Jul 31, 2009


If you are a regular reader of this blog, you've likely been wondering when someone was going to start a Carl fan club. I AM STILL WONDERING THAT MYSELF!!

Nonetheless, Opera Cleveland is starting a new group: A Professional Friends group for those ages 25-50. Mission: Connect these peeps* in the Greater Cleveland area through artistic, cultural and social networking means by experiencing and exploring opera.

Sound cool to you? We're looking to get a better idea of what potential group members are interested in and what their demographics are. So there's a brief, 10-question survey for y'all. Take it here.

*not official mission statement terminology

Jul 30, 2009


Yesterday, our technical director Lisa Kish promised me she had something to do that would pull me out of my summer lassitude. And I agreed.

Then she took me to jail with her.

Before I could muster an adamant "ummm, NOT what I had in mind!," I realized this imprisonment was for a good cause. (Other than the dubious cause of keeping my corrupting influence away from small children.)

The Muscular Dystrophy Association organized this Lock-Up; participants had to "make bail" by raising donations. (Note: snarky witticisms are not sufficient bail; I tried.)

Thankfully, Kish raised enough bail for both of us, and this prison was more Camp Cupcake than St. Quentin.

We even met the Lake Erie Monsters mascot. (And, no, we did not see Jerry Lewis.)

See more pics here

Jul 27, 2009


It's summer--well, sorta, if you live in NE Ohio. Nonetheless, the languidness of the season (and our break between operas) has set in. My extent of my ambition is sitting on the veranda drinking a mojito. (And by veranda, I mean window ledge; and by mojito, I mean Parrot Bay rum flavored with melted Tic Tacs--I'm ever-so resourceful.)

Still, I can't stay away from opera, but I have found a lazy way to enjoy it. While I can't muster the strength to walk down the hallway to peruse our collection of opera CDs, I can sit on my arse at the computer and browse opera podcasts.

Many opera companies offer podcasts that provide insights and previews into operas they are currently producing. There's interviews with singers or directors, historical background,some music, and more. Some of the companies with podcasts include: San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Seattle Opera.

I'm partial to a few podcast resources I have found because, while they do have some commentary, they feature entire opera acts--or even full operas.

There's Unnatural Acts of Opera podcasts, hosted by La Cieca of the delicious opera blog Parterre Box. You can listen to classic and contemporary recordings, featuring Renata Scotto, Natalie Dessay, Placido Domingo, Joan Sutherland, to name a few. (These may take a little time to download, though.)

Of particular interest to Wagner fans is a page of podcasts of or about Wagner operas.

I'm excited to have found Nikki Boxer's "Opera in the Afternoon" podcasts from Aspen Public Radio. Each month, she hosts a three-hour show with full opera, synopsis and commentary. It's currently a short list, which will hopefully grow, but it does include Werther--which Opera Cleveland is producing in 2011.

Podcasts sure beat schlepping to the library. I like to save my schlepping for trips to the bar, thankyouverymuch.

Jul 22, 2009


I was wondering what Michael Todd Simpson (Marcello in our Boheme), so I did a little Googling and one of the first hits was a post about him on Barihunks. Yes, indeed, a blog about the sexiest baritones in opera.

Besides being deemed "smoking hot," this season he sang the title role of Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera and Eugene Opera. Next season, he's making his Met debut as Hermann in Les Contes d'Hoffmann.


It's not just our singers who are up to cool things. Michael Boll, our Lighting Supervisor for this season and last, did the lighting design for the play The Aperture, which premiered at Cleveland Public Theatre in March. Now, that's cool enough, but New York City's well-known Fringe Festival picked up the play. I wouldn't mind heading to NYC in August to see it there, along with other plays at the festival...like Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party.


We at OpCleve are pretty excited to have Tomer Zvulun back next year to direct our Lucia. (If you recall, he directed our "slam dunk hit" (as decreed by Opera News) La boheme.) Before he comes back to Cleveland, though, he'll be hanging out at The Met, where he is Assistant Director for Tosca, Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen and La Fille du Regiment. He will also be directing a new production of Die Zauberflote at Atlanta Opera in April.


Jul 20, 2009


I so wish I had embarrassing "before they were stars" photos to go along with this post. Something like this pic (via sexypeople):

Alas, you will just have to settle for the news of what some past Opera Cleveland artists are up to (and just always have to wonder if Elaine Alvarez used to have an '80s perm.)

