Friday, October 29, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Spooktacular Friday!

Time to ask what we always ask: vhat are you going to listen to this veekend, mwahahaha?

OK, fine, we've been dipping into the candy corn a little early.

We're starting Saturday morning with Britten's Turn of the Screw for a little Gothic horror this Halloween weekend.

Then we'll turn up the Bauhaus on Sunday and pass candy out to the kids in our neighborhood. Then we're locking the doors and turning off the lights - The Walking Dead premieres on AMC at 10 PM and we've been big fans of the comic. We're keeping our undead fingers crossed the tv show will live up to our expectations.

Share your plans down below and please, make it a great one!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We're firm believers that it should be correct to include an exclamation point after science! We just love science! so much. We love it even more when opera is involved. Like in this story here of an opera singer who received a double lung transplant and continued to sing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It Gets Better

A message from our dear friends, the opera singers Patricia Racette and her partner Beth Clayton.

WWF - Wagner Wrestiling Federation!?

As one who grew up in the 80's and spent Saturday nights watching the "WWF's Main Event" with religious devotion this one really speaks to us here at Aria Serious.

New York's Performance Lab 115 has taken the first two operas of Wagner's Ring Cycle and moved them to the world of 1980's professional wrestling and replaced Wagner's sublime music with 80's metal.
Now, if only they sold Hot-Pockets at the concession stand would my childhood be complete.

You can read about "The Ring Cycle Part 1 +2" here. In the meantime, we're looking for cheap flights and our old Poison concert t-shirts...

This is not the version of Moby-Dick we will be doing in 2012

But it would be cool if we were. Joking aside, interesting to see how this story is still relevant to today's audience... I mean if you add a renegade sub, nukes and a very angry whale.

And classic lines such as "I'd strike the sun if it insulted me." Epic.

Coming straight to DVD we imagine in the very near future.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Homecoming

We here at Aria Serious love stories like these - when soprano Stephanie Weiss returns to San Diego for Der Rosenkavalier she'll also be making a homecoming. Stephanie attended La Jolla Country Day School when she was younger and started singing as part of the on-campus Madrigals. This eventually blossomed into a professional singing career.

Expect to hear more about this in the coming months!

RIP Walkman

Ah, the Walkman, responsible for headphone hair all through the 80's. Sony has announced the retirement of the Walkman today. It seems it was no match for the MP3 player.

Just another way opera makes living life better.

Happy Anniversary McFly

The movies Back to the Future came out 25 years ago today and we wouldn't be doing our jobs properly if we didn't mark this occassion with a Pepsi commercial featuring a young Michael J. Fox AND opera.

Thanks to our friends over at Opera Colorado for the tip.

While You Were Out

- Live in San Diego and have nothing planned tonight? Our first Community Conversation of the season is happening tonight at 7 PM at the Neurosciences Institute. The conversation will be about myth and Puccini's opera Turandot. The conversation will feature our very own Dr. Nic Reveles and the founding curator of the Joseph Campbell Archive, Dr. Jonathan Young. A few seats are still available and must be RSVP'd here. Oh, and it's free.

- Did you attend Dr. Nic's cooking class at Great News! on Friday? Let us know what you thought. And thanks for coming! While the first one sold-out there are three more cooking classes inspired by the other three operas of the season.

Friday, October 22, 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?

With Halloween around the corner we're going to give Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle a listen for a little gothic horror.

We're also going to hit Amoeba's second annual Classical Music sale this weekend as we'll be in LA. Is there anything we should be looking for? Let us know.

We're also going to give the French pop band Revolver a careful close listen. We heard a webcast of them from CMJ and really liked what we heard. It was only after reading a bit more about them that we learned that they're classically trained and cite Benjamin Britten as one of their influences. They're debut LP "Music for a While" also shares the name of one of Henry Purcell's greatest works. This just might be our favorite music discovery of the year. Uh, so far...

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Introducing Children To Music Early Is Important

In case you forgot how much joy music can bring (I know, we're preaching to the choir since you're reading this blog) take a look at this video below.

So next time you're having a bad day, close the blinds, grab a pencil, turn it up and get into it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do Not Adjust Your Bass

The Aria Serious crew has just discovered a delightful interview featuring our dear friend Ferruccio Furlanetto conducted by the equally wonderful Eduardo Chama. Those of you who are regular readers here will recall Ferruccio and Eduardo performed together as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Don Quixote with us a few years back. Their chemistry onstage was magical. It seems the chemistry has continued, evident in the following audio interview.

