The Beginning

  • #1 La Boheme
    My first opera. It is an unseasonably warm 50 degrees February 15, 2005 and the artist Christo has hung 7,503 saffron colored curtains above the bends and dips of Central Park. The day begins laughing with my friend Rob over a cup of coffee about a recent episode of This American Life featuring a comedy duo from 1964 who have their ‘big break,’ on The Ed Sullivan Show. It’s a gas! Our coffee fueled conversations meander like we’re in a… Read more: #1 La Boheme
  • Interlude: Everyone Loves Music
    “Music was my refuge.I could crawl into the space between the notesand curl my back to loneliness.”– Maya Angelou. Elementary School: Dancing with Myself If I can get to lunch without a wedgie, benny hill, or wet willy this will be a fantastic day. I’m the smallest kid in my class and mocked for my ‘chicken legs.’ Fantastic days are few. When kids start in with ‘your momma’ jokes, I’m just silent. I have all the social skill of an… Read more: Interlude: Everyone Loves Music
  • Interlude: An Orchestral Education
    Bugs Bunny sits at a piano. He wears a tuxedo with high collar. What he plays aren’t random notes, but Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Rob points out that like most people I have been a fan of classical music ever since being a kid and watching cartoons like Bugs Bunny. All our favorite television shows and movies are soundtracked with classical music. Particularly opera, because operas were originally written to support a narrative. Rossini’s The Barber of Seville… Read more: Interlude: An Orchestral Education
  • Interlude: The Voice of Sunny Italy
    A year before seeing my first full opera with Rob, La Boheme, I hear a soprano sing under the romantic skies of Venice, Italy. A night train with sleeping cars and strangers wine takes me and my friend Juliana from Paris to Milan onto the romantic canals of Venice. It is summer, big blue skies, bigger clouds, and more tourists than pigeons, and that is saying something. It is my first trip to Europe and my art teacher goal is… Read more: Interlude: The Voice of Sunny Italy
  • #2 Aida
    Aida happens on my second trip to Italy when I go BACK to see the Sistine Chapel. Missing Michelangelo’s Herculean masterpiece had gnawed at me something terrible. On this second trip I find myself in Verona where operas are staged outdoors in an old Roman Colosseum. Fresh off my experience with Rob in New York, and before food or hotel, I head to the colosseum to buy an opera ticket and a red libretto to get a gist of the… Read more: #2 Aida
  • La Boheme (2nd production)
    La Boheme happens to be playing my second night in Verona. The goal of my blog is to hear 101 distinct operas. I will not count different productions of the same opera toward the goal, but I will see different productions and use them to learn more about this thing called opera. I learn a lot about artistic interpretation this evening. The plot and songs might be the same as the La Boheme I saw in New York last year,… Read more: La Boheme (2nd production)
  • #3 La Traviata
    The saplings have arrived! The plants we ordered for work might still be in the box, but I can already imagine their potential. The garden outside my art class is destined to look somewhere between the Bronx Botanical Gardens and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. These still boxed buds make me think about the hidden potential in the student singers I hear across the hall in Barb and Risa’s music room. I bet there is a potential Pavarotti in there… Read more: #3 La Traviata
  • #4 Turandot
    Turandot has been inviting me to see her for weeks. Banners of her face line Broad Street all the way from the Phillies stadium to the Ben Franklin sculpture atop city hall. Puccini’s heroine also beckoned from full page ads in the newspaper and in television commercials. My expectations for this performance are to the moon! But in hindsight, maybe I should have aimed them closer to earth. While there are great moments in this big sweaty production, I left… Read more: #4 Turandot
  • #5 Lucia di Lammermoor
    I wish I could remember the specific details of what grabbed my heart and soul so much this evening. Maybe it functions best as a mystery that will take 101 operas to solve. Whatever Angela and Michael and other performers did tonight, it was true magic. They turned this novelty of doing something new with friends into a true passion for opera. So what’s Lucia di Lammermoor all about? Lucia is mourning the loss of her mother. Her only solace… Read more: #5 Lucia di Lammermoor
  • La Boheme (3rd Production)
    Well! We are never going to reach 101 operas if half of the ones we see are La Boheme. My workmates were going so I went along to share the evening with them, but came in thinking, alright I know this story and it’s not going to be nearly as epic as La Boheme was at the Met or as romantic as in Italy, but was I ever wrong. The intimacy of the smaller theater and their amazing voices made… Read more: La Boheme (3rd Production)
  • #6 Don Giovanni
    The Patco train that runs from New Jersey to Philadelphia is rarely on time. Unless I happen to be running late, then suddenly it is the Deutsch Bahn. Tonight. I wait. The train arrives ten minutes late and even though it is only a short 20 minute ride, I may miss the opening of the opera. The ride over offers a despairing tour of class in America. The mansions of Haddonfield gradually give way to smaller homes, then row homes,… Read more: #6 Don Giovanni
  • Interlude: Learning the Trumpet
    You can’t trust the trumpet. It will drip warm honey into your heart sweet and sultry like Ella on a summer night, then in a moment turn sour. You can trust an oboe with your spouse, but not the trumpet. It’s all lips and spit on cold metal, how could it be anything but duplicitous. They say the devil plays the fiddle, it’s a lie. He plays the trumpet. I’ve heard the instrument chooses the person and jazz trumpet has… Read more: Interlude: Learning the Trumpet
  • Interlude: Graduate School
    My Grandpop was an artist, and thanks to him art became my thing too. Ever since watching him paint flowers in his dining room I wanted to know the secrets of the canvas. When I finally try my own hand at painting, I lose myself for hours in the studio. I’ve heard actors say the stage is the only place they really feel at home. The art studio, with the sweet spicy sweet smell of buttery oil paint, always feels… Read more: Interlude: Graduate School
  • #7 Don Carlo
    Two tickets please. Tonight, I’m joined by my friend Aaron from grad school. A likable tall genius always willing to lend a hand or listen when our grad school family needs counsel. He is one of my favorite people and I regret we left grad school with too many things unresolved. Is the Argo the same ship or a different ship? I’m not sure we ever reached a definitive conclusion. Flames snap yellow and blue outside the Academy of Music.… Read more: #7 Don Carlo
  • Interlude: Panic at the Opera
    I grab the counter and wonder if I’m going to black out. The cashier is spinning. This first attack happens in a supermarket on south street. Supermarkets are so full of sensory overload that buying cheese and tomatoes could make anyone a little dizzy now and then. I quickly feel better and I don’t give it a second thought. I just leave and wonder if this woman who now looks like Minnie Pearl used to be a punk rock girl… Read more: Interlude: Panic at the Opera
  • Interlude: Trek in the Park: Portland, Oregon
    Today I’m getting ready to see Trek in the Park (as in Star Trek) with one of my favorite people. My intrepid cousin Rachel, who has visited fifty countries, has dropped anchor in an old trendy port-town where the summers and the hiking are glorious. She lives with an equally awesome guy named Jerry who is not only a published author, but also a self proclaimed “expert of heavy metal.” The two meet in a comic book store and soon… Read more: Interlude: Trek in the Park: Portland, Oregon
  • #8 Cosi fan tutte
    This is my first time back to a theatre since Panic at the Opera. My ebullient cousin Rachel, as supportive as ever, is here to help me back on the opera horse. I’m thankful and I’m having fun, but showing gratitude and needing help remains uncomfortably humbling… I prefer to be the helper. I’m front row and Ferrando stands so close I could stomp right onto his gleaming white shoe. He deserves at least this much for his deception against… Read more: #8 Cosi fan tutte
