The Metropolitan Opera‘s lavish staging of Verdi’s Otello, staring legendary soprano Renee Fleming, will get two Philadelphia screenings as part of the opera company’s award-winning Live in HD Summer Encores program. Philly residents can save a trip to New York by viewing the opera at 7PM on July 9 at the United Artists Riverview Stadium Theater (1400 S. Columbus Boulevard) or at the University City Penn 6 Theater (4012 Walnut Street).
To say that the extraordinary Frederica Von Stade (better known to opera fans as Flicka) has had a remarkable career is an understatement: the American mezzo-soprano has performed at nearly all of the world’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, the Paris Opera…and the list goes on. Widely acclaimed for her interpretations of both the bel canto and French repertoires, Ms. Von Stade has sung leading roles in La Cenerentola, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Sonnambula, and La Damnation de Faust. Now, Philadelphia audiences will have the chance to see Flicka first-hand in Opera Philadelphia‘s production of A Coffin in Egypt: these performances mark Ms. Von Stade’s Opera Philadelphia debut. I had the pleasure of chatting with Flicka about her legendary career and the future of opera. Read more »
You’d never think you’d see “opera” and “NSFW” in the same sentence, but what if I told you there’s a website for those of us who like Mozart, Verdi, and Wagner AND like our men without shirts (or, in some cases, without pants)? Well, it is true, and it’s called Barihunks!
The word “Barihunks” (pronounced bare-a-hunks, NOT berry-hunks, as per very specific instructions from the blog’s founders) was coined by opera director Francesca Zambello when she cast sexy baritone Nathan Gunn in a production; you’ll see why he got the name when you check out his picture below (Gunn is also the Director of the American Repertoire Council at Opera Philadelphia). Two opera professionals, both who wish to remain anonymous due to their roles on boards of predominant opera companies, developed the Barihunks website as a joke—that is, until the blog succeeded beyond all expectations. Read more »
When you first meet Philadelphia-based soprano Michelle Johnson you can’t help but notice her infectious personality. Perhaps that, along with her extensive training at Philly’s own Academy of Vocal Arts, has made her one of the most celebrated opera singers in the region. Johnson has won nearly a dozen vocal competitions (including the prestigious grand prize in the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions) but this down-to-Earth diva keeps a grounded approach to her own work.
You can catch her starting tonight in Opera Philadelphia‘s production of Don Giovanni, but first, get to know her right here. I had the pleasure of catching up with Johnson in the midst of her rehearsals for Giovanni. We talked about her remarkable career thus far, the real “problem” behind shows like American Idol, and what jealous Puccini diva she’s just dying to play.
Grammy Award-winning and international mezzo-soprano star Susan Graham will be making her Kimmel Center recital debut on April 2nd. Graham, known for her interpretations of the Frenchrépertoire (especially Berlioz), has also found much fame performing the works of Mozart and Strauss in almost every major opera house in the world. The American-born singer hails from Midland, Texas, where every 5th of September has been deemed “Susan Graham Day” in her honor. I had the opportunity to ask the down-to-earth diva about her concert in Philadelphia, her upcoming engagements, and what role she’s dying to play.
This may just win the award for the most creative event I’ve seen in a long time. Next Friday, March 28th, from 7 to 9 p.m., you can score a three-course Italian meal with a serenade from live opera singers—right inside Whole Foods Market South Street.
Opera Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute will take part in a global experiment in 21st century opera: on Sunday, February 16, a live performance of Death and the Powers, by acclaimed American composer/inventor Tod Machover, will be simulcast from The Dallas Opera to more than ten locations in Europe and the U.S.– including The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Streaming live from the Franklin Theater, the opera simulcast is the closing event of The Franklin Institute’s Robot Day.
Five actors shoot three characters at point-blank range on a stage. Then the executioners break into a choreographed flamenco number immediately after, firing their guns to the beat of the music.
You might think I’m describing some sort of variation on the “Springtime for Hitler” sequence in Mel Brook’s The Producers, where we are supposed to laugh at the absurdly developed (on purpose, mind you) theatrical production about the Nazi regime.
But you’d be wrong.
Cell phone usage and high art usually don’t mix — that is, unless you wish to be a patron of the “wanna-be-so-edgy-it-hurts” Opera Philadelphia. Last week, the company announced that select sections of the audience can live-tweet during the opening-night performance of its latest production, Ainadamar: Fountain of Tears. Its website literally bills the event as follows: “Ever wanted to break the ‘please turn off your cellphones’ rule at the Academy of Music? Here is your chance!”
Opera Philadelphia: What the hell is this?
Or, perhaps, I should rephrase that: @OperaPhila, what the #hell is this? #opera #amateurhour
There’s no doubt Opera Philadelphia has been trying to re-define itself as a relevant artistic company, not only in the city, but in the opera scene nationally and internationally. The company’s name change, from Opera Company of Philadelphia to its current title in 2013, was a clear enough indication of some sort of shift in artistic and public perception.
In a recent interview, where he discussed returning to the podium at The Metropolitan Opera to conduct a revival of Dvorak’s Rusalka, Philly’s own Yannick Nezet-Seguin raved about the show’s star, soprano Renee Fleming. “Anything sung by Renee Fleming becomes the most gorgeous music,” said The Philadelphia Orchestra music director. “There is just something special about Renee and Rusalka,” And he’s right. I was there at last night’s opening, and watched — ogled, even — as Ms. Fleming ascended to the top of a tree early in the first act to sing the opera’s signature aria, “Song to the Moon.”
She was dazzling, no doubt, but Mr. Nezet-Seguin is being far too humble. There’s something else “special” about this production, and that is Yannick himself. His masterful direction of Dvorak’s lush, Romantic score breathed new life into what would normally be a rather dark, dreary and downright depressing tale of ill-fated humanity.