. - - I had to write a review; it was the only outlet for all of the awe and wonder in me as I left the theater

The Merry Wives of Windsor Review – Pocket Opera’s Production Had Everyone Laughing

The Merry Wives of Windsor  Review – Pocket Opera’s Production Had Everyone Laughing I doubt that any other performance anywhere has produced wives merrier than Marcelle Dronkers and Meghan Dibble as Mistresses Ford and Page, respectively

Mary Magdalene Review – A Tender Reverent Setting for the Recently Discovered Gospel

Mary Magdalene Review – A Tender Reverent Setting for the Recently Discovered Gospel Tell them. Tell them what we did. Tell them what we tried for. Tell them what we gave. Tell them. Tell them that we laughed. Tell them we were foolish. Tell them we were brave

Così Fan Tutte Review – A big company takes on a small opera

Così Fan Tutte Review – A big company takes on a small opera As an actress, there’s no question – Susannah Biller’s Despina stole the show

Tales of Hoffmann Review – San Francisco Opera does in differently

Tales of Hoffmann Review – San Francisco Opera does in differently "We have created a space that comes from the imagination of the poet. A world both real and dreamlike, and a device that moves us from one story to another" - Laurent Pelly, Director

Otello Review – West Bay Opera does Moor with Less

Otello Review – West Bay Opera does Moor with Less How do you begin to write a review when you want to rave about all aspects of the production? I can’t think of anything better than the fundamental instructions for writing an essay: start at the beginning – continue until the end – stop

Miss Saigon Review – An old story newly told

Miss Saigon Review – An old story newly told Puccini and Schonberg have very different ideas about music!

Two Handles on Handel – Orlando (Pocket Opera) and Giulio Cesare (MetHD)

Two Handles on Handel – Orlando (Pocket Opera) and Giulio Cesare (MetHD) Cleopatra's costume ranged from towel and soapsuds to formal gay-nineties ball gown to a “little black dress”; - - - as Orlando rides forth the banner streaming behind him reads "Make War not Love."

Orpheus Review – Pocket Opera Captures Essence of Offenbach’s Farce

Orpheus  Review – Pocket Opera Captures Essence of Offenbach’s Farce Jacques Offenbach cast his irreverent eye and ear on Gluck’s opera and the original myth and mused, “Hmm. I wonder what the real story was like?”

Schicchi Review – Part Two of Opera San José’s double bill from Puccini’s Il Trittico

Schicchi Review  –   Part Two of Opera San José’s double bill from Puccini’s Il Trittico To most of Florence Gianni Schicchi appears to he hard-hearted and selfish, but to his daughter he’s a pussycat

Angelica Review – Part One of Opera San José’s double bill from Puccini’s Il Trittico

Angelica Review  –   Part One of Opera San José’s double bill from Puccini’s Il Trittico The baby boy was snatched from her immediately upon birth and Angelica was sent immediately to a convent to spend the rest of her life in repentance, never to be spoken of or communicated with again

Sorcerer Review – Lamplighters excel in seldom-heard early Gilbert and Sullivan opera

Sorcerer Review  – Lamplighters excel in seldom-heard early Gilbert and Sullivan opera A man falls in love with the first unmarried woman he sees – and that might not be the same woman he was courting a mere 12 hours before; it is not surprising that in Act II All Hell breaks loose

Pocket Opera’s Don Giovanni Review – A Masterpiece

Pocket Opera’s Don Giovanni Review – A Masterpiece Donald Pippin goes on to admit that Don Giovanni can be utterly charming, and concludes with an explicit warning to the women in the audience that they stay here at their own peril

Lucia Review – And a Special Extra Treat at West Bay Opera

Lucia  Review – And a  Special Extra Treat at West Bay Opera When Lucia (Rochelle Bard) came on for her curtain call, the applause level doubled and nearly everyone was standing

Princess Ida Review – Lamplighters do it again

Princess Ida Review  – Lamplighters do it again Rick Williams does not play the part of King Gama; he IS King Gama

Tosca Review – All Toscas are above Average

Tosca Review – All Toscas are above Average The instant Tosca sees the knife she becomes a changed woman. A plan has been conceived in an instant. She picks up the knife with a gleam of triumph and sprawls on the couch in a suggestive pose with a seductive smile on her face

A Very Small Fledermaus – Student Production Captures the Magic

A Very Small Fledermaus – Student Production Captures the Magic I laughed longer and louder yesterday than I can recall doing for many a moon; the singing and the dialog were in English, and the diction of all of the singers was so good that only in retrospect did I realize that there were no supertitles

