Monday, December 20, 2010

Spotlight on Bertolt Brecht

Brecht is the key figure of our time, and all theatre work today at some point starts from or returns to his statements and achievement. – Peter Brook

Bertolt Brecht, along with composer Kurt Weill, created Madison Opera’s next production, The Threepenny Opera. This is our first venture in to Brecht’s works and we’re excited to have our return to musical theatre be with a piece of this caliber. Here’s an introduction to one of the most influential figures in theatre of all time: Bertolt Brecht.

When Brecht entered the theatre world in the 1920’s, he started a revolution. Brecht was devoted to the concept that theatre should serve a social purpose. To encourage his audience to think critically about the political themes in his plays, he developed a style that he named ‘Epic Theater.’ This style is now commonly referred to as ‘Brechtian.’

Brechtian theatre techniques are designed to alienate or distance the audience. However, the goal is not that the audience does not feel any emotions, but instead that they feel different emotions than the characters on the stage. So it is perfectly acceptable to feel sympathy for the characters, but not empathy. Brecht believed that when the audience identified emotionally with the characters, they lost the ability to think critically about what was happening on stage and apply it to the world around them. In Brecht’s words:

As we cannot invite the audience to fling itself into the story as if it were a river and let itself be carried vaguely hither and thither, the individual episodes have to be knotted together in such a way that the knots are easily noticed. The episodes must not succeed one another indistinguishably but must give us a chance to interpose our judgment.

Brecht had specific techniques designed to create that critical distance. These included using unusual vocabulary and language, harsh lighting and the removal of the ‘fourth wall.’ The fourth wall refers to the imaginary line between the play and the audience. To break the fourth wall, characters in Brecht’s work would often speak directly to the audience, which reminds the audience that the play is a representation of reality, not actual reality.

 Another distancing technique Brecht employed was inserting songs in to his works to break up the action. This, as well as Brecht’s strong belief in collaboration, led to a partnership with Kurt Weill that lasted for years. In addition to Threepenny, Brecht and Weill collaborated together on a number of musicals, including Happy End and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogany. However, The Threepenny Opera is by far their most successful and widely produced musical.  

Today in Germany, Brecht’s works are produced more often than Shakespeare. While Brecht was socially motivated, his works are still dazzling, entertaining and powerful. 
 Art ought to be a means of education, but its purpose is to give pleasure. –Bertolt Brecht

Eddershaw, Margaret. Performing Brecht: Forty Years of British Performances. 
Reinelt, Janelle. After Brecht: British Epic Theatre.

-Laura, Development/Marketing Associate


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fifty Years of Madison Opera: La Boheme, 1963 (Part 2)

The Wisconsin winter is conducive to reflection, and so it feels right that we continue our series on Madison Opera history today. It perhaps is especially appropriate because it was in December 1962 that plans were busily coming together for Madison Opera's first fully staged, full length performance of an opera.

Last we left off, the Johnsons had arrived in Madison, the Opera Workshop had been born, and the new ensemble debuted with "A Night in Vienna." The reviews were encouraging, and a May 28, 1962 profile in The Milwaukee Journal was titled "Opera Sounds New Note in Madison: Roland Johnsons lead renaissance." The piece opened by stating "The birth--and apparently successful debut--of the Madison Civic Opera Workshop surprised no one more than Mrs. Roland Johnson." The writer goes on to note that though Arline Johnson had determined to retire temporarily from music after leaving Alabama, the enthusiasm of local singers to venture into operatic repertoire upon her arrival in 1961 made her continuing involvement inevitable. After "A Night in Vienna," plans had already been laid for a full production of La boheme the next year:

"Next May we plan to do a full length 'La Boheme,'" [Roland] Johnson said, "and we think we have enough local singers to do a good job. It is terribly familiar and we will do it in English, so it should be a good bridge for reaching the audience for musicals."
Puccini came knocking sooner than expected. On November 8, 1962, Viola A. Ward wrote to her friends and peers in the community that Madison had determined to launch its own Civic Opera Group, which was to present a fully staged production of La Boheme. She stated that it was imperative to form a supporting guild to sponsor the event: "This is not a money making event as such. If the enthusiastic support of an opera guild can achieve sell-out performances, the project will support itself financially." She invited guests over for desserts and coffee on November 15th, and it is safe to conclude that on that evening opera in Madison started to look like a sustainable venture, as a Guild was formed with the purposes of:

  1. Personal promotion for this project.
  2. To inspire a group of patrons and guarantors.
  3. To co-ordinate and handle ticket sales and publicity campaign.
  4. Public schools as liason (as the youth are our future public).
The local papers were abuzz. Sets were being built with the cooperation of the Madison Theater Guild. Over 75 local singers, as well as the Madison Symphony Orchestra, were set to perform. And despite the fact that no auditorium in Madison had a pit for the orchestra, a suitable situation was arranged at Madison East High School. The Capital Times wrote in December that "The atmosphere for the initial presentation will be colorful and intimate as though it were being done in France." The Wisconsin State Journal published an editorial with the headline, "Don't Miss City's New Opera." Tickets for $3, $2, $1.50, and $1 were sold in advance at Manchester's, Ward-Brodt, Forbes Meagher, Victor, and Monona Grove Music House. A dress rehearsal was broadcast on local radio station WHA the Sunday prior to the premiere, featuring intermission interviews with Roland and Arline Johnson.

