May 13, 2010


Today I went underground.

Thankfully it had nothing to do with entering the witness protection program and everything to do with visiting our wardrobe department. They are comfortably ensconced in the basement of the theater, basking in the fluorescent effulgence glinting off beige cinder block walls. Ah, the glamor of costuming.

Tesia is our Costume Coordinator. Pity her, she thought she had to school me in ways of the seam ripper. Oh, I've ripped some seams, lady. Oh, yes.

Our Lucia is set in the 1930s, so our costume designer Carol Bailey, along with Tesia and crew, pulled appropriate costumes from vintage stores in Cleveland, The Cleveland Play House, Great Lakes Theater Festival and other sources. There's lots of fedoras, and guns--lots of guns, fitting a mafioso bent to the production. (I don't need to be threatened: I will take the cannoli.)

Pop quiz: What is in the above photo?
A. Hair bound to be stuffed into pantyhose sausages and sent to the Gulf to soak up oil
B. A Pantene commercial gone horribly wrong
C. Wigs for Lucia


May 11, 2010


We are 9 days away from opening night, people. Pretty soon, we'll be out of the rehearsal hall and on stage. But not before I got some snapshots...

Suck it, Edgardo! Lucia is mine now--and we have the marriage certificate to prove it. (The empty champagne glasses, too.)

Honestly, I'm not sure if all these umbrellas are props or if it's just because it's Cleveland in the springtime.

Bloody hell! They make me do all the dirty work.

They're not bored stage managers! They're somber stage managers! (Who says backstage crew can't act?)

May 6, 2010


At rehearsal of the "mad scene"...

Sometimes opera rehearsals just look like really awkward meetings--where there's guns and knifes.

Nili: Oh, Tomer, you're the best director EVER!
Tomer: All I'm doing is subbing in as Edgardo for Scott.
Kris (in background): Why doesn't Tomer hold me like that? Baritones have needs, too.

My gal Val Valerie, doing her best stage manager stare.

This chicken chose the wrong place to roost.


May 5, 2010


I like to think I'm the inspiration for this event (even though they maligned my species as afraid of opera, which clearly I'm not.) Nonetheless, I will be there, and if you haven't tried opera before or have friends who are hesitant, this is the perfect introduction.

Email Paul at if you want to come!

Apr 29, 2010


You would think opera singers would be the loudest talkers ever. I mean, their singing voice can powerfully carry through a huge theater. But, no. Maybe they just save their voices for all the singing, but they can be some soft talkers.

Fortunately, we have learned to provide a mic at our Meet the Cast events. What did we learn about our singers last night?

In addition to raising chickens, Scott likes to totally disconnect for two weeks each year--and take off on his motorcycle.

Both Tomer (on the left) and Nili (standing) were born in Israel, though Nili doesn't have an accent because she was raised partly in America. She admits to being a politics nerd--if she wasn't an opera singer, she'd probably pursue international relations and Middle East policy.

Jordan discussed the challenge of life of the road--for him it's being away from his wife, who is also an opera singer. But technology makes keeping in touch a lot easier; he says he is on Skype everyday with her.

Technology can help singers in other ways, too. It's become way easier to record oneself, and Nili noted that if she really needed to, she could Skype a lesson with her voice teacher.

Apr 27, 2010


Rehearsals for Lucia di Lammermoor have begun! Here's a few of the peeps I will be hanging out with for the next few weeks, as they prepare for the stage:

Don't let the smile fool you--Jordan Shanahan plays the bad guy in this opera.

Here's our Edgardo--tenor Scott Piper. If he appears to know how to handle a chicken, ahem, it's because he owns a chicken farm! In addition to singing, he raises Araucana chickens for their eggs, which happen to be blue-green. (Told you chickens and opera were a natural match.)

Director Tomer Zvulun has directed in Cleveland before--our La boheme in 2008. But that was before my time, so does it count? He likes to hang around cemeteries in his spare time.

Kristopher Irmiter has also performed in Cleveland before--in the aforementioned La boheme as well as Tosca. He's all about me. (Who ISN'T, Kris? Who isn't?)

I neglected to get any pix with Nili Riemer (Lucia); Nicole Birkland (Alisa); Philippe Pierce (Normanno); and Timothy Culver (Arturo). But don't worry--they will surely get their chance to hang with me.

Apr 23, 2010


Opera...Literature...some of the finer things in life. (And by finer, I mean "good," not snootier.) We get to combine the two often at Opera Cleveland. For instance, our Meet the Cast events are held at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Legacy Village.

And, we just happen to have a Meet the Cast event coming up--Wednesday, April 28 at 7:30 pm. Not only can you enjoy learning about our singers (boxers or briefs?...j/k) for FREE, you can take 20% off your bookstore purchases that night from 4-9 pm. Click here for a coupon. The coupon is also good for 10% off your meal at Bronte Bistro.

