Category Archives: opera blogs

on Singer Sunday, get to know Aussie baritone . . . Findo!

Australian baritone Andrew Finden

Australian baritone Andrew Finden is an accomplished young performer– a Samling Scholar, Britten-Pears Young Artist, and an alumni of the International Vocal Arts Institute’s Tel Aviv Summer Opera Programme.

He recently obtained a Master of Music with Distinction on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he was awarded the Harold Rosenthal Prize.

He’s also an Australian expatriate–since the beginning of the 2011/12 season Andrew has been a member of the ensemble of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, where his roles include Marullo (Verdi’s Rigoletto), Count Oscar (Offenbach’s Barbe-Bleu), Masetto Mozart’s Don Giovanni) and Clito (Handel’s Alessandro).

He’s also an opera blogger, which I believe is how I found him. And he has red hair, like two of my siblings, so I always notice that–it’s a family of origin thing.

He has a compelling and brave story about pushing himself to master his craft, living far away from his beloved homeland.

Welcome to Operatoonity, Andrew! (Or should I say, Wilkommen?)

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 grew up in regional Queensland and went through the public school system – had a great music programme. I learnt violin for most of my school years. Being part of a local church where youngsters were encouraged to participate in the music of the services, I had lots of chances to sing and play. When I was around 12 y.o. I entered a local Eisteddfod and the adjudicator was the head of the music department at the University of Southern Queensland, and he encouraged me to get lessons, which I did, and subsequently took the part of 3rd Boy in the USQ production of The Magic Flute the next year. That sold me.

Andrew with Dame Joan Sutherland, a few years back (photo by Paul Gosney)

Have you liked performing in Karlsruhe this season? How long will you stay in Germany?
I’ve very happy here in Karlsruhe. It’s a great theater, great orchestra, and an exciting ensemble to be in right now. I’m hoping to stay in German for the foreseeable future, as it is still the biggest market for opera.

What has been the greatest thrill in your career thus far? Greatest challenge?
I’m still an ‘anfänger’ (beginner) in this system, and only just starting to take on bigger roles – which is how it should be, btw, one learns so much from the smaller roles! – and oddly enough most of my larger parts have been in operette, which is both fun and scary, particularly speaking German dialogue for Germans. One of my best experiences so far was a summer programme I did in Tel Aviv (IVAI) where I played the role of Mr. Brook in Mark Adamo’s opera Little Women. It was perhaps the combination of the time and place and the piece itself, but we all began to really feel a bit like the March family. Mark also came over and worked with us – to be working personally with the composer of one of the most performed contemporary operas was fantastic.

Do you have any favorites? Composer? Opera? Role? Venue?
I did a performance of Le nozze di Figaro in Montepulciano, with the Nuremberg Music Hochschule. The little theater there is, I’m told, a miniature La Scala, and still has a lot of old stage equipment, and the old-style unpainted boards. It was perfect for Figaro, which is probably my favourite opera, if I’m forced to pick one. I’m also a very big Britten fan, and it’s no secret that I would love to sing Billy Budd down the track a little.

As Dr Falke in Fledermaus in Nuremberg (photo by Jutta Missbach)

Do you miss Australia? Any desire to come to the States?
Yes and yes. I do miss Australia, my family and friends.  . . . the weather! I’d also love to go the States to sing and look around.

Are you *now* fluent in German? What’s your favorite repertoire?
I’m conversational. I hesitate to say ‘fluent’ because I still mess up most of the grammar, and just guess the articles, but I can hold conversations and understand mostly what people are saying. I have very patient and helpful colleagues in that regard! I am interested in German repertoire, though being a lyric baritone, there’s actually not that much of it. Karlsruhe has a strong Wagner tradition and focus, and so I’m slowly getting exposed to that whole world, even if I can’t sing any of it. There are few lyric Strauss roles I’d be up for, but for now it’s mainly  Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and, of course, Britten.

Where would you like to be in five years? In ten years?
Singing good repertoire with good colleagues at a good level.

Andrew with his friend Tim, who runs Findo's Cafe in Toowoomba QLD, named after him

What is something most people don’t know about you, something not on your professional bio?
My friends know this – I’m a coffee snob. In fact, a good mate of mine named his cafe after me (Findo’s Cafe in Toowoomba, QLD), as I’m apparently to blame for his own love affair with the good bean.

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For more information about Andrew, visit his website.  He blogs at Andrew Finden // Baritone. You can also follow him on Twitter at @Findo!