Performances of La Boheme took place on January 11 and 12, 1963, at 8:30 PM, with an additional "Matinee for Young People" at 2 PM on January 12. The production was cast as follows:

By all accounts, La Boheme was a huge success. In The Wisconsin State Journal society pages, Louise C. Marston wrote:
It came off with professional finesse before a loyal but critical audience which enjoyed every second of it - and showed it by enthusiastic clapping and a few sophisticated "Bravos" at the right moments. The audience, which filled the rather hard seats of East High School's auditorium to overflowing, managed to look quite "dressy" despite jillions of boots and galoshes, sensibly donned in view of the night's heavy snowfall.
Carmen Elsner's review in The Wisconsin State Journal was equally enthusiastic:
Madison's fledgling Civic Opera tried its wings Friday night, and its first flight was a delightful one into musical fancy...The music and action had its desired effect - one wanted to cry. But shouted "Bravo" instead. The whole performance, using all home talent and sung in English, was a valiant effort and a good one...But it was Roland Johnson, director of the orchestra, and Mrs. Johnson who masterminded the whole production, and have given this city a budding opera troupe.
And like that, the Opera Workshop of 1961 and 1962 became the Madison Civic Opera, a true company with the goodwill of the city of Madison behind it. Enjoy these photos of the first La Boheme in Madison:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Give the gift of opera

Yes, we say it every year, but hey, it's true: opera tickets make a great holiday gift! This year especially, we can promise that tickets to the remaining productions of our irresistible 50th Anniversary Season will be a hit with aficionados and newbies alike:

The Threepenny Opera, FEB 4 - 13, 2011 | The Playhouse: Kurt Weill's jazz and operetta infused score, Brecht's gritty drama, and the star power of James DeVita and Tracy Michelle Arnold: what's not to love? Have we mentioned Dorothy Danner is directing, and John DeMain is conducting? Mack the Knife is coming to town, and you don't want to miss him.

La Traviata, APR 29 & MAY 1, 2011 | Overture Hall: Verdi's classic tells the story of the free-spirited Parisian party-girl Violetta, who falls hard for the romantic Alfredo, and it's all brought to life with some of the most memorable operatic music ever written. Madison Opera's production features gorgeous sets from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the return of soprano Elizabeth Caballero, and the US debut of Italian tenor Giuseppe Varano.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lock your doors, and call the law...

...because Macheath's back in town

These lyrics are from "Mack the Knife", the famous Kurt Weill song that opens The Threepenny Opera. According to Wikipedia, at least 29 pop versions of "Mack the Knife" have been recorded, and lucky for us, many of them are on YouTube. In the coming months, before Macheath really is in town, I think it'd be fun to examine the many incarnations of "Mack the Knife", or "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" in the original German. The big question is, how did such a dark song, composed in Berlin on the eve of historic political instability, become an upbeat, popular American staple?

Let's start at the beginning. The first version on record is by Bertolt Brecht, the revolutionary playwright who wrote the text for The Threepenny Opera:

From Wikipedia:

"A moritat (from mori meaning "deadly" and tat meaning "deed") is a medieval version of the murder ballad performed by strolling minstrels. In The Threepenny Opera, the moritat singer with his street organ introduces and closes the drama with the tale of the deadly Mackie Messer, or Mack the Knife, a character based on the dashing highwayman Macheath in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera. The Brecht-Weill version of the character was far more cruel and sinister, and has been transformed into a modern anti-hero.

The play opens with the moritat singer comparing Macheath (unfavorably) with a shark, and then telling tales of his robberies, murders, rapes, and arson.

The song was inserted in the play shortly before its première in 1928, because Harald Paulsen, who created the role of Macheath, wished a more effective introduction of his character. The original German text is:

Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne,
Und die trägt er im Gesicht.
Und Macheath, der hat ein Messer,
Doch das Messer sieht man nicht. 
And the shark, it has teeth,
And it wears them in its face.
And Macheath, he has a knife,
But the knife one doesn't see."
Serious stuff, with not much for a swinging Sinatra-type to grab on to. We'll see how that came to be next time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tommy Awards Student Critics go to the opera

Madison Opera was thrilled to welcome the Tommy Awards Student Critics to our production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. The Student Critics program aims to foster critical thinking and writing skills among area high school students and is a component of the Overture Center's Tommy Awards. Here are some excerpts from their reviews:

Fiorella Fernandez
...As the lights dimmed on the opening of Madison Opera’s 50th anniversary season, there was an unspoken excitement radiating from the sold out theatre. Maestro DeMain led the orchestra playing Mozart’s sweet melodies in beautiful harmony, and clarity. Then the curtain rose, and there appeared an elaborate set featuring a black-checkered floor, and painted blue draped curtain in the background behind imposing columns that portrayed wealth and power....
All in all, a fun and memorable production (though a little lengthy in its three-hour run) filled with unique, and smooth voices, a playful cast, and many laughs. Congratulations Madison Opera… on your 50 years and your lively, and entertaining production!
Julianna Jerosch
...The costumes reflected the personality of each character vibrantly. The set is an elaborate set-up which makes up the scenes for each of the four acts, changing by a quick removal a few panels. It is an accurate neoclassical design which was the fashion of the day. Lighting designer Jeff Harris has many skilled effects, such as sunlight shining in through the windows. On the other hand, the shadows of those entering or exiting the stage can be seen the entire third act. The superscript was helpful to fully understand the goings-on during a scene. The sections of harmony of the music were outstanding, and they outshone many solo parts.
The Marriage of Figaro, directed by A. Scott Perry, is a sure choice for a night at the opera. This comic story is impressive with its overall quality and appeal.
Bat-Zion Hose
Why do people go to the opera? It’s long compared to other forms of entertainment. It’s essentially a play set to music. On the other hand, opera won’t put you to sleep unless you are bored by jealousy, revenge, and lust. Plus, opera is NOT a dead form of art as many believe it to be. In fact, the fastest growing opera audience in the United-States is 20s to 30s...

...Opera’s are typically longer than most plays, but The Marriage of Figaro is definitely worth the sacrifice of time. This opera was easy to understand and comical. Jason Hardy, who made his Madison Opera debut, was a perfect fit for the role of Figaro. He’s appearance was forceful and strong. Not surprising because it was his third time playing the role of Figaro. He and Anya Matanovic made the perfect couple of Figaro and Susanna. The cast worked well together and are all well known. Jeff Mattsey, who was Count Almaviva is known worldwide for his signature baritone roles.
Abby Taylor
...The second the curtains opened, I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the show was visually. From the extravagant sets to the intricate and gorgeous costumes, it was clear the opera was not going to be a disappointment. As the show continued, I was swept away by the music’s beauty and how wonderfully the singers performed it. The two most impressive players, however, had to be Susanna, played by Anya Matanovic, and the Countess, played by Melody Moore. Their voices blended perfectly together and their talent was clear in their many duets and interactions throughout the show. Their comedic timing was also near perfection, and they never failed to get a laugh. Honestly, the only negative I could truly find about the show is the length of the opera itself...
Kristina Rodel
Before attending Madison Opera’s production of “The Marriage of Figaro” (directed by A. Scott Parry, a Madison Opera newcomer), many seasoned opera-goers assured me that Figaro is an excellent “starter” for those of us who are only beginning to test the waters of the opera world, and based on my experience at the Overture Center on November 5th, their judgment is keen.

