Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

A bit of business - the San Diego Opera Offices will be closed Thursday, December 24 and Friday December 25, 2009 for the Christmas holiday.

We'll also be closed Thursday, December 31, 2009 and Friday, January 1, 2010 to celebrate the New Year.

The Aria Serious crew however will be gone beginning now, and won't return until Monday, January 4, 2010.

So don't expect any blogging between now and then unless it's really interesting, we get really bored, or we go on another eggnog bender. And remember what happened last time we did that? Glad somebody does, because we don't.

Thank for you all your support of our Company and we look forward to sharing the 2010 season with you. It's going to be amazing!
Have a happy and safe one!

Tenor Piotr Beczala Fired Up For BOHEME

In just over 30-days tenor Piotr Beczala will make his Company debut with us in LA BOHEME.

We're excited! You're excited! The people of London are excited!

London!!??

Yep, you see, Piotr is singing Rodolfo at Covent Garden right now. When he's done, he jumps on a plane and comes to us. And when he's done here he jumps on a plane to go and sing the exact same role at the Met.

London's Sunday Times ran a nice feature on Piotr yesterday.


While You Were Out

Over the weekend:



- In the news that breaks our heart, the (beautiful) incredibly talented soprano Danielle de Niese was married over the weekend to Glyndborne Opera head Gus Christie reports the Opera Chic. We wish them a big Aria Serious congratulations even though deep down we're weeping inside.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Like every Friday it is time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious tower will be listening to the beautiful strains of Romeo and Juliet this week. Why? Because it's the opera this season that we're least familiar with and with the season around the corner we thought it might be wise to brush up on it.

Other than that, we have no listening plans this weekend, although there are plans to box up the record collection in order to make room for a nursery so odds are we'll come across a few forgotten gems to put on the ol' turntable.

Share your listening plans in the comment section below. And make it a good one!

A Horse Is A Horse Of Couse Of Course

Word down at the Scenic Studio is that a bit more of the Nabucco set arrived yesterday in the form of one of the two horses that we will be using in this production.

Seems that this production has three rearing horses but we're only using two. One came with the rest of the set but the other two are in a separate trailer. A very expensive trailer to ship. So we decided to have another horse built, because it was cheaper. Well the horse arrived yesterday and we have pictures to prove it.

The horse with no name:


























Nabucco opens February 20. 2010

Opera Flashmob en el Mercado

We here at Aria Serious love flashmobs and try to seek them out wherever we can. Truth be told the only one we can ever find is the annual zombie walk that happens with Comic Con. Speaking of Comic Con, do you have your passes yet? Saturday is already sold-out.

But we digress.

Here's the newest opera flashmob we could find: LA TRAVIATA in a market. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shaggy Haired Rockers Defile Bayreuth Festspielhaus

The music kids listen to these days.

Below is a video from the French band Phoenix whose classically themed album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, starts with the track Lisztomania - the term coined to describe the unbridled fandom surrounding classical pianist Franz Liszt.

For this video these shaggy haired rockers defile the Bayreuth Festspielhaus with their amplified rock and/or roll.

We here at Aria Serious are only joking. We're actually considering Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as our favorite pop album of the year. It's incredibly catchy and since it is (vaguely/slightly) opera related we get to share it with you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday!

What are you listening to this weekend?

For the first time in forever the Aria Serious crew has nothing cued up. We're not sure why. Perhaps because we need to head to the mall this weekend for presents and know that afterwards all we're going to want to do is drink. (Sadly, there's only so much shopping one can do at Etsy).

Our friends at Orchestra Nova are presenting Handel's Messiah with our other friend Brian Asawa. We'll be at that. But beyond that, we just might set the internet browser to KCRW's Eclectic 24 and see what comes on.
But one thing that's music to our ears - a big batch of latkes frying in oil. Happy Hanukkah!

Share you plans in the comment section. And make it a good one!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sad News

We have some very sad news today with the announcement that our dear dear friend and former employee for 32 years, Lillian Para, passed away last week at the age of 84.

Lil retired in July and we missed her dearly then. We didn't think it possible, but we miss her even more now.

She's part of the family here, and her loss feels like losing someone incredibly close.

Goodbye dear friend, we miss you terribly.

This is Not An Opera

A new NEA report states that arts groups audiences are growing!

Online.

According to the report "over the past year an estimated 47 million [adults] chose to watch or listen to music, theater or dance performances online at least once a week."

But is it art? Or is it something different? Art 2.0? A facsimile of art? If so, is it good enough, close enough, for audiences these days?
(Margritte's La Trahison des images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe) comes to mind here.)

Call us Luddites but the Aria Serious crew just can't accept (yet) that art on the computer screen is the same experience as attending a live performance. Sure, we'll often watch a live concert online at KCRW or Youtube but it doesn't replace the act of seeing that same band in person when they come to town. It supplements our experience.

What worries us is when the online experience replaces the physical experience. Is opera still opera when viewed on a computer screen? Is the experience the same? Or is it time for that experience to change to reflect the audiences of today?

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Should Have Put A Ring On It"

Or perhaps not.


Word this morning that Los Angeles Opera has received a $14M emergency loan from Los Angeles County to keep the cash strapped Company afloat.

