Dec 31, 2008


Dec 24, 2008

I'm leaning more toward the never. But don't let that ruin your Xmas or Chanukah. Hugs!

Dec 22, 2008


Because SOMEONE (name might rhyme with Risa) forgot to take me to the office holiday party.

No one's Friday night should include McLaughlin Group and The Ghost Whisperer.

Dec 18, 2008


(We found this image at Curly Wurly, a fabulous blog about kitsch and pop culture. Though I see nothing kitschy about a chicken singing opera. )

Dec 15, 2008

Link Love

In the spirit of--oh, I don't know--being nice, I thought I'd share some of the sites I visit and/or that give me "link love." Now, for you pervs out there, link love is merely blog rolling someone (hyperlinking to his/her blog). Someday I will get around to making a blog roll on my sidebar; until then, here's some link love:

Mad Opera Blog
I love that Madison Opera can abbreviate to Mad Opera. I wish we could go all OpCleve. Just doesn't work as well.

Little Ms. Bossy
Ms. B doesn't seem all that bossy, but she does seem sassy and cool. Come visit me in Cleveland! We'll be BFFs!

God, he has the best taste. (30 Rock, Arrested Development, This American Life, opera...)

Opera Chic
It's like Gawker for the opera world.

Udderly Fabulous
(The blog of Mimi, the Columbus Opera Cow.) Ohio has the highest per capita of farm animals who blog about opera.

Kentucky Opera Blog
I ignore the associations with Kentucky (such as, ahem, fried chicken).

Art is Air--Breathe Deeply
I second that motion, Heather.

Opera Vivente Blog
With GD John Bowen. Wasn't there talk of sending me to visit, John?!

Tech Czar
Yes, Cleveland is top of things. Plus, the czar (Michael DeAloia) likes opera!)

Yay! I can stalk Valerie, our stage manager from Figaro and Hansel.

Um, I have no idea what this blog is about because it's in German but I do know I'm blogrolled on it.

Brian Dickie
The blog of General Director of Chicago Opera Theater.

Dec 10, 2008


I just found out that one of our soloists that will be in Don Giovanni next fall is currently performing at The Met! Indeed, Alyson Cambridge (pictured at left) is sharing the stage with none other than Renee Fleming in Thais.

You can click here to see a pic of Alyson in her role as Crobyle, as well as some photos of The Flem.

If you're interested in seeing Thais but just can't make it to New York (too busy jet-setting to Youngstown, perhaps), you can see it at a movie theater near you on Dec. 20 or Jan. 7. The Met is doing their HD broadcasts of productions again this year.

So, in addition to this news, I also found out that Maureen McKay, our adorable Susanna in Figaro, was just offered a role at the Met. Felicitations!

Dec 8, 2008


I think you all know me better than to assume I don't succumb to the consumerism of the season, so you have no doubt been wondering what tops my Christmakkah list this year. And I say "tops" because my handlers made me whittle my "gratuitously long" (their words) list down to the following:

Mozart Action Figure
I get a little bored here at the office at night when no one is here. So I thought, "Who better to hang out with?" And his legs bend.

Recording of I Barbiere di Siviglia with Vittoria Gui conducting
The EPITOME of Rossini recordings. You've got a spunky Victoria de los Angeles and a magical Bruscantini. Maybe you'll find it a wee old-fashioned compared to period performances nowadays, but get over yourself because you can't beat this! Gui was THE Rossini conductor of his day.

Recording of Falstaff with Carlo Maria Giulini conducting

Flashy this recording is not, but if the music doesn't permeate your soul, then I question whether you actually have a soul. This showcases maestro Giulini in his prime (even though it was the last opera performance he conducted), elegant singers and a dazzling orchestra.

Recording of Don Giovanni with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting

What can I say about maestro Mackerras? about FAN-EFFING-TASTIC? Clearly, he's one of the finest Mozart opera conductors of his generation. His energy, spirit, and attention to dramatic detail beats everyone else hands wings down.


Again: I get bored here at the office at night by myself.

DVD of Hansel and Gretel at The Metropolitan Opera
I loved our production of H&G so much, but I also adore this darker version the Met did in early 2008.

The Great Poochini
I'm not too proud to admit I want this children's storybook. C'mon, the opera in the story is Dog Giovanni. How can I not love it?

