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This Week in Music History: The premiere of Strauss’s Salome (1905)

Strauss’s opera Salome scandalized the musical world in 1905—and again in May 1906, when, as Ross vividly describes, the Austrian premiere in Graz drew together an astonishing array of musical luminaries, from Mahler to Schoenberg to Puccini. “Like a flash of lightning,” Ross writes, “it illuminated a musical world on the verge of traumatic change. Past and future were colliding; centuries were passing in the night.”

This Week in Music History: Benjamin Britten is born (1913)

Benjamin Britten was born on November 22, 1913—St Cecilia’s Day, the patron saint of music—in Lowestoft, Suffolk, overlooking the English east coast. Music and the English coast were the forces that would shape his life. These twin influences were combined in perhaps the most profound way a full century after Britten’s birth.

This Week in Music History: Hans Sachs is born (1494)

There are relatively few shoemakers with their own entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the standard reference work for classical music. But Hans Sachs was no ordinary shoemaker.

This Week in Music History: Don Giovanni premieres (1787)

It’s a strange thought that the farcical Figaro would be followed up with an opera in which the protagonist—a compulsive womanizer, as well as a murderer—literally descends to hell, leaving behind a smattering of his victims to try and rebuild their shattered lives.

Five classic Russian operas

Often thought of as a challenging repertoire for both performers and audiences, Russian opera represents a diverse and impressive body of work. From opulent historical dramas to absurd philosophical fairy tales, there's something to please all kinds of opera lovers. Today we're swapping our "toi, toi, toi" for "Ни пуха, ни пера" as we dive right into the rich repertoire with a playlist of our favorite Russian operas...

This Week in Music History: Vincenzo Bellini dies (1835)

Vincenzo Bellini was just 33 years old when he died of dysentery in a Parisian suburb on September 23, 1835: younger than Chopin (39), Bizet (37) or even Mozart (35) at the time of their deaths...

This Week in Music History: The Premiere of Mozart’s La Clemenza...

Despite what a certain well-known film would have us believe, the composer Antonio Salieri did not plot to assassinate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The brilliant film (and play) Amadeus took, let’s say, a few liberties with the historical truth. But surprisingly, it is true that Salieri was responsible—albeit indirectly—for making Mozart’s workload significantly more complicated in the chaotic final year of his life.

Placido Domingo, one of opera’s most public faces

It's been a big few weeks for Placido Domingo. Last week, the superstar opera singer achieved a nearly superhuman feat by debuting his 150th role—triple the number most star singers rack up over the course of a career.

Garden gates and oil fields: How directors bring The Rake’s Progress...

“Nick appears immediately at the garden gate.” A simple enough statement, you might think. But for an opera director, maybe not...

This Week in Music History: Wagner’s Ring cycle is first performed...

Classical music has such a long, storied history, that it can be difficult to know where to start. Each week, we’ll be exploring an...