This is FRESH AIR. At 44, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann may be the most popular tenor of his generation and one of the most versatile. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews two of his recordings this year, dedicated to both Verdi and Wagner, celebrating the bicentennials of their birth.
A scene from the revival of Einstein on the Beach.
Credit Los Angeles Opera
The epic avant-garde opera Einstein on the Beach, a collaboration between composer Philip Glass, director Robert Wilson and choreographer Lucinda Childs, is being revived for the first time in two decades.
Two hundred years ago today, in a small northern Italian village, a couple named Verdi — tavern owners by trade — welcomed the birth of a baby boy who would later change the face of opera forever. And, whether we recognize it or not, on the bicentennial of his birth, Giuseppe Verdi is still vital.
In his operas, Giuseppe Verdi had a knack for empowering marginalized people — like the title character of Aida, who is an enslaved Ethiopian princess (played in this 2011 French production by American soprano Indra Thomas).
Two hundred years ago this week, Giuseppe Verdi was born in an Italian town midway between Bologna and Milan. On the occasion of his bicentennial, All Things Considered wanted to know what makes the great opera composer so enduring — why his work is still so frequently discussed and performed these two centuries later. The answer, says conductor and arranger John Mauceri, is that Verdi had a knack for making thorny topics accessible.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. They call it The People's Opera, but after this month, the New York City Opera will exist only in the history books. The renowned company is closing after 70 years. The New York City Opera failed to raise the $7 million it needed to cover its debts and will file for bankruptcy protection.
This morning the New York City Opera announced that it was declaring bankruptcy and ceasing operations. Dubbed "The People's Opera" by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia when it was founded 70 years ago, the company was meant as an alternative to the richer Metropolitan Opera. It's the place where exciting young singers like Beverly Sills and Placido Domingo made their New York debuts and where innovative productions of new operas premiered.
Promotion can be deceptive; we've all been duped into expecting the latest and greatest this or that, only to be profoundly disappointed, maybe even out some bucks for the CD or online download. That said, and yes it can be regarded a disclaimer, I want to share what looks like the real deal, waiting in the wings, with only the details of the release date still to be determined. Line up behind me for this anticipated new release.
Pamela Armstrong (left) as Alice Ford and Heather Johnson as Meg Page in New York City Opera's production of Falstaff. The so called people's opera may have to cancel its upcoming season if fundraising falls short.
Credit Bill Cooper / BAM
The U.S. premiere of Anna Nicole is set to open at the Brooklyn Academy of Music — BAM — on Sept. 17. Above, a 2011 performance of Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House in London.
There are a lot of operas that end with heroines on their deathbeds, singing one glorious aria before they die. That's what happens at the end of Anna Nicole, the controversial new work that New York City Opera is presenting at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in September. But the company's artistic director and general manager, George Steel, says it could also be City Opera's last gasp.