Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leave it to Opera

I have fantastic news! Our final dress rehearsal for La Bohème tonight is completely sold out! What’s the final dress rehearsal, you say? It’s the last time the performers and orchestra will run through the opera before Saturday’s opening night. The performance is done in full costume, lighting, make-up, the works. And what I really like about this dress rehearsal is that we open it up to schoolchildren across the Denver metro area.

So tonight, hundreds of future opera lovers from ages 8 to 18 will converge on the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. They’ll be dressed up and excited, pointing out the chandelier, the mural, the artwork, everything that makes the Ellie such a wonderful home for opera.

For some, it’s their first experience ever hearing opera. You remember that magical moment you saw someone open their mouth and heard such amazing music come out? Some kids tonight will get that moment.

For others, it’s their second, third, even fourth experience with opera. Our Education department goes out into schools to present a variety of programs, and each time a child gets to experience opera, the more likely they are to grow up to buy tickets.

Opera’s been around for a long time. But today, it isn’t really taught in schools. It has a lot to compete with: movies, theater, concerts…so programs like our dress rehearsal for student audiences helps ensure that opera keeps going for another 500 years.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whole Lotta Opera Goin' On

Today’s Wednesday Whatever I Find Interesting was our opera luncheon, held earlier today in the Chambers Grant Salon at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. If you’ve never been, they’re a wonderful time – yummy food AND opera music in the middle of the day? It’s decadently delicious!

A good time was had by all. One of our Young Artists, soprano Christie Hageman sang “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka (coming in February) and did a terrific job. Sari Gruber, who will sing Musetta in La Bohème (beginning THIS Saturday!), talked about her opera career and was just charming. We also had raffle tickets to win a trip to Prague available (they’ll be sold in the lobby at all performances).

Plus Lyziwraps was there to sell Opera Colorado tote bags. This was what I found really interesting – they take our banners from past performances and make them into tote bags – big, small, and in-between. They also sell gift-wrap alternatives – reusable fabric that comes from non-profits like us. (Part of the proceeds even come back to us to support our Education programs.) Go green AND support the opera? Sounds like a win-win to me! (Learn more at their website...)

The next luncheon is February 9, so mark your calendars – I’ll be giving more info as we have it.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Opera

So I’m flipping through a libretto of La Bohème and I notice something interesting. Mimì is referred to as a gristte and Musetta a lorette. My brain didn’t know either of those words, so I did some research.

The term gristte has been used for a while, but in early 19th century France, is referred to young women who were seamstresses or worked for hatmakers and could often be found in cafés and other bohemian venues. They often had…let’s say “arrangements”…with these artists and served as models and inspiration. The grisette was often seen in French fiction, such as Fantine in Hugo’s Les Misérables to Mimì in Murger’s Scènes de la vie de Bohème.

A lorette, on the other hand, refers to a woman is solely supported by her lovers, devoting her days to pleasure and luxury. Her lovers weren’t the highest in the city – they were usually kept by an upper class bourgeoisie or lower level aristocrat. She may have nice clothes and a well-appointed apartment, but her social standing was very, very low. She might look like highborn ladies, but was seen as public property – a thing to be acquired or admired.

I learn something new every day!

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Monday, November 1, 2010

Behold the Power of Opera

It wouldn’t be a Bohème blog without mentioning RENT. I love RENT. I saw it before seeing Bohème, and it’s hard for me to separate the two in my mind.

For those of you unfamiliar with RENT, it’s a musical theater piece by Jonathan Larsen that’s based loosely on La Bohème, but set in the 1990’s. The story revolves around four artist friends who encounter love and loss in New York City (like Paris, another haven for those bohemian types.)

Rodolfo the poet becomes Roger, the songwriter/musician. He still struggles with his love for Mimì (who keeps her name but is an exotic dancer with AIDS, not tuberculosis) but knowing she doesn’t have long to live. Marcello the painter becomes Mark, an indie filmmaker whose girlfriend Maureen (Musetta becomes a bisexual performance artist) has just left him for Joanne, a lawyer (who plays a much bigger role than Alcindoro). Larsen modernizes the story further by creating a couple in Schaunard and Colline, who become Angel Dumott Schunard, a gay drag queen percussionist and Tom Collins, a gay philosophy professor. Even the landlord Benoit is represented in the character of Benjamin 'Benny' Coffin III, the bohemians’ landlord and a former roommate of Roger, Mark, Collins, and Maureen.

What is so striking about the update is how much is still the same. Both works frequently rely on recitative singing, a form of rapid dialogue exchange in song, to show people arguing or heated discussions. RENT opens with Roger and Mark burning a manuscript for heat. Much of the opera incorporates phrases from the opera, especially the meeting scene between Roger/Rodolfo and Mimì. The meeting occurs under near identical circumstances, as Mimi knocks at the door, hoping to receive a match for her burned-out candle. Some of the dialogue between the two characters is actually the same as in the opera, as they fumble to find matches and discover they like one another.

RENT premiered 100 years after La Bohème, but so many of the themes are the same: the fleeting nature of life and love, the struggle for artistic independence, the desire to find a place in this world. This is why opera is so touching and long-lasting – centuries after those stories first graced the stage, we are still inspired by the music and characters today.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, October 29, 2010

Clique Claque

Dear AriaGirl:
I was researching the premiere of Madama Butterfly and read that a claque was one of the main causes the opera wasn’t received well. Is that an opera term for a union strike?
Andrea C.

Dear Andrea:

After spending the entire morning not getting tired of how funny the word “claque” sounds, I got down to business. A claque (French for “clapping”), is a group of people paid to applaud (or boo, in some cases). People have been paid to appreciate the performance since Roman times, but it wasn’t until the 16th-century that the French poet Jean Daurat perfected the practice. He bought a bunch of tickets and gave them away in return for promised applause.

The concept really took off in Paris, where a company offered professional claqueurs. Soon, the practice became commonplace and developed an elaborate system of differing roles: from those paid to laugh, cry, request encores, and more. After the practice spread to Italy, singers were often contacted by the head of the claque and forced to pay a fee so they weren’t booed.