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Filed under Baritones, Interviews, opera blogs, Performers, Q&A, Singer Sunday, young artists programs

eye-popping, jaw-dropping blog tour for new novel

A host of talented bloggers with varied gifts–authors, artists, writers and opera experts–are opening up their blogs as part of a thirteen-stop tour to launch my soon-to-be-released opera novel Don Juan in Hankey, PA.

David Karlin's blog at Bachtrack.com

The tour kicks off on November 22 with Bachtrack founder David Karlin’s blog and continues through January 17, 2012. You can expect to read revealing Q&A’s and get a glimpse of the cinematic world of small-town opera that fill the book’s pages.

The blog tour is also an opportunity to meet some of the characters who bring the pages of Don Juan in Hankey, PA to life: the Argentine baritone Leandro Vasquez singing the title role in Don Giovanni–unleashed, as you’ve never seen him before; Maestro Schantzenbach, aka the Teeny Tyrant, the resident conductor of the Hankey Opera Company; and Deanna Lundquist, guild chair–shrewd, Machiavellian–determined to see the Hankey Opera Company succeed.

Stop by one or two of these blogs over the next several weeks or take in every worthy whistlestop!

All the tour dates are also online here with thumbnails of each blog.

Nov. 22 – Scintillating Q&A with Bachtrack founder David Karlin at his blog.

Nov. 23 – Some author to author dishing with Margo Candela at her website.

Nov. 29 – Guest post at author Amye Archer’s blog— where we get up-close-and-personal with fictional barihunk Leandro Vasquez.

Nov. 30 – Poet Kim Loomis Bennett crashes Operatoonity.com right here.

Dec. 2 – Probing Q&A with UK author Gordon Darroch  at “Unreal Domain.”

Dec. 4 – Guest post at UK children’s author Martin King’s blog to discuss writing creatively.

Art Life & Stilettos - Diana Di Mauro's magazine

Dec.  7 – Interview with Diana Di Mauro, doyenne of  the online magazine Art Life and Stilettos.

Dec. 9 – Book review and giveaway at Kathy Sprinkle’s amazing, energizing blog, “Bliss Habits”.

Dec. 12 – Guest post at author and educator Ami Hendrikson’s blog “MuseInks.”

Dec. 13 – Guest post at The Wagnerian where we will meet  Maestro Jan Schantzenbach, resident conductor of the Hankey Opera Company.

The Wagnerian

Dec.15 – Q&A with writer Kirsty Stanley at “KIRSTYES”  who will also talk with Deanna Lundquist, the main character in Don Juan in Hankey, PA.

Jan 15 – Book review and mini Q&A with sparkling opera aficionado Lucy at “Opera Obsession”.

Jan 17 – Guest post at Maine native Sharon C. William’s blog, “The Musings of a New Englander”.

 



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Filed under opera blogs, Opera fiction

Triberr makes spintos of everyday bloggers

In the same way that tenors and sopranos with lovely vocal qualities might not have enough ping in their voices to reach the back of the opera house, sometimes really great opera bloggers’ posts go without a sufficient number of readers.

There are plenty of opera bloggers whose sites I’ve visited who have few or (even more commonly) no comments on their blogs.  If these bloggers are anything like me, they’ve put hours and hours into posts that maybe a handful of people read. How frustrating.

If only there were something bloggers could do, to make us spinto bloggers, to help our blog posts reach the back of the house every time and climb to the top of organic Google rankings.

There is, dear readers and bloggers. There is.

It’s called Triberr. The concept is simple: You join a tribe with bloggers you like. Everyone in the tribe (usually 8 0r 9 bloggers max) tweets out everyone else’s links. What makes me really like this concept is that not only do you have control over what tribes you join, ensuring that you aren’t promoting bloggers you don’t want to promote, but you also have the option to moderate the links you tweet out. So, even though it’s automation, it’s automation with a lot of moderation.

Since I also have a writing blog, I tried for months to get myself invited to a writing tribe–to no avail. I was hanging out on Twitter one night and replied to someone who wanted to be invited to a tribe. Lo and behold, I got an invitation to a great tribe whose followers total 8,000 on Twitter. Now, I have 630 followers on my @Gale_Martin Twitter account. But now that I’m part of a Triberr tribe, my blog posts get Tweeted to 8,000 followers every time. I’ve tripled hits on my writing blog and increased the number of followers on all my social media sites as a result. It would take me at least seven more years of Tweeting to get to 8,000 followers. I have that large of a reach now for blog posts because of Triberr.

Make no mistake. I blog because I enjoy it. But I sure enjoy blogging a lot more when there are people reading and responding to what I’ve written.

