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
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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

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

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

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

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

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

May 16

Play It Again Sam: “Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles”

Sam and Dinah (Marcus DeLoach and Heather Johnson) robotically repeat their morning routine. Photo: Liza Voll

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music & Libretto by Leonard Bernstein
Stage directed by David Schweizer
Music direction by David Angus
Dramaturgy by John Conklin

May 11-20, 2018
DCR Steriti Memorial Rink
561 Commercial Street, Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel

After Bernstein’s performance at the White House in 1960, President Eisenhower remarked, “You know, I liked that last piece you played: it’s got a theme. I like music with a theme, not all them arias and barcarolles.” quote taken from leonardbernstein.com. Eisenhower was a bit imperceptive.

(Boston, MA) Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles are presented by the BLO in one continuous operetta subtitled, “Sam and Dinah Say Goodnight (Scenes From A Marriage).” It is a “new reimagining” of Bernstein’s works which abbreviates Tahiti and merges the reduced scoring directly into Arias & Barcarolles. They are not performed individually as suggested by BLO’s marketing materials. The performance runs about 90 minutes. Continue reading

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

May 03

Successful Marriage of Romantic Comedy Eras in “Figaro”

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
Conducted by David Angus
Directed by Rosetta Cucci

April 28th – May 7th, 2017
John Hancock Hall
Back Bay Events Center
180 Berkley Street
Boston, MA 02116
BLO on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) A 1950’s-style screwball comedy proves its compatibility with a comic opera from 1786 in this brilliant production. It’s layered, creating the idea of a show-within-a-show as stage hands help along the action, feeling like Kiss Me Kate with Mozart as source material rather than Shakespeare. With the help of charming, self-aware direction from Rosetta Cucchi and conductor David Angus, the story of two servants who outwit the wandering eye of a less-than-noble nobleman feels universal, familiar, and luminescent.  Continue reading