According to Stephen Roundtree, chief executive of both the opera company and its landlord, the Music Center, told the Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting the loan "is needed now, literally next week."

The company is $20 million in debt, Rountree said.

You can read the full report in the Los Angeles Times, here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Podcast Monday

We know, we know. We're a day late. You see, the Aria Serious crew was knocked down with a nasty flu bug yesterday so we spent the day on the couch getting really good at Assassin's Creed II between mugs of hot tea and naps.

But we're back. This week's podcast? Dr. Nic bends the space/time continuum to share his favorite moments of the 2010 season. OK, fine, he really just shares his favorite arias from our 2010 operas but we like our version better.

You can download the podcast here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

After enjoying the band Girls in concert at UCSD's The Loft (one of our favorite venues for catching touring bands), and braving the crowds at December Nights in Balboa Park (shudder) we have Arabella by Strauss on tap. Why? Because we've never listened to it before. Good enough reason in our book.

For those of you who are local - remember - the North Park Holiday Parade is Saturday morning, the South Park Holiday Walkabout is in the evening.

Share your weekend listening plans in the comment section below. And make it a good one!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

OperaTalk ROMEO AND JULIET

Our newest program, OperaTalk! ROMEO AND JULIET, is now up and online for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cuts at Washington National Opera

The Washington Post is reporting a series of cuts at Washington National Opera, confirming the rumors we posted yesterday. You can read all about it here.

We really hate posting this type of news but do so to remind you how appreciative we are of your support. Thank you for your support.

And also, support your local opera Company this holiday season - many organizations offer gift certificates. I can think of no better gift than tickets to an opera. Well, maybe a nice bottle of whisky. But whisky goes nicely with opera as well...

We wish all our friends at WNO the very best.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Thankfully yes, better than ever.


Notably absent - the sound enhancement system which had been in use for roughly 10 years. Now audiences get to hear opera the way it is meant to be heard - pure and natural.

Or is it?
We had a serious debate on Thanksgiving at the Aria Serious tower about what the future of opera will bring. Do generations brought up with their ipod earbuds permanently buried in their ears have the skill or patience to listen to the subtle sound of unamplified music? Will opera need to make some concessions in order to attract a new audience? Is amplified opera the future of the artform? Is it still opera then?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Podcast Monday

It's Monday! That means it is time for our weekly podcast. This week we look at Verdi's early years and the operas Oberto through Ernani, including our second opera of the 2010 season, Nabucco.

You can download the podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the extended weekend:

- Lissner to stay at La Scala until 2015. This might seem like a long time, but as we're starting to work on our 2014 season, in opera time, it is right around the corner.


- Two profiles on soprano Joyce DiDonato appeared. Number one and number two.

- Need some barihunk this morning? Many bare chested photos in this profile of Nathan Gunn.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

A bit of business:


San Diego Opera Offices will be closed on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 2 pm until 8:30 am Monday, November 30, 2009.



Don't expect any posts, tweets or facebook updates during this time, as we'll be spending the holiday weekend the way the holiday weekend should be spent: sipping mimosas on the couch whilst watching a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon.


Joking aside, the Aria Serious crew is hosting 18 beloved and not so beloved family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner complete with roasted turkey, deep fried turkey, vegetarian tofurky and vegan wild rice and lentil curry for those difficult second cousins who live on the commune and often forget to bathe.


Props to the NY Times Minimalist whose 101 simple recipes will save the day. And quite possibly my marriage.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Podcast Monday

I blame Nic for my fascination with Puccini's La Rondine, which has become one of my favorite operas of all time. See, it was Nic who caught me walking by his office one afternoon a few years back and made me sit as he played some of his favorite pieces from Puccini's lesser known work. And it was then I fell in love with this piece. So I was very happy to listen to this week's podcast which is about La Rondine and why it is so good.

You can download it here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- People keep on talking about our #Operahistory Twitter Project, most recently from across the pond with a mention in the UK Independent.

- Chase Charitable Giving is holding a competition to determine which not-for-profit organization will receive grant money. The contest is being held on Facebook. If you have a Facebook account, please consider voting for us. Thank you!

- Handel's Tamerlano opened up in Los Angeles this weekend, you can read all about it here.

- Swedish Soprano Elisabeth Soderstrom died Friday at the age of 82. Below is her "Song to the Moon" from Rusalka.


Friday, November 20, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Time to ask, what are you listening to this weekend?

Since this is the last Friday of National Opera Week we're going to listen to an opera that means a lot to us: Faust. You see, Faust was the first opera I saw here at San Diego Opera, way back when I was in high-school. The cast consisted of Ferruccio Furlanetto and Richard Leech and I remember sitting in the balcony thinking "wow, this is amazing. I wish I could do that."

But I can't.

But that's OK because now I get to work with the same people who changed my life so many years ago. And besides, when it's late at night and I'm the only one in the theatre who's to say I don't bleat a horrible sound from the edge of the stage to an imaginary audience of my choosing. Hey, there's nothing wrong with playing pretend.

