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Showing posts from March, 2009

While You Were Out

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Over the weekend.

- Our production of Rigoletto opened on Saturday, the first of five performances, and reviews are already starting to appear. You can read them as they arrive on the San Diego Opera Review Page, which you can find by clicking here.
- Also on Saturday, Long Beach Opera gave the US premiere of Vivaldi'sMotezuma (sic). You can read about it here and read David Gregson'sreview of it here.
- We love them, we really do, but opera has its share of "opera crazies". The Los Angeles Times delves deeper into the seedy underbelly of opera fandom with this profile of Wagner fans called "Wagnerites." We like to call them "Ringies." Featured is San Diego Opera friend and all around nice guy, Sherwin Sloan, who helms the Wagner Society of Southern California.
- Orlando Opera is facing a serious budget shortfall, adding to the ever growing list of arts organizations in trouble.
-- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

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Friday, so time again to ask: what are you listening to this weekend? Over here at the Aria Serious tower, we'll put listening to opera on hold in lieu of seeing opera. That's right, Rigoletto open Saturday.

Sunday, we're going to spend in the hammock reading up on some much neglected books.
What are your listening plans this weekend? Are you going to see Rigoletto? Whatever your musical plans are, share them here, and make it a good one.
- Edward

A Conversation With Lado Ataneli

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ConcertoNet.com, a French website has just put up an interview with Lado Ataneli (in English) to mark the opening of Rigoletto here in San Diego tomorrow night.

You can read the interview here.

And you can purchase your Rigoletto seats here.

Enjoy!


- Edward

Rigoletto Artist Roundtable

Last Thursday, the cast of Rigoletto got together for a very enjoyable panel discussion about the opera. In case you missed it, we've placed the entire thing on YouTube that you can watch below.

Enjoy!

-- Edward

Normal Texting Rates Apply

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The New York Times is reporting today that a production of Cosi fan tutte will ask audience members to vote at intermission for which characters should be married in the final scene. The singers will then perform the chosen ending. Called Cosi fan tutte: Defining Women, the opera will be set in present-day Massachusetts "where nuptials between any combination of three men and three women would be legal.”

-- Edward

Rigoletto: A Sneak Peek

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Rigoletto is almost here. After watching the orchestra rehearsal last night I was reminded how much I liked this opera, which is a whole lot. And I think the first scene is one of the best first scenes of Rigoletto I've ever seen.

But why talk when there are pictures to share. Photos are by Ken Howard.

















Ezio Flagello Has Died

The New York Times is reporting that the great bass EzioFlagello, who sang over 500 performances at the Met, has died. He was 78.

You can read the entire article here.



-- Edward

The Digest Version

Opera is not known for brevity. Indeed, a character can get stabbed and then sing about dying for fifteen minutes before actually dying, which can then take another ten...

So we're happy to have Rolando Villazon describe to us the plot of La boheme in just under 10 seconds.

Our La boheme, which opens the 2010 season, will be longer than 10 seconds but with Piotr Beczala and Anja Harteros in the leads, I won't be complaining.

Some of the language in the below clip is NSFW, unless you work in an opera company, and then you're used to it.




-- Edward

While You Were Out

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Our Gilda, At Home

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Local readers who opened their paper on Sunday we're offered a wonderful look at the family life of traveling opera singer, L'ubicaVargicova with a profile in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Non-local readers can click here, to read it.
Yes, Martin made Steak Tartare, the bane of vegetarian Public Relations workers everywhere, especially when handed a big heaping plate of it by gracious hosts whom you don't want to offend.
Interesting fact: Steak Tartare were named after the Tartans, a fiercely nomadic group who tenderized and "cooked" their meat by placing it underneath their saddle while riding all day. It is useless facts such as these that one can use to dazzle audiences in the hopes they don't notice you moving the food on your plate around so it looks like you ate it.
We're just saying...
- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

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Friday! And a sad Friday it is. Not because I work most of the weekend but because tonight marks the series finale of Battlestar Galactica, a show rabidly followed by all of us in the Aria Serious tower for the past five years, and the only real reason I still pay for cable.

This of course means we need to pick something happy to listen to on Saturday which leads us to Donizetti's The Elixir of Love because I found this particular recording used a few weeks back and have not listened to it yet.
So, what are your listening plans this weekend?
Whatever they are, enjoy them, and make it a great weekend.
So say we all...
-- Edward

Stuff Blowing Up to Opera

Some things in life were just meant for one another.

Take chocolate and peanut butter, bacon and eggs, beets and goat cheese (really, it's amazing), vodka and tonic, oh, forget that last one; Friday happy hour can't come soon enough...

Courtesy of procrastination, and a fast Internet connection, comes this gem of a clip of bridges being blown up to opera.

Even on mute there is this strange choreographed beauty of the charges detonating in sequence, like ballet -- but with explosions and explosions, we all know, makes things better, especially ballet. Of course, adding opera to the mix just sweetens the pot.

