Protopunker Patti Smith reveals in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera that she wants to sing Tosca. Courtesy of the awesome Opera Chic blog comes the translation:
I'd love to step on a stage and sing Tosca. Tosca loves, and prays, with all her being. I'd love to sing Vissi d'Arte, one of the most strikingly beautiful arias in opera. My introduction to opera was an old LP, Eleanor Steber singing Butterfly... I was very young and it moved me to tears. Giacomo Puccini became my magic portal to enter the world of opera. I am so grateful to Puccini for this... What I love the most about his music is the melodic lines, and the way he builds up tension and emotion. The intensity of his arias represents a lesson to every singer... Puccini is, in the end, an composer whose music is very audience-friendly because he knew the people and he believed in them. His stories are simple, and they move you.
The New York Times has the story about Keith Miller a former football player who is now "running arias" instead of the line of scrimmage. We won't hold it against him that it was "Phantom of the Opera" that lead to his singing career, after all, dude just might kick my butt.
If you're looking for something to buy us for our birthday here at Aria Serious, please consider buying us a Daxophone. This instrument is a friction idiophone, whose wooden tongue vibrates to create sound. The sound can vary widely based on the shape of the tongue; a different shape means a different sound so the Daxophone essentially has an endless pallet to work from. It can also be played a variety of ways - bowed, plucked, hammered, etc...
But it's the sound that has us captivated. Strangely odd, incredibly unique I'd love to play with one of these and drive my neighbor insane.
The one in the first clip sounds like an elephant burping harmonicas and backed by a chorus of helium huffing ducks.
The second is of the inventor himself playing his wondrous creation.
You can also visit Daxo.de to play a virtual one and, for those with the DIY spirit, make your own.
Mozart's original score for The Magic Flute called for a glass harmonica (pictured) or keyed glockenspiel to represent the set of magic bells. These instruments, rare even in Mozart's time, no longer exist today. (Modern day orchestras use a Celeste to recreate this sound).
When the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra programmed music from The Magic Flute they had no idea what they would do. See, the Brandenburg Orchestra plays on period instruments. But with some ingenuity and a whole lot of research it seems they might have solved a 200 year old mystery.
Puccini's Turandot, once considered an insult to China for its story line, as well as being considered a decadent display of the excesses of capitalism, is returning to Beijing and the city is pulling out all stops.
Making its way around the interzweb, this incredible video of a CATcerto featuring Nora the Wondercat on piano. For fans of things cute, warm and cuddly and those who like modern classical music. If you're a fan of both, you might want to hold on now...
Comic Con 2009 has come and gone and while we are sad as always to see it go, we're somewhat relieved to not have to walk 10 miles a day to see everything there is to see. (Next year, we swear, we're wearing a pedometer and/or roller skates)
"Why," you must be asking, "is an Opera blog commenting on Comic Con?" And you have a point; but like opera, comics are grossly misunderstood and stereotyped so we feel we might as well chime in. Besides, we can, so why not?
First, there was very little opera related I could find at Comic Con.
I was in line to ask ex-Python and uberdirector Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) about his aborted operatic directing debut at La Scala with Andrea Chenier but we ran out of time. We did get to see some clips from his new movie however. Bonus points for having Tom Waits as The Devil.
BattlestarGalactica / Caprica composer Bear McCreary mentioned in the Battlestar Retrospective panel how he would love to do a concert at Vancouver Opera. We tweeted this up to our friends at Vancouver Opera who would love to see it happen. I later gave Bear my card to get them talking to one another. We'll see what comes out of it.
And then there was a wonderful, inspirational, conversation with Ray Bradbury that I was lucky enough to have. Mr. Bradbury wrote the screenplay to the movie Moby-Dick, an opera we happen to be producing in 2012. I asked Mr. Bradbury if he would have any interest in writing some notes in our program on why people keep returning to this story. He passed on the offer to write for us but has Moby-Dick in his calendar now. He promises to live to 100 and wants to be buried on Mars. We were in awe of his fertile, incredibly sharp, mind. More in awe that thousands of people walked by us while we chatted and nobody seemed to notice him.