The plot unfolds over the course of a single day- and it sure has a lot of unfolding to do. Figaro (Jason Hardy) is the Count’s valet, and is ready to marry lovely Susanna (Anya Matanovic). On their wedding day, however, Susanna confesses to Figaro that the Count has been making advances on her, and Figaro is determined to thwart the Count’s prowl with his own cleverness. It becomes much more than the basic love triangle when an old housekeeper Marcellina (Melissa Parks) has plans of her own for Figaro, who did not repay a loan she granted to him, and for which he must atone by marrying the old woman. Factor in a lovesick pageboy named Cherubino (Emily Lorini) whose heart pounds for nearly any woman, and gossipy music master Don Basilio (James Doing), and the resulting shenanigans complicate not only Figaro and Susanna’s wedding plans, but the peace of just about everyone else...

Jesse Bossingham
Opera is considered a truly great cultural experience, so as a first time opera-goer, the only emotion I can honestly say I felt at first is overwhelmed. Before the show even began, I saw people far more dressed up than my collared shirt and black pants. The lieutenant-governor and the mayor of Madison both appeared to give a speech opening the fifth anniversary of the opera. And then, once the strains of the overture (classical music, already intimidating on its own), the curtain rose on a beautiful Greco-Roman set and the waves of that operatic soprano began to echo over the crowd. As an opera newcomer, it was initially terrifying. But when Figaro began using his ruler to perform an air guitar solo in time with the orchestra, I realized that I would not be in for the stilted, formal experience I was expecting. The Marriage of Figaro grew on me as it became a farce of miscommunication and botched plans.

Every marriage is complicated, but generally most partners do not have to deal with a jealous Count watching their every move, hoping to find a way to reinstate the policy of primae noctis in order to take advantage of the young bride. Figaro and Susanna, the lucky couple, cook up plans in order to escape the Count's wrath. Unfortunately, they aren't very good at explaining these plans to each other. From there, everything spirals out of control...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Allan Naplan appointed by Minnesota Opera; Madison Opera begins national search for new general director

Madison Opera’s Board President announced today that current General Director Allan Naplan has been tapped to be the new President and General Director of Minnesota Opera, the 15th largest opera company in the US. Naplan will continue his duties with Madison Opera through performances of The Threepenny Opera in Feb. 2011, and the company is beginning a nationwide search to fill his position.

“We are thrilled for Allan, as this is an amazing opportunity for one of the youngest leaders of an opera company in this country,” said Fran Klos, Board President. Klos continued, “Allan has provided wonderful creativity and energy to our company, and he has helped us reach the highest levels of artistic excellence. It is an honor to Madison Opera that Allan has been offered this prestigious position. Meanwhile, with a strong board of trustees and a multi-year artistic and financial plan, the company’s continued success in ensured. Because of Allan’s leadership, our wonderful audiences, and our generous donors, Madison Opera has finished in the black for each of the last five seasons.”

In reflecting on his five years with Madison Opera, Naplan commented, “Madison has been a wonderful city for my family and me, and we leave it with regret. I truly appreciate the opportunities that Madison Opera has given me and the support we have received from the entire community. I have full confidence in the company and am convinced that Madison Opera has a bright future.”

Naplan will assume duties in the Twin Cities on Mar. 1, 2011. Madison Opera has organized a search committee and is beginning a nationwide search for a new general director. Klos stated, “We are already interviewing national search firms and we have put a transition team into place to assure the continuation of our business of producing outstanding opera for our Madison and regional audiences.” Continuing, she stated, “Allan will be deeply missed, but we are confident that with our organizational strength, our talented staff, artistic guidance from Maestro John DeMain, and a wide base of support, we will continue to grow and be a significant force in the Madison community for years to come.”

In September 2010, Madison Opera announced a budget surplus for the closing of the 2009-2010 season and increased subscription sales for the 2010-2011 season. The company opened its 50th anniversary season on Nov. 5 with a sold-out and critically acclaimed production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and will continue its year-long celebration with performances of The Threepenny Opera, La Traviata and the Madison summer tradition, Opera in the Park, which most recently drew a record audience of over 14,000 people to Garner Park.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Finger puppets to the rescue

Going through Figaro withdrawal? Well, look no further than this finger puppet version of the opera to cheer you right up. Our charming Susanna, Anya Matanovic, hand-made all of the puppets from her hotel room in Madison, and filmed with the help of our Countess, Melody Moore, and Cherubino, Emily Lorini!

Monday, November 8, 2010

And the Winner of the Wedding Cake Contest is...The Rolling Pin Bake Shop!

As many of you saw, Figaro's Wedding Cake Contest was held in the lobby of the Overture Center this past weekend during Madison Opera's The Marriage of Figaro. The participants, Madison area's top bakeries, more than exceeded our expectations! The cakes and cupcake arrangement were all different - some were classic, some were Figaro themed, and all were exquisite.

However, there can only be one winner: The Rolling Pin Bakeshop! The Rolling Pin's cake (pictured to the right) was a seven layer cake that encompassed everything about the opera, from the stage curtain at the bottom to Mozart and the streets of Seville.

Congratulations to The Rolling Pin Bakeshop and thank you to all who participated!

Figaro Review Roundup

It doesn't get better than the season opener. The excitement in the air, the energy on stage. Madison Opera's cast of The Marriage of Figaro turned in performances that thrilled, and the critics are singing their praises...

