Showing posts from March, 2010

Whale Watching

Moby-Dick rehearsals are now underway for the world premiere at The Dallas Opera. The opera comes to us in 2012.

For those of you following along, our dear friend KeturahStickann is blogging about the experience of creating a world premiere opera. She had a recap of the first two days of rehearsal.

Fascinating stuff, which you can read here.

From the Department of Really!?

Word from the Met is that Maestro Leonard Slatkin, who is conducting the revival of La traviata showed up to rehearsals without fully knowing the score. He figured "since everyone else in the house knew it, I would learn a great deal from the masters."

Which prompts us to add (because now we feel we must), our La traviata conductor Renato Palumbo knows it and knows it quite well.


Podcast Monday

Getting right back into the groove of things, it's Podcast Monday for all you podcast starved readers. This week's topic?

Great tenors in La traviata.

Remember, you can get our podcasts here. They're free, fat free, all natural and great tasting.

While You Were Out

- The Metropolitan Opera received it's largest individual gift: $30 million.

- Danielle deNeise is de Nice.

- Placido Domingo is back to work following his surgery and getting ready to start Simon Boccanegra rehearsals at La Scala in a few days with Ailyn Perez, who was our Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.

- The New Yorker's Alex Ross takes a look at the Met's upcoming season, this first one planned entirely by Peter Gelb.

- Mezzo-soprano Blanche Thebom has died at the age of 94. (Audio clip below)

- Our stars of La traviata have been arriving over the weekend! First rehearsals begin tomorrow.

Podcast Monday on a Friday!?

Dr. Nic took a little break from these but now he's back and getting ready for La Traviata.

This week's podcast? Giorgio Germont - which you can download here.


Anna Netrebko's New Home

All I can say is that I wish I had a playroom like that growing up. OK, fine. I wish I had a playroom like that now.

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

If you're drawing a blank like me, let us suggest starting with Dr. NicReveles and "San Diego Opera Matters" on XLNC1 104.9 FM or online on Saturday at 9 AM PST. This week's topic? "La traviata - Verdi grows up." We'll do everything in our power to sleep through this show, not because we don't think it's a wonderful program, but truth be told we're tired and really hope we can sleep in a bit.

Besides, XLNC1 podcasts these programsso I can always catch it at 10 AM if the dogs allow me a morning to snooze. Fat chance!
After that, the only real listening plan we have is the broadcast of Romeo and Juliet on Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 7 PM PST on XLNC1 (104.9 FM or online for those with short attention spans). This will be the broadcast of the Sunday performance, which was the hottest one of the run and truly a moment that all involved should be proud of. If you missed Romeo you really don't want to miss t…

Has Technology Caused Music to Lose Its Meaning?

Today's Los Angeles Times asks: has all this technology in our pocket devalued the experience of listening to music?

We touched on this a few years back when Aria Serious was just a fledgling little blogette. Our second ever post was called "The Act of Listening to Music" which led to the birth of our weekly column "What Are You Listening To This Weekend?" - a conscious effort on our part, for at least one day a week, to actively listen to music.

Music is a constant in my life; I hear it at work, at home, going to sleep and upon waking up. But I still only truly listen to it one day a week, when I put the headphones on and for a few hours pay attention to every single note. But it is society's habit of passive listening that makes our job as opera marketers so much harder. The opera experience is an active one. You can't just sit back, close your eyes and nod off (well, my wife does...). As technology gets smaller, faster, better, we'll have a whole g…

Whale Watching

The world premiere of Moby-Dick is coming soon, and our good friend KeturahStickann is in Dallas getting ready for rehearsals. She's the assistant director of this opera. If you want some insight into what is coming to us in 2012, may we suggest you read her blog House To Half.

You can read about the preparations going on right now, by clicking here, right now.

And you can expect plenty more updates as we get closer to the world premiere and San Diego Opera premiere.

Do You Have A Question?

With a new season announcement coming soon, this means we have a whole bunch of new cast members to meet and get to know. In the past we've done this with our occasional series of "10 Questions With" which are the same 10 or 11 questions we've asked for a few years now.