Dec 4, 2008


Say what you will about Cleveland sports (and say you will, I'm sure), I am a fan. Particularly when opera gets the rare chance to mingle in the stadium.

Cleveland Browns and opera fans alike were lucky, in my oh-so-humble estimation, to hear the National Anthem at the Nov. 2 game sung by Opera Cleveland singers. I was busy with Hansel and Gretel that day so I missed it. :(

Elisa Singer, Jen Woda, Andy Morales and Mark Wanich took to the field, with John Krol conducting.

Go, Dawgs!

Dec 1, 2008


What's a Thanksgiving without the Macy's Parade, mashed potatoes, stuffing and...bowling with frozen turkeys?

Yes, for ten years now in the wee wee morning hours, the people of NE Ohio have been flinging frozen turkeys into cans of cranberry sauce at the Giant Eagle in South Euclid. For the, um, glory that comes with winning. Or for the crazy. (I'm not judging or anything.)

And I was there. Yes, Kish woke my sorry arse up to attend the affair, which Fox 8 sponsors and you can see more of here. I would have protested the whole thing on behalf of my poor poultry brethren, but, frankly, it was much too early in the morning for ethics.

Kish didn't just drag me; she also took her mom Paula, pictured here with me and Fox 8's Kenny Crumpton. (Tuxedos in the meat aisle, really?)

To take the surreal factor up a few notches, Ed Begley, Jr. (of the The Busey-Begley-Nolte Trifecta--see below) made an appearance. On bicycle. In the store.

Try to tell them apart. I dare you.

Nov 25, 2008



On Thursday you can be sure I'll be giving thanks I'm not a turkey. They're quite the lesser poultry, if you ask me.

And if you ask Anti-Drug PSAs from the early 1990s:

Nov 19, 2008


Although I spend my days in the office, you'd have to be a few crayons short of a box to not realize that I aspire to be on stage. And not just hidden behind a giant mushroom! (Re: Hansel and Gretel.)

I got a shot at achieving my dreams when I auditioned for the Opera Cleveland chorus and education programs this past weekend. (Let's just pretend my co-workers were not humoring me, shall we.)

Cliff, our Artistic Administrator (and most patient person EVER), checked in the singers, including me. Then we waited. And warmed up--in the bathrooms. (Toilets provide great acoustics, as well as dependably serve the nervous stomachs of auditioners. )

Finally, it was my turn to audition for Maidie Rosengarden, our Director of Production & Education; Nathan Motta, the Director of our Short-Term Residency educational program; and CM Shearer, our Chorus Master. Those who auditioned were to sing one art song or aria and one other song; at least one had to be in Italian.

I sang "Madamina, il catalogo e questo" from Don Giovanni (heh heh) and..."Love is a Battlefield" by Ms. Pat Benatar.

This cheerful bunch holds my future on the stage in their hands. Don't let me down, guys!

Nov 17, 2008


It's easy to let Opera Cleveland's main stage productions monopolize my attention, but I don't roll like that. There's much more going on at Opera Cleveland than just our *coughawesomecough* productions.

Notably, our education and outreach department always has stuff going on. For each production, they have a Great Works program that ties to it. Great Works allows schools to bring students to a final dress rehearsal, but we help prepare the students for the experience--with materials and often a preparatory program we bring to the school.

For Hansel and Gretel, I tagged along as performers from our education department visited a school and performed an interpretation of the opera.

I oversaw accompanist Cara Chowning on the ole ivories.

Extreme Close up!!

Irene Roberts and Ann Coffman did quite an admirable job as Hansel and Gretel, respectively.

A ballerina covered in candy? Yes, please!
Dancer Lisa K. Lock (who you may recognize from the main stage Hansel and Gretel) represented the sweet-laden gingerbread house.

Because of going to Great Works programs, I have become acquainted with these multi-purpose rooms you humans have in schools. The are a rare circumstance for athletics and theater to meet. And meet they did when narrator and director Paul Gurgol shot some hoops en costume before the performance.

(You can check out more photos here on the Opera Cleveland web site.)

Nov 12, 2008


For the last few days I have been in Houston for an Arts marketing conference. But, alas, all the fun is over, and I'm heading back to Cleveland.

