Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays! A bit of business: the San Diego Opera offices will be closing today at 1 PM and will remained closed until Tuesday, December 27, 2011. The offices will also be closed on Monday, January 2, 2012. Our website is always open for your opera needs.

The Aria Serious crew will be offline until Tuesday, January 3, 2012.

We'd like to thank you for making Aria Serious what it is and look forward to sharing our 2012 season with you. We have some wonderful new plans in the works that you'll start to see once the new year rolls around.

Happy New Year!

- The Aria Serious Crew

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Moby-Dick Rehearsal Wall

We're excited about hosting the West Coast premiere of Moby-Dick when it opens in February. One, we like new opera and two, we like interesting productions. Moby covers both of these for us.

It's a very technical production and those that have worked on it before (in Dallas and Australia) liken it to a very large Broadway production. Makes sense, both set designer Robert Brill and director Leonard Foglia have worked on Broadway.

A major piece of the set is a large curved wall that is used to create the Pequod, the ocean, and a variety of other locations in the opera. It stands about 30 feet tall, has a steep slope, and singers are constantly climbing up and down it and sometimes even falling off of it as though it is a giant slide.

This obviously requires practise so our Scenic Studio is busy at work creating a rehearsal wall. Construction started two days ago and already the wall is taking shape. We've included some photos below that our friends at the San Diego Scenic Studio sent over.

Moby-Dick opens February 18, 2012.




Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moby-Dick OperaSpotlight is coming

A very cool preview video for OperaSpotlight Moby-Dick that our friends over at UCSD-TV created.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Video Podcast

Our video podcast series continues. Up this week, putting DON PASQUALE into historical context. You can watch it below.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Happy Friday. What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will listen to Bellini's Norma. It's been some time since we've heard it and it has been even longer since we've spent time with the excellent Maria Callas recording, which we think might be the best one out there.

If you know of one better, please let us know.

Share your listening plans in the comment section below and please, have a great weekend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Putting The Barber of Seville in Historical Context

Our podcast series of putting our four operas in historical context continues with THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. What does this opera have in common with the situational comedies on TV today? Dr. Nic answers all...

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Video Look at MOBY-DICK Auditions

Our friends over at KNSD 7/39 and Voice of San Diego's Behind The Scene Arts blog put together this excellent little preview of MOBY-DICK auditions earlier this week. You think those flips and tumbles are impressive - the floor they are on is concrete with just a thin layer of carpet. We get sore just standing on it.

You can watch it below:


A Prelude to a Premiere

Earlier this week, MOBY-DICK composer Jake Heggie sat down with Ian Campbell to give a generous conversation about his life, composing opera, and, of course, his newest work MOBY-DICK which we will be presenting in February.

UCSD-TV filmed the program which will premiere tonight on tv.

But you can also watch it right now online. And you should. It's a wonderful program full of delightful insights.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Video Podcast - Putting MOBY-DICK into Historical Context

Our video podcast series of putting our 2012 operas into historical context continues with Moby-Dick. You can watch the podcast below.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Happy Friday.

What are you listening to this weekend?

Work will dictate our listening plans this weekend as we spend time with The Barber of Seville and Don Pasquale. Seems best if we reacquaint ourselves with them before the season starts up.

Then we might spend some time with Youth Lagoon's "The Year of Hibernation" which has been getting lots of airplay at the Aria Serious compound.

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Video Podcast - Putting SALOME into Historical Context

Our podcasts are back - finally! We had some issue with space on our server but we've finally taken care of this problem. 

For the next few weeks Dr. Nic will be putting our operas into historical context. Up first, SALOME. Which you can watch below.

Please enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Music Collector Alert - 12/3 Hollywood Amoeba

Who likes records? We like records! And if you're reading this, we bet you like records too.

Our friends at Amoeba Records in Hollywood have sent us an email letting us know they have purchased a large collection of classical music from a "well known collector." Sounds mysterious!

They'll be putting it out on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Store opens at 10:30 AM

According to Amoeba:

"This unique collection has many thousands of rare Classical CDs and LPs along with many collectible soundtracks. This is without doubt the finest collection of Classical Music that Amoeba Hollywood has ever acquired. We will unveil this collection on Saturday, December 3rd."

They claim to have thousands of titles from rare classical labels, an enormous range of hard-to-find composers with a special emphasis on Romantic and 20th century composers, film composers (this is Hollywood after all) and rare soundtracks on private labels (!!!).


The collection is said to be in mint/near mint condition.

A word of advice from a frequent Amoeba shopper - limit yourself to what we call the "One Hand Amoeba Rule" - that is, if you can carry it in one hand, without using a basket, you're well within budget. And yes, bracing your stack of music with your chin is totally acceptable provided you're still only using one hand. However if they have the cds in those long plastic cases that you can loop up to your elbow (and we've totally done that before) you're screwed. 

You can find Amoeba here (scroll down for the Hollywood location).

And good hunting.

If you do go and find something totally awesome, share it in the comment section below.

(Photo of Jean Shin's "Sound Wave")

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Happy Friday!

It sure has been quiet here at Aria Serious. We like to think of it as the calm before the storm. Rest assured, things will pick up in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, we'd like to remind you we're on Facebook - just type "San Diego Opera" into your Facebook search field and "friend" us. We're posting there daily.

We're also tweeting up a storm on Twitter. You can find us there, here.

What are you listening to this weekend?

We're pulling out Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk because we've never heard the entire opera. Seems like as good of time as any.

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

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Happy Friday What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will give Roberto Devereux a listen. Why? It's been years, maybe a decade since we've heard it. We have the Beverly Sills / Peter Glossop recording on tap.

Then we'll catch a bit of Sezio's 4-Day Weekend concert series. The Sunday concert is looking to be great with Aria Serious favorite Real Estate and Big Troubles on stage.

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

Podcast Monday

Podcast Monday is back although we can't promise if all our podcasts will appear on Mondays. The move to video has proved trickier than we anticipated and these past few weeks we've been getting them up later in the week. But Monday is here and so is this week's podcast - so lets hope all the kinks have been worked on and we can be a bit more consistent on when we share these.

This week, Dr. Nic explores leitmotifs in Salome. It's a good one (since we just got done listening to Salome again over the weekend).

Enjoy!

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- There is a new book on opera and fashion designers. Here's what we had to say about our collaboration with Zandra Rhodes for both The Magic Flute and The Pearl Fishers. And yes, you read it correctly; her Aida will be part of our 2013 season.

