A Tale of Two Verdis, a 100 Miles Apart

Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky in the Met Opera's 'Un Ballo in Maschera.'

Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky in the Met Opera’s ‘Un Ballo in Maschera.’

The fact that two major opera companies within 100 miles of each other are concurrently staging Verdi’s Don Carlo has caught national attention: Opera Philadelphia’s production opened Friday night starring Eric Owens, who is regular Metropolitan Opera fare (and excellent in his role debut as King Philip II here at the Academy), while the Met’s production wrapped up this weekend, ironically featuring Philly’s own Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the work.

Leah Crocetto and Dimitri Pittas in Opera Philadelphia's 'Don Carlo'

Leah Crocetto and Dimitri Pittas in Opera Philadelphia’s ‘Don Carlo’

But just as serendipitous is the fact that last week, both companies opened two different dramatic Verdi operas—Un Ballo in Maschera at the Met and Carlo at Opera Philly—within a day of each other. Ironically, both productions have eerie similarities in their stagings, and yet, despite the sameness, they are as different as can possibly be.

Both productions take liberty by moving the opera’s plot out of the traditional era in which it is normally set and moving it into a nondescript time period. The Met’s Ballo, a revival of the 2012 production by David Alden, has the feel of a turn-of-the-century film noir, although some moments feel even more modern: The great ballroom scene is literally wall-to-wall mirrors, which causes nearly a blinding effect from the audience’s point of view. Carlo in Philly, staged by Tim Albery, employs a rather dystopian setting, part Spanish crusades, part post-apocalyptic war zone. The stage is highly raked with a giant dome upstage that seems to be some sort of portal to the outside world. It’s eerie.

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IN THE WINGS: The Cast of Opera Philadelphia’s Don Carlo

Verdi’s classic tale of a love triangle gone wrong is taking shape at the Academy of Music as Opera Philadelphia presents Don Carlo. We wanted to lighten up the otherwise tragic tale, so we sat down with the opera’s three leads, Leah Crocetto (Elisabetta), Michelle DeYoung (Princess Eboli), and Dimitri Pittas (Don Carlo) and had them take our rapid-fire Q&A about their experiences on stage and, boy, did they reveal some interesting secrets!

Leah Crocetto

Leah Crocetto

Leah Crocetto

My name is … Leah Joanne Crocetto, the first born daughter of Richard and Marcia Crocetto of Waterbury, CT and Brookfield, CT, respectively.

I am a … superhero. No. But if I were a superhero, I would want my super powers to be the ability to fly. Invisibility would be to hard: There would be too much information to glean. Flying. Yep! Flying is the ability for me. I would, of course use my super power for good and quick travel. It would come in handy in this job.

On opening night … my family will be here! I am so excited whenever they are in the audience. I will also look into the balcony and feel my dad with me. I dedicate each performance to him.

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PHOTOS: Opera Philadelphia Puts a Gilligan’s Island Twist On Ariadne Auf Naxos

Opera Philadelphia‘s annual co-production with Curtis Opera Theatre put audiences through quite a whiplash of styles during its sold-out performances at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater last weekend. Strauss’s melodic Ariadne Auf Naxos was set in a modern art museum with the characters of the iconic television show Gillian’s Island (and Baywatch) invading the production in a humorous twist. Of course, there was the music, a knockout series of arias that showcased some of the amazing talent studying at the Curtis Institute. We have a gallery of some of the fabulous production shots below, and get ready for the next opera invading Philadelphia: Verdi’s Don Carlo, at the Academy of Music starting on April 24.



A Sneak Peek at Opera Philadelphia’s 2015-16 Season

Isabel Leonard.

Isabel Leonard.

Opera Philadelphia announces their 2015-16 season today, and we’ve got a first-hand preview of the divas and divos they are bringing to town to belt their brains out. Opera enthusiasts will recognize many a famous name as they peruse the upcoming talent that will take to the stage to perform classic tunes from Verdi and Donizetti, plus a few new arias they’ve never heard of before in works making their East Coast or world premieres. You’ll even note some very well-known Philly-bred artists will be making their company debuts. Read more »

5 Things To Expect When You See Oscar at Opera Philadelphia

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David Daniels in “Oscar.”

 

It’s the opera that has the entire city buzzing, and clearly theres a reason: Oscar is probably the largest production Opera Philadelphia has staged in some time—at least as far as it’ talent and technical elements are concerned—and it generally is a major home run for the company. You still have a few chances to catch the staging at the Academy of Music before it fades away on February 15th. Here are some things you can absolutely count on as you take in the performance. Read more »

Opera Philadelphia Debuts Oscar

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Friday night the much-anticipated Opera Philadelphia production of Theodore Morrison and John Cox’s Oscar opened at the Academy of Music. Opera fans were out in force, fashionably dressed, with a few men wearing tuxedos.

The production is a co-commission with the Santa Fe Opera; it opened at the Santa Fe Opera in 2013 under the stage direction of Kevin Newbury and conductor Evan Rogister, who are back for the Philly run. Countertenor David Daniels plays the title role. He does an amazing job conveying the emotions of Oscar Wilde during turbulent times, as well as his love for bad boy Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie), who is played by Australian dancer-actor Reed Lupla. Lupla has been acting for a while, but this is his first opera. Although he didn’t speak, Lupla made a huge impression with movements and dancing. It’s a very emotional, timeless piece about love and the choices we make.

During intermission there was a supporters reception in the ballroom, where champagne and dessert were served. After the show, everyone headed across the street to Varalli Restaurant for a cast party.

The East Coast premiere of Oscar at The Academy of Music runs from February 11th to 15th.  Information at  www.operaphila.org.

Photos after the jump »

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Out Opera Superstar David Daniels On Breathing New Life Into the Philly Production of Oscar

David Daniels

David Daniels

When Oscar, the opera that examines the downright depressing tale of Oscar Wilde’s love for another man and how it led to his persecution and imprisonment, first opened at the Santa Fe Opera, it was panned by critics. David Daniels, arguably the world’s greatest countertenor for whom the show was written for, openly admits he could care less what those reviewers thought of the show.

“The critics didn’t like it, and I don’t care,” he told me during a rainy Sunday afternoon at the AKA Hotel on Rittenhouse Square. “The audiences loved it. We were playing to houses that were 98 percent full.” Read more »

Winter Arts Guide: 10 Arty Things to Do in Philly During the Chilly Season

Contrary to popular belief, the amazing cultural scene in Philly doesn’t slow down during the winter season: There’s a host of wonderful dance, theater, music, and visual arts events that are lined up during the region’s most frosty months. We surveyed the offerings and picked our ten best Philly bets that will sure to keep you entertained and inspired, even if you have to wear your toastiest winter gear to the venue!



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