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Richard Sasanow

Richard Sasanow

Richard Sasanow has been'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.


Review: Spectacular Soloists at Chamber Music Society--Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, Oboist James Austin Smith and Harpist Bridget Kibbey
December 9, 2022

This week’s concert of Vivaldi and Handel at the Chamber Music Society (CMS)--with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, oboist James Austin Smith and harpist Bridget Kibbey--whipped the audience into a frenzy of delight with a combination of arias, sonatas and concertos at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

Review: THE HOURS Goes by in Minutes as Met Gives Birth to Fascinating Opera by Puts and Pierce
November 25, 2022

The Met gave birth to a fascinating new opera on Tuesday and it wasn’t a moment too soon to unleash composer Kevin Puts’s THE HOURS on an audience that sometimes seems doomed to die inundated by too many AIDAs, BOHEMEs and CARMENs. The world premiere production of THE HOURS by Puts and Greg Pierce was directed by Phelim McDermott. The cast was a starry one, led by soprano Renee Fleming, soprano Kelli O’Hara and mezzo Joyce DiDonato.

Review: Oratorio Society Debuts Stunning NATION OF OTHERS by Moravec and Campbell at Carnegie Hall
November 18, 2022

The Oratorio Society of New York (OSNY), under Kent Tritle, gave its second stirring world premiere by Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell with Tuesday’s outstanding performance of A NATION OF OTHERS.

Review: An Old-Fashioned Sing-Off Celebrates ANGEL BLUE at Geffen Hall's 2022 Richard Tucker Gala
November 15, 2022

Award-winner Angel Blue started off the proceedings at the Richard Tucker Gala (after Barry Tucker’s usual introduction/ode to his father, the great tenor) with a bang: Puccini’s justly famous aria “Vissi d’arte” from TOSCA. For those of us who’ve only heard her as Bess in Gershwin’s PORGY & BESS at the Met, it was a revelation to hear her lush, velvety voice raise the rafters on the hall, with no warm up.

Review: DON CARLO Returns to the Met, This Time in Italian
November 13, 2022

Last season, the company gave its first presentation of the French version (that’s the one called DON CARLOS, with a final S to his first name), in the five-act version that lasted almost 5 hours. This year, we’re back to Italian, under Carlo Rizzi’s firm baton, in one of a number of versions (this one running about 4 hours) of DON CARLO, which uses shortcuts to tell the story elements deleted with the excision of the first act (usually referred to as “the Fontainebleau scene”).

Review: New York Becomes HOMETOWN to Kaminsky-Reed Opera About ICE Raid on Slaughterhouse in Iowa
November 10, 2022

HOMETOWN TO THE WORLD--the 70-minute contemporary chamber opera by Laura Kaminsky and Kimberly Reed about the aftermath of a 2008 raid by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa--is about as far from the Midwest of Meredith Willson’s THE MUSIC MAN imaginable.

Review: Crutchfield's Teatro Nuovo Breathes Life into Rossini's MAOMETTO SECONDO at Rose Theatre
November 7, 2022

Will Crutchfield’s gutsy Teatro Nuovo brought New Yorkers a chance to evaluate Rossini's MAOMETTO SECONDO the other day at Jazz from Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre. Kudos to Crutchfield, who continues on his quest for the most authentic of the authentic in bel canto, even when the originals weren’t exactly smash hits to begin with. That includes MAOMETTO, which has had a quite checkered past.

Interview: Inside Paul Moravec's 'Method' of Composing A NATION OF OTHERS
November 7, 2022

When Paul Moravec calls himself as “a sort of Method composer,” in describing his work on A NATION OF OTHERS, commissioned for the Oratorio Society of NY, debuting at Carnegie Hall on Nov. 15, he’s likening his writing to the “Method Acting” technique: getting inside the heads of his characters, understanding their inner motivation and emotions, connecting his own life to theirs.

Review: How the Wisdom of Elders Influenced Musicians Davone Tines and Jennifer Koh in EVERYTHING RISES at BAM
October 18, 2022

In EVERYTHING RISES--a one-hour performance piece from African American bass-baritone Davone Tines and Korean American violinist Jennifer Koh that had its East Coast premiere last week as part of BAM’s Next Wave series--we see these two virtuoso musicians take control of their careers, with the help of their matriarchs.

Review: That Was No LADY, in Mtsensk or Anywhere Else, But Boy Was She Spectacular!
October 10, 2022

Afraid of Shostakovich? Don’t be. LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK is a glory to behold, in Graham Vick’s knockout production, designed and costumed by Paul Brown, staged this time by Paula Suozzi, with Ron Howell’s choreography. And there were times when the music, with the Met orchestra under the firm, smart baton of Keri-Lynn Wilson, almost sounded like, yes, Puccini, while it was clearly expressionist as well.