- Kate Middleton and Prince Charles have been attending the opera together. We should invite him to Moby-Dick. He is the Prince of Wales...

- This video that appeared late last week on Behind-The-Scene at Voice of San Diego reminds me about this story about Joshua Bell. Both make us kind of sad.

- A series that looks at the logic behind ticket pricing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Friday - the end of the work week and time to ask as we always ask, what are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious has a lot going on this weekend so we'll be forced to squeeze in a short one, so we'll go with Salome. It's coming up in our season, it's only about 90-minutes long and it doesn't hurt to listen to it again before the cast starts arriving.

Share your plans below and please stay dry - it is forecast to be a wet one. Well, wet by San Diego standards at least.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Video Podcast: Beginings

A look at overtures, preludes and beginings in opera. Enjoy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- We announced a cast change for Moby-Dick. Ben Heppner, who originated the role in Dallas, will now join us to sing the role of Ahab. We released Jay Hunter Morris to sing a run of Seigfreids at the Met Opera. Also, see below from a message from Jay about not singing with us.

- Having a bad day at work? Us too, until we read about this singer that sang her role in Tosca from a wheelchair 3-days after being robbed and shot.

- Happy Halloween. Why some notes are scarier than others.

- A message from Jay Hunter Morris.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday. What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be listening to The Daughter of the Regiment. It's coming up in a future season and we're not terribly familiar with it so now seems like a fine time to listen to it. Which future season, you ask? Now that would be telling.

We'll also spend some time with Real Estate's new LP, Days, which is a serious contender for our album of the year.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This week's podcast

Occupy Opera. Opera is expensive, but there are ways to make it less expensive. This week Dr. Nic gets cheap and shares how you can attend opera on a 99% budget. And in HD. Finally.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10 Questions With Lise Lindstrom

Those of you who attended San Diego Opera's performances of Turandot last season will surely remember Lise Lindstrom, the lovely soprano who made her Company debut in the title role - her signature role. We saw and heard a superlative artist with incredible stage presence and stunning vocals. And behind-the-scenes we got to make a new friend who quickly placed herself on the Aria Serious "Awesome List" (oh yes, we have a list) with her humor, intelligence, grace and generosity.

Saying goodbye to Lise after the last performance of Turandot we knew we wouldn't have to wait too long for her return as she'll once again sing the title role in the season opener, Salome.

Lise took time out of her busy schedule to answer our 10 or so questions... and here is what she had to say.

San Diego Opera (SDO): First, welcome back to San Diego Opera – we’re very pleased to have you return to us to sing Salome. Audience members are still talking about your Turandot last season and always ask me what you’ve been up to in the past few months. What should I tell them?


Lise Lindstrom (LL): Thank you! I’m thrilled to be coming back!

Probably the most exciting thing that has happened since being in San Diego was my Teatro alla Scala debut last April/May. I was singing the role of Turandot, and it was truly an amazing experience. Milan is a lovely city and my time with everyone at La Scala was incredible. It was a new production by Giorgio Barberi, conducted by Valery Gergiev. My entire experience in Milan is something that I will never forget!

SDO: Turandot and Salome – both strong women. How are they similar?

LL: While they are both strong-willed and insistent young ladies, Turandot and Salome might also fall under the heading of “dysfunctional teenager”? Salome seems to come to her dysfunction slightly more honestly as she grew up in a house of deceit and murder. However, Turandot, at some point in her young life, attached herself to the tragic story of her long dead ancestor. Neither of these women live in what we would call, a “happy home”. Salome’s household is characterized by intrigue, deceit, and lechery. She is aggressively objectified by her step-father Herod, hated by her mother, Herodias, and I assume, feels very isolated in her world. Turandot’s home is also less than warm. She lives an isolated life with no real relationship with anyone including her father, the Emperor, or even her closest ministers. Both women are surrounded by servants that attend to their every need, regardless of how absurd. Both women are accustomed to getting their every whim and wish fulfilled. This becomes the challenge then, to find their depth and warmth, and try to imbue these superficially cold and deluded women with humanity and empathy.

SDO:  Different?

LL: Turandot and Salome both have issues with “reality”, but for different reasons. Salome exists in a true house of horror. Turandot has made the house of horror. Salome is surrounded by the conniving, deceitful and deluded. She has no one to attach herself to. Turandot uses methods of intimidation and fear to get her way and seems to be strangely detached to all the murders that have occurred under her hand. Salome, however, seems more sensitive in that she is aware of all the strangeness and even the beauty around her. She proclaims how sweet the air is, how beautiful the moon is, and later, how beautiful and different Jochanaan is. She is able to exhibit an introspection and openness that Turandot only briefly brushes up to after Calaf’s kiss. Unfortunately, this fragility and sensitivity is the cause of Salome’s ultimate downfall.

SDO:  We just produced Der Rosenkavalier last season and personally I find it amazing that the same composer could write Salome, the music is so different. Can you tell us a little about the music of Salome?

LL: Throughout Strauss’ life he was determined to compose in a style that was wholly his own and one that would be compelling for the audience. Strauss certainly achieved both goals with the composition of Salome. Mahler declared Salome “a live volcano, a subterranean fire”. Five years later, and with Elektra in between, Strauss completed Rosenkavalier in his new and modified harmonic language. Rosenkavalier integrated more typically Viennese elements and while still very sophisticated orchestrally, it didn’t require the audience’s ear to be quite so pliable. Salome is an aggressive and percussive piece of music in addition to a disturbing and gripping drama. The audience maybe shouldn’t really like it, it’s not meant to be a “feel good” opera. Regardless, since its premiere, the audience has found this piece to be tremendously powerful and compelling. What has become known as Richard Strauss’ style of musical scenography and dramatic illustration is certainly already in place in this early opera. One’s ear is drawn deep into the work and the genius of the composition between the singer and orchestra which creates the deeply psychological relationships between characters. With his next opera, Elektra, Strauss took this compositional style one step further and it was after Elektra that he was ready to move on to the challenge of finding his orchestral voice in a new and expanded style. This is when Rosenkavalier comes in.

SDO: The centerpiece of Salome is the dance of the Seven Veils. As an artist how do approach this very physical moment of the opera?

