Thursday, February 11, 2010


Have you read it yet? The Denver Post review of David Gately's The Barber of Seville? It glows brighter than radioactive lightbulb - and as well it should!

Lucas Meachem as Figaro "proved himself a master of physical comedy." Isabel Leonard's "lilting mezzo-soprano voice and fluid, natural acting ability brought to the role of Rosina all the sweetness and cunning of this central character." Brian Stucki as Almaviva was applauded for the "humorous naivety he brings to the role of Rosina's devoted lover." Thomas Hammons was "spot-on in his characterization of the controlling, yet hapless Doctor Bartolo."

There are a few - very, very few - single tickets left for Friday the 12th and Sunday the 14th. And after that? No more Barber. The cast and crew will leave Denver for other engagements, but hopefully to return again.

Click here to read the full review.
Click here to check for tickets - Friday the 12th and Sunday the 14th. You can also call 303.468.2030.

See you next week for the final post of this production!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Man From O.P.E.R.A

Earlier in the month, I sat down to have a chat with the man behind The Barber of Seville. No, not Rossini. I may be talented, but I’m not THAT talented. I’m talking about David Gately, director of the comic opera coming soon to the Ellie. David is intelligent, well-spoken and passionate. Read more...

Why is opera still important and relevant?
It lifts people’s spirits. Barber doesn’t have the most weight or impact, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. People often turn to art in times of tragedy or uncertainty, and art gets them out of their lives for a little while. Opera is a dynamic art form. You never know what’s going to happen because every performance is a little bit different.

What are some of the myths about opera that you still come across?
There are a lot of misconceptions still floating out there. I believe that opera is an acquired taste, but it’s not hard to acquire. I encourage people to go and see what it’s like. They’re sometimes surprised to find it’s like a play and they can follow the story. They find it interesting and it becomes less scary. A lot of people think operas are so long, but there are plenty of movies out there that run 2 ½ or 3 hours. If the story is engaging, time doesn’t matter. People also think it’s a bunch of fat people singing and not acting, but that’s become the exception and not the rule.

What book do you think would make a good opera?
John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s a very funny and moving work and the fact that it was published at all is a kind of miracle. The author’s mother found it after he committed suicide and she convinced a local professor to read it. He thought it was amazing, and the rest is history. The story itself is about a man who lives in New Orleans and doesn’t fit into society, which is a pretty common theme in opera. You look at Peter Grimes or even Don Pasquale and you see characters who don’t quite mesh with their surroundings.

Do you have any pets?
I do have a cat back in Seattle. I love cats, but my partner hated them, so I never thought we’d have one. But one day I got a call while working at Central City Opera. My partner says, “What does this sound like?” I said, “It sounds like a cat purring.” He had found a cat under a bush and brought her in. She utterly adores and dotes on him, and I think it was her karmic responsibility to turn my partner into a cat lover. She doesn’t seem to care for me that much, which I find funny. She even waits by the door until her “real dad” shows up after work.

If you could live anywhere for a year, where would it be?
London. It’s one of my favorite cities. I love the lifestyle and think it’s beautiful. It has such a strong cultural focus with so many opportunities for opera and the theater. I think it seems so civilized and there’s an incredible amount of history. I’m really quite an Anglophile. I want to travel more, which people think is odd since I travel for a living. I tell them that I don’t think of traveling to direct as real traveling, it’s just sort of a really long commute.

Just in case you don't have your tickets to Barber, we are SOLD OUT for Friday and Sunday's performances. Better buy your tickets for tonight! See you on Thursday!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Opera, She Wrote

Are you a woman? Do you like lunch? Do you enjoy or are curious about opera? If you said “yes,” to all of these, I bet you’d enjoy our Opera Colorado Women’s Luncheons – which is where I was yesterday! A group of approximately 100 women sat down to a lunch catered by Kevin Taylor’s at the Opera House to listen to Isabel Leonard, our Rosina in The Barber of Seville, speak about her career in opera with General Director Greg Carpenter.

