Sep 29, 2009


I like to think I spend a lot of my time busting myths about opera (and, oh, there are many). Important work. One of those myths is that opera is the domain of the geriatric set.

KA-BOOM! Did you hear that? That's the the exploding of that myth. And there's a new group that's helping dismantle it--GO!: Generation Opera. This fresh-faced group is all about connecting people in the 25-50 age range (50 is the new 40, yo) through opera.

What I love is that its launch party on Oct. 21 is going to be at the bar Speakeasy--and it's free! Oh, and GO! members receive 25% off tickets to Opera Cleveland performances. Sign up and find out more here.

Sep 28, 2009


Eggplant Baby has a friend!

Yet another creepy, absurd baby figurine mysteriously showed up in our office this morning:

May I present to you: Self-Loving Baby.

I'm getting suspicious. I think this may be an inside job. I am leaning toward William as the culprit. He's so demure that no one would think he has a collection of creepy, absurd baby figurines.

Sep 25, 2009

FIELD TRIP FRIDAY: Branson, Missouri

What's a summer without a vacation? It would have been just fine, imho, because my summer vacation was to Branson, Missouri. Indeed.

I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-feathers sort of chicken, so when Kish asked if I wanted to accompany her and her travel companions to Missouri, I said "sure."

First stop was St. Louis. Respectable. They have a giant arch. How can you argue with a city that has a giant arch?

Onward to Branson, where we went on a tour of Table Rock Lake. (I was polite and refrained from saying "Ummm, but we have a lake in Cleveland, and it's a lot bigger.")

And then there were the shows. Oh, were there shows. There are more than 40 theaters in Branson, and keep in mind that the town's population is only about 6,000.

We saw Shepherd of the Hills: A Musical History of Branson, Missouri (Above, I am pictured with some strapping lads from said show.)

We also saw Noah: The Musical (aka, Two Hours of My Life I Will Never Get Back.)

My favorite was probably Island Fire:

(Starring Jon Gosslein! J/K.)

Most of the performers were from Samoa, and they were awesome (as well as hot).

Shucks, we did miss these theaters: Andy Williams Moon River Theatre, The Baldknobbers Jamboree, the Osmond Family Theatre, and the Welk Theatre at the Welk Resort. (And to think I brought my petticoat for nought.)

This was my favorite part of the trip! Oh, and also when I told people I was from Opera Cleveland, they were, like, 'Cleveland, Tennessee has an opera company?!'


Sep 23, 2009


The opera world lost Beverly Sills over two years ago, and she leaves behind a tremendous legacy--and an estate that is up for auction.

You, too, can be the owner of one of Bubbles' many pieces of artwork...or chairs. Like these:

Or perhaps an evening bag:
In all seriousness, I would give up a year of Schlitz (and that's a real sacrifice, here) for a piece of memorabilia like one of the drawings of the costumes designs for her:

Oh, I could just see these hanging in my coop!

Sep 18, 2009


I'm having some issues here with my job description. See, I'm primarily supposed to blog. But the staff has been taking advantages of that little clause "other duties as assigned," so I've been neglectful of this blog, in my estimation. (Someday I will work up the courage to tell Will to screw the budget numbers I owe him, there's Twittering to be done!)

While my wit and whimsy is currently being shelved in favor of things like replenishing the copier paper (honestly) and refilling Paul's flask of vodka (j/k!), I want to continue to entertain and educate my loyal readers. So, here's some links I have been enjoying this week (yes, there's still time for web surfing, if not blogging.)

TimeOut NY offers a pop culture-to-opera conversion guide:
"If you love that Amy Winehouse is no good, don’t miss opera’s ultimate bad girl, Carmen. Bizet’s Gypsy could totally give the Wine-o a run for her money."

More pop culture comparisons: La Cieca at Parterre compares soprano Danielle de Niese to Family Guy's Meg.

The Met season opens on Monday! With Puccini's Tosca. Here's a Q&A with Conductor James Levine, Director Luc Bondy and lead Karita Matilla

Sep 15, 2009


While we're generally in the thrall of preparing for Don Giovanni (opens Oct. 30, kids!), there's always other stuff to be done in the office.

