Friday, February 26, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

We here at Aria Serious are going to listen to the Friday night performance of Nabucco. Then on Saturday we might listen to Dr. Nic talk about "Bass Pleasure" with a focus on Nabucco's Zaccaria at 9 AM on XLNC1, 104.9 FM. Although we might try to go for a bike ride before the rain comes.

Then after that, we really don't have anything planned other than the new Shout Out Louds album. We're reluctant to admit it but we're feeling all opera'd out. We might even pass on Nabucco on Sunday. Is there something we should listen to? We do have Nixon in China on deck - we actually saw this one live when it was recorded at Opera Colorado - but we might just wait a week and catch up on some movies we wanted to see but never got around to actually seeing: District 9, Zombieland plus we have a bunch of episodes of Caprica on the DVR just begging to be watched.

Share your listening plans (and recommendations) in the comment section below.

And make it a good one.

Ensemble Alum Update - Crystal Jarrell

When we last saw lovely mezzo soprano Crystal Jarrell on our stage she was bringing a whole lot of bad news to Cio-Cio-San and family as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. We know that didn't end too well, but that's the good thing about theatre - you get to leave all the drama behind on stage when the curtain comes down.

After leaving San Diego Opera, Crystal reprised her role of Kate in San Antonio Opera's production of Madama Butterfly, directed by none other than the omnipotent, god-like trickster, Q - err, we mean John de Lancie, who played Q on Star Trek: TNG. Or perhaps that's just what Q wants us to believe. Whoever really directed it, she tells us phasers were set to "fun."

She then made her San Diego Symphony debut performing an excerpt from John Corigliano's song cycle "Mr. Tambourine Man" based on the works of Bob Dylan. She was back again in February for the Symphony's Valentine's Day Pop Concert and she comes back on March 7 for the Family Festival Concert based on Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham".

Q, Dylan and Dr. Seuss - some people have all the luck I tell you.

Crystal was also a finalist in the National Opera Association of Vocal Competition and she has a new website. She also can't wait to see Romeo and Juliet. Neither can we.

So another update on the busy life of a former Ensemble member. Kinda makes our " finally built a set of shelves in the office" sound kind of lame, considering - my wife would like to add - they fell down after she put a single book on them.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ensemble Alum Update - Elyse Nakajima

When we last touched base with her, coloratura soprano Elyse Nakajima said goodbye at the end of the 2009 Ensemble tour. But luckily in the world of opera, goodbyes are usually never forever (remember, our Nabucco, Richard Paul Fink, came back after 20 some years, having been an early member of our Ensemble).

Elyse dropped us a line to let us know she's singing up in Berkeley Opera's production of Don Giovanni as Zerlina, which she first performed three years ago. This was a sudden engagement, with the original singer stepping out (seems to be a trend this year), Elyse had just 13 days notice to get ready for the role. That's pretty impressive. It takes me 13 days or more just to convince myself I need to go jog a few miles. The reviews have been quite good as well.

Elyse also sent us this fun take on Leporello's "Madamina, il catalogo รจ questo" or Catalogue Aria, which you can watch below.

Any other former Ensemble Members out there? Drop us a line to let us know what you're up to.

We Didn't Think We Could Love Her More, But We Do

We here at Aria Serious adore Renee Fleming so much we really didn't think our adoration could get any stronger. But then word came to us that come June 8, 2010 the lovely Renee is releasing an album called "Dark Hope" which feature covers of Arcade Fire, Death Cab For Cutie, Muse, Mars Volta, Tears for Fears and others... it's like one part of my music collection got busy with another part of my music collection and had musical babies.

On recording the album Fleming said that she tried to find a "stylistically authentic" way of performing the songs and that "singing in the lowest part of my voice was key to making this work."

The singer described making the album as "a wonderful learning curve, one reminiscent of my early days studying Mozart as a Juilliard student."

You can bet we'll be listening to this one come June 8, and as more information becomes available we'll share it with you here.