  • #9 Die Zauberflote
    I drove from Oregon to New Jersey in four days and not just to see a new opera. I also have to get back to work. The drive was the vehicular equivalent of Rimsky Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.” I arrive 16 hours before the first day with my tail between my legs having failed in all my goals and with that my sabbatical is officially over. I do feel recharged, but it feels odd being back because public school… Read more: #9 Die Zauberflote
  • Interlude: Opera Buddies
    My new best friend has me thinking about the nature of friendships. The Buddhists say ‘like attracts like.’ I know too many people who look like their pets not to believe them. It’s natural to move towards things we like and away from things we don’t, but these friendships based on physical similarity can be funnily unimaginative; a world of people basically looking to spend time with themselves – how unoriginal. Before a drivers license friendships are based strictly on… Read more: Interlude: Opera Buddies
  • #10 Cavalerria Rusticana
    The opera begins softly with a sad chorus. Church bells ring. I am transported completely and it all reminds me of John Hersey’s book A Bell for Adano, that also takes place in Sicily and during war time. In the book a good hearted American officer attempts to help the town procure a replacement bell because theirs was taken away and melted for artillery. I feel like Cinderella! The playbill my tiara, the Northeast Corridor my pumpkin, and Chaltin my… Read more: #10 Cavalerria Rusticana
  • #11 Pagliacci
    Leoncavallo’s opera is based on a true story from Naples, Italy. I haven’t taken one of those DNA tests, but I assure you my blood is full of olives and grapes because everyone on the bus in Naples when I visited Italy looked just like my grandpop. I just hope one of my ancestors wasn’t a sad clown. To channel the clucking machismo of the place, the women of Napoli strutted dark and sultry in light blouses. There was a… Read more: #11 Pagliacci
  • #12 L’elisir d’ amore
    I hate Valentine’s Day. February 14th can be a cruel spotlight when you’re single. This year is better than most finding me on tour through an amazing Michelangelo exhibit at the Met with my friend Chaltin. There is a sculpture of Cupid here made by the maestro when he was 16. Clearly the same god of love who has been working for me these past few years; broken arm and lost quiver. Me and Chaltin are still just friends at… Read more: #12 L’elisir d’ amore
  • #13 Madama Butterfly
    My only memory tonight are the red petals falling from curtain. Petals soundless falldarkness obscures their landing There is only fear I’ve been teaching Haiku to my Art students in an effort to get them to look a little longer and deeper into the paintings from art history. Haiku of course is a form of Japanese poetry, the setting of Puccini’s opera.* I have a complete anxiety attack during the first act and it consumes the night. I wrote about… Read more: #13 Madama Butterfly
  • #14 Elektra
    Furious expressionism, Greek references, and erotic dots. Ingredients for a Greek Tragedy for sure. The Armory Show this morning turned out to be a nice preview for tonight’s opera. WHAT – A -NIGHT – AT – THE – OPERA! I think I’m sweating. I am completely overwhelmed by what I heard tonight. Yannick Nézet-Seguin held the tension like reins on wild horses and as the opera built toward it’s final crescendo – He let go. The orchestra erupted with a… Read more: #14 Elektra
  • #15 Luisa Miller
    Violins swirl into an orchestral storm. It foreshadows the tragedy to come. Footsteps. Lightning. Poison? Verdi strictly writes for a narrative and there are things in these noises. Just over three minutes in, the orchestra quells to nothing but a soft solo clarinet that clears the air for Luisa’s melody, and I will hum it for weeks to come. It mingles with ascending and descending phrases that march me forward to the opening crescendo and beginning of the story. Verdi… Read more: #15 Luisa Miller
  • Cosi fan tutti (2nd production)
    Some people can pull off a mustache, but every ‘Movember’ it’s clear that most people cannot. John Oates, Charlie Chaplin, Salvador Dali, Groucho Marx, and Magnum P.I. wore some of the most iconic mustaches of the last century. But, before them were masters of disguise Ferrando and Guglielmo of Mozart’s cosi fan tutte. The terrible though benign boyfriends of Dorabella and Fiordiligi. This production for Cosi takes place on Coney Island during the 1950’s (leather jackets and poodle skirts). I… Read more: Cosi fan tutti (2nd production)
  • Interlude: Juilliard Senior Dance Production
    Our former student is going to school in NY. An accomplished trombonist, it is his generosity of spirit and willingness to engage with the community that makes him such a notable alum. I would have balked if a former teacher reached out to me when I was in college. I needn’t have worried, I was never the kind of student who would inspire such a reaching out. Ehren however graciously takes some time to meet up, and on my way… Read more: Interlude: Juilliard Senior Dance Production
  • #16 Carmen
    Philadelphia, 2018 This is going to be my sisters first opera. I have no doubt she is going to identify with the passion of Carmen. We could both raise some hell a few decades ago. She is now the warm-hearted matriarch and ‘mamma bear’ to everyone she knows, so I’m so happy she stole a few hours away from work and the kids to share the evening with me. With her Italian blood how could she not love it. Before… Read more: #16 Carmen
  • #17 Cendrillon
    I blame William Wegman’s dogs! Chaltin has no interest in seeing this opera with me. Her only reason is that the Weimaraners really turned her off. The Met has a giant dog dressed like Cinderella hanging on its facade and inside the gallery is also full of his dogs dressed up like other characters from Cinderella. “The dogs aren’t actually singing,” I implore, but she remains unmoved. I never got the full story but something about that banner really, really… Read more: #17 Cendrillon
  • #18 Tosca
    Chaltin sits near the revolving door at The Metropolitan Opera like a pillar overgrown with flowers. She waits while I stand in line for tickets behind a foreshadowing red velvet rope. Blood will spill before the evening is over, hopefully not mine. My slouching under-confidence is mocked by her perfect posture until the voice at the ticket counter straightens my spine into something close to sapien. I step forward and say, “Two family circle tickets for Tosca, please.” A sympathetic… Read more: #18 Tosca
  • #19 La Cenerentola
    The overture is jubilant and soon enough the vocals are twirling and rising into an Italian Bel Canto.* Nothing is more fun. I’m excited Portland is playing Rossini’s version of Cinderella since I just saw Massenet’s version. My biggest surprise is that there is no magical fairy god mother in this one, no glass slipper, and no evil stepmother either, but at its emotional core it is still much the Cinderella you know; true love is aided and abetted. Colorful… Read more: #19 La Cenerentola
  • #20 Orfeo de Euridice
    The sun looks like a small pink pimple on a pearly purple sky. Fire consumes the Oregon forests and haze distorts all in its path. The Gorge burned the summer before too and the trails are still indefinitely closed.The weather has alarmingly changed in my lifetime. The opera we are about to see will take us into its own fires as we pass Cerberus and descend into Hades, otherwise known to Portland, as Beaverton. The black, white, and red color… Read more: #20 Orfeo de Euridice
  • # 21 Lucia di Lammermoor
    Just before the made scene the stage is moody and stark made of snow, shadows, and darkness. Then comes the sound. I lean forward from the Academy of Music’s worn warm red velvet seat. What on earth am I hearing? I pan the orchestra for this strange sound. It is an auditory oxymoron, both pleasant and discordant, like maybe if the gates of heaven hadn’t been oiled in a while. The sound comes from a glass harmonica stationed in the… Read more: # 21 Lucia di Lammermoor
  • Interlude: Can you wear shorts at the Opera?
