Dec 29, 2009


At this time of year, you really don't expect to visit a blog and read new content, do you? Late December is all about recycling. (Or, if you want to be quixotic, it's all about reflection and meditation on another year past.) I hate to disappoint by not posting a review fo 2009, so here, dear readers, it is:


- Major drama in the office: Who will do the dishes now that Angela no longer works here?

- I introduce the What DODAD? feature, exploring what each Opera Cleveland employee does.

- I got to go to Florida in winter! To help oversee the installation of our Turandot set at Opera Jacksonville

-The stage managers arrive for The Barber of Seville!


-Lots of behind-the-scenes goodness about The Barber of Seville.

- Great reviews of Barber: "Sheer joy." - Opera Now; "The production...grabs ear and funny bone with equal vibrancy." - Plain Dealer


-An operatic ending for Peeps


-We announce our 2010-11 season!

- The Falstaff cast arrives for rehearsals!


- I get to wear a Falstaff fat suit, complete with moobs.

- We feel the love for Falstaff, with great reviews--critics and audience alike.


- In homage to tabloid magazines and entertainment shows everywhere, we post a few "Where Are They Now" on some recent Opera Cleveland singers.


- It was a somewhat slow month, okay?!


- We announce our new affiliate group for those age 25-50 called GO! Generation Opera

- Oh, and I travel to Branson, Missouri. For fun--or something like that.


- Yay! Lots to do and talk about with the arrival of our Don Giovanni cast.

- You can't forget my tour of the classic Don Giovanni artwork in the office.


- We're grateful for our patrons and for their kind words on our recent online survey.


- I'm STILL WAITING for the gifts I asked for on my Holiday Wishlist. Hmpfh.

- Of course, there's was my whirlwind visit to Seattle with Dean. (I'm still recovering.)

I hope your 2009 was just as eventful and that 2010 proves to be marvelous, darlings.


Dec 23, 2009


You can start tonight! PBS is showing a film adaptation of La boheme, starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon. In Cleveland, it's on at 9 pm on WVIZ.

What do you possibly have to do on the day after Christmas, other than laze around the house in holiday food-induced fashion wear (i.e. sweatpants)? Check out the Met's "controversial" Tosca, also on PBS, 8 pm on WVIZ.

In January, the Cedar Lee features two HD broadcast of La Scala operas . On Jan. 6 at 7 pm, see Massenet's Thais. See how La Scala's Falstaff stacks up to ours (heh heh heh) on Jan. 20 at 7 pm.

There's ample opportunity to get your Met fix this winter. EVERY Saturday, you can listen to the Met Saturday matinee broadcast on WCLV, 104.9. (The Station has run the broadcasts for 40 years!) Click here for the list of upcoming broadcasts, which include Hansel and Gretel, Carmen, Ariadne auf Naxos, and a 1958 archived broadcast of Vanessa.

Then there's The Met on the big screen, through its HD broadcasts at area movie theaters. Catch La Fleming in Der Rosenkavalier on Jan. 9. Carmen is Jan. 16 and Placido Domingo stars in Simon Boccanegra on Feb. 6. Click here for the complete list.

Of course, you will want to make sure to get your Opera Cleveland subscription to our 2010-11 season. Lucia di Lammermoor in May is only four and a half months away. (Granted, January and February will feel like FIVE LONG COLD MONTHS, but still.)


Dec 16, 2009


My time in Seattle is coming to a close. *Sob*

Maestro! I want a double tall no foam extra hot macchiato! I have to admit I'm hooked now. There's no turning back.

Another Cleveland connection in Seattle! Singer Jennifer Bromagen is from the Cleve and sang with the Opera Cleveland chorus for several years. She came over to Dean's house for some coaching. (And some chicken love.)

Honestly, I had it coming. I kept calling Dean's dog Grady "Eddie," as in dog on Fraiser. Incidentally, Grady is named for the Cleveland Indians' Grady Sizemore. (A Seattle native, natch.)

A visit to Jimi Hendrix's final resting place. Peace out, dude.


Dec 14, 2009


While I enjoyed all the Pacific Northwest sightseeing, I was homesick for opera. So Dean decided to take me to visit Seattle Opera.

On my way... (I feel like I need a theme song here, maybe something with whistling.)

The venerable Speight Jenkins, General Director of Seattle Opera. My homesickness for the Opera Cleveland offices was such that I offered to fetch Speight coffee and make copies, just to feel more at home. (He took me up on those offers but not the offer to rub his feet.)

A former Clevelander! Kelly Tweeddale is the Executive Director of Seattle Opera.

And here I am outside the opera's performance hall.

