David Bonetti


David covers fine arts and opera. He was a staff writer for the Saint Louis Post Dispatch and before that the San Francisco Examiner and Boston Phoenix. Now retired he has returned to Boston

Recent Articles:

  • BLO's The Threepenny Opera Worth Two Cents Front Page

    Weill and Brecht Classic Full of Jaunty Songs but Hard to Stage

    By: David Bonetti - Mar 19th, 2018

    "The Threepenny Opera" needs to be done with color and verve if it is to speak to today's audiences. The BLO's production was all too beige. Director James Darrah soft-pedaled the politics at the heart of the work, which left it a corpse with some not-so-pretty songs attached.

  • Orpheus and Oedipus Meet at Emmanuel Music Front Page

    Three Modernist Works Investigate Myths

    By: David Bonetti - Mar 07th, 2018

    Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex" is a bizarre hybrid, an opera-oratorio set to a text by Jean Cocteau. Emmanuel Music paired it with two works about Orpheus, another denizen of the land of the Green myths. In their works, both Matthew Aucoin and John Harrison, composers with local connections, showed their debt to Stravinsky.

  • "Almira," Handel's First Opera Front Page

    Reprised by Boston Early Music Festival

    By: David Bonetti - Dec 05th, 2017

    The 19 year old Handel inherited this ridiculous opera libretto when the composer assigned it abruptly left town. Ambitious to get out of Hamburg himself, he gave it better than it deserved, writing some gorgeous arias for his dueling pair of sopranos. A superb cast and expert orchestral playing made the opera a hit for the Boston Early Music Festival.

  • Boston Lyric Opera Tosca Front Page

    Fine Cast but a Misguided Production

    By: David Bonetti - Oct 20th, 2017

    Puccini's "Tosca" remains one of the most popular operas in the world 117 years after its debut. Today with its portrait of fascist tyrants taking women forcibly for their own pleasure, it has renewed relevance. In her American debut Russian soprano Elena Stikhina made the role her own.

  • Agostino Steffani's Vocal Duets Rediscovered Front Page

    Italian-born Composer Worked in Germany

    By: David Bonetti - Oct 12th, 2017

    Agostino Steffani (1653-1728) was important in his day, serving as a priest and diplomat as well as a composer, but he was forgotten after his death. The BEMF has devoted much of its attention to resuscitating his vocal works over the past 6 years. Its most recent research led to an enchanting concert of vocal duets, featuring local favorite Amanda Forsythe and colleagues from around the world.

  • Rev.23 Farce of an Opera Front Page

    Comedy Based on Book of Revelations Nothing to Laugh Over

    By: David Bonetti - Oct 03rd, 2017

    Cerise Lim Jacobs, whose "Ouroboros Trilogy" was so engaging last season returns with "Rev. 23," subtitled "A Farcial Hellish Opera!" that was less successful both thematically and musically. Is end-times and rebirth an appropriate subject for farce? The production was good to look at and the music-making was fine, but still.....

  • BEMF's Global Early Music Performers Front Page

    Performers from Italy and France to Slovakia and Mexico

    By: David Bonetti - Jul 03rd, 2017

    With its own produced concerts and 18 sponsored groups, the BEMF programs music from 9:30 a.m. to midnight, which only the most intrepid music lovers can attend. Your reporter made it to nine, including both operas, in seven days. With the theme of "carnival," there was a lot of outside-the-law music, including some salacious texts, to consider.

  • Boston Early Music Festival in Venice Front Page

    19th Biennial Festival's Two Operas and 18 Concerts

    By: David Bonetti - Jun 25th, 2017

    The early music world comes to Boston every two years for the BEMF. This year its centerpiece opera was Andre Campra's "Le Carnaval de Venise," an opera-ballet, in its American premiere. It also reprised a hilarious pair of intermezzi, one of them the popular "La serva padrona," by Giovanni Pergolesi and Handel's Roman period oratorio "La Resurrezione." A good time was had by all.

