Monday, November 29, 2010

While We Were Out

We hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend.

- It's called the "Opera" watch and it's incredibly sexy, reminding us of The Nautilus from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. But for $1.2 million I expected it to give us mastery over time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- A bit of business: the San Diego Opera offices will be closed beginning Thursday, November 25, 2010 and will reopen on Monday, November 29, 2010. Our website is always on at Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday!

What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be getting busy with Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande since we've never listened to this one in its entirety. After that we'll be catching up with the new Belle and Sebastian LP Write About Love among others. Forecast calls for rain this weekend. So it'll be a perfect time to stay in front of the fire, with tunes on the radio while my friends humbly school me in German board games.

Stay thirsty my friends!

Science + Music

You already know we love science and music, so we're pretty darn excited with this article about acoustic scientists recording a pre-Incan shell flute. And yes, you can even hear it being played.

Which leads us to ask: does anyone know of a culture of civilization that doesn't have music? Seems to be a universal thing that binds us all together.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What the Fach?

It's not the first time a mezzo has gone soprano. Joan Sutherland started her career as a mezzo before taking on coloratura roles, even our dear friend Priti Gandhi has made the switch from mezzo to soprano, to name just a few. It's an exciting change and one that opens new career goals but we've never heard it compared to a "sex change operation" until today.

Still, here's a fascinating article about the wonderful mezzo - oops - we mean soprano Elza van den Heever on making the change. It's a fascinating article, even if a bit overdramatic, but then again we are talking about opera and we have a flair for the overdramatic. It's part of our charm,

Monday, November 15, 2010

When Worlds Collide

We love it when worlds collide and we especially love it when the comic and opera worlds collide.

A quick trip to Santa Barbara this weekend brought us to Metro Comic Saturday morning. We had popped in to pick up X'ed Out by Charles Burns but spent a good hour browsing the store when we discovered P. Craig Russel's Opera Adaptions Vol. 3. Having never heard of Mr. Russell but totally fans of opera (duh) and comics we jumped up and down like a, well, like a kid in a comic book store.

After googling Mr. Russell we were amazed to find that late last week, just days before we discovered the book on the out-of-print shelf in the comic book store, his adaption of Salome (one of the operas included in volume 3) had been re-released as a digital comic. And to celebrate this release, Mr. Russell had done some wonderful promotional segments.

And so, here is where you can watch Mr. Russell talk about adapting Salome to comic form.

Here are the original thumbnail sketches to the Salome comic.

Here is an 8-page preview to the remastered digital version of the Salome comic.

And finally, some notes on adapting Salome which is a fascinating read.

And while we're on the topic of Salome, we might as well sneak in that it opens our 2012 season, but more on that when the time is right.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- We went comic book shopping this weekend and we're mighty pleased with our find (to the left).

Friday, November 12, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday!

What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be listening to Intermezzo by Richard Strauss. We've been in a Strauss kick lately, in anticipation of Der Rosenkavalier and we've yet to give Intermezzo a listen so we figured, hey, why not give something new a try.

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lise Lindstrom on the Record

Sure, Lise has talked about it before with us, but our friends over at Florida Grand Opera actually sat Lise down in front of a camera to ask her about her sudden Met debut as Turandot last season. See, Lise is currently getting ready to open FGO's season as the icy princess, and then hopefully she can catch some sun and some tasty stone crabs before heading over to us in January to reprise what is clearly one of her signature roles.

Meet Jazzbot!

We here at Aria Serious are fans of science! in case you haven't noticed, and were even more excited when science! is combined with music.

So we were happy to learn about Jazzbot - a robot that can jam with musicians by learning their styles and mimicking them. Can classical music be far behind?

(And bonus the programmers who programmed the "head bob" - nice touch).

Will Contemporary Vocal Music Save the World?

Or, does the world even need saving? An interesting look at how new vocal works and avant opera can increase attendance and make vocal music interesting again. We obviously didn't get the memo here at Aria Serious; we've always thought vocal music was interesting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Podcast Monday

Let's dance! Why? Podcast Monday is back. This week? Dr. Nic explores dance in Bizet's Carmen.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Opera singer Shirley Verrett passed away late last week at 79. Her obituary is a fascinating portrait of passionate artist breaking racial stereotypes.

- Not opera but cool: They recreated the instruments from Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights." How do they sound? Horrible. No word on if they were played as depicted in the painting. Yes, Flue Butt, I'm looking at you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Contest Time!

Happy November, Dear Readers!

Opera season is right around the corner!

To celebrate, we're holding a contest.

A contest where you can win free tickets, go backstage and meet the cast of one of our operas!

Since you read us here at Aria Serious, or are a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, we know you love opera. And really, who doesn't love opera once they've heard it?

Since opera, like all good art, is an intensely personal experience we want to hear from you about how opera has changed your life and inspires you. And we want you to make a video about it.

The rules:

- We're looking for a short video on how opera has changed your life. By short we mean no more than three minutes and by video we mean any type of video that you can easily make and upload to Youtube. Your cellphone camera will be fine, your fancy HD camera will be fine as well. This is not the Jean-Luc Godard opera video contest. We'll hold that one next year.