No need to adjust your bass.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Podcast Monday

On this week's podcast, Dr. Nic takes a listen to Valentin's aria in Faust, "Avant de quitter ces lieux", and compares three different baritones from three different generations.

You can find the podcast here.

While We Were Out

Over the weekend:

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday. A grey Friday at that. Which means we should probably listen to something cheery this weekend.

Alas, this weekend we're breaking with tradition and watching an opera as opposed to listening to one. Mrs. Aria Serious is out of town this weekend thus freeing up the TV for some opera DVDs.

We're going to watch The Death of Klinghoffer by John Adams. We started this DVD many years ago and never got around to finishing it. It's not that we didn't enjoy it, I seem to recall the cat threw up in the other room and we never went back in to finish it after cleaning up.

Share your listening plans in the comment section below. And please, make it a good one.

Is Projection Mapping The Future Of Opera Productions?

Two things we like: opera and all things technologically wondrous.

So we're very excited about our upcoming production of Moby-Dick in 2012 which uses large format projections to create a variety of environments in a finite space. Moby-Dick will use a curved wall and projections to create the inside of the Pequod, the exterior of the Pequod, the ocean, whaling boats on a whale hunt and many more environments that can't realistically fit on stage. It's exciting cutting edge stuff, which, truth be told, one doesn't see very often in American opera houses.

Is projection mapping the future of opera? We'll surely see more of it we imagine. And as the technology becomes cheaper and widely available a Company could essentially create a season of opera productions digitally and project them onto a plain modular set. In fact, it's already starting to happen. Vancouver Opera is using the technology for the world premiere of Lilian Alling to create a variety of backdrops, and the world premiere of Moby-Dick at The Dallas Opera is the same production we're using.

Below is probably the most effective use of projection mapping we've seen, even though it doesn't take place inside a theatre. As you can tell from the video below, when done right, the possibility of what one can create on stage is endless.

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


A bit more on our production of Moby-Dick in 2012, this time in a wonderful profile from the North County Times. Although it's over a year away, we're very excited. We hope you are too.

The Breast Kind Of Publicity

Vienna State Opera has pardoned a ballerina they recently fired for appearing in nude photos for the Austrian men's magazine "Wiener." *snicker*

In related news: opera subscriptions by men have increased 800%

Since we know you're now going to spend the next few minutes searching for above mentioned photo, we here at Aria Serious are here to help you out.

Bedbugs Discovered at Lincoln Center

Some patrons you can do without. Bedbugs have been discovered at Lincoln Center in its David H. Koch Theater which is home of the New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera.

I'm sure someone can come up with a funny political statement right now, as Koch, an incredibly generous arts philanthropist, is also a major supporter of the tea party movement. But we're not going to be that person.

Updated: It seems the Met Opera House is now experiencing their own bedbug problem. In related news, officials at Carnegie Hall panic.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Podcast Monday on a Tuesday

We're a day late, sorry. But this week's podcast is worth it. Promise!

This week Dr. Nic takes a look at The Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier and talks about how Strauss parodies the Italian style.

You can download the podcast here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

While You Were Out / Dame Joan Sutherland

While we're certain there is plenty of opera news out there to report, today it seems the only news on our mind is the passing of Dame Joan Sutherland this morning, at the age of 83. Cause of death was not officially announced only that she passed peacefully.

The New York Times has a very comprehensive obituary they just posted which you can find here.

All of us here wish Maestro Bonynge and their companion Chester our deepest heartfelt sympathies - both Dame Joan and the Maestro were close friends to the Company - Joan performed here seven times: three of her appearances were concerts, four of them operas - Lucia di Lammermoor (1974), Die Fledermaus (1980), Adriana Lecouvreur (1983) and I Masnadieri (1984). The Maestro accompanied her in each performance (he also continued to conduct nearly a dozen other productions for us without her).

Our General and Artistic Director, Ian Campbell, had this to add:

"Joan's death ends, at least for now, an era of full-voiced coloratura singing. There is no soprano today with a sound to match hers, since however talented they be, singers of her roles cannot match the sheer outpouring of sound she delivered.

It was not a matter of "loudness" or "volume" but of fullness, roundness. Joan's voice filled every corner of every opera house in which she sang with a warm, rich sound which seemed to embrace the listener.

