Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Super Captain Chronicles

The Aria Serious crew is pleased to welcome Jesi Betancourt who is one of our Super Captains. Here she reports on the making of the crew of the Pequod in Moby-Dick

The Anatomy of an Opera  Rehearsal…

On a recent Saturday morning the doors to Golden Hall swung open for the first staging rehearsal of our exciting new production of Moby-Dick. The first rehearsal for any opera has the feeling of the first day of school; greetings of longtime friends are exchanged as well as introductions as “the new kids” are welcomed.  There is a certain kind of nervous, excited energy before the first rehearsal.  Just as the Peqoud set sail into its destiny, our production was about to embark on its own wonderful journey.

The first rehearsal is usually about blocking and staging and less about the music (that will come later).  The director (our captain, for lack of a better comparison) usually takes several minutes to talk about the opera, their vision for the production, the history of the opera, as well the mood of the piece.  Our course has been charted, now it is time to go to work.

Staging is a very necessary, yet rather tedious part of the rehearsal process. When you have dozens of men pulling on ropes, climbing on ladders, scampering up walls, it takes a lot of patience and attention to detail to get everything where it belongs. The rehearsal space usually has a mockup of the actual stage. We won’t see the real set until we move the rehearsals into the theater. In the meantime we have rehearsal props and vivid imaginations. Each person; chorister, acrobat or super, is given specific tasks and cues. Everyone is an integral part of bringing the Peqoud alive. The principal singers will be added in a few days.  For now we watch and listen to the assistant director who careful places people in what seems like a jumble of humanity – how is this all going to work together?  

Once each person is given their staging the moment of truth arrives -run the entire sequence to the music. Everyone inhales as the first note is played on the rehearsal piano and then the Peqoud bursts into music and a flurry of action. All the seemingly random staging flows together as ropes are pulled in unison, men climb and props are placed in perfect time with the music. It looks like magic, but it is really a result of long hours of preparation by the production staff and the dedication of the performers.

The first rehearsal draws to a close after several hours. Everyone is tired, but exhilarated.  A lot of work was accomplished in a short time. Our Peqoud is well on its way to opening night.

A note about Supers and Super Captains:  Extras in opera are called supernumeraries or “supers” for short.  Supers are non-singing roles and perform as functionaries, such as spear carriers, chambermaids, butlers, town folks, bandits, nuns, and prostitutes. They carry, fetch, open, close, haul and clean. Without supers much of the action on stage would not happen. Every super is a volunteer. Most don’t have any formal training in the performing arts, just a love of music. They willingly spend their free time to help bring opera to life. At the San Diego Opera there are two Super Captains who recruit and supervise this incredibly dedicated band of volunteers.  Interested in being a super in our upcoming 2013 season? Call the Super Hotline # 619-533-7073.   

Saturday, January 28, 2012

SALOME Behind the Scenes

Get behind the scenes with Salome in UCSD-TV's OperaSpotlight program.

Friday, January 27, 2012

SALOME by Eric Shanower

Every opera as of late we've been able to welcome the very talented Eric Shanower to our rehearsals. Eric is the award winning artist and writer of The Age of Bronze, a retelling of the Trojan War. He's also known for his series of Oz novels which he has written and illustrated.

Really, he's seriously talented and you should visit him at his official webpage.

Eric joined us this past Wednesday for the orchestra rehearsal of Salome. Pencils in hand and a small work light to see, in the course of 90 some minutes Eric produced a staggering amount of work.

Below, you can see some of what he created. It's impressive stuff. We hope you enjoy it.

All work is copyright Eric Shanower.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A video podcast with Allan Glassman

Up next, a video podcast with tenor Allan Glassman who sings Herod in Salome. And he's incredible in it.


Friday, January 20, 2012

A Video Podcast with Greer Grimsley

This week, Dr. Nic sits down with the wonderfully talented Greer Grimsley who sings John the Baptist in Salome.