Fledermaus Review – Happy Hour at Opera San José

Fledermaus Review  – Happy Hour at Opera San José IF you live anywhere near San Jose California, and IF you like any of opera, light opera, operetta, or musicals, THEN run, do not walk, to the OSJ web site and order your tickets to see Cast I perform Der Fledermaus on Nov. 17,20, or 25

Lohengrin Review – Classic Wagner at its Best

Lohengrin Review – Classic Wagner at its Best The overture to Act III begins with the familiar Wedding March and the curtain rises to reveal a perfect gem of a bridal suite suspended in a jet-black infinity

Moby Dick Review – Thrilling Interpretation of a Classic American Novel

Moby Dick Review – Thrilling Interpretation of a Classic American Novel "When I read the book I realized how essentially musical and operatic it is -- the music was already there -- I could hear musical textures, rhythms, orchestral and vocal colors" -- Jake Heggie, Composer

Hoffmann Review – West Bay Opera presents a wonderfully integrated production

Hoffmann  Review – West Bay Opera presents a wonderfully integrated production When I asked Rochelle Barr why she decided to sing all four roles whereas most sopranos opt for only one, she replied, “I want to become another Joan Sutherland;” she’s not there yet, but don’t bet against her over the next few years

Capulets and Montagues Review – Shakespeare it Ain’t

Capulets and Montagues Review – Shakespeare it Ain’t Totally and wonderfully dominated by Joyce DiDonato's Romeo and Nicole Cabell's Giuliette; brilliantly conducted by Maestro Riccardo Frizza. It was an evening to remember.

Mikado Review II – Memories

Mikado Review  II – Memories The D'Oyly-Carte Opera Company came to New York in 1936 when I was in high school, and we took the train into the city every Friday to see ten of the G&S operettas

Rigoletto Review – SFO’s Stunning Setting of Verdi’s Masterpiece

Rigoletto Review – SFO’s Stunning Setting of Verdi’s Masterpiece The menacing overture begins. With a crashing chord the curtain rises to show a dimly lighted arcade – Another chord and the scene is flooded with an intense red light – With the third there is instantaneous brilliant white light –

The Pearl Fishers Review –Bizet’s other Opera

The Pearl Fishers Review  –Bizet’s other Opera Baritone Zurga, tenor Nadir, and soprano Leila are on a tropical island called Ceylon sometime in the distant past. The two men are each hopelessly in love with Leila; she has eyes only for Nadir. The classic Eternal Triangle – with complications

Mikado Review I – Lamplighters will Leave You Humming and Laughing

Mikado Review  I – Lamplighters will Leave You Humming and Laughing My anticipation grew as I walked into the theatre for the Piano Tech Rehearsal Friday night August 10, 2012 and viewed the open stage with its magnificent construction

Der Rosenkavalier MetHD Review – It gets better every time I see it

Der Rosenkavalier   MetHD Review – It gets better every time I see it We are in old Vienna during the reign of Maria Theresa and Octavian, a young Viennese blade, is crawling out of the Marschallin’s bed

Postcard from Morocco Review - Unity out of Chaos

Postcard from Morocco Review - Unity out of Chaos Forty-one years ago I attended the World Premiere of Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco - when I found out that Merola was presenting it, I jumped at the chance

Magic Flute SFO Review – A 21st Century Production that Works

Magic Flute SFO Review – A 21st Century Production that Works "I hope to understand what the composer and librettist wish to communicate with their original work and then interpret it in a way that is at once vital . . clear . . exciting and entertaining" - Harry Silverstein, Director

Attila SFO Review – Not Verdi’s best, but the music was beautiful

Attila SFO Review – Not Verdi’s best, but the music was beautiful Any way you look at it, Attila is not your usual opera; to begin with, there is only one woman principal in the cast – but what a woman

Teseo Review - Donald Pippin’s Pocket Opera does it again.

Teseo Review - Donald Pippin’s Pocket Opera does it again. Ten years ago Medea, the famed sorceress, had a spectacular day in which, to punish her faithless lover, she murdered their two small children, set fire to her successful rival and poisoned the girl's aged father - what will she do for an encore?

Pocket Opera’s Tales of Hoffmann Review – Worth Seeing Twice

Pocket Opera’s Tales of Hoffmann Review – Worth Seeing Twice There are many things about Tales of Hoffman which are unusual (if not unique) among operas - I can best describe them by first giving you a condensed version of the plot

Norma, Pocket Opera Review – Pocket Production of a Melodious Eternal Triangle

Norma, Pocket Opera Review – Pocket Production of a Melodious Eternal Triangle A high priestess in an austere religious order whose vows include that of chastity is in love with a leader of the enemy, and has even born him two children, a fact long kept secret, God only knows how. But a crisis is in the offing - -

