Morningside Opera’s upcoming production: June 11-16
Morningside Opera is presenting a fresh, new multi-cultural take on Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro, set in present-day Los Angeles.
The debate over immigration reform takes center stage in ¡Figaro! (90210) as the title character from Mozart’s beloved opera is recast as an undocumented worker on a Beverly Hills estate. These concert performances showcase the original music note-for-note but with an entirely new English (and Spanglish) libretto that makes “the world’s most perfect opera” as fresh, as funny, as relevant – and as revolutionary – as ever.
‘Illegal’ immigrants Figaro and Susana can’t wait to get married, but on their way to the altar they’ll have to navigate a world of lecherous bosses, Botoxed starlets, bumbling human traffickers, ambitious hip-hoppers and pothead gardeners in an unpredictable adventure that turns The Marriage of Figaro into a thought-provoking comedy about citizenship in 21st-Century America.
Mixing classically trained voices with performers from more popular styles respects the integrity of the original, while allowing newcomers to appreciate the show like never before, as does the abbreviated running time, which cuts the nearly four-hour opera down to a brisk two-and-a-half, including one 15-minute intermission.
After sold-out performances in November 2012 at Dixon Place, ¡Figaro! (90210) is returning for a limited run of concert performances from June 11-16, 2013. The accomplished cast of opera and theater performers will be directed by emerging Latina director Melissa Crespo, and accompanied live onstage by a five-string ensemble under the direction of pianist and music director Raphael Fusco, whom The New York Times has described as “accomplished and winning.”
If you’ve never seen the opera before, ¡Figaro! (90210) offers the perfect introduction to this timeless work; if you know the music by heart, you’ll be surprised how fresh and relevant the show feels with words and settings that directly address the way we live today.
¡Figaro! (90210) will be performed from June 11- 16, 2013 at The NSD Theater, 151 Bank Street, New York.
Click here for in interview with librettist Vid Guerrerio.
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Through tonight (Sunday, June 9) at 10pm, you can get discounted tickets by going to:
Editor’s note:Louise premiered on February 2, Groundhog Day, in 1900, in Paris, France. (This is a Golden Operatoonity post).
Isn’t this a lovely opera poster? Don’t you want to melt away in Julien’s arms, too?
My former classmate Ginger found a great book on opera at a thrift shop somewhere in the lower forty-eight (she’s always flitting about the country) called The Standard Opera and Concert Guide and mailed it to me.
It’s a wonderful old book with detailed information about popular and not-so-popular operas. I thought I’d introduce readers to a composer and opera I’d never heard of: Louise by Gustave Charpentier, first produced in Paris in 1900.
A French example of verismo opera, it tells the story of the love between Louise, a seamstress living with her parents, and Julien, a Bohemian poet. It is the story of Louise’s desire for freedom (associated in her mind with her lover and the city of Paris). According to Standard Opera and Concert Guide, it is like La Bohème in that it is “first and last a story of Paris life.”
The plot turns upon Louise breaking her home ties in a tragic way, with the accompaniments of the Paris street life and the revels of Montmartre, her hometown.
The kernel of the story resonates for me. My daughter moved to Vermont to go to college and was exposed to a much different, more Bohemian way of life than she was exposed to in little old Lancaster County. It is sometimes hard and heart-breaking to watch your children break away, struggling to find themselves, but very necessary to their maturity.
Not that anything tragic has befallen our family as a result of my daughter’s finding a new home in Brattleboro, but the angst between Louise and her father, in particular, certainly hits home for me. Her dying father rages that Louise does not love him as she used to. Louise responds by saying all she wants in Julien and Paris. The her father then bids Louise never return. When he realizes the error of his actions, Louise is long gone.
Who among us hasn’t felt pushed out of our children’s lives by friends and other circumstances?
The music is purportedly wonderfully expressive of the traits and character of Parisian street life. I haven’t found any US opera companies that have produced it lately. Louise is, however, available on many recordings.
Many sopranos have recorded the “Depuis le jour,” the signature aria: Sills, Callas, Moffo, Price, Fleming. Here’s a beautiful version of “Depuis le jour,” the signature aria, live from Covent Garden, sung by Angela Gheorghiu:
Israeli Opera's new production of 'Madame Butterfly'
Want to catch a Butterfly? It’s in season — everywhere around the world.
