Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Opera in the Park 2009 Stars

Announcing our Opera in the Park 2009 singers:
Lisa Daltirus, soprano
Jennifer Holloway, mezzo-soprano
Adam Diegel, tenor
Timothy Kuhn, baritone
We're thrilled to have such a stellar line-up! Check back over the next few weeks as I post videos and information on each guest artist.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An Ikea opera?

As if a scent opera wasn't enough to scramble our notions of what opera can be this week, it seems a dynamic group of Brits are producing an opera live in a furniture store. It's called "Flatpack the Opera", by composer Tom Lane. The work originated in a theater but is migrating to Ikea in order to directly involve the public and pose questions about everyday domestic interactions. Sounds fun!

In other news, here's a review of Faust that I missed. This comes from the new local news website Reviewer Bill Wineke says "The singing was superb, as was the orchestra..." in addition to many other nice things.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An opera that really stinks

We're all in Faust recovery mode, crunching numbers from the production for our board meeting this afternoon and also looking ahead excitedly to Opera in the Park 2009 on July 25 and the new season after that. It's a bit of a transitional period, so to pass the time here I offer up this interesting story from the Wall Street Journal last week: "This Opera Hasn't Even Opened, But We Know It Smells", or as the subject line of the forward read, "Stinkoletto"...
Most high-end perfumers spend months designing a signature scent they hope will stay on the market forever.

Christophe Laudamiel, who wants to turn fragrance into high art, has labored for two years on 23 scents that will last for just half an hour.

Mr. Laudamiel, a French fragrance designer who has created perfumes for Clinique, Estée Lauder, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, is collaborating on a "scent opera," a new performance art that pairs music with a carefully orchestrated sequence of smells, some pleasant and some real stinkers. The opera, titled "Green Aria," will test the boundaries of scent art when it opens at the Guggenheim Museum in New York May 31.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Faust broadcast tomorrow

If you missed Faust last weekend or are raring to hear the Madison Opera performance again, you're in luck: tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Wisconsin Public Radio will broadcast last Friday night's performance of Faust in Overture Hall. Tune in to WERN 88.7 or visit the WPR website to stream the broadcast online. Enjoy the intermission features with host Stephanie Elkins, as she chats with our Marguerite Jill Gardner and Maestro Laurent Campellone.

*Our original announcement online and in the performance programs incorrectly stated that the Faust broadcast was on June 6. Tomorrow, Saturday May 23, is the correct date.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Explore the Voice a success

Thank you to everyone who came out for "Explore the Voice" at the UW Hospital and Clinics on Saturday, May 16, and a big thank you to the UW Voice and Swallow Clinic staff for all of their organizational efforts! The workshops were full and there was a great feeling in the air throughout the event. I think the content of the seminars and workshops was balanced really well between practical health management of the voice and career and vocal advice for singers.

From the Madison Opera team, we had General Director Allan Naplan presenting on how an opera company works, and Chorus Master Andrew Abrams discussing how to train for a career as a crossover artist in both opera and musical theater. There was a big mix of music educators, voice students, casual singers, and occupational voice users in attendance, and it seems there is great interest for a similar, FREE symposium next year.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Opening night slideshow

The birth of opera in a paragraph

Only Alex Ross could pull it off so eloquently:
Opera was, in effect, born twice. Its first coming was during the last decade of the sixteenth century, when humanist musicians and poets at the court of the Medici, in Florence, began to present a new kind of sung drama. The inaugural operas had impeccably high-minded subjects—Daphne changing into a laurel tree, Orpheus descending into Hades with his lyre—and were hyper-elegant in execution. Then, in 1637, a travelling troupe set off a fad for opera in the republic of Venice, and the art underwent a mutation. The season took place during Carnival, the time of dissolution and self-reinvention. Melodrama, bawdy humor, and disorienting collisions of high and low permeated the form. Mythological subjects took on a modern edge; castrato singers flamboyantly re-imagined classical heroes; star divas enacted scenes of madness and lament. A paying public showed lusty approval. For the rest of the century, up to five theatres operated in Venice at the same time, drawing an audience that included not only the patrician class but also courtesans, tourists, and a smattering of ordinary people. Opera acquired the intricate mixture of elements—élitist, populist, dignified, demented—which defines the genre to this day.
Read the full article--"Unsung: Recovering the operas of Francesco Cavalli"--in The New Yorker.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"...the best thing I've seen on a Wisconsin stage"

The standing ovation was almost instantaneous last night; don't miss tomorrow's final performance of Faust

Lindsay Christians of 77 Square raves, "Madison Opera has produced a fine version of the classic, one anchored by Andy Abrams' excellent chorus and energized by the superior singing of the leads." And check out the fantastic review on Dane101, Dane County's leading blog collective. "Madison Opera's Faust is the best thing I've seen on a Wisconsin stage... Faust brings world class star power to Madison from its lead performers to the exquisite set.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Get ready for opening night!

Faust opens tonight, and I think Madison audiences are in for a memorable performance. Here are some links to help you get ready!
  • Stream Opera Up Close: The Faust Preview online, just click here to start.
  • Listen to David Pittsinger's interview on Wisconsin Public Radio.
  • Read our educational guide to Faust, or peruse our collection of the best sources online
  • Check out past posts here on The MadOpera Blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Faust teaser...



