This weekend, Union Avenue Opera concludes its 22nd season with "Götterdämmerung" ("Twilight of the Gods"), the final installment of the most ambitious project in the company's history—Wagner's mammoth operatic cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen" ("The Ring of the Nibelung"). It's a strong production, thanks to tremendous performances by the singers and clear, focused stage direction by Karen Coe Miller.
Union Avenue Opera is following up on its highly praised "Don Giovanni" with an impressive production of Verdi's 1851 tragedy, "Rigoletto." From the ominous brass fanfares that open the prelude to Rigoletto's final despairing howl of "La maledizione" ("the curse"), Tim Ocel's knowing direction drives this "Rigoletto" to its tragic conclusion with the relentless energy of a runaway train.
From the moment that Scott Schoonover raised his baton to invoke that incredible athletic overture it was re-confirmed to me that "Don Giovanni" is indeed the zenith of 18th Century opera.
What is it about the music of Richard Wagner—a composer admittedly stained by insularity, prejudice, bitterness and resentment—that continues to tug at every fiber of the human heart?
Union Avenue Opera is nothing if not fearless, often taking on works that strain the company's space at the Union Avenue Christian Church to the limit.
To criticize Andre Previn, the German-born American composer, pianist, conductor and jazz performer, would seem the height of folly.
History tells us the 1853 premiere of Verdi's "La Traviata" was something of a disaster, capped by the fatal miscasting (opposed unsuccessfully by the composer) of a soprano whose girth, in the view of the audience, made her attempts to portray a consumptive beauty laughable rather than tragic.
Nothing dates faster than relevance. The more a work of art addresses uniquely contemporary issues, the quicker it becomes stale and even, eventually, quaint.
Union Avenue Opera is nothing if not fearless, often taking on works that strain the company’s space at the Union Avenue Christian Church to the limit. Through next Saturday Union Avenue is presenting the second installment of its most ambitious project yet—Wagner's mammoth operatic cycle “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (“The Ring of the Nibelung”). And it's pretty darned impressive.
It has been ten years since Union Avenue Opera presented Puccini’s 1904 “Japanese Tragedy” “Madama Butterfly”, and if the current production is any indication, they have waited far too long. Musically and dramatically it’s solid work, with eye-catching sets and costumes to boot.