Nov 20

Art and Capitalist Consumption and “Room&Board&Opera”

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Music by Jonathan Bailey Holland
Libretto for “The Battle of Bull Run Always Makes Me Cry” and “Naomi in the Living Room” by Jonathan Bailey Holland
Libretto for “Always” by Jon Jory
Music Director & Pianist for “Always” by Patricia Au
Stage Director for “Always” by Ingrid Oslund
Music Director & Pianist for “The Battle of Bull Run Always Makes Me Cry” and “Naomi in the Living Room” by Jean Anderson Collier

November 7, 2019
Room&Board
375 Newbury Street, 
Boston, MA 02115
Room&Board&Opera

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Room & Board is a US-chain of upscale furniture stores that started in Minnesota about three decades ago. The particular one I went to on Newbury Street has a showroom that has been utilized in a number of Boston-based events, so maybe it’s not so surprising that a theater company would see an opportunity to bring art into an unlikely space. Boston Opera Collaborative has pushed forward with this unexpected, incongruously hilarious venue, setting three, ten-minute comic operas in this space for what was a one-night only event and a unique moment in my time as a theater critic. Continue reading

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Nov 09

African Traditions and European Expectations: “The Magic Flute”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Performed by the Isango Ensemble

Based on the opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and libretto in German by Emanuel Schikaneder

Adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May
Music Arranged by Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis

November 6 – 10, 2019
Open Caption Performance: Sun, November 10, 2PM
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA

The Magic Flute is performed in English, Xhosa, Zulu and Tswana

Review by Kitty Drexel 

(Boston, MA) This weekend the Isango Ensemble returns to Boston for a weekend of performances of The Magic Flute. It is an exceptional performance of a classic, beloved opera. They overhaul Mozart’s composition by obliterating the standards of white, European traditions. Their production instead incorporates indigenous African performance traditions of dance, music, and storytelling. It’s a pleasant culture shock to the senses.  Continue reading

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Sep 30

The Restoration of Henry VIII


Presented in concert by Odyssey Opera
Composed by Camille Saint-Saëns
Libretto by Léonce Détroyat and Armand Silvestre
Gil Rose, conductor
Version prepared with assistance from Hugh Macdonald
Supertitles provided by Danielle Sinclair

September 21, 2019
New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall
30 Gainsborough St, Boston, MA 02115
Odyssey Opera on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) The year is 1521. Henry VIII (Michael Chioldi) rules England with unhinged fury. The chorus announces that Henry is about to behead the Duke of Buckingham, once a beloved best friend. It is a grave foreshadowing of Anne Boleyn’s infamous fate. The chorus pleads, “please, can someone save us from this mad tyrant?” Continue reading

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Apr 03

“Don Giovanni” Reframed for Our Troubled Times

Photo via Boston Opera Collaborative

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Stage Direction by Patricia Maria-Weinman and Greg Smucker
Conducted by Tianhui Ng

March 28 – April 6
Ben Franklin Institute of Technology
41 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116
Don Giovanni on Facebook

Content warning: Assault and sexual assault

Critique by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) This iteration of Don Giovanni begins with a projection of the infamous pussy-grabbing quote from our Cheeto-in-Chief. It goes on to present images of Brett Kavanaugh, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and so many (too many) others. From minute one, it’s clear this is a production without subtlety, but for those of us who wake up in dread of what the news will say about the continued degradation of women’s rights in the United States, this is exactly the production we need. To use Don Giovanni as a lens to view our very national moment is a bold move and a difficult one to land. Continue reading

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Mar 14

Loins of Pain: “The Rape of Lucretia”

The morning after. Lucretia (Kelley O’Connor, kneeling) and Bianca (Margaret Lattimore,). Photo by Liza Voll.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Benjamin Britten
Libretto by Ronald Duncan
After the play by Andre Obey
Music direction by David Angus
Stage direction by Sarna Lapine
Dramaturgy by John Conklin
Movement/intimacy direction by Yury Yanowsky

March 11 – 17, 2019
Artists for Humanity Epicenter
100 West 2nd Street
Boston, MA 02127
BLO on Facebook

Sung in English with English supertitles

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: sexual violence

(Boston, MA) The Rape of Lucretia is about how a sexual assault turned into a war. It’s a timely message… But it’s always been a timely message. Women die at the hands of their abusers everyday. They will continue to do so until society values the lives of women as much as it does power. Boston Lyric Opera partners with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Casa Myrna to discuss Britten’s opera about rape and politics.   Continue reading

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Feb 11

“Cendrillon” is a Sweet, Sugary Cinderella

Presented by The Harvard College Opera
Composed by Jules Massenet
Music Directed by Benjamin P. Wenzelberg
Stage Directed by Madeline Snow

Agassiz Theater
Cambridge, MA
Feb 1-3 & 8-10
Facebook Event

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) If Massenet’s Cendrillon was a cake, it would be covered in thick, buttery frosting, have crushed sugar cookies inside, and funfetti melted into every layer. This version of Cinderella is one of the sentimental renditions of a wildly popular but very reliable recipe. As a fan of multiple versions of the rags-to-riches, wish-fulfillment fairy tale, which includes the much bleaker version explored in Into the Woods, I enjoyed the sweetness that the Harvard College Opera leans into so very hard in this production. Continue reading

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Feb 05

BLO Hosts Free Event: “Reclaiming Lucretia” on Feb. 7, 2019 at 6PM


Costume rendering for Lucretia by designer Robert Perdziola for the new BLO production.

