Richard Sasanow

Richard Sasanow

Richard Sasanow has been BroadwayWorld.com's Opera Editor for many years, with interests covering contemporary works, standard repertoire and true rarities from every era. He is an interviewer of important musical figures on the current scene--from singers Diana Damrau, Peter Mattei, Stephanie Blythe, Davone Tines, Nadine Sierra, Angela Meade, Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Etienne Dupuis, Javier Camarena and Christian Van Horn to Pulitzer Prize-winning composers Kevin Puts and Paul Moravec, and icon Thea Musgrave, composers David T. Little, Julian Grant, Ricky Ian Gordon, Laura Kaminsky and Iain Bell, librettists Mark Campbell, Kim Reed, Royce Vavrek and Nicholas Wright, to conductor Manfred Honeck, director Kevin Newbury and Tony-winning designer Christine Jones. Earlier in his career, he interviewed such great singers as Birgit Nilsson, and Martina Arroyo and worked on the first US visit of the Vienna State Opera, with Karl Bohm, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein, and the inaugural US tour of the Orchestre National de France, with Bernstein and Lorin Maazel. Sasanow is also a long-time writer on art, music, food, travel and international business for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Town & Country and Travel & Leisure, among many others.






MOST POPULAR ARTICLES

Review: LISE DAVIDSEN's 'Wesendonck Lieder” Highlights Met Orchestra Concert at Carnegie under Nezet-Seguin
Review: LISE DAVIDSEN's 'Wesendonck Lieder” Highlights Met Orchestra Concert at Carnegie under Nezet-Seguin
February 5, 2024

The foray of the Met Orchestra under Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin into the concert hall the other night—Carnegie Hall to be specific, during its “Fall of the Weimar” series—was in some ways like a three-part meal that mixed the order of the courses. First came an appetizer (running less than 10 minutes) in the form of Bach’s “Fuga [Ricercata] a 6 voci” from Musical Offering, BWV 1079, a late work by the composer (1747) rethought by Anton Webern in the 20th century. Then there was dessert in the form of Wagner’s “Wesendonck Lieder,” gloriously sung by soprano Lise Davidsen to thunderous applause. Finally, there was the main course: Mahler’s 5th Symphony, which was greeted rapturously by concertgoers.  

Review: Kouyoumdjian-Vavrek ADORATION Is a Cautionary Tale at Prototype
Review: Kouyoumdjian-Vavrek ADORATION Is a Cautionary Tale at Prototype
January 22, 2024

Another year has come to an end for the Prototype Festival of new opera theatre-music theatre, under the banner of Beth Morrison Projects and HERE. For those of us who couldn’t make it to all the shows on display at various venues around town, it’s always something of a crapshoot: Which ones do you choose? This week, for me, it was the Mary Kouyoumdjian-Royce Vavrek ADORATION, based on the eponymous Atom Egoyan film.

Review: No Heaven, Only Hell, in Huang Ruo's ANGEL ISLAND from Prototype at BAM
Review: No Heaven, Only Hell, in Huang Ruo's ANGEL ISLAND from Prototype at BAM
January 15, 2024

Huang Ruo’s artistically bold, viscerally devastating ANGEL ISLAND had its local debut the other night at BAM’s Harvey Theatre on Brooklyn’s Fulton Street, produced by Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) and BAM. Its New York premiere is part of the annual Prototype Festival of opera theatre-music theatre--co-founded by BMP and HERE--which has been bringing challenging contemporary works of different stripes to town since 2013.

Review: When Akhmetshina's On Stage, Don't Fence The Met's New CARMEN In
Review: When Akhmetshina's On Stage, Don't Fence The Met's New CARMEN In
January 6, 2024

Sometimes you hear a singer who embodies a role so completely that it’s hard to imagine her in anything else. That’s how I felt about the wonderful mezzo Aigul Akhmetshina, who’s singing the title role in the Met’s new production of Bizet’s CARMEN, which I saw at its second performance. Her portrayal was as full-bodied as her voice and she sizzled, filling up the stage as much as one can imagine. It’s little surprise that she’s considered the Carmen of the moment, having appeared in seven other productions (with two to come).

Review: Bullock, Tines, Costanzo, White Thrill under Conductor Reif in Chamber Version of Adams's EL NINO
Review: Bullock, Tines, Costanzo, White Thrill under Conductor Reif in Chamber Version of Adams's EL NINO
December 25, 2023

The American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) continues showcasing a chamber version of John Adams's, EL NINO, beckoning back to Handel's MESSIAH, which played a few days ago at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. It showcased spectacular singing from Julia Bullock, Davone Tines, Anthony Roth Costanzo and Jasmin White, under conductor Christian Reif.

