Tag Archives: Opera

Glimmerglass Festival is for lovers…

GPhoto FAI’d hoped to grab your attention with that headline. But it’s true. As I wrap up my vacation time in Cooperstown, New York,  home to the Glimmerglass Festival, I am reminded of what a rich and fulfilling experience I have there each year. And not just as a lover of opera, musical theater, and dance.

Did you know that Glimmerglass Festival also appeals to lovers of:

  • Picnics–you can have one before or after a show on the grounds
  • Ice cream–Hagen Dazs bars–yum!
  • Beer–they have delicious craft beers for sale at intermission
  • Wine–New York and California labels available, also at intermission
  • Strolling–roam the grounds during intermission
  • Hobnobbing–meet opera greats and near-greats after audience Q&A’s
  • People watching–nuff said
  • Scarves–they have dozens of lovely scarves and other items for sale. Kitschy stuff too if you fancy that.
  • Cabaret–during their “Meet Me at the Pavilion” series, you can see cabaret style entertainment and intimate talks.
The lovely pavilion at the Glimmerglass Festival for intimate and cabaret entertainment

The lovely pavilion at the Glimmerglass Festival for intimate and cabaret entertainment

It was “Gents Night Out” at the Pavilion on Monday, July 29. The leading men of the 2013 offered solos and duets–cabaret style. What a fun show. Highlights for me included Jason Hardy’s witty little ditty “And Her Mother Came, Too,”   a beautiful rendition of “Turnaround” by tenor Jay Hunter Morris who accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, and “Ive Got Rhythm,” a surprise song-and-dancer number by countertenor and aerialist Anthony Roth Costanzo.

If you’ve never been to Glimmerglass Festival, you really should give it a go. I love the show talks before every performance–I swear I have more convolutions in my brain as a result. I learn many new things each time I go, and most importantly, I can relax and have a little FUN.

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Opera festivals, young artists programs

Donizetti operas — ‘Lucia’ plus three score more

'Lucia di Lammermoor' --Operatoonity readers favorite Donizetti

Editor’s Note:  Today’s Golden Operatoonity repost is in celebration of the anniversary of the Premiere of  Donizetti ‘s Lucia di Lammermoor, on September 26, 1835, in Naples, Italy.

In this century, it’s generally agreed upon that only a dozen of Donizetti’s operas are worth producing. Arguably some people would quibble with even that figure. According to the Donizetti poll I posted yesterday, Operatoonity readers favor Lucia di Lammermoor.  Some opera fans I know consider Lucia not only their favorite Donizetti, but their all-time favorite opera.

According to one of Opera Pulse’s polls, in which I voted, Lucia is also the second best opera character to be for Halloween (she was my first choice). I also had a blast writing about Lucia on this blog last June. Whoever schedules Lucia during the most popular marrying month in North America must have a wicked sense of humor. Don’t expect to see Lucia on the cover of Bride Magazine anytime soon.

After one of my readers mentioned that some of Donizetti’s lesser known operas featured some of the silliest plots ever, I decided to give them a look-see. According to The Penguin Opera Guide, Donizetti wrote 65 operas in total. Other sites say 60. Sixty operas? Verdi wrote half that many. True, most of Verdi’s works endure today where as only one-fifth of Donizetti’s works are regularly produced. But 60? That’s a lotta opera!

Did any other composer write as much as Donizetti? Apparently, depending on how you define opera, several composers are credited with more than 100 each, one surpassing 250, but how many composers whose work is produced today? Good question. Donizetti would have to be right up there.

According to Bachtrack’s 2010 League Tables, Donizetti ranked 7th of composers with most opera performances worldwide with 240 after Verdi with 824, Mozart  with 771, Puccini  with 681, Wagner  with 273, Rossini  with 259, and Richard Strauss 246. More Strauss than Donizetti?  A surprising statistic, per moi.

I can’t say which of the following Donizetti works are so silly they aren’t worth producing, but I can tell you which one would drive the marketing department crazy:  Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali   Just how do you fit that title onto a poster?