Nixon in China SFO Review – Operatic version of an important moment in history

Nixon in China SFO Review – Operatic version of an important moment in history As the overture reaches a climax, an image of the plane Air Force One hurtles across the screen from left to right, touching down for its landing and rapidly disappearing in the mist

Aida Review – West Bay Opera presents a gem of a production

Aida  Review – West Bay Opera presents a gem of a production An intimate story of four people: with an inner conflict between love and patriotism, and the first 3 forming the eternal triangle – with complications; out of such stuff is great drama created

Ruddigore Review I – Stanford Savoyards present an afternoon of eerie fun

Ruddigore Review I – Stanford Savoyards present an afternoon of eerie fun Ruddigore is not as well known as some of the other Gilbert and Sullivan operas – which is a shame, because it is full of catchy tunes, clever words, and a comic twist to provide a happy ending

Ruddigore Review II – Stanford Savoyards complete their afternoon of eerie fun

Ruddigore Review II – Stanford Savoyards complete their afternoon of eerie fun “What’s in a name?” asks the Bard; in Act I we knew Robin Oakapple as a painfully shy farm lad - until he was revealed to be Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, the evil baronet of Ruddigore; it’s hard to believe that he is really the same person

La Traviata MetHD Review – Minimalism Carried Too Far

La Traviata   MetHD Review – Minimalism Carried Too Far I was willing to grant that the director was doing a good job with his interpretation – even if I didn’t like the interpretation. But when Death opened his mouth to sing Dr. Grenvil’s words, I was totally confused

FAUST Review – Opera San Jose produces a sensitive interpretation of the classic legend

FAUST Review  – Opera San Jose produces a sensitive interpretation of the classic legend Faust may not be my favorite opera, but it’s high on the list of operas that I don’t get tired of

Manon MetHD Review – Another Winner for Anna Netrebko

Manon MetHD Review – Another Winner for Anna Netrebko Manon is an opera that grows on me. I like it and appreciate it more every time I see it

Count Ory Review – Pocket Opera and Rossini produce a comic masterpiece

Count Ory Review – Pocket Opera and Rossini produce a comic masterpiece People who enjoy Rossini’s Count Ory would also enjoy the Marx Brother’s A Night at the Opera

Pirates of Penzance Singalong Review – Fun: Pure unadulterated fun.

Pirates of Penzance Singalong Review – Fun: Pure unadulterated fun. We’re counting on you for all of the chorus parts, of course. But feel free to accompany any or all of the soloists. Gender is no barrier. What’s a couple of octaves between friends?

Yanked from the Harem Review – Pocket Opera’s interpretation of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio

Yanked from the Harem Review – Pocket Opera’s interpretation of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio As I sat down in seat G2 5 minutes before curtain time, I noticed something different about the stage: there was no piano!

LA TRAVIATA II – Further Thoughts after seeing 2 more (complete) Performances

LA   TRAVIATA  II  – Further Thoughts after seeing 2 more (complete) Performances Here’s the Opera Nut again with a few more thoughts after two weeks and two complete performances of La Traviata

Don Giovanni Review – An old favorite in modern dress

Don Giovanni Review – An old favorite in modern dress The Commendatore's portrait comes to life, dramatically rips the frame apart and strides forth; demons appear; Giovanni is dragged offstage to Hell - I’ve never seen a more dramatic ending to Don Giovanni

Götterdämmerung MetHD Review – Conclusion of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle

Götterdämmerung MetHD Review – Conclusion of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle It seemed like old home week as I settled into my comfortable seat at CinéArts @ Palo Alto Square Theatre to begin six hours of immersion in wonderful music and cosmic story-telling

LA TRAVIATA PART 1 – A Thrilling Rendition of an Old Favorite

LA   TRAVIATA PART 1 – A Thrilling Rendition of an Old Favorite Words fail me when I try to describe Rebecca Davis; she wasn’t acting an operatic role; she was channeling the famous Parisian courtesan, Marie Duplessis.

TRITTICO Review – Three Operas for the Price of One

TRITTICO Review – Three Operas for the Price of One My second complete Il Trittico reinforced two of my opinions. One, that Puccini’s three one-acts are even better taken as a whole, and two, that an ROH production with Conductor Antonio Pappano and Stage Director Richard Jones will be first rate.

The Enchanted Island Review – A Baroque Pastiche

The Enchanted Island Review – A Baroque Pastiche I wish the author would extend “Baroque” to include early Mozart, and remind Neptune about his subject Calabanetta, a sweet-voiced young woman with a deformed body but a beautiful spirit who lives in the far reaches of his kingdom

2011_Review - and A look ahead to 2012

2011_Review - and A look ahead to 2012 I reviewed sixteen “Ten Best” opera productions in 2011 – no problem. I’ll just use a hexidecimal definition of “Ten”.