Happy Birthday, La Divina!
Happy Birthday, La Divina!
December 3, 2023

Maria Callas—or Maria Anna Cecilia Sofia Kalogeropoulos—was born in New York City on December 2, 1923. She was a supernova who blazed across the opera world (and beyond) and it will never be the same. If you need proof, take a listen to the Warner Classes/Erato boxed set, “La Divina: Maria Callas In All Her Roles,” which was issued in September, consisting of 131 CDs of La Callas in all her 74 roles.

Review: Met's First TANNHAUSER of the Season Interrupted by Demonstrators
Review: Met's First TANNHAUSER of the Season Interrupted by Demonstrators
December 1, 2023

All that was missing were shouts of “food fight!” to turn last night’s performance of Richard Wagner’s TANNHAUSER—the first of the Met’s season—into a version of National Lampoon’s Night at the Opera, as climate activists interrupted the house debut of the great baritone Christian Gerhaher, and audience members traded barbs with the demonstrators, threatening the company’s determination that “the show must go on.”

Review: Magical Realism of Daniel Catan's FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS Spellbinds Audience in Met Debut
Review: Magical Realism of Daniel Catan's FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS Spellbinds Audience in Met Debut
November 18, 2023

Just as the Met’s debut of Mexican composer Daniel Catan’s FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS (FLORENCE IN THE AMAZON) began the other day, a member of the audience yelled out “Viva la ópera en español!” (“Long live opera in Spanish!”). And that was before a single note of the composer’s lyric, highly accessible and heavy-on-the-Puccini score was played.

Review: Edward Hopper Paintings Inspire LATER THE SAME EVENING by John Musto and Mark Campbell at Juilliard Opera
Review: Edward Hopper Paintings Inspire LATER THE SAME EVENING by John Musto and Mark Campbell at Juilliard Opera
November 15, 2023

It’s amazing how much emotion John Musto and Mark Campbell have been able to cram in the mere 75 minutes of LATER THE SAME EVENING, a one act opera, which has been on view this past week at Juilliard Opera at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, on West 65 Street, down the block from Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

Review: Comedy Tonight! MasterVoices Does THE FROGS, Or Why Isn't Sondheim at the Met?
Review: Comedy Tonight! MasterVoices Does THE FROGS, Or Why Isn't Sondheim at the Met?
November 7, 2023

MasterVoices, under Ted Sperling, found THE FROGS irresistible—and the result was a hit, or, as Shakespeare wrote in “Hamlet”: “A hit, a very palpable hit.” With its libretto by Burt Shevelove and Nathan Lane (and Nathan Lane again), it fit the stage of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre very nicely indeed.

Review: X Marks the Spot at Met Premiere of 'X: Life and Times of Malcolm X'
Review: X Marks the Spot at Met Premiere of 'X: Life and Times of Malcolm X'
November 5, 2023

It’s taken a long time for X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X—the rediscovered and revised ‘80s work by Anthony Davis, Thulani Davis and Christopher Davis, in Robert O’Hara’s production and conducted by Kazem Abdullah--to cross the plaza from what was the old City Opera at New York State Theatre to a premiere at the Metropolitan Opera.

Review: Plenty of High Notes at Unusually Low-Key Richard Tucker Awards Gala
Review: Plenty of High Notes at Unusually Low-Key Richard Tucker Awards Gala
November 1, 2023

An historic recording of golden age tenor Richard Tucker singing “Sound an Alarm” from Handel’s JUDAS MACCABEUS” set the tone for the Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s Gala concert at Carnegie Hall. There was wonderful singing ahead of us—but of a certain kind. Like many other classical organizations, the Tucker Foundation, has found that, as Charles Dickens said in “A Tale of Two Cities,” “It was the best of times, the worst of times.” The “best” is for the quality of the singers that the foundation has supported through varying kinds of grants. The “worst”? Money from the usual donor pool is in shorter supply than usual, which meant a less elaborate evening

Today is World Opera Day!
Today is World Opera Day!
October 25, 2023

World Opera Day is an international initiative to showcase the ways opera companies and artists enrich the livelihood and civic fabric of their communities.