Who all mounted productions of Butterfly in 2011-12? Israeli Opera, Minnesota Opera, Nevada Opera, Seattle Opera, Intermountain Bozeman Opera, and English National Opera, just to name a few companies. (See specific production dates and casts below.)
Madame Butterfly, Madama Butterfly. No matter what you call it, the Puccini opera has been a perennial favorite in the U.S. and across the pond.
However, some opera lovers contend its popularity is greater than it has ever been.
There is some data to support this assertion. According to Backtrack founder David Karlin, there’s a slight increase in the number of performances worldwide of Butterfly per Bachtrack.com: 124 listings in 2011 versus 112 in 2010. (Here are all the listings for Butterfly on Bachtrack for the next five months.)
Karlin adds, “It’s been a top ten opera for as long as I can remember.”
The reasons for its popularity are obvious. Karlin credits “a fabulous score combined with an opportunity to go completely over the top on Asian or faux-Asian settings that must be irresistible to set and costume designers.”
Nevada Opera's Butterfly
And let’s not forget an authentic storyline that is genuinely moving. At a time when world events, even the pace of life, is soul-crushing or mind-numbing, because of the soaring music and evocative story, pieces like Butterfly are capable of restoring our humanity.
“Un bel di vedremo” startles us out of our life-inducing stupor and demands that we pay attention not only to Puccini’s work but also to the things that truly matter in life.
Any other reasons why everyone seems to be presenting Butterfly?
While its subject matter directly concerns the United States–which makes it unusual for a European opera, the portrait it paints of America and by association Americans is hardly a flattering one.
If we are viewed as imperialistic bullies by those entering the opera house, Butterfly will hardly convince them otherwise by the end of Act III.
To its credit, however, U.S. citizens in 2012 are not only willing to be seen as Ugly Americans but also accepting of the moniker.
If you’ll permit me, compare America’s self-acceptance and self-loathing to another G-7 nation, Japan, the setting for Butterfly, who in 2012 won’t even permit the sale of one of my friend’s books, THE PEARL DIVER by Jeff Talarigo, because it offers an unflinchingly honest but unflattering portrait of the island nation though the book takes place more than 40 years ago, not the Japan of the postmodern age.
Clearly, some Americans are actually willing to look critically at themselves for several hours parsed into three acts, along with the rest of the world. That doesn’t mean Americans shouldn’t continue to do some intense soul-searching. U.S. women believed that we were a protected class in the United States, that we were accorded certain protections by virtue of our gender that are seemingly under attack. “The War on Women” it’s being called, as legislators–men and women (shockingly)–propose laws to erode our rights and human dignity. A piece like Madame Butterfly is a powerful reminder of why women need and deserve protection in the first place.
But what about continuing Puccini’s popularity as a composer. What might account for that?
A recent NPR article reported that Puccini said his success came from putting “great sorrows in little souls.” Is there any cultural evidence the United States–the world–is intrigued by little souls?
I think so.
While we certainly go for our kingly/queenly/deity stories occasionally, currently America is having an affair with the little man and the regular guy. With Joe Sixpack and Joe the Plumber. With Everyman. Look how many reality shows have infiltrated public consciousness and cable TV in the States and perhaps around the world. The mundane, the everyday is now primo as well as primetime entertainment.
WNO's 'Butterfly in 2010-11
Not that Puccini is mundane–not in the least. But the fact that he writes about people who are neither glamorous nor glamorized dovetails with the contemporary reality show craze.
And why is it Madame Butterfly used more frequently than Madama Butterfly these days? It could be a subconscious or a conscious attempt to make opera sound more accessible, more everyman, less the art form of an elite class? That’s the best rationale I can conceive.
I love Butterfly. (You can read my review of WNO’s 2011 Butterflyhere.) Madama or Madame — it matters not. If using Madame as opposed to Madama in the marketing collateral brings in more patrons, then I’m all for it.
Here then are some of those 2011-12 productions of Butterfly mentioned earlier in this piece:
Israeli Opera | April 11 – 27, 2012, with mimes. April 19 simulcast. Director Mariusz Trelinkski, conducted by Luciano di Martino. Starring Ira Bertman/Wioletta Chodowicz, Zoran Todorovich/Sergey Semishkur, Vladimir Braun/ Noah Briger, Monika-Evelin Liiv/Ayala Zimbler, Yosef Aridan, Alexi Kanunikoff, and Noah Briger/Reich Oded.