After Faust we're going to spend all weekend playing The Magnetic Fields because we just bought tickets to see their Los Angeles concert in March. I know, March is a long time away, but when you've waited for years it seems like tomorrow. PS: for those that care, the password for pre-sale in Los Angeles is "realism"

Share your listening plans in the comment section below.

And please, make it a good one!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

E=MCwhat!?

Our friends over Vancouver Opera reported the Listverse, the #1 list maker of top 10 lists in the known universe, has deemed Opera the #1 Greatest Achievement of the Human Mind beating out such discoveries/achievements as the work of William Shakespeare, Infinitesimal Calculus, Quantum Mechanics, Relativity Theory and Lady Gaga (OK, we made that last one up but we here at Aria Serious just can't seem to understand her).


But not just any opera made the list, no, Wagner's gesamtkunstwerk, his Ring Cycle, took the crown. What do you think about that?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

#Operahistory - The Story So Far...

Just started to follow our #operahistory project on Twitter?

Below is a recap of where we are, from the first post earlier this month all the way up to this morning's post.

Since our Twitter feed @_SanDiegoOpera has received dozens of new followers overnight, we thought this little recap would be helpful to those just joining in.

Comments, suggestion, critcisims can be made in the comment section below.

Thanks for following!

***

Early Italian Roots

#operahistory 1590s Florence: group of musicians-Camerata-try to recreate Greek drama, which they assume was sung.

#operahistory 1590s Florence: Camerata comes up with new ways of artistic/musical expression for sung drama. Story thru song.

#operahistory 1590s Florence: Camerata’s mission highlights poetic text/emotional content through music & dramatic gesture.

#operahistory 1590s Florence: music & poetry equal in importance, text & music serving drama on stage.

#operahistory 1597: Camerata’s efforts lead to creation of first opera, Jacopo Peri’s Dafne, Greek myth, score now lost.

#operahistory 1600: Peri & Giulio Caccini ‘collaborate’ (unhappily) on first “opera”, Euridice for wedding of Henry IV/Maria Medici.

#operahistory 1600: Caccini, highly competitive, forbids his singers to perform Peri’s contributions to Euridice. Peri pissed!

#operahistory 1600: Caccini publishes HIS Euridice version before Peri can. Peri still pissed.

#operahistory 1601: Peri moves from Florence>Ferrara, writes madrigals then disappears. Caccini loses influence, Peri gloats. OK, maybe not.

#operahistory 1607: the history of opera moves from Florence to Mantua with creation of Orfeo, a “fable in music” by Claudio Monteverdi.

#operahistory 1607: Duke of Mantua, Francesco Gonzaga, orders his court musician, Monteverdi, to write Orfeo for Carnival. Fun!

#operahistory 1607: Orfeo. Story about man whose wife dies, goes to hell. Then he goes after her. GREAT story for Carnival, eh?

#operahistory 1607: Orfeo is performed to delighted audience at the Duke’s palace on Feb 24. Duke pleased, but poor Orfeo still in hell.

#operahistory 1607: All of the roles in Orfeo are played by men, even the female roles, sung by castrati. Ouch. Don’t think about it.

#operahistory 1607: Orfeo mixes the new recitative style of Peri (Euridice) & instrumental/choral “interjections”. It works.

#operahistory 1613: Monteverdi in Venice, maestro di capella at San Marco. Writes great church music, and more operas.

#operahistory 1639: Fran. Cavalli produces his 1st opera in Venice, Le nozze di Teti e Peleo. More Greeks, Love conquers Hell (finally)

***

You Mean It Will Take Hours To Go Somewhere?

The LA Times Culture Monster is reporting the Los Angeles Opera has commissioned a new opera called the "11o Project" - an opera inspired by the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles.

According to the Monster:
"The 110 Project" tells the story of four central characters as it travels through 70 years of L.A. history starting with the birth of the space program in Pasadena's Arroyo Seco in 1939 to downtown Los Angeles at midcentury. It concludes at the port of San Pedro in the present day."


We're excited to see where this goes as we here at Aria Serious are big fans of modern opera.

But one thing you can count on, the singers will most probably complain of congestion.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy National Opera Week

;-)

Something To Be Thankful For

The NEA Opera Honors happened on Saturday. You can read about them here.

Also worth noting is a special tribute video to Lotfi Mansouri which can be viewed here.

There's also an hour+ video interview with Lotfi but we don't have time to watch it right now. Perhaps you do.

There are also videos for all the other recipients here. These include John Adams, Frank Corsaro, Marilyn Horne and Julius Rudel.

What are you doing for National Opera Week? Share your plans in the comment section below.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Podcast Monday

No, we haven't forgotten. We just wanted to stall a week so Dr. Nic could take some time off. He does deserve some time off every once in a while, even if he just spent it making more Podcasts.

This week, we revisit recitatives and look at how they define character in opera.

You can listen to the Podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:


- We also announced a lecture series called Community Conversations on Faith and Freedom (abbreviated here as C2F2 - no relation to R2D2) surrounding Nabucco.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

A special National Opera Week Friday is upon us, which means it is time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

Here at the Aria Serious Tower we're going to take it all the way back to the first opera recording we ever owned, Puccini's Turandot.

