Showing posts from April, 2009

Stuffing the Ballot Box Redux

It's that time again: Sign on San Diego (which we think would be much better if it was called "Sing on San Diego") is hosting their Best Of 2009 contest and the website is now open for nominations.

We here at Aria Serious would really really really love it if you, dear reader, would go and nominate San Diego Opera for Best Performing Arts/Live Theatre Group.

Here's what to do.

1.) Click here.
2.) Type in "San Diego Opera"
3.) Click "nominate"

You can do this once every 24 hour period and you can do it from multiple computers, iPhones, blackberries, etc...

Oh, and be sure to tell your friends as well.

Thank you!

-- Edward

Meet the Madama Butterfly Cast

Tonight, at 5:30 PM, the cast of Madama Butterfly will get together for a panel discussion on our current production which opens next week. Patricia Racette, Carlo Ventre and stage director Garnett Bruce (plus others) will be on hand to answer questions from the audience.

The discussion is free, and will be held in the Beverly Sills Salon of the Civic Theatre (1100 3rd Ave. Downtown, San Diego). So why not watch less TV and take a trip downtown, get some insight into MadamaButterlfy and treat yourself to a nice meal at Currant or our favorite, Cafe Chloe.
We hope to see you there!
- Edward

Villazon Silenced

The Associated Press is reporting tenor Rolando Villazon has canceled the remainder of his performances this year in order to have a cyst on his vocal chords removed. His doctors expect him back on stage "around the end of the year."

-- Edward

Strike "Likely" For New York City Opera

Bloomberg reports that a strike is looming for New York City Opera later this year as general director George Steel is seeking concessions with the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Already having borrowed $24 million from its endowment to meet payroll and other operating expenses, this news does not bode will for the people's opera company.

We'll keep you posted (and keep our fingers crossed for the best).

You can read the entire article here.

- Edward

NEA Honors Lotfi Mansouri

San Diego Opera friend, frequent stage director, and all around nice guy LotfiMansouri has been named by the NEA as a 2009 recipient for an Opera Honor.

Lotfi, the former general director of San Francisco Opera, was the first general director responsible for the use of supertitles -- those translations of what is being sung that made opera much more accessible to the general public.
He joins John Adams, Frank Corsaro, Marilyn Horne and JulisRudel in receiving the 2009 Awards.
All of us here congratulate Lotfi and look forward to welcoming him back to direct Nabucco in 2010.
- Edward

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

-- Florida Grand Opera has canceled its concert series after only one season. Darned economy.
-- The Met replaces opera in the parks with outdoor recitals and HD festivals.
-- The Royal Opera House and the BBC plot for world domination.
-- The Royal Opera House and Placido Domingo plot for world domination.
-- And finally, tenor Stephen Costello is the 2009 Winner of the Richard Tucker Award, a $30,000 prize that recognizes an American singer considered to be on the threshold of a significant, international opera career. We congratulate Mr. Costello. He makes his Company debut next season as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and returns the following year in Faust.
-- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday, the kindest of days and the day we ask, what are you listening to this weekend?

We hope you're going to listen to our Peter Grimes this weekend, and a reminder that all tickets are still $50 /$25.
Yours truly will be hitting the bins again at Amoeba and shopping at his favorite bookstore in the world, The Green Apple, as the Bay Area calls for a quick weekend getaway before all hands are on deck for Madama Butterfly.
And Madama Butterflyis what I'm bringing along as I want something familiar for the plane ride, although this is a new recording I have not listened to yet.
What are you listening plans this weekend?
Whatever they are, make this weekend a good one!
- Edward

I'm The Bus Driver, Yes I Am...

The New York Times ran a profile this morning on Christopher G. Dolan, the singing Manhattan bus driver who learns opera arias while stuck in traffic and entertains his passengers with song.

With opera companies closing up shop, why do I feel we'll have more of these in the next few years?

You can read the article here.

And listen to Mr. Dolan below. You know, he's not bad at all, despite the crappy sound quality.

- Edward

The Knife Opera Update

Sure they're strange but that's part of their charm. Electro brother and sister duo The Knife have announced premiere dates for their opera based on the works of Charles Darwin.