Comic Con is about books. And we here at Aria Serious love books almost as much as we love opera. Comic Con is one huge bookstore that goes on for miles and miles. Not so much a fan of Superman, Batman, Ironman or their ilk we tend to go for graphic novels and below are some of the gems we found.
Unable to find any comic books about opera (hello people) we had to settle for some plays by Shakespeare adapted in the Manga style. We bought a half dozen copies of Hamlet for my wife's classroom. Using Shakespeare's actual text we're hoping the visual ques can help some of the reluctant readers get through the sticker passages.
After eyeing some original drawing by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt (out of my price range) and eyeing the beautiful and grotesque clockwork taxidermy of an artist whose name I can no longer recall (also out of my price range), I came across the incredibly bizarre, wonderful and horrific graphic novel The Squirrel Machine about brothers who make instruments from animal carcasses. Set in a beautiful, haunting steampunk universe I bought the book based on the cover and was not prepared for the disturbing journey inside. This one is currently my personal "best of show" but I have a lot of books to read still.
Another book worth mentioning is the delightfully nostalgic tale of a boy and his father called Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? A tale of optimism in a time when the future seemed to hold all the answers, this book is set around the New York World Fair with artwork that is both a throwback to earlier styles while also using some cutting edge illustration techniques. (Bonus points for the elegant, beautiful, lady working the Abrams ComicArts table - she was stunning from the get go but the Superman tattoo on her wrist just melted us, temporary or not).
A fan of YoshihiroTatsumi visual short stories I was delighted to find A Drifting Life, his 900 page comic autobiography that follows his life as a child through the Japanese reconstruction of post-World War II and his career as an artist. While his works are never easy to read they provide a look at a world incredibly foreign to me but in a such a simplistic style that they touch on the universal human experiences and seem almost familiar.
Time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?
We here at Aria Serious are exploring the wastes of Glornak 7, err, we mean reveling in the geekfest that is Comic Con so there will be no listening to albums for us this weekend. But next week we're looking at either The Force of Destiny or Otello. Any reason to pick one over the other? Let us know in the comment section below.
Whatever you decide to listen to this weekend, make it a good one.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted today on a proposed plan to change the focus of the Ring Festival.
The verdict: Wagner is a wiener but use the festival as an "examination of his influence on Western culture and society -- for better and for worse."
Supervisor ZevYaroslavsky (who incidentally sounds like a nice Jewish boy) proposed the focus of looking at Wagner's influence also added "we should keep our sticky fingers out of this. There is no reason for politicians to meddle in artistic undertakings."
Got a case of the Monday blahs? Aria Serious cares.
Here to make your Monday better is our newest podcast for you. This week Dr. Nic takes a look at Love Duets in opera and what makes them tick. You can download the podcast here or check us out on iTunes.
As always our Podcasts are free and run about 15 minutes.
We here at Aria Serious will be spending the weekend with family in Los Angeles so listening to a complete opera is out of the question. But we do have a few hours planned for Amoeba records so if there is something you want to suggest we pick up make it known below.
Whatever your listening plans are, make it a good one.
Next in our occasional series of 10 Questions With... is Yugoslavian baritone Zeljko Lucic who sings the title role of Nabucco with us in February 2010. Between rehearsals we were able to ask him 10 questions and his brief responses are below.
San Diego Opera (SDO): Welcome to San Diego, we are very happy to have you making a house debut with us for these performances of Nabucco. Is there anything new in your life that you would like to share with us?
Zeljko Lucic (ZL): Very usual things. Traveling, singing, enjoying life.
SDO: In your own words, can you tell us a bit about the character Nabucco?
ZL: Maybe a little parallel to Rigoletto, but this guy is crazy.
SDO: Is there a part of Nabucco that you relate to?
ZL: I have nothing to do with this guy.
SDO: Is there a moment in this opera that is a favorite of yours?
