Tag Archives | operas

Marc Chagall, The Sacrifice of Isaac


The question arises, if we lay to rest the distortions and untruths of the Christian past, indeed of the whole Abrahamic inheritance, as unworthy of free and intelligent people, what bulwark will we have against the worst, who are full of passionate intensity?—

Continue Reading
w1990-Madama-Butterflyweb 1


The dancers’ body paint ran under the hot lights and, afterwards, in the lobby, listening to working-class Italians from Bensonhurst, I first divined that a passion for an art form entails close critical attention and cold discriminations. These stern, brick-laying, bocce-playing critics thought Radames was not on form that night.—

Continue Reading

The Wolf of Wall Street

The king can do no wrong. —Sir William Blackstone 1 The Wolf of Wall Street is reminiscent of Citizen Kane. (That Scorsese may have intended this, although plausible, is irrelevant to what follows.) In both, a charmingly unconventional and wilful man-on-the-make creates an empire on chutzpah and thin air in the free-wheeling spirit permitted by […]

Continue Reading


It is more than fifty years since the first publication of Joseph Kerman’s Opera as Drama, a disturbing work then, as it is still, for the way it dismantles some of our most cherished cultural practices. Kerman’s target was the opera buff, the lover of opera, whose uncritical idea is that whatever can be staged […]

Continue Reading


In Act Three of Parsifal, the hero returns from his wanderings to find the Brotherhood of the Grail demoralised and dispersed. The old knight Gurnemanz ekes out life as a hermit. The accursed, shape-shifting Kundry is grounded, degraded in body and mind, muttering gibberish. Amfortas, the ruler of the Brotherhood, racked by pain and guilt, […]

Continue Reading
Rackham Waltraute

Waltraute’s argument

Tall, striking, costumed in full Arthur Rackham mode from greaves to winged helmet and in all other respects seems to have wandered in from another production, from another time, from another moral universe. She manages to represent her character as believing in the argument she is making.

Continue Reading