Fortunately for singers (and opera companies), the practice has largely fallen out of favor - especially after big names in opera - like Arturo Toscanini - discouraged it.

Got a question about opera? Send it in to ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

PS: Need a little Halloween fix? Try this classical music matching game from NPR!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Opera Makes the World Go Round

Thursday is Education day here on the blog, and today we have an adorable story for you! Have you heard of Starkey International? The Starkey International Institute for Household Management educates and trains individuals for the private service sector in jobs like household managers, personal assistants, private chefs, and butlers. Starkey has been recognized in national media, including the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, and ABC News Money Matters.

So Starkey is a pretty discriminating school - they only accept the best. So when a recent new student had to turn in his acceptance packet, he turned to Opera Colorado for help. The student hired Christie Hageman, one of Opera Colorado's Young Artists, to deliver his acceptance packet along with arias from November's La Bohème.

Check out the video:




More video is on Starkey's YouTube channel.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Silly Rabbit, Opera's for Kids

Today’s Whatever I Find Interesting Comes from Box Office Manager Katie Bulota, who brought in…wait for it…

A copy of the book Scooby-Doo and the Opera Ogre!

So I took some time to curl up on the couch and read it. In the name of the blog, of course.

The story begins with the Scooby gang heading out for a night at the opera to see the debut production of The Viking Voyage – Shaggy and Scooby are even singing enthusiastically in the back of the van. When they arrive, however, everyone is running out of the opera house, which is filled with smoke. The gang investigates, and along the way learn more about the production of opera: they see the orchestra pit, visit the dressing rooms, learn about the wings and the green room, try on costumes, and see the scenery shop.

So how does it end? Turns out the understudy wrapped the lead tenor up as a mummy so he could sing instead. (The bad guy even says the classic line: “The plan would’ve worked, too, if it weren’t for you nosy kids and your dog!”)

So all’s well that end’s well – the show goes on and everyone enjoys the opera – especially with two new additions in the form of Shaggy and Scooby, singing in the Viking chorus.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sesame Opera

Today’s Trivia Tuesday revisits a familiar subject; we’d talked about the rivalry between Leoncavallo and Puccini as both worked to bring Bohème to life on the opera house stage. But whatever happened to Leoncavallo’s version? Well, he finished the opera – he wrote the music AND the libretto! – and it premiered a little after Puccini’s version.

Unlike Puccini’s version, Leoncavallo highlights the darker, grittier aspects of the original novel. Mimì’s death is less a moment of love reunited and more the reality of poverty in 19th-century Paris.

Interestingly, when Leoncavallo’s version premiered, it was more well-known and popular than its counterpart for about ten years, when Puccini’s work rushed ahead to be “the” Bohème.

As for our Bohème, there are almost NO tickets left for the Saturday and Sunday performances and we're close to running out for Friday, too - best available tickets are for the Tuesday, November 9 and Tuesday, November 16 performances.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Monday, October 25, 2010

All You Need is Opera

It's Music Monday! Today brings you another commercial with opera, this one hailing from about twenty years ago. It features Michael J. Fox and Diet Pepsi



Got a commercial where opera was used? E-mail me the link: ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Only Have Eyes For Opera

The music of opera and a delicious meal in the middle of the day – it sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

We’re having a luncheon celebrating the opening of Opera Colorado's upcoming production of La Bohème and YOU’RE invited! (I’ll be there!)

La Bohème Luncheon
November 3, 2010 at noon
Chambers Grant Salon - Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Our featured artist at the luncheon will be soprano Sari Gruber, who will perform the role of Musetta in November’s La Bohème. She has been hailed as "nothing short of sensational" by Opera magazine and "a real creature of the stage" by Opera News.

This event supports Opera Colorado's Education and Community Outreach Programs, which serves over 26,000 students annually – that’s over 5,200 ears that get to hear opera – ears that might never experience the art form without these programs. Can you imagine your life without opera?

The luncheon is $45 per person and you can RSVP to 303.698.2334 or online at OperaColorado.org/get-involved.

Special thanks to Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group for their sponsorship of this event.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You Light Up My Opera

When Laurie Peterson started with Opera Colorado, she expected to fill her days with grantwriting and meetings with foundations.

She didn’t expect to choreograph scenes in an opera.

But the staff of Opera Colorado have many hidden talents. When we did The Pearl Fishers, Group Sales Coordinator Ben Davis served as a super. And this year, Peterson worked with the Young Artists as they learned the music and staging for our touring production of Hansel & Gretel.

“One of the scenes I worked with them on takes place very early in the opera,” explained Peterson. “Hansel and Gretel are supposed to be mending socks, but Hansel doesn’t want to. Gretel decides to teach him to dance, and the two end up making a mess of the room."

Peterson and Cherity Koepke, the Young Artists Director, discussed the choreography and what Koepke hoped to accomplish. Koepke, along with Assistant Director Emilie Elmore, both agreed they wanted a scene that was funny and entertaining, but ultimately ended with a messy room.

Peterson worked with soprano Christie Hageman (Gretel) and mezzo-soprano Julia Tobiska (Hansel), who were very flexible and willing to try something new. She asked accompanist Steven Aguiló-Arbues to play the music, then had the singers sing along a second time.

“I didn’t want to create a lot of choreography without working with the singers first. You have to take people and their ability levels into account, as well as the size of the set and any props that might be around.”

Peterson, who was a principal dancer for Concert Ballet of Virginia, danced all through college and choreographed for American College Dance Festival. She has taught dance at many levels and styles, including classical ballet, modern, lyrical jazz, and musical theatre.

“Dance is my true passion,” said Peterson. “I’ve been dancing and choreographing in my head for years, even as a little girl. There have been times while driving that a great song comes on and I miss my exit because I’m thinking about dance.”

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Secret Life of Opera

Today’s Wednesday Whatevever I Find Interesting: that opera singers are people, too.

No, really! Take tenor Richard Troxell, for example. Earlier this month, he participated in the I Hate Cancer Bike Ride, traveling one hundred miles from Pennsylvania to Maryland as a fundraiser for his cousin Tracy and for his friend Sheri.

