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.

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