Jun 27

Laura Neill’s “DIVAS”

The ensemble

Presented by OperaHub in collaboration with DIVA Museum
Written by Laura Neill
Produced and Stage Directed by Adrienne Boris
Music Directed and Collaborative Piano by Patricia Au
Starring Chelsea Beatty, Kathryn McKellar, Lindsay Conrad, Glorivy Arroyo, and Christie Lee Gibson

June 21 through 30, 2018
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston
OperaHub on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(South End, Boston, Massachusetts) DIVAS is a new play by the writer and educator Laura Neill.  It is being performed for the rest of this week in a black box at the BCA.  On the Sunday I attended, the black box was very warm. The man sitting next to me repeatedly wiped the sweat trickling down his brow, and half the audience was skimming through their programs, while the other half fanned their perspiring faces.  The small theatre’s high temperature didn’t seem to bother most of the patrons, who had either greying or thoroughly whitened hair. OperaHub’s noble mission is “to present high-caliber, affordable, and accessible classical music to a wide community of music and art lovers,” but looking around the audience, it was easy to remember that the classical music community remains mostly white and older. Continue reading

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Apr 20

It’s a Great Cake. A Bride-Cake. Mine: “Old New Borrowed Blue”

Celeste Godin as Havisham; photo by Nile Scott Shots.

Presented by MetroWest Opera
Conducted by Brendon Shapiro
Stage directed by Cassandra Lovering

Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night
Libretto by Jon Olon-Scrymgeour
Music by Dominick Argento

The Beautiful Bridegroom
Music and libretto by Dan Shore

April 19 – 21, 2018
Plaza Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
MetroWest on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Many an opera is devoted to women’s pre and post connubial anxieties. With all of the riches for women, one must ask where are the men?  In Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night Dickens’ spinster is an anti-heroine reliving a decades old tragedy. In The Beautiful Bridegroom, a Lady, her daughters and maid all wish for wedded bliss. If weddings are such fun, there should be operas from the giddy perspective of tenors in tuxes and basses in vestments. A person is supposed to like the person they marry. For all its progress, opera has further to go.   

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Apr 17

Real Hopes and Real Dreams: “The Rosenbergs (An Opera)”

Church and Gibson; Kalman Zabarsky, Photographer

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Score by Joachim Holbek
Libretto by Rhea Leman
Music direction by Cristi Catt
Stage direction by Dmitry Troyanovsky
Dramaturgy by Magda Romanska

April 12 – 22, 2018
BPT
Boston, MA
BPT on Facebook

April 27-29, 2018
Brandeis University
Spingold Theater
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02453

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAEthel and Julius Rosenberg were accused of delivering crucial information on the creation of the atomic bomb to the USSR in 1953. This case, considered one of the most infamous spy cases in US history, validated HUAC and contributed to the country-wide paranoia known as the Red Scare. Such attacks on communist affiliates is similar to the current presidential administration’s attacks on socialism. The Rosenbergs (An Opera) considers the couple accused of treasonous espionage. It proves that the American government and the people it claims to serve have changed very little in the last 65 years. Continue reading

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Mar 26

Punk, Communist Opera to Burn Your Daddy’s Ears: The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera from Boston Lyric Opera on Vimeo.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Kurt Weill
Libretto by Bertolt Brecht
English translation by Michael Feingold
Original German text based on Elisabeth Hauptmann’s German Translation of John Gay’s
The Beggar’s Opera
Conducted by David Angus
Stage directed by James Darrah

March 16 – 25, 2018
Huntington Avenue Theatre
264 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) 3Penny is not your Daddy’s stodgy traditional opera. Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht were communist rabble rousers hell-bent on challenging the operatic form. They were freedom fighters rebelling against the Nazis through theatre. A stalwart Marxist, Brecht wanted to destroy opera’s association with the bourgeoisie. Weill believed opera could belong to the proletariat if given the opportunity. Both would have appreciated the BLO’s production of The Threepenny Opera. Opera purists would not.     Continue reading

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Feb 08

Flighty “Die Fledermaus” Wobbles But Lands

FPresented by The Harvard College Opera
Composed by Johann Strauss II
Libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée
Music Directed by Sasha Yakub
Stage Directed by Mitch Polonsky

Agassiz Theater
Cambridge, MA
Jan 31 – Feb 4
Facebook Event

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) The Harvard College Opera succeeds in creating a production of Die Fledermaus with the boozy haze that one would associate with a show that sings a tribute to champagne, dubbed “the king of wines!” How else would a woman, Rosalinde (Veronica Richer, a marvelous soprano), successfully disguise herself from her husband, Eisenstein (Ethan Craigo), with a flimsy mask? Why else would an innocent man, Alfred (the charming Samuel Rosner), happily go to prison instead of the husband of his beloved? The logic of this operetta is certainly rooted in the logic of being pleasantly drunk. It’s only when the show becomes more interested in its sensibility than its story, like someone drinking under the impression he’s far funnier and balanced than he thinks he is, that it begins to wobble. Continue reading

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Oct 25

“The Werewolf”: Supernatural Melodrama is Split Open to Reveal Howling Good Time

Photo credit: Sara Haugland; a werewolf, extra fluffy.