Troxell has been riding for many years and uses it as a way to stay in good physical shape as well as to train for upcoming roles. Troxell said riding and singing have a lot in common: "you ride, hit hills, and see how fast you can recoup. [Opera] is the same. You have a long solo, and then you have to be ready for the next one right away."

Troxell makes his Opera Colorado debut in the role of Rodolfo in November’s production of La Bohème. He was recently at Portland Opera, singing the role of the Duke in Rigoletto. He was also in the Sony Pictures release in the role of Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, a film that was widely acclaimed by music and film critics alike.

Tickets are still available for the five performances, but call soon…the phones in our box office have been busy with all the people excited to see the opera!

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

As the Opera Turns

It’s Trivia Tuesday at Opera Colorado, and a group of us were talking about Bohème (as we do). We talked about how the ending – much like Butterfly – is very intense, but we wondered what happened to the bohemians after Mimì dies.
So I did a little research, and according to the original book by Henri Murger, they all live happily ever after.

No, really! Schaunard, the musician, becomes a successful song writer and makes a lot of money. Colline, the philosopher, marries a rich society lady and spends the rest of this life in luxury. Marcello, the painter, exhibits his paintings and sells one to a man whose mistress is Musetta. Rodolfo, the poet, receives critical acclaim for his first book and is on his way to a successful writing career.

(Thanks to Alexis Hamilton / Portland Opera.)

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Left My Opera in San Francisco

Can you think of a better way to start out the week than with a little Puccini and Pavarotti? (I didn’t think so.) Watch "Che gelida manina” from San Francisco Opera’s 1990 production of La Bohème starring Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Mirella Freni as Mimì.






Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, October 15, 2010

America’s Next Top Opera

Dear AriaGirl:
What does verismo opera mean? Are those operas performed at a much faster tempo?
Manon L.

Dear Manon:

Not quite, as entertaining as that sounds. (Can you imagine a version of the Ring Cycle at twice the tempo?) Verismo opera refers to a style of opera that became popular in the late 19th century. Composers began looking for stories of ordinary people, rather than the heroic tales from myth and history that had previously occupied the stages. Puccini called them “little souls,” and some argue that Madama Butterfy, Tosca and La Bohème are all stories of ordinary people in ordinary situations. These stories were often inspired by midnineteenth century French literature and frequently depicted the darker, more sordid or violent aspects of lower-class life. Today, you might compare them to reality TV; both verismo and reality TV are certainly melodramatic versions of these “little souls.” I’d certainly argue, however, that Puccini especially treated his characters with much more dignity and respect than their present-day counterparts.

Got a question about opera? Send it in to ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The People’s Opera

Meet the Librettists
From Opera Colorado’s La Bohème Guidebook

Luigi Illica was born the small town of Castell'Arquato, Italy in 1857. His personal life sometimes imitated his libretti. The reason he is always photographed with his head slightly turned is because he lost his right ear in a duel over a woman. When silent films based on Illica's operas were made, his name appeared in large letters on advertisements because distributors could not guarantee that his stories would be accompanied by the music of the appropriate composer. Illica had a very clear division of work when working with Puccini and Giacosa; he would plan the scenario and draft the dialogue of each opera. Illica died in the December of 1919 and is now buried in his hometown of Castell’Arquato.

Giuseppe Giacosa was born in Colleretto Parella (now Colleretto Giacosa), near Turin, Italy in 1847. Giacosa began his professional life as a lawyer, not a writer. He graduated in law from Turin University and immediately joined his father’s firm in Milan. Giacosa made the switch to writing permanently after his first one-act comedy, Una partita a scacchi, was a popular success. Puccini’s publisher organized the Puccini/Illica/Giacosa partnership in 1893. Giacosa too, had a clear division of work when it came to writing operas with Puccini and Illica. Giacosa transformed Illica’s prose into polished verse. The partnership between the three ended in 1906 with Giacosa’s death.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old McDonald Had An Opera

So I’m working on our Bohème program when lighting guru and friend of the blog Mark Gabriel DeBell drops by our office. He’d come by to check out some photos from last February’s The Barber of Seville – he did the lighting design for that and is getting ready to teach a class on lighting design and wanted some examples.

We get to talking, and I decide I should definitely interview him for the blog.

But not today. Today I’m sharing a really interesting video he told me about. It’s called “Sing Faster: The Stagehand's Ring Cycle.” Directed by John Else, the film tells the story of San Francisco Opera’s Ring Cycle – from the point of view of the stagehands. Here’s a clip.

The idea for the film was first pitched in 1988 and was originally going to be a four-minute film about a scene in La Traviata. Like most films, the concept evolved and nine years later, the documentary was complete. All that hard work paid off – the film won the 1999 Sundance Filmmakers Trophy! Learn more about the film here.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Joan Sutherland, 83

Here at Opera Colorado, we were greatly saddened by the news of Joan Sutherland's passing. Opera was made that much more beautiful by her voice. In her honor, we'd like to share some great Sutherland moments...







Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, October 8, 2010

Opera Superheroes

Dear AriaGirl:
I was flipping through a program for Turandot and noticed a listing for “supernumeraries.” Is that a voice type I’ve never heard of?
Harvey M.

Dear Harvey:

Look - up in the air! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s the supernumeraries! (I’m sorry – I couldn’t resist!) Think movie extras, but on stage - supernumeraries are the non-singing extras of the opera world. They’re sometimes referred to as “spear-carriers” – an affectionate joke that has its roots in classical Greek plays.

If you love opera but can’t sing worth a nickel, your local opera company likely has a spot for you as a villager, pearl fisher, soldier, or servant. Far from being extra, supernumeraries - or supers – are an integral part of setting the scene for an opera. The bustling streets of Paris in La Bohème would not seem nearly as authentic with only a few other singers wandering around! So next time you’re clapping at the end of the opera, give some extra applause for the supers.

Got a question about opera? Send it in to ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lucy in the Sky with Opera

Are you a teacher? Do you know a teacher? They might be interested in a workshop we have coming up at the end of the month…

Deciphering and Implementing the New Academic Standards

October 23, 2010, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

It has always been top priority to align Opera Colorado education programs with the Colorado Department of Education’s Academic Standards. As new and significant changes are made and implemented, we will continue to do so. It is our goal to assist public school teachers in this time of transition and to provide support and expertise in the realm of Music & Theater Arts. Our Guidebooks and other standardized programs will be updated to reflect the changes.

