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In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

John Conklin

John Conklin is an internationally-recognized set designer and dramaturg. He has designed sets on and off-Broadway, at the Kennedy Center and for opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Bastille Opera in Paris, the Royal Opera and the opera houses of Munich, Amsterdam, and Bologna, among many others. Mr. Conklin is on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School and has served as the Artistic Advisor to BLO since 2009.

Recent Posts

Three Figaros in Search of an Opera

Mar 29, 2017 11:24:36 AM
By John Conklin posted in BLO, #BLO40, #FigaroBLO

Of the Beaumarchais Figaro trilogy of plays, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro live on both in their own right and through the operas that mark cornerstones of the repertory, while the third play, The Guilty Mother, has provided the foundation for a fascinating, challenging 20th-century work. The enduring character of the wily Figaro, and the other personalities drawn into his orbit by Beaumarchais, have appealed to numerous composers beyond the untouchable Rossini and Mozart.
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Neoclassicism: Order, Clarity, Balance, Economy

Mar 9, 2017 11:39:27 AM
By John Conklin posted in BLO, #BLO40, #RakesBLO, Stravinsky

Neoclassicism in music was an important and striking 20th-century trend…and Stravinsky has often been portrayed as its most eloquent proponent and The Rake’s Progress as its culmination.
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Stravinsky Arrested in Boston for Desecration

Mar 7, 2017 10:57:38 AM
By John Conklin posted in BLO, #BLO40, #RakesBLO, Stravinsky

Boston Globe: Did the Star-Spangled Banner land Stravinsky in jail? An irresistible headline, a famous photograph…but it may all be just a kind of urban legend, “fake news” before its time. The real story is rather more complex and interesting.
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Stravinsky: A Chronological Portrait in 7 Photographs and 8 Bits of Music

Mar 3, 2017 11:00:51 AM
By John Conklin posted in BLO, #BLO40, #RakesBLO, Stravinsky

Stravinsky: A face of infinite variety and music of an almost unprecedented range of stylistic mastery.
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HIGH NOTES: A little light Oedipus entertainment

Nov 15, 2016 5:15:38 PM
By John Conklin posted in BLO, #BLO40, #GreekBLO

Perhaps we could all use some diversion from the agonies of Eddy and Oedipus! Tom Lehrer has one of the most remarkable biographies I have come across recently. Check him out: Tom Lehrer. Long associated with Boston, Harvard, and MIT both as scholar and as an ultra-smart satirist, he here memorably sums up the eternal Oedipal dilemma.
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HIGH NOTES: Dryden, Furies, Oedipus—and the power of music

Nov 14, 2016 2:22:00 PM
By John Conklin posted in BLO, #BLO40, #GreekBLO

John Dryden’s reworking of Sophocles, entitled Oedipus, was one of the most performed plays of English Restoration drama, full of relish in the descriptions of the story’s more violent and bloodthirsty elements that appealed mightily to the public. In 1692 Purcell set parts of it to music, including “Music for a While,” one of his most familiar and striking works…however incongruous it seems in its restraint and calmness compared with the tumultuous drama of the narrative.
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HIGH NOTES: More trips down Oedipus lane

Nov 4, 2016 12:39:15 PM
By John Conklin posted in BLO, #BLO40, #GreekBLO

BLO is moving into high gear with its upcoming production of Greek, by Mark-Anthony Turnage. Night Journey is a 1947 Martha Graham ballet performed to a harsh, dramatic score by William Schuman, with costumes by Graham and sets by her longtime collaborator, the sculptor Isamu Noguchi. She noted that “the action takes place in Jocasta’s heart at the instant when she recognizes the ultimate terms of her destiny.”
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HIGH NOTES: And so it begins...

Oct 27, 2016 10:18:59 AM
By John Conklin posted in BLO, #BLO40, #GreekBLO

BLO is moving into high gear with its upcoming production of the vivid, disturbing and highly theatrical opera Greek, by Mark-Anthony Turnage. Rehearsal have just started, sets are being built, costumes fitted…all in preparation for a November 16th opening.
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THE HERO: Complexes and All

Oct 13, 2016 1:20:23 PM
By John Conklin posted in Oedipus, Oedipal Complex, Psychoanalysis, Freud, #GreekBLO

Few concepts from modern psychology have entered the cultural and popular imagination to the extent of Sigmund Freud’s Oedipus Complex. At once a source of revulsion and titillation, the theory that young boys desire their mothers and hate their fathers is named for the ancient myth of Oedipus, who unwittingly fulfills an oracle’s prophecy that he will marry his mother and kill his father.
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HIGH NOTES: Portrait of a Sphinx

Oct 6, 2016 10:36:41 AM
By John Conklin posted in Oedipus, #GreekBLO, Sphinx

The Sphinx—a creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion (and often with the wings of bird) occurs in many cultures. The Egyptian Sphinx is typically depicted as a man, a benevolent guardian and the bearer of mysterious knowledge and secrets.
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