Friday, May 29, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday! And this time we mean it. No work, no travel, no plans beyond some gardening and of course getting back into the routine of listening to a different opera recording over the weekend.

This week we're digging deep into the obscure pile with a recording of The Devils of Loudun by Krzysztof Penderecki that I found up at Amoeba in San Francisco.

What are your listening plans this weekend? Share them in the comment section below. Whatever you do, make it a good one.

- Edward

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Ace of Bass" Is Murdered in the Cathedral
















Ildebrando Pizzetti's "Assassinio nella cattedrale/Murder in the Cathedral" is the rarely performed opera about the murder of Thomas Becket by the followers of King Henry II.

San Diego Opera friend Ferruccio "Ace of Bass" Furlanetto is currently performing this opera at La Scala, and the New York Times felt the performance important enough to warrant a review which you can read here.

It is a very good review. While it is always nice to hear the praises of one's friend, what makes this news exciting is the fact that Ferruccio will tackle this role again, here at San Diego Opera, in a new production in 2013.

-- Edward

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Help Us Keep Our Title!

It is on!

San Diego Opera has been nominated again for the Best Performing Arts/Live Theatre Group on Sign on San Diego's "Best Of" Reader Poll.

Yay!

As the defending champions of this title (we won last Fall) please help us take our challengers to the mat by voting for us. And by voting frequently. You can vote once per 24-hour period but you can use multiple computers or your fancy iPhone or Blackberry as well.

How do you vote? Well, click here and then click "San Diego Opera."

See, that was easy.

So vote often and tell your friends. Thank you!

We'll return to our regular schedule of posting tomorrow morning.

We missed you!

- Edward

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We'll Be Back

The end of the season is upon us, and last night saw us say goodbye to our wonderful Madama Butterfly, the final opera of our 2009 season. To all of you who saw it, thank you. And to all of you who read this blog, thank you as well.

The end of our season also coincides with a long weekend so we here at Aria Serious will be taking the next few days off and will not be posting much until later next week.

But we'll be back soon, and we have an excellent 2010 season to start exploring as well as interviews lined up with many of our artists.

So until then, enjoy the long weekend and make it a safe and good one.

- Edward

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

While You Were Out

We know, it's Wednesday and not our usual day for "While You Were Out" but there are enough interesting stories to warrant a mid-week post.

- We joked about it earlier, and even found out it had already happened, but all good(?) things come full circle and therefore opera and smell-o-vision will collide again, this time with "Green Aria," a performance of music and scents, opening at the Guggenheim Museum at the end of this month.

- The Twitter Opera plot contest thickens with one of the winners giving away his ticket to a D.C. music teacher he has never met as well as tickets to the Opera Gala the following night in a gown provided by the Washington National Opera Costume Shop. Kudos to both Stephen Llewellyn, the man who gave the tickets away, and to WNO for making this happen. In fact, Stephen just won himself some tickets to a performance of his choosing for our 2010 season. Call me.


- Chicago Lyric Opera has posted a surplus. A surplus is when a company makes more money than it spends, right? I had to look it up. It has been a long time since I used that word. Congrats to Chicago Lyric Opera and the people of Chicago who understands the value of their fine opera company.
- Edward

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Picture Time: The 2009 Season in Review

I look at a lot of pictures of opera over the season and so on the eve before the final performance of the season I thought I'd do a recap of our five operas and share with you the standout image from each production that I returned to time and time again.

January saw us begin with Tosca and brought our dastardly Scarpia, Greer "Opera God" Grimsley, to the stage. As he was one of the most memorable villans we've ever had in recent years, and one of the standout performers of this Tosca, it seems only fitting that we would use this image from "Va, Tosca" which captures the lust, greed and treachery of Scarpia in a single moment.











February brought us the rarely performed Don Quixote with the brilliant Ferruccio Furlanetto in the lead. As this was a production that was created and built by the wonderful team at San Diego Opera I had a very hard time selecting a favorite image from this production. Still, the image below was one I revisited time and time again. There are prettier images from this production, but there is something about Ferruccio here, alone with this thoughts, that makes me wonder what is going through his head. To see him move in this scene, one really does believe the famed knight is on our stage but reduced to still image, it captures an actor on the threshold of becoming his role.












