Category Archives: Opera and social media

Haunting #TheCell Hits Philly for Nat’l Opera Week; Opera Upper West Not Phoning It In

the-cell

A special seasonal prediction from the all-knowing and all-seeing Mme. Operatoonity:

Listen to me, darlings. Your favorite haunts for Halloween weekend are going to be the Ruba Club in downtown Philly and the Kevin D. Marlo Little Theatre at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr because of a powerful double bill of immersive opera theatre, courtesy of Opera Upper West.

The New York based company announces three Philly-area performances of #TheCell, a contemporary pairing of Menotti’s The Telephone and Poulenc’s La voix humaine in celebration of National Opera Week.

Thematically, the work combines two amazingly complementary sides of dramatically different pieces featuring young lovers whose passions are obscured in the technology that binds them–the dreaded cell phone–in one clever and often haunting masterwork. Though both pieces revolve around a mobile device, I promise you that this talented and spirited young company is definitely not phoning it in.

The chamber opera runs Friday, October 28 at 8pm at the Ruba Club (416 Green Street, Philadelphia 19123) and on Saturday, October 29, and Sunday, October 30 at the Kevin D. Marlo Little Theatre at Harcum College (750 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010).

The production stars Rachel Sigman as Elle, Meghan Mae Curry as Lucy, and Matthew Lulofs as Ben and is directed by Alexandra Fees, artistic director of Opera Upper West, who promises that operagoers will never hear their phones ring the same again after experiencing this work.

Rachel Sigman sings Elle in Poulenc's La voix humaine

Rachel Sigman sings Elle in Poulenc’s La voix humaine

The New York Times has lauded the work as a “A captivating experience…almost voyeuristic,” and by New York Classical Review as “beautifully crafted, and troubling to watch.”

Meghan Mae Curry as Lucy and Matthew Lulofs as Ben in Menotti's The Telephone

Meghan Mae Curry as Lucy and Matthew Lulofs as
Ben in Menotti’s The Telephone

I stopped in on a run-through yesterday at Harcum College. #TheCell augurs to be perfect Halloween weekend fare because its powerful themes, shared in such an intimate setting, will haunt you–that’s the trick part. The performances will delight you–and that’s the treat.

Alexandra Fees took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about #TheCell for Operatoonity readers.

How did you decide to combine these two pieces in a single bill?
The Telephone and La voix humaine feature strong female leads obsessively immersed in their phones to gain connections that have already been lost. The two operas of 30 minutes each are musically and dramatically opposite: The Telephone (Menotti) is a fresh and hilarious farce, revealing a snapshot of modern relationships as Ben tries to propose to Lucy who can’t stop texting. La voix humaine (Poulenc) is an exposed and sensual drama in which a woman is stuck in a murderous room on the phone with her ex-lover. Thematically, however, these two pieces intertwine as young lovers attempt to bypass the technology that isolates them.

As Isaac Mizrahi, honorary chairman of National Opera Week, said of social media: “The greatest parts of our civilization are being tested.” Our cell phones simultaneously connect and isolate us. Rachel Sigman, starring in La voix humaine, calls phones our “modern monsters”: Phones carry our secrets. Phones are with us at all times. Phones create intense anxiety at the thought of their death. Phones, as in #TheCell, create multiple levels of truth at any moment, separating the voice from the body — what is said from what is meant. A person can be anywhere and convince you they are somewhere else.

The compositions of Menotti and Poulenc, at one time dramatized, now seem eerily prophetic and on target in today’s world.  This work is especially appropriate at Halloween, where we come face-to-face with our monsters that are typically overlooked.

Where did this show premiere and when?
This show premiered this summer at Cafe Tallulah’s underground cocktail lounge for the inaugural NY Opera Fest hosted by NY Opera Alliance, a consortium of independent opera companies in New York.

How did you choose Philadelphia for a location for this production?
At the production’s conception, we were looking to give more opportunities to emerging singers, especially women, by performing the chamber opera with several different casts and observing how the show would change based upon the actors in each role.  The Philadelphia cast features Rachel Sigman as Elle, Meghan Mae Curry as Lucy, Matthew Lulofs as Ben, and is accompanied by Kat Bowman.

