Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Opera

Another opera closes. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: it’s bittersweet. It’s nice to return to a more normal schedule…but there are no robo-makeovers in my normal schedule (which makes me sad).

I’ve had a blast doing this blog – I hope you’ve enjoyed it, as well. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the blog experience. What did you like? What do you want to see more of? I’m doing this for you, dear readers. I’m like your tour guide backstage. If you’re not seeing the things you want to see, then I don’t feel I’ve done the best job I can. So drop me a line at ariagirl@operacolorado.org or comment right here on the blog and let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, I’ll be taking a brief break and will be handing the blog off to some special guest bloggers – stay tuned to read what they have to say. Look for me again at the beginning of the year to report on The Barber of Seville!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Opera

Saw it. Loved it. Had to pick my eyes up from the floor when they kept popping out (sorry to the people behind me.) I’m not an opera singer…or professor of opera…I’m just a girl who enjoys a good production. Which is what The Tales of Hoffmann was.

But what about you, dear readers? I know you’re out there – people tell me they enjoy the blog. (That’s a strange experience, let me tell you.) If you’ve seen the opera, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you haven’t but want to comment anyway, let me know what you’re excited about, or looking forward to.

You can comment anonymously, but if you’d rather send me a private note, you can drop me a line at ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

See you on Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Singin' in the Opera

Saturday was Opening Night. The glitz, the glamour, the inevitable mishaps that comes when putting on a production. As director Renaud Doucet said, “With everything that goes on, it’s a miracle the whole thing comes together.” But nothing major went wrong and it seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves.

I spent most of my time in the front of the house with Boss-Man, but snuck backstage to check out the goings-on. I ran into a couple of the Young Artists who were in the first act and went to see Ronell and Sarah of Awesome Wig and Make-up Fame. They were currently working on Pam Armstrong and Josie Noble, one of the chorus women who plays the Madam in the Giulietta act. They teased me for a bit about not having seen the whole opera yet (I’m going tonight, I promise!). And Pam proved her superhero nature once again by offering to babysit for Ronell’s little girl if needed. (Pam says anyone would have done it. Readers will note that I didn’t offer.)

Us girls giggled and laughed until the singers had to skedaddle to get ready. Then William Caulkins, one of the child supers who plays the Blind Boy, came in to get ready. If you’ve seen the show, you’ve seen William – he comes in with CoppĂ©lius in the Olympia Act. William has some of the most dramatic make-up in the show: he’s made completely bald with a small black ponytail and sunglasses. The costume is crazy, too – like the old-school bouncing clowns that you could hit and it would right itself again. I'm looking forward to seeing it all in its entirety - tonight!

See you on Thursday!

Photo credit: Matthew Staver

Friday, November 6, 2009

Star Wars: The Opera Strikes Back

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. Your eyes will pop out of your head, roll under your chair, and bump the shoes of the person behind you. This will all happen when you watch The Tales of Hoffmann. I promise.

So I was at the final dress rehearsal last night – lots of middle and high school kids and a few other folks got to experience it – and I was shooting audience reaction shots during the intermissions. And I tell you, these folks were happy campers.

I myself got to see the Olympia scene – I had no idea Pam Armstrong was such a gifted comic actress. A superhero, yes. But that girl is funny.

I didn’t get to see the Antonia and Giulietta scenes, but I’ve no doubt from what I could hear in the lobby that they’re as visually stunning as the first one. Plus those scenes are a little more intense, so if you like your opera with a side of heart-wrenching emotion, you won’t be disappointed.

What was interesting to me were the little touches in the staging. For example, at one point Olympia is doing the can-can. Little-known fact: Offenbach wrote the music most people associate with the can-can for one of his other operas. So it’s neat to have those little bits of trivia – and something I hope you guys are getting from me!

I’ll be in the lobby on Saturday – come say hi. See you next week!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Das Opera

Have you ever been filled with so much awesomeness that you can’t stand it? Today was my Robo-Makeover – the day I got to be transformed into the Olympia doll!

I adore our wig and makeup ladies: Ronell Oliveri, our Emmy-nominated Wig and Makeup Designer and Sarah Opstad, our Associate Wig and Makeup Coordinator. (Curious about how our wigs are made? Read the entry from The Pearl Fishers blog.) Not only were they as psyched to make me over as I was, but they’re really helpful. AND they let me videotape it!

The process was both more and less complicated than I expected. First Sarah pincurled my hair and fitted me with a stocking cap. Then she put the gold makeup on the lower half of my face and painted my lips with a bronze color. (The makeup is a brand called Krylon Aqua Color – just in case anyone wants to replicate the Olympia look.) Then she put the headpiece on my head, pinned it, and Velcroed the gold mask to the headpiece.

It seems simple, but I was immediately struck by a few things. One, gold is surprisingly my color. Two, Pam Armstrong is a superhero. She must be, to wear the headpiece (which was pretty bulky and heavier than I expected) and the outrageous doll costume. Don’t get me wrong – I would steal that green dress in a heartbeat. It’s gorgeous. But the skirt is four feet wide! I didn’t even put on the dress and still had new appreciation for what Pam has to go through. The mask also has these gigantic fake eyelashes, which look really cool, but took some getting used to. I can’t imagine wearing all that AND acting AND singing. Ergo: Pam is a superhero.

Once we finished the video, Ronell helped me take the wig and mask off and I proceeded to scrub off the makeup. Since Pam will be playing four different characters, she has four different sessions in the makeup chair – in one night! So she has to get made up like Olympia, scrub it all off, get made up like Antonia, scrub it all off, get made up like Giulietta, scrub it all off, and get made up like Stella, and scrub it all off. Whew!

I found out this show has the longest run sheet of almost any opera we’ve ever done. What’s a run sheet, you say? Excellent question! A run sheet gives the production cues. A wig and makeup run sheet, for example, lets the wig and makeup gals know who needs to look like what and when. The run sheet for this show is 37 pages! To put that into perspective, the run sheet for The Pearl Fishers was only 4 pages. Not only is there a large cast, but there are several cases of multiple roles per artist, so the cast goes through a lot of makeup and time.

But it’s all worth it on Opening Night to see everyone’s jaws drop. I can’t wait.

And if you can’t wait to see my transformation, check out the video:

See you next Friday – you’ll get to hear all about the final dress rehearsal!