We touched on this earlier and we were giddy like a schoolgirl.
We're still giddy but much of that energy has been channeled into looking for cheap airfare to Copenhagen for the opera's premiere on September 2, 2009. Additional dates are also planned. You can read about the opera through Pitchfork Media, here.
- Edward

All Hail Technology

As budgets are being cut and operas need to operate on less and less funds many are turning to soft sets - that is video projections that are used to create scenery in place of traditional hard sets. Here at San Diego Opera we've used soft sets before, but only in conjunction with actual hard sets. The incredibly magical transition from the Venusberg to the Wartburg in Tannhauser is one moment that sticks out in recent years.

The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a look at the surge in usage of soft sets and how technology can fill the void when there is not enough money for traditional sets on the stage.

You can read the article here.

- Edward

The Return of the Twitter Opera Synopsis Contest

It's back; the Twitter Opera Synopsis contest.

More than 20 Opera Companies are now participating with tickets and DVDs for the best 140 character opera synopsis you can come up with. This time, celebrity judge Danielle deNiese will chose the winners.
You can read about the contest and submit your own tweets here.
We here at Aria Serious would also like to play along, even give some tickets away, you know, once we figure out how to circumvent office firewalls... Sigh.
- Edward

More on New York City Opera

Bloomberg has some commentary on the announcement last week by NYCO that it has eaten much of its endowment in an effort to stay afloat. The news is not good as it goes on to question the fundraising abilities of newly appointed leader George Steel.

You can read the commentary for yourself here.
We're hoping for the best.
- Edward

While You Were Out

We apologize for the delay in getting this to you. It is a busy time here at San Diego Opera with Peter Grimes onstage and the cast of Madama Butterfly now on hand beginning rehearsals.

Over the weekend:
- New York City Opera dips deep into their endowment.
- Nashville Opera has a new headquarters.
But really, the big news here is that Peter Grimes opened on Saturday to glorious reviews and has three shows remaining.
- Edward


Peter Grimes is here, and it arrived with a fury.

Reviews are starting to appear and they do this one justice. And I'm not just saying that. I love opera but this one is something incredibly special. And one I want to see again and again and again.
Opera West said "it would be impossible to find a recorded performance as super-charged as this one."

The San Diego Union Tribune said "you must not – must not – miss it."
The Los Angeles Times calls Anthony Dean Griffey "The best Grimes of the moment." called Saturday's performance a "dramatically taught and musically vibrant production that was revealing even to those who know the work well."
So there you have it. Still not yet convinced that you need to see Peter Grimes?
All tickets are $50 / $25 for remaining performances.
- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday! Even though we here at the Aria Serious tower will be all about Peter Grimes this weekend, we'd love to know what you're listening to.

For you local readers, I cannot stress enough the greatness of what we have on our stage. Come watch this one, and if you call our box office at 619.533.7000, and tell them you're an Aria Serious fan you can buy an orchestra level seat for $50 or a seat elsewhere for $25. That's how much we love you, and how much we want you to see this opera.

And if you do come, post your comments in the comment section below.

Make it a good one!

- Edward

Peter Grimes: Another Sneak Peak

Taken last night, this is simply my favorite image of the nearly 2000 or so pictures that were taken during Peter Grimes rehearsals. This scene is at the very end of the opera, Peter has gone out to sea to scuttle his boat. Ellen stands on shore, alone, watching him. What makes this image so wonderful for me is the movement in the background; the village beginning another day, just as the opera began, coming full circle. The lighting, the stillness of Ellen are haunting; she'll eventually turn and walk directly upstage, through the villagers, completely isolated from everyone else, ending this opera.

This is serious opera, incredible theatre, and reminds me why we take risks with performing works off the beaten path from time to time.

Come see Peter Grimes, it really is something special! And has AriaSerious steered you wrong before? We didn't think so.

Photo is by Ken Howard.

- Edward

Peter Grimes: A Sneak Peek

We got 'em. You want 'em! Here are some very nice photos of Peter Grimes taken from last night's rehearsal. We'll do it again tonight, but why make you wait.

All photos are by Ken Howard.

Peter Grimes opens Saturday and is going to be one amazing show!