Le sigh. Oh, the ennui of airports.

Rather Hitchcockian, wouldn't you say? Heh heh.

Nov 7, 2008


To all the witches I've known,
I'll remember Dana Beth most.

That cackle, those warts, the way she swings her broomstick...

photo by: Eric Mull

To think, I'll only get to see her pushed into an oven one last time. *sniff, sniff*

At least I shall have this fierce cape and hat as a reminder.


Nov 5, 2008


Because Hansel and Gretel can be enjoyed by both adults and children, we decided to make it even more fun for the kids this past Sunday. (Well, first, we made it fun for the parents by providing a special family discount for tickets.) Before the performance, we had games, face painting and prizes set up in the State Theatre lobby for kids to enjoy.

You can see my wonderful costume here better. My precious costume wenches Margaret and Janet made me a witch's outfit! The cape is lined. They are dedicated to their craft, I tell ya. Speaking of dedication, Dr. Kish carved this pumpkin...freehand. (I am feeling quite inferior around all the mad skillz here.)

William (the numbers man in the office) supervises the pumpkin ring toss.

Jill and Megan get cheeky with the kids.

Me, I supervised the coloring table, where kids colored gingerbread people. I advocated for unrestrained creativity. Thus, my favorite was this one:

Not only is it vibrantly imaginative; it's practical--the gingerbread man has pockets for all his gingerbread man needs.

Nov 4, 2008


Got some Plain Dealer love for Hansel and Gretel:

"Those fortunate enough to have attended were drawn into a production abounding in charm, grace and musical depth. Humperdinck's endearing and sprightly melodic invention and sumptuous orchestral writing constantly captivated the ear."

"The company's orchestra has rarely sounded more cohesive, alert or colorful."

"And what a cast. Who couldn't adore Anya Matanovic's adorable and shiningly sung Gretel or Patricia Risley's rambunctious hero of a Hansel? Dana Beth Miller made a tour de force of the dual roles of the Mother (actually Hansel and Gretel's stepmother) and the Witch."
Read the full article here.

Nov 3, 2008


I know, I know, I know. WHERE HAVE I BEEN?!?

I'll tell ya where I've been. I've been right here, doing what I do. Except last week one of my handlers decided it would be a whip smart idea to get sick. Completely ignoring the fact that she is the one who helps me blog. Completely ignoring the fact that I have a faithful audience, voracious for updates.

This will NOT happen again. I don't care if she throws up a lung and that lung gets run over by a Vespa...I MUST BLOG.

The good news is that this week I will make up for it with a cavalcade of Hansel and Gretel photos and commentary. Let's rock 'n' roll...

We have to keep telling her: Patricia, Carl is not a tasty treat!

Here's the tasty treats. (Courtesy of Propmistress Heidi here.)

The Sweatshop workers Costumers, putting on last minute touches.

Even when I'm backstage, I can still catch what's happening on stage. (Albeit in black and '70s.)

It's Opening Night! Valerie is a big, bad cue-ing machine. And I like to watch.
(You can sorta see my new costume here; I'll post more about it tomorrow. Let me just say our costume crew is genius.)

Oct 27, 2008


In my, admittedly short, life, I've never cared much for cared much for the whole reading thing. But, if there's one thing that can get me to crack the books, it's opera. With Hansel and Gretel, I was really intrigued by the original story and our director Chuck Hudson's concepts (part of which come from his extensive studies on mythologies.) So I got me to a library and learned me some stuff.

Many of you may know that the original Grimm Brothers' fairy tales are not the sanitized Disney versions. There's a lot of violence and malice. (For instance, in the Grimms' Hansel and Gretel, the parents purposefully abandon the children in the forest. In the opera, the children are only sent there to find food.)

The tales were initially intended as reading for adults. But, as the Grimms realized the stories were being told to children, they cleaned up the tales a bit. Interestingly, they didn't edit out much of the violence; it seemed to function as a sort of bonus to the morals of the stories.

Indeed, as the purpose of preserving the fairy tales transformed into providing stories for children, the Grimms became intent on making them a "manual of manners." Thus, there was a lot of praying. There's carryover in the opera, as you see above with Hansel and Gretel singing their evening prayers.

Mother (Dana Beth Miller) and Father (Todd Thomas) gettin' friendly.

