Culture Magazine

My Top Ten City Opera Performances

By Superconductor @ppelkonen


My Top Ten City Opera Performances

Samuel Ramey as Attila.
Photo © IMG Artists from the artist's website.

(That I can remember off the top of my head.)
First, some history.
I went to my first opera at City Opera in 1983, the year a strike nearly sunk that company three decades ago. It was Puccini's Turandot. I was 9 years old, and I went with my parents. They bought me a chocolate ice cream and a libretto. The three ministers, Ping, Pang and Pong, and the three riddles fascinated my young brain. The music was good too.
That year, Mom and Dad took me to three more operas. La bohéme.. Candide. Carmen. I still have the librettos somewhere. And I was hooked. The New York State Theater was part of my childhood. And teenage years. And adulthood. And career. Well, you get the idea.
I "grew up" in that theater. Here's some great performances I attended. Y'know--if the company thought about reviving some of these productions, I'll bet people would go see them and have a nice time.
Attila with Samuel Ramey.
The first Verdi Opera that I "got"--probably saw this in 1984 or so. My first exposure to Mr. Ramey in a role that became one of his career trademarks.


Der Rosenkavalier staged by Jonathan Miller
My first live performance of this Strauss comedy--an opera that I had already begun to fall in love with. I saw this when I was starting at Citysearch--in fall of 1996.

Falstaff with Sherrill Milnes
The great American baritone was at the very end of his career when he put on the fat-man suit to play merry old Jack in an imported production of Falstaff. 1996. It was not the greatest performance but a memorable, emotional night. A 1999 staging of the opera (imported from Glimmerglass) was fantastic, with Mark Delevan in the title role.


L'Italiana in Algeri with Kevin Glavine.
A 1997 Glimmerglass import, this rich staging of Rossini's comedy of culture clash featured the fine bass of character singer Mr. Glavine. The image I'll never forget though was the Bey of Algiers, in a 1950s style kitchen, taking Rossini's silly Sacred Oath of the Pappitacci while wearing a dressing gown and waving a full box of pasta over his head. Minchia!


Xerxes with David Daniels and Lorraine Hunt.
This City Opera presentation of a staging that originated at the Santa Fe Opera. This memorable 1997 evening introduced me to the gorgeous singing of Mr. Daniels and Ms. Hunt. More importantly, Xerxes jump-started a long run of successful baroque operas at the State Theater, making the music of Handel and Gluck a trademark at the house.

Iphegenie en Tauride staged by Francesca Zambello
1998. This was a powerful production by the new head of the Glimmerglass Opera. Ms. Zambello set the action of Gluck's mythological drama in a dark, terrifying bunker, more like a war zone than a Greek temple. There were stage pictures I'll never forget, and a sense of terror and urgency missing in the Met's current version by Stephen Wadsworth.


Lizzie Borden by Jack Beeson.
Mr. Beeson sat next to this young critic at the City Opera's first performances (1998?) of his opera. A gentleman. This bloody version of this American take on the Elektra myth, with Lauren Flanigan getting axed as Lizzie's mother. Except that it really happened.


Die Tote Stadt by Erich Wolfgang Korngold City Opera used to regularly revive this classic 20th century opera by Korngold, an underrated composer who wrote both opera and libretto when he was just 19. Their staging featured projections of the "dead city" of Bruges, creating a surreal dreamworld on the stage. I think I saw it three times--maybe four.

The Mines of Sulfur by Richard Rodney Bennett

A late import from the Glimmerglass Festival, this genuinely spooky ghost story by an acclaimed British film composer was memorable for its strong melodies and compelling story of a group of robbers that take over a manor house, only to find themselves on the wrong side of the twilight zone. I think I saw it in 2005 or 2006 but I don't remember.

Intermezzo by Richard Strauss

One of the cleverest uses of the City Opera's limited stage resources as the company mounted a Strauss opera that the Met wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. And it even had a tobaggan sequence with real live skiing. The City Opera repeated the feat a few years later with Daphne, opening the season with the mythological drama that ends with the title character turned magically into a tree.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries

    White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries

    Hooray for British Strawberry Season which is just beginning! I try hard not to eat strawberries at any other time of the year. They are always hugely... Read more

    15 hours, 20 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • How Far Can Too Fargo?

    Fargo?

    For such a tiny place, a lot of big things seem to happen in the town of Fargo.After the successful Cohen Brothers movie, audiences could be forgiven for... Read more

    16 hours, 33 minutes ago by   Thedook71
    CULTURE, SELF EXPRESSION
  • In The Bag?

    Bag?

    Manchester Monday night - what a frightful blight on young lives; a city rocked in the wrong way. The response has been resilience, a positive bonding of many... Read more

    18 hours, 14 minutes ago by   Ashleylister
    BOOKS, CREATIVITY, CULTURE, SELF EXPRESSION
  • All I Have To Do Is Stay Black And Die (or…The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good...

    Have Stay Black (or…The Road Hell Paved With Good Intent)

    So...over the Facebook wires yesterday came this..... The UU Congregation of Atlanta is moving. And in their information gathering, a survey was created. This... Read more

    The 27 May 2017 by   Eastofmidnight
    POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Grand Union Canal Race 2017 – Updates

    Grand Union Canal Race 2017 Updates

    The 25th edition of the revered Grand Union Canal Race 2017 kicked off this morning at 6:00 am with a 107 starters.This 145 mile non-stop race from Gas Street... Read more

    The 27 May 2017 by   Abichal
    OTHER SPORTS, OUTDOORS
  • On Monasteries, Children, and Loving Our Enemies

    Monasteries, Children, Loving Enemies

    Gunmen Kill at Least 28 Coptic Christians in Egypt The headline spares nothing, except that there were children. I numbly read the article describing the... Read more

    The 27 May 2017 by   Marilyngardner5
    RELIGION, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Pouzza Fest 7 Brings Punk Rockers Together in Montreal

    Pouzza Fest Brings Punk Rockers Together Montreal

    Montreal’s 7th annual city punk festival Pouzza Fest took place last weekend in downtown Montreal including five indoor venues and  an outdoor The post Pouzza... Read more

    The 27 May 2017 by   Hendrik Pape
    ENTERTAINMENT, MEDIA, MUSIC