Showing posts from January, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

Friday! I'm celebrating with another performance of Toscatonight. Then on Saturday I'm listening to Mozart's The Abduction from the Seragliomostly because it is one of those operas I've heard only in parts. I'm also going to spend a good hour with Bon Iver's new release for ForEmma, Forever Ago despite not being opera related at all. Sunday, I might forgo a fourth performance of Tosca and opt for the Super Bowl (read "beer nap") on the couch with the dogs.

What are you listening plans this weekend? Whatever they might be, enjoy!
-- Edward

Kill Da Wabbit! Kill Da Wabbit!

It is not often you get to sit down with an opera god, even rarer to have them sing Bugs Bunny cartoons for you.

Earlier this week the ever delightful KeliDailey of Sign on San Diego did just that and the fruits of her labors are below.

As one co-worker of mine just said "Drool! Pant! Thanks!"

Hey, don't mention it, we here at Aria Serious are givers.

-- Edward


Ferruccio "Ace of Bass" Furlanetto, general director Ian Campbell and all around nice guy Richard "Big Bertha" Helmsetter played a round of golf yesterday with Peter "Brewery" Rowe from the San Diego Union Tribune.

Arriving to the course Ferruccio commented how hot and dry it was (80 degrees in mid-winter, take that rest of the world) and asked if this was what we called a Santa Ana. I commented it must be hard to sing with the air so dry and Ferruccio responded in his bone vibrating basso, "who cares about singing. I'm here to play some golf."
And played golf he did. With a handicap of 5, if this singing thing doesn't pan out, Ferruccio can always fall back on professional golf.
You can read Peter Rowe's profile on Ferruccio Furlanetto on Sunday, February 8 in the Union Tribune or a few days later here.
-- Edward

Eduardo Chama's Sancho Panza

Tosca is onstage and the cast of Don Quixote has arrived including Ferruccio "Ace of Bass" Furlanetto, the beautiful Denyce Graves and Eduardo Chama who sings Sancho Panza.

Last time Eduardo was in town we spent an afternoon listening to Don Quixote in my office and he told me one of his favorite roles was Sancho Panza. At the time he was quite sad because the role of Sancho Panza had been cast to someone else. But all things happen for a reason and Eduardo is now in town rehearsing the role he dreamed about many years ago.

To celebrate, below are two clips of Eduardo as Sancho from the Teatro Colon in Argentina.

You can catch Eduardo in the flesh when we open Don Quixote on Valentine's Day.

-- Edward

People Prettier Than Me

San Diego Opera had their gala, "PalazzoPromenade", that past Saturday in conjunction with the opening night of Tosca.

It was a beautiful evening, and the gala chairs this year, the Dow Divas, really brought their A Game to the event in planning the decor, the menu, the entire magical evening.

The Del Mar Timeshas posted some pictures of the event. As more coverage of this event comes in we'll post it here.

-- Edward

Bad Cop

Sign on San Diego's Street Blog is clearly smitten with Greer "Opera God" Grimsley who is currently on our stage as Scarpia in Tosca. Click this link to see why they think Greer "projects a jet of fire throughout the Civic Theatre."

Sign on San Diego will be sitting down to bask in the warm operatic glow of Greer later today and once they have his interview online, we'll link to it here so you to can gaze upon the luscious locks of bad cop Greer Grimsley from the comfort of your computer.
-- Edward

More Belt Tightening

These past few days have seen more belt tightening by our friends and neighbors up north.

San Francisco Opera has announced a scaled back 2009-2010 season, filled with many classic operas with incredibly strong casts. "There's no question that this season represents a huge belt-tightening for us," SFO General Director David Gockley told the Chronicle. "We're scaling our budget back from $70 million last season to $64 million, and we'd already planned to make sure there were a lot of popular productions and ones for which we could do a lot of performances." You can read the entire article here.
Closer to home, Los Angeles Opera announced staff and pay cuts this morning as well as a reduction in performances and the delay of the world premiere of Daniel Catán’s IlPostino. The economy and the financial drain of mounting their first Ring Cycle is to blame. You can read the article here.
With this news falling like bombs around us, many of you must be wonderin…

Just Another Day...

Working here at San Diego Opera is hard .

Some people might think all we do is sit around and listen to opera. This is true Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but today being Tuesday we have a lot of work to do.

To show you how much goes on during a day at San Diego Opera I've pasted what we call a "Daily" down below. It shows every single thing that is happening here throughout the day. With two casts in town now, you can see it gets quite busy with a Tosca performance as well as a Don Quixote rehearsal call.