Hansel & Gretel Preview – Déjà vu all over again

Hansel & Gretel Preview – Déjà vu all over again I had some free time last week and figured to get a head start on my review by writing part of it before seeing the opera; then after seeing it, I would revise as appropriate -- things didn’t work out that way

Hansel & Gretel Review – Bah! Humbug!

Hansel & Gretel Review – Bah! Humbug! I don't enjoy being Scrooge at this time of year, but "Bah! Humbug!" are the only words to thoroughly convey my reaction to the 2007-8 Met HD Live production of Hansel and Gretel

Faust Review – A Morality Play for the Atomic Age

Faust Review – A Morality Play for the Atomic Age Marina Poplavskaya's acting and singing is superb; In Act II her Marguerite is young, pretty, vibrant, popular; less than 9 months later, she is an old woman about to give birth - friendless, exhausted, utterly miserable

Rodelinda Review – Fleming’s Handle on Handel

Rodelinda Review – Fleming’s Handle on Handel Fleming WAS Rodelinda. Her expressive face was showing every emotion that Rodelinda was feeling. Thanks to the close-up camera, at one point I could see a tear in her eye

Satyagraha Review – Philip Glass’ monumental tribute to Gandhi

Satyagraha Review – Philip Glass’ monumental tribute to Gandhi Philip Glass, his librettist Constance DeJong, and the entire creative staff of the MetHD production have presented the essence of Gandhi’s 21 years in South Africa in a most unusual fashion – the complete opposite of verismo.

Siegfried MetHD Review – A Star is Born

Siegfried MetHD Review – A Star is Born The same voice box produced the powerful German singing by Siegfried on stage and the delightful Texas drawl of Jay Hunter Morris in the interviews - I could easily believe him to be a reincarnation of Wagner’s famous 17 year old hero.

Tosca ROH Review – A Five-* Production

Tosca ROH Review – A Five-* Production The divine words of the choir and Scarpia’s profane words are each sung to entirely appropriate music. When the two are perfectly balanced, the resulting dissonance creates an almost unbearable musical tension.

Carmen SFO Review – America’s favorite opera

Carmen SFO Review – America’s favorite opera What a pair of characters - Carmen: flamboyant, sexy, strong-willed, domineering – yet potentially vulnerable; what an opportunity for a mezzo; tenor Don José: naïve country bumpkin at the start – insane murderer at the end.

LA VOIX HUMAINE Review – Opera San Jose presents an emotional block-buster

LA VOIX HUMAINE Review – Opera San Jose presents an emotional block-buster The conductor raises his arms - our pulses quicken in anticipation - an opera is about to start - but wait! - the conductor’s arms do not descend; they remain upraised, poised, ready for action. The curtain rises in utter silence

Xerxes Review – SFO’s Handle on Handel

Xerxes Review – SFO’s Handle on Handel Handel wrote the parts of Xerxes and his brother to be played by castrati who were a respected musical class in 18th century Europe but are now essentially extinct due to changing mores and natural selection

Don Giovanni MetHD Review – Second Production this Season

Don Giovanni MetHD Review – Second Production this Season The advance program said that James Levine would be the conductor; the program at the theater door listed Fabio Luisi

Adriana Lecouvreur Review – an ROH production of a rarely performed opera

Adriana Lecouvreur Review – an ROH production of a rarely performed opera Cilia’s Adriana Lecouvreur sounded vaguely familiar to me, so I assumed it would be classical opera, but I knew absolutely nothing about the composer or the plot. I was looking forward to being surprised - and what a wonderful surprise it was

Don Giovanni SFO Review – First of Four Productions this Season

Don Giovanni SFO Review – First of Four Productions this Season Despite all of his past successes and his unbounded self-confidence, Don Giovanni is totally unfulfilled during the twenty-four hours of his life presented on stage - and it’s not for lack of trying

Anna Bolena Review – Anna: Netrebko IS Bolena

Anna Bolena Review – Anna: Netrebko IS Bolena For a moment Anna Netrebko did not reply. She had been sitting relaxed with a smiling face. Her body straightened and stiffened. Her smile was replaced by a firm straight mouth. She said, simply, “I remind myself that I am a Queen.”