In the meantime, you can read the article on the Culture Monster blog here.

Now we're off to go beg Ian for a recital of this. Wish me luck.

Monday, February 22, 2010

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- NABUCCO opened on Saturday, you can read the reviews here.


- Our cast of Romeo and Juliet has arrived.

- A rolling stone gather no moss. A look at Placido Domingo's busy schedule. Does it impact his work? He says "no." Will his preventive surgery slow him down? Probably not. We wish the maestro a speedy recovery.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

We'll be listening to Nabucco Saturday night and we're excited about that! We've heard it three times and seen it twice already this week so it's always a good sign when we're looking forward to Saturday night instead of y'know, checking the tap list at Downtown Johnny Browns for that first act beer or something.

We'll probably pass on "San Diego Opera Matters" at 9 AM on Saturday on 104.9 XLNC1 or online. Not because this week's topic "Abigaille and her friends" doesn't interest us but because we've been in the theatre so much this week that we need to get out and go running with the dogs. Besides, we probably won't make it up before 9 anyway.

Sunday is a quiet day. Although we'll give the The Xx album a good listen because we too grew up listening to early Cure and New Order records.

Share your listening plans down below and if you see Nabucco tells us what you think.

And make it a good one!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sneak Peek of NABUCCO

So we're done rehearsing Nabucco and it has come together quite nicely despite a bumpy start with our 11th hour lead replacement, Richard Paul Fink.

Sylvie and Richard a very good together and both look like they're having a great time on stage. Richard especially seems to be relishing in his character's madness and was grinning backstage between acts. Good. It's been a long few weeks for him so it's nice to see him having some fun.

The San Diego Opera Chorus, who time and time again exceeds my expectations, really ups the bar in this one and they sound awesome. So awesome I almost preceded that awesome with the"F" word but then I realized where I was. But they're that good. Their "Va, Pensiero" is haunting with that final beautiful lingering note, their Act 1 finale resounds like an army beating down your door, as it should.

But why talk about this when we have pictures. Glorious pictures.

For those of you who want more to your pictures, like movement and sound, OperaSpotlight Nabucco airs tomorrow night on UCSD-TV. You can find the schedule here. It beats watching time delayed Olympics.

Now onto those photos we mentioned. They're all by photographer Cory Weaver.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our 11th Hour Nabucco

A profile on baritone Richard Paul Fink, our Nabucco who stepped in at the last minute to sing this role for the first time. A fascinating man, and an incredible artist. He's going to be very good.

You can read it here.

Sylvie Valayre On Abigaille

Our lovely soprano in Nabucco, Sylvie Valayre, sat down with Pat Launer to discuss Nabucco and Abigaille in a short video interview.

After watching her last night - she's going to bring the house down. There's a reason she's known for this role.

You can watch the video on the SDNN site here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

NABUCCO Artist Roundtable Is Online

Last week's NABUCCO artist roundtable in wide screen glory for your computer monitor.

Podcast Monday

Yeah, we took a week off with our Podcasts. And we feel bad about it. So to make up for it, this week's Podcast is a really good one - don't believe us?

Nic takes a look at prayer-forms in Verdi's NABUCCO.

Did Temistocle Solera, the librettist for Verdi's opera, know the Bible that well? Take a listen and find out.

You can download the podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend...


- NABUCCO unlocked Verdi's raw genius as a composer.


- Priti Gandhi continues her no-holds-barred expose at the seedy underbelly of professional opera.

- Orchestra Nova rescues music education in San Diego Schools with a little help from some good friends.

- Never work with children or animals.


- Hawaii Opera Theatre celebrates 50 years. When's the luau? My scuba gear is packed and ready to go... Happy birthday!


- Why you can expect to hear Carmen while watching figure skating. (Time delayed we might add *grumbles*).

Friday, February 12, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday! Which means its time to ask what we always ask:

What are you listening to this weekend?

This weekend, much like last weekend, is all work related.

