Friday, July 30, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

We here at the Aria Serious are going to break with tradition (needs to happen from time to time) and instead of listening to a complete opera this weekend were going to listen to Vivaldi opera arias sung by our friend Vivica Genaux. Her album Pyrotechnics has been out for some time and we're just getting around to listening to it. Our bad, we know.

What are you listening to this weekend?

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Comic Time!

Click through to see the full comic...

Pearls Before Swine

Can Orchestras Get A 1-UP By Presenting Video Game Concerts?

If this weekend was any indication, well, yes.

San Diego was home to two video game inspired symphonic concerts during the heady, geeky, Comic-Con week we're still recovering from. While we didn't attend either (we had parties to go to and movie premieres to see and uh, crime to fight) we could see from the crowds gathered at the venues that they were well attended. Attended by 30 year old men carrying lightsabers and dressed as Spider Man, in other words, not the typical classical music concert goer. But let's be honest here. Show of hands. Who here hasn't wanted to walk around in public with a lightsaber strapped to your utility belt? Exactly.

The Washington Post takes a look at the untapped market that presenting video game concerts offers symphonies.

The Aria Serious crew is excited by this fact. We'll admit it, we're life long gamers, and some of those themes can instill emotions in us the way The Flight of the Valkyries can instill emotion in others.

But truth be told we're now wracking our brains to come up with some great video game plots that can be adapted to opera... Pong, we're looking at you.

Kim Jong-Il Continues To Do It All

He coaches the North Korean soccer team by invisible phone, can control the weather based on his mood, shoots on average three or four holes-in-one per round of golf, and can wear sunglasses like no other man on Earth and now, Kim Jong-Il can add opera impresario to his list of accomplishments. North Korea's opera Sea of Blood is getting rave reviews in China and sold out its initial run.

The reason for success? "We took the guidance and suggestions of our Dear Leader" said the performers.

We here at Aria Serious can't help remember that South Korea launched their first ever opera festival back in May.
Could this be North Korea's retaliatory strike?

Monday, July 26, 2010


The best part of Comic Con are the things that pop up unexpected.

Podcast Monday

This week, we're going on the record to talk about great Marguerites from Faust on record. You can download the Podcast here. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Faster than a speeding bullet...

The Aria Serious crew will be taking a short break from the world of opera, and will be spending the rest of the week on the world of Krypton, otherwise known as Comic Con. We'll be back next week. Maybe we'll even have some opera releated comic stories.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How Opera Saved A Life, Or, Everyone's A Critic

As told to the Aria Serious crew by Michelle in our Development Department who just returned from a hiking trip today:

I was hiking near Lake Tahoe last week. Saw bear droppings on the trail (fresh). Then saw big bear paw prints (also fresh). Figured a bear was nearby (brilliant, huh?) So remembered the thing to do is a) stand still b) be loud and c) allow bear to make his exit. So I stood there and sang “Libiamo” in an Ethel Merman-esque voice. The bear burst out of a bush about 20 ft away and went TEARING off. I’m not sure if it was my choice of repertoire or my vocal technique, but I sure scared the crap out of it.

So, before heading out to the woods 1.) learn at least one opera aria and 2.) forget your singing lessons.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Podcast Monday

This week's podcast takes a look at the second opera of our 2011 season, Der Rosenkavalier, and looks at the gender bending trouser role of Octavian, a role of a man sung by a woman and how Octavian fits into this operatic tradition.

You can download the Podcast here. Enjoy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday, the best day of the work week, and time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

There's a lot going on in town this weekend so we're afraid we won't get much listening in which is why we'll listen to Berstein's Candide and go opera-lite with this operetta.

Then we'll cheer friends, family and coworkers on in the Gay Pride parade this weekend.

After that we're going to head down to the Museum of Contemporary Art for opening night of Viva la Revolucion - been seeing a lot of street art around town? This is why. It should be great. And even better is the view from my office which has views of work by Invader, Twist and what looks like a JR as I type this (it's still being worked on).

Sunday we'll do yard work and dig into the Brazilian rock and roll with Novos Baianos that I finally found misfiled in the record collection after all these years.

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

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Harvey Pekar, Cartoonist and Opera Librettist

The cartoonist Harvey Pekar passed away earlier this week. While he was known for his autobiographical comics which eventually was released as the graphic novel American Splendor (also a great movie) we didn't know until recently his passing that he had also written a libretto for an opera called Leave Me Alone.

The article is a fascinating story about a fascinating man, well, actually a very mundane man but a man filled with so many astute observations that the world he lives in is completely fascinating.

Rest in peace.

Opera and Soccer - A Common History?

As we endure the final pangs of World Cup withdrawal we bring you this fascinating piece on Opera and Soccer from Getty Iris blog. Is it possible they shared a common history?

