Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

No, your calendar is correct. We're a day early as we're taking Friday off for some much needed R&R now that our season is over.

As we always ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be listening to nothing. We're going camping instead with a good book and plenty of s'more fixings.

But driving back on Sunday, we hope to catch our broadcast of La traviata at 7 PM PST on XLNC1 and online here.

Make it a good one, please, and share your listening plans in the comment section below.

Monday, April 26, 2010

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- The New York Times had a wonderful profile on Moby-Dick which premieres later this month at The Dallas Opera and then migrates to us for the 2012 season.

- Our 2010 season closed yesterday with our final performance of La traviata. It's a bittersweet time. We'll miss all the energy that comes with operas season but we're looking forward to having an actual weekend - something that has not happened in a very long time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday is upon us once again, so it is time for us to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

For the last weekend in a long while, the act of seeing opera will preempt the act of listening to opera as we'll catch the final two performances of La traviata - tonight at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM. This leaves little time for any other type of dedicated listening although I'm sure we'll put an album or two of something not opera related on while we BBQ in the backyard on Saturday (weather permitting)

Then, after Sunday, the season is over - finished, gone, kaput. We'll be happy about this fact for something like a week and then we'll miss the crazy energy that is opera season for the next eight months.

Not sure what to listen to over the weekend? May we suggest "San Diego Opera Matters" on XLNC1 (104.9 FM) - tomorrow's show will be about Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and it will air at 9 AM PST

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Audiences Gives it a Rousing Ovation of Spit Bubbles and Coos

Baby O, the new opera for babies 6 months and older at The Scottish Opera had its premiere and the early reports from the critics are positive. And by positive we mean no temper tantrums and cries for "binky". You can read all about it here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Watching TV on TV is so 2009

We're pleased to announce that you can now watch our excellent program OperaSpotlight on YouTube. OperaSpotlight takes viewers behind the scenes of our current production with artist interviews and performance footage. This is a first for us, and we hope you enjoy watching it. Special thanks to the folks at UCSD-TV who work so hard to put this show together.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The 2011 Season In Podcast Form

Because reading is so last decade, the 2011 season in tech friendly Podcast form. Enjoy!

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- La traviata opened on Saturday. For those that have not heard - yes the maestro got sick moments before curtain and Karen Keltner took the podium and gave us a marvelous performance. Reviews are in and should be heading online in the next few hours here.

- We've officially announced our 2011. You can read it about it here and hear Ian himself talk about it here in this fun video introduction. We're pretty happy with it and we hope you are as well.

- Placido Domingo is back in full force and sang Simon Boccanegra in La Scala to thunderous applause. Joining him was Anja Harteros who sang Amelia (a role she debuted here).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This is our 2011 Season

Here it is, the worst kept secret in all of opera - our 2011 season - Turandot, Der Rosenkavalier, Faust and Carmen.

We think it is an excellent one and we hope you do too.

Instead of giving you all the PR and Marketing language which you'll undoubtedly hear over the next 8 or so months, we'll give you our take on the season (still marketing and PR but hopefully filled with our charm or lack thereof).

We like to think of this season as a season of firsts.

The first opera we ever heard and and fell in love with, Turandot, opens the season. This is the same production from 2004 with sets by David Hockney. We've yet to find a better production and Hockney's purples and reds lend to the fairytale setting of Puccini's masterpiece. For those that follow the Metropolitan Opera, you'll know the name Lise Lindstrom - it was Lise who made her Met debut as Turandot with two hours notice and all reviews indicate she nailed it. I look forward to hearing her nail it in person. She's joined by tenor Carlo Ventre and soprano Ermonela Jaho the latter who appeared with us on opening night of Maria Stuarda, replacing a sick Angela Gilbert for that first performance. Emronela chewed up the scenes with just a walkthrough in Maria Stuarda. We can't wait to see what she does as Liu

Der Rosenkavalier turns 100 next year, and we're celebrating with a production based on the original designs of this opera. This opera has two important role debuts - Anja Hateros as Marschallin and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Baron Ochs. This will be the third role Anja will debut with us - she sang her first Violetta with us and her first Amelia here. She's singing Amelia right now at La Scala with Placido Domingo so we expect that she'll take this role around the world once she is done here. For Ferruccio, he has stated the Baron Ochs is the last role in his career that he has always wanted to sing but never has. In singing it, it also makes him the first Italian to ever perform the role in the original German as far as anyone can tell (and please, dear Readers, please look it up and tell us if we are wrong - we can't find any evidence pointing to another Italian bass singing this in German). Not to be overlooked are the House debuts of Anke Vondung, Patrizia Ciofi and German based (but San Diego born) soprano Stephanie Weiss.