The Capital Times - "Fine 'Figaro' Launches Madison Opera's 50th Season"

The Isthmus - "Madison Opera stages splendid The Marriage of Figaro"

Local Sounds Magazine - "Madison Opera 'Figaro' Proves Marriage works with Commitment" 

Channel3000 - "Standing ovation well-deserved for Madison Opera"


Your Ill-Fitting Overcoat "Opera can be actually, legitimately, hilariously funny." 

Irony or Mayo - "Act Two really cranks up the Benny Hill music. There's ducking, lying, hiding, jumping out of windows--you could almost see Scooby and the gang running from the villain of the week."

Clyde's Rebirth - "I got goosebumps when the orchestra began...The comedy was a delightful counterpart to the typical 'stuffy and boring' rap that opera usually gets." - "My last words on this performance will be to call out my instantaneous love for the voice of Anya Matanovic, who plays Susanna. Her voice is like champagne. She's my new favorite opera singer and I heartily recommend seeking out her performances."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Scenes from Opening Night of The Marriage of Figaro

Bakers, bloggers, and government officials came out to celebrate Madison Opera Day, the opening of Madison Opera's 50th Anniversary Season with Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro in Overture Hall. Check out those cakes!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Figaro in the Press, Part 2

The good word keeps spreading! Here's more press on Madison Opera's The Marriage of Figaro, opening tonight in Overture Hall:

Dane101"Madison Opera at 50: Growth Spurt in Progress"

77 Square - "Meddling in Marriage"

The Badger Herald - "Humor 'marries' with talent"

The Well-Tempered Ear - "Interview with A. Scott Parry: Part 2"

Blogger Night at the Opera REDUX

It's time for our second annual Blogger Night at the Opera! If you attended Carmen last year, you saw these guys blogging away about their operatic experiences. This year brings in another fantastic crop of local bloggerati, all with a variety of interests and backgrounds, from food and theater writers to a fashionista who'll be on the prowl for trend-setters at the opera . Follow them for live posts from The Marriage of Figaro tonight, as it's bound to be a lively discussion!


 Dane101 [Maddie, @dane101]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eye on the Cast: The Women of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro, despite its title, might as well be called "The Marriage of Susanna," or, "The Countess's Dilemma," so compelling and significant to the plot are the female characters in Mozart's opera. These two stars bring the central women of The Marriage of Figaro to life with style, grace, and spunk to spare.

Anya Matanovic, singing her first Susanna in Madison Opera's production of Figaro, was born in Madison and raised in Washington state. Currently based in New York, she is a star on the rise, with recent credits at Cleveland Opera, Seattle Opera, and the New Israeli Opera. She made her Madison Opera debut this past summer at Opera in the Park, and this coming summer she makes her debut at the prestigious Glimmerglass Opera festival as Micaela in Carmen.

Melody Moore, the Countess Almaviva, arrived in Madison direct from London, where she was starring as Marguerite in a new production of Faust at the English National Opera. The Daily Telegraph praised her "thrillingly red-blooded singing," and previously in London, after a performance as Mimi in La Boheme, the Independent proclaimed: "this young lady is special." Based in San Francisco, Ms. Moore has recent credits at San Francisco Opera and LA Opera.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Figaro in the Press, Part 1

Buzz is building for Madison Opera's production of The Marriage of Figaro! Here's some recent coverage in the press:

Allan Naplan on "Wake Up Wisconsin":

Also new this morning, director A. Scott Parry is interviewed by The Well-Tempered Ear, and bass Jason Hardy is interviewed by the international opera blog COMMANDOpera in a multi-part video series.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aria Focus: Dove Sono

The following is written by guest blogger Adria Rice. Adria is the new operations manager for Madison Opera. She recently graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in vocal performance and English.
In The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s music and Da Ponte’s lyrics create a scenario in which the upper class and the lower class scheme with and against each other. The Count Almaviva attempts to use his status and power to exercise his “feudal right” and take his wife’s chambermaid, Susanna, to bed before her marriage to Figaro (the Count’s personal valet). Susanna, a trusted friend of the Countess, reveals her wit and cunning as she and the Countess concoct a plan to expose the Count and reprimand him for his lecherous behavior. The plan to trick the Count begins when Susanna tells the Count that she will come to the assignation in the woods. But the woman he woos in the woods will not be Susanna, but his wife, the Countess, dressed as Susanna.

By Act III, Scene 8, the Countess is waiting for Susanna to arrive with an update concerning their plan to trick the Count. In the recitative before the Countess’s Act III aria Dove sono, the Countess wavers, wanting to go ahead with the plan, but fearing to punish her husband publically: “The plan seems to me a little rash, and against such a quick and jealous husband! But what harm is there in it?” In her public life she is a strong noblewoman, but in private she is a despondent wife forced to seek refuge in the cunning of her friend and maid, Susanna. The Countess sings, “First loved, then insulted, and at last betrayed, you [The Count] force me to seek help from one of my maids!” Her recitative is very dramatic, and her anger at her husband builds throughout the recitative, culminating toward the end with an A above the staff on her last phrase.

In the aria Dove sono, The Countess laments her broken heart and her husband’s wandering affections. Dove sono is challenging because it has long legato phrases that require skilled breath control. Great vocal technique is imperative in order to sing it successfully. If sung improperly, a Mozart aria will quickly reveal flaws and imperfections, but if sung with good technique it will reveal all the beautiful qualities and textures of the voice. Arguably, Mozart gave his most difficult and most lyrical music in The Marriage of Figaro to The Countess, and we know Madison Opera audiences are in for a treat with soprano Melody Moore's interpretation.

Listen to the great Renée Fleming sing the Countess’s Act III recitative and aria, Dove sono, and follow along with the English translation:

Where are the lovely moments
Of sweetness and pleasure?
Where have the promises gone
That came from those lying lips?
Why, if all is changed for me
Into tears and pain,
Has the memory of that goodness
Not vanished from my breast?
Ah! if only, at least, my faithfulness,
Which still loves amidst its suffering,
Could bring me the hope
Of changing that ungrateful heart!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Madison Opera Celebrates National Opera Week 2010

Madison Opera is proud to join nearly 100 other opera organizations nationwide to celebrate National Opera Week (October 29 – November 7), organized by OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, with support of the National Endowment for the Arts.