Samson and Delilah Review – An exciting opening for West Bay Opera’s 56th Season

Samson and Delilah Review – An exciting opening for West Bay Opera’s 56th Season The air was electric when José Luis Moscovich, General Director (and Conductor) of West Bay Opera appeared on stage to welcome the audience to WBO's fifty-sixth season

Lucrezia Borgia Review – San Francisco Opera presents one of Donizetti’s less well known bel canto operas

Lucrezia Borgia Review – San Francisco Opera presents one of Donizetti’s less well known bel canto operas There is little correlation between the historical Lucrezia Borgia and the title character of the opera Lucrezia Borgia - and even less between the real Lucrezia's bastard son Giovanni and opera Lucrezia’s long-lost son Gennaro

Heart of a Soldier Review – The World Premier of a Gripping BiOpera

Heart of a Soldier Review – The World Premier of a Gripping BiOpera Heart of a Soldier is different from most operas. The Story is a biography of a current person, and it is by far the driving force of the opera; music, acting, scenery, lighting, etc. are important only in-so-far-as they enhance the story telling

Idomeneo Review– 12th Century BCA Greek Story – 18th Century Mozart Music – 21st Century American Staging

Idomeneo Review– 12th Century BCA Greek Story – 18th Century Mozart Music – 21st Century American Staging I had never seen or heard Idomeneo before, but I knew I’d like it – I mean, it’s Mozart so what else do you need to know?

H.M.S. Pinafore Review – A Delightful Bit of Operatic Froth

H.M.S. Pinafore Review – A Delightful Bit of Operatic Froth H.M.S. Pinafore hove into Mountain View this past weekend and it was immediately obvious that the “sober men and true” who sailed her were not exaggerating a bit when they sang, “Our saucy ship’s a beauty.”

Macbeth Review – an ROH production of Verdi’s darkest opera

 Macbeth Review – an ROH production of Verdi’s darkest opera Macbeth is a total villain with no redeeming qualities - not even consistency. Immediately after killing King Duncan he wishes the deed undone. But then he commits more murders to cover up the first one

Curtains Review – Who Says that Broadway’s Golden Age is Long Gone?

Curtains Review  –  Who Says that Broadway’s Golden Age is Long Gone? Imagine, if you will, Agatha Christie, Groucho Marx, Noel Coward, and Richard Rogers all locked in a small room and told they can’t come out until they’ve written a new musical - Curtains"

The Music Man Review – A Wonderful Rendition of one of the Top American Musical Theater Classics

The Music Man Review – A Wonderful Rendition of one of the Top American Musical Theater Classics The Broadway By the Bay’s production of Meredith Willson’s "The Music Man" is nothing but Cool

Marriage of Figaro Review – Servants outsmart masters; women outsmart men; what is the world coming to?

Marriage of Figaro Review – Servants outsmart masters; women outsmart men; what is the world coming to? Pocket Opera's production of Mozarts' "Marriage of Figaro" with many stars who were familiar to me, was a delight

SFO RING Review – PART IV, WHY WAS THIS PERFORMANCE SO GREAT?

SFO RING Review – PART IV, WHY WAS THIS PERFORMANCE SO GREAT? Why was the San Francisco Opera production of Wagner's "Ring Cycle" so great? Read on and find out

SFO RING Review– PART III, HOW

SFO RING Review– PART III, HOW How Francesca Zambello, Director of the SFO Ring Series, manages two challenges which are not normally present in opera

SFO RING Review – PART II, WHO AND WHAT

SFO RING Review – PART II, WHO AND WHAT Here you will find a complete list of all the mythical and human characters in the Ring, along with a terse summary to remind you of the complex plot.

SFO RING Review – PART I, INTRODUCTION

SFO RING Review – PART I, INTRODUCTION In the course of 6 days I spent 17 hours watching and listening to San Francisco Opera's complete cycle of Wagner’s 4 operas known as the Ring. Here is Part I of a four-part review of the cycle as a whole.

Italian Girl in Algiers Review – Brave Heroine Rescues Helpless Hero from Fate Worse than Death

Italian Girl in Algiers Review – Brave Heroine Rescues Helpless Hero from Fate Worse than Death Pocket Opera's Italian Girl in Algiers has great music by Rossini, an improbable plot, and a really happy ending – the bad guys aren’t really bad, everyone on stage likes the outcome, and the audience leaves humming, chuckling, and feeling good

Die Walküre at the Met Review – Part II of Wagner’s epic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen

 Die Walküre at the Met Review – Part II of Wagner’s epic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen The Met HD production of Part II of Wagner’s epic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen is a must see in its encore performance on June 1st

Dido and Aeneas and La Vida Breve Review – Two short tragic operas form an interesting combination

Dido and Aeneas and La Vida Breve Review – Two short tragic operas form an interesting combination West Bay Opera's "Dido and Aeneas" by Henry Purcell and "La Vida Breve" by Manuel de Falla, similar and different were both thoroughly enjoyable

RIGOLETTO IN MANTUA Review - A movie shot live in the Duke’s hometown

RIGOLETTO IN MANTUA Review - A movie shot live in the Duke’s hometown In this European HD performance of Verdi's Rigoletto. Placido Domingo IS Rigoletto in a production filmed in Mantua, the real town where this took place