(Our Meet the Cast event from Don Giovanni)

But, wait...THAT'S NOT ALL! We're mixing literature with another one of my favorite things: wine. On Wednesday, May 27, there's "For the Love of Music: Wine in the Courtyard." This casual wine tasting takes place in the courtyard of Visible Voice Books in Tremont. For $20, you'll support the music and community outreach programs of Opera Cleveland--and enjoy wine, appetizers and music.


Apr 20, 2010


It's rare that I get to do a big reveal on this here blog, but is different. (And not because it's 4/20.) It happens to be exactly one month from opening night of Lucia di Lammermoor, and I get to share some of our set designs with you.

As you may recall from prior blogs, we bought a Macbeth set from Lyric Opera of Kansas City. It was a set that they were done with and ready to trash for space in their warehouse, but our set designer Erhard Rom (who designed the Macbeth set, natch) saw its potential.

Erhard, Director Tomer Zvulun, along with Dean and Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel have been conspiring for about a year on the design.

When creating a new production, as this one is, the designer usually creates a miniature-scale version of the set.

Here, Lucia meets her love Edgardo in secret. (Smooch, smooch, smooch.)

This scene shows Enrico's study--with a ginormous photo of his and Lucia's mother lording over the space.

In this great hall scene, Lucia is forced into a marriage arranged by her brother Enrico. But she loves Edgardo! Enrico says pshaw to that. (Actually, he says he will kill him.)

What you can't really tell in these photos is the awesome projections we'll be using on the set. (In the scene above, for instance, the hall will appear to be huge--something we couldn't do in reality. The stage is only so big, yo.)


Apr 14, 2010


I miss you. I hope we can be together soon.



Apr 7, 2010


I'm a 9-5 kind of chicken. (And it's always 5 o'clock somewhere.) So I'm often not around when our chorus rehearses for a production, which is typically in the evenings. Thus, they are derived of the pleasure of my company and I of theirs. 'Tis a shame.

Because they rock. (In operatic fashion, of course.)

So I'm excited they have a performance of their own coming up. On Wednesday, April 14 at 7 pm, the Opera Cleveland Chorus is performing a 20-minute set at the Cleveland Museum of Art, in celebration of the reopening of Gartner Auditorium. And it's FREE!

So get thee there--and catch some of these peeps:

Being in the Opera Cleveland Chorus is all glitter and Maypoles.

I had the distinct honor of directing the chorus at one rehearsal.
(Or rather they had the distinct honor of being directed by me.)

Fetch me a beer, wench(es)!

Apr 1, 2010


Finally, someone brought me a new Peep. Sure, I have Giacomo here, but--what do they say?--make new friends and keep the old.

This Peep is pimped out--with a suit of chocolate armor.

Yeah, the chocolate kinda obscures any features, but we'll take his company anyway.

Everyone... meet Wolfgang.

Mar 30, 2010


A drizzly, gray day in Cleveland? Why it's perfect for hauling giant slabs of wood!

I have mentioned before that we have a partnership with Philips Healthcare. They produce huge CAT and PET scanners, among other health care machines. Huge machines require huge boxes for shipping. Huge boxes require huge pieces of wood.

What happens to this wood after they are done shipping? That's where we come in. Our partnership saves some of this wood from hitting the landfill, and it provides us with great raw materials for building up stage sets. It also saves us money, and how can you go wrong with that?

So I accompanied the two Lisas and Sarah to Philips to pick up a load of wood. (And I mean, a load--I could build a VERY large chicken coop with it.)

Sarah is smiling because this pick up saved us over $3,000!!

Teaching the next generation how to be eco-friendly.

Kish should always drive with a chicken on her shoulder. Everyone should.


Mar 26, 2010


Opera Cleveland: entertainer, educator... INADVERTENT MATCHMAKER!

I just got word that singers Jason Hardy and Carrie Kahl are getting married, which is awesome. Even better: they met during our production of The Marriage of Figaro in September 2008. Jason played Figaro and Carrie donned the pants as Cherubino.

Jason recently proposed onstage in front of 2,000 people on opening night of another production of The Marriage of Figaro, in which they shared the stage. (see above)

If you think their story is as cute as I do, you can vote for them in Crate and Barrell's Ultimate Wedding contest here.

I feel warm and squishy inside.

(Ed.: Jason just called ME directly to give me the low-down. Turns out his proposal was just a week ago, so they are freshly minted fiances. And he was pretty sly about the proposal, arranging for Carrie to play the role of Barbarina at the last minute. She usually plays Cherubino. They don't have a date set yet, but are hoping the Ultimate Wedding contest can help two "starving artists" with that. There's only five days left to vote!)

Mar 23, 2010


Renee Fleming as Thais


The Celtic Woman?

