Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In For Penny, In For A Pound

A look at updating opera and why halfway won't do.

Is it possible that the Met's Tosca received such a violent response because it was actually steeped in tradition?

The New York Times reports.

Back to Back to Back

If you're a conductor and reading this: watch your back!

Just hours after reporting maestro James Levine will be out for a few weeks due to back surgery, we read that maestro David Ott broke his back in a 14-foot fall into the orchestra pit at the University of West Florida. Yikes!

Maestro Ott is currently resting at home and is expected to make a full recovery.

You can read about it here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Met's James Levine To Undergo Back Surgery

From our friends over at A Liberal's Libretto comes breaking news that Metropolitan Opera Conductor James Levine will undergo surgery to fix an herniated spinal disk. He is has pulled out of Tosca and Der Rosenkavalier.

You can read the full article by clicking the link above.

All of us wish the maestro a speedy return to the podium.

Is It Wrong to Be More Excited About The Muppets?

Word from the wonderful Opera Chic blog is that "popera" star Andrea Bocelli will be releasing his first holiday album called "My Christmas" and will be joined by such pop stars as Natalie Cole, Mary J. Blige, Reba McEntire, and Katherine Jenkins. But then why are we most excited to read that in a duet of "Jingle Bells", Bocelli will sing with Kermit, Miss Piggy and other assorted Muppets.

Animal better make an appearance is all I'm saying.

Because it never gets old...

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Others

No, we're not talking The Others from Lost (do people still watch Lost?).

We're talking about secondary principal singers roles; roles like Marcello, Ismaele, Mercutio and Germont. You can have the greatest Rodolfo and Mimi in the world, but you'd better have a Marcello who can match them!

This week, Dr. Nic explores these roles on Podcast Monday!

(And we apologize for neglecting last week's podcast Monday, it was a busy one!)

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Soprano Elizabeth Futral is addicted to La traviata. We hope so! She sings Violetta with us next season.

- A new morning sickness cure is making the rounds. Singing Cio-Cio-San from Madama Butterfly.



- Los Angeles Opera is mounting an ambitious season. Because of this, sets are now being stored outdoors.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday! And so it is time to ask, what are you listening to this weekend?

It is a very busy music weekend for us. We here at Aria Serious are actually going to spend some time with the mother of all soprano roles and listen to Tristan und Isolde with Nilsson. We listened to it some years back so it is time to revisit it.

Sunday we have a very special sunrise concert up in Los Angeles with Bon Iver who is playing outside in a cemetery(!). Should be interesting to see all the hipsters awake for a 6 AM show.

After that we're going to hurry back to town (after an Amoeba Records run, of course) for the Carlsbad Music Festival and minimalist guitarist/composer Fred Frith with the Calder Quartet and the California EAR Unit

Then we're going to listen to silence.
Share your listening plans below and make it a good one!

Friday Time Waster Alert!!!

With all the hype over Gustavo Dudamel coming to the LA Phil, this one takes the cake.

It's called "Bravo Gustavo" and it is essentially Guitar Hero for a symphony. Insanely simple, incredibly addictive, this is going to take up more valuable work time than you're willing to admit.

Also available for the iPhone, for when you need a quick midnight fix.

Play it online here.

Enjoy!

Opera's Mt. Everest

Wagner's Isolde is the mother of all soprano roles. It can make or break a voice and there are those that have sung it and never recovered. This morning's Guardian takes a look at why and talks to some who have taken on this role.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Expect Lots of Mud and Naked Hippies

From our friends over at Vancouver Opera comes news that a Burning Man Opera is on its way.

Called "How to Survive the Apocalypse" the opera follows three newbies as they stumble through the erotic, psychological, and visionary minefield of the festival.

It's been many many lifetimes since I last went to Burning Man but I seem to remember (vaguely) it was about spending half the time in a giant cuddle-puddle and the other half launching off firework mortars dangerously close to encampments. Not necessarily "opera material".

Or is it..?

You can read about the opera here.

There Are Not Enough Female Conductors on the Podium

I think we sometimes forget that fact here at San Diego Opera, but it is true. You see, we're blessed with not only an incredible resident conductor, but one who also happens to be a woman; Karen Keltner.

Today's Variety takes a look at female conductors and why there are so few of them. The good news: there are more on the podium now more than ever. The bad news: there are still not nearly enough.