The Cat Transformed into a Woman Review – The last of two one-act operas separated by one intermission and millions of emotional miles

The Cat Transformed into a Woman Review – The last of two one-act operas separated by one intermission and millions of emotional miles The title role of a cat named Minette is shared by a cute little stuffed toy (silently) and later by the even cuter soprano Elise Kennedy (not silently)

Cavalleria Rusticana Review – The first of two one-act operas separated by one intermission and millions of emotional miles

Cavalleria Rusticana Review – The first of two one-act operas separated by one intermission and millions of emotional miles In it's 70 minutes, Pietro Mascagni’s "Cavalleria Rusticana" is challenged to present a beginning, a middle and an end

Il Trovatore Review – It all came together

Il Trovatore Review – It all came together I can’t recall ever witnessing a better opera performance than I saw this morning - everything came together: Verdi’s music, Amiliato’s conducting, the wonderful singers giving their all

Capriccio Review – Strauss’ Last Opera

Capriccio Review – Strauss’ Last Opera Capriccio is like a delicate soufflé. When it is done perfectly it is an almost transcendental experience. But let any small thing disturb its fragile perfection, and it would fall flat - the soufflé served up Saturday was yummy

La Bohème Review – Opera San Jose Produces a Winner

 La Bohème Review – Opera San Jose Produces a Winner And so Opera San Jose's production of La Boheme ends: beautiful, predictable, actions and music in sublime accord, lump growing in my throat, tears rolling down my cheeks - I could ask no more

Roland Petit’s Carmen Review- The Operanut Goes to the Ballet

Roland Petit’s Carmen Review- The Operanut Goes to the Ballet I saw the Ballet San Jose present Roland Petit’s Carmen, danced to the music of the familiar opera by Bizet and I was moved to write about it

Le Comte Ory – Rossini’s Last Opera is pure unadulterated joy

Le Comte Ory – Rossini’s Last Opera is pure unadulterated joy My enjoyment of the Met HD production of Rossini's "Le Comte Ory" began before Ms Fleming had finished her 60-second introduction delivered from back stage

Manon Review - A "Dinner with Donald" Event

Manon Review - A "Dinner with Donald" Event There is no question but that Erina Newkirk was the star of Pocket Opera's current production of "Manon

Kiss Me Lucia di la Mancha – A glorious musical weekend

Kiss Me Lucia di la Mancha – A glorious musical weekend What a fantastic 31 hours that included "Lucia di Lammermoor", "Kiss Me Kate" and "Man of La Mancha"

Iphigénie en Tauride Review – Gluck turns Euripedes play into a modern opera

Iphigénie en Tauride Review –  Gluck turns Euripedes play into a modern opera A truly dysfunctional royal family - the king sacrifices his daughter, the queen kills the king, the son kills the queen - Fifteen years later the overture to Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride starts

Lucia di Lammermoor Review - Mary Zimmerman’s Production is Still Tops

Lucia di Lammermoor Review -  Mary Zimmerman’s Production is Still Tops I can’t think of a better way to start my review of this 2011 performance than to quote in full the review I wrote two years ago of the same production with a different cast

LA TRAVIATA Review – Classic Opera at its Best

LA TRAVIATA Review – Classic Opera at its Best The Euro HD rendition of last year’s performance of "La Traviata" from the Royal Opera House in London reinforced previous experiences I have had

Elixir of Love Review – Potent Potion Produces Rare Riotous Romance

Elixir of Love Review – Potent Potion Produces Rare Riotous Romance If you enjoy light-hearted opera by such composers as Offenbach, Lehar, Gilbert and Sullivan, you are bound to like Donizetti’s "The Elixir of Love"

Turandot Review– A small opera company takes on a big opera – and produces a masterpiece

Turandot Review– A small opera company takes on a big opera – and produces a masterpiece I love West Bay Opera and was thrilled to find that their production of "Turandot" by Puccini more than held its own in comparison to the Met HD's performance

Nixon in China Review – John Adam\'s opera is relentless

Nixon in China Review –  John Adam\'s opera is relentless You may not necessarily enjoy "Nixon in China" by John Adams but you may be in danger of being ensnared or seduced by it

The Barber of Seville Review – Always delightful

The Barber of Seville Review – Always delightful How can anyone not like Rossini’s "The Barber of Seville"? I even enjoyed it twice at Opera San Jose

Yeoman of the Guard Review - Gilbert and Sullivan as Grand Opera

Yeoman of the Guard Review - Gilbert and Sullivan as Grand Opera My fear that "Yeoman of the Guard" by W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan would not live up to my anticipation did not materialize. I loved it