LL: This is where the collaboration with the Director is absolutely pivotal. I relish finding the motivation and interpretation for this dance, as in each production is it just a little bit different. As far as the physical demands of the dance, Strauss was clever but not overly generous. Salome has to sing perhaps the most demanding material after the dance, but thankfully he composes a little bit of time for her to be able to recover. In Strauss’ day, it was not uncommon to have a dancer, rather than the singer, dance the Dance of the Seven Veils.

SDO: By the way, are you a dancer?

LL: I wouldn’t say that I’m a dancer, but I studied dance when I was young. Singing requires different muscular coordination than dance, and that was tricky for me to make the transition. Regardless, I always look forward to being able to dance as Salome. Not many dramatic soprano roles offer the opportunity for the singer to dance!

SDO: This season sees you making three more Company debuts as Turandot – how does this role continue to evolve for you?

LL: Turandot, the woman, continues to be an enigma to me, and I think to many people. I love singing this role and I never tire of trying to seek out and bring her warmth to life. So often I wonder what Puccini would have done had he had the time to complete this opera. How would Turandot have developed? Nonetheless, I always hope to deepen my interpretation, and to expand my musical awareness of what the composer was intending. It’s a little like studying a favorite piece of poetry or art, I never get bored.

SDO: You never answered this last time, so what are some of your hobbies?

LL: The reason that I didn’t answer is because my answer isn’t very interesting. My life and my hobbies seem to be one in the same – travel, food, music, art, literature, and meeting new people. I live a perfect life for me that encompasses all my passions.

SDO: Do you have a new book next to your bed? If so, what is it?

LL: I have several books on my bedside table at any given time. Right now they are:

The Gift: Poems by Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)

Opera Anecdotes (Ethan Mordden)

Sophie’s World: The History of Philosophy (Jostein Gaardner)

SDO: Most beautiful place you’ve visited in the past 12 months (excluding San Diego, obviously).

LL: That’s also a tough one! I guess I would have to say: Lake Como in Italy last spring, and the Austrian alps outside of Salzburg this summer.

SDO: Since you are coming back to San Diego, anything about our city you are looking forward to revisiting?

LL: It is such a pleasure to know that I am returning to California where I can dip my toes in the ocean, take a stroll on the beach and soak up the easy SoCal lifestyle while working with one of the most professional and inspiring opera companies in the country. That is really something to look forward to!

Salome opens January 28, 2012.

Monday, October 17, 2011

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Some sad news as the Lyric Opera of San Diego has filed for bankruptcy protection. Dear readers, please support your local opera company, whoever they might be.

- Wikileaks: the opera.

- Beck is preparing a remix Philip Glass remix LP. 

- Last week, we said goodbye to a very dear friend and co-worker. Her absence is profound.

- This is a video about what happens when a whale dies, as told by puppets. It's very beautiful. We include it since we have whale on the brain with our upcoming performances of Moby-Dick.


Whale Fall (after life of a whale) from Sharon Shattuck on Vimeo.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Friday is upon us. What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew has a household full of guests so, sadly, there will be no opera on the stereo this weekend. It's hard to find the time to listen to a full opera when others are around.

But next week we'll be listening to Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment. It's coming up in a future season and it's not an opera we're terribly familiar with.

But more on that later.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Our newest video Podcast

We apologize for the delay again - we're still smoothing out the edges of these new video podcasts, but our newest one is finally up. This week we take a look at Salome and the cultural and artistic environment of the Expressionist period. Enjoy!




Friday, October 7, 2011

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Happy Friday. What are you listening to this weekend?

For some reason the cooler weather made us think of Lucia di Lammermoor, we've heard it a dozen times already though. So, we're going to go French this weekend and listen to Lucie de Lammermoor - we've never heard this version despite owning it for years.

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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Podcast Thursday

Our apologies - technical difficulties prevented us from getting this up any earlier - but we think the wait was worth it. In this week's video podcast Nic talks about using your ears at the Opera, with a close listen to the role of Rosina in The Barber of Seville. Enjoy.

Friday, September 30, 2011

What Are You Listening to This Weekend

Happy Friday. What are you listening to this weekend?

We're heading up the coast early tomorrow morning to catch one of the last "shows" of Susurrus presented by La Jolla Playhouse at the San Diego Botanic Gardens (formerly Quail Botanic Gardens). This is a site specific theatre piece - it's billed as part radio play, avant-garde sonic art and a walk through the park - all things we like.  We've been told Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream plays a part in this piece.

Thus, our listening plans are kind of already chosen for us - we'll give Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream a full listen after checking this out.

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

Updated - We've just been informed that Susurrus has been extended through October 23, 2011.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Opera + Food! Taste of Opera Returns

We like opera. We like food, too. In fact, these two things are in our top five favorite things ever. So we're very pleased to announce our Taste of Opera events for 2012.

Taste of Opera sprung up during a conversation one hungry meeting when we were trying to make opera more accessible and casual. Our stomach grumbled. We suggested ending the meeting early for lunch. And then someone else suggested lunch and opera, and well, the idea snowballed from there.

Taste of Opera is prix fixe meal. You get an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. You also get a glass of wine - hey, another one of our favorite things. The price also covers tax and tip. You also get a casual introduction to one of our operas by Dr. Nic Reveles, our Director of Education. And if that's still not enough we also line up a secondary speaker for the evening who discusses a related but offbeat topic (we had someone talk about wind energy for Don Quixote a few years back, had a Flamenco instructor for Carmen last season, etc...). Most important of all, you get to sit with like-minded opera fans such as yourself.

You can check out the full listing of events here including the menus. You can also RSVP. Please note that these dinners have sold-out the past few seasons, so while you don't need to act now, you will need to act soon.

We hope to see you at one (or more) of these events.

We already started our diet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Podcast Monday

Now for something completely different - our first video podcast . You can watch it down below. Let us know what you think; these are works in progress - your comments will help us decide which direction to go.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Friday is here! What are you listening to this weekend? Please share it in the comment section below.

The Aria Serious crew will have many household visitors this weekend so a full opera is off the menu for this weekend. We'll probably give Nirvana's Nevermind a listen on Saturday however. It came out 20 years ago. This makes us feel very old as we were working in a record store when that album came out and remember it quite well.

Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

10 Questions With Danielle de Niese

Next season San Diego Opera will welcome soprano Danielle de Niese to the Company to sing her first staged Norina in Don Pasquale.