National Opera Week celebrates the vitality of opera in America today and brings the inventiveness and excitement of opera to a broader national audience. The strength and diversity of established opera companies, community opera ensembles and opera training programs across the United States will be shared through a variety of free and accessible activities for opera lovers and newcomers to the art form.

“National Opera Week is an opportunity to highlight the astounding diversity and creativity of opera activity across the United States today,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president & CEO of OPERA America. “There is something for everyone during National Opera Week, providing both the seasoned attendee and newcomer a chance to learn about, experience and enjoy the art form in an informal setting.”

Madison Opera is excited to offer a variety of opportunities for people in the Madison area to get involved. From a Book Club discussion of Marrying Mozart to a "Figaro" themed wedding cake contest, from a free Pre-Opera Talk to Blogger Night at the Opera, there is something for everyone. Check out our full list of events and join the fun.

Coinciding with the presentation of the NEA Opera Honors in Washington, D.C., National Opera Week also honors the careers of the outstanding artists chosen each year for this award. The recipients of the 2010 NEA Opera Honors are Soprano Martina Arroyo, General Director David DiChiera, Composer Philip Glass and Music Director Eve Queler. Previous honorees include Composer John Adams, Composer Carlisle Floyd, Mezzo-Soprano Marilyn Horne, Conductor James Levine and Soprano Leontyne Price. The 2010 NEA Opera Honors took place on Friday, October 22 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Announcing The Marriage of Figaro Wedding Cake Contest!

To celebrate the marriage of Figaro and Susanna, Madison Opera is excited to host a Wedding Cake Contest among the Madison area’s top bakeries! The wedding cakes and cupcake arrangements will be on display in the Overture Hall lobby and the voting will take place on Opening Night of The Marriage of Figaro, November 5th, prior to the performance and during intermission. The winner will be the most attractive and inventive, as determined by YOU, the audience members! Whether you're planning a wedding and want to scope out local vendors or just love sweets, come view the scrumptious deserts and vote for your favorite! Everyone who votes will also be entered into a raffle to win gift certificates to the participating bakeries. The following bakeries have stepped up to the challenge:

      Scenes from a weekend, Oct. 23-24

      "Cakes" in the Rotunda: Attendees at the Overture Center's Kids in the Rotunda help Madison Opera color in wedding cakes to decorate the Overture Hall lobby for opening night of The Marriage of Figaro

      Opera Up Close: A. Scott Parry, Jason Hardy, Anya Matanovic, Jeff Mattsey, and Melody Moore discuss The Marriage of Figaro

      Cabaret Italiano: Artistic Director John DeMain and General Director Allan Naplan unite for a special performance at Cabaret Italiano, kicking off our 50th anniversary season in swinging style

      Friday, October 22, 2010

      Fill your weekend with Madison Opera

      Here's the rundown on what's happening this weekend with Madison Opera:

      "Cakes in the Rotunda" - SATURDAY, OCT 23, 2010, 9 AM - 1 PM

      Join Madison Opera at Kids in the Rotunda as we prepare for the opening of The Marriage of Figaro by coloring in "Cakes" in the Rotunda! At this event, young children are invited to showcase their coloring talents by decorating cake templates in the Overture Hall lobby, before and after jamming with The Gomers at Kids in the Rotunda! The colorful creations will be on display in the Lobby during performances of the opera on Nov. 5th and 7th.

      "Opera Up Close: The Figaro Preview" - SUNDAY, OCT 24, 2010, 1 - 3 PM 

      General Director Allan Naplan starts the Opera Up Close 2010-11 Series with an engaging, multimedia preview and introduction to The Marriage of Figaro. Explore Mozart's life and music and hear from the director and cast of the Madison Opera production. $20 general admission / free with valid student ID. MMoCA Lecture Hall.

      SOLD OUT: "Cabaret Italiano" - SUNDAY, OCT 24, 2010, 4:30 - 8 PM

      A special event to benefit Madison Opera, featuring delicious Italian dining and entertainment with the cast of The Marriage of Figaro, plus a special performance by Allan Naplan and John DeMain. At Full Compass Systems.

      *These events are our first as part of NATIONAL OPERA WEEK! We'll post more about what's to come on Monday.

      Thursday, October 21, 2010

      Apprenticeship Program Starts Third Season

      The Madison Opera High School Apprenticeship Program kicked off its third season last night with a new round of participants. We could not be more thrilled to have 8 new apprentices joining us for this exciting season! Coming from a wide range of local and regional schools, these impressive juniors and seniors in high school are all interested in learning about how opera is produced and what it takes to become a professional opera singer, or in one case, conductor. Without further ado, the 2010-2011 Madison Opera High School Apprentices are:
      • Sami Elmer (Oregon High School)
      • Claire Lamberty (Waunakee High School)
      • Kelly Noltner (Monona Grove High School)
      • Tiffany Orr (Abundant Life Christian School)
      • Joshua Sanders (Sauk Prarie High School)
      • Alannah Spencer (Verona Area High School)
      • Mikko Utevsky (Madison East High School)
      • Bayley Waters (Edgewood High School)
      At last night's staging rehearsal for The Marriage of Figaro, the apprentices met each other for the first time and reviewed the story of the opera. They also heard from our stage manager Jill Krynicki and director A. Scott Parry before observing our chorus and principal singers at work. The night finished off with Figaro's famous aria, "Non piu andrai."

      Over the next few weeks, the apprentices will see the evolution of the staging and learn about the production process by attending a variety of rehearsals and the final full performances, in addition Opera Up Close: The Figaro Preview this Sunday. They'll also get to have dinner with a guest artist, and learn about the many paths one can take to become an opera singer. It's always a ton of fun, and we're looking forward to an exciting year ahead!