We get one of these every day, six days a week, from January 1 until the season closes, usually at about 4 or 5 in the afternoon for the following day. This is good because it reminds me of the things I've forgotten to put on my calendar while giving me enough time to fake my way through whatever it is I forgot about.

You'll need to click the actual image to read it. Phone numbers and addresses have been redacted to protect the innocent as well as the guilty.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

-- Close to home, our production of Tosca opened Saturday. You can read the reviews as they come in off our website, here. Four performances remain.
-- With our Tosca, theatre runs in the blood it seems.
-- A tenor abandons his role onstage during one of the final rehearsals at the COC. Sometimes the drama backstage is better than the drama onstage.
-- Apparently there are no tears in Texas with the departure of Steel to NYCO.
-- Orlando Opera has cut staff by 25% in response to the economy.
-- How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Or you can just rent the place out to perform in it. -- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

Friday! That means a new episode of BattlestarGalactica. It also means it is time to share what opera I'll be listening to this weekend.

Seeing opera will actually cut into my listening of opera this weekend but these are the sacrifices we need to make from time to time. So instead of curling up on the couch with headphones I'll be putting elastic into my tuxedo and squeezing into it (fingers crossed) for Opening Night on Saturday.

Now I've seen Toscafour times already this week in various states of rehearsal but nothing beats that moment when the orchestra comes to tune and the curtain rises.

So, share your listening plans here, or, if you see Tosca on Saturday share your opening night experience with us.

Sunday I'm in the hammock with my dogs -- yes, that's one of them up above, getting a head start. It's a dog's life indeed...
Have a great weekend!-- Edward

Sneak Peek: Tosca

To whet your appetite, some photos from last night's Tosca rehearsal.

All photos are by Ken "Don't Panic" Howard.

For those in the San Diego region who want even more of a sneak peak, OperaSpotlight: Toscaairs tonight. Click the link for times, channel information and additional dates.

-- Edward

Opera Food

The lovely AriaGirl sent this over to me, knowing it covers two of my favorite things in life: opera and food.

So, a little amuse bouche to tide you over until Tosca opens tomorrow.

-- Edward

Something I Can Applaud To

If you're new to the world of live opera and classical music then you've probably clapped after hearing a wonderful aria or a stunning movement. Apparently this is a mistake. And you'll know this is a mistake by the glares and the venomous shushing that will come your way.

Concert pianist Emanuel Ax thinks that is time we change the rules about when to applaud. This is something I applaud.

At a time when we're all desperate for new audience members it might make sense to rewrite the rule books to make our art form seem more inviting.

-- Edward

Tosca Artist Roundtable

The cast of Tosca including Sylvie Valayre (Tosca), Marcus Haddock (Cavaradossi), Geer "Opera God" Grimsley (Scarpia) as well as conductor Edoardo Muller and director Andrew Sinclair got together to discuss Tosca last Thursday night in San Diego in front of a packed house.

Through the wonders of the internets (which we still think is just a fad) we bring this conversation to you... Enjoy.

-- Edward

Texas Tenor Makes San Diego Opera Debut

The North County Times ran an article on Marcus Haddock this morning. Marcus makes his Company debut with us as Cavaradossi in Tosca on Saturday. Marcus is sounding excellent in rehearsals and I look forward to seeing him onstage tonight during the Orchestra Dress. You can read the article here.

-- Edward

On This Historic Day...

We apologize for the delay, but we here at the Aria Serious tower have been busy watching history being made with the swearing in of President Barack Obama.

Ontop of that, this morning was our sitzprobe for Tosca, where the orchestra and singers come together for the first time. Everything is sounding great and we have a great opera opening on Saturday.

But in honor of this historical day, which was on the minds of everyone at the sitzprobe -- there was even a "Yes We Can" cake our wonderful Assistant Stage Manager Kerry Masek baked last night -- we have a clip below of the beautiful Renee Flemming performing Rodgers & Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" for The Obama Inaugural Celebration.

Renee begins at around minute 6 for those with Attention Deficit Disorder.

-- Edward

The Dance Behind The Show

The San Diego Union Tribune ran an excellent article on relationships between opera companies and singers yesterday, focusing on Sylvie Valayre, our upcoming Tosca this week. You can read the article here.

