The story of Lucretia has fascinated and provoked much of Western civilization for more than 2,500 years, endlessly interpreted and reconsidered through philosophy, art, music, and drama. Yet, Lucretia herself remains elusive, her character explored in fragments by a variety of interpreters and the meaning of her tale more a measure of the current time’s morals and culture than it is a fixed dictum handed down from the ancients. She speaks little before the story’s central act of sexual assault and defines herself largely in terms of men—her husband and her father—yet her voice carries tremendous weight when she publicly names her assaulter. It is that strong, raw cry for justice that ultimately serves as the tipping point which incites a revolution against a corrupt dynasty. Lucretia is a creation of allegory, history and myth entwined, one that can help us understand on one level, the founding of the ancient Roman Republic; on another, the inherent tension between honor, patriarchy, and tyranny; and on still another, the nature of power itself.
Figaro, Figaro, Fi-ga-ro! It may be impossible to talk about revolutions and opera without circling back to that iconic, endearing, clever barber, Figaro—an archetypal character who has transcended genres, charmed generations, and helped inspire a revolution. The Figaro that we opera-fans know and love was drawn from the trilogy of plays by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais: The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, and The Guilty Mother. Barber was initially conceived as a comedic opera but was rejected, so Beaumarchais revised it as a play and it premiered in 1775. He followed its success with the even more provocative Marriage of Figaro,which shocked the king so much in its first private royal readings that it did not officially premiere until 1784. After that, Figaro became France’s single biggest theatrical success of the 18th
Julie d’Aubigny led a short, incredible life that was full of adventure and defied any and all expectations for “ladylike” behavior. She carried on public love affairs with both men and women; often dressed in men’s clothing; was once sentenced to death; and achieved acclaim on the leading operatic stages of Paris and beyond. Everything she did, she did with drama: her feuds with other opera singers were legendary, her love affairs were intense and passionate, and she was both the toast of society and a source for gossip sure to scandalize. 17th-Century France couldn’t get enough of her.
Who are the Dissenters & Rebels of opera? In celebration of our 2018/19 Season, we took a tour through opera history to find seven examples that upended societal expectations, charted their own course, and inspired others to imagine the world anew. We’ve reached installment #3 – turning to the Risorgimento in Italy and the mythic status of an unforgettable Verdi anthem. When we think about political music today, songs like We Shall Overcome, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?, or the Beatles’ Revolution might come to mind. But opera boasts the granddaddy of all political anthems—Va, pensiero, from one of Verdi’s early operas, Nabucco. A stirring chorus guaranteed to inspire, Va, pensiero has long been associated with the cause of Italian unification, helping to earn Verdi the nickname “the Bard of the Risorgimento.”
Who are the Dissenters and Rebels of opera? In celebration of our 2018/19 Season, we took a tour through opera history to find seven examples of individuals who upended societal expectations, charted their own course, or inspired others to imagine the world anew. To kick off our Dissenters & Rebels Series, we turn first to the story of poor artists living and loving in 19th-century Paris.
As BLO has been rehearsing and preparing Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, we have been getting a lot of feedback, both internally from our staff and artists and externally from our community members, about the pivotal scene that gives the opera its name. In the aria “What a movie,” the character of Dinah gives an involved description of a fictional movie that she goes to see, titled “Trouble in Tahiti.” The film she describes is a mash-up of Hollywood and Broadway stereotypes of the 1940s – an exoticized South Seas paradise where the American military comes in and saves the day. At first, Dinah is exasperated and dismissive of the film. “What a terrible, awful movie!” she exclaims. But she gets swept away in the romance and drama of the plot anyway, entranced by its beguiling music and fantasy.
In a unique and imaginative production, Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles will be presented as a cabaret, built within the DCR Steriti Memorial Rink. Audience seating will be at small tables surrounding a thrust stage, with traditional rows of seats ringing the space’s perimeter. The visual mood and decor are partially inspired by the famous 1950s nightclub El Morocco. With 15,000 square feet for BLO’s designers to play with, and only steps away from the legendary restaurants and amenities of Boston’s historic North End, this is a theatrical experience not to be missed.
MARCH 16 – 25 By Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weill Sung in English, in a translation by Michael Feingold, with no supertitles. Length: Approx. 2 hours, 45 minutes, including 1 intermission SUPER-SHORT SYNOPSIS Soho, London: June, 1838, leading up to the coronation of Queen Victoria. A street singer describes the recent crimes of the gangster Macheath—better known as “Mack the Knife.” Mr. and Mrs. Peachum’s daughter, Polly, did not return home last night. They conclude that she spent the evening with Macheath, and Peachum—the boss of London’s beggars—vows to destroy him. Polly and Macheath celebrate their marriage with a crowd of his men. The Chief of Police, Tiger Brown, arrives...
As 2017 comes to a close, we can't help reflecting on a year of incredible opera moments here at BLO—both on and off our "main" stage! Take a tour through our "Top Ten" memories from 2017...
In 1828, Edinburgh was a bustling, prosperous city. It swelled during the harvest, with scores of immigrants and laborers arriving in search of seasonal employment and housing. Old Town’s winding cobblestone streets were thickly lined with open markets and bustling with the noises of industrial activity coming from paper mills, tanneries, and saltworks. The working class and poor clustered into tenement buildings and rented out any extra space for cash to travelers and itinerant workers. Meanwhile, the city’s New Town, designed and built in the 18th century, boasted gleaming, ordered streets, stately Georgian homes, and lives of comfort and wealth for the city’s well-to-do.