12 May 2014

Opera Blog: “I Puritani”: Why we killed Arturo




In BLO’s version of I Puritani, a vengeful Riccardo kills Arturo during the last scene as the two happy lovers, Elvira and Arturo, finally reconnect after many trials and tribulations. Arturo dies in Elvira’s arms, and we can only anticipate that the final blow of his death will ultimately unravel her fragile and already strained […]

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10 May 2014

Interview with Magda Romanska, author of “The Post-traumatic Theatre of Grotowski and Kantor”




The following is an interview with Magda Romanska, author of The Post-traumatic Theatre of Grotowski and Kantor: History and Holocaust in ‘Akropolis’ and ‘Dead Class’ This book is a historical and critical analysis of the post-traumatic theatre of Grotowski and Kantor, examining the ways they represent Auschwitz in their respective pivotal works ‘Akropolis’ and ‘Dead […]

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2 May 2014

Opera Blog: A Conversation with Mary Ann Smart about “I puritani”




BLO Dramaturg, Magda Romanska talks to Mary Ann Smart, Professor of Music at the University of California, Berkeley about I Puritani. Professor Smart is the author of the book, Mimomania: Music and Gesture in Nineteenth-Century Opera, the editor of the critical edition of Donizetti’s last opera, Dom Sébastien, and of the articles on Bellini and […]

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30 April 2014

Opera Blog: The Romantic Trope of a Madwoman in “I puritani”




The portrayal of Elvira in I puritani follows the trope of the madwoman, which dominated the nineteenth-century European discourse on gender. Trapped in a man’s world, Victorian women often escaped into madness, which was viewed as the only permissible way for them to speak the truth and to solve the tensions and pressures of their […]

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25 April 2014

Opera Blog: “I puritani” Production History




Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835) is known for three major operas: La Sonnambula (1831), Norma (1831), and I Puritani (The Puritans, 1835). I Puritani was Bellini’s last, and it was composed between 1834 and 1835 specifi cally for the Théâtre-Italien in Paris. During the time he was writing the opera, Bellini was close to Rossini, whose presence […]

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24 March 2014

Opera Blog: The History of the Court Jester and Verdi’s “Rigoletto”




The court jester is a universal character. He can be found in ancient Rome and in China, in Renaissance Europe and in czarist Russia, at the courts of the Middle East and in classical Sanskrit plays of ancient India. Although there were a few known female jesters, historical studies show that the majority of jesters […]

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17 March 2014

Opera Blog: A Conversation with David Rosen about “Rigoletto”




Magda Romanska, BLO Dramaturg and visiting associate professor at Harvard University, talks to Professor David Rosen about Verdi’s Rigoletto. Professor Rosen is a world-renowned musicologist, a leading expert on Verdi, and professor emeritus of Music at Cornell University. Professor Rosen was responsible for the critical edition of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem (published in The Works […]

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12 March 2014

Opera Blog: Boston Lyric Opera’s Version of Verdi’s “Rigoletto”




BLO’s version of Rigoletto returns the opera to its original historical context. The dramatic structure of the story is framed by two necessary conditions: the world in which a ruler has absolute power over life and death, and a world in which the curse of a father is to be believed and feared. Verdi was […]

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10 March 2014

Opera Blog: “Rigoletto” Production History




Verdi’s Rigoletto is based on Victor Hugo’s 1832 play Le Roi s’amuse (The King Amuses Himself), which centers on the excesses of a cynical and ruthless king who revels in the cruel treatment of his courtiers, particularly his jester. The play was meant to depict the story of Francis I of France (1494–1547) and his […]

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15 January 2014

Meet the Dramaturg – Conversation with Magda Romanska




In a January 2014 Boston Globe article, BLO’s Dramaturg, Dr. Magda Romanska, was quoted saying that “the rigid division of roles (director/dramaturg/playwright)” or in the case of an opera, the stage director, dramaturg, and librettist “becomes more and more blurred as people move across boundaries” and begin to work together. When we posted the article […]

