• 51JhWYwbk8L. SL500 SX323 BO1204203200

    Book review: A Song of Love and Death

    Peter Conrad’s A Song of Love and Death sports a grand subtitle: “The Meaning of Opera.” Don’t expect the promised enlightenment—“A Catalogue of Opera” would have been more appropriate. The book freewheels through the canon, calling on both famous and obscure operas to support the author’s claims. Conrad …

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  • Semi

    An ode* to live streams

    I set my alarm for 7.55am Sunday morning. When it chirps in my ear, I blearily reach for the snooze button. Come on; it’s the weekend! I catch myself just in time and grab my laptop—plugged in and waiting at the side of my bed—instead. Some quick …

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  • 56646 Hoffmann Diana Damrau La Opera

    The dreaded cast change

    This past weekend, I flew to Los Angeles, both to visit family and to see the opening night of The Tales of Hoffmann at LA Opera. It promised to be a starry occasion: Vittorio Grigolo as Hoffmann, Diana Damrau as the four heroines, Kate Lindsey as Niklausse/Muse, …

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  • Fleming Graham Rosenkavalier

    Mezzosexuality, or, the hotness of trouser roles

    Paris Opera, 2005. Annio lies next to Sesto as they sing a duet about their mutual affection. After the final notes, Annio rolls towards Sesto, places a blindfold over her eyes, and leans in for a kiss. As I watch the DVD, my brain struggles …

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  • Festspielhaus

    A brief history of opera etiquette

    The etiquette of attending the opera can seem convoluted. Dress up, but how much up varies by the house and your seats and whether it’s an opening night. Don’t applaud after the first act of Parsifal. Or maybe do; it’s confusing. Shout “bravo” or “brava” or …

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