Tough work, I know, especially with Verdi as my soundtrack. *gloats*

The Aria Serious crew will start our Saturday with "San Diego Opera Matters" at 9 AM PST on 104.9FM XLNC1. This week's topic? NABUCCO: Verdi's first success. Then we're off to the piano dress of NABUCCO that night.

Sunday we'll be listening to some old Thad Jones records and perhaps a little Iron & Wine before we tune into the broadcast of our LA BOHEME.

That's right! We're airing our production of LA BOHEME in its entirety on Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 7 PM PST on XLNC1 at 104.9 FM or online. It's our Valentines Day gift to you!

Share your listening plans down below and please, make it a good one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

NABUCCO Artist Roundtable

This Thursday - February 11 at 5:30 PM the cast and crew of our next opera, NABUCCO, will get together for an informal roundtable discussion about Verdi's first masterpiece in the Beverly Sills Salon on the second floor lobby of the Civic Theatre in Downtown San Diego (1100 3rd Ave, 92101)

The NABUCCO Artist Roundtable is free and open to the public and lasts just under an hour.

For those that can't make it or live outside of San Diego we'll post it here a few days later. But things are much better live and in person - so why not join us and say "hi" in person.


Friday, February 5, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

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

We'll begin our weekend with the Friday performance of LA BOHEME. There are still a few tickets left, and it really is that good, so if you want to see it you can click here to purchase tickets.

We're sleeping in (slightly) on Saturday and listening to Nic's "San Diego Opera Matters" program at 9 AM on XLNC1 on 104.9 FM or online here. This week's topic, in anticipation for NABUCCO - early Verdi. Then, depending on the rain, we might make our way up to La Jolla Playhouse for "Aurelia's Oratorio" since it sounds like our cup of tea.

Speaking of tea, we'll spend Sunday sipping it and catching up on all the other music out there that is not opera, despite having our last performance of BOHEME on at 2 PM. We have the new albums by Four Tet , Charlotte Gainsbourg and Spoon all sitting next to my stereo waiting for a listen. Then we're going to take a hike through Morley Field, we figured everyone else will be watching the big game so it'll be nice and quiet.

Share your listening plans down below and make it a good one!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It Was Much Better Than Watching Lost

We had our cd signing with Piotr Beczala last Tuesday and over 100 fans and patrons stayed after the opera to meet with our friendly tenor, safe in the knowledge that their TiVo's were taping the season premiere of Lost. Getting a CD signed by Piotr is much more rewarding. And a whole lot less confusing...

Here are some pics...

A First Timers Night at the Opera

Can you remember your first time at the opera?

My first was in 1988. I was still in High School and came to see FAUST with Ferruccio Furlanetto and Richard Leech here at San Diego Opera. This is the night, waaaaaay up there in the balcony seats for Student Night at the Opera, that I fell in love with the art form. I decided then, gazing down at the stage, that I would always want to be involved in the arts in some way or another. After the realization that I was tone deaf and horrible at following directions, ever getting on the stage was out of the question. Yet here I am - as close to the action as I ever want to be, and pleased I've able to tell this story directly to both Richard Leech and Ferruccio Furlanetto while they were sitting in my office over a decade later.

Since then I've seen a lot of opera. I'll see 13 or so of the 16 performances (as well as all the technical rehearsals) we offer this season, in addition to performances in whatever cities I end up in throughout the year. I see so much opera that I often feel as though I lose perspective of what it is like to experience opera. I'm so actively involved in the making and marketing of opera that I see it differently than say, my wife, who very rarely attends.

So it was refreshing this morning to read Meredith Hattam's report of her first time to the opera, because these are the experiences that are important - a first impression is one you carry with you all your life, and some of these impressions can be powerful enough to change you forever.

You can read her report on the ever wonderful Culture Lust blog.

And we'd love to know your first opera experience, so please share them in the comment section below.

