When thinker and writer Heather Mac Donald feels moved to write a piece on opera classical music-lovers are sure to be richly rewarded by its reading even if, going in, one has no interest at all in whatever particular thing Ms. Mac Donald has chosen to write about (on coming out we assure you one's interest will be more than a little aroused whatever that particular thing may be). This time, for the quarterly magazine City Journal, Ms. Mac Donald has chosen to write about two opera productions given in New York earlier this year: Telemann's Orpheus presented by New York City Opera, and a new original pasticcio opera titled Enchanted Island put together for the Metropolitan Opera by British playwright Jeremy Sams who also wrote the English libretto for the new work. Wrote Ms. Mac Donald about these two productions:
Few Baroque operas (and all by Handel) have clawed their way from oblivion to the margins of the standard repertoire, a source of chagrin to anyone who loves the period or simply hungers for broader musical experience. The Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera offered radically different solutions to this lacuna earlier this year. NYCO revived an unknown opera by Georg Philipp Telemann in a beautiful and expertly performed production at El Museo del Barrio. The Metropolitan Opera crafted an entirely new work from music by eight Baroque composers, set to a new libretto in English. The Met’s venture was the riskier proposition, bound to trigger grumbling among Baroque aficionados who resented the missed opportunity to stage an historical work. But while the revival of existing operas such as Telemann’s Orpheus at NYCO contributes more to our musical knowledge in the long run, the Met’s Enchanted Island must also be counted a resounding (and insufficiently appreciated) success.Read the full text here.