Diana Damrau as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote

Many divas have tried their hand at this role.  No one can match Diana Damrau.  She is the Queen of Night.  She's beautiful and evil and she scares the living hell out of you. Which is what the character is supposed to do. When she comes at you  with those eyes you can't help but …

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Leontyne Price Sings Her Farewell in Aida

Leontyne Price was a famous African American singer.  She was best known for her role as Aida, the black slave girl in the opera of the same name. During the 50s and 60s she endured racism and other humiliations like not being allowed to sleep in the same hotel as the white singers.  Nevertheless her …

“This is Tosca’s Kiss!”

When Puccini's opera Tosca was first performed the critics savaged it.  They called it a "tawdry, little shocker." Puccini had tremendous success with La Boheme the year before.  What kind of success? Imagine Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and American Idol all wrapped into one...and you still wouldn't come close.  So everyone was looking …

Un Ballo in Maschera: Beautiful Opera Music Marred by a Poor Storyline

Un Ballo in Maschera (The Masked Ball) is one of those operas in which the music is better than the story. It's about the assassination of Gustave III of Sweden during a masked ball. That much is historically accurate.  The rest of the opera...not so much, even down to the last scene when the king …

ELEKTRA: Expressionist Opera by Strauss

Elektra is a modern expressionistic opera full of angst and anger and remorse and revenge.  I'm not a huge fan of expressionism (though I love Edvard Munch's The Scream and the silent film version of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), the art form which distorts reality to engender emotion.  But, boy, does this opera in …

Suspension of Disbelief: Not the Rubicon You Thought It Was

The more I study opera the more I learn about suspension of disbelief at least as far as writing goes, and the human propensity for engaging in it. Suspension of disbelief is a big thing in opera.  It's a natural given you are to suspend a lot of disbelief so the opera can move on.  …