Not to date myself, but Faust was my first opera here at San Diego Opera when I saw it in 1989 with my High School Class. It starred Ferruccio Furlanetto and Richard Leech. I told this to Ferruccio one day when he was sitting in my office. "You know," his voice boomed "that made me feel very old." Faust was also the second opera of my first season here as an employee, so I have a certain affection for this opera. It also stars three singers I adore - Stephen Costello and Aylin Perez (Romeo and Juliet from this season) and Greer "Opera God" Grimsley who will continue the tradition of being the best villain everybody loves to hate as Mephistopheles. We're using a new production from the Lyric Opera of Chicago so we're excited to see it.

And then there is Carmen. What can we say about Carmen that hasn't already been said? It's the most popular opera for a reason. And for this one we have Georgian (as in former Soviet Union, not peach) mezzo-soprano Nino Surgurladze (that's not a typo - but I need to catch myself every time because I want to type "Nina"). She's joined by the "fourth tenor" Salvatore Licitra making a Company debut. You'll see him again in a later season. Also exciting to us is the role of Micaela - because we think she's the only sympathetic character in the whole opera - which will be sung by newcomer Talise Trevigne. You'll also see her again as Pip in Moby-Dick in 2012, a role she is creating this very moment over in Dallas for the world premiere.
And that's the 2011 season from the Aria Serious perspective. We'd love to hear what you think of our season so please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Also, we'll be interviewing many of these artists with "10 Questions With..." so if there is a question you've always wanted to ask a singer, here's your chance. Submit your question (it can be general to all artists or specific to a single one) to: blog(at)sdopera(dot)com
Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday, the day of Frige, the German goddess of love - and you know what we love here at the Aria Serious tower more than anything? Fridays. Funny how that works.

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

We'll start the weekend with a nice bike ride. This means we will miss Dr. Nic's "San Diego Opera Matters" show on XLNC1 (104.9 FM) at 9 AM PST. This week's show? A sneak peak at our first opera of the 2011 season. Want to know more? Tune in and find out. Can't make it when it airs? Catch the show later on XLNC's podcast archive.

Then it's is off to opening night of La traviata, the final opera of the season. I've seen La traviata a dozen times now, and it still manages to get to me. And we have a great cast lined up for this one. After seeing it the past two nights in rehearsals, I'm still excited to see it again. For what that's worth.

Sunday we're commandeering the hammock from the dogs (yeah, right) and perhaps listening to nothing (its been a long week).

What are you listening plans this weekend? Share them in the comment section below.

And please, make it a good one.

About Last Night...

There's a saying in show business "bad dress rehearsal, good opening."

This has me worried.

See, last night's La traviata rehearsal was simply wonderful - the singing was first rate, the acting topnotch, the orchestra, the costumes, the sets - it all came together in such a way as to remind me why I love this silly art form so much and spend many late nights working away in the theatre.

Soprano Elizabeth Futral seems born for this role. She takes the top notes and then bats them around like a playful kitten. It was a pleasure watching her with her parents who had flown in to see the rehearsal. They beamed with pride. They were being modest.

Tenor Marius Brenciu has a wonderful instrument, he's young and will go far with his lovely voice. I'll be watching that career and hopefully it will bring him back to San Diego.

Baritone Alan Opie as Germont inhabits this role fully and sings it like I have never heard it sung before. The Second Act, which I always thought of as the slow point in Traviata, was just incredible with the extended duet between Violetta and his character - to see him transform on stage was a wonder - physically, musically, this is a true artist at work.

Even the choreography of the Third Act, which I could usually do without, was breathtaking and stunning and I didn't want it to end.

But we've said enough. We have pictures! Wonderful pictures! All of these are by Ken Howard.


Thursday, April 15, 2010


Word from the ENO is that Director (and ex-Python - is one ever an ex-Pyhon?) Terry "The Man" Gilliam will be directing The Damnation of Faust next season.

Who's up for a road trip?

Just Don't Offer Him Any Cheese

Maestro Renato Palumbo is making his debut with us for La traviata. He's really good. So if you happen to go backstage and congratulate him on his great performance, don't offer him any cheese. Valerie Scher from the SDNN sits down with the maestro and explains why.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LA TRAVIATA Artist Roundtable

For those of you who couldn't make it, the La traviata Artist Roundtable is online. Towards the end the cast takes some questions from students which is great stuff. Enjoy!