  • Boston Early Music Festival June 11-18 Front Page

    Festival Theme is Carnival After Campra

    By: David Bonetti - Jun 03rd, 2017

    Campra's "Le Carnaval de Venise" sets the theme, but the weeklong festival ranges far and wide, from Mexico to Germany to Rome, Florence as well as Venice. Pergolesi's "La serva padrona"will feature local favorite Amanda Forsythe, and the BEMF orchestra will play Handel's "La Resurrezione." Something for everyone - everyone who loves early music that is.

  • Anton Rubinstein's The Demon Front Page

    Esotreric Opera Exhumed by Boston's Russian Emigres

    By: David Bonetti - May 22nd, 2017

    Anton Rubinstein was a powerful cultural figure in 19th century St. Petersburg, but his music, especially his operas, have fallen out of the repertory. Commonwealth Lyric Theater, which specializes in underrepresented Russian and Slavic opera has brought Rubinstein's masterpiece, the opera fantastique, "The Demon" to Boston audiences.

  • Marriage of Figaro at Boston Lyric Opera Front Page

    Young Cast Delivers

    By: David Bonetti - May 06th, 2017

    As the final opera in its 40th anniversary season, the BLO ended on an exuberant note. The Mozart classic was transposed from the 18th century Vienna suburbs to a villa in 1950s Italy, allowing a range of chic retro fashions to take stage center. But the young singers, all in fine voice, did not let the costumes upstage them. This might not have been a profound "Figaro," but it was fun, which might be just what Mozart and da Ponte wanted.

  • Boston Baroque's Giulio Cesare Front Page

    Handel's Greatest Opera a Real Challenge

    By: David Bonetti - Apr 27th, 2017

    Boston Baroque's "Giulio Cesare" marked the role debut of soprano Susanna Phillips as Cleopatra in this tale of love and war with Cleopatra and Julius Caesar its central protagonists. Full of ravishing arias and ensembles, the opera is almost an embarrassment of riches. Boston Baroque did it justice if not in the elusive definitive production it deserves.

  • Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress Front Page

    The Boston Lyric Opera Production is Stylish and Sexy

    By: David Bonetti - Mar 22nd, 2017

    The morality play, inspired by Hogarth, was turned into an overlong, prolix opera by Stravinsky and his collaborators W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman. An attractive young cast does its best but can barely bring this dud to life. Special shout-outs to set and costume designers who made the production hip and racy.

  • Jordi Savall Plays Venetian Music in Boston Front Page

    Influence of Venetian Dance Music on Europe

    By: David Bonetti - Feb 13th, 2017

    With more than 230 CDs and a rigorous touring schedule, Jordi Savall's "Hesperion XXI" is one of early music's most popular groups, sure to fill concert halls all over the world, especially in Boston a hotbed of the broad field of "early" music. In recent years, Savall has been focused on how music is transmitted between cultures over time, and this lively concert surveyed how Venetian dance music influenced music in France, Germany, England and Spain.

  • Susanna Phillips More Than a Beautiful Voice Front Page

    Demonstrated How to Give a Song Recital

    By: David Bonetti - Feb 08th, 2017

    Young American soprano, Susanna Phillips, has what it takes - a beautiful voice, a charming manner and a fierce intelligence. Her Celebrity Series concert, "Women's Lives and Loves," traced the female condition through song. It could serve as a seminar in how to build a vocal recital.

  • Boston Early Music Festival's Versailles Front Page

    Pastiche Composed for Apartments of Louis XIV

    By: David Bonetti - Dec 02nd, 2016

    Louis XIV was a great arts patron, but like most powerful men, he liked to be flattered. The two divertissements revived by the BEMF are sycophantic but charming to listen to and see. As usual, the BEMF forces excelled in a highly stylized production.

  • Boston Lyric Opera Does Turnage's Greek Front Page

    Retelling of Oedipus Rex OK's Incest

    By: David Bonetti - Nov 23rd, 2016

    Mark-Anthony Turnage created the kind of scandal the arts love when in 1988 he premiered his first opera "Greek." A punkish provocation, it set the hoary myth of Oedipus, he who killed his father and married his mother, in a declining Thatcherite Britain. In choosing it, the BLO, in a dynamic production, asks whether it is still relevant.