      Friday, October 15, 2010

      Eye on the Cast: Jeff Mattsey

      Jeff Mattsey makes his Madison Opera debut as the Count in The Marriage of Figaro in just a few short weeks. Renowned worldwide for the signature baritone roles that have defined his career, Jeff made his operatic stage debut at the age of 21 as Marcello in La boheme, opposite Luciano Pavarotti at the Opera Company of Philadelphia (photo, right). He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1998 and can be seen at the MET this season as Marco in Gianni Schicchi, Hermann/Schlemiel in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Paris in Romeo et Juliette, and Joe Castro in La Fanciulla del West. In recent seasons, Mattsey has also been a frequent guest at Vancouver Opera and the San Diego Opera. Of one recent performance, the San Diego Tribune says, "Baritone Jeff Mattsey was an extraordinary Marcello: extraordinary because he created a character so rich and textured with so little apparent effort - and sang the role with such an outpouring of warm, burnished sound..."

      But wait! There's more...Any "Real Housewives of New York City" fans out there? Mr. Mattsey appeared on the notorious reality show to grace the ladies with an excerpt from The Barber of Seville at a charity event:

      Now that's drama of operatic proportions.

      Wednesday, October 13, 2010

      Eye on the Cast: Jason Hardy

      American bass Jason Hardy is well-known as an exceptional Figaro, so we're pretty excited that he'll be joining us here in Madison starting this weekend to rehearse for The Marriage of Figaro. He's recently performed Mozart's title role with Opera Birmingham, Opera Omaha, and Cleveland Opera, with the Cleveland Plain Dealer writing that Hardy "turns in a Figaro of charismatic allure, with an elegant bass." Jason also garnered critical acclaim for his portrayal of Leporello in Don Giovanni last season at the New York City Opera. Just listen to samples of his CD "Youth and Love" on iTunes, and you know this is a lustrous, rich voice, perfect for Figaro.

      There's also the fact that Hardy earned official "barihunk" status after going shirtless in NYCO's Don Giovanni, with even the New York Times noting his "buff" physique. But ladies, we have to tell you, this Figaro is already on his way to getting married! Hardy made waves again when he proposed to fellow opera singer Carrie Kahl onstage during the curtain call of a performance of The Marriage of Figaro at Opera Birmingham. Here's the proof:

      Don't miss Jason in The Marriage of Figaro, Nov. 5th and 7th in Overture Hall!

      Tuesday, October 12, 2010

      Katharine Goeldner brings her Carmen to Lyric Opera of Chicago

      Last year, Madison Opera audiences were mesmerized by Katharine Goeldner's smoldering portrayal of the title-role in Carmen. Tomorrow night, she brings Bizet's notorious femme fatale to life again, this time for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

      Originally slated for one performance as Carmen in Chicago, Goeldner will now portray the title-role gypsy in all six October performances. We know Lyric audiences are in for a treat, and we're sending Katharine a hearty "Toi, toi, toi" from Madison!

      And guess what, Katharine isn't the only Madison Opera "alum" in this Carmen production. Escamillo will be sung by Kyle Ketelsen, most recently seen in Madison as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor (2008). Additionally, in March performances, Nicole Cabell--our Pamina in The Magic Flute (2006)--will portray Micaela.

      Friday, October 8, 2010

      Show your support for the Overture Center

      Despite what you may have read this summer, the fate of the Overture Center remains unclear. While there remains a proposed solution that would see Overture's lending banks and generous local donors resolve the building's lingering $28 million debt, it is contingent on the building being purchased by the city for $1 and then being operated as an independent non-profit organization, all in the name of encouraging a sounder financial and operational future for the beleaguered arts center. The city will vote on whether to approve this action in November.

      Sadly, the results of the impending vote are not easy to predict at this point in time, because of the perceived incompleteness of Overture's plan to transition to a non-profit, and because of the continued public outcry against the building, which many wrongly assume will increase taxes. (In fact, capital costs for the Overture Center are significantly less than they would be right now if the city was still responsible for the old Civic Center.)

      As a resident organization of the Overture Center, we ask you, our supporters and fans, to please get vocal with your support for our incredible performance home. Regardless of how you feel about the specifics of the proposed transition, we hope you can agree with Madison Opera's simple stance that it would be a horrible thing to lose this building. The local press and our public leaders have only been hearing the negative, so please, contact your alder, write a letter to the editor, and let them know what Overture means to you, and to our community. Tell them to keep the doors open.

      Madison Opera's strength over the last five years has no doubt been helped by the opening of the Overture Center. Here's what the Overture Center has meant to us:

      1. In the season just prior to the opening of Overture, the company’s operating expenses totaled just over $1 million. Six years later, the company’s operating budget has increased by 100%, totaling $2 million in 2010.

      2. Prior to the opening of Overture, attendance at Madison Opera productions regularly averaged 78% capacity. In the six seasons since the opening of Overture, Madison Opera attendance has increased by 17%, to an average capacity of 91%.

      3. Box office revenue for the season just prior to the opening of Overture totaled $228,000. This season, box office revenue is conservatively projected to total $630,000. An increase of 176%! (Note: The Opera’s annual fundraising covers the gap between box office revenue and total operating expenses.)

      4. In the six seasons since the opening of Overture, Madison Opera has averaged a subscription renewal rate of 82%, a remarkably high rate by industry standards.

      5. In the six seasons since the opening of Overture Center… Over 49,000 adults have attended Opera performances, and 20% of them have attended for under $35. Over 7,000 junior high and high school students have attended Madison Opera performances for just $7 or less! Over 6,000 people have attended FREE Opera previews held at Overture Center, in advance of each opera performance.
      Over 1,400 children have participated, for FREE, in the Opera’s annual collaboration with Overture’s Kids in the Rotunda series.

      6. On average, over 180 Madison-based professional musicians, artists and production technicians are employed for each of the Opera’s productions.

      7. Since the opening of Overture, Madison Opera has increased its season from two productions to three and Madison Opera’s institutional growth has been featured in profile articles in the leading opera magazines of Europe and North America.

      8. Prior to Overture, Madison Opera’s free summer event, Opera in the Park, attracted audiences averaging between 4 and 6 thousand. This past summer, Opera in the Park attracted a record 14,000 attendees. While this event is not held in the Overture Center, its success is directly tied to the recent growth of Madison Opera.