Anyhoo, here’s one list of his complete works:

A

* L’ajo nell’imbarazzo
* Alahor in Granata
* Alfredo il grande
* Alina, regina di Golconda
* L’ange de Nisida
* Anna Bolena
* L’assedio di Calais

B

* Belisario
* Betly

C

* Il campanello
* Il castello di Kenilworth
* Caterina Cornaro (opera)
* Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali

D

* Il diluvio universale
* Dom Sébastien
* Don Gregorio (opera)
* Don Pasquale
* Le duc d’Albe

E

 * L’elisir d’amore
 * Elvida
* Emilia di Liverpool
* Enrico di Borgogna
* L’esule di Roma

F

* Fausta (opera)
* La favorite
* La fille du régiment
* Francesca di Foix
* Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo

G

* Gabriella di Vergy
* Gemma di Vergy
* Gianni di Calais
* Gianni di Parigi

I

* Il giovedì grasso
* Imelda de’ Lambertazzi

L

 * Linda di Chamounix
* Lucia di Lammermoor
* Lucrezia Borgia (opera)

M

* Maria de Rudenz
* Maria di Rohan
* Maria Padilla
* Maria Stuarda
* Marino Faliero (opera)

O

* Olivo e Pasquale
* Otto mesi in due ore

P

 * Parisina (opera)
* Pia de’ Tolomei
* Pietro il grande
* Il Pigmalione
* Poliuto

R

 * Rita (opera)
* Roberto Devereux
* La romanzesca e l’uomo nero
* Rosmonda d’Inghilterra

S

 * Sancia di Castiglia

T

 * Torquato Tasso (opera)

U

* Ugo, conte di Parigi
* Una follia

Z

* La zingara
* Zoraida di Granata

 



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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Audience participation, Bel canto opera, Classical Composers, Golden Operatoonity, North American Opera, Poll

have you read ‘Bel Canto’?

Editor’s Note: Since I will soon be publishing my own opera novel, I thought I’d repost a review of a very fine, award-winning opera novel.

I don’t do many book reviews on “Operatoonity,” but since we are featuring North American opera this month, I wanted to mention a beautiful read by a North American author that employs classic opera as a backdrop. 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

The book is called Bel Canto, and for me it was a life-changing read. Bel Canto is a highly acclaimed novel by Ann Patchett that bridges literary and suspense writing. It won both the Orange Prize for fiction and also the Pen/Faulkner Award in 2002. An opera motif is a major thematic thread in the story. 

As you most likely know, “Bel canto” is a term from opera that refers to a style of singing that emphasizes beautiful tone, good phrasing, and a clean articulation of words, popularized in the 19th Century in Europe. 

More than any other single work, his book conveyed to me the importance that opera holds in some people’s lives. Granted, that could be because I’m a writer, and I respond to the language of words before the language of music. 

If you don’t know the book, here’s what it’s about:  

Bel Canto revolves around a famous opera singer who is taken hostage by local insurgents while singing at a private birthday party for a Japanese businessman. The siege takes place in the home of the vice president of an unstable South American country. The kidnappers’ plan is foiled from the beginning—their target—the president of the country is a no-show; he decided not to attend the party after all. So the guerrillas make a list of demands, which neither the police nor the government intend to meet—none of the hostages are very valuable, except for the opera singer. 

This is a character-driven piece of literary fiction with a strong plot. The inciting incident, the siege, is a riveting plot point, setting the stage for deep character development. The end is also gripping. What’s interesting about this book is that language is always in the foreground—that’s what makes it literary. The author doesn’t care whether the reader has any knowledge of opera in building the story—it’s only used as a tool for developing character and plot. 

Bel Canto does an exquisite job conveying there are people around the world with a fervent, even reverent love for opera—that the human voice is a powerful seductress and may be the best and the finest instrument in the world as “played” by some. That listeners have a deep and visceral connection with opera. That certain composers and arias can awaken things in the human soul that other forms of art cannot. And of course, opera celebrates the human voice. No one comes to the opera primarily to hear the orchestra. Opera is also an acquired taste, and I like the way Ann Patchett showed how these characters acquired their love for opera, when it applied, and what about opera and opera singers other characters less familiar with opera came to love. 

