Category Archives: Best of Operatoonity

top ten posts on ‘operatoonity’ in 2012

Operatoonity's Top TenWhy did viewers stop in on this blog in 2012? What posts did they read most in the past year?

Would it surprise you to know of the nearly 111,000 visitors to this blog in 2012, that, far and away, most were seeking a definitive list of top classical singers in the world today? Divas, then divos?

Frankly, I am not in the least bit startled by this news.

There are so few definitive “talent” lists around. And I should know. I searched feverishly for such a list not too long ago. That’s why I compiled  mine –I couldn’t find any good/current list of opera singers myself.

Not surprisingly, people continue to chime in on who should and shouldn’t have made these lists.  I knew each was an imperfect instrument when I compiled it, and I honestly think it’s time to upgrade each one, since the best talents in the operasphere can change or fade in a matter of only years. We are talking about the most delicate and sometimes most frail of instruments–the human voice–after all.

Other top topics were top tenors, best operas, and the beloved composers Puccini and Mozart.

Here then, according to my site stats, are the titles of the most-viewed posts and their visit numbers in 2012:

Title Views
best opera singers in the world today – female 29,375
best opera singers in the world today – male 22,212
today’s top tenors 9,829
get with it, NYC, says M.C. Hammer-bee 1,469
on Carmen’s anniversary, we celebrate its arias 726
100 greatest operas . . . really? 686
don’t quote me . . . 650
Puccini’s best opera? 524
what makes a great tenor? 514
Mozart, the ultimate cross-trainer 464
contemporary opera? modern opera? define, please 464

 

How about you? Why did you stop in on “Operatoonity”? Did you find what you were looking for this year?

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Baritones, Best of Operatoonity, blog stats, Classic Opera, Classical Composers, Modern opera, Mozart, opera lists, Opera Stats, sopranos, tenors

the best and worst of the operasphere in 2012

This year was one for the books, so to speak. My 2012 marked many new and challenging review opportunities–thirteen in all, ranging from Philadelphia to New York.

You can read all my reviews on Bachtrack at this link.

Melodic contemporary operas, classic operas done in outlandish contemporary style, never before seen operas, and even opera/musical theatre mash-ups. I saw some pretty good productions with some singularly splendid moments. I watched some not so good productions with several redeeming moments.

Rarely did a see a wonderful opera replete with splendid moments. But it happened at least twice this past year.

Herewith are my best and worst moments of the 2012 season, occurring both on and offstage.

The Best of 2012

For me, the best single production was a tie between Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters presented by the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Glimmerglass Festival’s Lost in the Stars.

Dark Sisters: The wives of The Prophet, left to right sung by Margaret Lattimore, Eve Gigliotti, Jennifer Zetlan, Caitlin Lynch, and Jennifer Check, appear on a news show to appeal for the return of their children. TV personality “King” is sung by Kevin Burdette.| c. of Opera Company of Philadelphia | Kelly and Massa Photography

I was enthralled by Dark Sisters, a contemporary opera about the plight of women trapped in plural marriage—one husband with multiple wives. You can read the full review here, but suffice it to say that it was a moving, beautifully sung, and technologically stunning production.

Met star Eric Owens (center) in “Lost in the Stars”

Likewise, the Glimmerglass Festival’s Lost in the Stars, an opera/musical mash-up written by Kurt Weill adapted from the novel Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton was a first-rate show.  It was a co-production with Cape Town Opera where it first played with performers who themselves experienced apartheid. Interestingly, Weill wrote this show  as a way to “deepen the American musical theater experience.” Lost in the Stars actually deepened and broadened my opera-going experience.  The full review is available here.

The Worst of 2012

I don’t really want to denigrate any single production or performer–that’s not what Operatoonity is about.  I prefer civility first.

However, I will say that having no #Operaplot Contest this year was a huge personal disappointment.

I can scarcely begin to describe how much I enjoyed participating and reading other entries. I’m sure it is a bear to organize and judge, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that mounting no annual contest was one (of  precious few ) Twitter campaigns sorely missed.

The other disappointment I grappled with was being emailed by a young performer after I didn’t include his name in a review. Yes, he was a lead performer, and he was understandably disappointed not to have been mentioned. However, since he was a young artist, I took the high road and excluded him rather than write an unfavorable review. I asked him if I could interview him on this blog about the challenges of preparing for a professional career singing opera, kind of as a makey-up, and he  declined to participate, another major disappointment.