    To skip right to the answer, yes. You can wear shorts to the opera! There is no dress code for the opera. For those who like to dress up, it can be a great opportunity to do so. But, it is certainly not required. So maybe the question of my title should be changed, from Can you wear shorts at the opera to should you wear shorts at the opera? For me the question begins as I step off the… Read more: Interlude: Can you wear shorts at the Opera?
  • Aida (2nd production)
    The souls of men and women, impassioned all. Their voices rise and fall, battle trumpets call… Verdi Cries, 10,000 Maniacs My feet feel the sand; and my hands the water of the Nile. The setting for Aida is Egypt and I can still feel and hear the journey like it was yesterday. It’s the kind of visit I wasn’t born to have and I’m proud and shocked that I could lay a line like this and it be true. I… Read more: Aida (2nd production)
  • #22 La Fanciulla Del West
    I feel like I’m at the O.K. Coral tonight, not because of the set, but for the audience’s behavior. There’s a lot of talking, candy wrappers, and picture taking; It wouldn’t surprise me if some of these barbarians brought spittoons to spew chewing tobacco! The opera is set in the old American west with a very traditional wooden set. It is fair to say I did not give Puccini doing Americana a fair chance. Cliche’s and double entendres abound and… Read more: #22 La Fanciulla Del West
  • #23 Mefistofole
    Who are you then? I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good. Goethe ‘I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun…’ Billie Joel Someone must have made a deal with the devil for row F orchestra seats. Luckily that someone is me, and what a spectacle of chorus and costume to see and hear up close, the chorus is jaunty and incredible and featured heavily. The… Read more: #23 Mefistofole
  • Interlude: A Mandarin Duck loose in Central Park
    A chilled curl of frozen cucumber floats in a lemon and mint vodka. It’s November in New York, but tastes like a spring garden in Napoli. Chaltin puts her drink down and asks, “What duck?” I swirl the single leaf of sage on a cloudy gin now half empty, and show her my phone. “Twitter is going nuts about some duck in Central Park.” The opera tonight is Mefistofole, but I declare, “In the morning we’re going duck hunting!” Which… Read more: Interlude: A Mandarin Duck loose in Central Park
  • #24 Il Tabarro
    Il Tabarro is the first of three short and loosely related operas from Puccini’s Il Tritico. It is followed by Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi We spent the day of the opera slipping around Central Park like a couple of tourists, even going ice skating. It was a day made for winter coats. Michele from Il Tabarro is also wearing a coat. It’s big enough for two, and believe me when I say you’re going to want to stick around… Read more: #24 Il Tabarro
  • #25 Suor Angelica
    The second opera from tonights Il Triticco is Suor Angelica. “Senza Mamma” is one of the most lyrically crushing arias in opera and is delivered achingly tonight by Kristine Opolais. The song is a message to her dead son who after being separated feels he died from lacking her touch and kisses; and worse, without knowing she loved him. I think all great art has this moment where there is an overlap that makes the experience personally meaningful, and I… Read more: #25 Suor Angelica
  • #26 Gianni Schicchi
    The final opera of tonight’s Il Trittico is Gianni Schicchi and thank heaven, it’s a comedy. Just like dessert must follow broccoli and Brussels sprouts or Spring after a long Winter, we really need the funny after watching Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica. The hilarious story of Gianni Schicchi elaborates on a minor character from Dante’s “Inferno.” My picture from The Musee d’Orsay here shows Gianni Schicchi pull another man backward, knee in his back, and biting his throat while… Read more: #26 Gianni Schicchi
  • #27 Les Pecheurs de Perles
    I can still hear the “plop-plop” of coins as they hit the waters surface. I loved when my Dad threw coins into the deep end of the pool. I’d dive, stretch my hands toward the bottom, and compete with my cousins for the glittering presidential treasures. If I was lucky I could snatch one mid tumble before it landed. We’d stay at the pool all day playing games like that until night, then we could press our silhouetted palms to… Read more: #27 Les Pecheurs de Perles
  • #La Traviata (2nd production)
    It must be the holidays. Peppermint sticks soak in hot cocoa that is being dutifully guarded by poinsettia colored balloon dogs. It’s the party of my life, but I can’t help but wonder if Violetta would think so. I think she would have to at least concede one nod of approval as we dance beside the Frick’s priceless Rembrandts. Once upon a time, like Violetta I was an expert on parties. Parties I learned only end in three ways: to… Read more: #La Traviata (2nd production)
  • #28 Otello
    Gustavo Dudamel’s dark curls bounce. Boito and Verdi’ adaptation of Shakespeare’s Otello is released from his baton like a wizards wand. With dynamism and rich textures, he brings forward some of the best singing I have ever heard. It is the last day of school before winter break and I’m looking for some time away from students and administrators. To speak of villains, this opera has one of the best: Iago. Darth Vader wishes he had a monologue like the… Read more: #28 Otello
  • The Magic Flute (2nd production)
    Merry Christmas opera family! We wake up early to feel the romance of the past. Once a year they bring out vintage subway cars and actually run them. I love this. Next year I’d like to dress up like a 30’s gangster, but probably won’t. I’m feeling a little like Santa after pancakes and Just hope I don’t get stuck in the subway doors. We have tickets for The Magic Flute! It’s an abridged version sung in English for the… Read more: The Magic Flute (2nd production)
  • #29 Pelleas Et Melisande
    What do you get if you take away everything that people love about opera? Pelleas Et Melisande. No big arias, no patter songs, no soaring coloratura, and no big crescendos. Still, Debussy’s composition along with Yannick’s attentive conducting has me on the edge of my seat. I never lose interest or focus. The music undulates and repeats, undulates and repeats, undulates and repeats to give me time and then more time to really chew on the emotion of the orchestra.… Read more: #29 Pelleas Et Melisande
  • #30 Adriana Lecouvreur
    What starts as rain quickly turns and by time I arrive the Metropolitan Opera is the center of a snow globe and my charcoal coat is white. Seeing two operas on one winter day is ambitious, but I have ventured into this formidable weather once again to see the potential fireworks of two ‘battling divas,’ Anna Netrebko and Anita Rachvelishvilli. Earlier I wondered if performers sometimes push their characters beyond the page. For example, if Anna’s character is written to… Read more: #30 Adriana Lecouvreur
  • #31 Iolanta
    My good friends Corky and Kathy are in New York and suddenly this big city feels less lonely. They are visiting this weekend to see a different opera, Carmen. I spent my first years teaching sharing laughs with these two opera loving workmates. We used to go to the Academy of Vocal Arts to hear opera together and afterward share drinks (admittedly sometimes we skipped the opera). You’ll have to trust my description that we are three very, very attractive… Read more: #31 Iolanta
  • #32 Bluebeard’s Castle
    A loud moan comes from the family circle and I don’t want to think about what they’re doing. He wears long blonde hair and coat like he’s out of an Anne Rice novel. What he really needs is a raincoat and to be on 42nd Street. If any opera were going to inspire an asshole like this, bluebeard’s Castle would be the one. It is full of masochism and machismo. People near him get up and move their seat. It… Read more: #32 Bluebeard’s Castle
