February 28, 2019

Donizetti's Il Campanello di Notte (The Night Bell) was so successful that its premiere was revived every year for a whole decade after it took place in 1836 at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples. Five days after its world premiere, it was performed at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Nowadays, the average opera aficionado has likely never heard of Campanello as it is rarely performed.

On the other hand, the extenuating personal and socio-economic circumstances under which this one-act farce was composed are...

February 14, 2019

For the casual operagoer, the name “Puccini” is synonymous with tragedy. Young artists in poverty. Tuberculosis. Cross-cultural bigamy. Execution by firing squad. Even when Puccini’s operas don’t end in tragedy, such as La Rondine or La fanciulla del West, the plots have a definite overtone of bittersweetness, and an audience is more inclined to smile quietly than to laugh out loud.

And then, there’s Gianni Schicchi.

Composed in 1917, as the end part to Puccini’s sweeping triptych of one-act operas...

February 7, 2019

Narrative storytelling sits at the heart of human existence. Professional sports would not exist were it not for the narratives we build around it. History is the narrative of what happened before us. Even the way we perceive our own lives is often through narrative. Sung theatre is just another medium for narrative, albeit one with a legacy of over 400 years. Why is it that opera is treated so differently than other forms of musical storytelling, specifically its closest analog, musical theatre?

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