We are thrilled to be hosted by two great venues: Ruba Club (Oct 28) is a historic Russian Club in downtown Philadelphia with a vintage cabaret space and cocktail bar. At Friday night’s kickoff, we will have an after party with drinks, dancing and billiards! The Kevin D. Marlo Little Theatre (Oct 29-30) at Harcum College is an intimate space in the heart of Bryn Mawr. Holding a rich history of experimental theatre, the facility was recently restored in honor of Kevin D. Marlo, a passionate actor who was killed during the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.

How was Opera Upper West founded?
Opera Upper West was founded by myself (Alexandra Fees) and Aine Hakamatsuka, two New York based singers, to explore immersive opera as authentic drama rooted in the human experience. The first season featured The Marriage of Figaro as a real-time wedding in which audience members were the guests, complete with champagne toast, wedding cake, and throwing of the bouquet.

Can you characterize Opera Upper West’s niche?
Opera Upper West draws people who are looking for unique entertainment and social experiences, who want to explore something new, and who are interested in experiencing music theatre (opera) for the first time. For those who are seasoned operaphiles, our events are an opportunity to breathe in the musical drama from up close.

What are your future plans for the company? Short-term? Long-term?
Opera Upper West invests in educating emerging singers in a new approach to acting in opera, beginning with understanding the human experience and applying that understanding to the roles we play onstage. In the future, we would love to set up sister-boutique companies throughout the United States so that Americans have the opportunity to feel ownership over the art form and can look forward to experiencing chamber opera theatre as a social event.

Is there a role for chamber opera (a more intimate opera experience) the way to attract more millennial operagoers?
Creating a social event within a chamber opera, especially one concerning technology and its ironic ability to break down lines of connection, is a riveting experience for anyone involved in these digital platforms. We guarantee that you will never hear your phone ring the same way again.

Anything else you want to tell me about this show or yourselves?
Tickets are $35 General Admission and $45 VIP Premium Seating and can be reserved at www.OperaUpperWest.Eventbrite.com. Cash Bar available at Ruba Club, and Halloween after-party included every night.

For more information, please contact
Alexandra Fees, Artistic Director
operaupperwest@gmail.com
(256) 682-9912

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, North American Opera, opera and irony, Opera and social media, opera and technology

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.

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

have you taken the “30-Day Opera Challenge” on FB?

30-Day Opera Challenge on Facebook

As a regular user of Facebook and Twitter, I am amazed at how frequently and quickly they are maligned and/or underestimated. I’ve gotten value–not merely social kicks–but real educational value from each of those social media platforms and made some invaluable contacts.

For opera lovers on Facebook feeling the newly identified Facebook Fatigue, I have the perfect antidote: Try the “30-Day Opera Challenge” on FB.

It’s simple. All you need do is go to the page and “Like” it. Then check out the Info tab on the left-hand side and read through the instructions.  Like other “30-Day Challenges” on Facebook, you are required to post something every day that relates to something you like or should do.

Here’s are the posts you need to make on Facebook in 30 days:

day 01 – your favorite composer
day 02 – your favorite male aria
day 03 – your favorite female aria
day 04 – select one aria that you consider being very sad
day 05 – you favorite bel canto composer
day 06 – your favorite french composer
day 07 – aria that you hate
day 08 – composer you find overrated
day 09 – select aria or piece that you find one of the most recognizable ever
day 10 – best russian composer
day 11 – your favorite male operatic singer
day 12 – your favorite female operatic singer
day 13 – aria that you think is sexy
day 14 – most beautiful female operatic singer voice(quality,technique)
day 15 – most beautiful male operatic singer voice(quality,technique)
day 16 – a song or aria that you used to like but now you hate
day 17 – favorite italian composer
day 18 – best conductor ever
day 19 – your favorite opera of all time
day 20 – best duet
day 21 – perfect aria to describe angriness
day 22 – most famous choral part in your opinion in opera
day 23 – evil character you would like to play in some opera
day 24 – favorite operatic singer male/female with “huge” voice
day 25 – aria that you would never be able to sing
day 26 – best classical opera composer
day 27 – best lied composer
day 28 – good character you would like to play in some opera
day 29 – first aria you fell in love with
day 30 – not very famous opera that you find beautiful (read less)

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Okay, time consuming but which would a better way to deepen your opera knowhow and meet people–doing this or playing the umpteen millionth round of Angry Birds?

