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Home > Author Archives: Patrick Clement James

Author Archives: Patrick Clement James

Atonement

Atonement

Atonement As readers of parterre box may know, I am not inclined to write sympathetically of Sondra Radvanovsky. I have found her voice tinny, ugly, and often unhinged and intractable. And in a recent review of Aida at the Met, I compared her unfavorably to Anna Netrebko.  But now I must eat my words. And I am happy to do so, because there’s nothing better than a diva asserting her authority, shoving her relevance down my throat. ... Read More »

Speaking ill of the dead

Speaking ill of the dead

Speaking ill of the dead “Get it over with already!” The Metropolitan Opera honored the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (four hundred and two years ago on Monday) with a revival of Bartlett Sher’s production of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. However, with a libretto that stunts Shakespeare’s genius dramatic structure, it was hard to see the opera as an appropriate homage. And that’s despite a capable cast and functional direction.  Jules Barbier and Michel Carré’s libretto ... Read More »

The perfect use of an imperfect medium

The perfect use of an imperfect medium

The perfect use of an imperfect medium They let their golden chances pass them by. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is a work of inarguable genius, so perfectly crafted that it almost feels impossible to mess up. If you don’t believe me, then head on down to the Imperial Theater, where Carousel is receiving a Broadway revival in a simple, cautious production that still manages to pack an emotional wallop.  Based on the play Liliom by Ferenc Molnár, ... Read More »

I want magic

I want magic

I want magic The very words “Il était une fois” conjure up a sphere of supernatural allure and intervention. The Metropolitan Opera has neglected Cendrillon far too long. An exquisite, sumptuous score and a highly efficient libretto make this work, in my opinion, superior to Massenet’s other operas. That being said, the arrival of Laurent Pelly’s competent production at the Met (by way of Santa Fe and Covent Garden) is reason enough to celebrate—if not, ... Read More »

Cabal me by your name

Cabal me by your name

Cabal me by your name #MeToo meets #NeverAgain It’s fortunate that the Met’s production of Luisa Miller featured the incomparable Piotr Beczala in the role of Rodolfo. Otherwise it would’ve been difficult to engage with such an unlikable protagonist—narcissistic and petulant to a fault, pulling his lover into his self-destructive mayhem like quicksand.  This, in combination with a cynical plot, which buckles under the weight of its own grief, can make for a severely depressing ... Read More »

Italian dressing

Italian dressing

Italian dressing E.M. Forster asks in his novel A Room with a View, “Have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time—beautiful?” This profound question—on its own terms, a unique aesthetic thesis—practically sums up the transformative effects of Italian culture on English sensibilities. Robust, reckless, and full-blooded, the stereotypes of Italy stand in stark contrast to the reserved and sensible notions of English ... Read More »

The help

The help

The help I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but thank God for Kelli O’Hara. At this point the Broadway veteran and Lincoln Center darling is becoming a national treasure. And as Despina in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Così fan tutte, she makes her case, injecting much needed vitality into an otherwise lethargic evening.  This was no easy accomplishment; O’Hara had her work cut out for her, working against a largely ... Read More »

Surfacing: an appreciation in 20 fragments

Surfacing: an appreciation in 20 fragments

Surfacing: an appreciation in 20 fragments “All #art is at once surface and symbol.” — Oscar Wilde 1. In 1964, at the conclusion of her famous essay “Against Interpretation,” Susan Sontag boldly claimed: “In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.” Over fifty years later the thesis remains thrilling. However, despite its terse, rhetorical force, I struggle to articulate the notion of an erotics of art. What is it exactly? Making love ... Read More »

Technical difficulties

Technical difficulties

Technical difficulties La bohème returned to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera once again last night (does it ever leave?) The cast was notable; in particular, Sonya Yoncheva provided a significant reason to see the company’s numbingly repetitive production. She followed Angel Blue and Anita Hartig in the role of Mimì.  Yoncheva’s Mimì was an ethereal incarnation: paradoxical, difficult, and nuanced. More so than Angel Blue, who offered transparent warmth and gorgeous singing, Yoncheva’s Mimì ... Read More »

Placebo effect

Placebo effect

Placebo effect Reading is fundamental. Good singing and a dramatically potent (if conservative) production were an unbeatable combination on Tuesday night, when the Metropolitan Opera had the season premiere of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore.  First among equals was Matthew Polenzani as Nemorino. His consistently gorgeous voice was put to good use with clean, elegant phrasing and pitch-perfect comic timing. His performance was charming, authentic, and moving. “Una furtiva lagrima” was a satisfying highlight. As Adina, Pretty ... Read More »

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