Her pin-point coloratura, still full and rich throughout a range beyond high D, was extraordinary. How she moved such a full sound so rapidly and effortlessly defied imagination.

I first heard and met Joan in Sydney in 1965 when she and Richard were part of a series of opera performances across Australia. There was no full-time opera company in Australia in 1965 - that came in 1967 when I joined as part of the first ensemble - so a local promoter had put a season together with the help of Richard Bonynge to showcase Joan.

She had come to international attention with a series of Lucia di Lammermoor performances at the Royal Opera in London in 1959. She soon had conquered the major opera capitals of the world, and it was time to visit home.

The singers came from around the world, and included the then relatively unknown Luciano Pavarotti who was 29. That was when I first heard him also, and attended four of his performances on free tickets he gave me. I did not hear him together with Joan at that time, however, but heard them frequently later.

Joan was at her peak. I managed to hear her first Sydney Lucia di Lammermoor, and the extraordinary sounds are still in my musical memory. When she made her first entrance the audience erupted, stopping the performance for what seemed like several minutes. At the end they would not stop cheering. It was certainly appreciation of her performance, but a bit of national pride was evident also.

Incidentally, for most of us it was our first staged Lucia.

Repertoire which had been unsung for a generation or more was revived through the talents of Joan and the detective work of Richard who knew better than even Joan herself what was right for her voice. Many of today's successful sopranos are in her debt since many of her re-discovered roles are again mainstream.

Joan actually sang quite a few times with San Diego Opera, and I'll get a list to you. Her performances here filled the theatre every time.

It is well known that Joan was very down-to-earth, and never lost her Australian accent or directness. She also had a delightful sense of humor. She never showed nervousness in rehearsal or performance, or hid it very well. Her constant needle point was her relaxation and took her mind off the demands of the stage.

I last saw her on June the second in London last year (2009). It was at a performance of Roberto Devereux at the Holland Park Festival. Richard was conducting and Joan and I were in the audience a few seats from one another. Everyone stood and applauded as she came in, a fitting tribute.

Joan had broken her legs in a recent fall and was struggling on two canes. She was frail. When I asked how she was managing she replied in typical style, "It's a bloody pain in the neck."

Every voice is so individual we can always say with confidence that we will never hear the like again. Joan sang in a style technique, with such a full sound, that she will be difficult to emulate.

But someone will follow in her footsteps eventually, and Joan will remain the touchstone for
that technically brilliant, larger-voiced coloratura soprano whenever she does come along. "
Rest in Peace Dame Joan. Thanks for the memories, and the music.
Below, some photos from our archive that haven't been seen in decades.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday is here and so it's time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend? Share it in the comment section below.

The Aria Serious crew will be listening to Billy Budd. We're craving something ocean like - must have been all the talk of Moby-Dick this week.

Then we'll catch up on some pop music - NPR has both the new Belle and Sebastian and Sufjan Stevens streaming on their site.

For those of you who still collect physical media, and you know who you are, Amoeba Hollywood is getting ready for a huge classical music sale the weekend of 10/22 - 10/24 which is great as we'll actually be in LA that weekend. They'll be offering 20% off on their classical music inventory excluding DVDs but they have some great deals on their classical used LPs as well. You can read all about it here.

And oh, one more thing, make it a great weekend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

So We Take It She Sang Well

Georgian (the European Georgia, not the peach) mezzo-soprano Nino Surguladze makes her debut with us in Carmen this coming May. She made another debut last night, this time at The Metropolitan Opera as Maddalena in Rigoletto.

One reviewer commented:

"In a production marked by great singing and indifferent acting, Nino Surguladze stood out for her feisty physical presence. The Georgian mezzo, who acted in films and sang with pop groups before committing to a classical career, brought a sultry Maddalena to the table – quite literally in a scene that saw the Duke all but devouring her as she sprawled next to his wine glass."

Should make for an excellent Carmen.

You can read the rest of the review, from The Classical Review, here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Podcast Monday

It's called Turandot, but it's Liu who often steals the show. Dr. Nic takes a look at Puccini's masterpiece and looks at how the composer shifted the audiences sympathies from the young slave girl to the title character. Or did he?

You can download our podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend?

Friday, October 1, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be taking in Sextet tonight, a new opera by our very own Director of Education, Dr. Nic Reveles. We're incredibly proud of him and can't wait to hear what he's come up with.

All this going out means we'll have very little time to listen to a complete opera, but there is always next week.

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