So enjoy! And don't try this at home, however tempting it might be.

-- Edward



Note to future-self: when you get to direct that opera be sure to include at least one explosion.

The Big Step

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It is a big week for mezzo-soprano Crystal Jarrell. A former Ensemble member, she just packed up her costume after months of touring and is now making her debut as a San Diego Opera mainstage artist as Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto. Faced with a hectic week of 'goodbyes' as well as "hellos' she somehow found the time to sit down and write a few thoughts about this period of transition in the life of a professional opera singer.

Here's what she had to say:
This is an exciting week for me as it represents something big. This week I am making the transition. Our San Diego Opera Ensemble touring productions have just come to a close, and rehearsals for my first main stage production as a principal artist with SDO have begun. This is a critical point in my career and one that I am savoring every moment of.
Last week I was Febreezing my Cosi costume wishing it weren't such a beautiful antique that it could have been dry cleaned at some point during the 6 month tour. …

We Knew Her When... UPDATED: Or Perhaps Not

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The lovely Opera Chic blog is reporting mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich who sang at San Diego Opera last season in Maria Stuarda and who wowed all of us over with her bella voce will sing Carmen at the La Scala season opener in December.

Making us even more jealous that we will be missing this production is the fact that this production is inspired by Italo Calvino's book "Invisible Cities" who is like our favorite writer here at Aria Serious after perhaps fellow OULIPO member Georges Perec.
As consolation, we'll rewatch the video of Kate climbing into her suitcase and showing off her wardrobe which she filmed here last February.
Congrats Kate! UPDATED: Zemsky Green (Kate's Agent), via Opera Chic, has denied this claim stating Kate is currently engaged elsewhere. We're filing this in the rumor section for now.
-- Edward

Until My Thumbs Are Sore

I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm a gamer. Been one all my life starting with the Atari 2600. And so I'm always excited when I come across opera in video games, which is pretty much never.

Sure, there was Double Clef FM in Grand Theft Auto 3, playing a selection of opera "hits" while I drove around making "hits" of my own, but that's about it.

Via Kotaku comes this trailer for a new platformer currently called "Game #3" that uses Verdi's Requiem as its soundtrack. Sure, the Requiem is not technically opera but it is close enough because it's Verdi and well, because I say so.

Not only does this look fun, but it sounds amazing. So here's a plea to all you developers out there: more opera in video games.

I'll play it until my thumbs are sore. Promise.




-- Edward

While You Were Out

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I apologize for being a day late but the stomach bug got the best of me.

So, without further ado, all the news that developed while was eating toast and drinking semi-flat ginger ale:
- Has the next Charlotte Church been discovered? Do we even need a new Charlotte Church? Did we need the last one?
- The Met Gala this weekend raised a cool $6.3 million. You can also head on over to the Opera Chic blog for photos of the people prettier than me attending the event.
-- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

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Friday! The best of days, unless of course you work weekends, then Friday is like Monday and that's no fun.

What are you listening to this weekend?
Me, I'm going to listen to Pelleas et Melisande. Why? It was the first cd that my gaze landed on when looking over at my stack of opera cds I've never listened to. Sometimes life is easier when you don't give it much thought.
I'll also be participating in San Diego's first Snuggie Pub Crawl tonight, more as a passive observer rather than active participant simply for the fact I have no Snuggie. And have no plans to buy one. Ever.
Whatever your plans are this weekend, make it a good one!
-- Edward

Now There Are Three

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Incredibly sad news today concerning Baltimore Opera. Baltimore Opera which had filed for Chapter 11 three months ago, has announced they have now filed for Chapter 7 which is the complete liquidation of the Company. They have now joined the ranks of Opera Pacific and Connecticut Opera.
You can read the article here.
Not a good way to begin the weekend and we wish our colleagues at Baltimore Opera all the best.
- Edward

Saying Goodbye

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As the Ensemble's season comes to an end, we had delightful coloratura soprano Elyse Nakajima give us some parting words on what life was like on the road with the Ensemble.

This is what Elyse had to share.
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After six months of hard work, we the Education Ensemble have finished our final performances and are about to disseminate and embark upon life after San Diego. It's hard not to sound cheesy when looking back on my experience at San Diego Opera because I performed for literally thousands of people, made the most amazing friends and colleagues, and had the time of my life. But I will attempt to shed a little light onto the second half of our tour and what the future holds for us.
When we returned in January, we had one brush up rehearsal and then immediately went back to our usual performance schedule -- up to two shows a day, up to six days a week. But with the SDO season starting up, we also had the opportunity to sing in the mainstage chorus in addition to our outreach du…

Denyce Graves and President Obama Bring Down the House

Over the weekend, Senator Ted Kennedy celebrated his 77th birthday at the Kennedy Center.

Singing "Happy Birthday" to him was Aria Serious friend mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade, folk singer James Taylor and America's newest baritone, President Barack Obama.

