Puccini’s La Rondine at Opera San Jose

Giacomo Puccini

The road not taken: Puccini’s “La Rondine,”(The Swallow) runs through November 26th at Opera San Jose. Puccini was a master at weaving a tragic story with his haunting arias of sadness and longing, and his ‘La Rondine’ is no different.’The Swallow,’ takes place in France and is the impassioned love story of Magda, a mistress of her keeper Rambaldo, who sings of love before money with her poet friend, Prunier as a newcomer, Ruggero, arrives at Rambaldo’s salon. Later that night, in a move to disguise herself, Magda goes out on the town dressed as a commoner and finds Ruggero at the same venue. After dancing, they see the maid with Prunier and they try to hide. Ruggero is whisked away and Magda, Prunier and the maid toast to love as Rambaldo arrives at the same nightclub. Magda declares her love for another and refuses to come home, so Rambaldo retreats. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Opera, Romantic Era

DIVA — Aria Women’s Chorus

Sean Boulware

On Sunday, June 11, at First Presbyterian Church in Monterey, Aria Women’s Chorus presented DIVA – a program of Broadway’s best with some classic light opera thrown in as sprinkles on the top. We heard many fine voices of all ages performing with featured soloists in most numbers. Under the direction of Dr. Sean Boulware these women present the true joy of singing in an ensemble. Overall on a scale of 1 – 10, this afternoon’s presentation was a 12! Handling twenty-three songs with their myriad musical personalities was no mean feat.

Michelle Galindo continues as the consummate pianist on all of the arrangements that were not prerecorded. Framing this delicious mélange was “Shine” from the musical Billy Elliot, and “And All That Jazz” from Chicago. Billy is the young son of a Welsh coal miner who winds up being a dancer – definitely unlikely under the circumstances. This number really set the stage for all the glitz that followed. “And All That Jazz” perfectly tied up the afternoon’s selections with a musical bang. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Choral, Opera, Piano

Ginastera’s Opera Bomarzo – Direct from Madrid

Editor’s Note: One of our contributors, Roger Emanuels, submitted this review from Madrid

I enjoy Spain. I enjoy its culture and traditions. I have often quipped that I would happily travel to Madrid for dinner. Now I can boast that I went to Madrid not only for dinner, but for opera too. Upon hearing that Alberto Ginastera’s 1967 opera Bomarzo was on the schedule for the Royal Theater in Madrid, I decided to reserve a ticket online and plan a springtime visit to a favorite travel destination.  Read full story

Archived in these categories: Opera, Romantic Era

San Francisco Opera’s Aida: A Subtle Retelling


Most of the time audiences go to the opera hoping to see a spectacle — or to experience deep immersion in an extravagant story, extravagantly portrayed by beautiful singers-actors clad in beautiful clothes. The director of San Francisco Opera’s newest production of Aida, Francesca Zambello, however, admires the piece not for its epitomization of grandeur, but for the way it depicts the struggle between the individual and larger societal structures; for her, Aida is primarily a chamber opera, and its intimate moments deserve the most emphasis. In Friday evening’s performance at the War Memorial Opera House, Zambello’s views came to the forefront, even when Verdi’s treatment of larger structures felt eerily empty or unsettling.

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Archived in these categories: Opera, Romantic Era

Santa Cruz Symphony presents The Barber of Seville


On Sunday, November 6, the Santa Cruz Symphony under the direction of conductor Daniel Stewart presented a thrilling performance of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia to a sold out audience at the Henry J. Mello Center For The Performing Arts in Watsonville. This was one of the most delightful comic operas to be heard here in many years. In true Italian fashion all that was missing were baskets of prosciutto, salametti, focaccia, vino, and, of course, lots of children running around enjoying a good time during the performance!

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Archived in these categories: Opera, Santa Cruz Symphony