For the first time since Russia began its so-called ‘special military operation’ three months ago—and as the war rages on east of the Dnieper River—the National Opera of Ukraine in Kyiv, in a symbolic act of defiance, has reopened its doors to the public.
American composer Michael Dellaira secured the operatic rights to Lampedusa’s novel after rereading it following a trip to Sicily in 2014. Pandemic complications froze the entire performance world for two years, so the opera only had its world premiere in March 2022, in a run of two performances by the Frost Opera Theater.
Set against the production’s dismal sets, the action unfolded as a five-hour dirge of funereal hopelessness before ejecting spectators into equally gray Manhattan surroundings where after-theater conviviality is long dead.
Listening to Renée Fleming in an intimate recital nearly five years after her semi-retirement, one has to wonder if she left too soon. She has upcoming April concerts in France, Germany, Lithuania, and the UK.
The European wave of sanctions has reached the arts sector. Prominent Russian artists, such as Valery Gergiev and Anna Netrebko, are having their contracts terminated for “insufficient distancing” from Kremlin politics.
Sadly, Macbeth turned out to be more of a miss than a hit. Livermore replaced the original Scottish setting of Verdi’s opera and Shakespeare’s play with a modern urban gangster war. The idea is far from original. Theater directors have toyed with it for at least forty years, not only with Macbeth but with other operas featuring political power tainted by betrayal and a hint of sexuality.
This retelling of the Greek tragedy is a departure from the fatalism of the ancients, but it grasps the sensibilities behind the notion of fashioning one’s own moral imperatives in what came to be called existentialist thought. It is Œdipe’s resistance to the gods and to his own predestination that matters more than anything else. It is a fine message to be revived in a Europe that resembles an ever-present surveillance regime more than an ever-closer union.