Isabel was charming and funny. She’s very down to earth and I loved watching how animated she got telling stories of her life on the stage. She talked about how she got into opera and how her parents encouraged her to be active in the arts. After attending Julliard and receiving her undergraduate and graduate degrees, Isabel’s big break came when she sang the pants role of Stephano in Romeo and Juliet. At the Met. Alongside Anna Netrebko. And Nathan Gunn.Conducted by Placido Domingo. That may be the biggest break I’ve ever seen! Isabel also talked about her process preparing for a new role, some mishaps she’s encountered on stage, as well as her perspective on where she wants her career to go.

After the talk, about twenty ladies took a tour of the set, costumes, dressing rooms and the rest of the backstage area. Women also had an opportunity to purchase adorable vintage handmade bags from Sweet Pea Pockets. Kate Adams, the owner, donated 20% of her proceeds that day to Opera Colorado. Isabel even bought one!

Sound like fun? I thought so. Fortunately, you can still sign up for the Tosca luncheon on Wednesday, April 21st. You’ll get to hear from Sondra Radvanovsky, also known as she who has been burning up the stage at the Met.

And just in case you forgot: The Barber of Seville opens THIS Saturday. You don’t want to be the one left out when all your friends are talking about how amazing it is. Need tickets? Click here.

See you next week!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Dukes of Opera

Thomas Hammons has performed at the Met more than 350 times. He’s performed the role of Bartolo in The Barber of Seville countless times. To say he’s a veteran of the stage is putting it mildly. But don’t think for a minute that means he’s full of himself. He took the time to meet with me, a lowly little blogger! And in that meeting, I found him to be an intelligent and engaging man with a wide base of knowledge that encompassed history, art and literature. Read on…

What’s the biggest challenge in playing the role of Bartolo?
I’ve performed the role more than 400 times. The first time was in 1973 and I learned the role with Italo Tajo, who was a mentor of mine. So the biggest challenge has been to adapt to each new cast and work with their own interpretations of what they’re doing. You pick up on the personalities of other singers and so you can’t insist on performing the role in such a rigid way each time. Another challenge is his portrayal. I don’t perform him as this lecherous old man or a stupid fool. He is smart and he is a doctor and does indeed draw sympathy from the audience.

What actor would you want to play you in the movie of your life?
Peter O’Toole. I’ve always admired him as an actor. He was known as a bit of a wild man and was often compared to the title character of J.P. Donleavy’s novel, The Ginger Man, for his wild Irish nature, something I can definitely relate to. But I think Peter also has a sensitive side that he can showcase, as in the film Becket about King Henry II and his relationship with his close friend and advisor, Thomas Becket.

Where in the world would you like to visit that you haven’t yet been?
The pyramids of Egypt. I’d love to see the Sphinx. The whole area – the Middle East and the Holy Land. I want to go to the Wailing Wall and the Fortress of the Knights Templar.

What would you do if you didn’t have to work?
I’d collect art and have the best surrealist collection in the Midwest, with works by Max Ernst, Dali, and Picasso. When I was a young child, I went to the Chicago Art Institute and saw Picasso’s Blue Guitar, which was a life-changing experience. Since then, I’ve always enjoyed the early surrealist period, those works created around the 1930’s. There’s an enigmatic quality to surrealism that speaks to me. As in life, these works provide no easy answers or interpretations.

Is there a food that you really dislike?
I cannot stand raw onions. They’re fine cooked, but I will never have onions on my hot dog or hamburger. The flavor’s just too strong. I’ve also never been fond of anchovies.

If you owned a boat, what would you name it?
My father was actually a sailor and named his boat Tomatlen after his three children. I think I would follow in his footsteps and do the same, so my boat would be named Marmad after my daughters Margo and Madeline.

What opera do you think would translate well to a series on HBO?
I would like to see Beaumarchais’ original plays – The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, and The Guilty Mother – made into a miniseries. The characters are so interesting and I think they’d translate well to screen even in play form. You’d have to translate them into English, but they could be done in a period setting and it would be very interesting, I think.

Stay tuned for more Barber entries and don’t forget – the opera opens February 6. (The countdown begins!) I'll also be at the Opera Colorado Women's Luncheon tomorrow - say hi if you see me.

See you on Thursday!