Feb 26, 2009

Arsonist/Fire Fighter

It's been a while since I followed someone around for a day, perpetually sticking my beak into their work. But I convinced Laura Kuenen-Poper, our Manager of Education and Community Development and the orchestra personnel manager, to let me shadow her this morning.

Laura starts her day at the opera at 7:45 a.m. She normally has strict instructions to be quiet and not rouse me from my coop. (Not all roosters get up early, let me tell you.) But today I begrudgingly obliged her wake-up call.

Part of her reasoning for starting early is because it's a good time to communicate with teachers. With her Education Hat on, Laura spends a lot of time talking to teachers, administrators and also Opera Cleveland's teaching artists that execute our programs in the schools.

"This job is a balance of lighting fires and putting out fires," she explains.

The starting the fires part involves grabbing a bunch of The Italian Girl in Algiers costumes and some kerosene initiating partnerships with schools, cultivating interest in our programs and developing new ones.

For instance, today she had a meeting with a potential teacher for a summer program to flesh out curricula for the program. And later, she is meeting with administrators at the Cleveland Municipal School District to discuss future partnerships with them

The putting out fires part involves being a liaison. Laura is there to answer teachers' and administrators' questions, as well as solve any problems our teaching artists might have. Like "The zipper on my costume broke." Seriously.

Between February and March, Opera Cleveland's education programs are in 20 different schools, so Laura keeps close tabs on the oh-so-lovely NE Ohio weather and its snow days.

A different hat! Oh, how shall I recognize you now?

As orchestra personnel manager, Laura coordinates all the communication with the Opera Cleveland orchestra. Today, we had to search for a substitute accordion* player for The Barber of Seville among the lists of approved subs and extra players. (*Not really an accordion player; I can't remember what instrument it was.)

We also divided up the scores to distribute to the orchestra. Did I mention that Laura also plays in the orchestra.

"And in my spare time, I breathe," she says.

Feb 24, 2009


I'm a-twitter. (As opposed to twittering, which I also do. See here.)

The stage managers are here, and you know what that means. Yes, it does mean that Becky's Bar will see a dramatic increase in sales. But it also means that The Barber of Seville is getting closer and closer.

As you may know, they arrive a week before the singers do, cranking out a few trees worth of paperwork, taping the rehearsal space and making sure everything will go as smooth as a baby's butt for the next month.

While I surely miss Valerie, I met our new Production Stage Manager Sarah today. She's a little camera shy and wasn't so keen on cradling me in her arms for the sake of my acute need for affection illustrating my blog. I won't hold that against her.

I also met Erin McCardle (who I call Curls McGirl), one of our assistant stage managers. She helped me suit up with some beads for Mardi Gras.

I helped Curls with her Prop Tracking Sheet, one of the many things the stage managers have to prepare this week. The sheet shows to whom each prop "belongs" in the production, when it enters the stage and when it exits.

Ah, old friends! Lisa Kelly is back as assistant stage manager. She got a peck on the cheek ...or five. (And I got one slap on the beak.)

Feb 19, 2009


Let's face it. People into opera (and I mean into opera) are nerds. I'm a nerd. You're a nerd. We're all nerds. And that's . . . okay. Nerds make things possible. We write symphonies, we invent the internet, we orbit the moon, we write awesome blogs about opera...

Imagine wedding this realm of nerdiness--opera--with the most quintessentially nerdy thing you can think of: Star Trek.

Wait, wait . . . don't imagine it. Watch it:

Is it just me or did the collective unconscious of the universe just buy a lifetime supply of pocket protectors and the complete Monty Python collection?

Feb 17, 2009


This blog post goes out to all the people who plan their vacations six months in advance, all the people who buy toilet paper in bulk, all the people who, ahem, purchase their opera subscriptions as soon as they go on sale. This is for the people who plan ahead...

First of all, if you don't already know, we open The Barber of Seville on March 27.

Second, we are holding a Meet the Cast event on Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 pm. It will again be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (located in Legacy Village on Cedar in Lyndhurst). It's totally free and totally fun. (And I totally live in the San Fernando Valley, circa 1984.) Dean will play Merv Griffin and ask questions (questions like "Boxers or briefs?" and "On a scale of one to ten, just how hot is Carl?") But it's open to audience to ask away as well.

(I will post a reminder about this event closer to the date for all those people who use paper towels when they run out of toilet paper, all those people who can only think a day in advance...)

Feb 14, 2009


Economy, blah blah blah. I would hardly pay attention if it didn't affect opera and the arts. But it does; oh yes, it does.

In the laundry list of who and what are to be on the receiving end of this economic stimulus, I kept looking for arts organizations. I saw that Hollywood production are supposed to receive $100 million. (Phew! I mean, I don't know how I'd live without the screen version of Confessions of a Shopaholic.)

Then I saw that $50 million would be allotted to the NEA. An economic pat on the back, as it were. And yet, some politicians have got their panties in a wad about it. Really?

Let me remind them (per Americans for the Arts) that non-profit arts organizations generate $166.2 billion in economic activity and support 5.7 million jobs every year.

The grumbling comes at a time when we keep learning of opera companies shutting down. (e.g. Connecticut Grand Opera joins Baltimore Opera and Opera Pacific, among others.)

Even if opera ain't your thang, can't we agree that artists are people too--people who need jobs.

Feb 10, 2009

Opera Cleveland, Abridged

When people ask me what Opera Cleveland does, the short answer is that we produce professionally staged operas. But wait! There's more!

Education programs, Meet the Cast events, outreach in the community, and (ahem) an uber-talented and handsome opera chicken. Shall I go on?

Now, I don't have to. All I have to do is show people this clever little montage:

Enough said.

Feb 6, 2009


I took the liberty of making some adjustments to our promotional images for our operas this year. What do you think?

I thought you'd like them.

(I did one for Falstaff, too, but there seem to be some technical difficulties with it.)

Feb 4, 2009


Dean is back in town!!

And just in time. On the wonderful WVIZ program Applause tomorrow night (Thursday at 7:30 pm), there's a tour of the Opera Cleveland warehouse! It's like behind behind the scenes. Our overlord of the warehouse Kish leads the tour, peppering it with her inexhaustible knowledge. And there just might be a chicken in the background. (Wings crossed.)

If you miss the show tomorrow, you can also catch it Feb. 7 at 6:30 pm and Feb. 8 at 12:30 pm. It is also archived on the Applause homepage after it airs.

Feb 2, 2009


I think they've had just about enough of me around the opera office this winter. (Aren't we all a little cagey?) So they were happy to send me off with Lisa Kish to oversee the installation of our Turandot set at Opera Jacksonville. (Our Turandot...she gets around.)

This trip got interesting before we even left Cleveland.

While the Turandot set was trucked down to Florida, Kish had to transport a key prop they needed for the production: a severed head. (SPOILER ALERT: TURANDOT HAS A SEVERED HEAD IN IT.)

Like me, said severed head (which I named Marv) traveled carry-on. Now imagine you're a TSA agent, bored to tears looking at x-rays of Bermuda shorts, John Grisham novels and 3 oz. shampoo bottles. Imagine the joy derived from discovering someone is carrying a severed head in her duffel bag.

See pic. Now you see why I always get searched by security at... on TwitPic

Opera Cleveland: we bring the joy.

Once in Florida, there was this thing called "sun" and the ground wasn't covered with snow. Weird.

Marv and I shared the bed. Kish slept on the floor.

When they installed the set, I helped out with some lighting. (Such as saying "Direct the spotlight on ME, fool.")

Wow! They have coffee breaks in Florida, too!