Sure, there were records and other recordings before this one, but this is the first opera cd we ever purchased - a rainy Saturday back in 1990 at Tower Records on El Cajon Blvd. It even beat out such 90's staples as Nine Inch Nails, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Depeche Mode (which haven't aged as well as Puccini's masterpiece I might add - well OK, "Pretty Hate Machine" pretty much still rules).

So what are your listening plans this weekend? Share them in the comment section below.

And oh, for those of you in Southern California, our friends at Amoeba Records in Hollywood are having a big classical/music opera sale this weekend. In honor of National Opera Week? Probably not, but everything is 20% off so that's reason to celebrate enough.

Make it a great one!

National Opera Week and the Twitter Contest Details

National Opera Week is here!

Here at the Aria Serious Tower, with nothing on the San Diego Opera stage until late January, we thought long and hard about what we could do to celebrate this momentous event.

See, our very dear friend Lotfi Mansouri is receiving an honor this week and we wanted to do something special for him. But being out of season, we're kind of limited in what we have to offer.

First, we tried moving National Opera week to February because that's when Lotfi is in town next to direct Nabucco, but our friends at Opera America said "no way."

But then it dawned on us, we could use Twitter to hold a synopsis contest about Nabucco and have Lotfi be the judge. We were very proud of ourselves for coming up with this idea until we learned someone else had already done an opera synopsis contest on Twitter. Sheesh.

Still, it's National Opera Week and it's about Lotfi so we still think it's a good idea regardless.

We hope you do to. Here are the details:

- Submit your best synopsis about Verdi's opera Nabucco via Twitter to us @_SanDiegoOpera (please note the underscore before our name).

- You can submit as many entries you like between now and November 22, 2009.

- Winners will be chosen by the artistic team of San Diego Opera's Nabucco including Lotfi Mansouri.

- The winner will receive an invitation to attend a special working rehearsal of Nabucco as well as tickets to opening night. Heck, we'll probably throw lunch or dinner into the mix for you and Lotfi as well. For those of you who don't live in San Diego, remember: it'll be in February. San Diego is where you'll want to be. Trust us on this one. Still, if you can't make it we'll come up with something else for you that'll be nice and autographed.

- San Diego Opera reserves the right to retweet your submissions and include them in future communications with our patrons.


For those of you unfamiliar with the Nabucco story, visit here.

For those of you looking to celebrate National Opera Week with something in your community click here for a listing of events nationwide.

And be sure to share National Opera Week with someone new. They'll thank you for introducing them to opera, and besides, the best things in life are shared with others. Except maybe cupcakes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

From the Department of HELL YES!

Our friends over at Vancouver Opera sent word that Watchmen / V for Vendetta scribe Alan Moore is penning a libretto for the Blur's Damon Albarn's next opera.

Damon penned his first opera, Monkey: Journey To The West with his Gorillaz cohort Jamie Hewlett.

Although very little information has been released on this new opera, you can bet us comic geeking, brit pop loving, opera crazy will be following this one closely.

You can read what we know here.

And a clip from Monkey is below.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What To Wear

Of the two questions we get asked the most here at Aria Serious, I mean often enough that we feel we should mention them, are:

1.) Why does Bugs Bunny walk around the cartoon naked, but puts a bathing suit on when he goes swimming?

and

2.) What should I wear to the opera?

While we can't answer the first one, we can offer some guidance on the second one.

There are two camps here.

The first likes to think of a night at the opera as an excuse to get dressed up in their finest clothes. And a night at the opera does indeed make a good excuse to go shopping for that pair of shoes you'll only wear once (or in my case another tux as I seem to outgrow them each and every year). There are those that feel dressing up is part of the entire opera experience.

The second camp believes that a night at the opera is a night spent listening to some of the most beautiful music in the world so one might as well be comfortable. After all, it is about the music and drama onstage, not what the audience is wearing.

Opening night of the season, with the gala, tends to lean more to the first camp while Friday nights tends to lean towards the second. Of course you'll see tuxedos and gowns, suits and little black dresses, even jeans on all nights of the opera. And this is fine.

So to answer the question - wear what you want, but take a cue from Bugs please and at least put on a bathing suit before coming to the opera.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Taste of Opera Recap

For those of you who missed our Taste of Opera event at Tapenade, our good friend Margo Schwab of The Social Diary provides an excellent recap this morning including pictures of some of the glorious food served.

Please don't lick you monitor.

Hungry yet? Well lucky for you we still have some Taste of Opera events coming up.

Happy Birthday Sesame Street

Happy 40th today Sesame Street. To celebrate, here's an orange singing opera.

I mean, who here hasn't seen an orange sing opera after a crazy party?

Monday, November 9, 2009

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- NYCO is back! First with their American Voices gala and then with Esther.


- Our friends at Vancouver Opera celebrate 50 years. Cake for all!

- Classical Music at The White House get a big BRAVO from the Aria Serious crew.

- A ballet adaptation of Bizet's Carmen gets a football (that's soccer to us Yanks) themed twist in South Africa. Which reminds us, we'd gladly go up against a bull than a crazed football hooligan any day - yes, we're looking at you Manchester United fans.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Perhaps we're still trying to adjust to the time change, but we're not quite sure how Friday snuck up on us so soon this week.