Opera Colorado, the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado Symphony and other community groups want to help you make sense of the new academic standards, so we are holding a teacher workshop to do just that. This workshop will assist you in deciphering the new standards, implementing them in your classroom, and connect you with the many resources at your disposal.

LIMIT: 50 people
COST: $25 per person

To register, e-mail Emilie Elmore at eelmore@operacolorado.org or call 303.778.7350.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Home is Where the Opera Is

An opera is like a car. There are about a trillion different parts all working together to make it go. If one or more of those parts don’t work right, it can all come crashing down. Today we had our production meeting for Bohème, kicking off an intense four weeks that will culminate in an amazing production. But there’s so much work before that!

The meeting is always interesting because we have a production staff that doesn’t work for us all year – assistant directors, wardrobe directors, chorus masters – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’ve ever flipped through the program, you’ve seen the long lists of people who work on the opera. So the production meeting is a good time to sit down, go over the schedule, and any important issues.

There’s the normal tasks that come up with every opera: the press photo shoot, the Meet the Artists event, chorus costumes, singer schedules, the student dress rehearsal donor events, and more. Then there are things to coordinate with the specific opera. This year Colorado Public Radio is broadcasting the operas live. (Exciting!) Bohème will have members of the Colorado Children’s Chorale, so we want to make sure those kids aren’t up too late. Act II also has the banda, the military band that marches through the square – gotta make sure we have enough people for that.

As the weeks go by, the process of putting the opera together will be refined. Some of the staging may be changed. Some of the costumes may be altered. Hundreds of people will work on thousands of tasks to make sure that on Opening Night, the curtain will go up to create a magical experience for everyone in the audience.

And at the end of the night, we will all breathe deep, relax for a few minutes…and then do it all over again four more times.

But good news around here – we barely have two seats together for the Saturday performance of Bohème. Fortunately we have four other performances to choose from.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When a Man Loves an Opera

When I think of the premiere of La Bohème, I think…well, I think, “holy cow, that was along time ago!” Puccini first saw the story come to life in 1896 - 114 years ago.

But was it really? Inspired by Portland Opera, I decided to see what else was happening in the world that year. You see, Bohème is thought of as pretty traditional, but was actually quite modern for its time, in terms of music and subject matter.

The world, too, was seeing a modern movement. Among other advances, we saw the development of the first X-rays and the first Ford vehicle (the Quadricycle). We saw the composition of John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. The New York Telephone Company was formed. The opening ceremonies of the first modern Summer Olympics were held.

In the realm of politics, Utah was admitted as the 45th U.S. state. Despite his stirring “Cross of Gold” speech at the Democratic National Convention earlier in the year, William Jennings Bryan was not chosen for the presidency in favor of Republican William McKinley. The U.S. Supreme Court introduced the "separate but equal" doctrine and upheld segregation in the court case Plessy v. Ferguson. The New York State Legislature passed the Raines Law, restricting Sunday alcoholic beverage sales to hotels.

While the play itself was written only about 50 years prior to the opera, it’s hard to believe that Puccini wasn’t inspired by the changing world around him.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mister Roger’s Opera

Today’s going to be a great day! Do you know why? Because I have a chocolate croissant and a video of Inna Dukach, our Mimì for November’s Bohème. I can’t figure out which I’m happier about...

The video comes from New York City Opera and features Inna Dukach (Mimì) and Dinyar Vania (Rodolfo) singing “Sono andati” from Act IV of Bohème.

The New York Times
said of her performance: “Inna Dukach was a Mimì capable of singing that was so artless as to be understated, with warm corners to a voice that moved smoothly up and down the staff and was enlisted in the service of the acting."




Ciao for now!
ArialGirl

Friday, October 1, 2010

Prima Donna Does Not Mean “Before Material Girl”

Dear AriaGirl:
I’ve heard people use the term
prima donna for female opera singers. Is this just another term for sopranos?
Albert H.


Dear Albert:

Not at all! The term is Italian for “first lady.” For guys, it’d be primo uomo. The term was always given to the leading lady, who was usually a soprano. Now, we all know there are nice sopranos (and mezzo-sopranos) out there. But over the years, the opera world has seen its share of temperamental singers (male and female!). So today, the term is usually used to describe someone who’s vain or difficult. Personally, I’d love to reclaim the term, and make it mean “amazing, down-to-earth female opera singer.” Who’s with me?

Got a question about opera? Send it in to ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Thursday, September 30, 2010

There's No Place Like Opera

Here at the blog, Thursday is usually the day we talk about our Education & Community programs. But this week, I want to educate you!

Do you love to sing? The Opera Colorado Chorus needs new members in all voice types. If you love to sing and can read music, WE WANT YOU! Rehearsals and performances are held evenings and weekends, so this is the perfect activity to go along with your day job. Previous chorus experience is helpful, but not required.

Chorus Auditions

Saturday, December 11
The Newman Center for Theatre Education
1101 13th Street | Denver, CO 80204
2 - 6 pm
Please plan to sing one operatic aria or a showtune.

For more information or to schedule an audition time, please contact George Twombly at gtwombly@operacolorado.org or 303.778.0319.

Join us onstage and sing with the stars!

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Photo credit Matthew Staver / Opera Colorado.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Opera, Take Me Away

This week's Wednesday Whatever I Find Interesting indulges my love of opera, cats, and pictures of cats with cute captions:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blue Suede Opera

It’s Trivia Tuesday and I’m shocked and appalled that I have not yet written about Puccini! Thankfully, Cherity Koepke - Director of Education & Community Programs – came to my rescue with a fantastic bio for the man we have to thank for La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, and other great works.