Now that I’ve been invited to a tribe, I get to be a chief of my own tribe, which is what I wanted to accomplish all along, since there were no opera/classical music bloggers tribe. So, I started a tribe of Best Opera Bloggers and happily recruited two tribe members in @artlifestiletto and @taminophile. I have about a half a dozen slots left, and for Triberr to really be effective, you need a full tribe.

I’m looking for intelligent, thoughtful bloggers who post about 3-8 times per month. Since I’m the chief, it’s my call regarding acceptances. I issued invitations to my Best Bloggers Tribe that sadly have gone unanswered.  That means if you have an opera or classical music blog, have a Twitter account, and are interested in being part of my tribe, give me a shout.  DM me on Twitter and let me know you are  interested in the Best Opera Bloggers tribe. Or leave a request in the comments along with the URL to your blog so I can check you out. And if you become a member of my tribe, you now have the privilege of also starting a new tribe of your own.

I love blogging, knowing I have an audience who appreciates what I do. Thanks to Triberr, I’m a spinto blogger, and I’ve never felt more loved.

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If you want more info on Triberr and how other bloggers feel about it, here’s a great article!

 

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, opera blogs, Uncategorized

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

Cardiff ‘Hairman’ has a thing for hair and opera!

Editor’s Note: Opera Bloggers Month continues with this lively, well-written blog, “Hairman at the Opera.

Hairman at the Opera

He’s a man based in Cardiff, Wales, with hair who’s got a thing for opera.

Surprised that nobody had set up a blog dedicated to Welsh National Opera (WNO), Hairman ignored common sense and give it a try. Hence the name of his blog–Hairman at the Opera!

He’s created a delightful place to hang out with reviews, news you can use, and occasionally the talking teddy bear.  Hairman’s blog allows readers to feel like insiders at WNO–a world class touring opera company–even if they’ve never seen a show there.

Welcome to Operatoonity, Hairman!

O: When did you start blogging and why?

Hairman: I started blogging roughly two years ago, more by accident than by intent. I’d written a few Cardiff Singer posts for Intermezzo’s blog, and she suggested that I start a blog of my own.  Although I wasn’t a stranger to the ROH, and probably saw more performances there than anywhere else, I felt that it, and many other big name opera companies, had more than their fair share of blogs devoted to them, so I decided to take up blogging about my own nation’s company, Welsh National Opera (WNO). It wasn’t a hard decision to make, as it had irritated me for quite some time that WNO performances I saw rarely garnered the level of attention they deserved in comparison with ones I saw in London and beyond. Of course, WNO isn’t the only company to suffer in this way, there are plenty of other companies who endure a similar lack of genuine international recognition, which is a shame, because exhilarating, electric nights, are to be found in more than just the same old places.

O: What is your biggest challenge? Biggest thrill?

The Wales Millennium Centre, home of the WNO, photo by Ian Britton / Freefoto

Hairman: My biggest challenge has been in finding the right “voice” for my blog. Having no musical training I knew, from the beginning, that my blog would rely on how I wrote about opera, not what I wrote. I am never going to be able to expertly dissect a performance and comment if a soprano fails to hit F6, so I have tried to adopt as personable an approach as possible, appealing, I hope, to people a bit like myself, whose only exposure to opera has been through the usual channels – ads, films and music montages from football events. This hasn’t exactly been plain sailing, the blog has seen several “voices” – including a period where a monkey was the ghostwriter…I kid ye not.

My biggest thrill is more of a biggest pleasure – and that’s getting to know people from all over the world who I never would have come into contact with if it wasn’t for opera.

O: What is your favorite post and why?

Hairman: I haven’t got a specific favourite post – normally the one I care about most  will be the one I am working on at any given moment. However, there was a series of posts centred around WNO’s Meistersinger (April to July 2010) that have been invaluable to me in my appreciation of opera productions as a whole. As well as enabling me to get closer to the music, and the text, than of any other opera, the posts, thanks to the kind help of WNO staff (including ASM Katie Heath-Jones) gave me an insight into the amount of effort required to put on a production. I’d known, but frankly paid lip service, to the idea of the teamwork involved in productions, but it was only through following the preparations did I truly comprehend how much hard work, from a wide variety of skilled professionals, it takes to put on a show. In many ways it seems unfair to me (now) that though you get to applaud the singers and orchestra at the end of the evening, you don’t get to applaud all the other people who put in an almighty effort to give you a night at the opera.

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Do drop by Hairman’s blog or you can follow him on Twitter @HairmanWNO.



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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Interviews, Opera and humor, opera blogs