Aug 27, 2009


Another music-loving bird??!!??

Yes, but this one is in a pixelated, interactive format. (Ha! At least I'm real.)

I found out via Opera Chic that a Parisian video game developer has created Maestro: Jump in Music*. In the Nintendo DS game, you control Presto (the aforementioned "bird" above, which looks more like a Pac Man enemy with wings to me.


Anyway, the game is similar to Guitar Hero (which I have never played because SOMEONE *coughPaulcough* doesn't think it's in his marketing budget). Your goal is to get Presto through different levels by playing music with a stylus--the more you know the classical and operatic compositions in the game, the better you'll be.

You can try out the game here.

*Did they mean Jump Into Music??


Aug 25, 2009


You know, Don Giovanni is always getting a bad rap. Sure, he's one shady guy, but he's merely a puppet...literally:

This is from the National Marionette Theater in Prague. (Oh, those Europeans.)

Aug 19, 2009


I was strolling about the OpCleve offices today, clucking my best version of "Sister Christian," when my handler Lisa grabbed me. "Shut your beak and make yourself useful. It's your penance for getting 'Motoring! What's your price for flight?' in my head."

That's how I came to proofread stories for the next edition of our newsletter Bravo! (Don't tell, but I actually don't mind proofreading...I love red pens.) One article particularly interested me. In his column, Dean mentions the acoustic quirks of the State Theatre, where we present our operas. The theater was originally built for vaudeville, so, obviously, it wasn't optimized for orchestral playing. But, brilliant lad that he is, Dean has rearranged our orchestra in the pit to improve the audience's aural experience.

It had me wondering more about the PlayhouseSquare theaters and their history. Here's the skinny (per PlayhouseSquare itself):

Between 1921 and 1922, all five theaters opened to show silent movies and vaudeville. The State, with its footprint behind the Palace, has the longest theater lobby in the world at 320 feet. Movies became more popular during the Great Depression, but when WW II was over, theater patronage started to decline. (Blame the suburbs and TV.) All the theaters, except the Hanna, closed between 1968 and 1969.

The threatened razing of the Ohio and State Theatres in 1972 created a public outcry. (As it should! Can you imagine a bulldozer having its way with those beauties?!) Preservationists staved off demoliton and some renovations allowed for periodic performances as money was gradually raised for full-scale repairs.

Notably, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris opened in the State Theatre lobby (well, it's certainly big enough!) in 1973 and ran for two years. Restorations on the Ohio, State and Palace were completed in the '80s and the Allen in 1998.

Call Cleveland what you will (but don't you dare say "Mistake on the Lake"), but it is frickin' awesome to have these great theaters here. Everytime I sit in one of those velvety, red seats, I feel lucky.


Aug 18, 2009


My friend @jukebox65 (otherwise known as Stacy) sent this to me on Twitter:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Not as good as the LOL Chikn, of course. ;P

Aug 14, 2009


Because we're between operas, some of the staff have been luring me out of my coop with activities around NE Ohio. Sometimes these activities are fun. Sometimes they are not. (i.e. "Will's Day o' Moving" or "Rally Around the Woodpile in Paul's Backyard...and Haul it to the Curb.)

The last two weekends have been an interesting juxtaposition of activities.

Kish took me to Norwalk Raceway Park's Night Under Fire. Yes, drag racing, folks. And fire, lots of fire. And drunk people, lots of them, too. It's always wise to mix cars, fire and alcohol.

John Force was there, who is sorta a bigwig in this arena. (He even has his own TV show!)

To balance things out, Kish took me to see Gone with the Wind at PlayhouseSquare's Cinema on the Square series. (I'm soooo there for The Muppets Take Manhattan on Aug. 23!)

I would have more photos, but, um, it's sorta dark during a movie.

I did get to see the organ at the theatre! They played it before the movie (actually, before the cartoons that preceded the movie. Classic!)

PS: Only 77 days until Don Giovanni opens! (Yes, I counted.)


Aug 10, 2009


We're all about opera for everyone here at OpCleve. So I was intrigued when I learned about Streetwise Opera in the UK.

This organization reaches out to homeless people through weekly programs in homeless centers (rather, centres) and staging a yearly production.

“Once people have increase self-esteem and confidence they achieve many things in their lives that they didn't think were possible,” says singer Rowan Fenner, who leads one of these groups. “Often it's the big issues come up straight away and we get stuck into and opera is perfect for that with huge themes of all the big things in life that we face.” (via this BBC article)

Streetwise Opera says "We have seen over the years how raising confidence levels in participants can have positive, transformational effects in their lives through a kaleidoscope of impacts such as engagement with employment, education, agency services, more independent living, increased contact with family and friends and a better relationship with homeless centre staff."

This is so very cool. It's so weird to have a warm, fuzzy feeling that isn't caused by alcohol!

Check out this video at the BBC.

Aug 5, 2009


TV shows I wouldn't mind seeing turned into operas:

Saved by the Bell
Talk of the Bell reunion got me thinking. I have no doubt Jessie Spano's caffeine-addled, anguished "I'm So Excited" scene would rival Lucia's mad scene. I'm thinking Angela Gheorghiu.

Arrested Development
Can't you just imagine Tobias' Never-Nude Aria?

Gomer Pyle
There's a lot more to this show than a wide-eyed hayseed. I think a good librettist could really plumb its depths. Interestingly, Jim Nabors once seriously considered a career in opera (But trust me, we're better off with him as Gomer.)

This would clearly be a choose-your-own-adventure opera, specially written for the tech-savvy nerds people who obsess over Lost. It would be required to have an iPhone for entry into the opera--not just for a status symbol but to navigate the opera and follow and direct the intricate plot. Jack would be played by Jonas Kaufmann and Nathan Gunn would be Sawyer.

American Idol
It just writes itself, even the title: American Opera. Shame Paula Abdul won't be back next season--would make for some good opera buffa.

Aug 3, 2009


Dean sent this to me this morning with this note:
"This is incredible....89 years old and sings 'Nessun dorma' better than guys half his age!"

True dat.