      9. Madison Opera, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this season, could not be where it is today, if it weren’t for the attraction, the experience, the excellence and the existence of the Overture Center.

      Click here to learn more about the state of the Overture Center and the impact it has had on Madison.

      Tuesday, October 5, 2010

      Ticketing Update for Subscribers

      Attention season subscribers: your tickets have been mailed! They should be landing in your mailbox shortly. Thank you for your patience, and we look forward to seeing you in Overture Hall. Should you have any questions, please contact our office at (608) 238-8085 or

      Monday, September 27, 2010

      Spotlight on Constanze Weber: Mozart's Wife

      With only six weeks remaining until our production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, we turn the spotlight to someone who often doesn’t receive much attention: Mozart’s wife, Constanze Weber. Their courtship was scandalous and their married life tragic, but there is no denying the impact she had on Mozart’s life.

      A trained musician herself, Contanze originally met Mozart when he fell in love with her older sister, Aloysia. Aloysia rejected Mozart and married someone else, but four years later Mozart ended up boarding in the Weber home. When it became clear that Mozart was pursuing Constanze, now 19, the Weber’s asked him to leave. The romance continued despite opposition from Mozart’s father, Leopold. Without Leopold’s permission to marry, the two lived together without a wedding. On July 31, 1782, Mozart wrote the following to his father:

      “All the good and well-intentioned advice you have sent fails to address the case of a man who has already gone so far with a maiden.”

      Some historians believe that Constanze’s mother threatened to call the police if they did not remedy this situation, and the two were married on August 4th, 1782.

      In the nine years that the couple was married, Constanze delivered 6 children, only two of whom reached their first birthday. The tragedies they dealt with are thought to have a put a strain on their marriage and some believed that Constanze began a long term affair. This is disputed by others; the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians claims that assertion to be unfair:

      "Early 20th-century scholarship severely criticized her as unintelligent, unmusical and even unfaithful, and as a neglectful and unworthy wife to Mozart. Such assessments were based on no good evidence."

      What can be known for certain is that Constanze was only 29 when Mozart died in 1791, deeply in debt and with two small children. Constanze built a life for herself by organizing memorial concerts and publishing her husband’s works, eventually doing quite well for herself financially. She remarried in 1809 to a Danish diplomat and writer, who worked with her on Mozart’s biography before his death in 1826. Constanze lived as a widow for another 18 years. She was 80 years old.

      We will be digging deeper into Constanze's life in the Madison Opera Book Club with our first book of the season, Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell. Be sure to join us when we meet on October 30th!
       -Laura, Marketing/Development Associate

      Friday, September 24, 2010

      Figaro Casting Update

      Figaro approaches, and we have some news in the casting department: recently added to the cast are  Emily Lorini as Cherubino, Melissa Parks as Marcellina, and Michael Gallup as Dr. Bartolo. Locally based talents Emily Birsan, James Doing, and Justin Niehoff Smith will round out the ensemble as Barbarina, Don Basilio, and Antonio.

      Our website now features lots of good stuff on Figaro, including artist bios and headshots, as well as enhanced "Discover" pages for the opera where you can read a synopsis, listen to audio samples, view production photos, and read our educational guide.

      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      Cabaret Italiano: Good food, good music, good times to benefit Madison Opera

      We're kicking off our 50th Anniversary Season on October 24th with Cabaret Italiano, a casual evening of food, music, and wine to benefit Madison Opera. Delicious Italian classics, cabaret and Broadway entertainment with the cast of The Marriage of Figaro, a special performance by Allan Naplan and John DeMain, plus a silent auction full of great gifts for the holidays, will all make for an exciting night. Embrace la dolce vita and reserve your seats now for this unique event!

      Thursday, September 16, 2010

      UT season opens with premiere of Across A Distance

      University Theatre opens its new season with the world premiere of "Across A Distance", a multimedia bilingual performance piece for soprano and deaf actor (Mitchell Theater, Sept. 17 - 25). The creative team for this exciting new work includes playwright Nick Lantz and performer Robert Schleifer, and a trio well known at Madison Opera: soprano Julia Faulkner (recently heard in The Turn of the Screw and The Flying Dutchman), director Kelly Bremner (a regular assistant director for Madison Opera), and composer Scott Gendel (staff accompanist for Madison Opera). In development for over five years, "Across A Distance" unites Deaf performance and opera through an allegorical tale about Man, a storyteller, and Woman, a scientist, who live on separate islands, longing to connect. 

      We caught up with Scott to learn more about his new piece.

      MadOpera: How would you describe your music for "Across a Distance"?

      Scott: The music for "Across a Distance” is really written around the sounds of Julia Faulkner’s voice and Nick Lantz’s poetry.

      Nick’s words don’t shy away from complexity, but are also written in simple, plain language. To pick up on that style, my music for this show is based on the richness of Romantic and early 20th century opera, but has elements of musical theatre and folk song woven in. In this way, the songs bridge the gap between a dense operatic language and a simpler “pop music” sensibility.

      Julia’s voice is so luscious; she has an amazing way with legato lines, and a deep understanding of Romantic gesture from all her work on the operas of Richard Strauss. But not everyone knows that she has a strong musical theatre background, which lends her a wonderful ability to deliver a sung line simply, as if it were speech. So her voice is really perfectly matched to Nick’s poems; her basic sound is lush and full of color, but she can also sing in a more direct vernacular style.

      My music, then, is operatic in most ways: grand gestures, long legato phrases, lush harmonies that recall Romantic and 20th century operas, and a real focus on the beautiful sound of the voice. But the songs also incorporate aspects of musical theatre and folk song traditions, so that when the poetry takes on a simpler, more direct tone, the music reflects that by moving into more speech-like modes of expression, influenced by popular music.

      MadOpera: How has your work as accompanist for Madison Opera informed how you write for the voice?

