Category Archives: Opera and humor

getting in the mood for Don G.

Very excited to see Opera Philadelphia’s Don G. this afternoon at the Academy of Music.

To get in the mood, I watched Opera Phila’s trailer:

YouTube Preview Image

Then I decided to resurrect some of my favorite Don G. entries from the now defunct Twitter contest called #operaplot.

*Sigh. I really miss that contest.*

But thanks to Opera Phila, I won’t miss my favorite Mozart opera.

Without further adieu, here were some of my favorite Don G. sendups in 140 characters or less flying across my Twitter feed back in the Golden Days of #operaplot:

Don Giovanni (Mozart)
Vankan0 – it 640 de 231 fr 100 tr 91 es 1003. Kill father. Dress up as servant. Seduce farmer girl. Supper with ghost. Go to hell.
Gerrit Theule – A rake’s progression goes from woman to woman to woman to hell. His poor servant, left to explain things, escapes at least.
Gerrit Theule – Three strikes and the Don’s out. The Commendatore wins every time. Except at the beginning. He doesn’t fare so well there
Patrick Swanson – I tell ya, Leporello-life is good. Bangin hot chicks, breakin hearts. Pass the butter. *knock knock* Who’s there? Oh shit.
Paul JZ – The Don’s Hectic Calendar: Seduce. Rape. Duel. Kill. Flirt. Lure. Flee. Regroup. Accuse. Swap. Fool. Invite. Revel. Refuse. BURN!
Paul JZ – “Questo è il fin di chi fa mal!” So, don’t seduce, rape, accuse, fool, desert, lure, beat, or kill, lest you be dragged to hell!
Thos Carpenter – A cautionary tale for serial rapists everywhere: never invite a walking, talking statue from hell to a dinner party.
MMmusing – Cad kills Commendatore. Conquests cataloged, courts country cutie. Cry creates chaos. Cast Commendatore comeback cues comeuppance.
MPR Mike – 1003 in Seville is plenty.
Paul JZ – I’m too sexy for amor—too sexy for Seville. I’m a charmer—I shake my lil tush on the piazza. I’m too sexy for this opera. *burns*
Fabtab – Man leaves Playboy mansion to compete for a virgin; sings a rap so filthy even the Pope digs it.
Oliver JMC – By some miracle, he didn’t experience any burning sensations until after the 1003rd.
Eric Mahlzeit – Cunning Spanish nobleman murders, seduces, serenades, and throws one hell of a dinner party.
Where’s Runnicles – How many? I don’t believe you. Seriously, I made a list. Where do you think you’re dragging me off to and why is it so hot there?
CTMCC – Go to hell Don G says mad woman, sad woman, nearly-bad woman, their menfolk and many many others.
MPR Mike – In which our hero learns that, in Spain, he should have stopped at 1003.
Pattyoboe – He’s made a long list, checked it more than twice. Everyone knows he’s naughty, not nice. Dinner time for Statue & Don.
Otterhouse – Leporello: “Drink wet cement and really get stoned.”
Shevinka – Hi lep, remember that old dude we killed? Well he got me b4 the stds did! give your wife *one* for me :p, see you in hell xx
Lattavanti – No reference from former boss because he went to Hell for killing some chick’s dad. Here’s a list of other gfs—see, he trusted me
Henri Drost – I can’t get no satisfaction tho I’ve tried 2066 times. No no no says Leporello but I’d be damned to decline an invitation.
Le Boyfriend – Kissed the girls and made them cry. Stabbed one’s dad and watched him die. Offered chances to repent, he opted to be Hades sent. Men!

All wonderful entries, no? Which was your favorite?

 

Comments Off on getting in the mood for Don G.

Filed under Audience participation, Baritones, Classic Opera, Don Giovanni, Opera and humor

for opera lovers who also enjoy reading …The Fussy Librarian is here!

Fussy Librarian is a new free ebook matching service that comes right to your email inbox.

The Fussy Librarian is a new free ebook matching service that comes right to your email inbox.

If you’re like me, you LOVE when new sites and services emerge that make the most of the technology available to make our lives easier and more pleasurable!

That’s why I like THE FUSSY LIBRARIAN. it’s a new free email subscription service that sends you with ebook recommendations matching your precise (and I do mean precise) interests and content preferences.