But here we are, suddenly, so it is time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

We here at the Aria Serious tower are recovering from the Pixies concert in Los Angeles last night, ashamed to admit we're getting far too old to rock out on a Thursday night with any hope of recovering by Wednesday of the following week.

And my ears hurt.

While we're hitting up Amoeba Records this morning in the hopes of finding some gems both operatic and not operatic, we're going to spend the nice train ride back down to San Diego (yes, a train - I know, I've never ridden one either) with Anja Harteros's new cd of lieder songs called Von Ewiger Liebe. Anja joins us in January for La boheme.

Then we'll probably move onto a nice selection of Tom Waits songs since Mr. Waits and trains seem to go together and besides, he has a new album coming out later this month.

So what are your listening plans this weekend? Share them in the comment section below.

Make it a good one!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing

Combining my two favorite things in life. Classical music and Star Wars.



The only thing that could've made this better? Actually conducting with a lightsaber. Just sayin'.

National Opera Week Is Coming

The NEA Opera Awards and National Opera Week is right around the corner.

For those of us in sunny Southern California, actually getting to hear the awards might be hard to do since as far as we can tell, no radio station within range is airing the ceremony.

But don't despair, you can still listen in live, online and since you're reading this, we know you have internet access. Besides, do people still listen to radio over the airwaves?

The Los Angeles Times Culture Monster blog has all the information on the program, and how you can listen in online. You can read it here.

Our good friend Lotfi Mansouri will be honored during this ceremony. Lotfi returnd to us to direct February's Nabucco.

Monday, November 2, 2009

In the Mood for Massenet?

We are! And lucky for us, Podcast Monday is today. This week's topic? Massenet.

We wish everything was the easy.

You know what else is easy? Clicking here to download our free podcast.

Enjoy!

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- After 50 years as a tenor, Placido Domingo takes it down a notch.

- More on soprano Lise Lindstrom's Turandot, first from her hometown paper and another report from the New York Post.


Friday, October 30, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy spooktacular Friday!

Fall is in the air (for now), days are growing shorter (by the way - remember to set your clocks back on Sunday) and it's the Friday before Halloween.

So it's time to ask, what are you listening to this weekend? We here at the Aria Serious (haunted) Tower are going to listen to something completely different and blast Gyorgy Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre while sipping wine on our front porch and handing out candy to the constant stream of children (and adults) that descend on our neighborhood.

But first, tonight, we're walking down to the Birch North Park Theatre to catch the Dirty Projectors in concert. We're excited that our neighborhood opera house is starting to book concerts like this and hope they'll continue to book more of these types of shows.

But truth be told, we're more excited we can use words like "neighborhood opera house."

Continuing the trend of all treat and no trick, we've received word from our record slinging friends at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles of another classical music/opera sale - this time the weekend of November 14th and 15th. Everything classical and opera will be 20% off and will include new, used, cds, dvds and beloved LPs.

Share you listening plans in the comment section below and whatever they are please make this a safe, fun and wonderful weekend.

Followup: Lise Lindstrom and Opera History

Happy Friday!

Just two quick items for followup this morning.

First, more about Lise Lindstrom's Met opera premiere, in the form of reviews.

The first, from The New York Times, can be read here but highlights include:

"she sang with chilling power and nailed the top notes. Her sound was impressively focused, with a vibrant vibrato on sustained tones and no wobble. The youthful shimmer of her singing was balanced by rich emotional maturity."

The second, from The New York Observer says:

Ms. Lindstrom made the most of it with a remarkably assured, vocally gleaming performance. Turandot, the hyper-feminist Chinese princess who, in tribute to a wronged ancestor, has her suitors executed, sits the first act out, but the first thing she sings in the second is “In questa reggia,” with its cruelly exposed high notes. Not only did Ms. Lindstrom unleash the scena in tune—no easy task—but she showed a sense of flexible, lyrical phrasing that served her well in the softer moments of the third act.

And here we have an awesome 2010 season planned and I'm already excited for 2011 (disclaimer: Turandot was my first opera and one of my favorites - and the David Hockney production is to die for).

There's been a bit more buzz about the Opera History Twitter Project and our friends over at San Diego News Network have a story about it.

Remember, we start next Monday using the hashtag #operahistory and we're at _SanDiegoOpera (yep, that's an underscore before our name). Hope you can join us!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The History of Opera in 140 Characters

We here at Aria Serious are always trying to come up with fun and creative ways to make our favorite art form more interesting and enjoyable.

Sadly, we're not very creative and we're never any fun.

Luckily we've surrounded ourselves with people who are.

Starting next week on our Twitter feed, Dr. Nic Reveles and the Aria Serious crew will be tweeting the entire history of opera. That's 400+ years of musical intrigue and discovery reduced to 140 characters. We'll do this with a single post a day beginning Monday, November 2, 2009 until we're done.

If you're not already following us on Twitter you can find us here.

We'll be using the hashtag #operahistory so you can find us. This also means we'll only really have 126 characters to work with.

Wish us luck.

Lise Lindstrom to the Rescue

We weren't going to announce this one just yet, but since the lovely Opera Chic already did, we'll report it as well.

