The summer season at the San Francisco Opera began this week with a production of Verdi’s Rigoletto. For this installment, I decided that after seeing Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer at Seattle opera last year, Verdi deserved some renewed attention (after reviewing Macbeth two years ago).
In this series of articles I have been exploring American opera in its many forms. Last month was the upstate New York political drama of Roscoe. This month I saw the Chinese American production Dream of the Red Chamber which had its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera on September 10th 2016.
Seagle is a venerable festival and training program for young singers tucked in the mountains and woods with the rustic feel of a visit to your friend's cottage. Artistic Director Darren K. Woods assembles a cast of 32 singers to perform four shows over a summer season that spans July and August. This season offered something for everyone, including the world premiere of a new American opera entitled Roscoe, by composer Evan Mack and librettist Joshua McGuire.
Enthusiasm for Spoleto 2016 was perhaps best characterized by the reopening of Gaillard Auditorium, the largest of downtown Charleston, South Carolina’s theatre spaces. After a three-year, two-hundred million dollar renovation, the theatre was one of the festival’s feature attractions. PORGY AND BESS, the undoubtedly now classic opera set in Charleston was one of four operas presented at the festival, which played from May 28 – June 12. This review will concentrate on two productions offered at this year’s festival: PORGY AND BESS and THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL. These two works provided a stark contrast, though both defined the incredible diversity championed by Spoleto through its incredible forty seasons.
The 41st season of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis featured four productions produced this past May and June: La bohème, Ariadne on Naxos, Macbeth and Shalimar the Clown. I was fortunate enough to see three of four productions, not having time to see La bohème.
Twenty years have passed since the Toronto Star’s John Fraser described the opening of The Flying Dutchman at the Canadian Opera Company as a “corrosive assault on the imagination that I’m trying to figure out”. William Littler of the same newspaper lamented that in this version there was no ship and no ascent to heaven for Senta and that too much was left to the imagination in this production.
One of the most interesting struggles being played out in the regional opera companies across the country is how to stay relevant in an increasingly shifting market. The quest for audiences has led companies in various directions, from commissioning new works, to reviving older ones. So when I looked at the Portland Opera’s 2016 season I did so with interest because here was a regional company deciding to open the 2016 season with an old friend, Mozart’s Magic Flute.