And Then There Were Six...

Sad news. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting the 51-year old Orlando Opera will cease operations at the end of this month, citing decreased ticket sales and lack of funds to keep the organization afloat. A recent fundraising campaign with a goal of $500,000 netted only $25,000.

You can read the article here.
We wish our friends and colleagues on Orlando the very best.
- Edward

Peter Grimes Synopsis Twitter Contest

The wonderful KPBS blog, Culture Lust,is holding a contest for the best Peter Grimes opera synopsis tweet.

You can read about it here and send your best Peter Grimes synopsis tweet to Angela over at Culture Lust's Twitter site. (We'll be getting our Twitter account up in a few weeks, we still think this whole internet thing is a passing fad).

Winner wins... something.

We humbly submit:

Second apprentice drowns; town finds me guilty in witch-hunt for justice. You know, for a fisherman, I probably should’ve learned to swim…

Have fun!

The Peter Grimes Artist Roundtable

Sure, it is only in 2-D, but below is the entire Peter Grimes roundtable for your viewing enjoyment. Some insights, some bad jokes -- ok, plenty of bad jokes -- and a debate on whether or not Peter Grimes is guilty or not is covered in the clip below. Take a look, come see Peter Grimes and then join the debate yourself.

Wait!? Isn't It Already In 3-D?

L'OpéradeRennes will be presenting a simulcast of their production of Don Giovanni in a few months. What makes this one special is that the opera will be presented in 3-D. The cost of this venture? 820,000 Euros. Seems a hefty price tag to create something in 3-D which already exists in 3-D at your local opera house.

Yes, yes, we know that 3-D is the future of movies and when done right it makes for an entirely immersive experience (see Coraline for an example on how to do it right) but for my money nothing provides better immersion than, you know, actually watching a live opera in the flesh. Call me a Luddite.
Personally, I'm holding out for Opera: Smell-O-Vision. Just think of what we could do with Peter Grimes, the smell of the ocean, a dead fish under every seat in the theatre. And you know something, it's not as far fetched as you think.
You can read the entire 3-D broadcast article here (in French).
- Edward

Opera for the ADD Set

Let's face it, life is busy and it is hard to unwind, let alone find the time to escape to the theatre for a few hours of quality opera. Blackberries and iPhones makes getting away even harder, the office is in your pocket now, jut a button press away. For those strapped for time, Twitter has you covered. The Omniscient Mussel has compiled a list of Twitter Opera Synopses which are limited to 140 characters.

My favorite, for Carmen: If a cigarette doesn’t kill you, the girl who made it will…

But then I'm an ex-smoker, and a hopeless romantic.

Your can read the rest of them here. And when you come see Peter Grimes on Saturday you can Twitter your own synopsis.


- Edward

Anthony Dean Griffey Is Still One Of The Nicest Men Around

Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, who is in town rehearsing Peter Grimes, took time from his busy schedule to get together with local theatre critic Pat Launer to talk about his role. Yes, he really is that nice in person but even more so, he really is that intense on stage.

You can watch the interview below. Peter Grimes opens Saturday and should not be missed.

You can also check out the entire Peter Grimes profile on San Diego News Network, the newest online news player in the San Diego Community by clicking here.

-- Edward

Getting to Know Peter Grimes

Our local paper, the San Diego Union Tribune just ran an article yesterday about director John Copley and maestro Steuart Bedford, both in town for Peter Grimes, who both have a long association with the opera and the composer, Benjamin Britten.

You can read the article here.
But don't get any ideas and try to make potassium chloride bombs like the maestro. We're lucky he has all his fingers to conduct with...
- Edward

While You Were Out


What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday, the greatest of days and time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

Me, I'm going to spend Saturday night listening to Peter Grimesrehearsals, socked taped firmly to feet, as rehearsals this week have been knocking them off. Or I might just skip the socks, not sure (these are the thoughts that cloud my mind on a typical day).
Not only are the principal singers incredible but the chorus is amazing, and might steal this show.
Sunday I will spend hitting the bins at Amoeba records for deals and out-of-print records. Anything I should look for? What are you listening plans this weekend? Share them in the comment section below and whatever you're doing, make this weekend a good one.
- Edward

New Artistic Leadership at Dallas Opera

Longtime director of artistic administration, Jonathan Pell, has been promoted to serve as artistic director reports the Houston Chronicle.

