• Unpopular Opinions About Opera

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    I can’t believe it… my first opera blog post in a year, now that I’m finally free from the demands of grad school. It’s nothing much, but at least it’s a new start.

     

    *Don José doesn’t sacrifice everything for Carmen. He loses everything because of his love for Carmen, but not willingly. He’s neither the selfless romantic figure nor the spineless doormat that popular imagination paints him as.

     

    *La Bohéme is good, but not “the perfect opera,” nor is it the greatest introduction to the genre. I’d just as soon, if not sooner recommend La Traviata, Carmen, or, particularly for the younger set, Hänsel & Gretel or Die Zauberflöte.

     

    *Le Nozze di Figaro isn’t a perfect feminist opera. Read the rest of this entry »

  • “Madama Butterfly”: A Study in Ambiguity

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    What to do about the problem of Madama Butterfly?

     

    It was one of the first operas I ever experienced. When I was newly obsessed with the genre at age fourteen, it was an uncontested favorite. Day after day I listened to the classic recordings (first Serafin, then Sinopoli, then Leinsdorf, then Karajan…) and watched every filmed version available, luxuriating in Puccini’s glorious music, in the beauty of the exotic, blossom-infused setting and in the deliciously heartrending romantic tragedy. Even though I knew Pinkerton was a cad, I projected all my teenage fantasies of romance onto the Act I love duet. This opera was essentially my Twilight. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Character Study Corner: Donna Elvira

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    The female characters and gender issues in the Mozart/Da Ponte operas deserve to be explored from every angle. It can be debated for eternity whether Cosí Fan Tutte is really as misogynistic as it pretends to be, whether or not the proto-feminism of Figaro is undermined by the Countess’s forgiving her unworthy husband, whether or not the three women of Don Giovanni exist to earn sympathy or to be mocked, whether Mozart’s music gives the female characters more depth and intelligence than the males or stereotypes and “others” them, and, if the former is true, whether his music transcends Da Ponte’s misogyny or whether Da Ponte likewise sides with the ladies. This doesn’t even apply to the Da Ponte operas alone – discussing The Magic Flute‘s gender issues opens a massive can of worms! Just to scratch the surface of an incredibly rich topic, I’d like to discuss one of Don Giovanni‘s women: Donna Elvira. Read the rest of this entry »

  • “Our hands got kind of muddled together”: “The Fault in Our Stars” as a Contemporary YA “La Bohéme”

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    I wrote this literary criticism for LIBR 265, San José State University. It earned 10/10 points. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Random Observation About “Don Giovanni”

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    I recently read an excellent article from Psychology Today, about what to say, and what not to say, when a friend or loved one is grieving. It made me realize something about Don Giovanni: Don Ottavio’s attempts to support Donna Anna in her grief are absolutely terrible. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Rosina’s Entrance, or How a Recitative Cut Can Change Everything

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    As anyone who explores this site can tell, my random thoughts about opera can sometimes be very, very random. I’ve been having one of those thoughts again. With LA in the midst of Figaro Unbound (see my review of UCLA’s I Due Figaro) and Il Barbiere di Siviglia currently playing at the LA Opera, Read the rest of this entry »

  • An Open Letter About Ingmar Bergman’s “Magic Flute”

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    To all directors planning to stage Die Zauberflöte, or make a new film version of Die Zauberflöte, or write a novel, or stage a ballet, or create any other new work based on Die Zauberflöte:

     

    Hello from one Flute lover to another! I’m thrilled that you’ve decided to stage/make a new adaptation of Mozart’s final masterpiece and I wish you the very best of luck with it. I’m in the process of writing my own novel-length retelling – I’m tentatively calling it An Eternal Crown after the last words of the libretto, though I might change the title later.

     

    I’d just like to say one little thing, though. Read the rest of this entry »