insightful in-depth reviews

This article, prompted by the world premiere of two operas, was originally published in The Opera Critic, the international journal for opera professionals and aficionados.

Two high-profile opera premieres took place within two months — and both of them were created by one librettist, though with different composers. This is a most unusual occurrence.

Kevin Puts composed the music for Elizabeth Cree, a thriller about grisly serial murders in London in 1880, overlaid with the trial of Mrs. Cree for allegedly poisoning her husband. Mason Bates composed an opera about the life and communication inventions of Steve …

Braithwaite's backstage stories

Which Reminds Me. Written and directed by Tony Braithwaite. Through October 1, 2017, at the Act II Playhouse, Ambler, Pennsylvania.

Tony Braithwaite can do a one-man show on almost any topic and entertain us. This summer he’s chosen a new subject which is close to his heart — theater experiences — and calls the production Which Reminds Me.

Onstage mishaps, backstage gossip and barbs from critics each are given time, as Braithwaite conversationally ties these stories together. I had just returned to the Philadelphia area from two weeks in the warm and dry New Mexican desert, and here …

Santa Fe Opera 2017

2017 in Santa Fe will be remembered for the sensational debut of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. In my decades of opera-going I’ve never seen such a crowd-pleasing world premiere. My review is in a separate story and, here, we’ll consider the other operas of this summer season.

Handel’s Alcina, written in 1735, made a strong though controversial impression. Some critics felt it’s new staging was outrageous, but I think it was clever. When we think of Handel we picture powdered wigs and formal, slow moving dramas. This production was nothing like …

(R)evolution of Steve Jobs in its world premiere

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates & Mark Campbell. Santa Fe Opera, August 2017

Steve Jobs was a revolutionary genius in communicating. He showed the world how to get everything anyone needed on a single small gadget. Yet he was a spectacular failure in communicating with his friends and family on a personal level. As composer Mason Bates says, “The man who miniaturized our communications into sleek little devices had so many issues with the complications of human life.”

That’s the essence of Steve Jobs, and it involves conflict, which is the stuff of …

From The Publisher

The Cultural Critic is where thoughtful readers turn for in-depth reviews of artistic events and travel experiences. Our aim is to cover a wide range throughout every category. From theater to book critiques, travel to opera experiences, music to art analysis, The Cultural Critic is your destination for the most comprehensive reviews.

We are proud to have cultural historian Steve Cohen as our lead critic. He is a broadcaster and journalist with degrees in music, theater and communications.

Geoffrey Dobrien, President

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