Review: A Singular Sensation Returns to Philadelphia Opera with the O22 Festival
October 6, 2022

O22, as Opera Philadelphia's festival was called this year, wasn’t exactly “something old, something new” but more like big fat sandwich cookie. On one side, there was a kind of “traditional” contemporary opera, Hosokawa’s THE RAVEN , a big filling of Rossini’s OTELLO opera seria in the middle, and finished with the Little-Waldman BLACK LODGE, a rock opera that was half ear-blasting concert performed live, half film.

Review: IDOMENEO Returns to Met with Splendid Spyres, Glistening Fang, under Honeck's Fluid Conducting in House Debut
September 30, 2022

On the second night of the new season, the Met went for Mozart, with his early success, IDOMENEO, in a fluid and elegant performance, but it was hardly 'business as usual.'

Review: Cherubini's MEDEA with a Shattering Radvanovsky Opens Met Season, Proving 'Hell Hath No Fury like a Woman Scorned'
September 28, 2022

Written over 400 years ago, Cherubini’s MEDEA finally made it to the Met on the season’s opening night, in a new production by David McVicar. Was it worth the wait? If you take it for Sondra Radvanovsky’s performance in the title role, a chilling, a Herculean task, it earns an unqualified yes. She’s not afraid to rant and rave, or emit ugly sounds to show off her anger.

Review: New Camerata Opera Has 'Something Familiar, Something Peculiar…' in Its Boulanger-Ravel Double Bill at the Irondale Center
September 22, 2022

The new opera season started out for me far from Lincoln Center’s madding crowds, in Brooklyn’s Irondale Center, near BAM, with a pair of short pieces by French composers that definitely had their charms.

Review: It's THREE DECEMBERS in July at Berkshire Opera Festival in New York
July 28, 2022

I’ve heard much praise about the quality of the vocal writing of Jake Heggie from singers who adore the way his music caresses their voices. But THREE DECEMBERS, performed this past weekend at the Berkshire Opera Festival at Pavilion Theatre, PS21 in Chatham, New York, was the first time I heard a complete dramatic work by the composer. As characters from FOLLIES by Sondheim--a composer whose music echoes in Heggie’s score--said about showing up at the reunion that frames that musical, “I’m so glad I came.”

Review: Snider's MASS Never Feels Endangered in Green-Wood Cemetery Catacombs
June 20, 2022

Last week, “The Angel’s Share”--which falls under the 'Death of Classical' umbrella--kicked off its new season at Green-Wood with a deeply poignant piece, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s MASS FOR THE ENDANGERED, a re-imagining of the Latin Mass with text, combining traditional and new, by poet Nathan Bellows.

Review: Met Orchestra with Goerke, Jovanovich, Owens under Nezet-Seguin Conquers Wagner, Lets Mazzoli Shine Through
June 18, 2022

You’d have thought that the Met Orchestra would have had enough by the end of the season in the opera house, but, no. Their New York season really ended at Carnegie Hall this week with a pair of concerts combining some opera excerpts with orchestral pieces by composers also known for their opera work.

BWW Review: Stravinsky's RAKE Progresses Briefly at the Met
June 6, 2022

While I was watching the Met’s current beautiful yet somehow languid production of the Igor Stravinsky and WH Auden/Chester Kallman opera THE RAKE’S PROGRESS the other night--with only two more performances until it goes back into mothballs for probably many years--I couldn’t help wishing that the opera house was more like Broadway.

BWW Review: New HAMLET Makes Its Mark at the Met with Stellar Cast, Impressive Production
May 30, 2022

Is there another Shakespearean drama filled with as many quotable quotes as “Hamlet” (even when they’re used out of context and given a foreign meaning)? But “To be or not to be” is surely the most referenced and, certainly, in the new operatic HAMLET currently at the Met by Brett Dean and Matthew Jocelyn, in Neil Armfield’s thoughtful, urgent production, it's given the best showcase. Indeed, it helps shed a different light on the hero of the story.

BWW Review: (R)EVOLUTION OF STEVE JOBS by Bates and Campbell under Zvulun Closes the Circle on Apple's Creation
May 3, 2022

On Saturday night, Version 2.0 of the Mason Bates-Mark Campbell opera, THE (R)EVOLUTION OF STEVE JOBS, opened brilliantly as a mainstage production of the Atlanta Opera, in its East Coast premiere, under Tomer Zvulun’s taut direction and Michael Christie’s smart baton. To say the audience greeted the work joyfully would be an understatement.

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