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Home > Author Archives: John Yohalem

Author Archives: John Yohalem

Mistress class

Mistress class

Mistress class Maria Callas was unique; today, she is more legend than reality.  Charles Ludlam was unique; today, he is a legend sadly close to forgotten. Charles’s face, framed in Camille’s sausage curls, Traviata-gowned, chest hair peeping over his low décolletage, appeared just once on the front page of the New York Times—heading his obit in 1987. The epidemic was at its early peak and Charles symbolized, as well as anyone, the assault upon the ... Read More »

Band in Boston

Band in Boston

Band in Boston The Elector of Hannover, as is well known, kept a hippogriff, a creature long thought fabulous or at least extinct. In fact, he was in every way fabulous. The Elector hoped to fly to London on its back and descend to the throne should the moribund Queen Anne ever actually die. Alas, when she was finally found to be dead, in 1714, the animal had vanished and King George went to England ... Read More »

In a deep vaulted cell

In a deep vaulted cell

In a deep vaulted cell Imagine an opera of somewhat morbid theme presented in the recesses of a catacomb, its echoing recesses lined with names of the elite departed. That’s not the setting of the opera, mind you; it’s just the site of the performance.  Sounds like something from an Anne Rice novel, doesn’t it? Or Poe? That sort of blood-curdling elegance, appealing to the jaded New York palate. Throw in (as they do) a ... Read More »

All I mask of you

All I mask of you

All I mask of you Un ballo in maschera, premiered in Rome in 1859, was an immediate and enduring hit, Verdi’s greatest success in the decades between La traviata and Aida. Alone among his mature scores (except Falstaff), Verdi never tinkered with this one, cutting or revising—the balances, the character touches, were left as they were, and the coincidence-ridden melodrama had audiences on the edge of their seats. Nor did Ballo fade from the scene or ... Read More »

Waiting for the sun

Waiting for the sun

Waiting for the sun Some years ago, this writer used to attend a coven of witches devoted to Hekate, goddess of magic and crossroads. On nights of the dark of the moon, we would invoke her and the winds, sitting in pitch darkness and speaking in tongues, receiving visions in the absence of any external light. I was strongly reminded of this experience last night while attending the New York premiere of Kopernikus, an opera by ... Read More »

Prophète bien aimé

Prophète bien aimé

Prophète bien aimé “Rich, well-metaled … tirelessness” tenor Errin Duane Brooks as Jean New York was once a truly swinging opera town, with two major repertory companies (discreetly rivals) and one or two major league concert opera companies. The concert companies performed three or four items of forgotten repertory starring little-known foreign stars or local stars who wanted to attempt obscure roles. It was a great deal, with the American Opera Society and its successor, ... Read More »

A past recaptured

A past recaptured

A past recaptured It’s a lucky thing the Tudors are long extinct; there’s no one to protest the High Victorian cultural appropriation of The Yeomen of the Guard.  The New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players (NYGASP to its friends) is giving Sullivan’s most operatic score a dusting off (or should one say dusting-up?) at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter, with all the score’s frequent cuts opened and every number in place, costumed and staged as ... Read More »

Lovedeath in swingtime

Lovedeath in swingtime

Lovedeath in swingtime You call this a tale of romance? I broke up with my first lover over the phone and while watching TV. I’m not proud of this.  Still, that’s an indication right there, wouldn’t you say? that we – Lili and I – had prolonged things beyond their natural life?  That we were no longer synchronized?  We had begun matters, how many years before? three? two? delighted with each other’s odd impulses and reactions ... Read More »

Giglio d’april

Giglio d’april

Giglio d’april Have you ever stood in a mountain stream, exhilarating froth bursting at you from every side? April brought I Puritani to Palermo’s centerpiece Teatro Massimo. The final masterpiece of Sicily’s national composer is no rare visitor here, of course.  Opening night, last Friday, was packed, the performance broadcast on RAI. Puritani, notoriously, requires a star quartet; impressive as it was that the company had them (especially as the original Elvira had fallen sick), ... Read More »

King of the Neapolitan road

King of the Neapolitan road

King of the Neapolitan road The climax of Auber’s once beloved Fra Diavolo (1830) takes place in the bedroom of Zerline, the innkeeper’s daughter. She undresses for bed, singing of the man she loves (Lorenzo, the police captain) and, pointedly, not of the man her father insists she marry (Francisco, but never mind him. He’s rich—and mute. In an opera, that can’t be good).  While she disrobes to her scanties, Zerline admires her figure in ... Read More »

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