About the Composer
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (yes, that is his real name!) was born into a musical family in an Italian town called Lucca on December 22nd, 1858. The family had five generations of musical history behind them, including composer Domencio Puccini. Puccini learned the “family business” quickly, and became the organist at the San Martino church after his father died. To supplement his income and help support his mother, Puccini played piano in local taverns. To bring in some extra cash, he had his younger brother and some friends, who operated the bellows of church organ, steal some of the organ pipes so that he could sell them. This may have helped him to decide that he wanted to compose—he had to improvise new melodies and harmonies so that the notes would not be discovered!

Puccini also became the choir master in Lucca, but things were about to change. Puccini’s new dream was to become an opera composer, after he and his brother walked 18.5 miles to see a performance of Verdi’s Aida, that is. After some assistance from a relative and a large grant, Puccini went on to study music at Milan Conservatory of Music.


Puccini’s first attempt at opera, Le Villi, had little success, but nonetheless, the music publisher, Giulio Ricordi, offered him a generous contract after the first performance. (In those days, publishers were like sponsors, and Ricordi continued to encourage Puccini, despite the fact that his next show, Edgar, was also a flop.) Puccini went on to write a string of masterpieces, including La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La Fanciulla del West, Gianni Schicchi and Turandot. He is now considered one of the great composers in the history of opera.


Now you know a bit more about the composer, learn more about the opera at our website.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Monday, September 27, 2010

Behold the Power of Opera

It's Music Monday!

I love opera. I love commercials. I love when they use opera in commercials! Check out this ad from Nike featuring Charles Barkley...



Got a commercial where opera was used? E-mail me the link: ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, September 24, 2010

Opera in Slow Motion

Dear AriaGirl:
Why do opera characters take so long to die? Nobody sings right after they’ve been stabbed, right?
Jack R.

Dear Jack:

I get this question a lot, and the truth is that a lot of operas write beautiful arias for the main character to sing after they’ve been stabbed (or shot, or poisoned, or whatever). This is the singer’s moment to shine – to show off not only their amazing voice, but to show the audience all the emotion the character is feeling. Think of a scene in a movie that’s in slow-motion. It’s kind of like that. So enjoy that final aria – let the emotions wash over you. That’s what opera’s all about.

Plus, there are several operas where this isn’t the case. When the titular leading lady of Carmen dies, for example, there is no final aria. Likewise, when Tosca stabs Scarpia, he collapses and dies with just a scream.

Got a question about opera? Send it in to ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Photo credit: Matthew Staver / Opera Colorado.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two Scoops of Opera

I am an expert. So say the folks over in our Education Department (talk about experts, those smarties!) who have asked me to help out with a really cool project.

It’s called Generation OC (that’s Opera Colorado, not Orange County), and it’s a multi-week course in a local junior high all about opera. (No, you can’t audit the class.) The project teaches a select group of eighth graders the ins and outs of an opera company: marketing, budgets, grantwriting…all the behind-the-scenes stuff that gets the opera onto the stage itself.

So they asked Yours Truly to talk to these kids about marketing and opera, and Monday of this week I set out to enlighten – and talk about fun! These kids were so excited about the project. I even heard one say happily, “That’s right, It’s Gen OC day!"

I broke marketing down as “giving information to get a desired result” and explained that marketers think about four elements when creating any kind of message: Audience, Information, Emotion and Action. I used a lot of real-world examples, and understanding how messages are created and interpreted is something that’ll help these kids far past this class. And that’s the goal of this project: using opera to teach real-world skills.

I really enjoyed working with the kids. As part of their final project, they’re going to come up with a marketing message for La Bohème. Some are doing TV commercials, some are doing magazine ads, and they can’t wait to get started. It was incredibly inspiring to see younger people get excited about opera. Maybe in ten years, I’ll see them again…buying tickets and remembering their first exposure to opera. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Operas Wanted

Wednesday = Whatever I Find Interesting!

What do you get when you cross baseball and opera? Washington National Opera knows. They just offered their third year of free opera simulcast to the Jumbotron at Nationals Stadium. They even came up with a baseball-themed contest to promote it! Read more…

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rebel Without an Opera

It’s Trivia Tuesday! Yesterday I was out teaching marketing to eighth graders for our Generation OC project (more on that Thursday), but today I’m back and ready to bring you delicious opera trivia!

Speaking of delicious, I just learned that scapigliatura is, in fact, NOT a flavor of gelato. It means “the disheveled ones” and it was an avant-garde movement originating in twentieth-century Milan.

Thought of as the Italian version of the French bohemians, they rebelled against what they saw as “traditional” – and in the opera world, they worked to modernize Italian opera – more Wagner, less Verdi. (Verdi was actually personally criticized by the group for being too old-fashioned.) This group was critical in the movement toward verismo opera, which included such works as Pagliacci and Tosca.

And do you know which rebellious composer joined their ranks? Giacomo Puccini, himself! I find this particularly interesting since opera is often seen as pretty traditional, and La Bohème is considered about as traditional as it gets.

But a lot of people don’t know that in their day, opera composers were considered avant-garde and nonconformist. Verdi himself (despite what the scapigliatura had to say) was considered pretty wild; when he wrote Un ballo in maschera, the censors objected to not only his portrayal of the assassination of a monarch, but also forced him to change the setting from Sweden to Boston.

Opera composers: the rebels of their day, pushing against societal boundaries. Bravo!

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, September 17, 2010

Who Wears the Pants Around Here?

Dear AriaGirl:
I just went to see
The Marriage of Figaro and loved it! But I was confused by the character of Cherubino. It’s a male part played by a woman – why didn’t Mozart cast a man, or make him a her?
John F.

Dear John:

Because opera is supposed to be confusing! (I kid.) Seriously, you see this in quite a few operas. It’s called a trouser role (or pants role, or breeches role) and it’s when a woman plays the part of a man.

Unlike in Shakespeare’s time, when men played female parts because women weren’t allowed on stage, there were plenty of female opera singers. Some of these roles, however, were written for a castrato. As the practice faded, those roles began to be sung by mezzo-sopranos and some sopranos.

Now there are starting to be more male opera singers training their voices to go higher, so we may see some trouser roles actually being filled by men. But until then, the smaller parts of pages, servants, sprites and muses will probably continue to be sung by women.