To all stage performers out there, I need to remind you that reviewer is more than likely a working person who does opera reviewing in his or her spare time. She is overworked, tired, traveled a distance to get there, and endeavors to write an honest review. Therefore, if you don’t intend to bring everything you have to your performance, your overworked, overstimulated, and simultaneously exhausted reviewer (who has seen more than 35 full-length operas and recitals in venues from D.C. to the Met in the last 28 months) is likely to notice.

That’s it for Operatoonity’s birds-eye view of the best and worst of 2012.

Here’s to happy opera viewing and greener musical pastures in 2013.

 

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Filed under Best of Operatoonity, favorites, Festival Opera, Performers, Rant, Regional opera, Reviews

Singer Sunday: an operatic family on a Germanic quest

Opera family: Ross, Jenny and kids

Tenor Ross David Crutchlow is a 6’2” red-headed baritone turned Heldentenor with a booming voice, an infectious laugh, and a huge presence.  Soprano Jenny Millsap is his graceful, demure wife, who is anything but demure when popping off high Fs in her dramatic coloratura roles.

Ross and Jenny have worked in opera, operetta, and musical theater in New York and across the United States.  They have two children – a very active two year old and a perpetually happy eight  month old.

Not every American family would cross the Atlantic to German-speaking Europe to sing there. But then Ross and Jenny aren’t your typical American family.  They are highly enterprising, too, and are using the very popular Kickstarter to fund-raise for their audition trip.

That’s why I’ve invited Ross and Jenny to stop in at Operatoonity today: to tell you more about their dreams and inspire you to support their project. Welcome Ross and Jenny!

How did you meet?

Jenny: We were doing Gilbert & Sullivan in NYC together.  I had been in the company for a couple of years and already knew everyone.  Ross was new.  I wanted to make him feel comfortable, so I made a point of being friendly and talkative with him.  It didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eyes!

Ross: Yeah, she kept following me around, so I figured I’d ask her out.

Jenny: And the fairy tale began!

Is it hard being married to another opera singer?

Jenny: In some ways yes, in some no.  The financial instability is hard.  But that’s true for any freelancer in the United States, really.  It’s an entrepreneurial way of living, which of course is a lot tougher in the arts than probably any other business.  We’ve been lucky enough to be able to work together from time to time, but we’ve also been separated due to gigs.  That’s always hard.

Ross: What’s really great about being married to another singer, though, is the support we give each other.  She knows my voice inside and out and I know hers.  We can say to each other, hey – that phrase sounded a little off, try this.  And it’s better.  We also get what the other one is going through as far as the psychological demands of auditioning and performing.  We can help each other in ways in which non-singers just wouldn’t be able to.

What’s it like having kids while being professional singers?

Soprano Jenny Millsap

Jenny:  Ha!  Well, there’s not much sleep, that’s for sure!  I remember that I used to make a point of getting a lot of sleep before big performances or auditions in my pre-kids days.  Now I just make sure I get a lot of coffee!

Ross: I think I worry a lot more.  Before Jenny and I became parents, I didn’t think about the future so much or the long-term implications of my decisions professionally.  Now I do.  I have to.

Jenny: But the kids are really great.  We used to take Ewan (our two year old) with us to our rehearsals and coachings.  He would crawl around on the floor, watching and listening.  His first time in a green room at a performance was when he was five months old!  He still loves to hear us practice, and sometimes he conducts us!  Nathaniel (our baby) is not as big a fan of opera as Ewan is.  He cries when we sing loudly, so we try to practice when he’s sleeping!

Ross: It’s a lot to juggle, honestly, but both our singing and are kids are vital parts of our lives.  I can’t imagine life without both.

Germany seems like a big step.  What made you decide to head to Europe?

Heldontenor Ross David Crutchlow

Ross: Partly, it’s the repertoire we sing.  I sing primarily Wagner.  Jenny sings mainly Mozart.  We both feel if we want to really do justice to this music, we need to immerse ourselves in the language and culture that made it.  I don’t think we’ll ever feel like we truly understand these two composers as long as we are on this side of the ocean.  We really need to be in Germany.

Jenny: And part of it is very practical – it’s easier for two singing parents to sing and still raise a family over there than here.  It’s a smaller geographical area with a lot more productions –

Ross: And a lot more Wagner!

Jenny: Yeah, no kidding.  About 300 performances to the 30 that are done in the US.  And the German culture is just a lot more artist- and family-friendly.

So, you would stay over there?

Jenny: Initially, yes.  If one or both of us are fortunate enough to get a contract, we’d stay for 5-10 years.  We want a long enough stay to really feel like we soaked up as much as we can musically.