Dec 10, 2009


Ah, I've realized what gives Dean so much energy--coffee. It's the Seattle way.

He literally made me bow down before this coffee shop--the very first Starbucks. The buskers let me sing second tenor with them, but I left after I found out they didn't know "Nessun Dorma." Pshaw!

Of course, what's Seattle without the iconic Space Needle. It's been there since 1962, and it's so very The Jetsons. (Ruh-roh, George!)

Like the Space Needle, the Monorail is also a relic of the '62 World's Fair.

Another coffee break, this time at Dean's favorite espresso cafe.

Hey, Clevelanders! I'm at the other end of I-90.

I thought I'd try my luck begging outside the new offices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Because they gave out 2.8 BILLION DOLLARS in 2008, I thought perhaps there might be a spare million for Opera Cleveland. No such luck.


Dec 9, 2009


Maybe I'm so tired because a certain Opera Cleveland Artistic Director **coughDeancough** has decided I need to see EVERY POSSIBLE LANDMARK IN SEATTLE while I visit him. I wouldn't be surprised if he moonlights as the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau as an ambassador.

Me and Ambassador Williamson at Lincoln Beach, overlooking the Puget Sound--with the Olympic Mountains in the background. (The idyllic nature of this photo just screams "Suck it, Cleveland and your measly lake!")

Dean sought out a co-ambassador for the day's sightseeing--"character tenor" Paul Gudas. (Oh, he was a character, all right.)

While cavorting on the beach, we spied the Fauntleroy Ferry--apparently Seattle has the largest ferry system in the world.

I insisted Dean take me into the foothills to reenact scenes from Twilight, which is filmed in the Pacific Northwest. (And then, later that night, I told Dean "Sometimes I watch you when you sleep.")

Team Edward all the way!
(FYI, those are vampire teeth on me, not cocaine drip.)


Stay tuned for more photos of my Seattle adventures!

Dec 7, 2009


It's that time of year. Time for my holiday wish list:

The Met's
Lucia di Lammermoor on DVD
With Anna Netrebko. (Watch out parents, this DVD is NOT RATED. And we never know what opera directors are going to do, do we?)

Karaoke machine pre-loaded with my favorite opera arias
Obviously, this item will take some coordination and savvy, but I have faith in you, readers! First, you will have to cleverly discern just what my favorite arias are. Then, you'll have to find instrumental tracks of those arias to load into a karaoke machine. (Oh, and you'll have to figure out if anyone still actually sells karaoke machines, because it's no longer 1994.)

To meet the doyenne behind Opera Chic
Opera bloggers need to stick together, yo.

This recording of Massenet's Werther
Ahh, divine!

The head of John the Baptist from Salome

I'm bored with the one I currently have. We've grown apart. It's time to move on.

--- One of my holiday wishes has already come true: I will be spending some time in Seattle with our Artistic Director Dean! Stay tuned for my dispatches from the Pac NW.


Dec 4, 2009


If Opera Cleveland has seemed quiet this week because I haven't been as talkative (bloggative?), that would be a faulty assumption. No, things have been bubbling at the office, as yesterday we officially announced our Green Opera Initiative.

In the past few months, Opera Cleveland has started to analyze its carbon footprint and begun to reduce it, and we decided to formalize it. While the Initiative will apply to the company as a whole, we're striving for carbon neutrality with Lucia di Lammermoor.

The Green Opera Initiative is more than a project--it's a way of thinking. (Does that not sound like benevolent corporate speak? Really, I just wrote it, and I mean it.)

Like other opera companies, we've recycled and reused stage sets, props, singers, and set pieces for years. But now we can place those actions--and greatly expand upon them--under a philosophy of sustainability. These days, it's silly not to think green.

Nov 25, 2009

O is for OPERA

Muppets have been very good to opera, and I offer a belated birthday wish to Sesame Street with some clips of opera on the show:

Marilyn Horne loves cookies:

Denyce Graves gets buggy:

Nov 23, 2009


Because Thanksgiving is nigh, what better time to express our gratitude to our patrons? You're why we're here, and don't think we forget that.

A particular thanks to everyone who filled out our recent online Patron Survey (there's still a chance to fill out if you like). The comments run the gamut in such surveys, as people's opinions vary so wildly. It is IMPOSSIBLE to please everyone, though the company tries to make decisions based on the majority's recommendations. So it's encouraging and energizing for us to read the overwhelming amount of positive responses in this survey. Here's a few comments:

"I attended opera as child in New York City. Attended as patron in Milwaukee. Same in Washington DC. I found that Opera Cleveland was high enough quality, compared to NYC Opera, Milwaukee, Washington DC, to be very worthwhile to attend."

