Here are a few operas items of note to scan through at your weekend’s leisure:
James Levine, Principal Conductor of the Met Orchestra, Announces Retirement-
After a forty year career at the Metropolitan Opera, principal conductor, James Levine will step down from his current position at the end of this season to become music director emeritus. He is credited with having built the Met Orhcestra into the eminence it enjoys today. Michael Cooper in the NYTImes covers the event, and some history with Levine in a very good article published 4/14/16: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/15/arts/music/james-levine-transformative-at-the-met-opera-is-stepping-down.html?_r=0. Anne Midgette wrote a critical article for Friday’s edition of the Post that points out the general sentiment of apparently most opera professionals that it was past time for him to step down: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/style/wp/2016/04/14/met-opera-announces-levines-departure-long-overdue/
Into Binge Watching? How about 17 hours of Wagner?
The Washington Post's classical music critic demonstrates that she has a humorous side with a fun article that discusses the demands of the upcoming Washington National Opera production of the Ring, four nights of 4 to 5 hours of opera watching each, but makes the case it is worthy of the effort. I plan to take a pillow, a snack, and something to help me with the anxiety caused by 17 hours without checking my iPhone. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/looking-for-your-next-binge-watching-marathon-try-17-hours-of-opera/2016/04/14/52b756e0-00cc-11e6-9203-7b8670959b88_story.html
How Old is Too Old?
Opera authority, Fred Plotkin, has just published an article discussing the issues around the effects of aging on opera’s performers, performances, and managers. Very good at touching on all the points, maybe less so for staking out a position. You decide. I agree with him that the key factor should be whether the performer can play the part and sing the role correctly and convincingly. After uploading my post on the return of Kathleen Battle, I sent it to Ms. Midgette. To my surprise and delight, she read it and responded. I learned from her that opera singers with a light voice sometimes have their voice change when they move into their forties and that may have been a factor for Ms. Battle. Ah yes, time will have its way. http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/how-old-too-old-opera-stage/
Don’t Forget the Dutchman Has Begun His Flight
If you check the sidebar, you will see the remaining chances to see Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. The first performance that took place in Norfolk has been reviewed. It generally received high marks for the singers and orchestra, but the direction was criticized, such that some scenes did not come off as intended. http://pilotonline.com/entertainment/arts/theater/review-virginia-opera-s-the-flying-dutchman-delivers-plenty-for/article_a8cd127a-018f-5d00-a959-9fc9b8daaae1.html
Roberto Devereux Who?
In case you have finished or can take a break from doing your taxes this weekend, Met Opera will be broadcasting the Met performance of Roberto Devereux into theaters live in HD this Saturday – see the sidebar. The main attraction here clearly is Sandra Radvanovsky who is completing her hat trick of starring in all three of Donizetti’s operas about Tudor queens. Earlier this season, she played the queens in Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda. She plays Queen Elizabeth I this time, whose love interest is nobleman, Robert Devereux. The HD recording of this broadcast will play in theaters the next Wednesday evening. I saw her star in Anna Bolena a couple of years ago at the Kennedy Center. Now that I know what it means, I can say she has a stentorian voice. She has what is known as a big instrument; voices in the opera world are known as instruments. It is also a very pleasing voice. This is a chance to see an outstanding soprano play a role she is known for, at a cost of about $25, in the comfort of a theater with a big screen.