Carmen from Barcelona Review - No Harmony

Carmen from Barcelona Review - No Harmony When opera is good, the music and the actions on stage each complement the other. But here while the ear is hearing a tale of great emotion, grand passion, and eventual doom, the eye is viewing the pitiable comic on stage. There is no harmony

Girl of the Golden West Review – Deborah Voight is pure gold

Girl of the Golden West Review –  Deborah Voight is pure gold Inevitably, Puccini’s opera has been called an “oater”. I would sum up the Met production as pure grade A oats

Don Carlo Review - A Great Production on the Whole

Don Carlo Review - A Great Production on the Whole The music and singing were excellent throughout and despite minor flaws, the overall effect of Don Carlo was so powerful that defects were overshadowed

Cosi Fan Tutte from London Review – Mozart Reduced to Essentials

Cosi Fan Tutte from London Review – Mozart  Reduced to Essentials Dad explained to me that one shouldn’t take operatic characters too seriously; just enjoy the music and the comic situations they get themselves into

Das Rheingold HD La Scala Review - See It If You Can

Das Rheingold HD La Scala Review - See It If You Can Staging makes all the difference between this Emerging Pictures HD production of Das Rheingold from La Scala and the two previous performances I saw

Don Pasquale Review - Another MetHD Must See

Don Pasquale Review - Another MetHD Must See Have I convinced you to NOT go to the Encore performance on Wednesday, December 1 2010 at 6:30 local time? I hope not, because it is a wonderful performance and I am definitely planning to see it again. “Huh?” you ask. “How can you want to see it again when the story is so distasteful?”

The Makropulos Case Review – Karita Mattila stars in the role of a 337-year old woman

The Makropulos Case Review – Karita Mattila stars in the role of a 337-year old woman The story of Elina Makropulos is a strange one. She was born in 1537 in Greece . . . . [she would] live for three hundred years without ageing

Tosca at Opera San Jose Review – The Ultimate Opera

Tosca at Opera San Jose Review – The Ultimate Opera Tosca at its best is THE essential tragic opera. And yet, Tosca is not like any other opera.

The Marriage of Figaro – An intimate production

The Marriage of Figaro – An intimate production I enjoyed it tremendously. The music was the same. The performers were different but the characters were the same. The language was the different but this one was simply a translation of that one. But it was a totally different experience.

Cyrano de Bergerac Review - Plácido Domingo sticks his nose into San Francisco

Cyrano de Bergerac Review - Plácido Domingo sticks his nose into San Francisco I was excited about the San Francisco Opera performance of Cyrano de Bergerac because I was going to hear Plácido Domingo live

Madama Butterfly Review - Svetla Vassileva Superstars in a Superstar Production

Madama Butterfly Review - Svetla Vassileva Superstars in a Superstar Production I have just seen my best-ever performance of "Madama Butterfly" at San Francisco Opera

La Forza del Destino Review - A Gripping Story of Honor, Love, Revenge, and Redemption

La Forza del Destino Review - A Gripping Story of Honor, Love, Revenge, and Redemption The plot of La Forza del Destino is really very simple. Leonora and Don Alvaro are in love. Alvaro kills Leonora’s father and brother. He sends Leonora to her dying brother who kills her. Of course, there are some extenuating circumstances . . . .

Rheingold Review - MetHD

Rheingold Review - MetHD The theater lights dim, the audience becomes quiet. There is an air of expectancy in the CinéArts @ Palo Alto Square Theatre where at 10 AM Saturday morning the giant screen is ready to show the 1 pm performance at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center New York City.

Figaro Review – You Walk out Humming and Chuckling

Figaro Review – You Walk out Humming and Chuckling If the characters all live happily ever after
and the audience leaves the theater humming and chuckling,
who can ask for more? All that is true of the San Francisco Opera production of Figaro

Aida Review - A New Definition of Spectacular

Aida Review - A New Definition of Spectacular "Aida" was spectacular at the War Memorial Stadium and at AT&T park

Werther Review – Beautiful Franco-German Gloom

Werther Review – Beautiful Franco-German Gloom I just saw "Werther" and was surprised at the similarities to "Anna Karenina"

Anna Karenina Review-19th Century Russian Soul with 21st Century American Music

Anna Karenina Review-19th Century Russian Soul with 21st Century American Music For this incredible opera, I need a new vocabulary

Wagner's Ring (Valencia) Review – Exciting Technology

Wagner's Ring (Valencia) Review – Exciting Technology If all goes well for me during the coming 2010-11 operatic season, it will be the Year of the Ring.

La Traviata (Fremont Opera) Review – A summer of Camellias

La Traviata (Fremont Opera) Review – A summer of Camellias Last night I attended my sixth performance of La Traviata this summer, this one by the Fremont Opera. And every time there were tears in my eyes as the orchestra played the final notes of Act III.