Well, it's time to mix it up.
Do you have a question you want to ask one of 2011 stars? If so, add it to the comments below or email it to
Of course you don't know who are stars are yet, so they'll need to be general enough to cover everybody.
I'll start sending out questions to our singers in June, so you have until then to come up with one.

What Not To Wear

TLC's What Not To Wear is coming back to San Diego! We worked with them a few seasons ago when we suprised the friend of donor on the San Diego Opera stage.

As a reader of Aria Serious, if you know someone who might be a candidate, or have a friend you no longer really want as a friend, What Not To Wear wants to hear from you.

They'll be in town May 17-19 which means we won't have the theatre, but maybe we can suprise someone for a "special meeting" with Ian in our office.

And don't nominate me. Some of you might want to, especially those of you who sympathetically remind me that parachute pants will one day come back into fashion.

To which I reply: they never left.

Details are below and, uh, good luck?

If you would like to nominate someone in San Diego, please fill out the following questions and send them over to


> AGE:







The Many Uses of a Sharpie

For many that saw Romeo and Juliet, the fight at the end of Act 2 was some of the best stage combat they've ever seen. And a lot went into making it as real as possible; countless hours of rehearsals, an amazing Fight Director, athletic singers, some custom made lightweight blades and Sharpies.


Yep. Each night before going onstage Tybalt (Joel Sorensen) and Mercutio (David Adam Moore) would run through their sword fight using whatever they could find backstage. On this night, they got their hands on some Sharpies and our lovely production intern, Amy Duffy, was there to steal David 's phone to get some pictures.

Thanks to Amy, David and Joel for sharing.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Romeo and Juliet had its final performance on Sunday and it was a hot one. We're loading out of the theatre for a few weeks before we move back in for La traviata.
- Are you busy? We're busy. Who has time for opera anymore?
- What type of Ring will $32M buy you? This one.
- Wolfgang Wagner, longtime Bayreuth director, finally reaches Valhalla.

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

Romeo and Juliet?
We sure hope so. The Aria Serious crew still maintains that this is one of our finest moments ever. Don't miss it. With that said, we're going to miss the Friday performance (baby sitting duties).

We'll spend Saturday morning listening to "San Diego Opera Matters" on XLNC1 (104.9 FM) or online. This week's topic? Nic's favorite French Opera. Tres bon!
We'll round up Saturday by listening to The Knife's electro-opera Tomorrow, In A Year which baritone David Adam Moore (Mercutio) dropped off at the office (as well as the Cocteau Twins complete discography). Why? Because he's 13 different kinds of awesome.
Sunday we'll take the final performance of Romeo and Juliet and say goodbye to the cast, always a bittersweet event.
Share your listening plans below *cough*Romeo and Juliet*cough* and make it a good one.

From the Department of Strange

Word comes from across the pond that the Scottish Opera will premiere "Baby O" an opera for infants.

We here at Aria Serious are perplexed by this news; both strange, somewhat funny, and yes, jealous that we're beyond the age where we can blow spit bubbles and burp excitedly while in the opera house (or so we're often reminded).

Will it create a new generation of opera goers? Probably not. Will the "Mozart Effect" make these children brilliant? We can hope. But spending time with your family is priceless and sharing the joy of music is perhaps the greatest gift one can give. So, yes, we're already fans.

Another bonus: the audience won't need to wait until intermission to go to the bathroom.

Youth indeed is wasted on the young.

You can read the full article here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Our Romeo and Juliet opened on Saturday. The reviews are in and can be read here. The best review in my book: the fact my wife stayed up all night and "loved it." She even wants to see it again. This is the first time she has said this in, like, never.

- If you missed Stephen and Ailyn on KPBS this morning, you can hear them online here. Things we also learned not in the interview: the KPBS studios aren't completely soundproof, Stephen Costello doesn't use the Konami Code while playing Contra and IzakayaSakura doesn't serve sushi for lunch on Mondays.

- Francesca Zambello is going to head Glimmerglass Opera.

- Double D's to High C's, Royal Opera to stage Anna Nicole Smith the opera.

- New York City Opera's 2010-2011 season announced.

