Puccini’s Tosca, November 2010—Maggie, my former roommate and a highly cultured journalist, joined me to see her first professional opera. Tosca, in all its full-blooded passion, makes a great first opera. The BLO production, updated to Fascist Italy in the 1940s, was a new setting that married very well with the original context of the work, and was perfectly understandable even for a first viewing of the opera. Maggie thought Jill Gardner in the title role was outstanding, and Bradley Garvin rather dashing for such a nefarious villain.
The Emperor of Atlantis, February 2011—my date for the evening, Alena, had seen very little opera—we became friends when she played Miles (a role usually given to a boy soprano) in my production of The Turn of the Screw. We sat square in the front row, and we both agreed that David Schweizer’s production was the most exciting theater we’d seen in a long time—the show turned the image of conventional opera on its head. However, only afterward did Alena learn about the incredible, improbable history of how the opera came into being—the score written in the concentration camp at Terezin, hidden from the Nazis, re-created decades later with the help of a spiritual medium, and finally coming into its own in the operatic repertoire in recent times.
Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, May 2011—I brought my friend Andrew to last night’s show, another singer and actor friend who has performed opera, but never seen a professional production. Fortunately, the Shakespearean text of Britten’s opera formed a convenient lens for understanding the production, and the striking visuals of the production stood on their own. Afterward, we went to The BLO Bunch after-party at Jacob Wirth for some outstanding fried pickles.
I love bringing people to the opera, and I think they’ll all be back.
And, well, that’s the season. Join The BLO Bunch next year, and come see what’s up with all the fuss about opera, because there’s been more than 400 years worth (and counting.)