Monday, March 28, 2011

Stars in Salon - Der Rosenkavalier

As promised, an online version of our Stars in the Salon roundtable discussion with the cast of Der Rosenkavalier. Thanks for all the questions everyone sent in through Twitter, Facebook and the blog. We wish we had time for all of them.

Podcast Monday

On this week's podcast, Dr. Nic sits down with Maestro Christof Perick, who will be leading the orchestra for these performances of Der Rosenkavalier. Among other things they discuss is how Strauss made the orchestra a protagonist in this opera. Take a listen here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday. What are you listening to this weekend?

We'll be in Der Rosenkavalier rehearsals this weekend so that will take up most of our listening time. Sunday we'll spend listening to the (not so) new Decemberists LP and poking around SoundCloud listening for new music.

Please make it a good one and share your listening plans below.

10 Interesting Facts About Der Rosenkavalier

Sometimes it's the elevator rides to work that are the most valuable. Like the other day when riding up to the Aria Serious Tower we asked Dr. Nic:

"Hey, you want to give us five interesting facts about Der Rosenkavalier to share with the press?"

"Sure," Nic said.

Being an overachiever, he gave us ten. And they're so good we decided to share them with you.

1.) In a bit of theatrical gender-bending unusual for 1911, the role of Count Octavian (a 17-year old boy) is played by a mezzo soprano. At one point in Act I ‘he’ becomes a ‘she’ again by disguising himself as a maid in order to avoid being caught in the Marschallin’s bedroom: a woman playing a man playing a woman! Victor/Victoria anyone?

2.) The entire three-and-a-half minute Prelude to Der Rosenkavalier is a rather specific musical depiction of the Marschallin and Octavian making love.

3.) Der Rosenkavalier is not an opera about a woman who’s concerned about aging. The Marschallin is only 32, after all. The opera is actually about ‘letting go’ in as graceful a manner as possible.

4.) The presence of the Viennese waltz in the score is anachronistic: there was no such thing in Vienna during the 18th century, the period of the opera’s story.

5.) Every time you hear a waltz in the score of Rosenkavalier, you can be sure that someone on stage is lying to someone else or disguising their identity, a wonderful bit of musical symbolism.

6.) Soprano Lotte Lehman is famous for having sung all three of the principal roles in Der Rosenkavalier: Sophie, Octavian and most famously, the Marschallin. No, she never sang Baron Ochs.

7.) Strauss encouraged his librettist, Hugo von Hoffmannsthal, to make Der Rosenkavalier a true comedy. The Bavarian Strauss wanted the audience to “guffaw”, not just chuckle politely.


8.) Der Rosenkavalier was so popular at its Dresden premiere that “Rosenkavalier” trains were specially arranged to transport whole audiences from Berlin, a journey of 90 miles.

9.) The stage director of the first production of Der Rosenkavalier was Max Reinhardt, one of the great geniuses of 20th century theatre. His first Hollywood film, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starred Mickey Rooney.


10.) The original 1911 cast made a recording of excerpts from the opera under the supervision of the composer.

Not bad for an elevator ride.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Podcast Monday - Dude Looks Like a Lady

Happy Podcast Monday. Monday blues getting you down? Aria Serious is here to help. This week's podcast features an interview with Anke Vondung who sings Octavian in our production of Der Rosenkavalier. This lively interview covers Strauss's timeless masterpiece and Anke's take on "trouser roles."

Our podcasts are always free and can be downloaded online here.

Enjoy!

Stars in Salon - Der Rosenkavalier

A reminder for all of you local readers that our Stars in the Salon for Der Rosenkavalier is happening this Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 5:30 PM in the Beverly Sills Salon. Join us for this free hour long conversation with the cast of the opera.

For those of you who reside outside of San Diego, we'll have it online sometime next week.

If you have a question you want to ask the artists and can't make it in person, leave it in the comment section below and we'll ask it for you.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Tenor Stephen Costello, who sings the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier and Faust in Faust, shared the backstage life at San Diego Opera with his first installment of the Opera Diary in the San Diego Union Tribune which will run weekly through Faust.

- Trent Reznor shares his son's playlist with Rolling Stone Magazine. What!? No Pretty Hate Machine?

- Maestro Muti led an audience in Rome in an encore of Va, pensiero from Nabucco. Video below.


Friday, March 18, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday. What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be spending Saturday morning with Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites. It's been ages since we've listened to it.