Still no word on who will take the General Director position after it was vacated by George Steel to head up NYCO.

You can read about Pell's appointment here.

-- Edward

Mozart Would Be Proud

We here at Aria Serious love it when opera is used in commercials, especially when it is selling things that have nothing to do with opera like cars, or beer, or football.

From across the pond comes this incredibly racy ad from Durex selling, well, orgasms. Far too racy for American TV, this clip is probably not safe for work either; unless you work in a crazy place like an opera company or a sex shop. Just saying...

Enjoy, but perhaps not as much as these people...

- Edward

Meet the Peter Grimes Cast

This Thursday night, at 5 :30 PM, the cast of Peter Grimes will get together in the Beverly Sills Salon to talk about our upcoming production.

The panel discussion will run for an hour and it is an impressive list of artists who will be present. I mean, if I didn't have to work it already I'd attend on my own; it's going to be that good.
For those of you who would rather sit at home and watch must-see-Thursday-TV, or live outside of San Diego, we'll have it online in about a week.
-- Edward

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Opera Columbus cuts staff and the last opera from the season.
- Rufus Wainwright will give his opera Prima Donna, its North American premiere in Toronto in 2010.
- Opera Company of Philadelphia has named an Executive Director.
- Just after we published some good news about NYCO, some bad news hits.
- The New York Times ran a wonderful article on the "The Great Mozart Switcheroo" many basses undergo with the two leads of Don Giovanni.
- Did an eating disorder lead to Handel's death?
- The Force is Strong with Los Angeles Opera's second production of its ambitious Ring Cycle. Die Walkure opened this weekend and The Los Angeles Times was there.
- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend

Friday ! We here at Aria Serious are going to take in the performance of Rigoletto tonight since BattlestarGalactica is now over and we have nothing else to do on Friday nights. We're not bitter or anything...

Have you seen our Rigoletto yet? If so, what did you think?
Beyond the performance tonight it is going to be an opera free weekend at home unless you count the podcast of The Decemberists new "folk opera" The Hazards of Love, performed live and in its entirety at South By Southwest. Gosh we love NPR!

What are your listening plans this weekend? Share them in the comments below and whatever you do, make it a good one!
- Edward


New York City Opera announced their upcoming season yesterday, after essentially shutting down this year amidst the financial crisis and their leadership debacle. The just announced 2009-2010 season, which features five operas, includes a modern piece: Hugo Weisgall's Esther, two standards: Madama Butterfly and Don Giovani, an early work: Handel's Partenope and one rarely performed work: Chabrier's Étoile.

An exciting season if you ask me and even more exciting; finally able to write some good news about a Company we love dearly.
You can read the entire New York Times article about this here.
-- Edward.

Soprano Swap

Opera is going mainstream and prime time it seems.

*** I am a Casting Producer for ABC families hit reality show 'Wife Swap.' We are currently casting for our fifth season and we are looking for Opera Families!

The premise of Wife Swap is simple: for seven days, two wives from two different families with very different values exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover what it's like to live a different family's life. It's an interesting social experiment and a great way to see your family in a whole new light. It is shot as a documentary series, so NO scripts and no set. It's just one camera that is documenting your life.

Families that appear on the show will receive a financial honorarium of $20,000 for lost wages, time and commitment. And if you refer a family that appears on the show you would receive $1000.

Here at 'Wife Swap' we look for a two-parent home with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 17 living at home full …

Horn Tootin' Time

The critics have voted and San Diego Opera Spotlight: Cavalleriarusticana / Pagliacci has won a 2008 Aurora Award. Yay! Although this show is no longer airing you can watch San Diego Opera Spotlight: Rigoletto which is airing nightly this week. Don't miss it, especially when we announce next year that it won another Aurora Award. This is like the fourth or fifth one of these we've won over the years and a special thanks must go out to Spotlight mastermind John Menier for his tireless work on these programs.

You can click here for listing for OperaSpotlight: Rigoletto information.
-- Edward