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5 January 2014

Offstage, Dramaturgs Are Playing a Prominent Role




By Joel Brown GLOBE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY 04, 2014 The Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas will hold their annual conference here in June. “The theme of the conference is looking to the future to see where we are going,” says conference chairwoman Magda Romanska, an associate professor at Emerson College and editor of an […]

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20 November 2013

Opera Blog: The Background Story Behind “Lizzie Borden”




Lizzie Borden took an axe, Gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, Gave her father forty-one. THE MURDER AND THE TRIAL In August 1892, Fall River, Massachusetts, a prosperous town of 75,000, was rocked by a gruesome double murder. Seventy year old Andrew Borden, a miserly and wealthy self-made man […]

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15 November 2013

Opera Blog: A Conversation with Cheree Carlson about “Lizzie Borden”




BLO Dramaturg Magda Romanska talks to Cheree Carlson, a professor of Communication and Gender Studies at Arizona State University. Professor Carlson is an expert on issues of gender and media representation, and the author of a book, The Crimes of Womanhood: Defining Femininity in a Court of Law, that analyzes the ways in which cultural […]

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4 October 2013

Opera Blog: The Background Story, Symbolism and Legacy of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”




There are countless hypotheses as to the original source of The Magic Flute. Suggested sources include Carlo Gozzi’s fables, which were popular in the Vienna of the 1780s; Chrétien de Troyes’ twelfth-century Arthurian romance Yvain, which was translated by Mozart’s fellow Mason Karl Joseph Michaeler, and in which the hero is rescued by three ladies […]

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1 October 2013

Opera Blog: “The Magic Flute”: A Conversation with Professor Neal Zaslaw




Magda Romanska, BLO Dramaturg and Associate Professor of Dramaturgy at Emerson College, talks to Professor Neal Zaslaw about Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Prof. Zaslaw is a world-renowned musicologist and the leading expert on Mozart. Between 1978 and 1982 he supervised recordings of all of Mozart’s symphonies by Jaap Schroeder, Christopher Hogwood, and the Academy of […]

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27 September 2013

Opera Blog: BLO’s Interpretation of “The Magic Flute”




The Magic Flute is considered one of Mozart’s most enduring masterpieces. The story of how it developed and what it meant at the time it was written has captured people’s imaginations almost as much as the work itself. The story behind The Magic Flute is one of mystery, suspense, and twists and turns that paint […]

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21 August 2013

Last Tango in Poland: Farewell to Slawomir Mrozek 1930-213




On August 15th the world theater lost one of its finest. Sławomir Mrożek, the brilliant, world-famous Polish dramatist, died at the age of 83 in Nice, France, his home since 2008. For international theater-going audiences, Mrożek is most famous for his absurd comedies, two of which, Strip-tease (1961) and the iconic Tango (1965), have been […]

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16 April 2013

The Case for National Theatre




A provocative blog post making one case for a National American Theater. Magda Romanska posts a wide-ranging, historic, international perspective on American theater vs. national theater traditions. Mitt Romney’s offhanded crusade against Big Bird, announced in a presidential debate with President Obama during the last election cycle, put naked fear in the hearts of children, puppets, […]

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30 March 2013

How the Holocaust Shaped Theatre: Emerson Professor Describes Its Impact on Polish Directors




“In Jerzy Grotowski’s 1967 staging of Stanislaw Wyspianski’s 1904 play, “Akropolis,” a retelling of stories from the Bible and Greek mythology, actors dressed in caps and rags labor on a bare set. Their movements become increasingly mechanistic as if consciousness has left their bodies. Some become inert, only responding to forces that are directly applied […]

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2 October 2012

Escape From Circus: Review of Mabou Mines’s “Dollhouse”




During the ten years of its run, when asked what I thought of Mabou Mines’s Dollhouse, I’ve always responded that based on the reviews, and the video of the production, I felt ambivalent about it. Now that the show is finally closing forever, and after finally being able to see it live here in Boston, […]