The Aria Serious crew is extra excited about this because we've been big fans of Danielle ever since we caught a glimpse of her in this Youtube video of "Da Tempeste" from Handel's Julius Caesar in Egypt. In it, you not only get to hear an artist of incredible talent, precision and skill, but get to watch someone who is clearly in love with what she is doing. Plus, she has some pretty snazzy dance moves.

After watching this video we sought out her recordings (we do love the Baroque) and have been fans ever since.

So you can imagine our delight when we heard Danielle would be singing with us in 2012. More so, you should've seen the happy dance we did when Danielle agreed to answer a few questions by email last month. Or perhaps not,  our moves are not nearly as good as Danielle's. Needless to say we were excited. Nervous. Dizzy. We decided we'd come up with new questions for Danielle but in the end couldn't think straight so we asked the same 10 or so questions we always ask. And we're glad we did. Because it showed us that yes, this is indeed an artist who is in love with her work, with music, with life.

So without further ado, Danielle's 10 or so Questions...

San Diego Opera (SDO): First, welcome to San Diego Opera – we’re incredibly pleased to have you making your Company debut with us as Norina in Don Pasquale. Where in the world are you these days and what are you singing right now?

Danielle de Niese: (DN): Right now I’m on an airplane from London to New York. I’m flying there for 24 hours for a photoshoot for Marie Claire Magazine! Normally I wouldn’t go anywhere for just 24 hours, but I’ve been picked for a short list of inspirational people in all fields, and I couldn’t pass up a chance to be photographed in the group picture and meet all these inspirational women! Singing-wise, I just did a packed out concert last night at the legendary 100 Club in London (where the Beatles and the Rolling Stones performed!) as part of a series called Limelight which brings classical music to new and modern venues! It was the epitome of cool, and the public response to classical music in this context was amazing!


SDO: Norina is a role debut for you, can you tell us why you decided now was the time to add her to your repertoire?

DN: I sang scenes of Norina’s in a young artists concert while I was an apprentice in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists program, so I was completely bitten by the bug then! But I felt it was important to wait until I’d made some growth in my voice and in my technique before taking on these Donizetti roles. Vocally and technically, they are very intricate. So I waited until I knew I was ready before accepting to perform this role, and I’m beyond thrilled that I get to make not only this company debut, but also a role debut with San Diego Opera!

SDO: I hear it’s been quite some time since your “audition” with Ian Campbell and your appearance on our stage. Do you care to share this story with us?

DN: Well, I was 17 when I sang for Ian Campbell- I was quite honored and excited to have been asked to audition at such a young age. I went onto the main stage of San Diego Opera and sang O mio Babbino Caro! It’s so nice to be able to reconnect with him 15 years later for this debut!

SDO:  Confession: we’ve had your Handel LP on constant rotation in the office for months and months but we’ve finally taken it out and have been obsessing over your new one: Beauty of the Baroque. Besides being able to sing it gloriously (wow!), what is it about this era of music that draws you to it?

DN: There are so many things that have drawn me to Baroque music, and that keep me coming back to it. This music is the backbone of modern classical music as we know it. Baroque music also allows me to compose alongside composers like Handel because the Italian da capo aria form has you return to the A section and sing it again with ornamentation. So this allows me to write my own ornaments, in a sense composing directly in the inspiration of Handel! This dichotomy between the structure and rules of Baroque music and the requirement to ornament according to one’s taste is amazing to me- this freedom within the form. The other thing I love about Baroque music is that you never feel stagnant or stale in a role even if you’ve done it before, because you can tailor your ornaments, tempo, interpretation according to the needs in any particular production of dramatic requirement. So every time I sing a big Baroque role, it is tailored and custom-made to fit the production, so it’s always fresh and new, and you can return to interpret pieces you know very well with new eyes.

SDO: Are there any dream roles that you would love to sing and why? And since we’re dreaming it doesn’t even need to be in your fach…

DN: Within my Fach, I would love love love to sing Massenet’s Manon one day- I just know this role has got my name on it, and I am waiting patiently until I’m vocally ready to take on this very demanding role in all its complexity!

SDO: What was your introduction to opera and how did you decide this was the path you wanted to pursue?

DN: I had been singing in perfect pitch almost before I could talk, but I would have been about 5 years old when I myself realized that I had a voice.My parents were instrumental in the birth of my dreams, because they were the ones who noticed that I has a special talent at such a young age, and they enrolled me in a number of classes to allow me to experience different activities and see what I enjoyed the most. I chose to become an opera singer because of all the things I studied as a child (Piano, Ballet, Jazz Dance, Tap Dance, Music Theory, Drama, and Voice), classical music was the thing that made me feel most special and distinguished. I think I realized even at 8 years of age (when I took my first classical voice lessons) that being able to produce a classically trained sound in my voice was a gift and something I couldn’t ignore. I also really really LOVED it, and still do- it’s like a love affair that continues even today!

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

DN: ...an olympic gold medalist in figure skating and ice dancing”

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

DN: Favorite Part- EVERYTHING! Least Favorite Part- packing suitcases and trying to fit everything in!

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

DN: I like watching films, so I suppose that’s a hobby of sorts.

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

DN: Right now the book I have near my bed is My Names is Memory by Ann Brashares (which my best friend has recommended to me) but I haven’t had time to start reading it! I also have my own personal diary which I’m 30 months behind on. My diary doesn’t even know I’m singing at San Diego opera, so I better get writing or I’ll never catch up!

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

DN: Daughtry, The Script, The soundtrack to Vicky Christina Barcelona, Dave Matthews Band, The Indigo Girls, Imogen Heap, Natasha Bedingfield, The soundtrack to Something’s Gotta Give, The New Radicals, Parachute, Alexei Murdoch, Owl City…. That’s just to name the sounds I listen to when I’m getting ready for a performance! 

And PS, Dear Danielle's Diary - Don Pasquale opens Saturday March 10, 2012 for four performances.

Community Conversations

San Diego Opera is very pleased to announce our Community Conversations for 2012. We started Community Conversations a few years back as a way to get people interested in our production of Nabuccco and they have now grown into an annual series.

Community Conversations is a free, citywide lecture series that explores the various aspects of San Diego Opera’s upcoming season by paring Dr. Nic Reveles (our Director of Education) with a guest speaker and expert who is an expert in their field. These are casual, and fun, and cover a wide variety of thought-provoking topics.

We've posted the complete list of Community Conversations for 2012 down below but we encourage you to visit the official page which you can access here - although these events are free they do require an RSVP, and they do reach capacity well in advance.

