May 08

Beating the Villain is Half the Fun in “Domme and Giovanni”

Stefanos Koroneos, Stage Director & Projections Designer.

Presented by White Snake Projects
Composed by Ryan Oldham
Libretto by Liz Abram-Oldham and Cerise Lim Jacobs
Stage Directed by Stefanos Koroneos
Music Directed by Tianhui Ng
Donna Anna: Carami Hilaire (soprano)
Don Giovanni: Andrew Simpson (bass-baritone)
Donna Elivira: Pascale Spinney (mezzo-soprano)
Leporello: Kyle Oliver (baritone)
Jazz/Rock Band: David McGrory (keyboard/accordion), Dan J. Pelletier (percussion), 
Gillian Dana (bass), and John Tyler Ken (guitar)

May 5 -6, 2024
La Voile
1627 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA, 02445

Review by Gillian Daniels

BROOKLINE, Mass. – White Snake Projects, as part of their Opera Through the Looking Glass series, reframes Mozart’s Don Giovanni as an opera of cathartic, female-driven revenge. Donna Anna (Carami Hilaire, soprano), a professional dominatrix with a vendetta, and Donna Elvira (Pascale Spinney, mezzo-soprano), a self-serious FBI agent convinced she’s starring in an ‘80’s cop show, are working to bring down the titular Don Giovanni (Andrew Simpson, bass-baritone) from the beginning. 

There is no suggestion that Giovanni is supernaturally charming, just manipulative and cruel. He’s a mafia don, a crime boss who spills blood as gleefully as he demands a whipping from a hired sex worker. Not so much titillating as a campy, though there is indeed a striptease courtesy of Simpson, his relationship with Donna Anna is enthusiastic and more complex than even he realizes. Continue reading

Mar 08

“Eurydice” Revisits and Revives Myth and Memory

Eurydice (Sydney Mancasola) descends into the Underworld. Photo by Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by The Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Matthew Aucoin
Conducted by Matthew Aucoin
Libretto by Sarah Ruhl
Based on the play by Sarah Ruhl
Stage Direction, Set, & Costume Design by Douglas Fitch
Sung in English with English surtitles

March 1-10, 2024
The Huntington Theater
264 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

The Digital Playbill

Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission

Review by Gillian Daniels

BOSTON, Mass – “This is what it is to love an artist: the moon is always rising above your house,” Sydney Mancasolaw sings as the newly dead Eurydice. “The houses of your neighbors are dark and dull.”

Continue reading

Nov 11

“La Cenerentola” Sparkles

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Jacopo Ferretti
Conducted by David Angus 
Stage Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
Sung in Italian with English surtitles
November 8-12, 2023 
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre 
219 Tremont Street 
Boston, MA 02116

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Critique by Gillian Daniels

Boston, MASS. – A downtrodden heroine, Angelina (Cecelia Hall), gets revenge on her family by marrying for love and living well. La Cenerentola is a Cinderella adaptation that sparkles with humor and Giaochino Rossini’s energetic score. It’s fun, it’s satisfying, and this Boston production does credit to the fairy tale for the benefit of local audiences. Continue reading

Sep 25

Too Much of a Good Thing: “MONKEY, A Kung Fu Puppet Parable”


Presented by White Snake Projects
Based on Journey to the West
Libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs
Composed by Jorge Sosa
Stage direction by Roxanna Myhrum
Music direction by Tianhui Ng
Puppet design by Tom Lee and Chicago Puppet Studio

Featuring Chuanyuan Liu, Dylan Morrongiello, Carami Hilaire, Cristina Maria Catro, John Paul Huckle, Maria Dominique, Lopez, Carlos Jose Torres Lopez, Nathaniel Justiniano, Angelo Guo, Eliott Purcell, Lawrence Chan, Amanda Gibson, VOICES Boston

September 23 – 24, 2023
Emerson’s Paramount Center Theater
559 Washington St
Boston, MA