Paulo Montoya aka @Operarules

I first noticed the challenge when an opera lover on both Facebook and Twitter Paulo Montoya began participating. I am always interested in the content Paulo posts–I always learn something new or deepen my understanding about opera and was pleased to see him taking part. When I asked Paulo why he accepted the challenge, he had this to say:

It’s a great way to share recordings of your favourite operas and singers with all your FB friends. And you never know, some of your non-opera FB friends might listen to the Youtube clips and like them, and listen to some more opera! Also because if other friends of yours do it, you can learn more about their preferences and discover new recordings which you didn’t know existed. I think it’ll be lots of fun, and educational to a certain extent! The 30 days are personal, so whenever you starts, that’s your Day 1, and so on. There’s no fixed calendar for it.–Paulo

Just like Paulo said. One of the best things about “30-Day Opera Challenge” is reaping the benefits of your friends’ posts taking part until you’re ready to participate. And you can start any month you like–it’s an evergreen challenge.

Just today, two posters are on the day 6 challenge–favorite French composer. One said Berlioz and another said Massenet. I intend to give another listen to Berlioz since I listen to Massenet operas more frequently. Some like Bellini as their favorite bel canto composer. I would have chosen Rossini. So, until I’m ready to take the challenge I’ll soak up all the wisdom of opera lovers around the world.

In the Northern hemisphere of the United States, we are officially into our first week of summer. That means lawn and yard work and gardening for me. So, this isn’t the right month to start the “30-Day Opera Challenge” for me. In the meantime, I am enjoying the recommendations of other participants like Paulo and hope more of you opera lovers give this a shot.

Congrats to the creators of this page, whoever you are! It’s both fun and enriching. And for those of you who want to be trendy, this is your chance (besides reading this blog, of course) to learn a little about opera and impress your friends since opera-going is the “in” thing to do.

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Filed under Opera and social media, opera challenges

my favorite #operaplots: a 21-plot salute!

Last week, Twitter was more fun than a barrel of baritones because of the 2011 #Operaplot Contest organized by “The Omniscient Mussel.” Each day of the contest, I savored reading all the opera plots appearing in my Twitter feed, noting my favorites, promising to revisit them after Miss Mussel posted her first comprehensive list of plots.

When The List emerged yesterday evening, I trawled through the entire thing like a kid on Christmas morning tearing the wrapping off gifts, reliving some of my favorite plotting moments last week while experiencing new levels of merriment caused by plots I hadn’t yet seen.

Originally, I was just going to select 10 favorites and post them on this blog. Well, that proved impossible! Thankfully, I can select nearly as many plots as I like, which in this case turned out to be 21 (though I was trying to limit the list to 20, so when I liked more than plot from a single plotter, which often happened, I limited my selection to only one plot per user.)

Congratulations to these talented plotters and best of luck in the overall contest judged by Eric Owens. Winners are expected to be announced on Wednesday. And I’m sorry I couldn’t recognize everyone that I liked. I really enjoyed so many of them, and appreciated everyone’s contributions to #operaplot.

Acis and Galatea
Low on a plain sang lonely sheep-herd. Layee odl layee odl layee odl oh. Skull crushing rock his girlfriends giant heard. Layee…#operaplot — Tim Regan (@Dumbledad)

Attila
Now who’s that super foxy slave girl, gonna kill the King of the Huns with his own sword? ODABELLA! Your daaaaaamn right. #operaplot — Daniel John Kelley (@funwithiago)

Don Giovanni
Guess who’s coming to dinner… #operaplot — Adam Rothbarth (@foundsound)