In Search of the Whale: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick


September 27, 2011, 7:00 PM

San Diego Maritime Museum, aboard the Berkeley - 1492 North Harbor Drive. San Diego, CA 92101-3309

Join Bart Thurber, Ph.D., Professor of English Literature at the University of San Diego and the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach Nicolas Reveles, San Diego Opera, in a lively conversation about Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby-Dick, the source of the new opera by Jake Heggie (composer) and Gene Scheer (librettist). Melville’s episodic work includes digressions into the mechanics of seafaring, a scientific study of whales, intimate descriptions of 19th century whaling and various (and, at times, divergent) genres. The novel’s many themes will be discussed, along with a close look at how this monumental novel was distilled down into a tight, gripping work for the stage.

Whale Sounds, Whale Music: Reflections of a Marine Biologist on Moby-Dick

October 11, 2011, 7:00 PM

Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute - 2595 Ingraham Street. San Diego, CA 92109-7902

In a conversation between Dr. Ann Bowles, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist with the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute and Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach with San Diego Opera, the connection between Melville’s book and current scientific study in conservation will be explored. Melville had no inkling of the conservation ethic, but his work exposes the painful tension between exploitation and conservation in a way that modern writers cannot because he described in exacting detail the collapse of the whale fishery from the perspective of the whalers. Dr. Bowles will interpret Melville’s observations and incidents like the sinking of the whale ship Essex and depredations of Mocha Dick, which inspired Melville to write Moby-Dick, in light of what we know about sperm whales today. The audience will step into the whales’ ocean world through the medium of their sounds, with the hope that this discussion will help San Diegans enjoy the lyrical battle between Captain Ahab and The Whale in Jake Heggie’s opera.
Moby-Dick: Science, Sound and Struggles Between Whales and Men

November 8, 2011, 7:00 PM

Birch Aquarium at Scripps - 2300 Expedition Way. La Jolla, CA 92037

In this partnership between Birch Aquarium at Scripps and San Diego Opera, marine biologist Dr. Aaron Thode, Ph.D. with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Dr. Nicolas Reveles, Geisel Director of Education and Outreach for San Diego Opera, discuss the background of the upcoming San Diego Opera production of Moby-Dick. Based on the Herman Melville novel, the opera focuses on the obsessive relationship that Captain Ahab has with an albino sperm whale that he believes crippled him on a whaling expedition. For background on the opera and the book, Drs. Thode and Reveles will have a lively discussion about the science of whales as presented by the book and how modern science has grown in its understanding of this magnificent animal. The conversation will include information about Dr. Thode’s research on the sperm whale and marine mammal acoustics, including modern day conflicts between whales and fishermen.

A Whale of a Story: Moby-Dick and Reflections on the Book of Jonah

December 7, 2011, 7:00 PM

Congregation Beth-Israel - 9001 Towne Centre Drive. San Diego, CA 92122

Join Rabbi Michael Berk, Congregation Beth-Israel, and Dr. Nicolas Reveles, The Geisel Director of Education and Outreach for San Diego Opera for an exciting discussion about two “whale stories”: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and the Book of Jonah. Melville’s great American novel is filled with quotes from scripture. Even some of the chapters of the book are cast in forms that would have been familiar to the Biblical authors. A key portion of the book is a sermon by the character ‘Father Mapple’ whose words draw a strong parallel between Captain Ahab and the Biblical Jonah. Come find out how these two great pieces of world literature speak to each other and to our lives with a relevance that is fresh, contemporary and undeniable.

Images of Salome: Eroticism, Horror, and Religion

January 18, 2012, 7:00 PM

San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park – 1450 El Prado. Balboa Park, CA 92101

Join Dr. John Marciari, Ph.D., Curator of European Art at the San Diego Museum of Art and Dr. Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach for San Diego Opera, in a survey of images depicting the biblical story of Salome and John the Baptist. From the Renaissance through the 20th century, from Cranach to Caravaggio to Beardsley, the story of the cunning princess and the beheading of the prophet John has inspired a plethora of bloody and suggestive works of art. What ties these pieces together? Why are artists attracted to the juxtaposition of the horrific and the erotic in their works? Are the same artistic impulses to be found in Strauss’s 1905 opera? Join these two experts in an engaging conversation about visual art and its effect on lyric theatre.

Strauss’s Salome: Fatal Attraction

January 25, 2012, 7:00 PM

La Jolla Country Day School, Four Flowers Theatre - 9490 Genesee Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037

Richard Strauss’s 1905 opera Salome, after the play by Oscar Wilde, is based on the Biblical story of a tragic convergence in the lives of John the Baptist, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, his wife Herodias and her daughter Salome. In a free-wheeling conversation, Dr. Joseph Colombo, Ph.D. and Dr. Florence Gillman, Ph.D. and S.T.D., both professors of Religious Studies & Theology at the University of San Diego will give a vivid account of the life and times of Herod’s family with an emphasis on Herodias and Salome. Dr. Gillman is the author of Herodias: At Home In That Fox’s Den and will present some of her findings in research about this subject; Dr. Colombo will present images of Salome in art and film, from 19th century paintings to Hollywood. The conversation will be moderated by Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach, San Diego Opera.

Remember, you can RSVP (for free) to these events here. We hope to see you at a few of them - or all.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Podcast Monday

Happy Podcast Monday - this week, Dr. Nic explores the operatic tradition of the all-male chorus in Moby-Dick. You can download the podcast here. Enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

Happy Friday. What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will give Medea a listen. It's been ages since we've put in on, we don't really remember it at all.

On Saturday we'll head over to Politifest at Liberty Station presented by Voice of San Diego. It's free and sounds like a fun and thought provoking event.

Sunday there is a lovely polo tournament which benefits us and the San Diego Symphony. Tickets are still available and children are free.  You can get them here.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

10 Questions with Talise Trevigne

Earlier this year we had the incredible pleasure of welcoming American soprano Talise Trevigne to our Company as Micaela in the season closer, Carmen. When we said goodbye we knew it wouldn't be for long as she is scheduled to come back and reprise the role of Pip she created for the world premiere of Moby-Dick in Dallas. Talise took a few moments from rehearsing Heggie's Pieces of 9/11 in Houston last week to answer "10 Or So Questions With..."

San Diego Opera (SDO): First, welcome back to San Diego Opera – we’re very pleased to have you return to us to reprise the role of Pip in Moby-Dick. Audiences remember you from your wonderful Company debut last year as Micaela in Carmen. What have you been up to these past few months?