"There is a nice mix of warhorses and lesser-performed works and we realize that our subscription does not cover the cost of putting the performances on--we don't want to lose opera in Cleveland--so we do what we can to support, which is to subscribe!"

"It was a while before I could afford to be a subscriber, but now I feel a part ownership and responsibility to assist in making the company go. I find it such a pleasure to introduce others to this wonderful company and this art that speaks to one's inner self."

"The quality of the OC programs has been steadily improving in the areas that really matter: voices of the soloists, direction of--and performance by--the orchestra, and overall program direction and staging. All are important and all have improved. We are hopeful that the vocalists engaged will continue to raise the bar over time."

"I am constantly amazed at the new insights that the directors and designers bring to each production, even to works we think we know. This and the opportunity to experience works in the flesh we have just read about makes this company exciting."
Thank you!

Nov 19, 2009


Although our last production has been over for almost two weeks now, the office has still been crazy. There's been chorus auditions, Music! Words! Opera! teacher trainings, year-end mailings and all that important financial stuff William does.

So I think it's a fine time for some moments of zen.

Watch a clip of our Falstaff production Benny Hill-ified. Hil-frickin'-arious. Trust me, it won't let you down. (Unless you try to watch it in Internet Explorer, in which case it probably won't work.)


Eric from Opera Columbus was in the office this week. Look what a snappy dresser he is!


On a sad note, the creepy baby figurines in the office witnessed a massacre the other night. Fortunately, the only victim was a bottle of Charles Shaw wine. (This is what happens when wine is opened with a pair of scissors. Children, don't try this at home.)

Nov 18, 2009


A few weeks ago, The Met opened a Zeffirelli production of Puccini's Turandot, and just who stepped in at the last minute to sing the role of the princess? Lise Lindstrom, who sang the role in Cleveland in 2005. (Seen in the photo to the left.) She also sang Salome for Opera Cleveland in 2007.) She was scheduled to sing the role a couple weeks later, but her Met debut came early.

Not only did she sing it, sister, she received a standing ovation.

Tonight theaters across the nation are re-broadcasting Turandot, with Maria Guleghina (the soprano Lindstrom stepped in for). Check out info about the Met HD broadcast.

Nov 13, 2009


With the 2009 season concluded, it's a good time to get organized, clean out the coop...and survey our patrons.

We have a quick, anonymous survey online here. So let us know what you think--and feel free (I repeat: FEEL FREE) to tell Opera Cleveland you want more Chicken with your opera. ;)


Nov 10, 2009

Don Giovanni went to hell and
all I got was a lousy tee-shirt.

Another show done and gone. But not before I had to get up early on Sunday and help strike the set.

Thankfully, I had company. (Like Production Intern Extraordinaire Andrew in the background there, likely doing something extraordinary.)

Assistant Stage Manager Erin, who is not, btw, rolling up toilet paper here. This is the ribbon from the may pole in Don Giovanni.

Set, schmet. I came to think of this platform as my personal dance floor. Recits are always good for crumping.

Nov 5, 2009


I was starting to write a post today when my handler Lisa literally pushed me aside. With the pent-up angst that could only belong to a former English major, she declared, "I'm writing the post today; I've been doing some thinking." (Translation: I don't have enough minutiae in my life to analyze, so I'm going to extend it Don Giovanni.) I'm indulging her, so here ya go:

Don Giovanni is One Bad Dude. That much is clear. But unlike other Bad Dudes central to a story (i.e. Don Draper of Mad Men), the opera Don Giovanni doesn't ask us to delve into why he is so bad. It's not because his parents abandoned him or a love lost permanently scarred his heart. No, he is just bad--and he has no compunction whatsoever about it.

This opera is not about Don Giovanni. It is about the characters and world around him. Director John Hoomes meant for the production to offer up Don Giovanni as a mirror to those around him. His blatant sexuality serves to liberate the other characters' true feelings.

I feel the production challenges us to consider the validity of the superficial moral parable. Is he dragged to hell because he will not repent his sins? Or does his descent represent the other characters' inability to accept the true feelings Don Giovanni elicits from them, and they must bury him in defense?

We can add to our interpretation(s) by considering the context in which Don Giovanni was written. Mozart wrote the opera during the Enlightenment, which advanced the rejection of convention and church, valuing the primacy of the individual. Don Giovanni stands up for himself, but society cannot handle it.

Don Giovanni opens the door not just to hell but to our minds.

Ok, that's enough out of her. But some interesting points to ponder, I admit. Do some deconstructing of your own--we've got one more performance this Saturday night.