One thing is for certain, he sure sings with enthusiasm.

But you can tell he's new at this whole opera thing because he broke the golden rule: never, ever, stand in front of the soprano.

Not even if you're the Prez.

-- Edward

While You Were Out

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Over the weekend:

- Darker days are coming for opera companies.
- New visa requirements in the EU may force cancellation of operas, says Covent Garden.
- Preparation is underway for the Met's 125th Gala next week.
- FerruccioFurlanetto, who last month we announced was nominated for an Olivier Award, did not win. The award went to Ed Gardner for conducting English National Opera’s Boris Godunov and Cavalleriarusticana / Pagliacci among others.
- And on an happy note: the cast of our Rigoletto has finally arrived. A cast of some new faces and some returning voices, everyone has met and rehearsals began a little less than an hour ago. As I catch more of the rehearsals, I'll be sure to report here.
-- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

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Friday! I've talked about it now for a few weeks but I'm really going to listen to Nabuccothis weekend. And that's about it since I'm taking that and about half a dozen books up to the mountain for a weekend getaway before the Rigoletto cast arrives and we're back to our busy rehearsal schedule.

What are your listening plans this weekend? Share them in the comment section below, and have a great one!
-- Edward

Oh Mandy

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The mayor of Waitakere City near Auckland, New Zealand has discovered a new use for opera: vandal deterrent.

The mayor is using recordings of New Zealand opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to deter youths from vandalizing shops and public works of art.

"If it's not your music, and you really don't like it all, why would you, how could you, stay around?" said Mayor Bob Harvey.

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Christchurch, officials are planning to play Barry Manilow songs to deter aggressive youths who gather in a central shopping plaza.

And I thought the Dharma Initiatives Sonic Fence was cool...

- Edward

Ten Questions With L'ubica Vargicova

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Rigoletto is around the corner and our singers start arriving over the weekend for the first day of rehearsals on Monday.

Joining us for the first time is Slovak soprano L'ubica Vargicova who sings Gilda in this production. Before jumping on the plane that will take her and her family to San Diego, L'ubica was able to sit down and answer 10 Questions from us here at Aria Serious.
Yes, they're the same 10 questions we always ask, but really it is answers that are important. But if you have your own question you wish to be asked in future installments, submit in the comments section and we'll take it from there.
So, without further ado, 10 Questions with L’ubica Vargicova...

SDO: First, welcome to San Diego Opera! We are very happy you are making your Company debut with us as Gilda in Rigoletto. Before we begin, is there anything new in your life that you would like to share with us?

L'ubica Vargicova (LV): I am happy to be here, thank you for inviting me.

In every seaso…

Why Things Should Always Stay The Same

We here at Aria Serious are joking, of course.

We like adventure, we like intrigue, we like things new and challenging and different. However, it seems in the world of opera, people like things to be the same way they have always been.

Take the Met's newest production of La Sonnambula which opened this week. Throwing tradition aside, director Mary Zimmerman has set this production up to be an "opera within an opera" -- essentially the whole thing is staged as one big opera rehearsal. Sounds interesting and fun, if not true to the libretto.

But this is where we here at Aria Serious are wrong. Very wrong.

The Associated Press called the production a "travesty" while Bloomberg asks "what was she thinking?"

And then there were the boos at curtain calls. Ouch.

Of course, after reading all of this, we've shelved our dreams of directing our own opera down the road.

But joking aside, does booing at an opera discourage directors from taking risks? I happen to thi…

More On The Met's Chagalls

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Peter Gelb has commented to The New York Times over the the Met's move to put their two Chagall's up for collateral. "We don’t think it’s a major event," he told the paper.

The article also discusses a move to reduce singer salaries by 10% across the board which is quite a move if you ask us here at the Aria Serious tower .
You can read the full article here.
- Edward

Before The Final Show

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A wonderful photo, that came through on one of my daily email alerts, shows two of our dancers practicing their dance moves before closing night of Don Quixote.

Our Assistant Stage Director, Keturah Stickann, took this photo, which I simply love. Something about this image, with the sliver of set showing, makes it seem like this could be a photo from any number of a dozen towns in Europe. I find it charming, even peaceful, especially when I consider all the hustle and bustle that is going on outside of the frame.
You can check out her entire San Diego Opera photo set online here. - Edward

While You Were Out

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Over the weekend:

- The Metropolitan Opera has taken a loan against the two Mark Chagall's that hangs in its lobby. Appraised at $20 million, a board member apparently called the move a "decision of last resort" as the Company has seen its $300 million endowment shrink by a third and faces a $40 million deficit next season.
- Readers on the West Coast have a new opera website to visit. David Gregson, who reviews our productions for Opera News, has restarted his Opera West website which reviews operas from San Diego to Seattle and points in between.
Slow weekends are the best kind of weekends if you ask me.
- Edward