Soprano Lise Lindstrom, who was scheduled to make her Met debut as Turandot in a few weeks made an early debut last night, replacing Maria Guleghina who pulled out at the last minute.

We received word on good authority (Lise's parents) that Lise had just an hour's notice before her debut.

Why should this interest you? Well, Lise is scheduled to make her San Diego Opera debut in 2011 singing this same role.

We haven't seen any reviews yet but once we do, we'll share them with you.

If you were at the performance last night, let us know what you thought.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lotfi Mansouri

Our dear friend Lotfi Mansouri is about to be honored next month by the NEA for his contributions to the world of opera. The reason? There are many but this one is for his introduction of super/sur-titles to opera performances - those handy real time translations of what is being sung onstage.

San Francisco Classical Voice reports the Mr. Mansouri received another honor this week - an unveiling of a bas relief plaque at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco where he was General Director from 1988-2001.


Lotfi returns to us next season to direct Nabucco.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Michael Jackson and Castrati

As mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli prepares for the release of her new album, a collection of 17th century opera arias written for castrati called "Sacrificium,” she recently spoke with the LA Times about suffering for art and drew comparisons to the King of Pop.

"After 300 years we’re still ready to sacrifice our bodies for beauty or what fashions dictates for us, and it got me thinking about the incredible talent and musician of Michael Jackson. He was an amazing, amazing musician and talent and genius really of music. He was really also a victim of this, in a way. Mutilating himself — what he did for his body, for the skin, for the nose.”

“Most of these young boys were coming from very, very poor families, which they already have 10 to 12 children,” Bartoli says, again making a parallel with Jackson, “one would sacrifice, in the name of music, but in fact it was big business because if this boy was able to make a career he was considered a pop star and he was earning lots of money and he was the one who could have saved his family out of poverty.”

You can read the full article here, and it is worth the read.

For those of you in NYC on November 16th, a listening party and screening will be held at (le) poisson rouge. A special cocktail, "The Castratini" will be served and we're not going to ask any questions...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Podcast Monday

Monday is here, and for some reason it feels like an extension of last week. Blech.

But we're not going to despair since it's Podcast Monday today. This week?
Everything you wanted to know about a concertato but were afraid to ask.

You can download the podcast here.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday! And what a week it has been. A good week, but a very, very, long one.

So it's time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

We here at Aria Serious are going to listen to Berg's Lulu as it's been some time since we've given it a close listen and Lulu, like all of Berg, requires a close one.

But first we're going to see the very special, amazing, haunting, Daniel Johnston in concert tonight. We've waited to see this one for years. If it ends early enough we might try pop on over to the Casbah to catch the bluesy funk of The Heavy. But that's a long night and we're already tired now.

What are you listening plans? Share them in the comment section below. And make it a good one!

Opera, The Way It's Meant to Be Heard

The New York Times is reporting that New York City Opera (whose season opens up in just under two weeks on November 5th) has removed the amplification system that was installed in 1999.

We're happy about this, as one of the draws live opera has for us is the fact that what we hear is pure unamplified sound. We know that one day, as listening tastes change, opera will most probably be amplified but allow us to cling to this one tradition just a bit longer.

You can read the article here.

Aylin Perez

For those that haven't been paying attention, soprano Aylin Perez makes her Company debut with us next season as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. For those that have, you know we're pretty darn excited about this.

And we have good reason to be.

Below is a clip from Ailyn's recital at the Rosenblatt Recital Series in the UK last week.



Good, huh?

The Truth Must Be Known

Hector Berlioz's dirty little secret exposed. You'll be disgusted, shamed and you'll want a banana daiquiri...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Antony (from Antony and the Johnsons) Loves Coffee So Much He Sings Puccini For It

And it's not bad.

But it's not opera.

I always skipped over his records for some reason despite many of my friends swearing he's the best thing since, well, coffee. I'll need to give him another listen now.

You can listen to his version of "Nessun Dorma" here.

Five Things About La boheme You Don't Need To Know But Will Be Glad You Did

Getting ready with Dr. Nic last week for a TV interview he came up with five tidbits about La boheme to be used on air. Live TV being what live TV is, not all of them made it onto the show, but I thought they were interesting enough to be recycled here on the blog.

Besides, I'm busy hammering away at the 2011 press release so pressed for time today.

2011 press release you say? You betcha. But, faithful readers, here's a tidbit: a certain married couple returns to us next season in another opera by Gounod.

Without further ado, five things about La boheme you'll be glad to know

1) Giacomo Puccini’s opera La boheme is one of the three most popular operas ever written but it wasn’t always that way. It was not an immediate success. An opera by a rival Italian composer, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, on the same subject (and also named Le bohème) premiered about a year after Puccini’s and was quite successful. It’s possible that, in fact, Puccini actually stole the idea from Leoncavallo. (They had a rather awkward public meeting in a café when Leoncavallo accused Puccini of stealing the idea…eventually Puccini said, “Let the public decide which one they like best!”) The two operas co-existed in Italian theatres for about ten years before Puccini’s came out as the public’s favorite version. It’s never left the active repertory since, and Leoncavallo’s version is all but forgotten.