Acclaimed actress Paula Plum directs a cast of Boston-area singers and actors this week to explore the myth of Lucretia, the ancient Roman woman whose cruel sexual violation brought down an empire, and whose story has been retold for centuries by poets, playwrights and painters.  The free public event, “Reclaiming Lucretia: Responding to Sexual Violence through Music, Poetry and Story,” takes place Thursday, February 7 at 6 pm at District Hall, 75 Northern Avenue in the Boston Seaport. RSVPs are encouraged at BLO.org/calendar.

“Reclaiming Lucretia” is produced by Boston Lyric Opera in advance of its production of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece opera, “The Rape of Lucretia,” which runs March 11-17, 2019.

Plum helms a fascinating one-hour look at the Lucretia story through the Britten’s music, the poetry of William Shakespeare, and the words of contemporary sexual assault survivors.  Plum weaves together song, spoken word and theatrical interpretation with a cast that includes: well-known Boston-area actors Aimee Doherty and Ed Hoopman; local singers Brianna Robinson (BLO’s newest Emerging Artist) and Jesse Darden (BLO’s first Principal Artist-in-Residence); returning mezzo-soprano Renee Tatum (seen in The Metropolitan Opera’s 2018 production of “Marnie” and as Jenny in BLO’s 2018 “The Threepenny Opera”); Longmeadow, Mass.-native and baritone David Tinerva; and pianist and Boston University lecturer Douglas Sumi.

The event is followed by an audience question-and-answer session with cast members, reflections from a representative of Boston Area Rape Crisis Center — which along with domestic violence support organization Casa Myrna is collaborating with BLO to bring context, support and contemporary perspective to content in “The Rape of Lucretia” — and a post-event reception.

Reclaiming Lucretia: Responding to Sexual Violence through Music, Poetry, and Story
Thursday, February 7, 2019 | 6:00pm 
District Hall, 75 Northern Avenue, Boston Seaport
Free; RSVPs encouraged

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Jan 21

Excuses Are Not Explanations:”Haroun and the Sea of Stories”

Photo by Clive Grainger.

Presented by Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Composed by Charles Wuorinen
Libretto by James Fenton
Conducted and stage direction by Gil Rose, Artistic Director

January 19, 2019
Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory
Boston, MA
BMOP on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The opera Haroun and the Sea of Stories is based on Iranian author Salman Rushdie’s magical realism novel of the same title. This cast has an awful lot of white people in it for an allegorical opera set in the subcontinent of imaginary India. What an opera set in India about fictional Indians and their nonhuman, non-colonizer friends demands is actual Indians. Asian erasure is unacceptable in an art form bursting at the seams with underpaid, overeager POC* artists. Such casting means that disappointed POC audience members leave at intermission just like the lovely couple next to me quietly did on Saturday night. Opera is killing itself by failing to include the very people it seeks to serve with such casting decisions.    Continue reading

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Oct 29

Songs of Ice and Fire: “Brother Nat”

Presented by The Boston Foundation
Book and Lyrics by Jabari Asim and Liana Asim
Music by Allyssa Jones
Music Director Damien Sneed

October 25, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orange Stage
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA  02111
Brother Nat on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) American history is black history, is slave history. It is a history that demonstrates the deepest stoicism and power of humanity. Beaten and chained, stripped of everything, Black American slaves formed communities tighter than blood, turned lifetimes of suffering into exquisite song, and used song to rise above, revolt against injustice, and redeem all humanity. Nat Turner’s Rebellion was a point of inflection in our nation’s story, which swung the course of history toward freedom and salvation. A grand opera is needed to deliver this epic. No other medium could do justice.  Continue reading

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Oct 16

“Barber of Seville”: Not A Useless Precaution

The cast; photo by Liza Voll Photography.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Score by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini
Conductor David Angus
Stage Director Rosetta Cucchi

October 12 – 21, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theater
219 Tremont Street
Boston, MA  02116
BLO on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu
(Boston, MA) The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution, remains one of the most well-known pieces of classical music in the modern world, and for good reason. The score sparkles and gambols, flickering from one indelible motif to the next. The libretto tells the universally appealing story of youth counterculture fighting for love and sticking it to the man. Continue reading

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