-- Edward

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- The Metropolitan Opera is now facing a "disaster scenario" brought on by a diminishing donations, slow ticket sales and a endowment that has lost a third of its value.
- Los Angeles Opera has announced its 2009-2010 season and they are moving forward with their Ring. Casting is strong. Let us hope they can weather this economic storm.
- Welsh National Opera announced their 2009-2010 season as well. Of note is Bryn Terfel making the role debut of Hans Sachs in Wagners' Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
- Across the country, Washington National Opera announced their season with The Marriage of Figaro standing in for a postponed Ring Cycle.
- Berlin has appointed Peter Raddatzas director of the city’s Opera Foundation that oversees 3 companies, a ballet company and a set/design company.
- The Australian Herald's Arts Editor has documented his experience as a supernumerary in Opera Australia's production of Cavalleria rusticana. If you are an Arts Edit…

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

Friday, and it sure feels like one.

This weekend I'll be listening to Vivica Genaux's Handel and Hasse Opera Arias. We here at Aria Serious just love Vivica and Opera Magazine (the small digest UK one) has a wonderful profile on her that just hit newsstands. Reading it made me remember what a special artist Vivica truly is and that her Handel and Hasse cd has been sitting on my shelf neglected for far too long.
Besides, I felt a special frog themed photo for our favorite frog loving mezzo-soprano was fitting today.
What are your listening plans this weekend?
-- Edward

He's a Composer. He's a Lecturer. He's a Sous Chef!?

Those local Aria Serious readers can tune into KUSI Channel 9/51 during the 9:30 AM hour on Saturday (tomorrow) to see Dr. Nic talk about the upcoming Taste of Opera event we have next week at Currant.

He'll be joined by Currant Executive Chef Michael Rubino who will prepare a grilled romaine salad on the air.
So tune in, fire up the barbie and follow along from home.
-- Edward

The Voice. The Face. The Hair.

Although we here at Aria Serious had our doubts, Greer Grimsley, our Scarpia in Tosca, confirmed last night he has nothing to do with the Facebook group "Greer Grimsley is an Opera God" and after much prodding, admitted he didn't even have a Facebook page.

Greer and the rest of the crew open Tosca next Saturday. Buy a ticket and come see the hair.

-- Edward

Meet the Tosca Cast Tonight

I've been so busy preparing for our Artist Roundtable tonight it just dawned on me local Aria Serious readers can come and meet the cast of Tosca.

The Roundtable begins at 5:30 PM and features just about everyone involved with this one -- from the singers to the conductor to the director.
The Artist Roundtable is held in the Beverly Sills Salon of the Civic Theatre (1100 3rd. Ave, Downtown San Diego) and is free.
For those with plans already or are simply too far away, we'll have it up online sometime next week in its entirety.
Hope to see you there!
-- Edward

NYCO Head Named

Just so we're not left out in the cold, George "Colbert" Steele is the new NYCO head, leaving his post at Dallas Opera after a four month stint.

You can read the NY Times article here but props to the every lovely Opera Chic who had it first, as is typical...

And I can't be the only one that thinks he looks like Stephen Colbert...

-- Edward

Kirstin Chavez Saves The Day

Aria Serious friend and Picken's Plan fan Kirstin Chavez sings Maddalena with us in Rigoletto in March but those in New York can hear her a bit earlier as the Met just announced she will sing Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice on January 14, that's tonight, replacing Stephanie Blythe, who is ill.

We wish Kirstin a wonderful performance and a speedy recovery to Ms. Blythe.
-- Edward

A Cure For NYCO's Problems?

New York Magazine has taken a close look at New York City Opera's current state of affairs and offers some surprisingly simple and yet very bold suggestions on how to cure the ailing Company. You can read the article here.

Speaking of opera and New York, Anthony Amato talks about why decided to close his lovely shoebox of an opera company, the only one we know of that sells homemade brownies at intermission (which makes it a company we love dearly and earns them... wait for it... brownie points).
-- Edward

Music Director, Flexibility Required

It is time again for the next post in our occasional series that focuses on the San Diego Opera Ensemble, our touring group of young professional opera singers.

This time we've decided to do something different and have the music director of the Ensemble, Tina Chang, tell us about what it is she does.

Mainly because I was wondering.

And here I thought Tina just played some beautiful music on the piano. Seems that's only half the story.


When I first received my contract from San Diego Opera offering me the position of Music Director and Pianist with the Ensemble, it took me a couple of reads to fully understand the prospect of the job. First of all, I couldn’t believe that I got the job (a story that’ll just have to be reserved for another time)! Having now been hired by a well-respected opera company in North America means that I’m finally getting a real taste of what the opera world is like. All my previous experiences with opera involve schools and festivals that seem to be m…

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- After 60 years, New York City's Amato Opera will close its doors after this season.
- Slovakian singer L'ubicaVargicova, who makes a Company debut with us as Gilda in Rigoletto later this year is in Los Angeles singing the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute. You can read the review about her here.
- And the most important news this weekend, at least here at the Aria Serious camp, is that yours truly became an uncle this morning so expect a break in posts sometime this week when I travel to meet my niece.
-- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

Friday! Here we are, faced with what to listen to over the weekend. This week's pick is not very original, nor inspired, as this weekend I'll be listening to Tosca since we open the season with it in 14 days and it doesn't hurt to familiarize myself with it one more time.