2) Puccini’s opera was really considered quite risque for its day, in fact a number of critics condemned the story outright as being suggestive and salacious. The two young lovers, Rodolfo and Mimì, have an open affair and it’s obvious that they’re sleeping together without the benefit of marriage. Since opera houses in Italy were considered places where one could have an evening of uplifting entertainment for the whole family, the story was something of a risk for the composer and his producers.

3) Puccini’s opera has been quite influential on contemporary and popular arts. The musical Rent by Jonathan Larson is based very closely on the story of the opera, and one of the big tunes or arias from the opera (Musetta’s waltz, “Quando men vo” from Act II of the opera) was used to great effect in the score of the film Moonstruck with Cher and Nicolas Cage.

4) Puccini is most often praised for the writing of the music of La boheme, and justly so: it’s a gorgeous score. But few of us, even in the opera business, realize that he was a genius of the theatre as well. He knew what would work on stage, and what would not. He was sometimes very aggressive with his librettists (the men who wrote the words, the poetic text for the opera) insisting that this or that word, phrase, or stage action wouldn’t be effective, or badgering them to include something that they felt would fall flat, only later to realize that the composer was always right. One could compare him with Andrew Lloyd Webber in that sense, a composer who also happens to be a great showman.

5) Puccini’s first opera was Verdi’s Aida which he saw when he was a teenager. He often told the story about how he had to walk twenty miles in order to buy a ticket and see performance in a distant town. But he was so inspired by that experience that he decided to dedicate himself to opera.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Say What!?

Studies have shown the musicians hear better than the average person, of course that just means they better selective hearing than everyone else.

NPR music has the report.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Podcast Monday

On today's Podcast Monday a look at German composers before Wagner. You know, Weber, Spohr, Nicolai, Lortzing and Marschner. Who? Exactly.

You can download the podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:




Friday, October 16, 2009

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Friday! Time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious tower will be thumping this weekend with the strains of Strauss and Ariadne auf Naxos. It's been a looong time since we've listened to this one, not sure why we've neglected it for so long.

Rumor also has it that there is a recording of Piotr Beczala's Faust at Lyric Opera floating around on the interwebs but we've yet to find it.

We'll probably end the weekend listening to some Hank Mobley as we just received a bonanza of early Blue Note LPs from a friend who clearly has no taste, and no concept of how much these records are really worth.

Make it good one! And share your listening plans in the comment section below.

:-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No Coup For You

The fun never stops at New York City Opera as the New York Observer is reporting that incoming opera head George Steele has weathered a coup attempt.

Reports indicate "that a group of former board members tried to form a coalition to oust key members of the current City Opera board, and had recruited former Metropolitan Opera head Joe Volpe as their standard bearer. It seems the group failed and Mr. Steele has the support of the board."

You can read about it here.

New York City Opera's season opens next month with American Voices.

Does This Tux Make My Butt Look Fat?

It's a big season for The Dallas Opera. They're getting ready to move into their new home this evening, and they have the world premiere of Moby-Dick in April (it comes to us in 2012).

When the Winspear Opera House opens in Dallas tonight they expect a full house at 2,200 seats which is down from the 3,300 seats in their old theatre. Why is this? Mainly to enhance the dramatic experience, but also because the seats have to be larger. It seems our butts have gotten bigger over the years.

The UK's Guardian reports.

And yes, because we're feeling punchy this morning

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting to Know Ailyn Perez

Soprano Ailyn Perez makes her Company debut with us in March singing Romeo and Juliet alongside her husband tenor Stephen Costello. She's also making an important solo recital debut in the UK this weekend.

Ailyn sat down with BBC radio this morning to talk (and sing -- oh, what glorious singing).

You can access the interview here for the next 7-days at which point it will be sent off into the internet ether.

Ailyn appears just before 1 hour, 28 minutes.

March can't come soon enough.

A special Aria Serious Cupcake to reader Linda Ginsburg who originally told us of this story. Awesome find!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Podcast Monday

This week's podcast Monday take a look at Romeo and Juliet and the great singers that have sung this opera. You can download this week's podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- A call to take ownership of your cultural community.

- Santa Fe Opera gets into the oil business.

- Love conquers all. Except Opera. (in French).

- Note to self. 1.) don't mug soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and 2.) do not under any circumstances fall on her foot.

- Our single tickets are now on sale to all 2010 operas. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday is upon us. Fall is in the air. It is a good day.
It is also time to ask what you are listening to this weekend? We're going to spend Saturday listening to Lohengrin since the boss was talking about this recording the other day and from time to time we like to show him we pay attention.

We might try and hit up the Amoeba Opera/Classical record sale as well, but I'm not sure if a drive to Los Angeles is in the cards.

We'll also be listening to the Malawian electro of The Very Best.
Post your listening plans in the comment section below and whatever it is, make it a good one!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Piotr Beczala's Rise To Fame

If you've read Aria Serious for a week or so you know we're pretty excited about Piotr Beczala making his debut with us as Rodolfo in La boheme.

To add to our excitement are these reports coming out Chicago after his Company debut at the Lyric in the title role of Faust.

We've placed a few excerpts below.