Review by Maegon Bergeron-Clearwood

BOSTON, Mass. — MONKEY, A Kung Fu Puppet Parable ticks three of my personal favorite boxes. it features puppets and opera, two traditions that are rife with simple but powerful techniques for bringing fantastical stories to life. It also features martial arts, a personal passion of mine that I rarely see experimented with onstage. It’s a tantalizing combination of performance elements, and I could not have been more excited to discover how White Snake Projects would weave them together. Continue reading

Sep 20

“Madama Butterfly” Lives! With Sorrow, But She Lives 

Butterfly (Karen Chia-Ling Ho) and her son Dolore (Neko Umphenor)

Presented by the Boston Lyric Opera
Directed by Phil Chan
Conducted by David Angus
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Artistic Advising by Nina Yoshida Nelsen
Music Directed by David Angus
Set Design by Yu Shibagaki

September 14-24, 2023
Emerson Colonial Theatre
106 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
Boston Lyric Opera on Facebook

Critique by Gillian Daniels

BOSTON, Mass. – To live with sorrow is a hard thing, but it’s so often the condition of living. Madama Butterfly’s prologue gives the titular heroine something uncommon in the opera’s many revivals: life beyond tragedy. Before the show begins, we watch two older, Asian women in 1983 Hawaii, played by Keiko Orrall and Donna Tsufura. They decorate a cake and, afterward, one takes out a colorful blanket and a child’s stuffed animal. It’s clear she’s remembering something, and the stage is the platform where we’ll watch her memories unfold. The resulting tragedy is both lovely and terrible, a successful reframing of the classic opera that would move the coldest heart to tears. Continue reading

Jun 26

Absurdly Cool, Athletic, Glorious: KAIROS Dance Theater and Renaissance Men present: “Folktales, Fables & Feasts”

Gorgeous poster art for the event.

Presented by KAIROS Dance Theater and Renaissance Men
Performed with Sound Icon Ensemble
Artistic Director/choreographer: DeAnna Pellecchia
Music director/conductor: Eric Christopher Perry
Rehearsal director: Kristin Wagner
Master of Ceremonies: Hieu Nguyen
Videographer: Christian de Rezendes, Breaking Branches Pictures
Film/video designer: Lindsay Caddle Lapointe
Dramaturgy by D. MacMillan

June 24 & 25, 2023
BU Tsai Performance Center
685 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA

BOSTON, Mass. — KAIROS Dance Theater with the Renaissance Men with the minty fresh instrumentals of Sound Icon Ensemble presented Folktales, Fables & Feasts, a playful cabaret-style music and dance concert on June 24 and 25 at the BU Tsai Center.  The dance was modern and the vocals were operatic, but the concert was satisfyingly new and jaunty.  Continue reading

May 09

Conjuring History from Between the Lines: “Omar”

JAMEZ MCCORKLE C. AS THE TITLE CHARACTER IN BLOS OMAR. PHOTO BY OLIVIA MOON PHOTOGRAPHY

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera, co-produced by Spoleto Festival USA and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Music by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels
Libretto by Rhianon Giddens
Conducted by Michael Ellis Ingram
Directed by Kaneza Schaal
Inspired by Dr. Ala Alryye’s translation of Mar ibn Said’s autobiography in his book, A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn
Published by and presented with permission of Subito Music Corporation

Emerson Cutler Majestic Theater
219 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116
May 5 – 7, 2023

WCRB recorded a performance of BLO’s production for an episode of WCRB in Concert that will air in fall 2023. Sign up for recording broadcast updates here.

Critique by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

BOSTON, Mass. —

This past Saturday night, I was witness to a conjuring. Omar, a new opera co-created by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, is not just in conversation with history. It brings the past to life by filling in the gaps of archival memory and giving voice to a narrative that has otherwise slipped through the cracks of history.

