Formal Attire at the Opera? Here’s What Some Opera Houses Say

In a widely-circulated column in The Guardian, dated Oct. 14, writer Howard Jacobson argues that opera audiences have become too casual, and that men should wear suits and ties to performances in an effort to “commemorate the specialness of an occasion.” He recounts attending a performance of a Mozart opera in London recently and being the only man in his row wearing a formal suit, while others wandered in sporting gym shoes, jeans and polo shirts. Continue reading “Formal Attire at the Opera? Here’s What Some Opera Houses Say”

Santa Fe Opera’s ‘The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs’ on Closing Night

SANTA FE, NM – Driving north from Santa Fe on Highway 285, a stadium-like structure appears perched above the left side of the road. Turn off at one of the two marked exits, pull into one of the tightly-packed parking lots, and soon you’ll encounter small groups of tailgaters beside their crossover SUVs and Subaru wagons. In most cities, this would be the preamble for an NFL football game, but here, open-air opera is the star attraction. Continue reading “Santa Fe Opera’s ‘The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs’ on Closing Night”

Met Opera Announces 2017-18, With 3 Notable Omissions

When the Metropolitan Opera announced its current season one year ago, it was notable for the fact that it brought back, in fairly short order, the four most-produced works in the Met’s history: Aida, La Bohème, Carmen and La Traviata. Continue reading “Met Opera Announces 2017-18, With 3 Notable Omissions”

If Sea World Draws Criticism, Should the Opera Too?

A provocative article on the website Counterpunch looks at whether there is a double standard when it comes to the use of live animals in works of art. At a time when Sea World and Ringling Bros. have bowed to public pressure and changed their policies on captive orca whales and elephants, respectively, New York artists and their audiences seem particularly enthralled this season by exhibits and productions featuring animals as performers. Continue reading “If Sea World Draws Criticism, Should the Opera Too?”

When the Metropolitan Opera Presented Sunday Concerts

The Metropolitan Opera’s grim box office numbers have received a good deal of attention from New York’s opera lovers, including the classical music writers of the New York Times, who last week channeled their inner impresarios to offer some suggestions for the company. Continue reading “When the Metropolitan Opera Presented Sunday Concerts”

‘The Shining’ Opera Is Based on King Novel – Not Kubrick Film

Any list of “horror operas” would not be a long one. It might include supernatural thrillers like Meyerbeer’s Robert Le Diable, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Philip Glass’s Fall of the House of Usher. Some would add Verdi’s Macbeth (plenty of witches) and Strauss’s Elektra (an all-around grim tale). Continue reading “‘The Shining’ Opera Is Based on King Novel – Not Kubrick Film”

Marian Anderson to Appear on the $5 Bill

The United States will soon join Sweden, Norway and Australia in featuring a famed opera singer on its currency. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said on Wednesday that the back of the $5 bill is going to be overhauled to include images of the late contralto Marian Anderson, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Continue reading “Marian Anderson to Appear on the $5 Bill”

Opera Companies Lead the Arts in Marketing Expenses

Opera companies and symphony orchestras spend more than any other cultural sector on marketing in order to entice the public to attend a performance, according to a new report from the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University. But the data suggests that there is a payoff to the dollars spent on advertising, social media posts and radio spots. Continue reading “Opera Companies Lead the Arts in Marketing Expenses”

Why the Same Few Operas Seem to Be Staged Over and Over

There are many reasons why certain operas stay popular year after year, irrespective of the director or casting choices: It often boils down to the right combination of compelling stories, relatable characters and great melodies.  Continue reading “Why the Same Few Operas Seem to Be Staged Over and Over”

Metropolitan Opera Drops ‘Blackface’ Makeup in ‘Otello’

Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role of Verdi's 'Otello' at the Met Opera (Kristian Schuller/ Metropolitan Opera)
Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role of Verdi’s ‘Otello.’ (Kristian Schuller/ Metropolitan Opera)

August 7, 2015

The Metropolitan Opera made news with its decision not to put darkening makeup on the face of the tenor singing the lead role in Otello, its 2015 opening-night production. Numerous newspaper articles followed. But largely absent from the discussion were the people with arguably the closest perspective on the issue: singers of color. 

In this edition of WQXR’s Conducting Business podcast, we explored the issue with two African-American opera singers and one scholar who has written about portrayals of race in opera. 

Guests: 

Joining host Naomi Lewin are:

• Lawrence Brownlee, who is one of today’s most in-demand tenors, and who frequently appears at the Met.

Naomi André, co-editor of the book Blackness in Opera and a professor at the University of Michigan.

Vinson Cole, a tenor who has sung with many of the world’s leading opera companies and orchestras over three decades.