Concert version

Operas and musicals presented in concert version are performances with limited or no staging, sets and costumes. The singers and the orchestra are usually together on the stage or concert platform rather than placing the orchestra in an orchestra pit. Often the chorus is placed towards the rear or sides of the stage, with the principal singers at the front of the stage, in front of the orchestra. As compared with a fully staged theatre production, the lower cost of producing a concert version and the reduced rehearsal time required have made this style of theatre performance increasingly popular in the 21st century, although the practice dates back to some of the earliest operas of the 17th century.[1]

Opera performances

Some companies such as Washington Concert Opera, the American Opera Society, Eve Queler's Opera Orchestra of New York and the Baltimore Concert Opera[2] have specialized in performing operas in concert version.[3] Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, led by James Levine, performed a concert version of Elektra in 2006. The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed semi-staged concerts of Elektra, led by Seiji Ozawa, in 1987 and 1988.[4][5]

Musical theatre performances

Ongoing musical theatre concert series are given in some cities, such as the Encores! and Musicals Tonight! concert series in New York City[6][7] and the Lost Musicals series in London.[8] York Theatre Company in New York City presents staged concerts in its "Musicals in Mufti" concert series, which "has uncovered a number of needlessly forgotten gems ... presenting more titles than any other theatrical concert series in the world."[9][10] 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco, California, presents staged concerts of musicals to highlight "early and lesser-known works".[11] The Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois also presents staged musical theatre concerts. For example, the festival presented a concert version of Gypsy starring Patti LuPone in 2006.[12][13]

Symphony orchestras also present concert versions of musical theatre, such as the New York Philharmonic concert series in New York.[14] San Francisco Symphony presented a concert version of West Side Story in 2013,[15] and a semi-staged production of On the Town in 2016.[16] Philadelphia Orchestra presented a staged concert version of the musical A Little Night Music in 2001.[17]

The English National Opera (ENO) presents a semi-staged concert of Sunset Boulevard in 2016.[18] In 2015 the ENO gave a concert production of Sweeney Todd.[19]


Concert versions of operas and musicals are also presented as benefits. For example, Actors Fund of America has presented concerts of musicals such as On the Twentieth Century, Dreamgirls, Funny Girl, Chess and Hair.[20] A concert version of Anyone Can Whistle was presented as a benefit for Gay Men's Health Crisis at Carnegie Hall in 1995.[21] The 10th Anniversary reunion of Into the Woods was presented as a concert in 1997, to benefit Friends In Deed and God's Love We Deliver. James Lapine noted that this concert was "a bit more informal" than the concert reunion of Sunday in the Park with George, which was given in formal dress.[22][23]

Some companies produce staged concerts to benefit the company. For example, Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City has presented such concerts, including Assassins (2012)[24] and She Loves Me (2011).[25]

See also


  1. Belcher, David. "Concert Versions Take Opera to a More Personal Level", The New York Times, 31 March 2015, accessed February 14, 2016.
  2. About, accessed February 22, 2016
  3. McLellan, Joseph. "Concert Opera: For Your Ears Only; Shedding the Visual Effects Makes the Medium More Accessible", Washington Post, 13 May 1990, accessed via HighBeam Research 14 February 2016 (subscription required).
  4. "Program Notes. Elektra, October 15, 2015", Boston Symphony Orchestra, accessed February 18, 2016
  5. Tommasini, Anthony. "At Tanglewood, James Levine Transforms Students Into Pros", The New York Times, July 17, 2006, accessed February 18, 2016
  6. "History of New York City Center", New York City Center, accessed February 17, 2016
  7. "Stagestruck by Peter Filichia: It’s Miller Time - Producing on a Shoestring" Reprint from Playbill, June, 1999", accessed February 21, 2016
  8. Peschek, David. "Camp? Oh no", The Guardian, June 28, 2005, accessed February 17, 2016
  9. Kenrick, John. "Plain and Fancy, York Theatre Company – October 2006",, accessed February 17, 2016
  10. "York Theatre Past Series History", York Theatre, accessed February 18, 2016
  11. "Unearthing rare musical gems (summary of article)", Stage Directions, December 1, 2001, accessed February 17, 2016
  12. Gans, Andrew. "LuPone, McDonald, Mitchell, Stritch and White Set for Ravinia Festival", Playbill, March 23, 2006, accessed February 17, 2016
  13. Delacoma, Wynne. "Centennial summer: 100 years of Ravinia", Chicago Sun-Times, May 30, 2004, accessed February 17, 2016
  14. Reich, Ronni. "Upcoming arts events: Sweeney Todd's Woods,' 'Show Boat,' Jeremy Jordan",, October 21, 2014, accessed February 17, 2016
  15. Kosman, Joshua, "'West Side Story' review: SF Symphony inspires",, June 28, 2013
  16. "On the Town Concert" Archived 2016-02-25 at the Wayback Machine,, accessed February 18, 2016
  17. Lefkowitz, David. "Worth, Kudisch, Pawk to Make Night Music w/ Philadelphia Orchestra, July 11-12", Playbill, July 3, 2001, accessed February 18, 2016
  18. Gans, Andrew. "Casting Complete for ENO's 'Sunset Boulevard', Starring Glenn Close", Playbill, February 22, 2016
  19. Christiansen, Rupert. "'Sweeney Todd', English National Opera, review: 'a whacking great banquet'", The Telegraph, April 1, 2015
  20. Gans, Andrew. "Actors' Fund to Present On the Twentieth Century Sept. 26", Playbill, June 27, 2005, accessed February 17, 2016
  21. "'Anyone Can Whistle' in Concert",, accessed February 18, 2016
  22. Lyman, Rick. "On Stage and Off", The New York Times, September 26, 1997, accessed February 18, 2016
  23. Gans, Andrew. "Into the Woods Reunion Set for Nov. 9", Playbill, November 6, 1997
  24. "Assassins Reading",, accessed February 18, 2016
  25. "She Loves Me Reading", accessed February 18, 2016

Further reading

  • Tcharos, Stefanie (2011). Opera's Orbit: Musical Drama and the Influence of Opera in Arcadian Rome. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521116651
  • Rosenberg, Jesse (2015). "Program notes: Don Quichotte (Telemann). Haymarket Opera Company
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