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


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?


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.


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.