A Conversation with Maestro Steuart Bedford

We first worked with Maestro Bedford when he returned to conduct Peter Grimes - still one of our favorite productions here at San Diego Opera. A man known for this close relationship with the composer Benjamin Britten he has become a Britten specialist over the years so he was quite surprised when our General and Artistic Director, Ian Campbell, asked him to conduct our upcoming Salome. Maestro Bedford sat down earlier this week with OperaPulse to talk Salome, Britten, and opera in general.

You can read about it here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Salome: Tweet Preview

Are you a social media maven? If so, we want to talk with you.

San Diego Opera is looking for 10 individuals who are local and big on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and/or blog. If that's you, we want to invite you to the final dress rehearsals of Salome on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 6:30 PM. We'll give you a sneak peek seat in exchange for your authentic opinions and thoughts on Salome. We’re not looking for a scene-by-scene recap of the onstage action or a review – this is a working rehearsal of an opera after all.

If you're interested please email us at blog@sdopera.com and answer the following questions:


Phone number:

Twitter handle:

Facebook profile:

Blog URL (if applicable):

A short statement on why you should get access to this rehearsal:

We'll be in touch soon after the deadline to let you know if you got a ticket.

Good luck, and we hope to see you at the opera!

Podcast Monday: Lise Lindstrom

Our video podcast series is back and this week we sit down with the lovely Lise Lindstrom.
Today we welcome back one of our favorite sopranos, Lise Lindstrom, who had such a great success last season as Turandot. In this interview with Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach, she talks about her career, her recent debut at La Scala as the "ice princess" in Puccini's opera, and about the role of Salome. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Salome, Bloody, Salome

Salome rehearsals are underway. And it's going to be a bloody one. Speaking with our director, Sean Curran, he explains that by the end of the opera quarts of blood will have been spilled on stage. 

And some of it is edible!

Since we here at Aria Serious are big fans of Halloween parties (especially in the middle of January) our lovely Production Crew shared their recipes for stage blood with us. 

The first two recipes are edible, the last is not. All three are incredibly messy and sticky. Fun!

Make a batch of the edible ones - we did - we use it as a condiment for ice-cream , waffles, oh, who are we kidding - we eat this stuff straight from the jar with a spoon.

Edible blood for Jochanaan’s head:

1 gallon Karo Syrup
1 cup Red Food Coloring
1 cup Chocolate Flavored Syrup
1 tbsp Blue Food Coloring
1 tbsp Green Food Coloring

Edible blood for the face of the Jochanaan head:

1 cup Karo Syrup
1 cup Peanut Butter
½ cup Chocolate Syrup
½ cup Red Food Coloring

Washable Blood (for when Narraboth stabs himself on stage):

1 Gallon Karo Syrup
1 cup Red Food Coloring
1.5 oz Green Food Coloring
1 oz Yellow Food Coloring
1 cup Dreft Baby detergent   

Salome opens January 28, 2012. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Moby-Dick Domes by Frank Stella

Happy New Year!

It seems with Moby-Dick on our opera radar (sonar?) we keep on finding references to this work everywhere we go. The holidays saw the Aria Serious crew in San Francisco and one beautiful afternoon we took a tour of the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. And we're glad we did. Since we were seriously debating another trip the California Academy of Sciences.

In one of the rooms, a piece of art popped out at us (literally, it's three dimensional) by artist Frank Stella called The Cabin, Ahab and Starbuck from a series of works called The Moby-Dick Domes. Familiar with Frank Stella but totally unfamiliar with his Moby-Dick Domes we jotted it down on our museum receipt to look into later.

Well today we were wearing the same pants we wore to the De Young and happened to find our note in the pocket "check Moby-Dick Domes, Frank Stella [something unintelligible]" and found this great article on this series that the artist spent 15 years working on.  The series tries to capture the power and emotion of the novel rather than attempt to narrate it and it's an impressive body of work consisting of 135 pieces: prints, reliefs, sculpture, murals, and other ephemera with each work relating to one chapter of Moby-Dick.

On the cusp of presenting Moby-Dick we're just amazed at how much art one piece of literature has engendered over the years.