You can read about why here.

We'll try to get Karen to join in the conversation as well, but she's busy working on music this morning. The season is quickly approaching!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is Opera Really the NASCAR of the Arts World?

Via the blog Gawker comes this commentary on the Met's opening night of Tosca which ends:

"Though the opera audience is supposed to be the highest of the highbrow and the audience is usually littered with society dowagers and other keepers of the cultural flame, it has a long tradition of verbally roasting its stars and directors.

And for many that is the appeal. The sets, costumes, and performers are held to such a high standard by a small cabal of dedicated enthusiasts, that even the slightest misstep or seeming innovation is shouted off the stage like a pitchy belter at an American Idol audition. When everyone knows the plot of the melodramatic tale unfolding on stage, they need the looming specter of disaster to keep them interested. The only thing that separates these highbrow patrons from their lowbrow brethren waiting to inhale the scent of rubber burning on asphalt is the superiority they feel about their artistic pursuits."

A comment echoed in this morning's New York Times by The Met's Peter Gelb who commented:

"“There are people in that audience who came there expecting not to like anything."

Perhaps we're naive here at Aria Serious, but we always attend opera, live theatre in general, to see artists strive for perfection and not for the spectacle of someone crashing and burning onstage.

Besides, that's what figure skating is for.

I don't think we're in the minority here. I hope.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is Opera For the Present?

Word on the street is that people don't like the Met's new Tosca, which premiered last night to loud boos directed towards the production team.

Much of this displeasure is aimed at director Luc Bondy who has put a contemporary spin on the production, making it rife with commentary about our current world.

And so continues the debate about regietheatre or as some call it, Eurotrash.

Does opera allow for high-concept productions or should it remain true to the plot?

Is their room for Tosca or La boheme in the present?

Monday, September 21, 2009

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- The New York Times Travel section featured a cover profile on Ring-nuts (we call them Ringies) who travel the world to see Wagner's gesamtkunstwerk. We were quite happy then to see our good friend, San Diego opera supporter and "ringleader" Becky Hunt get a big mention in the article which you can read here.

- Although we're loudly boycotting the Emmy's because BATTLESTAR GALATICA GOT ROBBED FIVE YEARS IN A ROW we're deeply satisfied that our favorite soprano/actress Kristin Chenoweth won an award for Olive Snook in Pushing Dasies, the second best show ever on TV that nobody ever watched. So say we all! Celebratory pies for all.

- Our friends to the North of us at Opera Santa Barbara must be excited! “Wicked” composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz's new opera Seance on a Wet Afternoon premieres this weekend.

- The Met begins their season tonight with Tosca. Free simulcasts abound for our readers in NYC.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday! And a special one at that. It is time to wish all our Jewish readers a big 'ol happy L'shana tova (Happy New Year) as Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown.

To celebrate, opera will need to wait until next weekend due to family obligations but we do have a nice iTunes mix of Jewish Musicians we'll be playing at dinner tomorrow night: Gustav Mahler, Marc Bolan (T. Rex), The Clash (Mick Jones was Jewish), Serge Gainsbourg, Natalie Dessay, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Berlin, and Bob Dylan, among others, will all make an appearance on the stereo.

We decided to leave Husker Du, Anthrax and the Dead Kennedy's off the list (all primarily Jewish) as dear Aunt Penny is nursing a weak heart.

What are your listening plans this weekend? And whatever they are, make it a good one!

The Musical Bridge to Nowhere

More on the Sarah Palin Opera this morning, this time with a musical excerpt to listen to.

As we've stated before on a Facebook discussion about this, opera as political commentary/satire is nothing new but the music still needs to deliver in the end.

Does the music deliver here? We'll let you be the judge.

You can read more about the opera, and see the clip, here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just Because

We we're having a bad morning here at Aria Serious: the alarm didn't go off on time, we forgot to take out the recycling last night, the cat is sick (we know because we stepped in it) and we left our favorite opera shirt in the dryer overnight and didn't have time to iron.

But then we saw this.

And our day is looking up.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Piotr Beczala is Crystal Clear

As I'm sure, Dear Readers, you know by now, tenor Piotr Beczala is making his Company debut with us next season.

This month's Opera News magazine has a wonderful profile on the tenor who sings Rodolfo with and we just found a version of that article online today.

You can read it here.

