Thursday, July 28, 2011

New On The Bookshelf

Here at the Aria Serious tower the lab is dominated by a large bookshelf filled with reference material (we try to look it up as opposed to make it up when we can). Dominated by 4 volumes of The Grove Dictionary of Opera we're pleased to announce a new book has been added to the shelf: Weep, Shudder, Die: A Guide to Loving Opera by Robert Levine. While we don't need a guide to loving opera we think the book serves as an excellent, non-threatening, introduction to the opera curious as well as the opera crazy.

Less a straight narrative, we find ourselves using the book more as a reference guide to pull little factoids and tidbits that we can use in our otherwise incredibly dry press releases or to impress Dr. Nic Reveles, our Education Director, while in the break room since he knows everything. Really, everything.

Mr. Levine clearly loves opera, passionately, but does not approach the art form with that extreme hushed reverence of many books – instead his take on opera is one of delight, wonderment, a bit of tongue and cheek humor, which we appreciate here at Aria Serious. We did name ourselves Aria Serious after all...

The book is broken into chapters that cover all the major sectors of opera – German, English, Italian, French and Russian are all covered. Mozart, incidentally, gets his own chapter. The operas are broken down into Who’s Who (cast list), What’s Happening (a pithy synopsis) and then a short paragraph or two about that this opera is important and things the reader should notice in each act. If you’ve read the indispensable Ticket to the Opera by Phil G. Goulding you know what to expect. We’re pleased to say the operas covered in Weep, Shudder, Die are quite thorough for a 235 page book – our favorites Wozzeck and Peter Grimes are covered, as are all the major Verdi’s and Puccini’s. We’d love to read about more post-1950 operas but we’ve yet to find any book that covers anything in depth past Peter Grimes (another favorite, Pizetti’s Murder in the Cathedral is absent in this book).

Weep, Shudder , Die is available in both traditional media (you know, a physical book with pages you turn) and in e-book format from HarperCollins.

A copy of this book was provided to Aria Serious for review purposes.

Debt Ceiling Talks Getting You Down?

Then try this opera puzzler courtesy of NPR. Each clip is an aria about some type of monetary misfortune. Listen to the clip than drag it to the corresponding image. Have fun! And good luck.

Join Us For A Tour

Ever wonder how opera sets are made? Well, now is your chance.

Our group (yes, San Diego Opera has a Meetup group) has planned our first meet-up of the season - a free tour of our Scenic Studio.

You’ll get to see the phenomenal scenic artists, watch the skilled carpenters at work and see first-hand how these talented people bring the their designs to larger-than-life.

SDO’s Scenic Studio is wrapping up the building for a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor for Chicago Lyric Opera. You can see the final touches going into place. And it’s a really cool design too.

The tour will be given by either Ron Allen (Head of Production) or John David Peters (Production/Construction Carpenter). Both are the best in the biz so you’re in for a treat.

We’ll tour Monday, August 15, during the day at 9:30 AM. We're sorry that some of you may have to miss because of work commitments, but we can only offer the tour when the Studio is open. (During the day!)

Still, we hope that many of you can come along.

What to wear: No open toed shoes and wear something you don’t mind if you get dirt on it. We also have some rather fabulous special goggles for you to wear in certain areas of the studio – but we provide those!

You can RSVP at or on our Facebook events page where you will find the address and other information.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Podcast Monday

Monday getting you down? You're not alone. But this week's podcast might help - Dr. Nic explores great recordings of The Barber of Seville which is our 2012 season closer.

Take a listen here.

And enjoy!

While We Were Out

It was a long weekend as the Aria Serious crew spent the last four and a half days at ComicCon.

- First, in ComicCon related news, artist Eric Shanower won an Eisner Award for Best Adaption from Another Work for The Marvelous Land of Oz. Eric has sketched our operas in the past. He'll be joining us again in the near future.

- Lyric Opera of San Diego has turned down an offer to buy their North Park theatre.

- The Dallas Opera has canceled Katya Kabanova from their upcoming season due to financial reasons.

- We imagine a headache would be the least of his problems. Superstar castrato Farinelli may have suffered headaches as a result of his procedure.

- The San Diego Symphony has reached an agreement with their musicians.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be taking a week off from our weekend listening routine. It's Comic Con so we'll be knee deep in all sorts of geeky culture for the weekend.

What are your listening plans this weekend? Share them below and please, make it a good one.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Podcast Monday

Happy Podcast Monday!

On this week's podcast Dr. Nic Reveles explores the work of American Composer Jake Heggie. Mr. Heggie's newest opera, Moby-Dick, will receive it's West Coast premiere as part of our 2012 season. In this podcast you'll hear some of the composers earlier work including Art Songs and excerpts from his earlier opera, Dead Man Walking.

You can find the podcast here. Enjoy!

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Tales of Hip Hopera redux - rapper Snoop Dogg reveals he intends to incorporate opera into his next album.

- Cornell MacNeil, Verdi Baritone at the Met, Dies at 88.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday.

What are you listening to this weekend?

We came into work this morning to find a copy of Moby-Dick in our in-box so we'll spend some time getting to know this opera better over the weekend before we present it in February of 2012.

And to the coworker who dropped it off, thank you.

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday!

What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be heading for points north to catch the Gertrude Stein exhibits in San Francisco at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the SFMOMA over the weekend.

To inspire ourselves over the long drive we'll be listening to Four Saints in Three Acts by Virgil Thomson (with libretto by Gertrude Stein) as well as his musical portraits of Gertrude and Alice B. Toklas. The lonely stretches will be supplemented by Idlewild's Roseability and Broadcast's Tender Buttons LP - all Stein inspired.

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

Friday, July 1, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday! And the Friday before a long weekend at that!

What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will listen to Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie. Why? Well, we wanted to listen to an American opera this Independence Day. See, we've been listening to a lot of Moby-Dick (we have an archival DVD we've been studying) and it dawned on us we've never heard the complete opera of Dead Man Walking. And really, nothing says "American" like a story about the death penalty.

We might also tune into KPBS FM 89.5 or on Saturday July 2, at 8 PM to hear the rebroadcast of Der Rosenkavalier that cut off last month.

After that we might hit the record store so if there is anything you think we should listen to, let us know.

We'll also dig into the new book Weep, Shudder, Die: A Guide to Loving Opera that was sent to us by the publisher. We'll let you know what we think of it once we read it. But truth be told it faces some stiff competition - Netflix just added the complete Star Trek: TNG series to their instant cue.

Please, make it a good one. And set phasers to fun!

Our Podcast Series Is Back

Sure, we took a few weeks off; Dr. Nic needed to bike around Europe, but our 2012 weekly podcast series is back and we're starting off with a look at great recordings of Salome, our first opera of the 2012 season.

Our podcasts are short, free, and can be downloaded here. Perfect listening material for your drive home as you start the long weekend.