Minnesota Opera | April 14-22 – traditional concept, ‘nationally acclaimed production, called “magnificent” by Star Tribune and “a rare, beautiful ‘Butterfly'” by Pioneer Press’. Directed by E. Reed Fisher, conducted by Michael Christie, cast Kelly Kaduce (previously sang the title roles in Minnesota Opera’s Madame Butterfly under Colin Graham’s direction in 2004 and Rusalka in 2009) Soprano Yunah Lee (Turandot, and 108th performance of Butterfly’s title role). Tenors Arturo Chacón-Cruz (debut) and Brian Jagde (debut) alternate in the role of Pinkerton. The American Consul Sharpless is sung by baritones Levi Hernandez (debut) and Andrew Wilkowske (Silent Night). Mezzo-soprano Mika Shigematsu (The Barber of Seville) alternates the role of Suzuki with Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Victoria Vargas(Lucia di Lammermoor). In both casts, Angela Mortellaro is Kate Pinkerton, John Robert Lindsey is the marriage broker Goro, Gabriel Preisser is Butterfly’s Japanese suitor Yamadori and the Imperial Commissioner, Joseph Beutel is the Bonze and A. J. Glueckert is the Official Registrar.
Nevada Opera | May 4 & 6 – anime-style concept. Directed & conceived by Monica Harte, conductor not credited, starring Veronica Mitina [Opera Theater North – Mimì/La Bohème, Intimate Opera Chicago – Violetta/La Traviata], Patrick Miller [Lyric Opera of Chicago – Arturo/Lucia di Lammermoor], Chris Trakas [Metropolitan Opera – Harlekin/Ariade auf Naxos], Sarah Heltzel [Seattle Opera – Siegrune and Flosshilde/Der Ring des Nibelungen, and Edwin Vega Appearance [English National Opera – Molqi/John Adams’ Death of Klinghoffer].
Seattle Opera | May 5-22 – opening night was company’s first-ever simulcast. Directed by Peter Kazaras, Artistic Director of Seattle Opera’s Young Artists Program, conducted by Julian Kovatchev (debut). Starring soprano Patricia Racette in Seattle Opera debut, alternates performances with Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte. Both casts feature Canadian baritone Brett Polegato as Sharpless, and 2011/12 Young Artist Sarah Larsen as Cio-Cio-San’s servant, Suzuki. Tenor Doug Jones (Goro), baritone and 2011/12 Young Artist David Krohn (Yamadori), and bass Michael Devlin (the Bonze).
Intermountain Opera Bozeman | May 16-20. Directed by Steven Daigle, conducted by Ari Pelto, Starring Cynthia Clayton (New York City Opera credits include the roles of both “Mimi” and “Musetta” in La Boheme, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, and the title role in Madama Butterfly), Brian Jagde (Minnesota Opera, 2012 Santa Fe debut in Arabella) as Pinkerton and Levi Hernandez as Sharpless (Houston Grand Opera debut as Sharpless next to Ana Maria Martinez and Joseph Calleja, SF Opera debut in Il Trittico), Layna Chianakas as Suzuki (Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Opera Santa Barbara), Tyler Oliphant (Bonze), David Cody (Goro), Margaret Kohler (Kate Pinkerton), and BJ Otey (Yamadori).
English National Opera | May 8-June 2. Anthony Minghella’s Olivier Award-winning production, once hailed by the Sunday Telegraph as ‘the most beautiful show of the year in operatic London.’ Directed by Sarah Tipple, conducted by Oleg Caetani. Starring Mary Plazas, Gwyn Hughes Jones, John Fanning, Pamela Helen Stephen, Michael Colvin, Mark Richardson, and Jonathan McGovern.
An exciting new production of a classic in downtown Philadelphia
This weekend, Center City Opera Theater presents Giacomo Puccini’s beloved classic opera in four acts for three performances – April 13, 14, & 15 at the Prince Music Theater’s 446-seat mainstage theater. All shows are fully-staged, costumed, and sung in original Italian libretto by members of CCOT’s Young Artist Program.