If you haven’t read the book and you enjoy both an engrossing read and classic opera, you absolutely must put it on your reading list.

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Filed under Bel canto opera, Classic Opera, North American Opera, Opera fiction

Do you have a barkarole? A Tannschnauzer? NY opera company seeks calendar dogs!

Victor the Basset Hound as Canio in 'I Pagliacci'

Have a canine who’s a natural to star in The Marriage of Fido, Lassi Of Lammermoor, The Dalmation of Faust?

Attention, dog-loving opera fans!  Tri-Cities Opera of Binghamton, New York, is calling all photogenic mutts for its Mutt-ropolitan Opera Dog 2012 calendar.

Set against a TCO opera backdrop, your prized pup can play a lead role or be part of the opera chorus. Solo and ensemble photo sessions with photographer Randy Cummings will take place periodically at the Opera Center, 315 Clinton St. in Binghamton, and will include TCO costumes to either be worn by your pet or superimposed onto the photo afterwards.

Existing favorite photos of your pet will be accepted for use in the desk-format calendar, and a special “In memoriam” section will be reserved for photos of beloved pets that have passed away.

Mutt-ropolitan Opera Calendar canine

The calendar will be released in the fall and sold throughout TCO’s 2011-12 season. Pricing options are available. For more information, visit www.tricitiesopera.com. For questions or to schedule a photo session for your canine countertenor, call TCO at 729-3444 today or e-mail editor@tricitiesopera.com.

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Opera and humor, Opera Marketing, opera parody

opera or Broadway?

I got lucky earlier this month when I went to the Big Apple. I didn’t have to choose between seeing an opera or Broadway show. I packed them both in one day–Ariadne auf Naxos at the Met and Anything Goes at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre later that night. I realize I was fortunate to have seen both. Today’s theatre prices might have demanded I choose.  No, I’m not independently wealthy. I hadn’t seen a Broadway play since 2008.    

Surprising, really, for someone whose early ambition was to be on Broadway, that I would rather travel to New York to see opera than catch the hottest Broadway show. Stunning, considering I never used to miss the Tony Awards and always tried to pick the winners ahead of time, always knowing most of the contenders. Now, I have a strong command of many of the names and personalities you’re likely to see at the Met and other houses in addition to the roles they are playing. And let’s not forget who’s doing what–thanks to Bachtrack.com, which I consult regularly. Yet I couldn’t tell you more than a handful of details about the current slate of shows on the Great White Way.     

I enjoyed both productions though perhaps not equally. The point of this post isn’t really to pit opera against Broadway and make the reader choose. The point is to tell you that I think my love affair with Broadway has ended–and that I have a new love interest. Begins with an “o.” Ends in an “a.” Five letters.    

No, it’s not Omaha.    

It’s opera, of course. But why? Because it is so damn difficult to sing and to present. And the performers and houses that do it well make an art form that requires consummate skill and knowhow look easy, like you should try it at home.    

Unless you are a trained professional, don’t even attempt opera singing. You might kill yourself. Or the people living with you, if you persist.    

I won’t go into the reasons why I didn’t pursue that Broadway career. Had life circumstances not changed my path radically, I think I might have made it. I did have talent way back when. Whereas I never could’ve sung opera professionally. Too difficult. It requires too much discipline to study and perform.    

Damrau, Florez, and DiDonota in Le Comte Ory

Too much vocal skill. Skill and vocal calisthenics that many Broadway performers would have a hard time matching–certainly not night after night, performance after performance. Right now, I’m remembering the bedroom scene during Act II of the Metropolitan Opera’s Le Comte Ory. Not only are the three principals acting–deftly–with broad comic timing. They are also singing Rossini at the same time. Rossini. As I said in my review on Le Comte Ory for Bachtrack, “The tryst scene in Act II in which Diego Flórez, Damrau, and DiDonato sing ‘À la faveur de cette nuit obscure’ was the ideal synthesis of song and performance.”   

I’ve never seen Rent and doubt I ever will. The last thing I want is to pay heapum lottum money to be serenaded by an audience of Rent-heads.    

Given the chance to see another professional production of La bohème, I’m there faster than you can say, “Mimi.”

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