The Family Barber (of Seville)

John Moore and Kevin Glavin in Barber of Seville Photo by Jacob Lucas c/o Seattle Opera

When I saw The Barber of Seville at Seattle Opera in October, I declared it my new favorite opera and left McCaw Hall determined to come back with my whole family. That proved easier said than done, but I did it. Here’s how. Continue reading

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My Favorite Opera: The Barber of Seville at Seattle Opera

Daniel Sumegi (Basilio)/Kevin Glavin (Bartolo)/Marc Kenison (Ambrogio)/Margaret Gawrysiak (Berta)/Will Liverman (Figaro)/Andrew Owens (Almaviva)/Sofia Fomina (Rosina). Jacob Lucas photo c/o Seattle Opera

I think The Barber of Seville might be my favorite opera. The only thing that detracted from my enjoyment when I watched it last weekend was that every scene made me think, “I wish I’d brought my kids.” Because every single scene is so delightful, so funny, so beautiful, I hated for them to miss it. Even though my kids have already been to the opera before, I left determined to come back with them before the production finishes. Continue reading

American Dream Inversion

Nina Yoshida Nelsen and Hae Ji Chang in the world premiere of An American Dream. © Philip Newton c/o Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera is one of Seattle’s biggest, most “establishment” arts organizations, but they are appropriately progressive to our left-coast city, relative to other major opera companies around the country. American Dream is the perfect example. I’m a little late in talking about American Dream, since I attended the very last performance. I think it’s still worth talking about it, even though the performances are over, because it completely inverts the typical opera experience. Continue reading

Madama Butterfly at Seattle Opera

Sharpless (Weston Hurt) shocked by Pinkerton’s appalling behavior. Philip Newton photo c/o Seattle Opera

At Seattle Opera’s panel on race and representation in Madame Butterfly, one of the younger speakers asked why anyone would even bother trying to redeem such an opera. The obvious answer was, “The music!” but a part of me felt a little guilty for perpetuating one of those “classics” that should be allowed to die as its cultural relevance fades and its artistic merit is proven less significant than its novelty. I felt even more guilty that by taking my 13-year-old Asian daughter to see it, I could be inflicting harmful stereotypes on the very person they could most affect. I think those were legitimate fears, and could have been valid if Seattle Opera had presented Madame Butterfly without comment. But in the context of the local discussion they have started – wow! What an opera! Continue reading

Seattle Opera Confronts the Ugly Side of Madame Butterfly

Seattle Opera Panelists
“Asian Leaders Respond to Madame Butterfly”

I was excited to hear that Seattle Opera was performing Madame Butterfly because I love Puccini’s music and Butterfly is one of the most famous operas ever written. I didn’t know the opera was controversial for its racist depiction of the Japanese – especially its promulgation of the stereotype that Japanese women are suicidal, subservient sex puppets – until I heard about Seattle Opera’s free community panel discussion “Asian Arts Leaders Respond to Madame Butterfly,” moderated by Frank Abe, co-founder of Seattle’s Asian American Journalists Association. Continue reading

Artistic Growth at Seattle Opera

 

Seattle Opera 2017 Katya Kabanova Philip Newton photo

Seattle Opera 2017 Katya Kabanova Philip Newton photo c/o Seattle Opera

Interview any artist, whether it’s a rock star promoting a new album or a symphony director discussing his orchestra, and you will hear about “artistic growth.” But we don’t often talk about audiences’ artistic growth. Continue reading

The Most Beautiful Music – La Traviata at Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera 2017 La Traviata McCaw Hall

Corinne Winters (Violetta). Seattle Opera 2017 La Traviata Philip Newton photo c/o Seattle Opera

People are getting pretty worked up about the unusual production of La Traviata currently playing at Seattle Opera. But really, the production isn’t very important. What really matters about La Traviata is the music, that exquisite, heavenly music.  Continue reading