Rigoletto came to us in March and brought with us the Slovakian soprano L'ubica Vargicova as Gilda. It is never easy for a woman in her thirties to play a teenager but here she captured the fey look of a girl in love even though she is aware it will lead to her doom. The high cheekbones, the toothy smile all add to illusion.






Of course, honorable mention must go to Kirstin Chavez as Maddalena who exuded sexiness on our stage and even made this jaded PR guy stammer and blush when cornered by her in the dressing room hallway.








By far my highlight of the season was our production of Peter Grimes and this image that I believe I already shared with you. It is not an image I would normally use as much of it is blurry but for this opera it is the blurriness that I am attracted to. This takes place at the end of the opera. Peter has gone out to scuttle his boat, dawn is breaking and the village is coming to life, starting their day exactly how the opera began. Only Ellen is aware of what has occurred, and her sharpness, her focus, highlights her isolation as the village comes to life around her.






And finally there is Madama Butterfly and another image that I would not have normally used as I originally found it too dark. But something happened in cleaning it up it and the noise that is created in the graininess of the image merely enhances it. For me, this image captures the burden, the weight that Cio-Cio-San feels and the horizontal lines of the soji screen behind her remind me of bars to a cage holding her captive.


And so there they are. My five, six, picks of the season.
Of course it helps to have great subject matter on our stage, but credit must also be given to Company Photographers Ken Howard and Cory Weaver (Don Quixote) whose skill, instinct and love of opera helped capture the essence of what we have on our stage which is no easy task.
- Edward

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ian Campbell Talks 2010 and Finds Inner Peace

The San Diego News Network caught up with Ian Campbell last week on the set of Madama Butterfly to have him talk about the 2010 season.

You can read about the season by visiting the SDNN site here or you can just click below and see what you really want to see, Ian sitting on a giant Buddha.

Thanks to Valerie and Steven for the excellent work.

Out and About with Patricia Racette

The San Diego Gay and Lesbian Times has just posted an interview with Patricia Racette who is currently finishing up her final performance of Madama Butterfly (one performance remains, this coming Wednesday, tickets are still available).


- Edward

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Like we always ask on Friday: what are you listening to this weekend?

Over here at the Aria Serious tower we're spending Sunday with Butterfly but not before we visit the North Park Festival of the Arts.

We promise that once opera season closes we'll move to more adventurous listening options, but what we have on stage is so good it seems wrong to let it pass us by. Three performances of Butterfly remain: tonight, Sunday and then on Wednesday. Come see it if you haven't already.

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

- Edward

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

American Idol's Adam Lambert Faces the Opera Judges...

Here's a confession: we haven't watched a second of American Idol here at the Aria Serious tower. Why? Well, the TV is rarely on at home and when it does go on it is strictly for movies these days. But we're not immune to the buzz local boy Adam Lambert has created as it seems everyone else in the world has been talking about how talented he is.

San Diego News Network asked some opera professionals, including our very own Dr. Nic, to give a few of Adam's performances a listen and to critique him.

The verdict? It seems Adam has Star Power!


And yes, fine, I'll watch an episode next week to see what the big deal is.

- Edward

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It Comes Out Blasting With Phasers Set to "Fun"

In honor of JJ Abram's new Star Trek reboot, it seems fitting that we here at Aria Serious pay tribute to one of the most neglected art forms in the known galaxy. No, we're not talking about Vogon Poetry Reading but Klingon Opera, the musical choice of sensitive interstellar warriors from Alpha Centauri to Zeta Prime.

Leave it to the Dutch members of the Klingon Terran Research Ensemble (what are they smoking?) who are now workshopping u, a Klingon Opera based on the ancient treatise called the paq'jachchcu or "book of the perfect scream" - essentially a theory manuscript on Klingon music.

Of course interstellar music calls for new instruments and the members have created some fascinating instruments to create a "Klingon sound" such as a duel bendy horn controlled by parabolic dishes.

Check out the video below which shows excerpts of the workshop of u. The subtitles are in Dutch but the dialogue is in English and, well, Klingon.

The Klingon Terran Research Ensemble hope to present the first full staging of a Klingon Opera on Earth.

And to that we say Qapla' batlh je.

- Edward



Monday, May 11, 2009

She Says 'Go!' and Makes the Opera Sing

The Voice of San Diego has just published an article about our wonderful stage manager, Mary Yankee Peters. It is a great article about a great person.

You can read it here.

Enjoy!

