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.


There's a new kid on the NE Ohio opera blogging block (uh, so now there's two of us?).

Oberlin Opera Theater, or OOT as I like to say, has turned out many a great singer (including Alyson Cambridge, our Donna Elvira), and now they've turned out a great blogger, too. Cree Carrico--a singer who is starring in OOT's upcoming Cosi fan tutte--has begun blogging here.

So far, she's provided vivid and eloquent descriptions of meeting and watching singer Denyce Graves and a whirlwind trip to New York City, where she saw Aida and Tosca at the Met.

She writes: "Controversial Tosca? Stay on the edge of your seats and check back later this week to read my review, "'If only they had Tosca on the team!'"

I'm definitely gonna check back to see what that is all about.


Oct 19, 2009


At the Meet the Cast event Saturday, I found out tons about our Don Giovanni cast (e.g. one of our singers, without fail, eats a tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat bread along with a banana before every performance.)

Robert Gierlach, our Don Giovanni, has played the role about 85 times, but he's also played his fair share of Leporellos. Matthew Burns, our Leporello, has likewise sung both roles.

Matthew mentioned a New York Times article that compared the two bass roles. So, of course, I looked it up first thing this morning. It asks the question 'which is the better role?'

There's definitely some psychological probing going on. Could Leporello just be Giovanni's alter ego--the manifestation of what Giovanni could be if his id didn't get in the way so much?

“Don Giovanni isn’t Casanova but a superman,” singer Marco Vinco says. “He exists on a different plane from ordinary people. His element is mystery. He lives to conquer God, feeling neither love nor pity nor guilt. Leporello is exactly the opposite: a simpleton, a nice guy who feels all the human feelings.”

Director Peter Sellars gives his take: “In the end the transformation of Leporello is what the opera is about. Giovanni is static. He never learns a thing. Leporello goes through the whole range of emotions Giovanni is cut off from. He’s a feeling, thinking person.”

Ok, so maybe the article doesn't answer the question it poses, but it does offer great insights into these characters. One thing is clear about the opera: Leporello and Don Giovanni cannot exist without each other.

Oct 16, 2009


A little Don Giovanni anecdote to start the weekend right. (I mean, I know opera anecdotes always start my weekend right!)

At the end of the opera, Giovanni descends into hell. Often the director and set designer render that descent by use of a trap door. Well, variations of the story say that the singer was too overweight and got stuck or that the elevator that takes him below stage gets stuck. Regardless, Giovanni is trapped, half in view to the audience. A quick-witted voice from the balcony cries "Hooray! Hell's full!"

See you tomorrow at the Meet the Cast event. Perhaps the singers have some fun stories like this.


Oct 13, 2009


Even though they haven't taken me out to the bar yet (ahem!), the Don Giovanni cast has wormed its way into my fowl heart.

Give them a chance to charm you--our Meet the Cast event is this Saturday, Oct. 17. Same time: 7:30 pm. Same place: Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Legacy Village.

Here's the leader of the pack (vroom, vroom), Johnny Rocket. Or Director John Hoomes, for you professional types. (And that's Hoomes, not Holmes, you perverts.)

It's like Red Rover, with opera singers. This was Alyson Cambridge's idea. Jonathan Boyd and I just played along.

Straight outta Warsaw...Robert Gierlach, our Don Giovanni. (Don't worry; he did NOT try to seduce me.)

Assistant Stage Manager Erin is back (aka Curls McGirl)! I finagled a ride on the rickshaw that's featured in the production. (And on which Will keeps trying to get someone to courier him to E. 4th Street.)


Oct 12, 2009


I covered this before: Art begets art. And opera has long inspired artists of all stripes (and polka dots).

Don Giovanni is no exception, and, surprisingly, I haven't even seen that much Don Giovanni artwork that is very salacious. (Or perhaps I am not looking in the right places. If so, please tell me where those right places are.)

Turns out, Opera Cleveland houses its own collection of Don Giovanni artwork. (And by collection, I mean two pieces...but there's room to grow.)

There's nothing salacious about this poster, unless you consider giant, disproportionate arms to be the apex of smut. (And perhaps some of you do. Please avert your eyes, then.) Maybe it's the large arms, but this Giovanni is rather cute.

This is my absolute favorite piece in the office:

Because nothing says "hell-bound lothario" like cross-stitch. Actually, I am not so sure that the crafter didn't just appropriate a "Moses and the Burning Bush" cross stitch pattern. No matter: I love it.

Artists and crafters out there, please feel free to send me your Don Giovanni paint-by-numbers, clay figurine, Etch-a-Sketch rendering, diorama or other piece of art to add to our collection.

Oct 8, 2009


You know opera is my true love, but, dang, if I don't love myself some television. Ah, its pixelly confections provide me comfort and fleeting sustenance.

So I am super psyched that Dean (i.e. our artistic director, conductor, and proprietor of the best laugh ever) is going to be on That's Life with Robin Swoboda tomorrow morning. That's on Fox8 during the ten o'clock hour.

I'm not quite sure why I wasn't asked to be the guest, but I'll overlook the slight this time. I will certainly be there at the taping, you can bet on it.

Later today, I'm heading over to the Don Giovanni music "read through"--which is actually, um, a "sing-through."

Oct 6, 2009


I'm weeping into my morning frappuccino here. Via this article in the Telegraph, I learned that more than half the population of Blackpool in England think opera is a popular talk show host.

Perhaps this extends to Americans, as well, as per the label on our newspaper each week (or at least a lack of spelling skills). Maybe Clevelanders are thinking we're up in our offices "Living our Best Lives" and chatting with Dr. Oz and listening to Mackenzie Phillips talk about "consensual incest." But let's hope not.

In the poll of 3,000 Brits by operamadesimple, only 25% had even seen a live opera. (Someone please get me a paper bag to breathe into!) The good news is the existence of operamadesimple--it provides easy explanations, history and insights into opera. Perfect for novices or opera scaredy cats.