Category Archives: Opera

October 10

Racism in Opera: Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

On the 10th of October 1935, George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess opened in the Alvin Theatre on Broadway, New York. A few years earlier, Singer Al Jolson attempted to musicalise the story starring as a comic blackface Porgy, his minstrel shows, an unacceptable racist concept nowadays. The Broadway opening was unprecedented in U.S. history due to […]

September 30

Masonism in Mozart’s The Magic Flute

On the 30th of September 1791, the opera The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made its debut at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. The piece was finished three months before the composer died of suspected rheumatoid fever at the young age of 35. Mozart scholar Maynard Solomon wrote that, “Although there were no reviews of […]

July 19

Florence Foster Jenkins: The World’s Worst Singer?

On the 19th of July 1868, American amateur operatic soprano Florence Foster Jenkins was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Jenkins had no sense of rhythm or intonation, yet she became highly popular during her time, making it eventually into Carnegie Hall, New York. Considering her lacking vocal abilities, she nevertheless appears to have taken herself seriously and […]

April 03

Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya: Love in the Creative Partnership

On the 3rd of April 1950, German composer Kurt Weill died of a heart attack in New York City. His highly innovative and eclectic works for the theatre, such as the Threepenny Opera, Mahagonny, Lady in the Dark, Street Scene, but also numerous popular songs and instrumental music, have secured him lasting fame and a […]

January 24

Secrets of the Castrati: Carlo Farinelli

On the 24th of January 1705, legendary 18th century castrato opera singer Carlo Maria Michelangelo Nicola Broschi, known by the stage name Farinelli was born in Andria (Apulia) into a family of musicians. In his career, he used the surname of his benefactors, the brothers Farina. Considered one of the greatest performers in the history […]

December 23

Wagnerian Influences in Humperdinck’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’

On the 23rd of December 1893, Hansel and Gretel, an opera by Engelbert Humperdinck, premiered in Weimar, under the baton of Richard Strauss. Humperdinck composed nine works  in total for the stage. But Hansel and Gretel brought him the biggest critical acclaim. The libretto, written by Humperdinck’s sister, Adelheid Wette, was loosely based on the Brothers Grimm […]