Götterdämmerung
Look, Wotan, the bottom line is it’s not the end of the world if you…oh, wait, scratch that. #operaplot — @SamNeuman (Sam Neuman)

Hansel und Gretel
Cannibalistic old lady lures welfare kids with promise of junkfood. Years of advice concerning strangers with candy confirmed. #Operaplot — Bryan DeSilva (@countertenorbry)

Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Count A. in Seville: unlocked the ‘Rosina’ badge. #operaplot — Matthew Guerrieri (@sohothedog)

Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria
Ten years, he doesn’t call, he doesn’t write, then this guy who shows up and kills all my boyfriends is him? I don’t believe it. #operaplot — @bachtrack

Il Tabarro
Is that a tenor under your tabarro, or are you just happy to see me? #operaplot — Claudia Friedlander (VoiceTeacherNYC)

La Bohème
Oooh, I’m such a sensitive, poetic, bohemian tortured soul…but I can’t see a dying girlfriend when she’s staring me in the face. #operaplot — Catrin Woodruff (@catrinwoodruff)

La Fanciulla del West
In a cabin in a canyon selling liquor for a dime sits a bible toting schoolma’am and her bandit quitting crime #operaplot — John Gilks (@johngilks)

L’Elisir d’Amore & Tristan und Isolde
Dear Tristan, You’re an idiot. My love potion worked just fine. – Nemorino #operaplot — Eleni Hagen (@EleniH83)

Madama Butterfly
Breaking News: Geisha girl, mother of one, stabs self after recording first episode of new radio show: His American Wife #operaplot —Patty Mitchell (@Pattyoboe)

Nixon in China
Crooked American goes to the Orient with his wife. No, this is at the beginning of the opera! #operaplot — London Opera Meetup (@LondonOperaMeet)

Norma
Her name was Norma. She was a priestess, with a secret Roman lover and two kids kept undercover. Don’t fall in love. #operaplot — Amanda Watson @amndw2)

Ring Cycle
Hello and welcome with Wagner’s Wonder Tour’s!! We’ll take you from Rhinemaidens to Utter destruction in just 15 hours… #operaplot — Rhian Hutchings (@rhchhutch)

Susannah
Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me, I’m a man of God who loves your bod, in New Hope Tennessee. #operaplot — Ralph Graves @RalphGraves

Tales of Hoffmann
Dude, you hooked me up with a robot, a hooker, and a hypochondriac?! That’s the last time you’re my wingman. #operaplot — Brendan (@indybrendan)

Tosca
A hectic concert schedule and a dangerous police chief keep this diva on the go. She’s parapetetic. — Rachel Alex Antman (@Verbiagent)

Tosca
“We had a jumper. No time to talk her down.” — Police captain following area woman’s suicide. “Can’t prosecute for murder now.” #operaplot — Marc Geelhoed (@marcgeelhoed)

The Turn of the Screw
Mix one part Mary Poppins and one part Sixth Sense. Turn until screwed. #operaplot — Brian M. Rosen (musicvstheater)

Wozzeck
Keep yourself / Full of beans / And avoid / Bloody scenes / Give your captain / Burma-Shave #operaplot — Sarah Noble (@primalamusica)

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Filed under Contest, Opera and humor, Opera and social media

my 2011 #operaplot entries

If you aren’t on Twitter, you might not be aware of a cultural tsunami building there (or should that be counter-cultural?), 140 characters at a time, called #Operaplot. The energy and excitement on Twitter are palpable.     

Every #operaplot entrant is accorded 25 tries to grab the judge’s attention with a winning summary of an opera’s plotline in a single Tweet. All entries must be in by midnight this Friday.     

This is my first year actually participating in the contest. I joined Twitter around the time of last year’s contest–too late to enter but not to late to enjoy all the entertaining entries.     

So, here’s all my entries thus far: (There’s 21 one of them below, which means *shudder* I only have FOUR ENTRIES LEFT!!)     

