Richard Sasanow is a long-time writer on art, music, food, travel and international business for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian (UK), Town & Country and Travel & Leisure, among many others. He also interviewed some of the great singers of the 20th century for the programs at the San Francisco Opera and San Diego Opera and worked on US tours of the Orchestre National de France and Vienna State Opera, conducted by Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein.
The last time the Met did Puccini's LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST--GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST--it was such a dispiriting affair that I was ready to write it off as past its expiration date. New York City Opera to the rescue!, opening its season with a lively revival of the Italian master's work about the California Gold Rush and the tough-babe-with-a-heart-of-marshmallow who runs the saloon.BWW Review: Mostly Mozart's DON GIOVANNI Goes Back in Time August 29, 2017
Though the title role in Mozart's DON GIOVANNI goes to the fabled lady killer--and Mostly Mozart's production was lucky to have a first-rate Don in baritone Christopher Maltman--the opera is a real ensemble piece, with every one of a half dozen characters key to a successful performance. In the Budapest Festival Orchestra's lively performance at Mostly Mozart under conductor and director Ivan Fischer, there was an extra element: an ensemble that tripled as chorus, dancers and, yes, scenery.BWW Preview: All Things Considered, I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia, at the O17 Opera Festival August 21, 2017
There are opera festivals and then there are OPERA FESTIVALS, but none that promise to be the equivalent of Opera Philadelphia's O17, which opens on September 14 for a 12-day run. It's a dazzling array of the old and new, the well-known and emerging, being produced at prestigious venues around the city, from the Academy of Music to the Barnes Foundation. There's even a screening in Independence Park of a hit from the last opera season.BWW Review: MOSTLY MOZART Opens with Totally Terrific Focus on Young People's Chorus July 29, 2017
Well, no one can accuse Mostly Mozart of being in a rut. Even though the name of this season's first program, The Singing Heart, under Music director Louis Langree (heard on the 26th), is not so different from last year's opener, The Illuminated Heart, the two evenings couldn't have been more different. They did have one thing in common: They were both wonderful.BWW Preview: Turn Off Your iPhone. STEVE JOBS Arrives at Santa Fe Opera on July 22 July 19, 2017
With Grammy-nominated American composer Mason Bates dipping his toe into full-length operatic waters for the first time--and star librettist Mark Campbell doing it for the umpteenth--the Guggenheim Museum's Works & Process series gave an extended peak into the development of their new opera, THE (R)EVOLUTION OF STEVE JOBS, which premieres on July 22 at the Santa Fe Opera (SFO). Looking back at that evening in April, I recall how the extended musical excerpts gave the audience a good idea of the brilliance of Bates's score and the general excitement in store.BWW Review: Costanzo Itchy to Bring Obscure Handel ACI to National Sawdust Audiences July 14, 2017
Being an opera singer is a little like walking a tightrope without a net--no matter who you're singing with, you're out there on stage, alone, for the crowd to cheer but, also for everyone to hear each glitch or misstep in your singing. Soprano Angela Meade--who's starring as Imogene in Caramoor's concert performance of Bellini's IL PIRATA, a role debut, on July 8--not only did her first wire-walking with a major role but at a big house: the Metropolitan Opera.BWW Opera Preview, Part II: Hot Time, Summer Outside the City June 30, 2017
Classic and contemporary, opera and orchestral, the music doesn't stop when the temperatures climb in New York, whether you're in New York City, or ready to travel to one of the festivals that dot the landscape of the Northeast. Musical life doesn't stop when the Met closes its doors: Here's a look from here to eternityin the first part of our series on summertime's opera/vocal venues, covering New York City and Westchester.BWW Review: Au Revoir, Figaro, GUILTY as Charged from On Site Opera June 22, 2017
Well, three cheers for On Site Opera, for completing its trilogy of works based on Beaumarchais' 18th century 'Figaro' plays and digging deepinto the repertoire to deliversome lesser known works. First, a BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA not by Rossini (theirs, by Giovanni Paisiello) and then a FIGARO not by Mozart (instead, Marcos Portugal). This week, the whip-smart company presented the American premiere, in partnership with the Darius Milhaud Society, of Milhaud's LA MERE COUPABLE (THE GUILTY MOTHER), based on the least known and, to some, the unknown, among the Beaumarchais plays.BWW Review: THREE WAY Makes Sex Last Too Long at BAM June 19, 2017
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived a place called Broadway, where you could find still find bills of one-act plays that, more often than not, offered titillation into then-current sexual practices and innovations. Zoom forward 40 years or so and opera has finally caught up with this oh-so-shocking (but-not-really) form of entertainment, with the local premiere of THREE WAY by Robert Paterson and David Cote, directed by John Hoomes.BWW Review: City Opera's ANGELS IN AMERICA Sings in New York Premiere June 13, 2017
Can an opera's libretto be true to its literary source without being a carbon copy of it? It not only canit has to be; otherwise, a work like Peter Eotvos's ANGELS IN AMERICA would end up being as long as the four operas of Wagner's Ring Cycle without saying anything new. I knew that Eotvos's work, which had its New York premiere at New York City Opera last weekend, directed by Sam Helfrich, clocked in at around 2 hours, compared to the seven hours of Tony Kushner's two-part epic. How would it compress all those verbal parries, the humor, the politics, the theatricality, and still be ANGELS?BWW Review: There's 'GOLD in Them Thar Hills as NY Philharmonic and Gilbert Take on Wagner's Gods June 5, 2017
Just after hearing the wonderfully well sung, semi-staged DAS RHEINGOLD at the NY Philharmonic, under departing Music Director Alan Gilbert, I saw the current Broadway revival of THE LITTLE FOXES. It seemedRichard Wagner's gods and Lillian Hellman's Hubbards had lots in common: The small-minded, self-serving gods of this production, at least, could have been friends and neighbors of the mendacious, corrupt Southerners in Hellman's play (or even of a would-be-royal family in Washington, DC).BWW Preview: ELIZABETH CREE is a Tale from a New York Crypt Headed for Philadelphia Opera Festival June 5, 2017
There's lots going on in the world of opera in New York City, as shown by the gamut of offerings under the umbrella of the ongoing New York OperaFest, co-organized by the New York Opera Alliance and Opera America. In the last week, the New Opera NYC gave us a cockeyed look at Rimsky-Korsakov's LE COQ D'OR (THE GOLDEN COCKEREL), while Heartbeat Opera took an ax to Puccini, and gave us a 'Madama'-less BUTTERFLY.BWW Interview: Getting 'Fantastic Results' with Great Orchestras Makes Conductor Manfred Honeck Happy May 22, 2017
Nobody puts conductor Manfred Honeck in a corner--except, perhaps the maestro himself. For instance, the Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony and frequent guest conductor in the US and Europe makes no bones about viewing himself as the quintessential mittel-european maestro, devoted to Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Richard Strauss and others of that ilk. But he's also an advocate of the music of the 21st century and works by Shankar, Stucky, Danielpour, Adamsand other newer masters.