Talise Trevigne (TT): Immediately after returning home to New York, I went into rehearsals for Rossini’s Guillaume Tell at Bel Canto at Caramoor. It was a brilliant show with wonderful colleagues. I sang the role of Tell’s son Jemmy – YES another “pant role!” It was the North American premiere of the opera and extremely well received by the critics and audiences. It was also the very first time in which the Act III trio was performed.
SDO: What was it like to create the world premiere role of Pip?
TT: It was THE experience of a lifetime. The chemistry, energy and true love among the original cast members and production team, who I like to call “the crew,” was amazing. I feel so blessed to have been a part of it. To know that Jake Heggie wrote Pip’s glorious music for me is a thrill and honor I cannot describe.

SDO: You’re the only woman in the cast of principals. How did this make you feel on the first day of rehearsals? And what is it like knowing you will be reunited with many of them in San Diego?

TT: It felt wonderful and strange to be the only “girl” in the crew, but the men really made me feel like “one of the guys.” Sometimes this made for some enlightening locker-room moments. You know what I mean. I was only reminded of my femininity when I was baking for them!

I am very much looking forward to being with my boys again.

SDO: Pip has some impressive wire-work in this opera. What’s it like to hang suspended in the sky and sing?

TT: I make it look easy, but it is much more difficult that you can imagine. Thank God for my intense dance and yoga training!

SDO: Do you have a favorite part in this opera?

TT: Many. I love the opening scene when all the men flood onto the ship’s deck. I adore Pip’s mad scene and when Ahab loses his mind at the end of the opera.

SDO: Are there any dream roles that you would love to sing and why? And since we’re dreaming it doesn’t even need to be in your fach…

TT: Dream roles that ARE in my future include Butterfly, Daphne, Lulu,

Thaïs and Alcina. Outside my fach, and my gender, I would LOVE to sing Scarpia.

SDO: What was your introduction to opera and how did you decide this was the path you wanted to pursue?

TT: I sang the Shepherd Boy in Tosca at the age of 16. I fell in love with the music, how can you not fall in love with Puccini, and I was hooked. I moved heaven and earth to get myself to New York to study. The rest is history.

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

TT: I would love to be a high-end trial lawyer or the next Barbara Walters!

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

TT: I love the travel. I hate the travel. Seriously, I love going to new places and being in new situations with new colleagues, but I loathe being away from my family and my home in New York.

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

TT: Actually, life is opera. That being said, I do have many interests outside of the opera world. I am a dedicated yogi, I love to cook and bake. I also enjoy reading and hiking and just love exploring new places!

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

TT: At the moment I have nine books next to my bed. Currently I am reading three including Pablo Nenuda’s poetry, a brilliant historical novel titled “Queen of Cities” and “The Help.”

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

TT: Nothing on my MP3 is opera related. Currently in rotation are Adele, Kenna, and Seal.

SDO: Since you’re coming back so soon, any place in particular in San Diego you just loved and cannot wait to visit again?

TT: Little Italy, especially Craft & Commerce for the decadent bacon ice cream sandwich!

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Are You Listening to this Weekend?

A bit of business - our offices will be closed today - Friday, September 9, 2011.

And since it is Friday it's time to ask - what are you listening to this weekend? The Aria Serious crew will spend some time with Otello. It's one of our favorite operas and it's been a good few months since we've put it on. Then we'll head up to Hollywood Bowl for The National concert later this weekend.

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

Thursday, September 8, 2011

10 Questions with Charles Castronovo

It's been a few years since we've had the delightful American tenor Charles Castronovo sing with us; he made his Company debut as Nadir in The Pearl Fishers in 2008. He recently created the role of Mario opposite Placido Domingo for the world premiere of Il Postino and has been singing  a number of leading roles in Europe as of late. We're very pleased to welcome Charles back as Ernesto in our upcoming production of Don Pasquale. Charles was kind enough to take a few moments to answer our "10 or so Questions with...." while preparing to sing Germont at Vienna State Opera next month.

San Diego Opera (SDO): First, welcome back to San Diego Opera – we’re very pleased to have you return to us to sing Ernesto in Don Pasquale. Audiences remember you as Nadir from The Pearl Fishers in 2008. What have you been up to these past few years?

Charles Castronovo (CC): Since being in San Diego last I have been VERY busy..! Of course family life balancing with career is always tricky but worth it! Singing wise I have been mostly in Europe. I made some very important role debuts: Romeo in Dallas, Gennaro (Lucrezia Borgia) in Munich, Tom Rakewell (Rake's Progress) in London and Vincent (Mireille) in Paris.

SDO: Can you tell me a little about your Ernesto?

CC: My Ernesto is still evolving. I have actually only sung the role once which was WAY back in 2001..! As always I try to put some masculine tendencies in my roles, and in this case its needed more then others because Ernesto seems to mostly whine about his fate.. Too much generation X whining! So, I will man him up a bit..!

SDO: Do you have a favorite moment in this opera?

CC: My favorite moment in this opera is probably the serenade in the final scene. It is simple but truly pure and heart felt. Tricky to sing well but satisfying..!

SDO: Are there any dream roles that you would love to sing and why? And since we’re dreaming it doesn’t even need to be in your fach…

CC: Dreams in my future fach: Werther..!


I love to brood, and he is great for this. Plus the music is sublime.


Dream out of my fach: Lohengrin..!


To be a knight blessed, magical, courageous yet mysterious.. That's so what I would love to play. And the music.. Incredible..!

SDO: What was your introduction to opera and how did you decide this was the path you wanted to pursue?

CC: I joined choir in high school, loved singing but did not know what to do with it. Then I heard the entrance of Otello sung by Placido Domingo, and then I was hooked. I said "that's what I want to do" and so, that's what I did..!

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

CC: ...would be a soldier in the US Army. Seriously.

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

CC: Best part is to spend time in wonderful cities, but even better is to meet such interesting people. The people you work with, artists, staff, etc.. It makes the other parts of the career bearable.


Worst part is not being home enough, missing family, not being able to finish your little projects, and sometimes plain boredom. It looks glamorous but when the opening night is finished and you are done with the party and you go to the hotel or apartment and your family is not there... It sucks.

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

CC: Hobbies: reading military history books, exercising, photography.