Presented by WholeTone Opera 
Based on Le Loup-Garou by Louise Bertin
Fresh Libretto by Teri Kowiak & J. Deschene
New Music by Molly Preston

October 20—31st
The Rockwell in Davis Sq, Somerville
255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
The Werewolf on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Davis Square, Somerville, MA) The Werewolf fooled me. Genuinely fooled me. I don’t know if that was its intention, but it did. It begins wholly in the realm of operatic convention. Alice (Jeila Irdmusa/Katie O’Reilly) wanders through the dark woods, possibly beset by something terrible. She meets her sisters, played by Nathalie Andrade, Elizabeth Clutts, Brooke Dircks, and Rebecca Wright, and they frolic. Then she encounters a handsome young man (played fantastically by Andy Troska through out the play) and they, well, also frolic, though in a much more suggestive way. Then we jump forward to Alice and her sisters preparing for her wedding, where Bertrand (Nick Stevens) reveals a werewolf (or loup-garou) is on the loose and the charming, flamboyant Vincent (Von Bringhurst/Nora Maynard) is referred to as a man of “unusual tastes,” everyone starts kissing each other, and the ethereal aura of the beginning collapses into a riotous comedy of errors with supernatural elements and a prominent queer subplot. Continue reading

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Oct 03

Fair is Foul. Foul is Fair*: “Rev. 23: A Hellish, Farcical Opera”

Photo by Kathy Wittman; keep on rockin’ on, kids.

Presented by White Snake Projects
Creator and libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs
Composed by Julian Wachner
Directed by Mark Streshinsky
Conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya
Dramaturgy by Cori Ellison
Choreography by Yury Yanowsky

Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2017
John Hancock Hall
Boston, MA
White Snake Projects on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”
Revelation 21:23Bible, New International Version  (NIV)

(Boston, MA) White Snake Projects is giving the BLO a run for their money. It’s my sincere hope that artists and their audience will watch the works of both companies but, if one has to choose, WSP may be the winner in the competition for attendees. Its edgy productions are worth the commitment. Continue reading

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Jun 26

Give Me What I Deserve ‘Cause It’s My Right: FIDELIO

Photo credit: www.MattConti.com; impatient for reform, the prisoner ensemble takes some sun.

Presented by NEMPAC Opera Project
Opera by Ludwig van Beethoven
Libretto by Joseph von Sonnleithner
Artistic and stage direction by Rebecca Miller
Music direction and conducting by Dr. Tiffany Chang

June 22-25, 2017
Faneuil Hall
The Great Hall
Boston, MA
NEMPAC on Facebook

Sung in German with supertitles, dialogue in German for performer acting and audience comprehension compatibility.

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Beethoven nails the human condition with his only opera. Fidelio is about the lengths we go to for those we love. Yet, Beethoven reminds us, it is unwise to underestimate the insecurities of the vengeful. NEMPAC’s production was a challenging joy. Continue reading

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Mar 28

“Dangerous Liaisons” is Deliciously Dark

Photo by Dan Busler Photography — with Sam DeSoto, Melanie Bacaling and Andrew Miller.

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Music by Conrad Susa and Libretto by Philip Littell
Directed by Greg Smucker
Music direction by Brendon Shapiro
Based on the scandalous 18th century novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

March 24 – April 1, 2017
The Plaza Theatre at
The Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02116
Facebook Event

Review by Gillian Daniels

Warning: Sexual content and statutory rape.

(Boston, MA) Sex, manipulation, treachery, and high society. There’s a reason the original French novel was mined for a cheesy ‘90’s film about rich, spoiled teenagers.  Continue reading

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Jan 11

“Mirror” Immerses Audience in Both Moving Show and Modern Complexities of Womanhood

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Frauenliebe und –leben
Music by Robert Schumann
Text by Adelbert von Chamisso

From the Diary of Virginia Woolf
Music by Dominick Argento
Text from the diaries of Virginia Woolf
Directed by Greg Smucker & Patricia-Maria Weinmann

January 6-8, 2017
Longy School of Music of Bard College
Cambridge, MA
Boston Collaborative Opera on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Two portraits of women, written over a century apart. The first is an idealized character looking to not only marry, but be subsumed by her husband’s identity in a happy, storybook life. In German, she sings of having no desire beyond being this man’s wife. She is the heroine of Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben (A Woman’s Love and Life) from 1830, itself based on a series of poems by Adelbert von Chamisso. Two men filter the story of a fictional woman, a touching if pastel view of a girl coming of age. Carley DeFranco breathes life into this creature (also played by Susannah Thornton, Rhaea D’Aliesio, and Julia Cavallaro, depending on one’s tour of the Zabriskie House mansion where the show is staged) with a Disney-esque sweetness. Continue reading

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