Sep 29, 2008

"full of erotic chemistry and rollicking interaction..."

...quoth the Plain Dealer of our Figaro. Indeed! But you should really see the rollicking for yourself. There's one more performance this Saturday!

Figaro (Jason Hardy) and Susanna (Maureen McKay)
photo: Eric Mull

Sep 25, 2008


Last night was the final dress rehearsal. Of course, I adored the production. I also spent some time backstage so I could let you in on some of the fun.

"Hi, I'm Fabio. I also play Count Almaviva in Opera Cleveland's upcoming production of The Marriage of Figaro."

Remember how I rhapsodized about supernumeraries? Well, these are them. (I think they do it for the outfits.)

Will a chicken come between the dysfunctional love of Marcellina and Bartolo? See the opera to find out! (And, yes, you could ford a river with her hat.)

If Liberace and Phil Spector had a love child (which is not entirely implausible), it would be Philippe's Don Basilio. You have to see it to believe it.

Sep 24, 2008


Didn't know if you realized this, but we have an opera opening...IN TWO DAYS! (Need tix? Clicky-click.) I am beside myself.

There will be musicians in this pit. Musicians with expensive instruments. I would encourage you not to spit down into the pit just to see what happens. (In my case, the word broiler was mentioned.)

Techies! Techies! There's techies everywhere!

I have NO idea what this is. "Banger boxes"? Not even Google can help me on that one.

If for some inexplicable reason you don't like opera, you should see Figaro just for the wigs.

Sep 22, 2008


What are you doing tomorrow at noon?

I will TELL YOU what you're doing. You're tuning in to "Around Noon" on 90.3 WCPN. Host Dee Perry interviews Elaine, Carrie and Dean about The Marriage of Figaro.

I was lucky enough to accompany the interviewees to the taping in the studio. (Next time, Dave D., I'm gonna need smaller headphones. FYI.)

Dee is my new BFF. Her voice is a like a satin cloak with chocolates in the pockets. I would listen to her read the phone book.

Sep 19, 2008


(Thank God It's Figaro.)

Sep 18, 2008


A bird's eye view of the rehearsal last night. (Heh. heh. These puns NEVER get old...unless they are getting old. You would tell me, right? Right?!

Susanna (Maureen) is getting stabby with that cad Don Basilio (Philippe). (Btw, Figaro does not feature candy canes. Those are for our next production: Hansel and Gretel.)

It's a girl playing a boy playing a girl. (The opera is fully supportive of cross-dressing. You go for it, kids!)

Sep 15, 2008

blogger. filmmaker. chicken.

Last week, we thought it would be cool to take some video of the Figaro cast rehearsing. But not your run-of-the-mill video. Oh, no. (That's not how we roll.) What you see here is 6 hours, distilled into 2 minutes. (That's about as concise as an opera will ever get, folks.) Enjoy!

Sep 13, 2008


Yesterday, our principals were fitted for their costumes. While I was eager to learn more about costuming, my adroit sense of propriety kept me out of the wardrobe room while there were scantily clad singers in there. (Okay, or maybe they threatened me with the N-word--as in, nuggets.) So I visited wardrobe later in the day.

And our Costume Coordinator Janet Bolick and Wardrobe Supervisor Bill Byron Smith, here, decided they needed to measure me up. (Bill, I was NOT kidding when I said I wanted something in gold spandex.)

I am but a pawn for their amusement. Nonetheless, it gave me some insight into what the singers have to endure with each production they do. While they send their measurements prior to their arrival, they still need to be re-measured in the midst of rehearsals.

We rented our costumes from Banff Centre for the Arts. Patsy Thomas, a costume technician for Banff, knows this wardrobe, so she is there to make sure everything is kosher. (Even the chicken.)

Just catching up on my Bible reading. Seriously. Our wardrobe crew says every production has a costume Bible; in it are photos of past performances, so they can refer to what the costumes should look like on the singers.

People don't understand how costumes can cost so much. This is not your high school production of "Guys and Dolls," where you buy a bunch of old man suits at Goodwill. Beside the fact that the costumes are elaborate and beautiful, for the principal roles, there are 3 versions of the same costume. So when a singer does her fitting, the wardrobers find the version that fits best--but, likely, they still have to do any number of alterations: taking it in, hemming, adding length, etc.

Oh, what we do for fashion!

Sep 11, 2008

ACT IV (i.e. disguise-a-polooza)

Elaine as the Countess as Susanna (the plot, OH the plot), while Corey contemplates a manicure.

Oh, Jay, show me the ways of a repetiteur.

If I were Maureen, I'd be wondering what the heck this "statue" is--cherubs playing on a ginormous carp? Really? Was this all the rage in the 1700s?

Dean does his conducting thing. Corey does his singing thing.
Statue does its inanimate object thing.

Sep 9, 2008


Tommy is Director Peter Kazaras's doggie and stalwart companion. (The Oates to his Hall.)

I met Tommy when Peter brought him to a podcast recording. (Yup, Opera Cleveland blogs, twitters and podcasts; we are that hip.)

On the podcast, Dean Williamson talks with Peter about Figaro and the nuances of our production. Those two could chat for hours about opera, but we kept the podcast at 20 minutes. Click here to listen and/or download.

