Cameron Kelsall: Before we put our critic hats on, David, can I gush for a moment? Last night, we attended our first live, in-person opera since March 2020, and I felt more overwhelmed than I expected—in the best possible way. I’m grateful, of course, that the pandemic hasn’t been starved for music; I’d argue that symphonies and opera companies have adapted to streaming better than almost any other arts organizations. Opera Philadelphia, which is hosting a streamlined adaptation called The Drama of Tosca at the outdoor Mann Music Center, has been a leader in the United States with their dedicated streaming platform, which we’ve both covered at length on Parterre. But there was something about seeing familiar faces in the audience (even behind masks), collectively breathing the same fresh air, and hearing Opera Philly’s fine orchestra respond to Maestro Corrado Rovaris’ downbeat that reinforced why I love this art form so much.
David Fox: Yes to all of that. Opera Philadelphia has for some years felt to me almost like family—David Devan, the General Director and President of the company, has engendered a tremendous feeling of warmth and closeness with his public (critics included). That has never felt more palpable than it did on Wednesday. The social distancing was accomplished with care and thoughtfulness; I felt completely comfortable throughout. There were inevitable compromises, which we as critics are of course duty bound to discuss… and we’ll get to them. The Mann isn’t a theater designed for opera, and this was of course a concert performance. It was also an adaptation. But sitting in the Fairmount Park among other opera lovers felt simultaneously surreal, joyful, and almost miraculous…
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Categories: CITY PAPER, Criticism, Music, Philadelphia
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