This is one smart librarian, cats and kittens.

She remembers not only what genres you prefer but also your preferences about salty language, graphic violence, and explicit sexual content. If you like squeaky clean mysteries, she only sends you an email listing mysteries without sex, violence or profanity.

On the other hand, if you like everything, she sends you lots of suggestions each day.

I am a subscriber, so I’ll tell you how it works.

After entering your email address, you get a series of checkboxes to fill out. I checked All Fiction and All Audiobooks. Under fiction, there are 29 categories to choose from! I mean, you can really drill down on exactly what you like to read with this service.

Of course they offer nonfiction books, too–eleven categories.

Then you can set your preferences for language, sex, and violence. The whole thing takes but a minute or two.

Be as fussy as you like, friends. Believe me, The Fussy Librarian can handle it.

This is the perfect service for our day and age, when people enjoy being catered to and customers like me appreciate feeling valued as individual and (a bit) idiosyncratic readers.

My debut novel DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA loosely inspired by Mozart’s Don Giovanni is being featured today, Sunday, November 17, at The Fussy Librarian. So, why not subscribe to this service today? To arrive in your preferred email inbox would put a huge smile on my Don’s handsome face!

Yours in fussy listening and reading,

Comments Off on for opera lovers who also enjoy reading …The Fussy Librarian is here!

Filed under Don Giovanni, DON JUAN IN HANKEY, Mozart, music and humor, opera and fiction, Opera and humor, opera and romance

Love Mozart? Go see Branagh’s ‘Magic Flute’ Sunday, America!

poster

Branagh’s ‘The Magic Flute’ will be shown in 1,500 theaters in the US this Sunday.

The stateside premiere of  legendary actor and director Kenneth Branagh’s version of The Magic Flute hits 1,500 theaters across the U.S. this Sunday, June 9, with selected encore presentations Tuesday, June 11. (Click here for the theater nearest you.)

The music is resplendent (of course), the voices soar, and the cinematography is worth writing home about if you have a Technicolor-loving sweetheart or know anyone else who likes bright, shiny movies.

While The Magic Flute has always been a showcase for some of Mozart’s most beloved music, this filmed rendition of the opera actually makes sense for a change–most of the time. You know how The Magic Flute always seems to be outside the realm of logic and possibility, even for someone with an imagination? Well, it is still that but to a much lesser degree in this version. So much so that I relaxed into the opera for the first time–ever, immersing myself in Mozart’s glorious music, the complete performances, and Branagh’s inventive retelling.

Silly, sexy, stirring–stunning. It’s a winner!

It’s also not a production for children–and that’s a blessed change as far as I’m concerned. Not everyone needs their opera Disney-ized and Disney-sized with giant, lumbering animal puppets.

Kenneth Branagh headshot

Kenneth Branagh, director ‘The Magic Flute’ | photo by Blake Gardner

While watching a review copy from the film’s LA distributor earlier this week, I couldn’t help think that Kenneth Branagh must have been intimately familiar with Mozart’s most sprightly opera, perhaps listening to it on end as a child after numerous readings of the poem  “In Flanders Fields”.

The film unfolds as though seeing the singspiel that Branagh may have conceived of in a dream state because of the colors, the surrealistic elements, the fantastical bits.  Striking azure blue uniforms give way to a battalion of violin players to a trio of buxom and besmitten ladies. Not to mention a powerful scene where Pamina’s mumsy-dearest ties her to a flaming windmill. Really.

Unlike another 2013 Academy-Award nominated big-screen musical in which only three or four cast members had the chops to actually sing the thing,  a flick which will remain nameless, the voices in this version are extraordinary.

Yes, Branagh knows how to cast a movie version of an opera! Joseph Kaiser as Tamino, Lyubov Petrova as the Queen of the Night, and René Pape as Sarastro were my particular favorites, followed by a spectacular showing by the three ladies: Teuta Koco, Louise Callinan, and Kim-Marie Woodhouse. You can see all the cast members here. Each one was first-rate vocally and very well directed–with love and care.

scene from Magic Flute

Papagena’s competition

I confess that I’m not the Magic Flute lover that many are, yet I adored this version. Fresh, fun, classy, artistically significant. Setting the musical during World War I worked. Blending realistic and fantasy elements in the same scene worked, too.

