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Anchorage Opera | L'elisir d'amore

Ben Robinson’s debut as General Director struck an exceptionally high note with this production, for which he also played the role of stage director. Partnering with the incredibly talented set designer Lauren Miller, costume coordinator Kaeli Braden, and costume consultant Elle Janecek, Robinson transported the audience to a classic television studio soundstage during the nostalgic 1980s. Bright colors and bold looks abounded within the costuming, makeup, and inventive set pieces.

- American Presswire

Resonance Works | Cendrillon

Based on the evidence of Cinderella, [Viardot] also had a fabulous and cheeky sense of humor, one that is beautifully honored by Ben Robinson’s translation and director Emily Pulley’s yinz-centric adaptation.

- Pittsburgh Tattler

For the Resonance Works staging at The Studio at Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, Emily Pulley has chosen a clever English translation by colleague Ben Robinson...

- onStage Pittsburgh

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Opera Ithaca | Scalia/Ginsburg

Under director Ben Robinson’s leadership, Opera Ithaca delivered a delightful production in the great long hall. Conductor Danielle Jagelski’s small orchestra provided ample support for the three performers. And the video visual design (Robinson and Scott Holdredge) created a continuous, vivid backdrop of images –– the justices themselves, marches and protests, the Supreme Court and Constitutional script, and again and again, the figure of blindfolded Justice with her scales, always turning, never still.

- Ithaca Times

Opera Ithaca | Orpheus in the Underworld

Opera Ithaca's production is ably directed by Ben Robinson and handsomely supported by Grant Cooper's small orchestra. As always, Artistic Director Robinson evokes the best from a talented cast. Madison Hoerbelt is a formidable Public Opinion, forcing Orpheus - a satisfyingly sleazy Charles Calotta - to her will. Francesca Federico's Eurydice nimbly balances coquette and clown, her lovely voice charming both suitors and audience.

- Ithaca Times

Opera Ithaca | Opera Philadelphia Channel
Hansel & Gretel

This Opera Philadelphia film enterprise has taken on a vibrant life, winning accolades for its rangy and bravura programming of both short and full-length operas...One of the most engaging is a re-imagining of Hansel and Gretel, filmed in a bucolic woodland setting with an English libretto. This Opera Ithaca adaptation of Humperdinck's work about two children lost in the woods has a twist—the kids are captured by a celebrity chef/witch, who hosts the kids on her cooking show as both guest stars and the main ingredients.

-Broad Street Review

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There are plenty of topical cooking show jokes tucked in here, thanks to Robinson’s clever English libretto. Culinary rhymes and wordplay abound: “jiggly custard, tangy mustard,” “sausage, cheese and butter makes one’s heart flutter.” His amusing new lines so perfectly match the music that you can’t imagine how the original German must have fit (or for that matter, what it said; just as well to avoid the religious pieties of the original).

- Ithaca Times

Robinson's moving, visually daring solution to embodying the Fourteen Angels standing guard—a moment often fudged—will hit a responsive chord in anyone separated, permanently or temporarily, from loved ones in the last few years.

-Opera News

Ithaca College | The Pirates of Penzance

A rollicking Gilbert and Sullivan evening is just what we needed in this dragged out winter season... Director Ben Robinson (of Opera Ithaca) took a new twist on "The Pirates of Penzance," setting it in a contemporary seaside resort town - a splendid reason to bring out canvas chaises and patio umbrellas and drench them in stunning sunshine (courtesy of Daniel Zimmerman's scenic design and Steve TenEyck's lighting).

- Ithaca Times

Opera Ithaca | Nabucco

Particularly effective were the enormous onscreen close-ups –– of progressive journalist Zaccaria (bass Nathan Whitson) exhorting his followers, and later of the extremist magnate Nabucco (baritone Dennis Jesse) demanding allegiance. The silent videos were unsynchronized with the performer’s concurrent speeches, creating a disturbing dissonance reinforcing the media’s pervasive indoctrination... ​Robinson’s staging of the large cast and chorus was fluid and creatively chaotic, and Maria Sensi Sellner’s 18-person orchestra provided excellent accompaniment. The singers were commanding in their roles, particularly Jesse’s complex Nabucco and Bard’s resentful daughter. 

- Ithaca Times

St. Petersburg Opera | L'italiana in Algeri

Ten nominations for annual awards from Theatre Tampa Bay, including Best Director.

-Theatre Tampa Bay

Opera invites overreach; directors can be tempted to freshen up old war horses with concepts that bury the original’s intrinsic value. But sometimes the match of opera and director makes magic, and that’s what happened at St. Pete Opera with Ben Robinson’s inspired choice to set Rossini’s “L’Italiana in Algeri” aboard a cruise ship. The setting fit the wacky libretto perfectly, allowing for such cruisy touches as an onboard buffet (complete with pie fight) and amorous stateroom encounters. A gifted cast under Mark Sforzini’s musical direction made the whole thing cruise along like a song.

-Creative Loafing Tampa Bay

Best Opera Set on a Cruise Ship

Opera Ithaca | Gianni Schicchi

Necessity is the mother of invention, as Opera Ithaca proves brilliantly with its streaming film production of the one-act comedy opera “Gianni Schicchi.” Theaters everywhere have been responding imaginatively to COVID-closed stages, but this effort reaches a new high. Fittingly enough, Giacomo Puccini’s now-celebrated opera premiered at the Met during the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic.

In revising its seventh season, Opera Ithaca collaborated locally with PhotoSynthesis Productions to create the show and with Cinemapolis to virtually screen it. What viewers see is intimate comedy via a professional film –– the excellent photography, lighting, sound, editing, costumes, settings, and even color saturation are enormously satisfying. 


All evolved under the direction of Ben Robinson (the company’s artistic director) and Chris Zemliauskas (music director, keyboardist, and orchestra conductor). Add the work of David Kossack (film editor and co-director) and Benjamin Costello (audio project design and production) and you’ve got a smashing creative team. 

-Ithaca Times

In their original film of Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” Cinematographer David Kossack and the award-winning PhotoSynthesis Productions, explore how to benefit most from a cast that could roll with the times and brought to life an opera that had its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in the midst of the 1918 Spanish flu. A fusion of past and present that examines with a narrowed eye more closely what our future stands for as artists and creators proved to be a prime choice for Artistic Director Ben Robinson to really sink his teeth into and bite deep into the heart of comic relief at its best through family drama à la Zoom...Complacency of consciousness and gluttonous gain for greed at its finest and most entertaining might lull one into perceiving this Puccini opera more intimately now than ever before. 


It has become something of a given that when opera emerges from the pandemic, the small companies will lead the way. Opera ithaca’s accomplished and imaginative film of Gianni Schicchi gives substance to that thought. Founded in 2014 in one of upstate New York’s prime university cities, the troupe opened with Duke Bluebeard’s Castle featuring its co-founder Zachary James and has since pursued ambitious paths including new works, operas by women, diverse casting and outreach. The tenor and administrator Ben Robinson assumed the reins in 2019, and he—noting that Puccini’s Trittico was first performed amid the Spanish flu outbreak 100 years ago—programmed and directed this Gianni Schicchi. His staging made the deftest use I’ve seen of Covid-era technology as part of modern operatic reality.

-OPERA Magazine

Last season, Robinson and his company's brilliantly conceived Zoom-style Gianni Schicchi was among the very best pandemic-fueled reworkings of the traditional repertory.

-Opera News

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