Speaking of Ms. Alvarez, who was here last September as Countess Almaviva in Figaro...

In June Elaine made her Munich debut as Violetta (above), alongside Jonas Kaufmann, in La traviatawith Bayerische Staatsoper. At the last minute, she replaced Anja Harteros. Dost ich gut!

Maureen McKay (Susanna in our Figaro) recently wrote to Dean, updating us on her whereabouts.
Maureen as Susanna in our Figaro. Pic by Eric Mull.

"At the moment I am singing the Sandman and Dewfairy in the Seiji Ozawa Ongaku-juko Project tour of Hänsel und Gretel throughout Japan," she writes. Next season, she will be a part-time "fest" singer with the Komische Oper Berlin and covering Gretel at The Met.

Stay tuned this week for more Where are they Now...Opera Edition.


Jul 15, 2009


It's not unusual for opera singers to sing the National Anthem at athletic events. Opera Cleveland singers gave performed it at Browns games for the last few years, at least.

This clip showing opera singers at a sporting event is not usual, but it is awesome. Orlando Opera singers performed the Libiamo from La traviata at an Orlando Magic game's half-time. BUT (and you'll get the pun there after you watch it), the encore is, well...booty-ful.

Jul 10, 2009

SmARTy Pants

Once again this summer, Opera Cleveland is part of The Cleveland Foundation's SmART in the City program.

We're leading a site for the 6-week arts day camp for 5th and 6th grade students from the Cleveland Municipal School District. I'll no doubt be stopping by and hanging out with the campers this summer (if just to escape my menial office tasks...cleaning the fridge, really, guys???)

We also have three Opera Cleveland artists that will be visiting each SmART site with a educational (but fun!) performance.

I can personally vouch for the fun aspect, as the staff sat in on their final rehearsal yesterday.

Singers Adele Karam and Michael Ryan showed us how to write a song. (I'm sure this will be useful for the kids, but I'm quite familiar with musical construction, given the work I've done on my original opera Il Pollo.)

Actor Sean Booker is the animated narrator.

His cutie-pie daughter filled in as a camper, as Adele sang.

What's opera without a love song?
(Nixon in China, perhaps? We'll give the 5th and 6th graders a few years before we introduce them to that one.)


Jul 7, 2009


Headline writers love a story that is ripe for potential puns. I'm sure they were all over this story about soprano Joyce DiDonato breaking her leg during a performance of The Barber of Seville. (Hence, the title of the article: All-star cast: Opera fans to see DiDonato perform with plaster.)
"DiDonato, who sings the lead female role of Rosina in the Covent Garden performances, slipped on stage during a scene change towards the end of the first act on Saturday night.

She completed the performance with the aid of a stick and a crutch. An announcement was made after the interval that she had sprained her ankle, but was determined to complete the performance. When she reappeared singing Rosina's line 'I've a cramp in my foot', the audience's applause briefly halted the show."
My sympathies to Joyce and her broken fibula, but you know how I love stage anecdotes like these. It made me think of the interview with Falstaff's Production Stage Manager Valerie Wheeler. She shared some opera follies:

"A singer portraying a nun accidentally got her wimple caught in the door as she entered because I called the cue to close the door too soon. The wimple actually jammed the door. After several attempts at discretely getting her wimple free, she gave up and simply sang the entire scene with her head caught in the door. What else was a nun to do?

In another production, the main curtain got stuck on the way out (read, not my fault). It only got as high as the singers waists before snagging. The music had started, the singers were singing, but all the audience could see were the singers legs. Some of the singers actually squatted down to sing under the curtain. We had to stop the show, fix the curtain, and start over."

I feel like this post deserves a hearty ba-dum-ching.


Jul 2, 2009


Someone from my (admittedly, large) fan base thought I might be a little lonely now that Falstaff is done and Don Giovanni doesn't start until the fall. (Is the pile of empty Jack Daniels bottles and Schlitz cans in my coop some sort of indication??)

So he brought me a peep to hang out with. (A peep that is not constructed of corn syrup and gelatin, thus preventing any more peep tragedies.)

His name is Giacomo. (Actually, his name is Ron, but I think it's clear by the photo here just who is alpha friend in this relationship. So I shall call him whatever I choose, and I choose Giacomo.)

G and I will be painting the Cleve red, white and blue this weekend; Happy Fourth of July!