La Bohème (premiere in 1896) tells the story of a group of young bohemians living in Paris in the 1830’s. A poet named Rodolfo and a painter named Marcello desperately attempt to earn a living off their artistic craft. While Marcello goes out to celebrate with friends at a local cafe one night, Rodolfo stays behind to write and meets a young woman named Mimi whose candle has blown out in the stairwell. The two begin a romance while Rodolfo and his old flame Musetta rekindle their own relationship the very same evening. Various romantic relationships soon begin to crumble under the weight of poverty, jealousy, and disease.
Performances are: Friday, April 13 at 8pm; Saturday, April 14 at 8pm; Sunday, April 15 at 2pm. All three performances are in the Gisele & Dennis Alter Mainstage of the Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Directions and parking information can be found at OperaTheater.org. Tickets are $39-79 and can be purchased online at OperaTheater.org.
La Bohème features members of Center City Opera Theater’s Young Artists Program, a program committed to the career development of talented up-and-coming opera stars. In addition to filling the roster for La Bohème – as well as The Marriage of Figaro this past February – many of these artists perform in CCOT’s upcoming productions of Il Postino and Slaying the Dragon. “Symphony in C” will accompany the singers as Center City Opera Theater’s orchestra for the 2011-2012 season.
Rodolfo: David Koh (4/13, 4/15); Christopher Lorge (4/14)
Mimi: Sarah Beckham (4/13, 4/15); Jennifer Hoffmann (4/14)
Marcello: Paul Corujo (4/13, 4/15); Norman Garrett (4/14)
Schaunard: Norman Garrett (4/13, 4/15); Paul Corujo (4/14)
Colline: Martin Hargrove (4/13, 4/15); Andrew Hiers (4/14)
Musetta: Jennifer Braun
Alcindoro/Benoit: Roland Burks
Stage Director: Sandra Hartman (CCOT debut)
Conductor: Andrew M. Kurtz
Lighting Designer: Andrew Cowles
Costume Designer: Amy Chemielewski
Scenic Designer: Danielle McDonald
Today, Bachtrack unveiled its classy new website called “One Stop Arts” at onestoparts.com, which aims to do for the London arts scene what Bachtrack did for classical music. One Stop Arts adds plays, musicals, museums, exhibitions, galleries and modern dance to the classical music, opera and ballet that has been Bachtrack’s staple. There are already several thousand performance dates on the site, with coverage planned to increase rapidly.
“To date we have concentrated our efforts on the classical sector, but we are equally passionate about the rest of the arts,” says Alison Karlin, Bachtrack founder. “I’ve spoken to many people who don’t believe there is an existing arts site which adequately serves their needs. One Stop Arts is already crammed with events, and we look forward to hearing from arts curators and marketeers to add many more.”
One Stop Arts builds on Bachtrack’s expertise in complex listings databases, adding a completely new graphic design. The result is a website that makes it phenomenally easy to zero in on a performance you’re looking for, as well as being fun to browse around if you didn’t have any fixed ideas to start with. “Classical concerts are about as tricky as listings get,” says David Karlin, Bachtrack founder, “because concert-goers can be so specific about precisely which symphony or soloist they want to see. For One Stop Arts, we’ve built a completely new technology platform to provide great searching and browsing on an even richer and more extensive set of data.”
Dickens and Ghosts at the British Library through March 4
Bachtrack’s customers are enthusiastic. “The combined strengths of Bachtrack’s deep database and One Stop Arts’ broad cultural appeal will make this site a must for all classical music marketers,” says Jo Johnson, head of digital marketing at the London Symphony Orchestra.
One Stop Arts reviews cover items as diverse as the Anselm Kiefer’s artworks at the White Cube, Man in the Middle (Ron Elisha’s docu-drama about Julian Assange) and the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy. Alison Karlin puts the aims of One Stop Arts succinctly: “As a Londoner all my life I want those who live in London or simply visit this amazing city to appreciate quite how much it has to offer.”
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You can receive status updates on One Stop Arts by liking their Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter @onestoparts!
Gale Martin's debut novel, Don Juan in Hankey, PA, is a witty, and at times a laugh out loud comedy. I never read anything like it before. Readers are treated to a rare peek behind the scenes of the nearly dysfunctional Hankey Opera Guild. -- Story Circle Books