Got a question about opera? Send it in to ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Opera is the Best Medicine

I know you remember our 20102-2011 Young Artists. That good-lookin’ bunch of guys and gals with fantastic voices. And I know you’re excited to meet them in person. And I know you can’t wait to welcome them with a champagne and dessert reception and hear them sing for the first time.

Yes, dear readers. For the low price of $10, you get delicious desserts, champagne, AND a concert.

Sunday, September 26 at 2 pm
Sponsored by The Ritz-Carlton, Denver
$10 (adult), $5 (student)
RSVP online |  303.468.2021

Live opera on a Sunday afternoon…does it get any better than that?

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Spy Who Loved Opera

Every now and then, a story comes along that makes you say, "Huh. Truth IS stranger than fiction."

An opera singer who led a double life as a British spy - it certainly sounds like a movie, but it's the true story of Margery Booth, a mezzo-soprano who was invited to sing at the Berlin Opera House during World War II. Unbeknownst to the Nazis - at least for a time - Booth was smuggling information to the British government. Read the full story here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

All Roads Lead to Opera

Feel like a cup of coffee and some stimulating conversation? Get yourself over to Café Momus, the Act II setting for La Bohème. The spot where Marcello and Musetta reignite their love is one of the most well-known settings in all opera. But did you know there was a real Café Momus?

It’s true! You couldn’t walk two feet without running into a café in Paris in the 19th century – the city was filled with artists, writers, singers and all those Bohemian types. Cafés were a place where you could share and explore ideas and also helped form the Bohemian identity. And one of those cafés was the Café Momus, located on the Right Bank of the River Seine in Paris near the church of Saint-Germaine-l'Auxerrois.

The café was frequented by such well-known authors as Voltaire and Victor Hugo and was named after the ancient Greek god of mockery, satire, censure, writers, and poets. Café Momus became known as the café of artists, which gave it a certain cache.

With those artists, of course, came some…interesting personalities. There’s a story of one Bohemian patron who kept trying to order a cup of coffee, despite the fact that he had no more credit at the café. The patron eventually went to the counter and complained, "I have ordered a cup of coffee half-a-dozen times; either serve it at once or lend me five sous, and I'll go and get it elsewhere."

Ah, those wacky Bohemians.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Monday, September 13, 2010

From Opera to Eternity

Today’s Music Monday comes from San Diego Opera. In addition to putting on some fantastic operas (our recent production of The Pearl Fishers came from there), they have an amazing education program. They regularly broadcast their “San Diego OperaTalk! with Nick Reveles,” educational videos that give all sorts of interesting factoids about any given opera.

Including Bohème. Watch, enjoy, repeat.




Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, September 10, 2010

There's Something About Opera

Where will YOU be this Saturday and Sunday? Hopefully at the Belmar Italian Festival with me! Opera Colorado will be at the Festival on both days; we’ll have a booth and are providing some of the entertainment!

No, not me. Our Young Artists will be singing at noon and 3 pm on both days on the Torino Stage. So swing by Belmar and check it out! We'll be at the booth near Upham and Alaska.

If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. Wine. Pasta. Gelato. Pizza. Ceramics. Flowers. Pastries. Gelato. Jewelry. Bocce. Flag throwers. Chef demonstrations. Live music. Gelato. Children’s grape stomp.

Did I mention gelato?

It’s always a fun (and free) time, so be sure to come by and say hi!

Saturday and Sunday, 10am - 7pm
Belmar, Alameda Ave and Wadsworth Blvd

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Thursday, September 9, 2010

101 Operas

Here at Opera Colorado, we’re big on enrichment and educational opportunities. And this season, our cup runneth over with all the ways you can get your learn on.

Meet the Artists
Books and opera singers at lunchtime – it doesn’t get any better than this. Come down to Tattered Cover bookstore in LoDo for a free chat with the principal artists and artistic team of La Bohème. Mark your calendar for Wed, October 27 at noon! More info...

University of Denver
The Three Tenors and Beyond: Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras
Join classical music appreciation instructor and former KVOD radio announcer/producer Betsy Schwarm to survey the careers of The Three Tenors. Class runs November 4, 11 and 18 and includes a ticket to the November 9 performance of La Bohème. Course is $165 (subscribers receive a 10% discount!). More info…

Academy of Lifelong Learning
Opera Colorado Takes the Stage
Get the inside story from the artistic and professional leadership of Opera Colorado about what it takes to get an opera ready for opening night. From planning a season to educational programs to young artist programs, this course will whet your appetite for La Bohème. Class runs 9 Tuesdays beginning September 14 and course fee is $60. More info…

OPERA America
Learn about La Bohème and Cinderella (La Cenerentola) with Online Learning!
OPERA America’s multimedia online courses offer an opportunity to explore the many dimensions of opera while providing context with musical analysis, historical background and information on the composer and librettist. Participants listen to first-hand interviews with singers, composers, directors, designers and other artists. The La Bohème course runs from Wed, September 29 to Wed, November 3. The Cinderella (La Cenerentola) course runs Wed, March 16 to Wed, April 27. Both courses are free. More info…

I’ll keep you posted if we get any more educational opportunities – you guys are really into learning about opera! (Which makes me happy.)

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All the President's Operas

You've seen them - the photos of cats with weirdly-misspelled captions. Here at Opera Colorado, we find them a wonderful way to start the day with a chuckle. So you can imagine our delight when we ran across this one for this week's Wednesday Whatever I Find Interesting:


funny pictures see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Opera Will Go On

Like so many operas, Bohème had a rough opening night. The critics hated it and said the music was too simplistic and there wasn’t enough action. Here are a few choice words…

“Even the Finale of the opera, so intensely dramatic in situation, seems to me deficient in musical form and color…La Bohème, even as it leaves little impression on the minds of the audience, will leave no great trace upon the history of our lyric theater…”
-La Stampa



We wonder what could have started Puccini toward the degradation of this Bohème. The question is a bitter one, and we do not ask it without a pang, we who applauded and shall continue to applaud [his last opera], in which was revealed a composer who could combine masterly orchestration with a conception in keeping with the best spirit of Italy.
-Gazzetta del Popolo

Thanks to the Columbia University/New York City Opera Project for the quotes. Interesting side note: fifty years after the opera premiered, the NBC Symphony Orchestra recorded a performance of it with conductor Arthur Toscanini – who had conducted the opera when it premiered in Turin, Italy.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Dear AriaGirl:
I’m about to attend my first opera, but I’m a little nervous about when I’m supposed to applaud. Is it true that applause is considered rude?
Charles G.