  • Don Giovanni (2nd production)
    We are opera glasses ready.  The orchestra tonight sounds amazing – the singing also with sopranos who pierce the air like shafts of light in darkness and tenors who sing to completion empty a whisper that dissipates into erupting applause. I always find the double ending really interesting. The first climactic finale feels like a strong exclamation to end on, but then there is a tacked on ending that gives some moral messaging not to be like Giovanni – or… Read more: Don Giovanni (2nd production)
  • #33 La Fille Du Regiment
    “Rataplan, rataplan, rataplan…” To drum beats we thrust our punching fists in victory. This whole day is a victory for Art and for us. We catch a really comprehensive Warhol exhibit, and then off the subway almost get knocked over by some street art nibbling at the President. Would Andy have done a Trump? There’s definitely relationships between the two pictures below worth exploring. Maybe after dinner. Ramen labors our chopsticks in weighty steam above browned pork on taxi colored… Read more: #33 La Fille Du Regiment
  • #34 Rigoletto
    Opera is full of tragic characters and I hear that Rigoletto might be the most tragic of them all. I have an exciting day ahead of me though before I will learn just how tragic. My morning begins with a surprise text. “You in NY bro?” My sister is here with her kids to see Wicked. I rush to see her and glad the streets are maneuverable now the holidays are over. After a quick meet up for a photo… Read more: #34 Rigoletto
  • #35 A Midsummer Nights Dream
    The train is very late! We arrive barely in time for the wobbly violins that begin Britten’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. There is no opera without a great Puck and tonight we have one in the actor Miltos Yerolemou, who plays the dancing man on the popular TV series game of thrones. He is uncontainable! This troublemaker along with a bored king make the best of a long summer night, and give us a dreamy night at the opera. The… Read more: #35 A Midsummer Nights Dream
  • #36 Falstaff
    With a swift kick, the walls on stage wobble and I think; what won’t a diva do to steal a scene? In this wonderful moment the diva happens to be a horse. It is always a thrill to see live animals on stage at the Met.* The music for Falstaff is so vital and immediate, he jumps right into this comedy with no overture and it’s really hard to believe that this will be his last opera. At 80 years… Read more: #36 Falstaff
  • Interlude: Audiences
    The Orchestra audience is absolutely the most polite and respectful to the players and other audience members. These are people coming to hear the music they love. The Ballet audience is sexy! Half of them look like they used to be dancers themselves, svelte. The Opera audience?
  • The Ring Cycle
    Wagner’s The Ring is big, ambitious, and arguably the greatest work of art ever created. You heard me Michelangelo. It is a single 16 hour story told across four operas: Das Rheingold, Gotterdammerung, Die Walkure, and Siegfried The Ring Cycle begins for me and Chaltin on a rainy morning when I go to pick up tickets for tonights Elektra. I see Ring tickets are now on sale and already beginning to sell out a year in advance and they have… Read more: The Ring Cycle
  • #37 Das Rheingold
    My love for Kit Kats has been the thing of rumor and conjecture ever since the infamous break room theft of 2002 when my Kit Kat mysteriously disappeared. Gimmee a break. The villainous degenerate has never been found, and everyone knows I’d rather lose a river full of gold than a Kit Kat. They are in my opinion, the perfect ratio of wafer to chocolate. On the way to the Met today I overhear a woman shout loudly and defensively… Read more: #37 Das Rheingold
  • #38 Faust
    We have a free weekend between Wagner’s The Ring Cycle. So what’s an opera fanatic to do? We decide to drive to Washington D.C. to see Faust at the Washington National Opera Theatre. It is a morning of syrup and Orchids, 90 mph into the sunrise we arrive at Founding Farmers in time for pancakes (a delicious recommendation from my friend Joe). There will be lots to explore before tonight’s opera. Of particular interest to us is Marianne Anderson’s portrait… Read more: #38 Faust
  • #39 Die Walküre
    “Ho jo, to ho!” Walking past the Henri Moore sculpture at Juliard, a man walking the other direction sees our horns and sings again, “Ho jo, to ho!” which is the character Brunnhilde’s war song cry. Everyone outside is bristling with energy when out of the blue a hip young woman in a pink patterned pant suit and green glasses grabs me, “Can I take my picture with you?” Our hats are definitely drawing attention and becoming a crowd favorite… Read more: #39 Die Walküre
  • #40 La Clemenza Di Tito
    If you ride the Amtrak enough it’s easy to appreciate the chorus of complaints it receives. The conductors on the other hand are the best. Wearing a tall dark navy uniform todays conductor jokes with a young boy a few seats up from me that if he didn’t have a ticket he would have to walk the rest of the way to Trenton. “And, that’s a long way to walk,” he adds. He’s clearly joking in tone and they have… Read more: #40 La Clemenza Di Tito
  • #41 Siegfried
    The horned hats continue to be a a hit with the crowd. I hear comments like, “Nice horns,” or “I’m obsessed with your hat,” and the more demonstative woman who asked if she could touch it and began rubbing my head all over like she was on ecstasy. I take my picture with some other hat wearing fans. At this point it really feels like we have all been through something special together. I wish I gathered them all up… Read more: #41 Siegfried
  • #42 Gotterdammerung
    This is our last day of The Ring Cycle and I’m going to miss it so much. It feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity. We kicked this adventure off a year ago and today we will finish this sixteen hour epic.  The Met feels like our Valhalla. Gotterdammerung is incredible – it is everything and could become a mere wall of sound in lesser hands but through wagners punctuation and pauses and interwoven familiar themes and variations on… Read more: #42 Gotterdammerung
  • La Boheme (4th production)
    I said it once before, I’m never going to see 101 operas if I only see La Boheme. I love my sister though and I can’t pass up an opportunity to share this one with her. This will be her second opera with me. It is a cloudy, breezy, and cold beginning of May. Winter is having a hard time letting go, but the Academy of music is always warm in temp and mood. My friend Rob is also in… Read more: La Boheme (4th production)
  • #43 Dialogues Des Carmelites
    In hindsight Marie would probably agree that the Reign of Terror that precedes the French Revolution was probably not the best time to become a nun. Robespierre is not a fan of the Christians. When Marie says she is strong enough to pass the tests to live the life of an austere nun, she is chided by Madame de Croissy with one of my favorite lines from tonight scolding that God is not “testing her for her strength, but for… Read more: #43 Dialogues Des Carmelites
  • # 44 Roméo et Juliette
    I’m very excited to take my family to their first opera. It feels like a really special reunion since I haven’t seen them for a while. I have to put my hand in my pockets to refuse my Aunt who is trying to give me money for the tickets to which my dad’s wife comments that I’m just like him giving money away, which we don’t really have. It’s not our fault, it’s a trait we get from the most… Read more: # 44 Roméo et Juliette
  • #45 Nixon in China