Mar 22, 2010


Please excuse this interruption to my irregularly scheduled opera prattle for a glimpse at my little trip to lovely Milwaukee. Ok, ok, the only glimpse you actually get is of the Harley-Davidson Museum, but, really, what more do you need?

Our Board President Pauline giving me the what-for.

Will has found a new mode of commuting to the office. (I believe the correct term is "crotch rocket.")

Ha--chickens are everywhere! The opera...Harley-Davidson museums. (Watch out, we're coming for your children next.)

Mar 19, 2010


Ah, more relics from operas of yore. In our Great Warehouse Clean-out 2010, we snagged a box of old Cleveland Opera posters. (One of our predecessor companies.) Thought I'd share some:

Look! Hell's fiery hand has arthritis!

The opera has a vast prop collection of daggers, but I'm fairly certain we don't have a dagger adorned with a clown. It's like those pencils with cumbersome toppers, such as trolls, feathers and pom-poms. I like my pencils and daggers plain and simple, thank you very much.

I love this poster--but when was the opera? Sometimes you have to sacrifice art for content.

Mar 17, 2010


I have got an itch. The sort of itch Gold Bond just can't handle. (And, no, it's not from the wanton company I keep.) It's the itch for the opera season to begin. Perhaps it's the glimpses of spring we have been privy to lately, but I'm just like "c'mon, already! Get this show going!"

Alas, we've got two more months until Lucia di Lammermoor opens. So I must busy myself with other operatic goings-on in the area. Here's the scoop:
  • Tonight & this weekend: Oberlin Opera Theatre presents Candide.

  • Sunday, March 21: GO!, Generation Opera, heads to the Cedar Lee to see the HD broadcast of Il Trovatore.

  • Monday, March 22: Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Theater reprises highlights from its production of Ariadne auf Naxos through the Operatic Adventures program at 7 pm at Beachwood Library.

  • Saturday, March 27: Check your local movie theaters for showing of The Met's HD broadcast of Hamlet, featuring Simon Keenlyside.

Mar 10, 2010


It pays to be an eavesdropper. I'd do it just for the gossip, but occasionally I learn things. (Imagine that.) Such was the case a few weeks ago when I overheard the meeting between Lisa and Beau, the Business Recycling Specialist from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.

While the office is fairly hip to recycling (as I mentioned in a previous post), there's always more we can do. And Beau gave us the what's what.

First of all, the county website has a bevy of information to help with your solid waste needs. (Don't go there--you know what I mean.) But here's some tidbits I overheard that are helpful for businesses and individuals:
  • In the city of Cleveland, you can recycle plastics #1-7. Unless you are a business with a recycling program, you do have to drop off recyclables.

  • There is no company in the region that recycles incandescent light bulbs. But you can--and should--recycle fluorescent bulbs because they contain mercury. You can bring them to Home Depot to do so.

  • There's also no company in Cuyahoga county that recycles styrofoam--because there's no end market for the material. Avoid it! (And, hence, avoid that awful sound styrofoam makes when it brushes against something. Eek.)

  • Aveda stores take bottle caps (from any bottles) to recycle. (These are a #5 plastic that many cities don't collect.)

  • Compost! So much of what gets trashed can easily go back into the earth--a win-win situation.

  • Before you considering tossing something you don't think can be recycled, think again. There may indeed be a business that accepts it in Cuyahoga County. Check out the numerous publications, detailing all of the options. We used the Recycling Directory for Business and Industry to find a company that would pick up a literal ton of paper at our warehouse to recycle.
It should go without saying--but I'm a verbose little chicken, so I'm going to say it anyway--that recycling is the last step in the life cycle of an item. Reduce your consumption first!

Mar 8, 2010


So much opera, so little time. Lately, that's been my mantra. And by "opera," I don't just mean the music, I mean all the work that goes into opera--which we're in thick of here.

So forgive me as I punt this post to some madness on YouTube. Take your pick of your favorite Lucia:

I know which one I prefer.

Mar 2, 2010


When we cleaned out the files in our old warehouse (see previous post), we found many treasures--along with a LOT of manila folders. I thought perhaps you wouldn't be so compelled by photos of said folders (don't hate on me, all you manila fetishists out there!) But I found the old issues of Opera News interesting--we found ones from the 1940s and 1950s, some of which feature cool illustrations on the covers.

I love how instead of generic headshots, the cast page features the singers in character. Cheesily in character, I might add.

Ah, patriotism--the greatest marketing tool, even for opera:

In the bowels of our warehouse, I discovered old programs from when the Met performed in Cleveland. While the company sporadically came to town since 1899, it regularly performed at Cleveland Public Auditorium starting in 1924. These programs are early on in that tenure--they're from 1925 and 1926, respectively.

One of the performances in 1926 was Lucia di Lammermoor:

(I have been inspired by The Sterling & Welch Co. ad above to create my own "Bureau of Suggestion." I think I have enough suggestions and opinions to fill a bureau, heh heh.)