Accidents Happen

Opera is an art form with many moving parts. And so with so much going on onstage and backstage at any given moment it makes sense that accidents will happen from time to time.

We here at San Diego Opera are very proud of our safety record *knocks on wood* but accidents are common in the world of opera.


The Sydney Morning Herald takes a look at some high profile operatic accidents. You can read the article here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sarah Palin, The Opera

It was bound to happen sometime. Guerilla Opera at Boston Conservatory's Zack Box Theatre will receive the world premiere of "Say It Ain't So, Joe" an opera based on the vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

Composer Curtis Hughs comments "my primary interest was the music. I was struck by the contrast of the two styles - Biden's and Palin's - and the music in their voices."

You can read more about the opera here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:


- As English National Opera prepares to open their season this week, they search for their identity.

- We have a new iPhone application. Expect us to sexy it up over the next few weeks and make a real, formal, announcement.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday is upon us! So it is time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

Here at Aria Serious were going to listen to Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District mainly because we've never listened to it all the way through.

We'll close the weekend with a nap in the hammock with some old albums by Fela Kuti and the Africa 70 we discovered in a garage sale the other day. Score!

Whatever you do, make this weekend a good one, and share you listening picks down below.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

And They Sing Well, Too...

It's always exciting here at the Aria Serious tower when we get to welcome a new singer to our Company and so we're doubly excited about husband and wife team Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez who make their debut with us next season in Romeo and Juliet.

Below is a clip of them performing Puccini's La Villi. February can't come soon enough!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rollin' with Rodolfo

It's a Podcast Monday... on a Wednesday. Yep, the holiday weekend screwed us up and we fell behind. But this way we have something to celebrate 9/9/09 with.

This week, in anticipation of Piotr Beczala's debut with us in Boheme, Dr. Nic takes a look at the great tenors who have taken on the role of Rodolfo including Caruso and Wunderlich.

You can download the Podcast here.

Enjoy!

Oh look, 9:09

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Royal Opera House Twitter Opera Sneak Peak

Covent Garden has released a sneak preview of their "Twitter Opera" which you can find below.

DUCK!!!

Will Opera's Future Be on the Computer?

ClassicalTV is betting $10 million the answer is "yes."

ClassicalTV has partnered up with major classical institutions around the world to present full-length videos of high-profile performances on computers. They're betting that fans will gladly substitute the grandeur of these operas for the reduced price of seeing these operas. That reduced price? Free, although a short commercial will run before each selection plays.

Call me a luddite but I'm just not sure how we;; a 3-hour opera would translate on a computer screen. And isn't part of seeing an opera actually going to an opera?

Still for those rare gems, even we might be able to be convinced.

You can explore ClassicalTV here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

The weekend is here and it's a long one. (A bit of business - our offices are closed today and Monday). To celebrate we here at Aria Serious are going to delve into the realm of Wagner and take a close listen to Parsifal.

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

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Filmaker Wener Herzog Takes on La Boheme

Filmmaker Werner Herzog will premiere a four-minute short film this weekend at the Venice Film Festival. His film, commissioned by ENO and Sky Arts asked directors to imagine an operatic number in purely visual terms.

Using "O Soave Fabciulla" from La boheme he took this aria to the Mursi people of Ethiopia.

A brief clip below shows what he came up with. We imagine the full version will be up soon after, t which point we will post it here.



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Zeljko Lucic is Nabucco

We here at Aria Serious are pretty excited about the upcoming season, but the opera we're most excited about is Nabucco mainly because it is the one opera this season we haven't seen live. We're also excited about two new singers joining us for this opera: Zeljko Lucic (who sings Nabucco) and Raymond Aceto (who sings Zaccaria).

Cleaning out the Tivo I finally got around to watching Lucic's stunning MacBeth at the Met. It made February seem very far away.

Here's a clip from MacBeth with Zeljko Lucic. This is his act 4 aria "Perfidi all' anglo contro..."

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cook Like They Do At Cafe Momus

Just a reminder that today is the day you can register for our opera-inspired cooking classes at Great News. Four classes total, each one covering dishes inspired by our 2010 season.

There goes my diet. Yeah, the things we suffer through for work.

You can register here and more information can be found here.


Bon Appetit!

Domo Arigato Mr. Vibrato

The science of vibrato, demystified in this morning's NY Times.