    I visited China once believe it or not. I still don’t believe it as I’m fairly certain I’m the only person to visit there from my home town, and maybe the only one from there who ever will. Ahead of my trip there was a lot of xenophobia on the news painting China as the United States next Cold War rival, but I find wherever I go the people are not their government and I left with images of polite… Read more: #45 Nixon in China
  • # 46 La finta giardiniera
    Garden gnomes. So many garden gnomes. It’s good to be back in Portland. Just watch this intro and tell me you don’t love opera and better opera in Portland. This young Mozart opera is a delight and opens with about 50 garden gnomes on stage. The plot is absolutely ridiculous for this light hearted comedy. We made a new friend tonight who was seated next to us. This is his first opera and his vision is impaired so during intermissions… Read more: # 46 La finta giardiniera
  • #47 In the Penal Colony
    Yesterday, I was in Paris. Today, Portland, Oregon. Very excited to be going to hear In the Penal colony with my cousin Rachel. The tickets came with complimentary drinks and snacks before the show. When we go inside the theater it is very small and the singers just a few feet away from us. The opera is based on a short story by Franz Kafka. The prisoners maniacal laughing is haunting. Wow! This is such an intense performance, I can’t… Read more: #47 In the Penal Colony
  • #48 A love of Three Oranges
    During the intermission I receive a text from a friend in the theater asking, “Is this good? Am I missing something?” I reply that there is always something to love in opera and to search out that element whether it is a sound from the orchestra, invention on the set, the beauty of a voice, or the pattern on a costume. There is always something to love. What makes a better story, comedy or a tragedy? That is the premise… Read more: #48 A love of Three Oranges
  • #49 Semele
    We enter and interrupt the peace like a rowdy bunch of Bacchus’ Maenads. Rose colored canaries bookend the winery’s testing vines and totter in the wind. The sky is filled with shooting stars. It is another after-party at the Chaddsford Winery in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The party has ended but here we are somewhere between the testing vines still awake with the dawn. Like a groggy Somnus I reach up, pick two grapes off the vine, lay back down, and… Read more: #49 Semele
  • #50 Macbeth
    Fate is a giant ocean. No matter how ambitious, at the best, for a brief moment there is a gasp of fresh air and a glimpse of the stars before being enveloped again. This production begins with the foreshadowing sound of a stormy sea. There is danger in ambition. It is like a storm that shrouds and overwhelms everything but itself. For what is gained there is equal sacrifice. Shakespeare’s character, brave and loyal Macbeth is on the coast of… Read more: #50 Macbeth
  • Turandot (2nd production)
    Did Puccini ever visit China? No. He had to learn and appropriate ideas from secondary sources like newspapers and music boxes to imagine a fantasy China. I have visited the real China, well at least the tourist trodden. My trip was an art teacher’s dream. To see the Terra Cotta Warriors (Emporer Qinshihuang’s life sized army of people, horses, and charriots) sculpted and fired in 210 BCE was a true pilgrimage. Just me and my lonely planet book half way… Read more: Turandot (2nd production)
  • #51 Manon
    Me and Chaltin left the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris on a sunny morning in July and walked past the church of St. Sulpice. We didn’t know it at the time but it is in there that the Chevalier des Grieux heals his broken heart. I think he’d be better off grabbing a beer with the guys and finding someone else. I don’t find Manon as a very likable character. I think he can do better. I don’t think I could…… Read more: #51 Manon
  • Orfeo de Euridice (2nd production)
    Interesting night at the opera. I am really excited to share this opera with Chaltin because it is one of my favorites from the Portland Opera. This night however is damned from the beginning. The giant metal staircase didn’t attach properly and shook violently. It was not used, and eventually pulled back up into the mets enormous caverns. Then we heard a commotion in the orchestra seating followed by a person being escorted out. Finally, during one of the most… Read more: Orfeo de Euridice (2nd production)
  • #52 Le Nozze di Figaro
    Ask me to take your picture and I will move the sun to get the lighting just right. The German couple in front of us hand me a disposable camera. It’s the kind of camera I used in high school that needs winded. I frame them in the viewfinder *Click* their smiles and outfits like the camera scream 1988. Churlish hair, checkered pants, and jean jackets are framed in front of the Met curtain but will have to wait until… Read more: #52 Le Nozze di Figaro
  • Interlude: Sex, opera, and tacos
    Walking down 10th avenue I feel the ennui that invariably follows weekends of complete satisfaction. I wonder aloud to my companion. “Do you think there’s more to life than sex, opera, and tacos?” She considers this for a skip of two heart beats then looks at me with a smile. “I came for the tacos.”
  • #53 Akhnaten
    For this one I do two things: I read Phillip Glass’s biography where he travels the world, studies with Nadia Boulengar (lessons in counterpoint), drives a cab, and develops his polarizing repetitive structures. When I close the book, I like him. Second, I recall once again, my amazing trip to Egypt: Luxor is still being excavated and I feel like Howard Carter. I’m trying to sound smart here but actually had to google Tut’s discoverer; who I really feel like… Read more: #53 Akhnaten
  • #54 Der Rosenkavalier
    There is only one flaw in tonights crystalline production of Der Rosenkavalier, and it is delightful. Three giant dogs are walked onto the stage held by long leashes but one of them is completely distracted by the audience. This good boy cannot stop himself, he is so enthralled by so many potential new friends. He pans the audience from side to side and top to bottom and in doing so completely breaks the fourth wall. It is one of those… Read more: #54 Der Rosenkavalier
  • #55 The Queen of Spades
    Lise Davidson sings tonight. Powerful. I’m surprised the roof of the Metropolitan Opera survived the evening, held up maybe only through some restraint on her part. It is her debut here and the up and coming soprano has the deepest capacity I’ve ever heard. Her throat must be forged of brass and crystal. No waver. This must be what people heard when they reference singers like the great Birgit Nilsson. With Yannick conducting too this feels like a very special… Read more: #55 The Queen of Spades
  • #56 Wozzeck
    I take the subway up the Hudson River today for a visit to Grants tomb. Once upon a time this was one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country, but no longer. Everyone must still be nursing hangovers from last nights New Years Eve parties, the morning is Walking Dead quiet. I am alone other than the National Monument employee sitting behind a desk. I sign my name to a big ledger and feel a strong obligation to… Read more: #56 Wozzeck
  • #57 Porgy and Bess
    It is an early winter evening. Thru a veil of snow everything in Hell’s Kitchen, New York feels out of time. A horse and carriage enthusiastically prances by to call it a day, then vanishes into a gauze of snow. The staff in the Starbucks where I write in the mornings sweep up grey shadows in yellow light. I brace against the wind. By time I reach the Met I have a dusting of snow on my coat. The electric… Read more: #57 Porgy and Bess
  • Interlude: But is it Opera?