  • Thomas Ades and the Boston Symphony Orchestra Front Page

    British Composer Begins Three Year Partnership with BSO

    By: David Bonetti - Nov 11th, 2016

    Young (45 years old) hotshot Thomas Ades is a triple threat: composer, conductor and pianist. In his first outing with the BSO as artistic partner he showcased each of those skills. The results were mostly good. Among the highlights was the local premiere of his "Totentanz," a major work by any standard.

  • Bluebeard's Castle at the BSO Front Page

    Hungarian Rarity a Perfect Halloween Opera

    By: David Bonetti - Nov 03rd, 2016

    Bela Bartok is known for his folklore inspired spiky modernism, which he applied distinctively to orchestral and chamber works. "Bluebeard" is his only opera, and it is an awkward undramatic outlier in the repertory. Its lushly beautiful music, however, is a powerful reason why it is revived on occasion. The BSO under Charles Dutoit did it proud.

  • Andris Nelsons Delivers a Sublime "Der Rosenkavalier" Front Page

    Renee Fleming Sings Her Most Sympathetic Role with Susan Graham

    By: David Bonetti - Oct 03rd, 2016

    Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier" is a model of passionate communication via music. The story of the Marschallin who hands over her young lover Octavian to a girl his own age drips with fin-de-siecle melancholy. The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Richard Strauss’s beloved comedy “Der Rosenkavalier” was as close to perfection as I have heard.

  • Calixto Bieito's "Carmen" at the BLO Front Page

    Controversial Production Lives Up to Expectations

    By: David Bonetti - Sep 29th, 2016

    Calixto Bieito restores the sexuality long-missing to "Carmen" - but it is the guys, the half-naked soldiers in Spain's North Africa outpost, who are hot. His Carmen is a cool existentialist, half in love with easeful death. Her murder by a spurned lover on an empty stage outside the bullring could have been staged by Samuel Beckett. This is a controversial production for the expanded Boston Lyric Opera.

  • "The Ouroboros Trilogy" at ArtsEmerson Front Page

    Three Operas on Ancient Myths by Brookline Librettist

    By: David Bonetti - Sep 12th, 2016

    Cerise Lim Jacobs had a dream: to create three operas incorporating myths from the ancient world, using the Ouroboros, the snake that consumes its own tail in order to be reborn, as a recurring motif. The three works were produced together and they turned out to be engaging, even moving, with music that didn't pander to the audience while also not leaving it out. We'd love to hear it, at least "Madame White Snake" again.

  • BSO Ends Season with French and Russian Program Front Page

    Kristine Opolais Sang Tatiana's Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin

    By: David Bonetti - Apr 25th, 2016

    The BSO seems to love working with its new music director Andris Nelsons, who was ending his second season with this concert, which, BTW, featured his glamorous wife, Kristine Opolais, as the soprano soloist. In addition to the Tchaikovsky, the program included Debussy's "La Mer," Ravel's "La Valse" and Dutilleux's "Metaboles."

  • Boston Baroque Does Mozart's The Magic Flute Front Page

    Production Brought Out Its beauty

    By: David Bonetti - Apr 19th, 2016

    Boston Baroque strayed from its central focus on Baroque music to play Mozart's eternally popular "The Magic Flute." I don't like its quasi-religiosity, but Mozart's music proves irresistible. Martin Pearlman played his Baroque band with style, and the vocal cast was (mostly) excellent.

  • BMOP Revives David Del Tredici's "Child Alice" Front Page

    Neo-Romantic masterpiece gets second outing in 30 years

    By: David Bonetti - Apr 08th, 2016

    Back in the '70s, David Del Tredici was the hottest composer in town. Then he and the movement he led, neo-Romanticism, faded from view. His obsessive, rapturous works based on Lewis Carroll's "Alice" deserve to be heard. Gil Rose and his Boston Modern Orchestra Project obliges. The result - two and a half hours of lush music - was largely satisfactory. We want to hear more.

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