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

CC: A biography of Julius Ceasar and a magazine: the Economist

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

CC: Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Nina Simone

SDO: Since you are coming back to San Diego, anything about our city you are looking forward to revisiting?

CC: I look forward to being in SD for the relaxed pace, the kind people, and the good weather. I also enjoyed working with this company so much. Any company that puts a HUGE poster of me shirtless on the entire side of their theater is a place for me!!! :-)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Podcast - In memoriam: Salvatore Licitra

Dr. Nic looks at the career of the Italian tenor who passed away over the weekeend in this special podcast.

Podcast Monday

This week, Dr. Nic continues his exploration of Opera Buffa with a look at our final opera of the 2012 season, The Barber of Seville.

You can download the podcast here.

While You Were Out

- Folks, we begin this morning with some very sad news. Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra died yesterday from injuries he sustained 10 days ago in a scooter accident. Salvatore was originally scheduled to sing Don Jose in our production of Carmen last season but had to withdraw to heal a back injury he had sustained from an earlier accident. He was scheduled to make his Company debut in 2013 as Radames in Aida. We have begun the sad task of searching for a replacement. You can read about Salvatore and his death here. You can also read a short statement from his brother about the family's decision to donate his organs to those in need. We only knew Salvatore through emails but his love of life and people came through even then as well as an abundant sense of generosity. Although we're sad to say goodbye, we have a bit of consolation that his organs are now giving life to those in need. He was generous to the very end. Rest in peace.


- Maestro James Levine has withdrawn from the Met's Fall Season due to an injury he sustained over the weekend. Fabio Lusti has been named the Met's Principal Conductor.

- Sound, the way your brain and ears prefer to hear it.



Thursday, September 1, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

A bit of business - the San Diego Opera offices will be closed Friday through Monday, reopening on Tuesday, September 6, 2011.

Which means today is our "Friday" and time to ask, what are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious Crew will give Moby-Dick another go. We're really digging this opera but now that we're over the initial "hey, this is really good" phase we want to study it a bit more.

We'll also catch up on some really good album releases including the flamenco guitar / avant cello LP Barlande by Pedro Soler and Gasper Claus, the resissue of Yellow Ostrich's The Mistress, and we might even get our 80's synth disco on with Blood Orange's Costal Groove

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

10 Questions with Silvia Tro Santafé

Summer is coming to an end, so it's time to look at some of the artists who will make up our 2012 season. This means the return of our 10 Questions With...

Up first is the lovely Spanish mezzo soprano Silvia Tro Santafé who will make her Company debut as Rosina in our season closer The Barber of Seville.

Silvia specializes in the bel canto repertoire in particular Rossini. Other than bel canto, Ms Tro Santafé also focuses on Handel, Mozart, Massenet and 20th century French repertoire.

She took a few minutes from rehearsals in Naples to answer some questions for us. So, without further ado, 10 Questions With Silvia Tro Santafé.

San Diego Opera (SDO): First, welcome to San Diego Opera! We're very excited to have you making your Company debut with us. Where are you right now and what, if anything, are you
singing?

Silvia Tro Santafé (STS): Well, at the moment I am in the middle of rehearsals for Semiramide in Naples singing the role of Arsarce for the first time and having a great time in a new production made by Luca Ronconi, and I am studying in my spare time the role of Pierotto in Linda di Chamonix for a new production in Barcelona Liceu. Then there is Deidamia by Handel in Amsterdam singing Ulisse and then straight onto a plane to San Diego for Barbiere.

SDO: In your own words, can you tell us a little about your Rosina in The Barber of Seville?

STS: Rosina is everything she says in Una voce poco fa, the first time she has a chance to speak for herself. I am a very nice sweet girl with spirit but if anyone crosses me or stops me from getting what I want they will see another side of Rosina they didn’t expect, ‘I will be a viper’ and I have ‘1,000 tricks I can do to get my way’. She is witty and super intelligent, maybe because she has spent so much time reading on her own. She is also beautiful and young, so how much of what she believes is part of her being young? In her own way she loves Almaviva, what happens next, Mozart tells us.

SDO: Is there a favorite moment of yours in this opera?

STS: When I discover that Lindoro is the Count Almaviva. We sing the terzetto and he asks me to marry him. Just at the moment everything is lost and I have been lied to, then everything happens.

SDO: Are there any dream roles that you would love to sing and why? And since we're
dreaming it doesn't even need to be in your fach.

STS: Eboli. I am Spanish, a mezzo soprano, I love her character. The only problem is I haven't lost an eye in a sword fight. But I am sure that can be organised.

SDO: What was your introduction to opera and how did you decide this was the path
you wanted to pursue?

STS: My mother and Grandfather were passionate about opera, we listened all the time at home to radio and recordings. I got involved in children choruses and kept going, master classes etc. I think it chose me, I cant remember making a choice.

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

STS: Psychologist. I think its the same experience but from the other side.

SDO: Two parter: What's your favorite part of being an international opera singer?
What's your least favorite part?

STS: Favorite: Travelling and meeting new people and seeing new places. Least favorite: away so long from home.

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

STS: I love dancing. Coming from Spain life at home is full of friends family cooking etc. I love reading and Cinema, skiing, horse riding. I have just been snorkeling on holiday with my family in Mexico.

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

STS: Javier Marias 'Los Enamoramientos'.

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

STS: Duffy - Miguel Poveda - Claudio Baglioni

The Barber of Seville opens April 21, 2012 but you'll have a chance to hear more about Silvia as we have numerous interviews and podcasts planned for her in the coming months.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Podcast Monday

In this week's podcast, Dr. Nic takes a look at Opera Buffa and Don Pasquale. If you think Opera Buffa means singing shirtless, then this podcast is for you.

You can download it here. Enjoy!

While We Were Out

- Sad news to start with. The Aria Serious crew came back from vacation this morning to learn that tenor Salvatore Licitra was seriously injured in an accident over the weekend. His condition is listed as "stable, but extremely grave." Licitra was forced to withdraw from our production of Carmen earlier this year due to a back injury. He's scheduled to sing with us as part of our 2013. All of us here at Aria Serious and San Diego Opera wish him a speedy recovery. And dear readers, if you ride scooters or motorcycles, please wear a helmet.

- Moby-Dick had its Australian premiere over the weekend and we have lots of tidbits to share about it:

First, a wonderful and lengthy interview with composer Jake Heggie about the opera, his process and some very candid personal stories.

