• Cosi 1

    The mysterious magic of operatic disguises

    I recently brought a group of friends to a production of Pietro-Andrea Ziani’s La Circe. (Side note: in the vanishingly unlikely event that this opera is performed near you, I highly recommend attending.) One of the characters, Egle, spends a good chunk of the opera disguised as …

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  • Operafanatic

    Book review: The Opera Fanatic

    It’s always strange to find yourself described in a book you’re reading. For me (and, I suspect, many devoted opera fans), Claudio E. Benzecry’s The Opera Fanatic: Ethnography of an Obsession offers that experience over and over again. While Benzecry’s study specifically focused on the standing-room-only crowd …

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  • 37a2151

    Three operatic rarities

    I spent this past weekend at West Edge Opera, one of my favorite companies in the Bay Area. Every summer, they perform three operas—always including at least one you’d never see in the normal opera house—in an abandoned train station or warehouse. This year’s pickings …

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  • Supertitles

    Supertitles, good and bad

    Supertitles have become an essential part of the opera experience. While Bayreuth continues to hold out (and probably will forever), every major house I’ve visited employs either seat-back or above-the-stage titles in the local language, English, or both. This means that audiences don’t have to …

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  • Glassarmonica

    Glass harmonicas in opera

    The eerie, shimmering tone of friction against glass bowls—the sound of insanity? The glass harmonica shows up rarely in opera instrumentations (it was not a popular instrument c. 1820-1920, when many canonical operas were written). Most famously, it was the original accompaniment for Lucia’s mad …

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