Tag Archives: opera

Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel

The idea of making an opera out of a fairy tale was not unique to Engelbert Humperdinck (this is the nineteenth-century composer I’m talking about, not the mid-twentieth century crooner). Actually, in the case of Hansel und Gretel, it wasn’t … Continue reading

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Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel

The idea of making an opera out of a fairy tale was not unique to Engelbert Humperdinck (this is the nineteenth-century composer I’m talking about, not the mid-twentieth century crooner). Actually, in the case of Hansel und Gretel, it wasn’t … Continue reading

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Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony

Philip Glass, bless his heart, keeps turning out operas, and with a couple of near-misses, they’re among the best in the contemporary canon. In the Penal Colony takes as its foundation Franz Kafka’s chilling short story of the same title. … Continue reading

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Benjamin Britten’s Death In Venice

Many consider Benjamin Britten the most important British composer since World War II; indeed, some think him the most important since Henry Purcell. Although often thought an uneven composer, most writers in the area concede that his operas Peter Grimes, … Continue reading

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Philip Glass and Beni Montresor’s The Witches of Venice

The Witches of Venice, with a score by Philip Glass and libretto by Beni Montresor, based on Montresor’s children’s book of the same title, was commissioned by Teatro alla Scala and premiered there in 1995. It’s a fairy tale, with … Continue reading

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Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach

Robert Wilson, Philip Glass’ collaborator on Einstein on the Beach, noted that until that work hit the boards, theater was bound by literature. Thinking on it, he’s pretty much right: stage plays, opera, even film were constrained by a narrative … Continue reading

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Philip Glass’ Akhnaten

Akhnaten is the third of Philip Glass’ “portrait” operas, the three works based on historical figures who transformed the thinking of their times through their vision and ideas. Akhnaten’s claim to fame is that he introduced the idea of “god” … Continue reading

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Philip Glass and Constance DeJong’s Satyagraha

Satyagraha is the second of Philip Glass’ “portrait” operas, following Einstein on the Beach and preceding Akhnaten. Commissioned by the City of Rotterdam, it received its first performance there in 1980, and has since been performed in London, New York, … Continue reading

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Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Everyone has their national epic. The Greeks have the Iliad and the Odyssey, the French have Le Chanson de Roland, the British get to pick among Beowulf, The Mabinogion, and the tales of the Arthur Cycle, and the Germans have … Continue reading

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Joseph Haydn’s Orlando Paladino

Joseph Haydn, the composer who did as much as anyone, and more than most, to create the style we know as “classical,” was also one of the wittiest artists of a witty era. He also created some of the most … Continue reading

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)

I love Mozart. His music is one of the things I’d insist on if I were going to be stranded on a desert island. Otherwise, I’d just refuse to be stranded. Among my favorite works by Mozart is The Magic … Continue reading

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John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera/Edward German’s Tom Jones (Highlights)

John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera is a particularly English variant of a form that was widespread in Europe and later in America: known as a “ballad opera,” it is a close cousin to the German singspiel (a stellar example of … Continue reading

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John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera

The Beggar’s Opera, or at least the edition I recieved for review, and I, have an unusual history. Ever since I received this book in the mail, one thing after another manifested to distract me from my mission. Every time … Continue reading

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