More information about the production is available at the Emerging Pictures website.

Here is the official movie trailer, which might whet your appetite for catching the movie in the theater this weekend. As a  special treat at selected theaters, a live Q&A with Kenneth Branagh via webcast will follow the showing. Yours to enjoy, America!

YouTube Preview Image

1 Comment

Filed under 21st Century Opera, filmed opera, Mozart, North American Opera, Opera and humor, Opera Simulcast, opera webcasts, Previews, Uncategorized

Six days left to show me your DON JUAN!

Traveling anywhere festive before August 31, 2012? Or do you already live in a beautiful part of the world?

Take copy of my humorous backstage opera novel DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA along for fun! You might win big bucks for a few minutes of thinking, arranging, and posing a photograph.

Shoot a digital photo of DON JUAN at your favorite vacation spot this summer. Post it on your Facebook page or as a Twitpic by August 31! Make sure to tag me, Gale Martin, so that I see your photo, or add @Gale_Martin if using Twitter, which I will then post on this page. Or email it to galemartin.writer@gmail.com.

But you better hurry. You only have six days left!

That’s all you have to do to be registered to win a $100 gift card from Amazon.com!

Winner of DON JUAN GETS AROUND! will be announced September 1, 2012!

What should your photo look like? Take a look at some of these fantastic photos submitted by Barbara Bosha (Puerto Rico), Ann Lander (Stafford, England), and Linda Orlomoski (Salem, Massachusetts):

For more photos of DON AROUND TOWN, click here.

All photos submitted for DON JUAN GETS AROUND! will be added to this space after they appear on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account and don’t want one? Feel free to email them to me at galemartin.writer@gmail.com. But make sure you send it by August 31.

Where can I get a print copy, you might ask? From Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com or at many independent booksellers. If you live in the States, I’ll gladly ship one to you. Email me for details.

2 Comments

Filed under 21st Century Opera, Audience participation, Contest, Contests, Opera and humor, Opera and social media

Singer Sunday with Jonathan Estabrooks, vlogging virtuoso

Baritone Jonathan Estabrooks

The official line on baritone Jonathan Estabrooks is that he is an emerging, classically trained artist based in NYC, originally from Ottawa, Canada.

Unofficially, he is a captivating singer/entertainer across disciplines, a compelling host, a gifted actor, a director, and visionary who speaks both English and French, and whose joie de vivre is, well, infectious.

He is also an avid opera vlogger, make that a vlogging virtuoso, of his show “A Singer’s Life”– a delightful series. Each episode is a pastiche of mini-interviews, backstage banter, and rehearsal and performance clips from numerous locations edited and underscored for maximum impact.

While his vlogs showcase all the artists around him, they also reveal a multi-talented, versatile artist who is as much a keen observer of his environment as he is an entertainer.

Here’s a show he filmed at the International Vocal Arts Institute Final Concert Gala in Virginia that *I’m certain* you will enjoy watching:

YouTube Preview Image

If a behind-the-scenes world of a performer trained in the classical arts interests you,   there are many, many other wonderful episodes of “A Singer’s Life” on Jonathan’s YouTube channel.

Can you tell me a little about your childhood? How did you grow up and how did it affect your decision to sing opera?
I guess I could say that my childhood was pretty normal, aside from how busy I was. Both my brother and I were very active  both in terms of activities (gymnastics, skiing, track and field, swimming) but even more so in the arts. From the age of 8, I was a member of a local boys choir affiliated with Opera Lyra Ottawa, and soon joined a thriving musical theatre company called the Company of Musical Theatre. We also spend hundreds of hours each year performing at various charity and fundraising events known then as the Estabrooks Brothers. I learnt so much about collaboration but more importantly, how to interact and communicate with an audience. Through simply doing, I that realized what it took to step out in front of any audience, large or small and communicate a message through music. I guess it was sort of a natural progression to study music, and classical voice seems like the strongest base to allow for healthy singing in any genre.

A map, in case, like me, you're wondering where is Ottawa anyway?

When did you decide to relocate to New York and why?
After completing my Bachelor of music at the University of Toronto, I applied to a number of schools not knowing where I would be accepted. I was open to a new city and a new adventure. When I was accepted into Juilliard, I took the leap and moved to the Big Apple.