Review: Met Revival of BALLO IN MASCHERA Opens in Alden Production
Review: Met Revival of BALLO IN MASCHERA Opens in Alden Production
October 23, 2023

One of the troubles of being a major institution like the Met is that when they produce a new production of a major opera--and Verdi’s UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, which opened in revival the other night, certainly falls into that category--it’s an expensive undertaking. It's true that sometimes a production can be pulled out of its death tumble, with a new cast or simply time making the absolutely awful suddenly make sense. In the case of the current run of the opera, with Angela Meade, Charles Castronovo and Quinn Kelsey heading the cast, even good and sometimes inspired singing can’t save the day. Alden’s take is simply too laden with concept for it to breathe.

Review: NABUCCO, Verdi's First Big Hit, Returns to the Met with a Terrifying Monastyrska under Callegari's Baton
Review: NABUCCO, Verdi's First Big Hit, Returns to the Met with a Terrifying Monastyrska under Callegari's Baton
October 2, 2023

The Met’s production of NABUCCO from Elijah Moshinsky may date back to 2001 but its style hearkens back even further--a fancy, old-fashioned unit set that uses the house’s big turntable--and it’s a whale of a show, design-wise, thanks to John Napier’s scenic design.

Review: With a Different Perspective, UNHOLY WARS Shows What's Old is New Again at Opera Philadelphia
Review: With a Different Perspective, UNHOLY WARS Shows What's Old is New Again at Opera Philadelphia
September 28, 2023

According to creator and star tenor Karim Sulayman, UNHOLY WARS, a 70-minute opera pastiche that made its debut on Saturday at Philadelphia Opera’s O23 Festival, “stitches together a collection of baroque music centered around the Middle East and the Crusades, examining the separation of the human race based on creed and color.” The result was a creative multi-visual/musical work with dance, drawing heavily on Monteverdi’s IL COMBATTIMENTO DI TANCREDI E CLORINDA, supplemented by Baroque arias and modern electronic music.

Review: Met Audience Entranced by DiDonato and McKinny in Heggie-McNally DEAD MAN in House Debut
Review: Met Audience Entranced by DiDonato and McKinny in Heggie-McNally DEAD MAN in House Debut
September 27, 2023

It’s rather surprising, really, for the audience to embrace a contemporary piece like DEAD MAN WALKING, no matter how easily it falls upon the ears, considering the subject matter. In this Ivo van Hove production, it starts with a rape and double murder in a rather graphic piece of film, the use of video being one of van Hove’s trademarks. It ends with a death by lethal injection, also graphically shown in live video.

Review: Orth-Moscovitch Stunning MADHOUSE Tells of Women Past the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at Opera Philadelphia Festival O23
Review: Orth-Moscovitch Stunning MADHOUSE Tells of Women Past the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at Opera Philadelphia Festival O23
September 27, 2023

When composer Rene Orth came across the story of investigative reporter Nellie Bly’s expose of the abuse of women at an asylum in New York at the end of the 19th century, she immediately knew that “this story needed to be told as an opera.” She was right. The result of her efforts, with the first-rate creative team including librettist Hannah Moscovitch, is 10 DAYS IN A MADHOUSE, a 90-minute work that opened Opera Philadelphia’s festival (this year, called O23) with its world premiere at the Wilma Theatre.

Review: Jonas Kaufmann Returns to New York in 'Anxious and Heavy' DOPPELGANGER
Review: Jonas Kaufmann Returns to New York in 'Anxious and Heavy' DOPPELGANGER
September 25, 2023

Another year, another Met season without Jonas Kaufmann. Sigh. What’s a music lover to do? His current set of performances is at the Park Avenue Armory’s Drill Hall--in a staged production by Claud Guth, commissioned by the Armory, of Schubert lieder, under the title DOPPELGANGER. It's an evening of autumnal chill through words and music that were “anxious and heavy,” through a heart “utterly alone.”

Review: Lise Davidsen's Recital at the Met will be a Hard Act for a DEAD MAN to Follow
Review: Lise Davidsen's Recital at the Met will be a Hard Act for a DEAD MAN to Follow
September 17, 2023

The Metropolitan Opera somehow managed to upstage itself on Thursday, when it offered audiences a spectacular recital by Norwegian soprano Lisa Davidsen, with her excellent musical partner James Baillieu, on piano, 12 days before the company’s official opening night (the Jake Heggie-Terrence McNally DEAD MAN WALKING on the 26th). It’ll be a hard act to follow.



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