Saturday, January 25, 2014

PAGLIACCI by Scott Benefiel

The Aria Serious crew welcomed Scott Benefiel to sketch Pagliacci this week rounding out "comic artist night at the opera." Scott Benefiel has been an illustrator for several years working as a storyboard, comic book, and conceptual artist for most of his professional life. Recently he designed VFX storyboards for the new COSMOS TV series due in 2014, and was part of Aaron Sowd Productions where he created pre-vis storyboard art on feature films for Will Smith's Overbrook Productions. He was a cinematic storyboard artist for 343 Industries on the video game Halo 4 as well. Before that Scott was illustrating for the video game company High Moon Studios as a storyboard/concept artist designing and creating many of their cinematic cut sequences.
He was also an artist for the Adult Swim animated series Minoriteam for awhile, as well as a board artist for other numerous television and film projects. He was a conceptual artist for the award-winning animated film Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles  for Harmony Gold as well. Scott's been a professional comic book artist for over 20 years working for numerous publishers such as Marvel, DC, Top Cow, Image, Wildstorm, Dark Horse, Disney and others. He's worked on such titles as Superman, Hellboy, The Justice League of America, Witchblade, Wildcats, Tomb Raider, and Silver Surfer, among others. A professional screenwriter and actor for over a decade, Scott wrote and acted in the feature romantic comedy The Month of August. The movie garnered numerous awards from several film festivals around the country including "Best Feature" and "Best Screenplay" honors. Recent creative endeavors include writing and starring in the internet series Ghost Provokers, a parody of the ghost hunting shows which currently proliferate the airwaves. He also writes and draws the webcomic Cork. You can see more of Scott's work at his website.

Artwork © copyright 2014 by Scott Benefiel. All rights reserved.

PAGLIACCI by Marty Davis

The Aria Serious crew was pleased to welcome a new artist to Pagliacci rehearsals, Marty Davis. Marty began his art career as an animator for BlueSky Software, a local San Diego firm where he animated video games such as Ren & Stimpy, Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote, and Vectorman. While animating, Marty began to explore the world of fine art sculpture, quickly making it a full-time career. In addition to working for San Diego's late master sculptor A. Wasil, Marty taught sculpture and anatomy for The Athenaeum of La Jolla, The Watts Atelier, and UCSD Extension. A 2005 move to Paris ended his local teaching career. Upon returning to the States, Marty rejoined the interactive industry as Animation Director for THQ's Heavy Iron Studios, where he co-directed the animation for the Ratatouille and WALL-E video games, receiving an Annie Award for Best Video Game Animation in 2007. He has since branched out into storyboarding and graphic novels, where his clients include Mass Animation, Fox Animation, Cirque de Soleil, Sony and DC Comics. You can see more of his work at his website which you should, because based on what is below, you'll quickly become a fan. 

Artwork © copyright 2014 by Marty Davis. All rights reserved.


Friday, January 24, 2014

PAGLIACCI by Batton Lash

Cartoonist Batton Lash also attended Pagliacci rehearsals this week to live-sketch the action on stage. Batton joined us last season to sketch a few operas and we're incredibly pleased to welcome him back to us this season. Since 1994 Batton has written and illustrated the comic series Supernatural Law (originally known as Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre) about a law firm that specializes in serving the legal needs of monsters and other supernatural beings, or those who find themselves in conflict with such beings. You can check out Batton's work on Supernatural Law here on his publishing company's website, Exhibit A Press.

Artwork © copyright 2014 by Batton Lash. All rights reserved. 

PAGLIACCI By Eric Shanower

San Diego Opera's official unofficial cartoonist, Eric Shanower, was back this week for Pagliacci rehearsals. The fruits of his labor you can see below. Eric Shanower is still working on his award-winning comic book series, The Age of Bronze, which is a retelling of the Trojan War and is published by Image Comics. He also works on two amazing comic series based on the Wizard of Oz published by Marvel Comics and IDW. You can learn more about Eric, and pick up some of his wonderful books here. And you really should, because they are quite good. You can also visit his publishing company Hungry Tiger Press for more excellent books.