Ross: Long-term, we would like to come back to the US and use what we learn from the Germans about how they program, promote and perform opera to help revitalize interest in the art form here – particularly German opera.

Jenny: Mozart has always been seen as accessible even for people who don’t speak German or Italian.  But Wagner – well, unless you’re an opera aficionado, chances are you’ve never heard or seen a Wagner opera.  We’d like to change that.

Ross: I mean, seriously – The Avengers is popular.  Wagner is not that far away!

Jenny as Kathie in "The Student Prince"

What do you do when you’re not onstage or wrangling your two boys?

Jenny: I cook.  For me, it’s a no pressure artistic pursuit that ends in eating.  What could be a better hobby for a singer?

Ross: I hate to admit it, but video games.  It’s my down time and it keeps me sane.

Where can people go if they want to contribute to your Kickstarter campaign?

Jenny:  Our campaign is “Jenny & Ross: To Sing in Germany”.  Just click!  We’ve got some nice rewards for our backers, and we’re open to suggestions for new rewards, too.

Ross as the Pirate King in "The Pirates of Penzance"

Ross:  If you want to find out more about us as singers, Jenny has a website, and so do I.

Jenny:  We also have Facebook fan pages, if you want the latest updates about our singing:  Here’s mine.  And here’s Ross’s.

Ross: And if you can’t contribute financially, we would still very much appreciate everyone spreading the word!

* * *

So there you have it. With a point and click, you can help this talented family immerse themselves in the artistic field they love and in which they were born to succeed. But you better hurry. Their Kickstarter deadline is June 28.

Good luck, Jenny and Ross! We look forward to an update someday from across the pond.

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Best of Operatoonity, fund-raising in opera, profiles, Q&A, Singer Sunday, sopranos, tenors, Uncategorized

bywords for year’s end on Operatoonity? profiles galore!

PhotobucketOperatoonity.com boasted lots of new interviews and profiles in 2011.

Why, you may be asking?

To my mind, interviews comprise the Best of Operatoonity.com 2011, for many reasons. For one, I love meeting and talking to performers and other stakeholders in the opera/classical world. For another reason, artists in the thick of auditioning, performing, and training lead interesting and varied lives, often around the world.

Profiles are my modest way of rewarding those enmeshed in a difficult, challenging profession with a little more face time in cyberspace. I also have made some enduring relationships and truly meaningful friendships reaching out to opera singers/opera bloggers/artists in related industries and entrepreneurs.

I added an editorial calendar in 2011, which I plan to use again in 2012, because it greatly helped me anticipate and prepare future content. Next year, I’ll have a new editorial calendar with high hopes of doing even more profiles and interviews.

So . . . who all was profiled on Operatoonity.com in 2011? Thankfully, loads more artists carved out time to talk with me than during Operatoonity’s first year in cyberspace. Some of the artists or their publicists (sometimes their girlfriends) reached out to me. Some I found (okay–stalked) on Twitter. Get ready for a robust list:

Bass-baritones

Craig Philip Price (February 3)  – get to know bass-bari OperaCraig

Andrew Stuckey (February 21) – meet bari ‘Andrew’ Stuckey

Michael Adair (April 5) – meet @barihunk Michael Adair and Operaplot’s second chair

Sopranos

Michelle Trovato (April 3) – get to know Michelle Trovato, lyric coloratura

Alison Trainer (April 11) – meet Alison Trainer, sparkling coloratura

Samantha Jade Ash (April 13) – meet Samantha Jade Ash, opera lover and opera hopeful

La Toya Lewis (April 15) – meet La Toya Lewis, whose velvety soprano is simply delicious

Amy J. Payne (April 22) – meet Amy J. Payne, British mezzo

Marcy Richardson (April 28) – gaga for Marcy’s #operaplot (a 2011 #operaplot winner)

Tenors

Nathan Granner and The American Tenors (July 4) – celebrating The American Tenors on the Fourth of July

K.E. Querns Langley (July 6) – meet a teaching tenor, K.E. Querns Langley

Eric Barry (July 8) – get to know the Pavarotti of the Panhandle, tenor Eric Barry

Mitchell Sturges (July 11) – meet @mitchthetenor

David Lomelí (July 14) – chattin’ up David Lomelí: Mexican tenor, toast of NYC!