A couple of months ago, I announced our 2010-11 season, and I have been dutifully hovering consulting on its preparations. For instance, I made the helpful recommendation to Will that perhaps Renee Fleming would be a nice addition to one of our casts. His reply: "Bish Plz. Unless you've got rolls of Benjamins underneath those feathers of yours." Hmph.

Nonetheless, I'm truly, truly excited for next year and have been boning up on the rep. I found some video clips for you to get a feel, too:

This is the cool set we're using! (Nathan Gunn not included)

This intense opera "monologue" will be paired with I Pagliacci.

Domingo sings in concert from Werther.

Remember, Werther is pronounced ver-TARE. Not like the brand of butterscotch candies that mix with the lint in pockets of the over-70 set.


Sep 8, 2009


The Midge recently opened up the comments on her blog, asking for advice for the opera newcomer. How do you successfully introduce someone to opera?

A thoroughly interesting subject to ponder. Indeed, the comments were just as interesting...and entertaining:

"Going to the opera is a sacred ritual, it is not like taking out the garbage, or doing aerobics, or going to a therapy group. It has to do with the salvation of your soul."(gauthier310)

"The ready availability of opera on DVD makes it possible to screen bleeding chunks of a bunch of works to see what appeals. It might be Handel, it might be Verdi, it might be Berg." (LisaHirsch1)

"DVDs and books and learning about opera are fine tools...but they can make you think you've been to an opera when in fact you haven't...The whole thing is canned and you can fast forward to the end. At a live performance, you will have the magical experience of hearing a human voice directly, unmediated by electronic amplification...Going to an opera is like falling in love: you don't feel the earth move by reading about it."(gauthier310)

"Opera is not everyone's cup of tea, but I think that it is important that newcomers understand that it is a hugely varied art form that can be approached from several possible vantage points, including one's headphones."(newbie2 )

The Midge feels that going to a live opera performance makes a difference, and I have to agree. She backs up her opinion citing a paper by a sociologist that studied how people become opera fans. It established that people who love opera had an "aha" moment--a love at first sight (or, listen, as the case may be.)

I can definitely believe this, but I also believe people can become opera fans in many ways--just as people can fall in love immediately or slowly. Sometimes repetition and education can cultivate the appreciation and love of opera.

And, as commenters noted, there may not be one perfect "orientation" opera. The logical choices might be The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, or Carmen. But there are those who first fall for opera after seeing Das Rheingold or Peter Grimes.

I think the challenge, more so, is getting many people to be open-minded enough to try opera. And, by try, I mean if they have one negative experience, try another before writing off the genre.

Give opera a chance!

Sep 3, 2009


Opera and drag go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Schlitz and Cheetos.

We've got Trouser Roles. We've got Philip Langridge as the Witch in the Met's recent Hansel and Gretel. We've got La Cieca at Parterre Box.

And we've got Madame Vera Galupe-Borszkh, the Traumatic Soprano.

The semi-retired founder of all-male drag opera troupe La Gran Scena performed recently in May in NYC. She was in Cleveland four years ago performing a "One Night Stand"--perhaps you saw it. (Dang it all for not being born yet and missing it!)

The Advocate recently spoke with Ira Siff, Madame's alter ego. He has "become a player in the legitmate operatic scene," (Drag opera isn't legit?!?!) directing operas and becoming a commentator for the Met's radio broadcasts.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"I switched teams to Callas very fast!"

"I now sort of feel like the Jesus Christ of opera, going around and spreading the gospel to 10 million people a week on the radio."

"I used to sing soprano in the basement of my parents' home in Brooklyn"


Click here to hear and see the dame in action.

Sep 1, 2009


We have a new addition to the office, and we haven't the faintest idea how it got here.

Behold, Eggplant Baby:

One day last week, it just appeared. No one on staff has confessed to adding Eggplant Baby to our motley crew. And trust me, we all have comic egos enough to want to claim this bizarre knick-knack as our sublime joke.

I mean, it's a cherub overjoyed to be bouncing atop a pile of eggplants! WTF?!

Of course, this meant we immediately bestowed premonitory power upon the figurine and all engaged in a Magic 8 Ball-type game of "Spin the Eggplant Baby."

Just another day at the office.