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Classical 101

Forty Days of Opera

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Boston Lyric Opera blog
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Alexander Davis, Joseph Yonaitis, Richard Wingert, Dave Ginsberg. Photo: Robert Leger

Complete with the seemingly required bari-hunk pictures, my hometown does opera proud by declaring "Forty Days of Opera" on behalf of the Boston Lyric Opera. This dovetails nicely with BLO's fortieth anniversary season.

I was around forty years ago when more than one fledgling company went to work with a mission to employ local artists; many had international reputations but couldn't get arrested in the Hub.  Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston (1959-1991) liked expensive imports, fiscal and rehearsal chaos, bounced checks, and complained at one point that Boston area singers would miss rehearsals "because they couldn't find babysitters."

To be fair, some of those imports were Beverly Sills, Jon Vickers, Shirley Verrett, Placido Domingo and Joan Sutherland. To be fair, Caldwell could be a brilliant opera scholar and director, and a dreadful conductor.

Boston Lyric Opera as I remember had to make the annual scramble for a stage. At one point the cyclorama in the City's South End had some excavation done and voila!, a theater was found. Yes, they actually unearthed a boarded up building that had been a theater, and there were till seats and accouterments attached... along with the rats. I don't know if this lasted.

You can't have too much (good) opera. Forty days of opera is a great idea.

In Boston, there'll be a lot of free events including "a walking tour", film screenings, and performances by the Boston Lyric Opera. Plus a free Carmen on Boston Common, the Handel and Haydn Society, Odyssey Opera and Guerilla Opera. Lots of Opera in my home town. God bless them.

Here in Columbus, a walking tour could include visits to the Southern , Ohio, and Palace Theaters (paging Rosa Stolz!)  I believe there was a spectacular theater on the site of the Lazarus building downtown. One local author suggested a visit to the housewares floor, where, if you stood a certain way near the refrigerators, you'd be in the spot where Mary Garden disrobed in Massenet's Thais during a tour by the Chicago Opera circa 1920.

Forty days of opera would be a perfect fit for Columbus.

How about a workshop of new works in collaboration with the Wexner Center and the School of Music at OSU? How about using OperaColumbus's upcoming Carmen, always a crowd pleaser, either set in Seville in 1820 or not, as the centerpiece?

Mary Hoffman can talk about the interviews she did with Joan Sutherland, Robert Merrill, Richard Tucker and Beverly Sills during heir Columbus visits. How about a staging of Thomas Pasatieri's Three Sisters, an OperaColumbus original commission?

Let's ask Kate Shumate, my good buddy, and Evan Whallon's step-daughter for her memories of the Columbus Symphony's long time Music Director and opera expert? And our barihunks are just as hunky as anyone else's.