Dear Charles:

Congratulations! I hope you have an amazing experience. First, I want you to take a deep breath. You should enjoy your first opera, not worry about what other people are thinking. But there are some general rules of thumb. For example, some people consider it rude to clap until the end of the act. (In fact, Wagner didn’t want the audience to clap at all until the end of his opera Parsifal.) However, most people will clap after the “big numbers” – those show-stopping tunes that made the opera famous. I recommend waiting until the people around you start to clap, and then you can join them.

And if you really enjoyed the performance, you can yell “bravo” or “brava” (for men and women, respectively). Just don’t whistle – in Italian, a whistle is the equivalent of booing!

Got a question about opera? Send it in to ariagirl@operacolorado.org.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Opera abhors a vacuum

Our Education Department has the best stuff. With their swords and crowns and DVDs and lollipops, they are some of my favorite people in this office. And today they showed me their newest prop, a gingerbread house for the upcoming touring opera Hansel & Gretel.

You see, every year the Opera Colorado Young Artists perform two one-act, English-language operas for audiences across Colorado. This season, we'll be remounting last season’s popular Romeo & Juliet and Humperdinck’s classic story.

I'm really excited for how the sets and costumes will look - and not just because of my love for sets and costumes. The Education Department spent a lot of time detailing how the opera should look. Director of Education & Community Programs Cherity Koepke (who also directs the Young Artists), wanted something like the recent film versions of Alice in Wonderland and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: a mix of bright colors and hints of darkness. I'll keep you posted on the opera, especially once the singers get here and start rehearsing.

Programs like this one help show younger audiences and those new to opera that opera is just like movies, books or music. Whether you've ever fallen in love, loved and lost, or traded places with your friend to woo his girlfriend (maybe not that last one), opera is about life. And passion. And family. And friends. And everyone can relate to that. If you're curious what other programs we have, check out our Education section on our website.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Harry Met Opera

It's a beautiful Wednesday, and Whatever I Found Interesting was...a lack of opera novelty products. I mean, sure there are composer finger puppets and clothes for toddlers and opera board games...but I find myself yearning for more.

So today I proudly premiere "Opera Products I Wish Existed." Today, I present to you: Magnetic Opera. You've seen them on fridges - the small black and white magnets with words on them. You visit your friends' houses (or even our own offices) and you can't help but rearrange the words.

I took the liberty of creating my own version of these appliance-decorating toys.

I think we could create quite an opera, don't you?

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

If I Had a Million Operas

While Puccini’s Bohème may be well-known, did you know there’s another Bohème? It’s true! And not just because Wikipedia says so.

We all know the plot of La Bohème was inspired by the story in Henri Murger’s novel. And if you didn’t know that, you can pretend you did. (I won’t tell.) What you may not know is around the time Puccini was working on his bohemian tale, another Italian composer, Ruggero Leoncavallo, was slaving away on his own adaptation.

Leoncavallo, of course, is best known for his hit song “Send in the Clowns.” Wait, no. That’s Stephen Sondheim. Leoncavallo is best known for I Pagliacci, an opera about clowns.

So Leoncavallo is minding his own business, doing his composer thing, and runs into Puccini at a Milan café in 1895. Puccini casually mentions that he’s working on this amazing opera about young Parisians in love.

Leoncavallo is ticked. After all, he offered the libretto to Puccini first, who said he didn’t want to work on it! So Leoncavallo is pouring his heart out into this story and now he has competition!

The story gets better – two newspapers (thought to be supporters of each composer, respectively), announce that Leoncavallo and Puccini are both working on a version of La Bohème. Puccini even goes on record to say that time would tell which was the better opera. (You can guess whose opera Puccini thought would be the better.)

Puccini’s opera may be better according to some, though I hope Leoncavallo has some fans out there. I do know that despite it all, the opera world is blessed to have not one, but two beautiful operas about those crazy Parisian lovers. (And you can see Puccini’s in November.)

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Silent Treatment

It’s Music Monday, with a twist - Bossman found out what happened when someone turned La Bohème into a silent movie. (Yes, you read that right.) While this Bohème has none of Puccini's original music, it's still a really interesting story...

The Silent Treatment
Rex Fuller, Opera Colorado Director of Marketing

There have been so many innovations in opera over the centuries, but here’s one you might not have seen coming: silent opera.

During the golden age of silent pictures, there weren’t many stars in Hollywood bigger than Lillian Gish. A serious actress, Gish specialized in portraying innocent young women who broke your heart in sad tales of tragic love. By 1925, she’s been signed to a six-picture deal with MGM worth a million dollars. Gish was one of those rare stars who was granted complete artistic control. She was able to choose the pictures she wanted to work on, name the director and her co-stars.

One of her first projects was a silent film version of the Puccini classic La Bohème.

Some critics say that Miss Gish had just returned from a European publicity tour and the chance to tell a story set in Paris gave her one more opportunity to connect with fans on the continent. Studio head Irving Thalberg reviewed possible directors with her, including a special private screening of King Vidor’s unfinished The Big Parade. Miss Gish was thrilled with what she saw and the director was chosen.

However, La Bohème was a problematic concept for other reasons, aside from the fact that this was a silent film and the topic was…um, an opera. Giacomo Puccini had died in 1924 and his estate remained in dispute, so the rights to the music and the story of the opera were not available. So instead, screenwriters turned to Henri Murger’s original novel Scènes de la vie de la bohème. They also used studio musicians to compose a new score for the film, one that did not include opera singers. (The original film score, never regarded as a masterpiece in the first place, is now lost.)

Miss Gish would star as the tragic heroine Mimi. For the male lead, Rodolphe, Gish selected matinee idol John Gilbert to be her co-star. During the silent era, Gilbert was known as “the great lover” and rivaled Rudolph Valentino as a top draw at the box office. As Musette, Gish cast French film sensation Renée Adorée.

