Tag Archives: Richard Rohrer

if it’s Tuesday, ask Richard . . .

Dr. Richard Rohrer is the reigning expert regarding classic opera in the Rust Belt town of Hankey, Pennsylvania, the fictional setting for my comic novel, DEVILED BY DON, and of all things “Operatoonity.” Since Tuesday is “Ask Richard” day, we proffer the following musical question:

Dear Richard,

Is there any commonality to posts that have been most successful with Operatoonity readers?

Dying to know in Dayton

Dear Dying,

Good question. Actually, my analysis of the site suggests that Gale’s interviews with performers have been far and away the most popular posts. Here are the top three:

Meet LeandraOpera on Sunday Best–an interview with American singer/performer Leandra Ramm

Meet soprano Zita Tátrai tonight on “Operatoonity”–an interview with Hungarian-born singer, stage and film actress, and visual artist

Meet Kala Maxym, lyric soprano (and TOI principal)–an interview with an American soprano who is also the executive director of The Opera Insider, a new opera website.

One could surmise that these three interviews have been the most popular because all of the women are lovely, gracious, and talented. (That’s just good old-fashioned common sense.) But there are other reasons, too. All these women have what is called a “presence” on  the new Social Media. Therefore, it’s easy to say to their followers, “Click this link (off Facebook or Twitter), and you can read this profile about me at this blog,” et cetera, et cetera.

So, you see, they’ve made it sinfully easy for fans to stay abreast of their comings and goings by being visible on these social networking sites. Also, they can be seen on the YouTube channel, which is critically important these days. Some performers, believe it or not, have not taken the time or interest to post videos of their performances on YouTube. I’m no digital native, but even I know that we’re in the throes of a revolution in the ways we reach new audiences, and that being accessible through Social Media can only benefit performers in this century–even if they’re partial to music from other centuries.

Yours in classic opera appreciation,

Richard Rohrer

So, there you have it. Three female performers and opera insiders with “Google Juice” top the list for Operatoonity readers. Highest ranking posts start Sunday, August 8.

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, DEVILED BY DON, favorites, Performers, Sunday Best

Renée Fleming–pop star or just bizarre? why not ask Richard!

If it’s Tuesday, then it’s time to ask Richard Rohrer, fictional opera expert featured in my comic novel DEVILED BY DON, a question about opera.       

Today’s question is topical–about a new release of popular tunes by Renée Fleming.       

Dear Richard,       

I read an article in The New York Times yesterday about Renée Fleming’s new album called “Dark Hope,” on which she covers a bunch of independent pop-rock tunes. So, what do you think? Is this the kind of thing one of our reigning opera divas should be recording? My interest is…       

Piqued in Pennsylvania       

Dear Piqued,       

Dr. Richard Rohrer, opera expert


After listening to about four tracks on this release, I will tell you, without equivocation, that this album will be long forgotten because in my estimation (and mine is the only one that matters on Tuesday), it has no audience.       

Sadly, the opera faithful won’t like it because everything that they admire about Renée Fleming’s singing–her power and majesty, range, color and depth–is missing from these tracks. Listeners who love a good pop music voice won’t find one on this recording. Whatever that elusive quality is that makes a good popular recording artist, well, Ms. Fleming just doesn’t have it. Her voice sounds strained, like it’s being pressed into a mold for which it’s far too rich and voluminous.       

She may have had fun making the recording and learned some things about herself. As for its commercial appeal, it has none, in my estimation. I have no doubt some opera stars can make this crossover. But for Ms. Fleming, it was a risk that did not pay off.       

I would have loved to have been a neurosurgeon. Alas, I became a dermatologist because that’s where I could best use my gifts and aptitude. If Ms. Fleming wasn’t able to see that her gift isn’t as a pop singer before she made this album, by God, someone should have told her.       


Filed under Character from DEVILED BY DON

it’s Tuesday–ask Richard

Dr. Richard Rohrer

It’s Tuesday, so it’s time for Dr. Richard Rohrer, president ex officio of the Hankey Opera Guild, to answer any questions submitted in the last week to “opera-toonity.”

Dear Richard,
Since you are an expert on all things related to opera, what is an an “opster?”
Languishing in Leola, PA
Dear Languishing,
Opster is of relatively late coinage, and it is the conflation of two words: opera and hipster. Therefore, an opster is someone who is a devotee of opera and, at the same time, a hepcat, someone such as myself.
Opera lovers are mad-cool individuals, so the term opster came into use out of necessity. There was just no other word preceding it so aptly characterizing the hip opera lover.
Yours in hepness,


Filed under Terminology

Richard says, “It’s a form of opera…”

Dr. Richard Rohrer, opera know-it-all


It’s Tuesday, so we asked Dr. Richard Rohrer, our resident opera expert, whether the musical skit of a popular improvisational theater group called Improv Everywhere can be considered a form of opera. Here’s his verdict:     

The question is a good one. When I was a child, if I were imitating opera, I would sing things that people normally would speak, such as, ‘Mother, please pass the potatoes’ or ‘I fell off my bicycle. Help! Help!’ Yes, I was an imaginative child–full of folderol.    

Now that I’ve seen and listened to many operas, I would say it is the content as much as the style of music that gives something an operatic quality. So, I would say, in the broadest sense, ‘Food Court Musical’ is a form of light opera, certainly civic opera at its most civic. I haven’t always held such forward thinking views. I credit Knobby [the new general director] for pulling me into the 21st century on this matter.”     

Take a look at “Food Court Musical” below and see if you agree with Richard. No matter whether you agree with Richard, you’re sure to enjoy it–especially the bystanders’ reactions:     

YouTube Preview Image

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, DEVILED BY DON, Light opera