Sep 8, 2008


Getting off the book.
I can do it, I can. I don't need it anymore. I can live without it.
I'm still a fun chicken without it. I, I...okay, maybe just one more hit.

Play it again, Jay.
Maestro Williamson works with Corey and our repetiteur (rehearsal pianist) Jay. (Or perhaps they have gathered 'round the piano to sing some Andrew Lloyd Weber faves; you'll never know.)

Turn that frown upside down.
Valerie hopes that someday, someday OC will have a use for that 15 x 10 foot logo. (At the very least, our ever-resourceful tech director Kish will be able to use it as a piece of a set in an upcoming production.)

Sep 5, 2008


Headed over to rehearsals today to catch some of the Act I run-through. While the singers were just "marking" (which is not singing to their fullest, so they can conserve their voices), you can tell they got some great chops on them. Not only that, they can act. No "park and barkers" here.

Marcellina (Gloria) shows Bartolo (Tom Hammons) the contract.
(To find out what this contract is, click here.
Seriously. It's complicated.)

Cherubino (Carrie Kahl) and "his" angst.
(Check out the mannequin prop--F-R-E-A-K-Y.)

Count Almaviva (Corey McKern) attempts to woo servant Susanna
(Maureen McKay). (She's all like, bish plz!)

Chillin' with my man Tom.

Sep 3, 2008


Last night, I hit up the Meet the Cast event at Joseph-Beth. (Were YOU there?) This cast is a fun bunch, let me tell you, and they had great stories to share. If you WERE'NT there, a pox upon you! But, ah, I am one nice chicken, and I will share some highlights.

On the Road
Elaine, Peter and Maureen all bring their dogs with them when they travel, which provides a source of comfort when continually going to new places. Europe is really dog-friendly, Elaine said, which meant she could bring Lola the Wonder Pooch everywhere, including rehearsals. Except Lola isn't too keen on when her mommy gets roughed up, so she would get too protective if Elaine was acting out a dying scene. "And, let's face it, I'm a lyric soprano," she said. "I either get married or I die."

Corey McKern said he enjoys traveling because he has always liked to stay in hotels. (Fresh linens everyday, um, yeah!!) He also likes catching up on reading. As does Tom, who said he also likes to explore antique stores when traveling. (Lorain Avenue Antiques District, dude.)

Starting Out
It's always interesting to hear how singers got involved in opera. Often, it surprises the singers themselves that they became opera singers. Jason "Farm Boy" Hardy went to business school to become a stockbroker. Gloria Parker almost went to law school, but singing wooed her to New York and before delving into opera, she sang on Broadway. Corey intended to pursue golfing, but, as he says, "I was such a good golfer, I became an opera singer."

One of the audience members asked the singers what they listen to on their stereos, which was perhaps one of the more enlightening questions of the evening. Shocker: Dean Williamson listens to country! (Opera News, are you reading this?!)

Corey digs alt-country. Carrie is into Christian contemporary rock. Tom likes The Beach Boys and the Stones. Elaine said she often listens to Spanish music because it reminds her of home, which is Miami. Gloria said she usually prefers quiet because she lives in NYC, so when she travels, it's a welcome respite!

Anyone who makes a living being on stage usually has an anecdote or two about on stage misshaps or follies. And this group was no different. Tom, a seasoned portrayer of Bartolo in both Figaro and Barber, explained how he was in a performance of The Barber of Seville, sitting in the barber's chair. While his character gets a shave, unfortunately the barber is a little too liberal with the shaving cream. It's covering his mouth and nose, and Tom couldn't breathe. The barber realized Tom was struggling and had to turn upstage to laugh, which was only contagious to Tom.

While it wasn't exactly a folly, Maureen McKay had a bizarre stage experience. At Wolf Trap Opera, she participated in an Improv Opera performance, at which the audience supplies the characters and setting. The outcome was: A brain surgeon meets Britney Spears in a forest. Guess who was Britney. Complete with head mic and "snake" draped across her shoulders. She did a "nasty dance" and sang "Ah! Je veux vivre" from Romeo et Juliet, all in the style of Britney. (Oh, please tell me this is on youtube!)

Sep 2, 2008


O, glorious day! The Marriage of Figaro cast is here. And I got to meet them today. While I would love to gloat about my privilege, the fact is you can meet them today too. There's a Meet the Cast event at Joseph-Beth Booksellers tonight at 7 pm.

Corey McKern (Count Almaviva) gives me a thumbs up, apparently.
(Or perhaps that was a different finger. Hmmm.)

I provide indispensable advice to Director Peter Kazaras.
(First point: I take my coffee black, so get it right next time.)

Gloria Parker (Marcellina) gets cuddly. (She's a flirt, that one.
She even giggled when I made like Van Morrison and sang
G-L-O-R-I-A. Like she's never heard that one before.)

Our office jill-of-all-trades Angela and I meet Carrie Kahl. Carrie is Figaro's resident cross dresser in the "trouser role" as Cherubino.

Three's Company! Unfortunately, Philippe Pierce (Don Basilio/Curzio) didn't get the hint, so I didn't have any alone time with Elaine Alvarez (Countess Almaviva). But it will happen, oh yes.