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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

HIGH NOTES: A little light Oedipus entertainment

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

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, #GreekBLO, #BLO40

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, #GreekBLO, #BLO40

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, #GreekBLO, #BLO40

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 #GreekBLO, Oedipus, Oedipal Complex, Psychoanalysis, Freud

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 #GreekBLO, Sphinx, Oedipus

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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HIGH NOTES: Just Kidding…

Sep 16, 2016 4:15:31 PM
By John Conklin posted in #CarmenBLO, #40DaysofOpera, Cartoons

Carmen cartoon carnage (with ants).... And while we’re on the subject of “Tom and Jerry,” I just can’t resist recalling and posting here my favorite classical music cartoon…
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HIGH NOTES: The Best Entrance Music Ever Given – The Habanera

Sep 14, 2016 1:22:09 PM
By John Conklin posted in #CarmenBLO, #40DaysofOpera, Habenera, Carmen

The Best Entrance Music Ever Given- The Habanera. We start, of course, with Carmen and the best and sexiest entrance music ever given to any operatic character: the Habanera. And…it’s NOT BY BIZET!
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The Merry Widow Waltz Is Everywhere

Apr 21, 2016 2:47:00 PM
By John Conklin posted in 2015/16 Season, Lehar, The Merry Widow, Waltz

The Merry Widow Waltz Is...
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A Man in Six Portraits: Franz Lehár

Apr 8, 2016 8:33:00 AM
By John Conklin posted in 2015/16 Season, Lehar, The Merry Widow

Lehár himself lived a long life that in its fluctuating fortunes seems to mirror the shifting and ultimately tragic tides of the times he lived through. John Conklin has chosen six images which encapsulate Lehár's fascinating journey.
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