- Does the future of live opera involve digital sets? Probably. But it also involves the present at Florida Grand Opera. Bet you one day they'll even be in 3D.

The One That Got Away

We here at Aria Serious see lots and lots of images and there is always one we just love but we can't use for our press purposes.

That image for Romeo and Juliet is down below.
Why can't we use it? Well, it was taken from backstage (you can see the exit sign and prop desk in the background) so the image doesn't really appear in the opera from a perspective the audience will ever get to see. But we love it because it shows that fine balance between onstage and backstage. More so, it shows the situational awareness a singer must possess at all times while performing. Ailyn is listening to the music, following the conductor, her colleagues, acting, but is also aware that our photographer has stepped around from our stage manager's station to snap this picture. A perfect example of the mental fitness that singers are required to have.
That and it's a really pretty shot. Thanks to Ken Howard who this one for us. Edited to add: Aylin adds that she was actually staring at …

Sword Fighting Ballet Dancers


Photos are in and wow, what an opera. The Aria Serious Crew is going out on a limb here but we believe it - Romeo and Juliet is our opera of the 2010 season. Don't believe me, take a look below.
All photos are by the wonderful Ken Howard.

A Video Interview With Stephen and Ailyn

From our friends at SDNN. Stay tuned for another one this afternoon about ballet and swordfighting. Hmmm. Swordfighting ballet... I might be onto something...

A Special Morning With Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez

On Monday, March 15, 2010 at 10:20 AM PST Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez will join host Maureen Cavanaugh on KPBS'sThese Days Program for a special interview and talk about Romeo and Juliet. As a special bonus, because they are so frickin' awesome, both will perform live, in studio, with Dr. NicReveles on piano.

I've been working here nearly 11 seasons now, and I've never once been able to convince a singer to perform live on the radio in the morning. But here we get two.

Tune in to 89.5 FM (89.7 La Jolla) on Monday morning or online at Got a question for Stephen and Ailyn that you want to ask on air? Want to tell them how awesome they are? Call in to the studio at 888-895-5727 to join in on the conversation on-air.

OperaSpotlight ROMEO AND JULIET Premieres Tonight

Tonight on UCSD-TV at 9 PM, we'll be airing our OperaSpotlight program on Romeo and Juliet. Join us for a 30 minute look at our current production with interviews, behind the scenes footage and swords.

It's much better than watching Caprica. We promise.

Channels and details here.

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

Hopefully Romeo and Juliet. We are! We see a lot of opera here at the Aria Serious Tower, and we're really excited about this production. It's fast, frenetic, french and fabulous (yayalliteration). We're even bringing our wife, who doesn't like opera, but we're convinced that she's going to like this one. We told her it was a good excuse to buy new shoes. As if she needed one...
We have a few seats left for Saturday night and we're offering them for 25% off . No fooling.
Don't forget we have "San Diego Opera Matters" on XLNC1 104.9 FM at 9 AM PST on Saturday. Nic's talking with Ailyn and Stephen about Romeo and Juliet.
Sunday, we're streaming internet radio all day and napping in the hammock. It's been a long week. Hopefully my little furry dude will share.
Hope you can join us!


Ever want to own a horse but lacking the space? Me too. Well, now is your chance as we're selling this shiny rearing black stallion that appeared briefly in our Nabucco in February. It’s still in mint condition and stands 10’ tall. It was purchased from America’s Fiberglass Animals in Shelton, NE ( and was made to withstand weather.

Included is a sturdy crate, great for storage and shipping. Call us at the San Diego Opera Scenic Studio if you would like to bring this black beauty home: 619-232-5911 or at

It requires no food, little exercise and it is in excellent health.
The price, $1000 OBO. Baritone not included.

So Happy Together

Via our local newspaper, the San Diego Union Tribune, a profile on Stephen and Ailyn. Perhaps it is time time we lock up the gin and stage an intervention.

I Sense A Theme Here...

"Married Couple Pretend They Are Lovers"

ROMEO AND JULIET Artist Roundtable

The Artist Roundtable for ROMEO AND JULIET is now online. Shakespeare, sword fighting, on stage romance, off stage romance and the difficult life of singers are all discussed... Oh my!