Faust opens tomorrow night. Don't miss it. Regret can make you do funny things...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Student Matinee Day

Just back from a fantastic student matinee of Faust at the Overture Center. We had over 800 students from all over Wisconsin and they seemed completely involved in the opera, laughing at Mephisto's antics, cheering Faust's high-Cs, ooo-ing and ahh-ing the sets, and struck silent by Marguerite's demise and redemption in the final scenes. More pictures tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tune in to WPR at Noon!

Listen to WERN 88.7 or stream live online to hear David Pittsinger on Wisconsin Public Radio!

UPDATE: Listen to yesterday's Midday Interview with David Pittsinger on WPR and watch his chat on "Wake Up Wisconsin" below.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weekend slideshow

It was a busy weekend for Madison Opera. Saturday, the Faust set was loaded in to Overture Hall during Overture's Open House. Meanwhile, the orchestra and singers got together for the first time at the sitzprobe rehearsal upstairs. On Sunday, David Pittsinger, David Lomeli, Jill Gardner, Director Bernard Uzan, and Maestro Laurent Campellone all joined Allan Naplan at Opera Up Close: The Faust Preview before their first rehearsal on stage.

In addition to loads of musical and historical details presented by Naplan at Opera Up Close, we learned of Maestro Campellone's first experience with Faust. He was 6 years old, and his Italian grandfather felt it was time for young Laurent's first opera, so they went to Faust. After Mephistopheles's entrance, however, 6 year-old Laurent was scared out of his mind and "went crazy." He said (sarcastically) that it was his grandfather's "greatest shame" to have to leave the theater early. We also learned that our tenor David Lomeli started off as football player and engineering student in Mexico. After the athletic department at his university could only offer a half-scholarship, he heard that the cultural department was offering more money and so auditioned for West Side Story. Though he had the voice, the director was unfortunately not looking for a football player-sized Tony, but as fate would have it, a new opera department was in the works and David was offered the scholarship for a tenor. So, as he said, he gave up the sports life and became an opera singer for the money.

You can relive Opera Up Close: The Faust Preview on Madison City Channel (Charter Analog 98, Charter Digital 994) on Wednesday, May 12 at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m., and Friday, May 22 at 8 p.m.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Last night's rehearsal

I had a fantastic time at rehearsal last night. Goosebumps abounded: we no doubt have a special cast on our hands, and the chorus is sounding extra strong and polished. There are a few things I love about being a fly on the wall at our rehearsals. First, I am perpetually blown away when I hear opera singers up close and stripped down, with just a piano in an enclosed rehearsal room: the massive volume they are capable of and the intense physical demands of performance are never more evident. And perhaps more importantly is the clear fun everyone is having and the sense of camaraderie that fills the room. Hopefully some of my pictures capture this. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Weekend happenings

Saturday, May 9
  • Swing by the Overture Center for the Arts between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for the Overture Open House. Madison Opera will have a booth in the lobby, plus you can observe our crew load in the Faust set on the Overture Hall stage and explore the Center's diverse performance spaces.
  • If you're not downtown, turn on the radio and listen to a broadcast of Madison Opera's Cosi fan Tutte from March 15! Tune in to WERN 88.7 at 12:30 p.m., or go to the WPR website and listen online.
Sunday, May 10
  • OPERA UP CLOSE: THE FAUST PREVIEW, 4 - 6 p.m., MMoCA Lecture Hall, $20 Gen. Admission, FREE with student ID. Join General Director Allan Naplan for an engaging, multimedia, behind-the-scenes preview of Gounod's Faust. Stars of the show David Pittsigner, David Lomeli, and Jill Gardner will be on hand to talk about the production, as will our director Bernard Uzan and conductor Laurent Campellone. There's no better way to enhance your operatic experience!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Opera at Capitol Lakes

General Director Allan Naplan brought Opera Up Close: The Faust Preview to the Capitol Lakes Retirement Community yesterday afternoon along with mezzo-soprano Marie Lenormand, baritone Scott Johnson and accompanist Scott Gendel. The audience was treated to excerpts from Faust by our wonderful singers and learned all about the history and music of Gounod and his opera. Enjoy the pictures! Opera Up Close takes place this weekend on Sunday, May 10 from 4-6 p.m. at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. General admission $20; students get in for free!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Butterfly Broadcast

Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., tune in to Wisconsin Public Radio WERN 88.7 to listen to a broadcast of Madison Opera's Madama Butterfly, recorded live on Friday, November 21, 2008. If the ovation in Overture Hall that night was any indication, this was a performance to remember, so tune in to recapture the magic of Puccini as sung by Maria Kanyova, Arnold Rawls, Grant Youngblood, and Heather Johnson with the Madison Opera Chorus and Madison Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Leonardo Vordoni. If you're not in Wisconsin, listen online here (use whichever link from the left column works best for your computer).

REMINDER: Registration for "Explore the Voice" on May 16 closes today, so sign up online now for this free event!