News at the Metropolitan Opera hasn’t been so great: In the season that recently ended, New York’s biggest venue for opera took in only two-thirds of its box-office potential. Audiences are down and simply aren’t going as often. Apart from questions of programming or artistic decisions, general manager Peter Gelb is having a tough time filling the cavernous Met’s 3,800 seats night after night. It would be a logistical nightmare for anyone. Happily, some opera companies work on a more manageable scale. In June, opera lovers on a budget can enjoy three very different, highly accessible events. Rather than rent a big drafty hall, many troupes turn to alternative venues for high drama and higher notes.
Le Comte Ory
June 2, 4, 7, 9 and 11 at 8pm @ The Muse
Since 2013, LoftOpera has presented classic repertoire in unusual spaces—lofts, sure, but also warehouses and other neat venues. This summer it mounts Gioachino Rossini’s cross-dressing 1828 romantic farce at the Muse, a circus school in Bushwick. John de los Santos directs the production and Sean Kelly serves as music director and conductor. The production features tenor Thor Arbjornsson in the title role, joined by bass Jeffrey Beruan (Tutor) and baritone Steven Eddy (Raimbaud), mezzo-sopranos Elizabeth Pojanowski (Isolier), Shirin Eskandani (Ragonde), sopranos Sharin Apostolou (La Comtesse Adèle) and Natalie Polito (Alice) as well as a 15-member chorus. Costuming will include a dozen custom-made nun habits by a liturgical vestment maker, and over 2,500 pieces of fake fruit will be used as props. The production also incorporates site-specific elements, featuring some of the Muse’s teaching artists as aerialists, utilizing floor to ceiling silks. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here.
Opera on Tap: Sex-Ed Edition
June 3 at 8pm @ Barbès
Opera on Tap offers a night of selections from two operas-in-progress: The Inner Circle, by composer Daniel Felsenfeld and librettist Kate Gale, and We’ve Got Our Eye On You, by composer Nkeiru Okoye and librettist David Cote (disclaimer: that’s me). Felsenfeld’s opera follows pioneering researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey, in his quest to unlock the secrets of human sexuality. Loosely inspired by Greek myth, We’ve Got Our Eye on You delivers a humorous but uplifting message about giving in to desire prematurely. Its grisly heroines are three sightless, man-eating siblings who share an external eyeball. Expect a pleasing jumble of arias and duets about foreplay, flirtation, orgasm, chastity and the joys of cannibalism. The action happens in the cozy backroom at Barbès, where you can get a beer to enjoy during the show. Suggested donation is $10. More details here.
The Marriage of Figaro
June 14-16 at 7:30pm; June 17 at 6:30pm & 9pm @ 632 on Hudson
On Site Opera has transformed a gorgeous triplex on the Hudson River (above) into Count Almaviva's summer palace for an operatic tale of lust, infidelity and forgiveness. No, it’s not the beloved version of the Beaumarchais farce composed by Mozart; this is a 1799 work by the lesser known Marcos Portugal. The cast includes Jesse Blumberg (baritone) as Figaro, Ashley Emerson (soprano) as Susanna, David Blalock (tenor) as Count Almaviva, Camille Zamora (soprano) as Countess and Melissa Wimbish (soprano) as Cherubino. Note: Tickets are sold out, but a waiting list is available online or by calling 866-811-4111.