- Be creative. Be honest. Be passionate. All of us are incredibly bonkers about opera and we want to hear why you are too. Want to sing us your testimonial? Go for it. Do interpretive dance? Lace those shoes up. Reenact a scene from your favorite opera with teddy bears? Uh, sure, whatever gets those creative juices flowing. Sitting down in front of the camera and talking will also work just fine, in case you are wondering.

- Once you are done with your short, no-more-than-three-minutes, video, upload it to your Youtube page. If you don't have a Youtube page yet, it's easy and free and almost 2011, so what are you waiting for? Once your video is uploaded, you'll get a link to where your video lives on Youtube. Please send a note to: with the link to your video.

- Starting on January 2, 2011 we'll post all of the entries here on the blog so our readers here, fans on Facebook, and followers on Twitter can vote on them. We'll keep the voting open for 2 weeks. At the end of two weeks our winner will be the video with the most votes.

- That's not entirely true. We'll also have a prize package for the video the staff liked best and we'll even have the cast of Turandot pick a winner as well so there is more than once chance to win.

- What do you win? Good question. Each winner will receive 2 tickets to the Friday, February 4, 2011 performance of Turandot at 8 PM. Prior to that we'll take a backstage tour and meet the cast. After the performance we'll all get together for a post-opera coffee/drink and we'll invite the cast to join us as well.

The small print:

- One entry per person, please. Sure, we have no way of knowing if you have multiple Youtube accounts, so the honor system is in play here.

- Staff, employees, and family members of staff and employees of San Diego Opera are not eligible.

- San Diego Opera reserves the right to use all submitted videos in future advertising campaigns. Additionally, San Diego Opera reserves the right to photograph contest winners at the opera for use in future campaigns.

- Have fun and good luck!

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday, the best of the weekdays, but only because of what follows it.

Time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

We're ashamed to admit it but we're skipping on the opera this weekend as we have far too much going on.

The San Diego Beer Week is on tap, but really, when isn't it beer week in San Diego?

There's also a robot expo in Riverside that is beckoning to us. Robots and beer! Boop beep.

Closer to home there's a Steampunk Art Show in Oceanside this Friday. Free parking for airships!

Our music time will be spent at Sezio's Four Day Weekend at the Sushi Gallery which actually started last night with the wonderful The Tree Ring and ends on Sunday with the equally wonderful Avi Buffalo with a bunch of other great bands in between.

Share your listening plans in the comment section and make it a great weekend!

Steampunk dog in photo by Stephane Halleux

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our 2011 Acting Chorus Masters

As we mentioned a few months back, our long time Chorus Master, Timothy Todd Simmons, left us to become General Manager of New Orleans Opera. We now have something new to add - three new things to add in fact - our Acting Chorus Masters for the 2011 season.

Acting Chorus Master, Turandot
Dr. Charles Prestinari currently serves as Chorus Master of the New York City Opera, a position he has held since 2008; prior to that he was assistant chorus master from 2004-2007. At New York City Opera, he has prepared and assisted in preparation for opera choruses on over 40 different operas. While obtaining graduate degrees in choral conducting from Indiana University, he held the position of Chorus Master of the Indiana University Opera Theatre for seasons 2001 through 2003 and opera coach from 2001-through 2004 with that organization and on the faculty of the IU School of Music. He has also held accompanist positions at the Brevard Summer Music Festival in North Carolina and the Carmel Bach Festival in California, and served as guest chorus master at the Manhattan School of Music in 2006 and 2009. He returns to San Diego Opera where he first performed as Acting Chorus Master for the 2008 production of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.

Acting Chorus Master, Der Rosenkavalier and Faust
San Diego Opera debut. Walter Huff has been Chorus Master for The Atlanta Opera for twenty-two years, having prepared the chorus in over 70 productions. Mr. Huff received degrees from the Oberlin and Peabody conservatories and has performed with singers throughout Europe and the United States. He has served as coach with the Peabody Opera Theatre, Washington National Opera, and Baltimore Opera Company and has performed in master classes presented by renowned singers such as Sir Peter Pears, Licia Albanese, Eileen Farrell, and Elly Ameling. He has been musical director for The Atlanta Opera Studio, Georgia State University Opera, and Actor’s Express. Mr. Huff was chosen as one of four Atlanta artists to receive the first Loridans Arts Awards, honoring exceptional contributions to the arts life of Atlanta. In June 2008, The Atlanta Opera Chorus under Mr. Huff’s direction sang critically acclaimed performances of Porgy and Bess at the Opéra-Comique in Paris and on tour in Granada, Normandy, and Luxembourg.

Acting Chorus Master, Carmen
San Diego Opera debut. Yugoslavian-born Kosta Popovic has worked as Assistant Chorus Master with the Metropolitan Opera from 2002 to 2008 and served as an assistant conductor at the Met for eleven seasons. Additionally, Kosta Popovic has collaborated with Opera Pacific, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Washington National Opera in the U.S., as well as the Teatro Municipal, Santiago, Chile; the Sächsische Staatsoper, Dresden, Germany; the Spoleto Festival, Spoleto, Italy; the Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Italy; and the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon, Portugal. Mr. Popovic holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Belgrade Music Academy, a Master’s of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and in 1995 completed course work in doctoral studies with a concentration in keyboard collaborative arts and choral music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

While We Were Out

Over the weekend: