Here are a few operas items of note to scan through at your weekend’s leisure:
A Backyard Discovery: Shakespeare Opera Theater
Remember the song “Strolling Through the Park” that starts “I was strolling through the Park one day. It was in the merry month of May…”. Sometimes that plays in the back of my mind when I am cruising the internet letting my mind/fingers wander and go where they may. It is amazing what can turn up when you do that. In this case, what turned up was a relatively new opera/theater company in Manassas, VA, the Shakespeare Opera Theater, not too far from me in Tyson’s Corner. Their mission/dream is to bring theater and opera together to explore Shakespeare’s masterpieces. Starting Sunday, they begin a four-performance run of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and Verdi’s Falstaff, adapted by Verdi's librettist, Arrigo Boito, from Shakespeare's play. At this point, I know nothing more about them than what is on their website, but it is a clever idea and they appear worth checking out. One of my goals for OperaGene is to seek out and report on smaller opera companies in the mid-Atlantic. I am finding more and more as I check out the mid-Atlantic region opera landscape.
Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts is presenting a production of two short Puccini operas by its highly regarded Resident Artists. Gianni Schicchi and Il tabarro are being presented as a pair for six performances, beginning this Saturday and running through May 14. Say Puccini and I am ready to listen. I am also predisposed to want to hear young artists developing their voices and careers. These evenings sound win-win to me. I am not very familiar with these Puccini operas, but Schicchi has a famous aria, “O Mio Babbino Caro,” whose recording seems to be di rigueur for any diva. Click here to hear it sung by modern day diva, Anna Nebtrebko. I bring this up because if anyone is feeling romantic, an evening of Puccini is a perfect accompaniment, and you can feel good about supporting the development of young artists.
"Beyonce" of Classical Music
This has nothing to do with opera and everything to do with having my interest piqued. Maybe yours will be as well. As I noted in the Opera Info/Websites/Blogs section, I subscribe to Slipped Disc and this headline on their website caught my eye, “The Beyonce of Classical Music Suggests Music for Pre-Sex.” The performer thus labeled is Khatia Buniatishvili, an up and coming young concert pianist. I was not so interested in the article, but I did want to get a look at Ms. Buniatishvili; presumably her attractiveness and sex appeal was much above most classical artists. You can judge that point for yourself. Click here for a clip of her performing. I have to admit that watching her perform, I forgot her assigned Beyonce status, and the feature that fascinated me was her hands. Watching those hands move across the keyboard caused me to believe in magic. And the same is true for any other concert pianist I have ever watched.
Don’t Be a Daland, Be a Senta
I ran across an interesting blog titled titled Operation Opera that is sponsored by Virginia Opera and written by Dr. Glenn Winters, a trained musicologist and opera singer. Here is someone who really knows opera. He has written a number of blog posts leading up to the Virginia Opera production of The Flying Dutchman. In his most recent post, titled “Flying Dutchman’s lesson: don’t be a Daland, be a Senta,” he talks about the tale of the Dutchman metaphorically. In particular, he focuses on the role of Senta as an archetype of empathy and sacrifice, necessary to save the world. Often critics present Senta merely as a slightly unhinged young woman in love and thereby miss the point. He sees the message of the opera as don’t be an indifferent Daland (Senta's father), living a life of oblivion; be a Senta making sacrifices to ameliorate the suffering of others. Interesting post; I recommend it, especially if you are going to see The Flying Dutchman.
Irregularity of Royal Opera House Live in Theaters Broadcasts
I covered these live broadcast of the Royal Opera House (London) operas in my blog post, “Affordable Opera, Part I”: “The Royal Opera House of London also broadcasts a live-in-cinemas series, though to only a very limited number of theaters in the mid-Atlantic region if I am reading the map correctly; click here to see a performance list and enter your address into the box to find theaters that carry these in your area.” I have checked more recently and the few theaters in the mid-Atlantic region aligned with ROH are not showing the productions live. In fact, if you are near one of these theaters, you need to check with the theater to find out when the operas will broadcast. For this reason, I will list the ROH broadcast link in the Seasonal Listings page, but not include them in the side-bar since the dates might be different for different theaters. You can still track these down using the link above. These are very good productions and I recommend you check them out if there is a theater near you.