If the passions of the fans are any indication then yes, I can believe this. At least at the opera house, fans don't come dressed up as their favorite characters and play along on the vuvuzela.

On second thought. Please come dressed up as your favorite opera character. Leave the vuvuzelas at home.

You can read the story here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Podcast Monday

We apologize in our delay in getting our Monday morning Podcast up. Your host, Dr. Nic, attempted his best Lance Armstrong imitation over the weekend and crashed his bike. He's fine. But sore. You think a fractured rib is going to stop Nic from his weekly podcast? Clearly, you don't know Nic.

This week's topic: The role of Calaf in Turandot.

While you were out:

- Social Media is infiltrating the Arts. In case you haven't noticed.

- Spain wins their first World Cup. While the Aria Serious crew was pulling all contest for the Netherlands, we're not afraid to say the best team won yesterday. Now what to do with all this free time...

Friday, July 9, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Don't you just love it when Friday sneaks up on you? We thought it was Thursday.

What are you listening to this weekend?

We'll spend Saturday morning with Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor. Why? We've never heard it before and found a used copy for $3.99 a few months back.

Then we'll spend the rest of the weekend cheering on the Netherlands soccer/football team. And not just because they wear orange and make it work for them but because they play a clean almost scientific game of football and that's something we admire.

Share you listening plans with us, and make it a good one.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

10 Question With Lise Lindstrom

It is always a pleasure to welcome a new singer to our Company, especially one we’ve been hearing so much about in recent months. So it is our great pleasure to welcome American soprano Lise Lindstrom to our Company. Lise will be making her Company debut as Turandot in the season opener. Turandot is a role that has become her calling card in recent seasons and the role she sang at the Met for her debut (two weeks early with just a few hours notice) as well as just about everywhere else. But she is equally acclaimed for her Senta in The Flying Dutchman, Amelia in A Masked Ball, Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos and Giulietta in The Tales of Hoffmann. Lise took time out of her incredibly busy schedule (she’s getting ready to sing her first Tosca) to answer our 10 or so questions. We’re really excited to welcome her to our Company. And we’ll get to welcome her back. She sings Salome with us to start the 2012 season.

San Diego Opera (SDO): First, welcome to San Diego Opera – we’re very excited to welcome you to our Company. But first, so I don’t make a fool of myself when we actually meet in person, how do you pronounce your name?

Lise Lindstrom (LL): I know it’s a bit tricky. It’s “Leezeh”, or “Leez”, but not so much, “Leesah” as in the typical American “Lisa” version.

SDO: Turandot - this is a role you’ve made into your calling card all around the world. How does a nice California girl approach playing an icy Chinese princess with a predilection for riddles and bodiless heads?

LL: Ha! Well, I’ve got to say that I feel very lucky to have met this crazy Chinese/Italian Princess. Yes, she has a bit of an anger management issue, or I should say an inappropriate sense of justice, but she is a strong woman that won’t allow the fate of her ancestor, Lou-ling, to be repeated. While I certainly find the concept abhorrent that Turandot’s personal vendetta has cost so many lives in such a very gruesome and careless manner, I understand that she doesn’t want to be “conquered” by anyone let alone an undeserving foreign Prince! In spite of her delusion, she is a strong woman. Consider the other strong women that Puccini created: Minnie in “La fanciulla del west”, Tosca in “Tosca”, and certainly Liu in “Turandot”. These are all women that take a stand for their beliefs and therefore control their destiny and the destiny of the opera. I find this type of “feminine thinking” to be right up the alley of a nice California girl.

SDO: You made you Met debut as Turandot with just a few hours notice late last year. What went through your head during those hours? And once there, how was the view?

LL: Oh my goodness, that was one heck of a fantastic experience! Honestly
, in those few hours leading up to my stage appearance there wasn’t much time for anything other than the business at hand. Of course I was thrilled and very excited! But, there was so much going on and so many people coming in and out of my dressing room that I just barely had a second to think about what was really happening. I think it all settled into focus when David Kneuss, my director, took me by the hand during the intermission between the 1st and 2nd act to walk me to the stage for the first time. Previous to that moment, I had never set foot on the stage nor the set and had only tried on the costume in a fitting. He literally held my hand as I scaled the stairs and narrow walkway in my costume for the first time as the stage hands were finishing the set during the intermission. That was when I started shaking a little to be sure! Then the moment for my entrance came and I walked that narrow little walkway to sing “In questa reggia” on the Met stage for the first time – well, that was a moment I will never forget in the midst of an entire night that I will never forget. It was as if time stood still. To say that it was thrilling would be a supreme understatement! And, to make it even better, my family and many of my friends were able to listen to it live on Sirius XM! Ah, the joys of technology!

