Author Archive | Robert Levine

New Voices In Met’s “Zeffirelli Bohème”

Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, NY; January 19, 2016–It’s always nice to check in with the Met’s opulent, extravagant, now-34-year-old production of La bohème, just one of two Franco Zeffirelli productions that remain (the other is his Turandot). Zeffirelli was one of the 20th century’s great directorial and design maximalists, and his production still produces “oohs” […]

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Opera Lafayette Presents Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica

The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, December 1, 2015—Baroque opera is rarely performed in New York and when it is, it is normally by Handel. It is therefore doubly nice to have welcomed the Washington, D.C.- based Opera Lafayette to the city to present Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica. The libretto, by the […]

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Uneven New Cav/Pag at the Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; April 29, 2015—The Metropolitan Opera’s generations-old productions of opera’s most famous double bill has stood the company in good stead since 1970. Even those who referred to Franco Zeffirelli’s “finest poverty-stricken villages money can buy” couldn’t deny their effectiveness, but it was time for a change. The results are […]

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Bartók and Tchaikovsky–Strange Bedfellows at the Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; February 3, 2015–What on earth, one might ask, do Tchaikovsky’s operatic swan song,  Iolanta, a sweet fairy tale with a joyous ending, and Bartók’s weird, cruel, and eerie Bluebeard’s Castle have in common? Iolanta is a princess, blind from birth, whose father, King René, has arranged a lovely garden […]

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Riccardo Frizza Leads Fresh, Moving Bohème

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; January 19, 2015–Although there are few expressions in music criticism worse than “perennial favorite”, there really is no other way to describe both La bohème and the Metropolitan Opera’s now 34-year-old production by Franco Zeffirelli. The opera needs no apologies or explanations; Zeffirelli’s gigantic, realer-than-real production, on the other […]

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Raunchy, Wrenching Mtsensk at the Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; November 17, 2014–Shostakovich’s outrageous Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is back at the Met after a 14-year absence. The production by Graham Vick, with sets and costumes by Paul Brown, is as brilliant, vulgar, funny, and nihilistic as the opera itself. Our first glimpse, as the curtain rises, is of […]

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Big-Boned But Routine Aida

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; Nov 4, 2014–The Met’s 26-year-old production of Aida is still looking good. Sonja Frisell’s sets, which use the stage elevator wisely and excitingly to change scenes, with their gigantic statuary and beautiful paintings for the scene in Amneris’ boudoir, remain effective. However, Stephen Pickover’s stage direction is not effective—we […]

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At Last–A Glorious Butterfly At The Met

Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, NY; April 9, 2014—The Met’s remarkably beautiful and touching production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, directed by the late Anthony Minghella and his wife Carolyn Choa on Michael Levine’s evocative, minimalist sets, debuted on opening night, 2006. With its overhead mirror, shiny stage floor, silently moving paper walls, brilliantly colored costumes […]

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Superbly Sung Sonnambula At The Met

Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, NY; March 25, 2014—Opera lovers are fully aware that the plot of Vincenzo Bellini’s La sonnambula is threadbare and silly: When a Swiss village girl (Amina) is found asleep in a stranger’s (Count Rodolfo’s) room at an inn, she gets ensnared in a jealousy triangle (Lisa, the innkeeper, is in love […]

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Bryn Terfel, Emma Thompson in Sondheim’s “Sweeney”

Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, NY; March 5, 2014—A limited run (five performances) of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, led by Alan Gilbert with the New York Philharmonic, practically turned out to be the season’s hottest operatic ticket so far. Billed as a staged performance, albeit in Avery Fisher Hall, director Lonny Price, an old hand […]

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