What has been the greatest thrill in your career thus far? Greatest challenge?
It’s hard to choose just one thrill because if I wasn’t constantly thrilled and challenged, I would find another career. I would say that there have been a few. Singing for then President Bill Clinton (1999) was certainly one, and my debut with The National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa under the baton of Pinchas Zukerman. Then there are the less showy moments like having the chance to touch someone through music. Perhaps thrilling is too big a word, but bringing meaning to a special moment for even one audience member has to be up there. We are privileged with the ability to share great art and with that comes great responsibility. Not to sound cliche, but without a doubt, it remains a thrill and an honor to connect with and touch someone even for a moment.

The challenges are ever present from the constant turning wheel of auditioning, performing, learning new music and PR, but there is never a dull moment that’s for sure. Sometimes the traveling can be tough, but then I think about how blessed I am to work with such incredible artists and travel the world. It sure beats the 9-5; for me at least.

Jonathan in performance | The Elixir of Love

Do you have any favorites? Composer? Opera? Baritone role(s)? Venue?
I would say that among my favorites are Rossini and Mozart roles (Figaro, Papageno The Count, Guglielmo), though Pelleas was also a thrilling role to perform, because of its high tessitura and the fact that for once, the baritone was the romantic lead! I will be making my Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium debut in November, so I am extremely excited to perform in that venue.

Do you miss Ottawa? Any desire or need to go abroad to sing?
I do miss Ottawa but surprisingly, I have returned quite a bit in the last few years to perform so I get my fix. My parents live outside of the city, so I enjoy seeing them, but most of my friends are in Toronto, Montreal, New York or abroad. It is a global world we live in, but thanks to Facebook and the Internet, it makes staying in touch a whole lot easier.

(Here is a fun little clip all about Jonathan produced by a TV show in  Ottawa prior to his opening in Pagliacci:)

YouTube Preview Image

Why and when did you start vlogging?
I have always had an interest in video production and how the camera can capture moments, whether performances or short films. There is something very intriguing about the power of the editor to share and shape how a  viewer experiences an event. This lead to a hobby in video making at a young age and has remained with me. It seemed like a natural move to use my interest and skill with video to share my life as a singer and the many intriguing people I continue to work with. ‘A Singer’s Life” on YouTube has certainly been a labor of love.

sitting by the Hudson River with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background

What do you think of the increasing numbers of big-screen Simulcast operas around the world produced by the Met and others?
You know the discussion of Opera in movie theaters has come up a great deal in recent years and even weeks. It is a two-edged sword. I think there is no denying that these broadcasts are bringing a new audience to the art form and hopefully peaking their curiosity enough to attend a live performance, but I worry that when they do see a live performance that there will be a let down because they don’t have the luxury of a close up, a wide shot and a sweeping camera crane shot at that most dramatic musical moment. My hope is that they will attend the live performance and continue coming.

The other challenge is on the performers because singing and acting for the stage vs camera are very different. It is certainly a balancing act but certainly more positive than negative.

Where would you like to be in five years? In ten years?
In 5 years I would like to be booked 3 years in advance performing world wide in a variety of traditional Opera roles, new works, concerts, pops concerts and even film/music collaborations. I am open to interdisciplinary art, making and breaking down the boundaries between genres. It is so hard to plan so I say bring it on! I am excited to see where my artistic life will take me!

What is something most people don’t know about you, something not on your professional bio?
Well, like most singers, I love food and cooking when I get the chance. My favorites are my mom’s recipes often involving some sort of comfort food, be it Shepherd’s Pie or her signature-ish honey/dijon/curry chicken and rice. And how can I forget apple pie! All this talk of food. I think I need a snack!

* * *
Jonathan has some great upcoming gigs at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of NY this November and with Toronto Symphony and pops conductor Steven Reineke in October. For more of his wonderful “A Singer’s Life” vlogs, visit his YouTube channel.  Though his website is currently under construction, you can like his Fan Page on Facebook. You can also follow him on Twitter @estarp.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Baritones, Careers in opera, Interviews, Opera and food, Opera and humor, opera and technology, opera challenges, Opera vlogging, Performers, Q&A, Singer Sunday