SDO: Your favorite moment in Turandot? No. You can’t say “curtain call.”

LL: What is my favorite moment in Turandot? How can I choose? I just love singing this role. I love all the twists and turns in her character and in her music. I especially love the challenge of making her human and relatable. Turandot arrives on the scene mid-way through the opera and sings some of the most vocally tricky and dynamic music in the entire operatic repertoire immediately without any chance to warm up to the audience or to warm up the voice. But, within that dynamic appearance there is the nearly impossible challenge to present her softness and femininity amidst all that sound and exclamation. I love that challenge.

SDO: Your dream role that you’ve yet to sing?

LL: Isn’t every role a dream role? I honestly think anything that Puccini wrote is something I’d like to try. Minnie in “La fanciulla del west” is a lady that I would love to sing and create on stage. Other roles that I’d love a chance with are Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth, Leonora in “Fidelio”, Maddalena in “Andrea Chénier”, Leonora in “La Forza del Destino”, and the Kaiserin in “Die Frau ohne Schatten”.

SDO: Tell us about your introduction to opera? What was your path to get where you are today?

LL: My mother was a singer who received her Master in Music degree from Eastman School of Music. By the time I was on the scene, Mom had been teaching music for many years and I was soon being babysat by her high school students. I was exposed to a variety of music from an early age in addition to dance and piano classes. I think my Mom’s heart sunk a little when I announced at 17 that I wanted to be a professional singer. In fact, I clearly remember both she and my Father asking me if I could please be interested in any other profession since singing was a very tough pursuit. Their prophecy definitely proved to be true and after many years of study, failed auditions and heartbreak, I was on the verge of giving it all up when the beautiful “Turandot” found me. This role not only changed my life, it saved my voice, and changed my destiny.

SDO: Fill in the blank section: “If I was not an opera singer I would be __________”

LL: a) miserable
b) a completely different human being
c) social worker/cashier at Target
or d) all of the above!

SDO: What’s your favorite part of being an international opera singer?

LL: I get to travel to these amazing places and work there for an extended period of time. It allows me to feel a little bit like a local and get under the skin of a city.

SDO: Least favorite?

LL: Not being able to pack and carry along with me everywhere: my husband, my very own bed and my bathtub

SDO: Some people say there is more to life than opera. I know, we think they’re crazy too. But we’ll humor them: do you have any hobbies?

LL: I’m taking suggestions!

SDO: Do you have a book next to your bed? What is it?

LL: “Tosca’s Rome” by Susan Vandiver Nicassio

SDO: If you could invite anyone, living or dead, fictional or real, to dinner at your house, what would you serve them?

LL: What makes you think I can cook?

SDO: Name three bands or musicians on your iPod that aren’t opera related.

LL: Coldplay, Stan Getz, Eddie Izzard

SDO: Where in the world are you right now and what are you singing?

LL: I have just returned from Amsterdam and Berlin and am now in upstate New York at Glimmerglass Opera. We open our production of “Tosca” in 5 days. This will be my role debut as Tosca – and I’m loving it!!!!!


Turandot opens January 29, 2011. For more about Lise, visit her lovely website here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Podcast Tuesday

As we were closed yesterday, we present Podcast Monday on a Tuesday. This week's topic: Carmen, it's really about Don Jose. Crazy talk. Or is it? Take a listen and find out.

While You Were Out

Over the extended weekend:

- Who is listening to American Opera? The Washington Post continues their look with part 2, of their 2 part series.

- Los Angeles Opera's Ring is now over. How did it do? It lost $6 million, sold at 80% capacity and the good news...

- Who's calling the shots at the Met?

- La Scala's Barber of Seville director abruptly quit the production yesterday.

- The Italian bass Cesare Siepi passed away yesterday at 87. He was an inspiration to our frequent singer Ferruccio Furlanetto who had this to add when contacted yesterday evening:


Friday, July 2, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday, and a Friday before a long weekend at that.

A bit of business: The San Diego Opera Offices will be closed - Friday, July 2, 2010 at 2 PM and will not reopen until Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 8:30 AM. But as the Internet never takes a vacation, all your San Diego Opera needs can be fulfilled online here.

What are you listening to this weekend?

Besides vuvuzelas in a hotel bar, The Aria Serious crew is taking a quick weekend trip cross country for a wedding. This means we'll have 10 or so hours to listen to music. Billy Budd is on tap as is Daughter of the Regiment. We also imagine we'll squeeze in the delux edition of The Cure's Disintegration and the Local Native's Gorilla Manor (perhaps our favorite album of 2010). Then it'll be shuffle play where Mozart rolls with Mos Def and Bellini rubs elbows with Bauhaus. Fun!

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