Category Archives: News Roundup

six opera events to celebrate in 2010

James Valenti Wins Richard Tucker Award (April 16)

The Richard Tucker Award has been called “the Heisman Trophy of Opera.” It’s a $30,000 prize recognizing an American singer on the cusp of an international opera career, and on April 16, 2010, James Valenti was named the winner. Why was this year’s award so exciting? James Valenti is an alumnus of the Academy of Vocal Arts, a premier opera training program for young artists located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, my home state. These  programs are so critical to preparing the next generation of opera performers. Besides grooming and showcasing up and coming talent, they also showcase new works, as in the case of Margaret Garwood’s The Scarlet Letter.       

Jake Heggie's Moby Dick/photo by Karen Almond


Moby Dick World Premiere (April 30)

Composer Jake Heggie, librettist Gene Scheer       

Commissioned by the Dallas Opera in partnership with four other companies, Moby Dick premiered at the Winspear Opera House on April 30. Notable for its outstanding staging and performances, it’s also extremely heartening to see opera companies collaborating to bring new opera to the stage.       

#Operaplots 2010 (around May 3-7-entries submitted earlier)

Sam Neuman--Grand Prize #Operaplot Winner


 Miss Mussel orchestrated an enormous mini-contest celebrating not the masterplot but the microplot–only 140 characters allowed to summarize the plot of an opera. Oh, and the hashtag “#operaplot” had to be included! More than 900 entries representing 200+ different operas were read, sorted, alphabetized, and categorized, etc., at Tweetning-fast speed. Winners were announced the week of May 3. What a fabulous and most entertaining of display ingenius brevity!       

Met in the Park 2010

Met in the Park


The Metropolitan Opera performed six concerts in parks in the five boroughs of New York City from July 12-29, 2010. I was sitting in a bar in Soho two weekends ago, when a woman I just met told me how much she enjoyed the program that came to Crotona Park (Bronx) on Thursday, July 15 that featured Monica Yunus, soprano; Matthew Plenk, tenor; Donovan Singletary, bass-baritone; and Jonathan Kelly, pianist.       

Rigoletto a Mantova, September 4 & 5

Rigoletto a Mantova


The live simulcast of ‘Rigoletto’ a Mantova was a brave and beautiful project filmed on location in Mantua, lending the entire enterprise the scope and versimilitude of a major motion picture. It featured an all-star cast including Plácido Domingo, Julia Novikova, Vittorio Grigolo, and Ruggero Raimando.  The production values, the direction, the musical direction, the soloists, the orchestra, the conductor, the setting, the choral numbers, the cinematography, the costumes, the singing, the singing, the singing were all squisito.  With any luck, this production set the stage for more such live simulcasts.  Grazie, Plácido.    

Opera  in the Outfield (September 19) and Aida at the Ballpark (September 25)

Aida in Giants Park, San Francisco


Two major opera houses obtained corporate underwriting to offer free simulcasts of live opera in major ballparks in 2010. “Play Ballo!” was the motto of the Washington National Opera‘s third annual “Opera in the Outfield” event. Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” was broadcast from the Kennedy Center live in Nationals Park, to 11,000 fans. Aida in the Ballpark in the San Francisco Giants home park for approximately 50,000 fans.       

Opera Company of Philadelphia’s Random Act of Culture (October 30)

Six hundred singers filled Macy’s Department Store in Philadelphia and sang Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” What a beautiful celebration of spontaneous performance! It’s as much fun to see the crowd’s reaction to the live performance as it is to hear the singers.       

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I’m certain there were many other wonderful things happening in the world of classical music during 2010. If I’ve not mentioned your favorite event, please mention it in the comments section. And here’s to more inspiring events in 2011.

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Audience participation, Best of Operatoonity, Classic Opera, Live opera performance, News Roundup

Sunday roundup . . . good reads around the operasphere

 It’s time for a look around the blogosphere for some of my favorite, newly-minted posts relating to the world of classical music:

  • Adam Richter at “Classical Vinylist” offers a perfect selection for October listening at his post, “In search of good autumn classical.” 
  • Bachtrack, the world’s best source for finding live classical music, offers a lovely tribute to Joan Sutherland with a list of available recordings which remain “the benchmark by which others are judged.”
  • OperaPulse has a handy list of best operas for n00bs with a few surprises. (I would have thought La Bohème to be the hands-down winner).
  • Roberto Romani, aka OperaRat, has an interesting framework for categorizing classic opera as concert or story, that asks the essential question “Are you a drama queen?” Yes, Roberto, I certainly am.
  • Sestissimo offers a thoughtful examination about why she and other performers sing (or Choose Not To)  at Trying to Remain Opera-rational. I found this line from her post particularly moving: “When all you have are dreams, everything seems possible, and when all you have are experiences, everything seems both possible and impossible at the same time,” perhaps because it resonated deeply with me.


Filed under Classic Opera, News Roundup

Sunday roundup . . . good reads around the operasphere

Some fine blog posts, articles, and reviews around the operaverse captured my attention this week. Here’s a roundup of links worth steering your attention toward. 

First, Terry Ponick of the Washington Times offered an extensive overview of  arts offerings in the DC area–from opera to symphonies to chamber recitals–in his DC Fall Classical Music Preview. He even takes time to share when fans of Salvatore Licitra (now appearing in WNOs Un Ballo) can get their CDs autographed.

Travel and lifestyle writer and editor Emma Krasov shares a thorough review of Opera San Jose’s Anna Karenina on her award-winning blog “Art and Entertain Me.”

Journalist Nicholas Wroe has joined the Royal Opera’s first Japan tour in 18 years and is chronicling the experience for the Guardian in his Royal Opera Japan Tour Diary–his wry and entertaining observations are not to be missed.

Nahoko Gotoh’s review of Prom 70: Ensemble Matheus and Spinosa on Bachtrack recounts an evening of baroque arias and concertos playful and pleasurable enough to allow Brits to forget all about the tube strike.

The Canadian Opera Company’s new blog “Parlando” does some clever online marketing for their new SRO availability in a fun photo essay called First Look at Standing Room, in anticipation of Aida opening on October 2.

Lastly, Metropolitan Opera performer Janet Hopkins, also known as “TheMetDiva” in the Twittersphere, has penned a fair and well-reasoned post on the schoolage diva Jackie Evancho taking “America’s Got Talent” by storm at, perhaps taking on some of the pick-a-little, talk-a-little?

Happy reading/surfing/skimming. ‘Til next Sunday, partner!

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Classic Opera, News Roundup, Reviews