In the original version of the Grimms Hansel and Gretel, the mother was a biological mother, but by the fourth edition, they turned her into a step-mother. (This preserves the idea of real mothers as innocent and nurturing, allowing the step-mother to be a bee-yotch.)

In the opera as well, the Mother character is a step-mother.

Patricia and Anya: sleepin' on the job.

Das ist nicht gud! The Grimms really believed their stories were uniquely German--both reflecting and shaping national identity. Ok, fine. Unfortunately, when along came Hitler, the Nazis really liked Grimms' fairy tales and used them to endorse racial pride. Hitler even used Hansel and Gretel as an allegory of Nazi youth overthrowing Jews. Oh, hells NO!

I think all this history behind Hansel and Gretel makes it even more fascinating to watch the opera. Of course, it's entertaining and magical in and of itself, which is why it's popular for kids.

Now, my fair readers, I assume you already have your tickets to Hansel and Gretel. But if you don't, you'd best do so before I go The Birds on ya. (I have connections in the avian world.)

Oct 24, 2008


A glimpse at the gingerbread house (aka The Witch's house made of sweets) in Hansel and Gretel. (Note: This house is not actually edible. Unless you like the taste of sawdust and caulk. I have to say, that's probably a step up from those "nuggets" some of you people eat.)

And now...the back side of the house!!
(I show you all the cool places.)

Destiny attained! Center stage at last. (Well, I guess destiny would ultimately include people in the audience.)

Oct 21, 2008


If you're a loyal reader of this blog (and, really, what other kind of reader would you be?), you know that lovely voices ain't the only parts of an opera production. No, m'am. It takes a village.

Half of that village seems to be comprised of technical sorts--making sure the lights come on when they're supposed to, that singers enter the stage when they're supposed to, that props are there when they're supposed to be there, etc., etc. I am consistently amazed by all them.

Lighting Designer John Demous shines a little light on me. (I wish he could have worked on the lighting for this photo. Oy.)

Stage managers have lots of binders and post-it notes. (And ulcers.)

For a while I thought our assistant stage managers were really polite about asking questions. Turns out all the hand raising is cues for the singers' entrances on stage. Oh.

This is what happens when a singer doesn't enter on cue.

Oct 20, 2008


Dean and I stopped in at WCLV last week to record On Stage spots for Hansel and Gretel. (Holla to Jim Mehrling, pictured here, who can rock a mic like a vandal.)

Oct 17, 2008


I finally got around to splicing the pix from my trip with the stage managers to Niagara Falls!

(Thx to Val, Lisa and RoseMary for letting me tag along...or maybe you should thank ME.)

Oct 16, 2008


If you didn't hit up our Meet the Cast event on Tuesday night, y'all are missing out. Honestly, even if you're not totally down with opera (cough*heathen*cough), you would find these Q&As interesting. It's fascinating to hear about how the singers "fell" into opera (Oops, stubbed my toe on some Puccini!) or how they cope with constant traveling. The Hansel and Gretel cast was no different, and I certainly learned a lot more about them as people. (Opera singers--they're just like us!)

I swear Dean had aspirations of being Merv Griffin. He's too good as our emcee.

Patricia, Allen (our repetiteur), Anya and Chuck
Like Elaine in our Figaro, Anya also went from chorus girl to Mimi in La boheme, when the original Mimi didn't work out. In her case, she performed in Baz Luhrman's (think Moulin Rouge) production of boheme in Los Angeles. At age 23. Um, whoa.

Chuck is one funny guy with many fascinating stories, including one about long ago trying out his French skills and complimenting someone on her two cute toilets (when he meant dogs). I can't say there are humorous stories about French mispronunciation here, but take a listen to our podcasts with Chuck and Dean here.

Natasha and Patricia
Natasha is a local gal! Well, she went to CIM--and decided to stick around. [Deity of your choice] bless Patricia. She is not only working her bum off as Hansel; she is also playing new mom--to 7-week-old twins! (And you could never tell by looking at her--or hearing her.)

Speaking of kids, I learned Dana Beth has 12 siblings (0r 13? Don't you just lose count at some point?) She said family vacations involved matching tee shirts. (Oh my.)

(Thanks to Phil at ClevelandSlovenian for the first two pix!)