- Edward

San Diego Opera 2010 Season

The San Diego Union Tribune has an article about our 2010 season which we announced "officially" yesterday. All of us here are very excited about the operas as well as the singers we have singing with us. Expect interviews with many of them to appear here over the next few months.

- Edward

BUTTERFLY has landed

Madama Butterfly has landed and the reviews are pretty much unanimous that we have something incredibly special on our stage. But don't take everything you read for granted, why not come and see for yourself. Four performances of Butterfly remain. You can buy tickets here.


- Edward

Friday, May 8, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Time to ask, like we always ask, what are you listening to this weekend?

We here at Aria Serious will be listening to Madama Butterfly which opens on Saturday.
Sunday, we'll be listening to our mom tell us we don't call her enough.

What are your listening plans this weekend? Share them in the comment section below and make it a good one.

And, oh, call your mom.

- Edward

Mommy Dearest

The world of opera is filled with many larger than life characters. In honor of Mother's Day, and looking for a way to endure that long Mother's Day brunch, we thought we would take a look at some of the less than ideal mothers that have graced the opera stage.

Because after all we love our mom, really, and we're sure glad she isn't...

- Azucena, perhaps the most dastardly of all operatic mothers, who burns her baby before Il Trovatore even begins.

- Herodias who gives her daughter Salome some "questionable" advice.

- Step-grandmother Kostelnitchka who drowns Jenufa's baby at the end of the opera.

- Margaret Garner, who cuts the throats of her children although she did it to save them from slavery so there is room for debate on this one.

- Medea/Medee who kills her two children however you want to spell it.

- Klytaemnestra in Elektra murders her husband and hides from her children.

- Madame de la Haltière the evil stepmother in Cendrillon.

- Gertrud in Hansel und Gretel

- The Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute who threatens her daughter if she does not kill Sarastro.

So remember, call your mom this Sunday, because in the grand scheme of things she could've been much worse.

We're already working on our Father's Day list for next month.

- Edward

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Madama Butterfly Artist Roundtable

We apologize for the delay, there were technical difficulties beyond our control, but here now in all of its glory is the Madama Butterfly Artist Roundtable from last week.

This was one of our best yet witth a lively group of singers. Funny too.

Madama Butterfly: A Sneak Peek

Madama Butterfly opens on Saturday and all week long we've been busy in technical rehearsals. Below you will find a selection of images from the past few nights of rehearsals.

I'd forgotten how much I liked this production, the space defined by shoji screens, darkness and light. The balance of Eastern and Western aesthetics and poor Cio-Cio-San caught in the middle of it all.

If you've already seen this production I'd still say come see it again. Patricia Racette really brings a new dimension to the opera and the supporting cast all rises to the occasion.

But why write when we have pictures. Sweet glorious pictures.

All photos are by Ken Howard.
- Edward












Getting to Know Madama Butterfly

A pair of articles on Madama Butterfly hit newsstands today.

The first, about Patricia Racette, appeared in the North County Times this morning. You can read it here.

The second, which appeared in the La Jolla Light is about the production itself and features contributions from Patricia, Carlo Ventre and Garnett Bruce. You can read it here.

-Edward

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

Over the Weekend

Not much to report over the weekend, but then it is the quality of news and not the quantity, right?


- Our local paper, the San Diego Union Tribune ran an excellent profile on Patricia Racette yesterday. You can read it by clicking here.

- Edward

Friday, May 1, 2009

When Opera Collides...

Courtesy of our lovely friend the Opera Chic comes this surreal video featuring Russian baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky called "You and I".

When opera collides with electronic music the end result is usually less than the sum of the parts and this is no exception.

But the imagery is fascinating, provided you take enough hallucinogens and turn the volume down.

I've watched it a few times now and I'm still not sure what I've seen beyond a shirtless baritone dressed like an elf whipping the lady of the lake into an orgasmic frenzy.

Needless to say, this is NSFW, unless you work in the bizarro world of opera or as a dominatrix which if you do, call me.

I'm filing this one under "WTF?"

- Edward

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday, the day of Venus, and also the last day before the weekend unless you work in Iran or Saudi Arabia which means you're going back to work tomorrow. Sorry. Regardless of where you are, it is time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

Me? I'll be catching some Butterfly rehearsals Saturday night so Sunday I'll spend holding court in the hammock, listening to nothing. Sometimes silence is golden.

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

- Edward