Sure it is work, but I'm not complaining because any job that requires me to curl up for a few hours to listen to Puccini over the weekend is a job I'm interested in having.
I'm also going to spend a good hour or so with Fleet Foxes self-titled album because I'm pretty sure this is my top album of 2008.
So what are your listening plans this weekend?
-- Edward

The Best Seat In the House Might Be Backstage

English National Opera will be broadcasting an opera from backstage with its upcoming La bohème so viewers can see "all of that furious paddling under the water that you don't normally see," said John Berry, ENO's artistic director.

As someone who has seen plenty of opera from the wings, it truly is a sight to behold. Of course it does not replace seeing an opera from the audience, but it truly is orchestrated chaos and I think the average opera goer would be surprised to learn how many people are backstage making the show happen.
(The answer: ALOT, just take a look at everyone involved with Samson and Delilah in the picture).
Here at San Diego Opera we've gotten to showing a scene change during intermission for one opera each season. It is widely popular with a large portion of the audience staying to watch the scene change and applauding when it is complete. Then there is OperaSpotlight, our program that offers glimpses into the backstage activity of each produc…

Deborah Riedel

It is a sad day at San Diego Opera with news that soprano Deborah Riedel had died of breast cancer. She would have been 51 in July.

Deborah made her US debut with us in 1994 as Amina in La sonnambula with Ramon Vargas, returned as Adina in The Elixir of Love (1996), Violetta in La traviata (1997), Alice in Falstaff (1999) and Anna in Don Giovanni (2000), which is where this picture of Deborah is taken from.
She went on to sing at the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera.

Her career took her to Grand ThéâtredeGenève, Opéra National de Paris, OpéradeMontpellier, Opérade Bordeaux, Aix en Provence, Opera di Roma, BayerischeStaatsoper, Wiener Staatsoper, the Royal Opera Covent Garden, and many other top houses.

She made several recordings, including some lovely operetta highlight CD’s with Jerry Hadley and Richard Bonynge.
The Australian has a wonderful profile on her that you can read here. -- Edward

The Birdcatcher Yes I Am

We here at Aria Serious love irony. Even more so when it is delicious irony. So we love the new Red Bull commercial although we're just as surprised as you are that we used delicious and Red Bull in the same paragraph.

This commercial consists of a cat licking his chops and flossing his gums while Mozart's "Der Vogelfanger Bin IchJa" from The Magic Flute plays in the background. This is Papageno's (the bird catcher) aria, a fact lost to probably 99% of the people who've seen this commercial.

Of course, I personally think Papageno is one of the creepiest characters in all of opera so I like to think the cat has eaten Papageno, which makes the commercial even more delightful for me.


- Edward

While You Were Out

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers. A day late, and much more than a dollar short, a recap of the news of today...

- Danielle deNiese is de nice. She'll be singing with us in a future season. I can't tell you when or in what opera just yet.
- What's in store for New York City Opera's 2009-2010 season?
- San Francisco Opera breaks even in 2008. Just barely.
- Friend of Aria Serious and our director in town for Tosca, Andrew Sinclair, sat down with AriaGirlto talk about his upcoming Pearl Fishers in Colorado.
And that's it for now. Happy New Year!- Edward

Maesto Müller

Today is the first day of rehearsals for Tosca! First days are always exciting around here and go something like this:

We begin our morning with a staff and cast breakfast in Ian Campbell's office where he tells the same jokes we've heard each first day of rehearsals for the past 8 years while we eat bagels and sip coffee.
After mingling, we make our way to the rehearsal hall where the cast performs a sing-through of the opera. It is a great time to hear the vocal talents of our singers; especially the ones making debuts with us because cds, dvds and YouTube just does not do them justice.
Heading up this sing through of Tosca today is San Diego Opera's Principal Guest Conductor EdoardoMüller.
In preparation for his arrival here we asked local writer Charlene Baldridge to chat with Edoardo and take a look at his long relationship with us.
It could be a slight exaggeration, but let us say it anyway: San Diego Opera Principal Guest Conductor EdoardoMüller is everyone’s favorite…