Everybody Loves Marius Brenciu

A lovely profile on our double espresso drinking, sitcom loving, tenor in La traviata, Marius Brenciu. Once you hear him sing, you'll love him too. Promise.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Even Wagner Needed To Fundraise

Our house is filled with books and records. More books and records that I'll ever have time to read or listen to so when a Powell's Books order showed up that my wife had ordered, I sighed with dismay.

Where are we going to fit more books?

But then she handed me a journal called Lapham's Quarterly and said "read this." So I did. Curled up on the couch with dogs for the rest of the night, I actually pulled an all-nighter.

It's hard to describe Lapham's Quarterly - it's a journal of history and ideas, an aggregate of letters, essays and stories pulled together around a general theme. The current issue is called "Arts and Letters." Which is pretty general, but then I like things vague and general.

So I was delighted to come across this letter by Richard Wagner to Otto Wessendonck looking for a monetary advance so the composer can continue his work on his Ring Cycle in exchange for publishing rights to his scores. Sometimes we forget, even the best and most famous struggled at times. There is something human, desperate, in this figure that has become so mythologized over the years.

Although it is not opera related, also check out "Kurt Vonnegut at the Blackboard" which made me audibly gasp with its cleverness when I finished it.

You can find Lapham's Quartely at fine bookstores, not-so-fine bookstores and online.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday! The cherry on the sundae that is the work week and time to ask, what are you listening to this weekend?

We'll spend tonight at the La Jolla Athenaeum where our Princess of Pinkness, Zandra Rhodes, will be having a reception for her new show, "Verdi's Aida Through the Eyes of Zandra Rhodes." She'll be showing off sketches, costums and props from her production of Aida that was mounted by Houston Grand Opera and Covent Garden (and heading to San Francisco Opera soon). You can click here for information on the show.

We'll spend Saturday morning listening to "San Diego Opera Matters" on XLNC1 (104.9 FM) at 9 AM PST. On this show Nic will recover great recordings of La traviata which is perfect because that evening our La traviata moves to the stage for a piano tech rehearsal which I will attend.
Sunday we're not listening to anything opera related. We're going to do some heavy duty house work/construction so will be listening to Rock and/or Roll namely Band of Skulls which seems like perfect cabinet building music.

Share your listening plans below. And make it a good one!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yes. We're 12.

Our production department was giddy to show me our prop cigarettes for La traviata. The instructions read "Do Not Set on Fire. Blow, Don't Suck." Words of wisdom for this fine Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

LA TRAVIATA Artist Roundtable

This Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 5:30 PM in the Beverly Sills Salon (1100 3rd. Ave. Downtown San Diego, second floor), please join us for a lively discussion about La traviata with the cast and crew of the opera. The Artist Roundtable is free to the public and runs one hour.

For those of who cannot make it, we'll record the entire thing and get it online in a few days.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Horsey Finds A Home

Our orphaned horse from our production in Nabucco in February has finally found a home. The horse ended up at the Del Mar Fairgrounds where, as you can see, he has plenty of room to roam and some nice shade for when the weather turns warmer.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Conductor Leonard Slatkin has withdrawn from the Met's production of La traviata. Conductor Steven White is picking up some of the performances. Maestro White is the husband of Elizabeth Futral, who is here in town rehearsing for Violetta. We wish Maestro White all the best in his Met debut.

- Where are all the female conductors? San Diego journalist Valerie Scher asks.

- Yes. We had ourselves quite an earthquake here yesterday. The strongest the Aria Serious crew has felt in like forever. Perhaps exacerbated by the fact we were drinking. In a hammock.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday is upon us so it is time to ask, what are you listening to this weekend?

Saturday begins with "San Diego Opera Matters" on XLNC1 104.9 FM at 9 AM PST with a show about the artistry of Elizabeth Futral, who is in town rehearsing her Violetta for our La traviata. Elizabeth herself will appear on this program.

Then we'll listen to Dido and Aeneas by Purcell. Not sure if we've ever heard this one before (probably not as it is still wrapped up in plastic) so it's time to crack this one open.

After that, we're not sure what we'll listen to - as long as it is not The Bird and The Bee's cover album of Hall and Oates classics which my wife seems to love. I mean, come on, you can't mess with perfection.
Or John Oates's 'stache.

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