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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Five Great Opera Performances: Spring 2017

Here are five memorable operas from the spring of 2017.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Does this really need a caption? Photoshop by the author.
This is a fertile time for opera in New York, with singers, conductors and impresarios exercising imagination and daring to bring lesser known operas before an enthusiastic public. From the daring new music of the PROTOTYPE Festival to the lesser-known stage works of Rossini and Rimsky-Korsakov, our city is a cornucopia of operatic opportunity.

Here are five of the more impressive opera performances reviewed on Superconductor in the spring of 2017.



PROTOTYPE Festival: Breaking the Waves (published January 10, 2017)
"Kiera Duffy is the heart and soul of this work, giving a gutsy performance of great acting and vocal range. Her Bess is adamantine, with a bright, high soprano that conveys a kaleidoscope of information and must also play the voice of God that speaks inside her head. The challenges include girlish infatuation, womanly love and the steepening slope of her character's desperate downward spiral. The extraordinary singing is married to an acting performance filled with detail and nuance, and commitment to fearless choices in service of this difficult story."

Loft Opera: Rossini's Otello (published March 17, 2017)
"The two tenors squared off at the end of the second act, knives at the ready like something out of West Side Story but with bel canto writing at its most exciting. Each singer shone in their individual arias too, creating strong personalities who each believed that they had a genuine right to the hand of Desdemona: one by marriage and love, the other by parental consent."

New Amsterdam Opera: La Forza del Destino (published March 25, 2017)
As Carlo di Vargas, the relentless hound to Alvaro’s hare, veteran baritone Stephen Gaertner gave a sterling baritone performance, uncovering the hidden meaning and deception in the Act Ii “Son Pereda” aria, a number that required to singer to spin fiction to a disbelieving audience. His true colors emerged in the great double aria in Act III and the duos that followed. And he still had power for the final duet in Act IV where the two men end it by rushing offstage to fight to the death. Great stuff.

Juilliard Opera: Kat'a Kabanova (published April 26, 2017)
"Felicia Moore provided a complex and nuanced portrait of this troubled girl who becomes a woman and finally, a tragic heroine in the opera's final pages. Ms. Moore had the acting equipment to play Kát'a's voyage of self-discovery. This came out in the two big Act II duets with her sister-in-law Varvara and her lover Boris. In the great final liebestod that comes before her watery death, Ms. Moore proved unafraid of the role's upper reaches and elevated this simple story from family drama to genuine pathos."

New Opera NYC: The Golden Cockerel (published May 21, 2017)
"Tsar Dodon was played by bass Mikhail Svetlov, whose comic chops, resonant instrument and magnetic stage presence made a meal of the ridiculous Dodon. He captured the pomposity of the part through his bad dancing and the unlikely scene where he woos the Queen, which played like some strange cross between Parsifal and (Rossini's) Armida. Another bass, Gennady Visotsky proved an able foil as General Polkan, whose prudent, reasonable military advice was perpetually ignored by his boss."

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.