Music: Three Premieres, Three Hits

But opera managers neglect the war horses at their peril

Samuel Johnson called opera "an exotic and irrational entertainment," and maybe it was in 18th century London. There is nothing exotic about the opera boom in America today. In such cities as Omaha, Dallas and even Moorhead, N. Dak., regional companies have taken root, resulting in innovative and exciting operatic activity.

The Seattle Opera, for example, is in the seventh summer of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, in both English and German cycles. The San Diego Opera stages a Verdi festival, producing the relatively obscure...

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