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11 September 2012

Genuine Illusions of our Times: Richard Foreman in conversation with Magda Romanska




[The following conversation with Richard Foreman was conducted on October 12, 2001, one month after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Some short excerpts were printed in Theater magazine (32:1, Winter 2002), but this is the first time the interview has been published in its entirety. More than a decade after the traumatic events, Foreman’s assessment is […]

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23 April 2012

How I Survived Socialism: A Self-help Guide For Worried Americans




“The regime was harsh, the system absurd but rules made up in Moscow were no match for the individualistic Poles. Magda Romanska’s delightful short story shows us how it was done. Elegantly, of course.”  “The Solidarity period in Poland lasted from August 1980 until December 1981. While it was a period of relative freedom in […]

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2 April 2012

Theatre Blog: “Café Variations” – A Constellation of Moments. On Making Meaning in Theatre




Magda Romanska, Emerson professor and dramaturg for Café Variations provides behind the scenes insight into the production… The trouble is I can’t make sense of my life at all. I can’t see a beginning and a middle and an end It seems to me to be just a bunch of random vivid moments I think, […]

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26 March 2012

Theatre Blog: “Café Variations” – The Music of Gershwin




As a child, George Gershwin would constantly get in trouble; he was well on his way to becoming a juvenile delinquent. It was sheer luck that saved him when his mother decided the family needed a piano for Ira to start music lessons. However, as soon as the piano was pulled up through the window […]

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23 March 2012

Theatre Blog: “Café Variations” – Café Culture History, Part 5: Cyber Café




Beginning in the 1990s, many traditional cafés began transforming into so-called cybercafés or internet cafés. The transformation once again reestablished the historical role of cafés as places of public discourse, information exchange and communication. Internet cafés provide internet access to their patrons, usually for an hourly fee. Currently there are two types of internet cafés: […]

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22 March 2012

Theatre Blog: “Café Variations” – Café Culture History, Part 4: Boston. On the history of Boston coffee – and tea.




Boston has always been the trendiest town in the U.S. and when it comes to coffeehouses, it’s no exception. Although the first man known to bring knowledge of coffee to North America was Captain John Smith in 1607, who was familiar with coffee, thanks to his travels in Turkey, the first-ever coffeehouse in America was […]

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21 March 2012

Theatre Blog: “Café Variations” – Café Culture History, Part 3: Café Culture and Public Spaces




American scholars have long noted the comparative scarcity of informal public spaces in American social and cultural life. In the last few decades, the public sphere, parks, streets, squares and walkways have become the domain of the poor and the homeless. Many sociologists lament that, increasingly, Americans are expected to find respite, entertainment, companionship, and […]

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20 March 2012

Theatre Blog: “Café Variations” – Café Culture History, Part 2: Café Culture and the Age of Enlightenment




The first American coffee house opened in Boston in 1676. Right away, beginning in the late seventeenth century, coffee houses in Boston and New York served as auction houses for commodities and real estate. Beginning in 1729, a coffee house was located next to the Merchants Exchange in New York, and in 1752 the newly […]

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20 March 2012

Conversation with Lawrence Switzky about Robert Lepage’s “The Andersen Project”




In anticipation of The Andersen Project, Emerson professor Magda Romanska talks to Lawrence Switzky, professor of English and drama at The University of Toronto and author of The Rise of the Theatre Director: Negotiations with the Material World. Prof. Switzky specializes in modern and contemporary dramatic literature, the history of directing, technology and media studies, […]

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16 March 2012

Theatre Blog: “Café Variations” – Café Culture History, Part 1: Sobering Up of Europe




Coffee, the sober drink, the mighty nourishment of the brain, which unlike other spirits, heightens purity and lucidity; coffee, which clears the clouds of the imagination and their gloomy weight; which illuminates the reality of things suddenly with the flash of truth. – Jules Michelet, French historian (1798-1874) Coffee’s roots reach to Yemen, in the […]

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