Who stabbed a horny guy with bad breath? Tos-caa! Who mourned her beau and leapt to her death? Tos-caa! #operaplot (Tosca by Puccini)     

You can tell by the way she looked at him they’d been to bed, but their fate was grim. Ah-ah-ee-dah. Buried alive! Buried alive! #operaplot (Aida by Verdi)     

Here’s a story of due donne. Boyfrenzi no trusta, not a lick. So, dey getta 2 mustaches. Duets great but silly plotta make asick. #operaplot (Cosi fan tutte by Mozart)     

I love to die at weddings. And I died after my wedding. I killed the groom. I left the room. I sang of gloom. I met my doom. #operaplot  (Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti)      

Isn’t it queer? Aren’t we a pair? You with a knife in your chest. Me with red hair. Send in the clown. Don’t bother. He’s here. #operaplot (Pagliacci by Leoncavallo)     

     

Master? Viper! Hush. Coward! Silence! Daddy? Fool. Monster! Revenge! My Lord? My angel. Beat me. Hisst. Ta-ta-ta-ta. Repent! No! #operaplot (Don Giovanni by Mozart)     

Don O walks with me. Don O talks with me. He tells me I am his own. We share no joy–the silly boy. To think! He’s fully grown! #operaplot (Don Giovanni by Mozart)     

A is 4 Aida and Amneris. I is 4 the temple Isis owns. D is 4 the dungeon for Radames. Locked in A, Aida’s arms, Morir, he moans. #operaplot (Aida by Verdi)     

Fair-haired mare ensnares a herr and his frère. Back in the lair. Stares. Glares. An affair? A temper flares. A rapier. Despair! #operaplot (Pelléas et Mélisande—Debussy)     

Oy vey, Moses! Seeink Yahweh in that schmattah? Take my sport coat—Brooks Brothers—but leave the Rolex. Brink me a tchatchke!  #operaplot (Moses und Aron by Schoenberg)     

Come here, Gilda. Can’t dig your new squeeze, daughter. I may be a hunchback, but I ain’t no drag. Papa’s got a burlap bag. #operaplot (Rigoletto by Verdi)     

Happy Easter. Bite me. #operaplot (Cavalleria rusticana by Mascagni)     

1 rake, 2 acts, 3 soprani, 4 ta’s, 5 padre mio’s, 6 nò’s, 7 classes of conjugal conquests, 8 roles, 9 vile’s, 10 heavenly appeals #operaplot (Don Giovanni by Mozart)     

Madame Butterfly

 

CC – gotta go. bt IL B bac W d roses, d warm n sunny Cson wen d red-breasted robins r bZ nesting, ASAP posbL, my lov – BF #operaplot (Madama Butterfly by Puccini)     

In Seville, this skank I drilled, say “Sit on it and rotate it.” Tried to skate it. It was fated. Set my GPS for hell. Yeah well. #operaplot (Don Giovanni by Mozart)     

*Cough, cough* Darts in the bodice? *wheeze* Fitted waistline? *rasp* Puffed sleeves? *gasp* I can do a lace yoke. *death rattle* #operaplot (La bohème by Puccini)     

Anna Bolena at the Met 2011

 

Anna anna bo banna, marries a fat man-a, Percy kisses her hand-a. Die, Anna! Jane jane bo bane, Anna’s death is your gain, Jane! #operaplot (Anna Bolena by Donizetti)     

A tisket, a tasket. A stout knight in a basket. They tossed him in the River Thames and foxed his fat white ascot. #operaplot (Falstaff by Verdi)     

Prison Break: A new Fox series! Starring Don Florestan as the Spaniard, Leonore disguised as a youth, & Gary Busey as old Rocco. #operaplot (Fidelio by Beethoven)     

And now. The end is near. Dear Fyodor I’ve lost my marbles. Your voice is really high. It’s like a girl’s. Go lift some barbells. #operaplot (Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky)

Countess Adèle. She’s real swell-ah. Break me off a piece of that Countess Adèle. I’ll even don a wimple for a piece of Adèle. #operaplot (Le Comte Ory by Rossini)     

      


 And of course, I’m having a blast reading everyone else’s plots. And that means I’ll be recognizing my favorites on this blog next week, once they are all categorized. So, whaddya think, cats and kittens? Do I have a chance to win with any of these plots?

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