Norma Review – Hanky-Panky in ancient Gaul

Norma Review – Hanky-Panky in ancient Gaul When the opera opens, she has been High Priestess for ten or so years and apparently no one except her personal slave Clotilde knows that she has...

Pirates of Penzance Review - Lamplighters Music Theater Comes to the Peninsula

Pirates of Penzance Review - Lamplighters Music Theater Comes to the Peninsula The Lamplighters Music Theatre has been producing Gilbert & Sullivan operas in San Francisco since 1852. Their production of Pirates of Penzance is a treat

Carmen Opera Review – Elina Garanča Gives New Meaning to “Sexy”

Carmen Opera Review – Elina Garanča Gives New Meaning to  “Sexy” But Carmen. Ah, Carmen. There’s a gal worth composing for

Turandot Review – The Prince of Tartary raises stupidity to a new height - or should I say depth?. But Love (and Puccini) conquers all.

Turandot Review – The Prince of Tartary raises stupidity to a new height  -  or should I say depth?.  But Love (and Puccini) conquers all. In most Grand Opera the lead male character is fairly stupid - the Prince of Tartary (we don’t know until the last act that his name is Calàf) raises stupidity to a new height (depth?).

La Bohème Review – To Cry or Not to Cry

La Bohème Review – To Cry or Not to Cry You win some (the marvelous La Traviata I saw last week, for example) and you lose some. But if the Met Encores this performance again...

Pocket Opera La Traviata Review – Even smaller is even better

Pocket Opera La Traviata Review – Even smaller is even better Yesterday as the final quiet chords were played by the piano and eight-piece orchestra of Pocket Opera, I was not just emotionally “satisfied”. I was emotionally saturated, emotionally drained, emotionally exhausted

Cosi Fan Tutti & Don Giovanni Review – Mozart takes a hit

Cosi Fan Tutti & Don Giovanni Review – Mozart takes a hit Going to an Emerging Pictures' European HD performance is frequently an adventure. One of the strangest adventures is what Claus Guth does to Mozart at the Salzburg Festival

Eugene Onegin Review - Something is different

Eugene Onegin Review - Something is different Regarding the Met HD "Eugene Onegin" production, San Francisco Splash operanut questions - Is it me? Is it this particular production? Is it Met HD?

Roméo et Juliette Review – A very mixed reaction

Roméo et Juliette Review – A very mixed reaction My high expectations for the Met HD performance of Roméo et Juliette were not realized largely due to not having an intermission and technical problems

Simon Boccanegra Review – Plácido Domingo as the Doge of Genoa

Simon Boccanegra Review – Plácido Domingo as the Doge of Genoa Simon Boccanegra at La Scala is a must see

Armida and Rinaldo Review – or The Crusader and the Magician

Armida and Rinaldo Review – or The Crusader and the Magician Although the story is the same, Pocket Opera’s production of Handel’s Rinaldo is unimaginably different from Armida. In fact, Donald Pippin’s productions of any of Handel’s operas are in a class by themselves

Girl of the Golden West Review - Reactions to Puccini's "Oater"

Girl of the Golden West Review - Reactions to Puccini's "Oater" Though there is no such thing as a "bad" Puccini opera, some are more familiar than others-this was better than I expected

Die Walküre Review – Part II of Wagner’s Ring Cycle closes the Opera nut's Marathon

Die Walküre Review – Part II of Wagner’s Ring Cycle closes the Opera nut's Marathon Die Walküre-Part II of Wagner’s Ring Cycle closes the Opera nut’s marathon of 5 operas in 6 days. He deserves a medal

La Vie Parisienne Review – Offenbach is often back with Pocket Opera

La Vie Parisienne Review – Offenbach is often back with Pocket Opera With Pocket Opera, Offenbach is often back, to the delight of its audience

Faust in San Francisco Review - The Opera Nut Goes To San Francisco

Faust  in San Francisco Review - The Opera Nut Goes To San Francisco Ten years is too long to stay away from the San Francisco Opera and
the Opera nut decided that it was time to review not one, but three operas. Be sure to check these reviews

La Traviata Review - Getting It Right

La Traviata Review - Getting It Right I approached West Bay Opera's performance of La Traviata with cautious optimism and was more than delighted with what I experienced

La Rondine Review - Twice is Nice

La Rondine Review - Twice is Nice San Francisco Splash's Operanut shares his thoughts on productions of La Rondine at Pocket Opera and Opera San Jose. He saw both in one weekend

Hamlet and Halka Review – Old to the World, Newly Presented

Hamlet and Halka Review – Old to the World, Newly Presented I had the chance to see two operas, Old to the world but New to me, in one weekend. I enjoyed Hamlet and Halka and you can still see them

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