    I talk about opera a lot. Too much probably, but I can’t help myself, I enjoy it. Good friends listen, try to meet me half way like the good people they are and will bring up a musical theatre work they’ve seen, like Wicked. I want to jump up and down and scream, “it’s not the same thing!” And for goodness sake, do not mention Rent when La Boheme is in town! It’s nothing like that, nothing! The difference between… Read more: Interlude: But is it Opera?
  • #58 Agrippina
    The decadence of Ancient Rome has not been forgotten. We are in present day New York on Cupid’s day, and we’re celebrating with a fine dinner before tonight’s opera. Agrippina is up there with my favorites from this season. She, is a satire that encourages us to laugh at the wealth, privilege, and power of the 1% (The Met audience shines tonight and I wonder if they internalize this irony). 300 years old, this opera feels sadly just as relevant… Read more: #58 Agrippina
  • #59 The Lord of Cries
    I overlap my fingers into a cross – and hope. We are going to see our first opera in a year and a half. A year and a half is how long Covid shut down the world’s theaters, and just about the world’s everything else. Covid protocol still makes leaving the house these days feel like an event, so going all the way to Santa Fe is feeling like an outright biblical pilgrimage. Each summer Santa Fe attracts the world’s… Read more: #59 The Lord of Cries
  • #60 Eugene Onegin
    Ring the bells! We land in Santa Fe just in time for lunch. The airport is charmingly loaded with ornamental tiles, but after a no-frills flight all I can think about is food. Our Lyft driver chatterly describes some chili in town we’ve just got to try and before we even get to the hotel a long cartoon trail greets us with a curling finger and brings us to his recommendation, ‘The Shed.’ Our first chili bowl is weighted with… Read more: #60 Eugene Onegin
  • #61 Sun & Sea
    Sometimes going to the opera is just like a day at the beach. The staging for Sun & Sea is unlike any other in what looks like Aliens scooped up a section of a beach mid-summer and plopped it down on the planet Brooklyn. Bright as July the burning bulbs on the sides of the stage have a visceral heat accompanied by a smell of plastic and burning metal. The performance here at B.A.M is repeated 5 times in a… Read more: #61 Sun & Sea
  • #62 Boris Godunov
    I enjoyed not enjoying this opera. I appreciated that the Met performed Mussorgsky’s original composition. Later re-writes gift the audience with more chorus at the beginning and end with a fuller plot that balances the male dominated cast with some female voices – but that’s not Mussorgsky – That’s the re-write. I’d rather hear an authentic idea than one polished over for an audience – Broadway is just a mile away. Mussorgsky is quoted in the evenings playbill that a… Read more: #62 Boris Godunov
  • #63 Fire Shut Up In My Bones
    Charles M. Blow’s memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones is brave in its honesty. The opera based on his book begins with Charles holding a gun with which to murder the man who molested him as a child. It then follows the moments of Charle’s life that lead him to this critical moment of choice. Charles Blow said about his very personal narrative that he was “very worried that this place that [he] was writing about is so small… Read more: #63 Fire Shut Up In My Bones
  • #64 Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
    We entered the Met at 6:00 P.M. and didn’t exit until 12:05 A.M. Wagner demands a lot from his audience, but the reward is so much more than a great opera, it is to experience the sublime in a way that can change the trajectory of ones consciousness, and if you’re not into that, there is also a pillow fight. At its most basic Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is a love letter to the human voice and the power of… Read more: #64 Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
  • Interlude: Opera, it’s all Greek to me
    Coming to stand beneath a Greco-Roman statue in a crumbling square of Herculaneum I think about the dark ages that followed the fall of Rome. Zeus, his family of troublemakers, and the libraries of ancient knowledge misplaced like keys in the couch cushions. I can imagine this statue beginning with its Inauguration Day crowned in sunny garland, boys playing Achilles vs. Hector in nearby alleyways while smoke rises from bread ovens ubiquitous as our McDonalds. The statue would be fully… Read more: Interlude: Opera, it’s all Greek to me
  • #65 Iphigenia
    This new opera collaboration by jazz phenoms Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding is set up to be a fascinating fusion of jazz and classical music with a stage-set designed by paradigm shifting architect Frank Ghery; I’m excited. Now if we can only get to Boston to see it. The plane at La Guardia presently is swaying on us like a seasick drunkard. I weigh the pros and cons of vomiting and close my book of Euripides who’s letters won’t remain… Read more: #65 Iphigenia
  • # 66 Eurydice
    Every step is a pounce. A leap. An act of defiance against gravity. In a gust of plumes, humble feather balls rise and fall like music notes on the shadow of a nearby railing. A second of wide eyed stillness, then action. Sparrows don’t walk to their desire, they hop-to-it. -coffee shop, pre-pandemic Ichi-go ichi-e is a Japanese term for beautiful unrepeatable moments. I can sit for hours with a good book and wait for a gust of wind and… Read more: # 66 Eurydice
  • #67 Oedipus Rex
    Thanks to histories most famous psychologist, tonights opera is always an open invitation to think about family, especially fathers and sons. While the oedipal complex may be disproved as an actual complex, it still works wonders as metaphor especially for artists. Tonights opera has me feeling nostalgic for family and the woods of my childhood; roots, branches and all that. A place of waterfalls and ivy-climbing trees is Ridley Creek State Park. A place I learned to choose the best… Read more: #67 Oedipus Rex
  • # 68 Fidelio
    Beethoven’s only opera is about a prison escape. A metaphor for most, a sad reality for too many. This production from The Heart Beat Opera Company brings a unique authenticity to the opera by inviting inmates held in real prisons to sing Beethoven’s famous choral section. For me it is the most effecting performance of the year. In ways that are difficult to place into words, I found the opera very moving. Discovering that the choir members wrote letters about… Read more: # 68 Fidelio
  • # 69 Ariadne auf Naxos
    A giant gold frame surrounds the Met stage for Act II. Audience members who know their art history will undoubtedly make the reference to the famous painting by Titian. My favorite Ariadne painting is a little less grand. I found it with my art students on a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a seek and find to discover as many references to greek myth as we could (I think the Percy Jackson books were popular at the… Read more: # 69 Ariadne auf Naxos
  • #70 Rodelinda
    The singers let loose their vocals like mellifluous acrobats. I have become such a huge fan of Handel’s operas (contemporary composers of opera seem to tilt the complexity away from the vocals in favor of the orchestra). 250 years ago was the age of castrati and vocals were the rage. However between the flying vocals are recitative sections of talk/sing accompanied only by a harpsichord that considerably slow down the forward energy of the show. This production along with others… Read more: #70 Rodelinda
  • #71 Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
    At dusk the horses that work Central Park trot downward to the stables of Hell’s Kitchen. In an effort to beat the approaching rain tonight a carriage takes the corner at the light so fast, not only is it believable to me that you could be trampled to death by a horse, but before cars it must have happened all the time… We’re on the corner of 11th street on our way toward Juilliard when the light gives the green… Read more: #71 Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