René Barbera (August 30) – up close & personal with tenor René Barbera, 2011 Operalia triple-winner

Opera Bloggers

Opera Obsession (September 1) – opera is this erudite blogger’s obsession

David Karlin (September 3) – Bachtrack founder’s reviews and posts connect the world to live opera

Zerbinetta’s blog “Likely Impossibilities” (September 6) –  Zerbinetta’s blog, a trove of news and reviews for opera lovers

Stephen Llewellyn (September 7) – up close and personal with Stephen Llewellyn, aka Operaman, two-time #Operaplot winner

Tenor Nicholas Phan (September 9) – half Greek, Chinese. Hence his blog’s name: ‘Grecchinois’

Marion Lignana Rosenberg (September 14) – Marion’s blogs celebrate her devotion to opera greats

 Hairman at the Opera (September 20) – Cardiff ‘Hairman’ has a thing for hair and opera!

Intermezzo (September 30) – Intermezzo – an opera blogger whose actions speak louder than words

Opera Companies/Radio Stations & Recordings/Artists in Related Industries

Canadian Opera Company  (April 6, June 28)  – COC’s contest entries all dolled upCOC nabs three Dora Awards

Sheri Greenawald, Director of the San Francisco Opera and Merola Opera – (August 10) – Merola Opera: where future stars get loads of training and TLC

Opera Company of Philadelphia (September 17 ) – Opera Co. of Phila. launches ‘Carmen’ under the stars

Opera Music Broadcast (November 20) – Opera Music Broadcast, a treat for music lovers & resource for opera companies

Artist Jose Llopis (November 22) – love of opera inspires young Spaniard’s poster designs

* * *

My sincere thanks to everyone who devoted their time to a profile/interview on Operatoonity.com this year. If you or someone you know is an artist or you know some entity related to opera would make an interesting profile subject in 2012, please contact me with more information at galemartin08@gmail.com.

 

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Best of Operatoonity, Classic Opera, Interviews, North American Opera, profiles, Q&A

Intermezzo – an opera blogger whose actions speak louder than words

Editor’s note: Opera Bloggers’ Month concludes with this Q&A with the intrepid, wholly devoted, and widely admired blogger,  Intermezzo.

the intrepid Intermezzo

Who is Intermezzo? By her own admission, she is a “charlatan soprano and ex-pianist” who spends most of her free time at London operas and concerts. She thinks London is the greatest place in the world and can’t understand “why anyone would ever want to live anywhere else. Even when it’s raining.”

Intermezzo is the mastermind behind the opera blog of the same name. Her real identity is veiled from readers, part and parcel of her mystique. And though you may not know who she really is, if you read her blog with any frequency you certainly feel like you know her. Or at least, you know what matters to her:  novelity, celebrity, intensity, immediacy, personality, and quality.

The sidebar of her blog is filled with names operas, houses, and performers. Why? Because Intermezzo readers are counting on her for the inside story, the photo exposé–all the information that conventional media don’t normally cover and that performers’ publicists seldom release about the stars they serve.

Welcome to Operatoonity, Intermezzo!

When did you start blogging and why?
Remember Usenet? I’ve been active on social networks since the mid-90s. Back then, all the classical and opera discussion was stuffy, yawny and male-dominated, so I gravitated more towards my other passions: fragrance, art and fashion. When my dear friend Victoria began her fragrance blog “Bois de Jasmin” in 2005 I was inspired to follow suit. Then I realised opera needed me more! From the start Intermezzo has focused on live performance and the latest news, with a strong visual element – areas served poorly by traditional media. As the list of contributors and commenters has grown, the balance has shifted away from my own concert experiences in favour of subjects that readers find more relevant – like discounted tickets and artist cancellations. And feline pianists.

Intermezzo'sblog

What is your biggest challenge?
I average 4-5 concerts/operas a week. Combined with a full-time job and other social activities, that never leaves me enough time to blog about everything I’d like to.

Biggest thrill?
When readers are as excited about a performance as I am.

What is your favorite post and why? (if you provide the URL, I’ll include it in the profile).
I believe the old adage that actions speak louder than words (despite that fact that a blog is, er, written….) So I was delighted when readers got behind me and forced the Royal Opera House to retract their threat to ban me from their premises for the ‘crime’ of taking photos after performances. To their credit, they’ve recently started sharing their own photos with audiences. I’d like to think our little run-in had something to do with that. I was also secretly thrilled to make the front page of The Stage and The Lawyer on the same day – not a lot of people manage that. You can read about this experience in Intermezzo’s words at this link.

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You can  follow Intermezzo on Twitter @inter_mezzo. Also Intermezzo has made it on to the final shortlist of the 2011 Cosmopolitan Blog Awards. Go to http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/blog-awards-2011-vote and vote now.

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Best of Operatoonity, opera blogs, profiles, Uncategorized