Nov 2, 2009


I'm still recovering from a weekend of opera--and the celebrating that ensued. But it's nice to wake up to a good review, and that's just what I did on Sunday.

Among other kind words about Don Giovanni, Plain Dealer reporter Don Rosenberg writes:
"Hoomes’ observations often are so intriguing and funny, the stage pictures so enchanting – the contrast between modern designs and period costumes works well – and the musical values so strong that the splendor of Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte’s achievement comes leaping from stage and pit."
Read the full review here.


It's Monday, and I know what you do on Mondays. You take ample YouTube and FaceBook breaks. We've got some YouTube-esque videos up at Fox8. We gave our Don Giovanni cast a camera, and, surprisingly, they didn't give it back to us with anything above a PG rating. (They call themselves opera singers! Pshaw!) Between what they captured and some footage from our Meet the Cast event, the videos give you a glimpse at the singers' lives.

Check out the videos here. (They are along the right-hand side of the page.)


Singer and Oberlin student Cree Carrico came to our opening night. She's still busy blogging here. I daresay I chuckled at the title of her most recent blog: The most terrifying two words in the English language: musical theatre.


Reminder to Wagner fans: There's a Wagner Symposium this coming weekend in Canton. Learn more here.

Oct 29, 2009


Settle down. I'm not belittling our singers' immense talent by referring to them as "eye candy." (Though they are all attractive people.) I mean that our production of Don Giovanni is a visual snack. It's intriguing, at times stark but more often vivid. But the striking visuals also leave ample room for your imagination to wander.

Here's some photos by Eric Mull that offer you a glimpse into Don Giovanni:

Let's call a spade a spade: Don Giovanni is a slut.

Yes, Alyson Cambridge (our Donna Elvira) knows that she looks like Vanessa Williams. But Alyson sure as heck sings better.

Leporello ascends the stairs to nowhere--or is it somewhere? Oh, the potential for interpretation in this opera!

(They really wanted to get the Stair Car from Arrested Development, but it wasn't available. Apparently it had an appearance to make at Ron Howard's birthday party.)

Does our production feature women encased in giant pantyhose? Yes, yes it does. That's all I'm going to say about that.

I told you he was a tramp.

See more photos here.

Oct 27, 2009


We have been rocking the morning airwaves this week (or digital transmissions--whatever.)

First, Dean and Director John Hoomes were on WKYC's Good Company yesterday. Then Alyson Cambridge was featured on the show today. (Click the links to watch!)

This morning, I got up with the chickens (people wake up when it's still dark??!) and went with Dean to WDOK, where he helped judge wannabe opera singers on air. Here he is hanging out with Terry, Jim and Trapper Jack.

Wednesday, tune into Around Noon on WCPN. Janinah Burnett (Donna Anna) and Jonathan Boyd (Don Ottavio) will be singing and Dan Polletta will interview them, along with Dean.


I know, I know. You want scrumptious photos of our cast on stage, fully costumed and fully in thrall of Mozart. Well, don't get your panties in a bunch--I will show you some shots of our production. LATER.

Now, I expose the gritty underbelly of opera--BACKSTAGE. (insert ghoulish gasps here.)

Stage Managers should strike up a deal with Crayola or Pantone. Their work boxes are filled with rainbows of products--Post-its, tape, highlighters. In theater, everything has a place--and a color.

The requisite singer-getting-made-up-before-the-show photo. Here is Scott Conner, aging from 25 to 60 in under an hour!

How you doin'?

Note: these hors d'oeuvres are not edible. (No matter how long you've been at rehearsal.)

The natural habitat of the Great Googly Moogly, a pet of the venerable Kish. GGM accompanies her to the theater for each production.

Oct 23, 2009


I think what the Browns need is a little opera.

Let's hope some of the Opera Cleveland chorus can inspire them to victory this Sunday, Oct. 25, when they sing the national anthem at the start of the game.

We can hope, can't we?!

Oct 22, 2009


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little hungover still from last night's GO!, Generation Opera, Launch Party at SpeakEasy bar. Eh, I'm probably in good company.

I was certainly in good company last night.

Doug Collier and Susan Wagner--obviously delighted by my appearance. (Or awfully good actors.)

Nikki DiFilippo is the gal that made it all happen, helped by Kimberly Hist.

I enjoyed chatting with Amy, Jennifer and Dennis (actually I had the most fun listening to the verbal ping pong match between Amy and Dennis.)

There's some more photos that I'll post later on. 'Til then, it's not too late to get up and GO! (heh, see what I did there?) There's a Taste of the Season luncheon Thursday, Oct. 29 at the Club at Key Center. Check it out. I'll be making a special guest appearance.