Until now, the story of Omar ibn Said has largely been contained to academic circles, where it holds a critical place as the only known surviving account of United States slavery to have been written in Arabic. From this account, we know that Omar was an accomplished and devout Islamic scholar in present-day Senegal, when, at 37 years of age, in 1807, he was captured, transported to Charleston, South Carolina, and sold into slavery. Continue reading

Aug 13

Hip Hooray for Shakespeare: BLO’s “Romeo & Juliet”

L-R VANESSA BECERRA AND RICARDO GARCIA AS THE TITLE CHARACTERS IN BLO’S PRODUCTION OF ROMEO & JULIET.
Photo by Nile Scott.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
In partnership with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
Music by Charles Gounod
Libretto by Jules Barbier & Michel Carré, after William Shakespeare
English text by Edmund Tracy 
Performance edition by David Angus, Steven Maler and John Conklin
Conducted by David Angus
Directed by Steven Maler
Dramaturgy by John Conklin
Choreography by Victoria L. Awkward
Fight direction by Nile Hawver
The Playbill 

For Accessibility Information and Questions, BLO Audience Services can be reached at 617.542.6772 or boxoffice@blo.org.

FREE  on the Boston Common
Thursday, August 11, 2022 at 8PM
Saturday, August 13, 2022 at 8PM
Performed on the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company stage
139 Tremont Street 
Boston, MA 02111

Total run time, including one intermission, is two hours.
Sung in English with English supertitles.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — BLO’s Romeo & Juliet remixes the French opera by Gounod and Barbier & Carré with the original Shakespeare play of the same name. The BLO production is successful as an opera for the masses and as fan art of the original. Diehard opera fans may find fault in this original production, but the open-minded will find a lot to love.

Dwellers who live ‘neath the rocks can find the Rome & Juliet synopsis here: https://blo.org/romeo-juliet/. To sum up, Romeo and Juliet are two crazy kids who fall in love at a party. Then, because they snog instead of talking, they die. Love is hard.  

Boston Lyric Opera reduces the five-act opera to a merciful two. Score editors David Angus, Steven Maler, and John Conklin added two speaking actors (Ed Hoopman and Cheryl D. Singleton who were fantastic.) to the usual vocalists and supernumeraries to Gounod’s opera who read expositional text from Shakespeare’s play. The result is an opera/play hybrid that works: we still hear famous music from the opera that showcases the vocalists’ talents; the play hits all the important plot points (and deaths) and avoids a extra-lengthy visit to the Common. Continue reading

Jun 21

Sexy & Romantic: “Venus & Adonis”

Presented by Cambridge Chamber Ensemble
Music by John Blow
Libretto by Anne Kingsmill Finch or Aphra Behn
From Ovid’s Metamorphosis 
Stage direction by David R. Gammons 
Music direction by Stephanie Beatrice
Choreography by Alissa Cardone
Supratitles by Danielle Shevchenko 
Concert-master, Ming-hang Tam

June 17, 18, 19, 2022
Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center
41 2nd Street
East Cambridge, MA

Review by Kitty Drexel

Apologies to the cast, orchestra, and crew of Venus & Adonis. Family issues (including a COVID scare) prevented me from publishing this review on time. Mea culpa. 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Cambridge Chamber Ensemble’s production of John Blow’s Venus & Adonis was delightful. It was under an hour and packed in more action in 60-minutes than other Baroque operas do in 150 minutes. If you missed it, that’s a damn shame. Donate here and catch the next one. 

Adonis & Venus is a romantic opera. Cambridge Chamber Ensemble’s production was sexy. It needed an intimacy director. Continue reading

May 09

So I Turned Myself to Face Me: “Blythely Ever After”

Stephanie Blythe as Blythely Oratonio. Photo by Dominic M. Mercier

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Directed by John Jarboe
Music direction & arrangements by Daniel Kazemi
Cowritten by John Jarboe & Stephanie Blythe 
Blythely, flower, costumes and throne designed by Machine Dazzle with Rebecca Kanach
Original sound design by Dan Perelstein Jaquette 

May 6, 2022 at 7:30 PM
Royal Boston
279 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02116

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Opera is not dead. Opera has the potential to thrive in these interesting times. Stephanie Blythe ushers in its new dawn as Blythely Oratonio, a drag king with a most ostentatious countenance, in Blythely Ever After. Opera, the culture, need only evolve with its denizens to survive. 

Drag queen Sapphira Cristál, she of the six-octave range, opened the concert in a stately purple taffeta robe with “Dich Teure Halle” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. She sang live but she was so pitch-perfect that she sounded recorded. This aria sounds as good sung by a queen if not better than it does by a princess soprano. Continue reading