While You Were Out

- Lovely soprano Priti Gandhi's Opera Diary continues, this time, about going it alone in recital. Did you get to see her on Saturday? The Aria Serious crew had tickets, but missed it, as we were learning the valuable lesson that plans to have dinner with friends and kids at 5 PM, actually means you'll be walking out the door at 7 PM. I'm sure there's a mathematical formula about this somewhere.

- Nabucco aired last night on XLNC1. How did it sound for you?

- British tenor Philip Langridge passed away last week on Friday. He was 70 and known for his portrayal of works by Benjamin Britten roles and was an eloquent interpreter of Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Janacek and Stravinsky. We've included a clip of him singing below.

- How do you sell Classical Music to the masses? The UK Times has some ideas.

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

Before the weeklong extravaganza that is the Romeo and Juliet tech week, the Aria Serious crew has a whole lot of listening to get done before Monday comes around.
We'll start our Saturday with San Diego Opera Matters at 9 AM on 104.9 XLNC1 with "Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare and Opera" while we eat our eggs and (vegi) bacon.
Then we'll get to Nixon in Chinarecording that we mentioned last week.
Saturday night, we'll walk to our neighborhood opera house (love saying that) to see soprano Priti Gandhi rock it in recital. For more information you can visit her site here. We're so proud of Priti and just know she's going to be awesome.
Sunday well spend catching up on other tunes including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (oh wow) and Wild Beasts, and working very hard to get that The Magnetic Fields concert this week out of our heads. Then we'll take a nap - two months of opera season has already taken its toll o…

Whale Watching

As we've mentioned before, we here at San Diego Opera are very excited about welcoming Jake Heggie's new opera, Moby-Dick, to our theatre in 2012. Moby-Dick rehearsals are starting very soon for the world premiere in Dallas (our Romeo, Stephen Costello, is walking around with the score as he's learning the role for Dallas).

In proving that the opera world is indeed a small world, our good friend, former Assistant Director and choreographer for Romeo and Juliet (among many other awesome things), Keturah Stickann is getting ready for Moby-Dick rehearsals in Dallas. She's the assistant director for this one but more importantly she's also the official blogger. Her blog, House to Half, is offering all kinds of insights into bringing a world premiere production to life. If you're interested in reading about what you can see on our stage in two (quick) years, head over there now. And we'll keep you up to date from time to time as new information surfaces.

You've Been Very Very Naughty. Now Here's Some Mozart

In an article that makes us cringe, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that UK Schools are using classical music as punishment in schools.

While proponents claim that classical music can have a calming effect on students, the so-called "Mozart Effect" has recently come under scrutiny with new studies saying that its the act of making music, not listening, that effects the brain.

Our concern here is that these students will start to equate classical music with punishment, making in that much harder to attract a new generation of classical music fans.

The Aria Serious crew would also like to add that silence is also calming, or the entire catalogue of The Orb.

Romeo and Juliet Artist Roundtable

Just a reminder that the Romeo and Juliet Artist Roundtable is tomorrow - Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 5:30 PM in the Beverly Sills Salon of the Civic Theatre. The cast, conductor and director will all be present to talk about our upcoming (awesome) production.
The salon is on the second floor of the San Diego Civic Theater (1100 3rd Ave, Downtown San Diego), is free, open to the public, and will run one hour.
We'll have it up on UCSD-TV he following week and for those outside of San Diego, on Youtube a few days after that.
Hope you can join us!

Podcast Monday

So, we took a week off. Nic deserved it.

This week's podcast - how great art comes from great choices and how Verdi's Nabucco is a prime example.

Our podcasts are short, free and low in cholesterol. You can download it here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Priti Gandhi continues her look at the wacky wonderful world we work in with the next installment of The Opera Diary.
- Nabucco closed on Sunday. You can hear the rebroadcast of yesterday's performance - the best one of the run - Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 7 PM on XLNC1.
- Dallas Opera announces the 2010-2011 season. A "safe" season according to the reporter. A "smart" season we'd like to add, considering the climate.