Two new operas

Matt Greenfield’s review of Julie Taymor (she of The Lion King)’s new production of The Magic Flute got me thinking about opera again. And then, sure enough, on Monday’s Soundcheck, John Schaefer featured previews of two new operas premiering this week. If you’re in London, you might want to see Loren Maazel’s version of 1984 with a libretto written in part by poet, critic, and editor (The Yale Review J. D. McClatchy. Apparently, the seventy-five year old conductor has underwritten much of the production costs, causing skeptics to wonder if it is a vanity production. I’m less inclined to be so cynical: if you can afford to be your own patron, why not?

The second opera, however, really sounds exciting and the websites offer a lot of information (including a fancy video preview). The Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit is mounting Margaret Garner, with a libretto by Toni Morrison. It’s based on the true story of a fugitive slave who killed her children to prevent their living in slavery—a return to the material of Beloved, in other words. The majestic and fantastic Jessye Norman will make a brief appearance but the title role is played by the lovely and much-beloved Denyce Graves, best known in our household for serenading Elmo to sleep with her opera lullaby (to a tune from Carmen). It will be traveling to Cincinnati and then Philadelphia soon. Perhaps a road trip is in store.

In the meantime, and in preparation for a few weeks upstate this summer, I’m checking out the Glimmerglass schedule. Since we last saw Dialogue of the Carmelites, ending, as you may recall, with the dramatic and grim ritual suicide of a long line of protesting nuns, I’m thinking Cosi Fan Tutte or at least Lucia de Lammermoor--the latter features Edgardo, one of my father’s favorite names. It’s lovely and comic, that Scots-turned-Italian, isn’t it?