  • #72 The Rake’s Progress
    The comedian Chris Rock once quipped that a man is only as faithful as his options. This opera begs the question, is he right, are we as good as we think we are or do the circumstances of geography and class just limit our opportunities to be amoral? Introduce Tom Rakewell, a nice country boy in love. Ben Bliss plays his introduction artfully, almost weak; his voice will develop through the course of the opera as his character changes after… Read more: #72 The Rake’s Progress
  • # 73 Hamlet
    Theater can be magic and Hamlet is no exception. During Act II the characters all exit leaving an elegant room empty but for a conspicuous dark rectangle cut out of the ceiling. We see nothing but it and the top of the curtain. Slowly the ceiling begins to lower and we see Hamlet standing on the top beside a pile of dirt. The very second it reaches the floor, a gravedigger pops out of the rectangle. Gimmicks like this bump… Read more: # 73 Hamlet
  • #74 Scalia/Ginsburg
    What a refreshing and delightful evening of opera, and I’m still laughing. Ginsburg/Scalia is a contemporary comic opera inspired by the relationship between U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The two judges famously oppositional in their interpretations of the constitution found common ground in their shared humanity and reverence for democracy, summed up beautifully in their character’s duet, “We are different, we are one.” I find this odd couples mutual love for opera most endearing and… Read more: #74 Scalia/Ginsburg
  • #75 Albert Herring
    Albert Herring is not so much a chamber opera for me as it is a seek-and-find for the cause of the marching melody sure to become my ear worm companion tomorrow. I have a great view of the timpani, bassoon, and bass clarinet tonight, and with a stretch the harp and flute. I believe the bassoonist is my culprit. In this delightful tragicomedy the docile title character Albert Herring will have his piety tested after being elected The King of… Read more: #75 Albert Herring
  • Interlude: Costumes, inhabiting the Character
    After dressing up for the Wagner operas and then seeing the outrageous outfits in Ahknaten it really got me thinking about how clothing can change a character. To help my art students appreciate Art a little better, I think it helps if they can feel some kind of empathy or sympathy for the characters within a picture. One way I do this is to ask them to “strike a pose” similar to a character. I think can briefly inhabit the… Read more: Interlude: Costumes, inhabiting the Character
  • #76 L’orfeo
    After a long year teaching, it is Portland I come to heal my spirit. A slight disappointment travelled with me this year though because Portland Opera has switched to a fall/spring schedule, but two things got me feeling better. First, I get to visit my opera loving cousins here and two while watching a morning program on TV we received some amazing news. Opera is back for the summer with a new name and reprised vision from beloved and long… Read more: #76 L’orfeo
  • Tito (2nd Production)
    Let loose the applause, for tonight I performed in my first opera. During an interactive production of La Clemenza di Tito re-written for a modern audience, I was persuaded to play a member of the press and present a question to President Tito during her press conference: A thread throughout my blog has been to witness how artists keep opera vital and relevant in the present and how they will bring in the next generation of opera-fanatics. Renegade Opera has… Read more: Tito (2nd Production)
  • #77 The Fall of the House of Usher
    Edgar Allen Poe’s famous tale of the macabre is an allegory about the interconnectedness between people and things. That our joys (and in this tale, miseries) are not just within us but also inhabit the people and objects around us. My first experience with this story was watching a made for TV miniseries in the 1980’s.* We watched it in a house of rugs, wallpaper, and warmth held together by the gravity of my grandparents and small dog. Remembering that… Read more: #77 The Fall of the House of Usher
  • #78 Otello
    On Sunday afternoon a monastic hush swept across the audience before Act II. At the precise moment the lights dimmed to their darkest, the voice of a three-year-old could be heard deliver a cheerful “Bye-byyeee,” that bounced around the theater in a crisp sharp F. The acoustics lifted her innocent exit all the way up to the chandelier. A quick applause of genuine fellowship followed from the audience; which, I believe was not for her unconscious precociousness, but for her… Read more: #78 Otello
  • #79 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
    Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich didn’t notice when Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin left the concert hall. For the music was still far from over. The opera he walked out on was Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and the next day the Official Communist newspaper brutally trashed what would be Shostakovich’s first and only opera. By 1934 friends and collaborators of Shostakovich had already been sent to prison or worse for much less than the writing of a satirical opera. Shostakovich is shook and to… Read more: #79 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
  • #80 Medea
    For the opera Medea I take a walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to find an artwork featuring the myth of Medea. While the steps and interior of the grand entrance are a sight to behold, if you’ve already been here then I recommend trying the secret entrance downstairs with shorter lines, a quiet bathroom, and coat room. I do find a fragment of Medea in the museum, even if it requires a little imagination to fill in the… Read more: #80 Medea
  • #81 Idomeneo
    People crowded the theaters in 1984 to watch the movie Amadeus, and once again the name Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was on everyone’s lips, the wunderkind. Even the scientists of the time said that listening to Mozart would make babies grow up smarter and an entire generation of mothers sat around with headphones on their bellies. It was Two Hundred Years after the Premiere of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo I’m bored to death during Act I, and yes I’m still writing about… Read more: #81 Idomeneo
  • #82 Peter Grimes
    The chorus chants the name of Peter Grimes in accusation. Again and again the name repeats and the chorus feels extra special tonight reminding me of the Mefistofoles performance. With a frothy passion they sing: Who holds himself apart Lets his pride rise.Him who despises us We’ll destroy.And cruelty becomes His enterprise.Him who despises us We’ll destroy.Our curse shall fall upon his evil day. We shall Tame his arrogance.We’ll make the murderer pay for his crime. Peter Grimes! Grimes! Chaltin… Read more: #82 Peter Grimes
  • #83 The Turn of the Screw
    What a treat to run into Christopher Mattaliano at the opera today and in Philadelphia of all places. He currently runs the opera company Orpheus PDX in Portland and is a big part of their thriving opera scene. I recognized him because in Portland he greets the audience and fields Q and A sessions. He has a warm amiability that pulls people in and his passion for opera is infectious. So what brings him here? It turns out the conductor… Read more: #83 The Turn of the Screw
  • Interlude: But is it Opera II?
    When the first photographs appeared people thought that maybe “painting was dead.” Who needs a painting of something when you could just take a photograph? Of course painters did not see death, they saw opportunity. Opera faces a similar challenge contending with competing technologies. It also has to contend with its own history. One has to at least ask the question. Is there anything new to be said in the genre or will the future of opera just be ad… Read more: Interlude: But is it Opera II?