We'll wrap the weekend up with some pop music - Lykke Li's new one as well as the lovely debut from Summer Fiction.

Make it a good one and share your listening plans below!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meet our Marschallin, Twyla Robinson

As we announced last week, we have a new Marschallin, the wonderful (and delightful) Twyla Robinson. Twyla came into town last week and during her busy rehearsal schedule sat down to record this short podcast with us.

Come take a listen and you'll see why all of us here are excited to welcome Twyla to our Company.

You can download the podcast here. Enjoy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

What are you listening to this weekend?

The Aria Serious crew will be in a wedding this weekend so odds are we'll be listening to such classic tunes as the Electric Slide and Put A Ring On It. Which means the Aria Serious crew might also be taking a drill to our ears sometime later tonight.

Not to fear - Der Rosenkavalier rehearsals start on Monday and after that we'll be surrounded by beautiful music.

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

Cast Change Announcement Or, Der Rosencancelier

We have a cast change announcement for Der Rosenkavalier. Twyla Robinson will sing the role of the Marschallin, replacing Anja Harteros who has canceled at the last minute for medical reasons.

“Twyla Robinson is one of America’s finest artists, and we are fortunate indeed, that she can join us,” comments San Diego Opera General and Artistic Director Ian Campbell.

A winner of the 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Twyla Robinson also received First Prize in the 2001 Competizione dell'Opera in Dresden and in the 2002 MacAllister Competition. She was seen last season as Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg at Cincinnati Opera and received accolades for her recent performances as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Arizona Opera.

An active concert recitalist, she has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Staatskapelle and the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the batons of conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Franz Welser-Möst, Michael Tilson Thomas and Christof Perick, who leads these performance of Der Rosenkavalier. She joins an all-star cast that includes British bass-baritone Andrew Greenan, German mezzo-soprano Anke Vondung and Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi.

“I am very excited to have Twyla Robinson join this splendid cast. She’s a singer I’m familiar with and well known by our stage director Lotfi Mansouri, our conductor Christof Perick and our Baron Ochs, Andrew Greenan. I know her addition makes this production of Der Rosenkavalier the strongest we’ve had in our Company’s history, and reunites old friends,” adds Campbell.

Der Rosenkavalier opens Sunday, April 3, 2011 for four performances and was last performed by San Diego Opera in 1992.

Twyla arrived last night and starts rehearsals in just under an hour - just enough time for the Aria Serious elves to whip up some tasty rehearsal muffins.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Happy Friday! We hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

What are you listening to this weekend?

We're going to finish up our Strauss trifecta with Daphne. After that we'll just put the music on shuffle and see what comes. It's scheduled to be a beautiful weekend so we're going to spend some hammock time and finish up the book we're reading The City and the City by China Mieville.

Share your listening picks below (and any book recommendations as well). And please, make it a good one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

News We (Still) Like

One of our favorite directors (and ex-Python), Terry Gilliam, is still on track to direct Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust this May at English National Opera. This is good news, as Mr. Gilliam's projects are notorious for falling apart for a variety of reasons.

We're really excited to see what he does with this production.

And we're incredibly glad they didn't give Massenet's Don Quixote.

Opera House Porn

Really, there is no other way to describe Zaha Hadid's new opera house in Guangzhou, China. Be sure to check out the sidebar for photos and watch the video. The host clearly had his coffee.

Perhaps We're Being Luddites This Morning

There was only decaf in the kitchen after all...


Granted, we haven't seen it and perhaps it is indeed the best thing since sliced bread (overrated) or a triple-espresso (much needed) but we'd like to remind everyone that live opera has always been in 3-D. Sure, there is something new and novel still about opera in the movies but opera in the movies is not opera. It's a movie.

The thing about attending live theatre is that you get to decide what to look at - be it a lead singer, the conductor in the pit, a bit of scenery or the incredibly cute chorister upstage left. The movies do all of that for you, and for us here at the Aria Serious Tower it is incredibly frustrating in an ensemble piece when we want to listen and focus in on the baritone and the film director has the camera trained on the tenor.

So, while Carmen in 3-D might be something novel and new it's not a game changer for opera because it is not opera. It's a movie in 3-D of an opera. Nothing can replace live theatre. Everything else is merely a substitute. So go see live theatre in your own city and leave the glasses at home. In the meantime, we're going to go find some strong coffee.