Then, a nice interview with their (and our) Ahab, Jay Hunter Morris. It's true we originally told him we wanted him to sing the role of the whale.

And still, another preview article about Moby-Dick.

Finally, the first review of the Australian performances.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

The trend of being closed on Fridays in August continues, making this our "Friday."



So it is time to ask: what are you listening to this weekend?


For the Aria Serious crew we'll be listening to nothing - we're heading into the Sierra backcountry for a week of camping and even our ipod and headphones are an added weight we don't want to carry. Plus we just want to get away from it all.


This means don't expect any updates next week, but we'll be back at the end of the month.


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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whale Songs and Fatal Attraction

San Diego Opera is very pleased to announce our Community Conversation lecture series for the 2012 season. Six relaxed lectures will focus on Moby-Dick and Salome. Being the science geeks (and scuba divers) that we are here at Aria Serious you can bet we're excited about some of these.

All of these lectures are free and open to the public but do require an RSVP because these venues have capacity caps and these lectures do get full. You can RSVP here. And speaking of venues we have some great ones this year: Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, The San Diego Maritime Museum, Congregation Beth Israel and La Jolla Country Day School have all stepped up to provide us space and speakers for these exciting events.

Join us for one, or all. We'll be the giddy one in the front row.

Community Conversation lectures are as follows:

In Search of the Whale: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick
September 27, 2011, 7:00 PM
San Diego Maritime Museum, aboard the Berkeley - 1492 North Harbor Drive. San Diego, CA 92101-3309

Join Bart Thurber, Ph.D., Professor of English Literature at the University of San Diego and the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach Nicolas Reveles, San Diego Opera, in a lively conversation about Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby-Dick, the source of the new opera by Jake Heggie (composer) and Gene Scheer (librettist). Melville’s episodic work includes digressions into the mechanics of seafaring, a scientific study of whales, intimate descriptions of 19th century whaling and various (and, at times, divergent) genres. The novel’s many themes will be discussed, along with a close look at how this monumental novel was distilled down into a tight, gripping work for the stage.

Whale Sounds, Whale Music: Reflections of a Marine Biologist on Moby-Dick
October 11, 2011, 7:00 PM
Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute - 2595 Ingraham Street. San Diego, CA 92109-7902

In a conversation between Dr. Ann Bowles, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist with the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute and Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach with San Diego Opera, the connection between Melville’s book and current scientific study in conservation will be explored. Melville had no inkling of the conservation ethic, but his work exposes the painful tension between exploitation and conservation in a way that modern writers cannot because he described in exacting detail the collapse of the whale fishery from the perspective of the whalers. Dr. Bowles will interpret Melville’s observations and incidents like the sinking of the whale ship Essex and depredations of Mocha Dick, which inspired Melville to write Moby-Dick, in light of what we know about sperm whales today. The audience will step into the whales’ ocean world through the medium of their sounds, with the hope that this discussion will help San Diegans enjoy the lyrical battle between Captain Ahab and The Whale in Jake Heggie’s opera.

Moby-Dick: Science, Sound and Struggles Between Whales and Men
November 8, 2011, 7:00 PM
Birch Aquarium at Scripps - 2300 Expedition Way. La Jolla, CA 92037

In this partnership between Birch Aquarium at Scripps and San Diego Opera, marine biologist Dr. Aaron Thode, Ph.D. with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Dr. Nicolas Reveles, Geisel Director of Education and Outreach for San Diego Opera, discuss the background of the upcoming San Diego Opera production of Moby-Dick. Based on the Herman Melville novel, the opera focuses on the obsessive relationship that Captain Ahab has with an albino sperm whale that he believes crippled him on a whaling expedition. For background on the opera and the book, Drs. Thode and Reveles will have a lively discussion about the science of whales as presented by the book and how modern science has grown in its understanding of this magnificent animal. The conversation will include information about Dr. Thode’s research on the sperm whale and marine mammal acoustics, including modern day conflicts between whales and fishermen.

A Whale of a Story: Moby-Dick and Reflections on the Book of Jonah
December 7, 2011, 7:00 PM
Congregation Beth-Israel - 9001 Towne Centre Drive. San Diego, CA 92122

Join Rabbi Michael Berk, Congregation Beth-Israel, and Dr. Nicolas Reveles, The Geisel Director of Education and Outreach for San Diego Opera for an exciting discussion about two “whale stories”: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and the Book of Jonah. Melville’s great American novel is filled with quotes from scripture. Even some of the chapters of the book are cast in forms that would have been familiar to the Biblical authors. A key portion of the book is a sermon by the character ‘Father Mapple’ whose words draw a strong parallel between Captain Ahab and the Biblical Jonah. Come find out how these two great pieces of world literature speak to each other and to our lives with a relevance that is fresh, contemporary and undeniable.

Images of Salome: Eroticism, Horror, and Religion
January 18, 2012, 7:00 PM
San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park – 1450 El Prado. Balboa Park, CA 92101

Join Dr. John Marciari, Ph.D., Curator of European Art at the San Diego Museum of Art and Dr. Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach for San Diego Opera, in a survey of images depicting the biblical story of Salome and John the Baptist. From the Renaissance through the 20th century, from Cranach to Caravaggio to Beardsley, the story of the cunning princess and the beheading of the prophet John has inspired a plethora of bloody and suggestive works of art. What ties these pieces together? Why are artists attracted to the juxtaposition of the horrific and the erotic in their works? Are the same artistic impulses to be found in Strauss’s 1905 opera? Join these two experts in an engaging conversation about visual art and its effect on lyric theatre.

Strauss’s Salome: Fatal Attraction
January 25, 2012, 7:00 PM
La Jolla Country Day School, Four Flowers Theatre - 9490 Genesee Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037


Richard Strauss’s 1905 opera Salome, after the play by Oscar Wilde, is based on the Biblical story of a tragic convergence in the lives of John the Baptist, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, his wife Herodias and her daughter Salome. In a free-wheeling conversation, Dr. Joseph Colombo, Ph.D. and Dr. Florence Gillman, Ph.D. and S.T.D., both professors of Religious Studies & Theology at the University of San Diego will give a vivid account of the life and times of Herod’s family with an emphasis on Herodias and Salome. Dr. Gillman is the author of Herodias: At Home In That Fox’s Den and will present some of her findings in research about this subject; Dr. Colombo will present images of Salome in art and film, from 19th century paintings to Hollywood. The conversation will be moderated by Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach, San Diego Opera.