  • #84 Fedora
    The champagne snuggled within my inside pocket is gripped by the security guard. She considers for a moment, but then lets me thru. It is New Years Eve after all. After that brief moment of hesitation, we are under the chandeliers, in a cavalcade of fashion for the premiere gala event of Fedora, and while I look as understated as normal, my date for the evening looks mighty gorgeous. Impressive considering its been a long rainy day of running around… Read more: #84 Fedora
  • #85 Note to a friend
    Warning: This post contains references to suicide that may be disturbing. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 and please talk to someone today. In the top drawer of my desk at work I keep two things. Notes of thanks from students, and the other (which breaks my heart) funeral cards in remembrance of former students who have committed suicide. Note to a friend is an opera based on… Read more: #85 Note to a friend
  • # 86 Mary Motorhead
    Mary looks a little unhinged in her black Motörhead concert shirt, but finally I have an opera to share with my old metal friends from high school. I haven’t thought about them for ages, those friends perennially hassled for their obligatory long hair and presumed allegiance to satan, but to me they were always the friendliest people. As outsiders they had a natural empathy and compassion, and I suppose banging their heads for hours to loud metal music burned off… Read more: # 86 Mary Motorhead
  • #87 Trade
    The opera Trade takes place in a hotel room in Dublin. The room is a deliciously lifted diorama who’s color shifts to reflect changes in time and mood. The world beyond the hotel room is never seen but its presence and attitudes are felt in every syllable. It is a traditionally conservative world the characters have to navigate. In this space within a space, bit by bit the audience will learn the story of what has brought the two men… Read more: #87 Trade
  • #88 In Our Daughter’s Eyes
    In Our Daughter’s Eyes was the last opera I saw from the Prototype festival and I think the strongest from a magnificent group of shows. Michael Joseph McQuilken and Nathan Gunn created a complicated character who reminded me very much of men I have known. Truly flawed delinquents who became expectant fathers, a new role which brought out layers of maturity in them that I can hardly believe. Iit was a journey toward selflessness, innately understanding there new role is… Read more: #88 In Our Daughter’s Eyes
  • #89 Don Pasquale
    I arrive early for the 8:00 performance of Don Pasquale excited to visit the Academy of Vocal Arts for the first time. My stomach drops however to find an empty lobby and be told the opera began at 7:30 and not 8. I’ve never been late to an opera before and am terribly embarrassed. Thankfully I only miss a few minutes and am escorted by a nice man to a room just outside where I can still catch the first… Read more: #89 Don Pasquale
  • #90 Lohengrin
    Courtesy of the Met’s rush tickets program, we score tickets for the first tier, Row B. We have had some great seats, but before today I didn’t even realize they ever offered first tier seats. If you can put a price on it (which they do) these seats would otherwise cost $350 dollars. I’m exhilarated. Five hours of Wagner with a great view and a great balance of sound. I feel up for an adventure. Before the opera, despite a… Read more: #90 Lohengrin
  • #91 Norma
    The moon from Lohengrin has come back for an encore. What rituals might be going on behind the drapery to shrink the moon and transform the stage into a forest full of druids and priestesses? A last minute vocal warm up maybe, a loose stitch secured, a case of butterflies let loose, a Hercules who pulls the rope to raise the curtain, but probably just press a button. There is magic in the orchestra for sure, it hides in the… Read more: #91 Norma
  • Interlude: Welcome to the Sousalarm Club
    If you enjoy the horn and drum of a good march, tune in and tap your feet to WRTI’s Sousalarm on weekday mornings at 7:15 A.M. The Sousalarm has been part of my morning commute for years and depending on which mile marker it starts I know if I can take my time or hit the pedal to make work on time. The program is a play off prolific “March” composer John Philip Sousa, begun by Dave Conent and then… Read more: Interlude: Welcome to the Sousalarm Club
  • #92 Champion
    Grandpop used to ask us to put our hands on his upper forearm and then he’d flex his bicep until our hands felt like they were between two pieces of steel. He called himself “the vice,” and would boast about betting young guys fifty bucks if they could knock him down with one punch. The world he grew up in is the world of Terrence Blanchard’s new opera, Champion. The poster in front of The Met makes think of him… Read more: #92 Champion
  • La Boheme (in reverse!?)
    Today’s production of La Boheme will begin with the sad ending and end with the hopeful beginning. Wrap your head around that for a minute. It’s La Boheme, in reverse! The intent from director Yuval Sharon is for the audience to experience La Boheme thru the clarity of hindsight, to appreciate the small moments and small wins of the characters while they make choices about their future. He beautifully quotes Kierkegaard in the playbill that “life can only be understood… Read more: La Boheme (in reverse!?)
  • Don Giovanni
    The Academy of Vocal Arts reminds me of the Barnes Foundation as a wonderfully intimate space in the area that for years most people didn’t know existed; but once discovered becomes many peoples favorite. It is about as close to the source of music an ear can get without actually being a performer. It’s penetrating, yet not forced in that room. Tonight I was excited to once again hear Don Giovanni led by Christopher Macatsoris. We saw him and his… Read more: Don Giovanni
  • #93 Ariodante
    On weary days I crave for a Neo-Baroque movement to take hold and really lean into beautiful voices. I leave every Handel opera with ears full of delight and tonight is no exception. The Curtis Institute of Music Just pulled off an unforgettable performance leaving me wanting more. The tenors. Pillars. Solid A consistent foundation of control and strenghth. I liked them very much. However, The fireworks from Handel are written for a higher range and the sopranoss benefited from… Read more: #93 Ariodante
  • #94 Der Fliegende Holländer
    There’s something precarious about sheets on a clothesline. A hubris in spite of their humble attachments. Shapeshifting ghosts; always just a gale away from being ripped loose and landing on the neighbors Great Dane. Man Ray’s painting reminds me of the one my grandma strung from Mrs. Connors fenced mulberry tree to Mr. Tolands honey suckle and tomato plants. Solid wooded pins held sheets better than the ones with springs I recall. I can find myself as a boy in… Read more: #94 Der Fliegende Holländer
  • #95 The Barber of Seville
    I miss having wavy dark hair and all the little delights that came with it: The smell of fruited shampoos, handfuls of goop, the heated metal of a hairdryer, the vanity of pulling a comb out of my pocket to admire my reflection in a window, the ritual of going to the hair cuttery for a scalp massage and wash, the feminine chatter and the patter of “snip” “snip” “snip.” I miss the energetic hairdressers on fire. But what I… Read more: #95 The Barber of Seville
  • #96 Die Frau ohne Schatten
    I land in San Francisco knowing only one thing about the evening ahead; The Woman without a Shadow is composed by one of my favorite opera composers, Strauss. With my sweetheart beside me, I know I’m in for a night of awesome surprises. The first surprise widens our art school eyes – a set designed by David Hockney. I adore Hockney’s playful paintings and his retrospective was one of the first exhibits me and Chaltin attended together. For Frau he… Read more: #96 Die Frau ohne Schatten
  • #97 The Royal Shepherd (Il Re Pastore)
    The Perseid meteor showers just rocked Rooster State Park. One after another, every thirty seconds or so, bright gliding jolts of universal perspective pass above our heads to confound and conflate science and magic. The Perseids arrive the same time each year as predictable celestial fireworks and always a part of my summer trip to Portland, Oregon. With yummy tap water, verdant hikes, niche food culture, and a four story book store Portland has a European casualness with a post-punk… Read more: #97 The Royal Shepherd (<em>Il Re Pastore</em>)