Chicago Tribune

“Much of the excitement on opening night centered around Piotr Beczala, who was making his Lyric debut in the title role. The Polish lyric tenor brought to the part a robust, attractive sound with a smooth tonal finish and a wonderfully open, clarion top. His elegant phrasing invested Faust's third-act Salut! demeure with romantic ardor and rightly drew a huge ovation. Yet he also commanded enough power to nail the dramatic pages. On top of that, he is a fine actor, even when required to lurch about the stage with a wine bottle and wenches, one of the more dubious touches in Corsaro's staging.”

The Associated Press

“Making his Lyric debut in the title role, Poland's Piotr Beczala solidified his claim as one of the finest lyric tenors on the scene. His singing was smooth and stylish, capped by an impressive high C in his aria, Salut! Demeure.”

Chicago Classical Review

“As Faust, the aged philosopher who sells his cynical soul for renewed youth, Piotr Beczala made an outstanding Lyric Opera debut. The young Polish tenor is the real thing—a singer with a big vibrant instrument, notable ease of production, virile tone, and ringing top notes. Rarely does the Faust-Mephistopheles duet at the close of Act I provide such a theatrical frisson. Beczala rose to the challenge of Salute, demeure chaste et pure with a seamless long line and requisite refinement —some miscoordination with the orchestra apart—and poured out a stream of rich, heroic tone in the love duet and final trio”

You can also hear Piotr in his own words talking about Faust.

Again, tickets are on sale now for all 2010 operas if you're reading this. Everyone else needs to wait until Sunday, October 11, 2009.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Your Pop Culture Guide to the 2010 Season

With single tickets going on sale this Sunday, October 11, 2009 TODAY, for our Facebook, Twitter and Aria Serious fans we'd thought it might be fun to put together a popular culture guide to our 2010 season. Don’t know your bohème from your traviata, an aria from a tiara? We're here to help.

La bohème – Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. 100 years before the musical Rent, there was the opera La bohème, or “the bohemians”. It’s about poverty and love during the tuberculosis plague in Paris while Rent is about poverty and love during the height of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. Most of the characters have the same names, which goes to show there is nothing new under the sun. What makes the opera special is achingly beautiful music with soaring voices, and no electronic enhancement. It’s au natural. We think that’s worth the price of admission alone.

Nabucco – It’s Italian for Nebuchadnezzar (the Babylonian king, not the hovercraft in the Matrix trilogy) and we’re just thankful we get to use the shorter name. This one tells the story about the Jewish exile from Israel but it’s really about a daughter with some serious father issues. It’s Verdi’s third opera, which established him as one of the world’s greatest composer. Think of it as his Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and you’ll understand. In the end everything works out: the daughter finds the closure she needs and the Jews find freedom.

Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare’s most famous play with 100% more singing. You know this one already, but instead of lovers dying suddenly in each other’s arms, they sing a whole bunch then die in each other’s arms. Of the 24 or so operatic versions of Romeo and Juliet this one’s the best. Take the girlfriend; she’ll love you for it. Take the wife. Take them both.

La traviata - The title means “The Woman Who Strayed”. It’s about a hooker with a heart of gold. Yes, it’s the same stuff the movie Pretty Woman is based on which is why when they go to the opera in the movie they go to La traviata. Remember how moved she was? The big difference between the two is that La traviata is a tragedy. Even back then Verdi knew that a story about a hooker with a happy ending was just asking for trouble.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Diggin' In The Crates

Bring the handiwipes and knee pads, you'll need them.

Aria Serious has received word that Amoeba Records in Los Angeles will be having a special Classical Music/Opera vinyl blowout sale later this month.

Now before you get too excited, remember, this is vinyl - those big ol' platters of music with the grooves in them that you drop a needle onto. So for all two you who actually have working record players at home, this is for you.

See, vinyl is where you're going to find all that out of print music you've been pining over; those recordings you once heard but have never been able to find. And since we're talking 50 cents a record, you can also buy a few things you've never heard of before. Heck, throw caution to the wind and buy a few based on covers alone.

There are very few record stores around these days and I'm afraid an entire generation is missing out on the pleasure of getting on their knees and flipping through the stacks under the bins finding that one elusive gem after hours of searching. Sure there is ebay, but there is something endorphin inducing having earned it, dirty hands, sore knees and all.

The sale also include electro 12'' as well as Reggae for all of you looking to finish up that African Headcharge collection.


Good hunting!
PS - if you find something good and can sleeveface it, send us a picture and we'll put it up on the blog.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Arias From Operas You've Never Seen

On this week's Podcast Monday Dr. Nic digs deep into the crates to pull out great arias from operas you've probably never heard of. You'll hear music by such diverse composers as Cilea, Catalani, Auber, Thomas and... Rosini.

Our podcasts are always free and can be downloaded here.

While You Were Out?

Over the weekend:

- Is that a Symphony in your pocket? A look at the Arts and the iPhone with San Diego's Instant Encore. Which reminds us, have you downloaded our app yet?


- Two turntables and a microphone has been replaced by Two macs and a Wii. Introducing the Fauxharmonic Orchestra.

- More boos for the Met. This time for Aida.