Artwork © copyright 2014 by Eric Shanower. All rights reserved. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

San Diego Opera Video Podcast - A Conversation with Frank Porretta, Canio in Pagliacci

Tenor Frank Porretta was with us last in 2002, singing the role of the Duke in Rigoletto. His repertoire has darkened considerably with roles like Otello, Don Alfaro (La forza del destino), Calaf (Turandot) and Canio in Pagliacci which he's singing for us. Join Nicolas Reveles, Director of Education and Outreach for San Diego Opera, in a lively conversation with this wonderful artist about his career and the nature of this complicated character, Canio.

Monday, January 20, 2014

San Diego Opera Video Podcast - An Interview With Pagliacci Stage Director, Andrew Sinclair

Australian native Andrew Sinclair is currently centered in London staging opera at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. But he is a popular visitor here in San Diego where, most recently, he directed the Zandra Rhodes production of Verdi's Aida. In this interview he talks about his particular view of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, his latest assignment for San Diego Opera, with Nicolas Reveles.

The Super Captain Chronicles Return - Rehearsal is Key

Opera season is almost here, which means our super Super Captain, Jesi Betancourt, returns with her series of articles for Aria Serious "The Super Captain Chronicles". In this month's article, Jesi explains just what happens to make an opera come together for opening night. 

Rehearsal is Key by Jesi Betancourt 

Opening night is always exciting. The nerves. The adrenaline. The thunderous applauds of the audience. The first show is a very special night for performers. Yet, before the conductor can give the first downbeat and the curtain goes up, a great deal of time, planning and rehearsal goes into the opera before the audience hears the first note.

On a recent evening in January, the first night of rehearsal for the season opener, Pagalicci, began. The first rehearsal is always filled with warm greetings and enormous bear hugs. Many of the supers and singers haven’t seen each other since last season. While there are many familiar faces, the new performers are quickly integrated into the tight knit cast.  There is also the business 
of… SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is a universal concept the world over and nothing new to the San Diego Opera. 

The first rehearsal of any production is usually about blocking. It sounds much more frightful then actuality. “Blocking” is the term of art in which the director explains where he wants a singer or actor to go on the stage. Without clear stage direction performers would be bouncing off each other like pinballs in an arcade game. Blocking allows the director to create what looks to be chaos with simple choreography. Much of the initial blocking is done without the music, but it is very clear the timing of the blocking is based on notes and measures. Movement and music blend to create what looks to be a spontaneous scene.  

The music is introduced only after much of the blocking is set. Everyone is called to places and the piano begins to play. Not until the scene is run with the music does anyone know if it works properly. From time to time there is a traffic jam of bodies, but much of the time it works exactly as planned. Mistakes are greeted with laughter and the phrase: “Reset. Let’s do it again.” And they do it again. And again. 

Rehearsal takes a great deal of dedication by all performers. Each time they practice the same scene over and over, they put in the same amount of energy. The singer doesn’t miss a note, even perched on top of a seven foot moving ladder headed for what looks like certain disaster.

The amount of rehearsal varies from opera to opera. Smaller productions with few cast members require less time. Grand productions, such as Aida, involve more time to get three hundred performers into place.  The goal for each performance is the same - making music worth seeing.
Have you ever wondered how a fight scene or love scene looks so spontaneous and exciting? The answer? Rehearsal. And lots of it.   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

San Diego Opera Podcast - Meet Silvio: Baritone David Adam Moore

Enjoy this interview with David Adam Moore who will sing the role of Silvio in San Diego Opera's production of Pagliacci opening January 25th. David's musical activities include an upcoming performance of the Schubert song cycle Die Winterreise (Winter's Journey) in Anchorage, in an unusual production including video projections and a set. Nicolas Reveles talks to him about the role, his operatic career and his creative work that keeps this singer on the cutting edge of artistic innovation.

Friday, January 10, 2014

San Diego Opera Video Podcast - Meet Nedda, Soprano Adina Nitescu

Singing the role of Nedda in our San Diego Opera production of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci is Romanian soprano Adina Nitescu. Here she talks with Nicolas Reveles, Director of Education and Outreach, about her career and about the role that she'll be singing with us, opening January 25th. Enjoy!

Monday, January 6, 2014

San Diego Opera Video Podcast - What I'm Looking Forward To

In this week's podcast, Dr. Nic shares what he's most looking forward to in our 2014 season. What are you most looking forward to?