10 Questions with Richard Paul Fink

From time to time, we like to play "10 or so Questions With..." our new artists so we can get to know them better before they join us here at San Dieog Opera. American baritone Richard Paul Fink is a late edition to our roster, replacing Zeljko Lucic who had to withdraw last minute from the title role of our upcoming NABUCCO.

This of course left us very little time to ask Richard some questions. But not to fear - the Lyric Opera of Kansas City has Richard joining them next month for RIGOLETTO and in anticipation of this, they were able to ask him 10 questions. Of course you'll need to visit their excellent blog to read them.




Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Favorite Shot From LA BOHEME

At the Aria Serious tower we see lots of photos with each production we do here. Each technical rehearsal week means scanning through hundreds upon hundreds of photos to find the 20 or images we use to represent the opera and singers.

In doing this, there is always one image I fall in love with, that for me, sums up the opera perfectly. When I'm lucky, I can use this image for press photos, but often that's not the case.

For LA BOHEME, here's the one that got away - its at the end of Act III after Rodolfo has bared his soul and admitted to Marcello his fear over Mimi's health. It's my favorite scene, filled with my favorite music, especially that wonderful duet that becomes a quartet - the two lovers singing of love and Marcello and Musetta hurling insults at one another. Here's a picture of Rodolfo and Mimi walking off together, they've decided to stay together until Spring but both know their relationship cannot last. For me, this is LA BOHEME in a single perfect image. A special thanks to Photographer Cory Weaver who shot this image, all our images of this one, for us.

Piotr Beczala CD Signing

Just a reminder that following tonight's performance of LA BOHEME, tenor Piotr Beczala will be signing copies of his CD "Salut!" in the Beverly Sills Salon on the second floor of the San Diego Civic Theatre (1100 3rd Ave., 92101).

By our calculations, the performance tonight will end at 9:40 PM. Allow him a few minutes to get out of costume and stage makeup.

This event is open to the public, not just ticket holders to tonight's performance, and we'll have copies of "Salut" on hand for sale for $20 each (considering Amazon is selling it for $23.98 you're getting a deal). Cash always makes the line move quicker but we'll take checks or credit cards as well.
It is a wonderful cd and one we play often here at the Aria Serious tower.

As for signing programs, casts or various body parts, you'll need to run that by Piotr yourself.

Radio Waves

EDITED: Seems the links have changed for the KUSC podcasts - since these addresses seem to by dynamic and therefore always changing, your best bet will be to visit here. This is the main KUSC Podcast page. You can scroll down to click the podcasts you want. Sorry about that.

A few LA BOHEME tidbits on the radio for you to listen to:

First, last week's spot as guests on KPBS Radio can be heard here. Dr. Nic, Priti Gandhi (Musetta) and Jeff Mattsey (Marcello) all appear on this show.

Second, is a series of short interviews on KUSC Radio in Los Angeles with Piotr Beczala.

Here's Piotr on LA BOHEME

Here's Piotr on singing Rodolfo in the original key

Here's Piotr on playing golf.

And yes, for those that want to hear LA BOHEME, we'll be airing this opera on Sunday, February 14 at 7 PM, PST on XLNC1 104.9 FM or online here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Behind-The-Scenes of LA BOHEME

What does it take to make an opera? Well, take a look at OperaSpotlight a 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at our current production of LA BOHEME with artist interviews, rehearsal footage and a whole lot of wonderful music.

You need to click here to watch it. No Youtube for this one. (And be patient, it takes some time to load).

Podcast Monday

On this week's Podcast, Dr. Nic takes a look at the great sopranos who have sung Mimi in LA BOHEME. After the reviews this weekend, it seems this podcast might already be out of date.

You can download the podcast here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend. Did we get a weekend?

- LA BOHEME opened with a bang, we have a review roundup here.



- Our friends further to the North, San Francisco Opera announced their season as well. Of note is Ellie Dehn, our Mimi in LA BOHEME is singing the Countess in THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO with them.