ZL: Of course. That is the aria in the third act.
SDO: Being a professional Opera singer you spend a lot of time traveling, meeting different people, exploring new locales. What do you like best about this aspect of your job?
ZL: It is never boring. Meeting other people is a good thing!
SDO: What do you like the least?
ZL: Not being with my family!
SDO: We must admit there is more to life than opera. So, do you have any hobbies?
ZL: Not actually! Watching TV, going out with friends.
SDO: Is there a book next to your bed? If so, what is it?
ZL: I am very classical: Dostoyevski, Tolstoi…
SDO: What is in your cd player/iPod right now that is not opera related?
ZL: Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent and Co.
SDO: If you were not an opera singer, what would you be?
Robert Brill, the Tony Award nominated set designer with ties to local community has been named set designer for the world premiere of Moby-Dick. Moby-Dick gets its world premiere in April of 2010 at Dallas Opera and comes to San Diego Opera in February of 2012. In addition to Dallas and San Diego, Moby-Dick is being developed by a consortium of companies including San Francisco Opera, Calgary Opera and the State Opera of South Australia.
Robert made his Company debut designing our Wozzeck "Tower of Power" in 2007. He is a founding member Sledgehammer theatre and has close ties to La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe Theatre and others.
He's also a really nice guy. (This counts!)
We're happy to have Robert Brill on board. Once we get some sketches from Robert, we'll share them with you.
Leaders in Los Angeles are asking that Wagner's Ring Cycle be pulled from the citywide Ring Festival on ground that Wagner was anti-semitic. And so were a lot of people back in Germany at the time... This debate is nothing new and people forget that Wagner was just a product of his environment and that it was Hitler who took Wagner's music and made them the themes for his horrible cause.
As a Jew, I'm the first to call anti-semitism when I see it in my personal life, but as a Jew I also understand that banning art is just a step away from banning ideas which is just a few steps away from banning people, which means that we're just a few steps from becoming the very things we hate.
Proving even more that we're not as original or creative as we thought, Aria Serious has received word the a zombie opera - Maelstorm - has just received its world premiere.
This is something we touched on last summer, and were quite smitten with the fact that we had come up with something so original. But it seems one was already in the works, which just goes to show there is nothing new under the sun.
Although he performed with us before I was here, we here at San Diego are saddened by the news that Sir Edward Downes and his wife have ended their lives at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich.
Sir Edward conducted our production of Fidelio in 1989 and those that were here at the time remember it as a very memorable production. He also worked with our General and Artistic Director, Ian Campbell when he was a singer, and Sir Edward was Music Director of The Australian Opera.
The 85-year-old maestro had become virtually blind and had lost some of his hearing, while his 74-year-old wife had been suffering from cancer his children revealed.
Gerard Mortier, the Artistic Director of the Paris Opera; the one-time incoming director of NYCO; and now the incoming director of Spain's Theatre Real had a sort of farewell this week at Paris Opera. His final commission, by painter Anselm Kiefer, Am Anfang(“In the Beginning”), premiered earlier this week.
American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato is reporting via her blog that she did just that -- broke her fibia and then proceeded to sing in TheBarber of Seville at the Royal Opera House while being helped around and held up by her fellow castmates for the entire opera.
The show indeed must go on!
All of us here at AriaSerious send Joyce our best wishes, our utmost respect for the incredible dedication she showed to her fans and colleagues and a speedy recovery
Thursday, normally the tease of the week with Friday right around the corner, actually delivers with the long holiday weekend. So it is time to ask, a day earlier than normal, what are you listening to this weekend?
We'll spend Saturday chillin' and grillin' so it seems only fitting to listen to Norma while the coals shimmer and glow.
In case you are new to our Company, or just want to relive some great moments, we've posted our "Introduction to San Diego Opera" video below. Special kudos to John Menier over at UCSD-TV who turned our intangible ideas into a tangible product. And for not getting stabby when we changed our mind 6,281 times.