The film follows a very similar story to the opera. Mimi is a poor, humble seamstress. Her neighbor, the artist Rodolphe, falls madly in love with her. They have a stormy relationship and wait to break up until spring. She dies tragically of tuberculosis.

Reports vary on filming. Many say that Gish was treated like a queen when she arrived at the studio, but others regarded her as arrogant and difficult to work with. It’s said that she didn’t want to give Gilbert the time of day but that he was infatuated with her. Some reported that he would intentionally flub scenes during filming so they would have to be re-shot and Gilbert would be forced to kiss his beautiful co-star again. And again.

While far from a masterpiece of the silent era, there are fascinating elements to the film, one of them being Lillian Gish herself. When you watch the film, you get a sense of her depth as an actress. Long before anyone had coined the phrase “method acting,” Gish was employing its techniques. She spent weeks at the hospital observing TB patients. She taught herself to breath with minimal visible movement. Three days before filming, she quit taking liquids so that she appeared drawn and exhausted. The result was a death scene of astounding realism.

John Gilbert himself can be a revelation to the movie fan. One doesn’t necessarily think of silent film stars as sex symbols, but some people might think that Gilbert could give Johnny Depp a run for his money in this film. (Well, that might be stretching it, but you get the point.)


The film has been released on DVD and can be ordered online. For a small sample, we can thank YouTube for this brief clip:



You learn something new every day. If you're looking for a not-so-silent version of La Bohème, tickets are still available for Puccini's classic premiering November 6 and playing November 9, 12, 14 & 16.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Friday, August 27, 2010

Czech It Out!

I know, I know - it's a terrible pun. But I just can't help myself - I'm so excited! You see, today's the day we're launching the Czech Point Denver website! (Along with an extra-awesome blog called Czech Mix.)

And what is Czech Point Denver, you ask? (An excellent question.) See, it all started when Opera Colorado decided to perform its first Czech opera, Rusalka. We thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if the whole city was as excited as we were?"

So we thought and planned and created and we came up with: Czech Point Denver. A city-wide celebration of the Czech cultural arts. And do you know who's playing? The Denver Art Museum. The Colorado Symphony. Rocky Mountain PBS. Buntport Theatre. The Mizel Center. And they're just a few of the many culturals who're participating. We've got preview events, Czech-themed cultural programs, films, kid-friendly entertainment, concerts, costumes, kolaches, ice cream...

...ok, we don't have ice cream. Yet. But you get the idea. This is gonna be an amazing festival with so much to do, you'll be dreaming in Czech. I'll be keeping you updated with what's going on, but you'll definitely want to check out the website and blog for events, interesting Czech trivia, and a whole section just for Rusalka.

Na shledanou!
AriaGirl

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Leave it to Opera

Do you know what I found in our offices? Guess. Come on, guess! It’s the most amazing thing ever!

I found...a steamer trunk full of costumes and props. (And if you’re new to the blog, let me tell you…I love costumes. I love dressing up.) So you can imagine my delight at finding a big box of wigs and capes and other assorted awesomeness.

But before I got too in-depth pretending to be an opera singer, I was discovered by Emilie Elmore, our Manager of Education & Community Programs. (I probably shouldn’t have hid in her office.)

Emilie explained that we’ve got these big steamer trunks that get taken to schools to introduce kids to opera. I had found our new “Opera for Beginner” trunk, which features La Bohème, Rusalka, and The Barber of Seville. (It almost matches our season, except Cinderella has its own trunk.)

So Emilie shows me everything in the trunk. (There were more than just costumes, apparently.) There were several books on opera, composers, specific operas and music. There are also DVD performances of the three operas. Emilie also explained that this opera trunk helps introduce kids to opera by including activities on acting and theater. So the kids get to dress up and act out scenes from the operas. There are also theater exercises that teach kids about staging and emotion.

So what’s going to happen to this trunk? The Education & Community Programs department will take it to different schools around the state, where students of all ages will get to play and explore. (Lucky kids!) You can find more information on our Education website.

Me, I’m going to see if I can’t try on a few more costume pieces…I think I make a rather fetching Musetta, don't you?


Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happiness is a Warm Opera

It’s Wednesday, which means Whatever I Find Interesting. And this week I found something very funny, almost by chance.

See, the opera service organization, OPERA America, is wonderful at helping opera companies keep in touch with each other. So when someone from Utah Opera wanted to create a better, more interactive atmosphere in their lobby, they sent the call out to almost every opera company in the world for their ideas.

But that’s not the only neat part. Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR for The Dallas Opera, sent this:

Several years ago, when Bohème came around again, I decided to “Onion-up” Puccini’s rather torrid life story into a fake tabloid newspaper. Working with local graphics designers who set my tongue-in-cheek text with appropriately over-the-top headlines and actual photographs, we created a giant-sized newspaper mounted around the lobby area. It drew patrons like a magnet. Some got it, some didn’t, non-readers passed it by. However, it definitely sparked a lot of comments from patrons and visiting media types. And it was great fun to produce!

I got in touch with Suzanne, who cheerfully sent me their final version, which I give to you here. (It's kind of big, but well worth the wait.) A big kudos to the folks at The Matchbox Studio in Dallas, who made it look as great as it does. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Speaking of La Bohème, we open Puccini's work on November 6 and tickets are on sale now.

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Opera Is a Many-Splendored Thing

It's Tuesday, and Tuesday means Trivia! Have you ever heard of the song “Don’t You Know?” It was a hit song in 1959 and was performed by Della Reese. Here – take a listen:



Sound familiar? Songwriter Bobby Worth took the theme from “Musetta’s Waltz” and integrated it into the music of the song. Of course, Bobby’s version is a little bit more romantic than Puccini’s. Della’s first lines are “Don't you know / I have fallen in love with you / For the rest of my whole life through”…compare that to Musetta belting out “When I walk alone in the street / People stop and stare at me / And everyone looks at my beauty.”

Opera influences our culture in unusual ways, doesn’t it?

Ciao for now!
AriaGirl