      Scott: My job as accompanist for Madison Opera (and for other vocal performances) has been a huge help in composing music for the voice! By coaching such accomplished singers, I get the privilege to hear what kinds of phrases a professional singer loves to sing, what music causes them the biggest headaches, how to best set up a singer for success on high notes, how a performer’s voice changes over the course of a 3-hour opera, and countless other observations that have been invaluable in my composing career. And of course, getting to completely immerse myself in operatic masterworks for weeks at a time is a wonderful luxury that I count as one of the great joys of my chosen profession. There is no better way to learn about opera than to lose oneself in it! Through such intensive score study, I learn how to effectively support a singer with instrumental accompaniment, how to create character development through musical gestures, and so much more.

      "Across a Distance" opens tomorrow night. Bringing Scott's music to life in the pit is the Solo Nero Duo: Jessica Johnson, piano, and Tony Di Sanza, percussion.

      Wednesday, September 15, 2010

      Season Preview

      Watch our 2010-11 season preview video to get a taste of our upcoming productions, and of course save the dates (or purchase tickets now, why don't you?).

      ^A tip: change the video settings to 480p for the best quality.

      Tuesday, September 14, 2010

      Fifty Years of Madison Opera: A New Series (Part 1)

      Today is Madison Opera founder Maestro Roland Johnson's 90th birthday, and it is with our sincerest gratitude that we wish him a very happy day! We are using this special occasion to start a season long blog series documenting Madison Opera's 50 year history, which is inextricably tied to the passion and hard work of Maestro Johnson,  the company's artistic leader for 32 years.

      Roland Johnson was born in Johnson City, Tennessee in 1920. A trained violinist, he received a scholarship to the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. As a young man, he enlisted in the Navy during World War II, and following the war, he pursued graduate studies in violin and composition at the Juilliard School and Tanglewood. In 1948, Johnson took over as conductor of the CCM orchestra, and in 1952-53, he received a Fleischmann Fellowship and spent a year in Europe as an assistant conductor to Hermann Scherchen.

      Upon his return from Europe, Johnson was appointed to the University of Alabama as a teacher of violin and voice, in addition to a position leading the university orchestra and chorus. It was at the University of Alabama that Johnson met his wife, Arline Hanke, a singer and the director of the school's opera program.

      Roland and Arline Johnson arrived in Madison in 1961, where Roland was to be the new Music Director of the Madison Civic Music Association. At the time, no formal opera organization was associated with MCMA. However, upon their arrival, the Johnsons were approached by a group of Civic Chorus members led by Lois Dick, Robert Tottingham, Warren Crandall and Joanna Overn, about creating a formal opera company.

      The immediate result was the Madison Civic Opera Workshop (above), which debuted in May of 1962 at a pops concert titled "A Night in Vienna." Held in the Youth Building (now the Alliant Energy Center), the ensemble performed Act II of Strauss's Die Fledermaus. Later the same month they performed Act II of The Marriage of Figaro in Scanlan Hall of Central High School, making that opera a fitting start to Madison Opera's 50th season.

      Monday, September 13, 2010

      We have a winner!

      Our Facebook Fan Drive closed at Midnight on Friday, bringing in 185 new Facebook fans for Madison Opera over the course of ten days. Without further ado, the winner of two tickets to The Marriage of Figaro is...

      Congratulations to Nadine and Izzy the intern for bringing in 30 fans, we hope you enjoy the show! Runners up were The Jewelers Workshop and Lavonne Dettmers, with 23 and 22 recruits respectively.

      A big thank you to all who participated. Stay tuned for more fun Facebook contests and we'll see you at the opera!

      Friday, September 10, 2010

      Single tickets on sale Sept. 11th

      Single tickets for Madison Opera's 2010-2011 Season: Celebrating Fifty Years, go on sale tomorrow morning, September 11th at 8 a.m., through the Overture Center Box Office (201 State St.). Those in line at the Box Office tomorrow morning will be able to enjoy free Starbucks coffee and treats!

      Ticket purchases by phone and online start at 10 a.m. on September 11th. To order by phone, call (608) 258-4141. To purchase online, follow the links below:

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Win tickets through our Facebok Fan Drive!

      As we gear up for the new season and single ticket sales, we decided to have some fun with a Facebook Fan Drive! We're asking YOU to recruit your friends to become Madison Opera fans. The person who gets the most new people to "like" our page on Facebook between now and the start of single ticket sales on Sept. 11th will win two orchestra-level seats to The Marriage of Figaro in November (a $156 value!). When encouraging your friends to "like" Madison Opera on Facebook, be sure to ask them to post your full name on our wall so we know who sent them! The winner will be announced on Monday morning, September 13th.  

      Friday, August 27, 2010

      Ticketing Update

      Madison Opera's 2010-2011 Season: Celebrating Fifty Years, is almost here, which means it's time to start thinking about your tickets if you don't already have them. You wouldn't want to miss this group of wildly talented and beautiful stars on stage, would you? Here's the rundown of your options:
      • We are still accepting last-minute subscriptions for the 2010-11 season. They've been selling fast all summer, and this is definitely the best way to ensure you have first pick of your seats. Plus, new subscribers save 15%. Please note the availability notices, and call (608) 238-8085 with any questions or to order by phone.
      • Single tickets go on-sale Saturday, September 11th. On this day, the Overture Center Box Office windows will open at 8 a.m. We encourage you to come on down for a cup of coffee and some treats with your purchase! Starting at 10 a.m., tickets will be available online and by phone at (608) 258-4141.

      Tuesday, August 24, 2010

      118 [possible] reasons Mozart died

      It seems very few famous classical composers made it past the age of 40 during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Mozart's death at 35 has perhaps received the most attention, and now the New York Times has published a piece drawing attention to the work of one scholar who has organized and analyzed 118 possible reasons for the composer's death: "After Mozart's Death, an Endless Coda." That so much energy has been committed to a mystery without much historical import (especially since poisoning by rival composer Salieri seems to be ruled out) is a testament to the unique passion Mozart inspires.

      For more on Mozart's last years and burial site, check out this old post: "The Real Mozart."

      Thursday, August 19, 2010

      Four Seasons Theatre presents South Pacific (and blogs about it, too!)

      Four Seasons Theatre presents the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific in a staged concert version this weekend in the Wisconsin Union Theater (Aug. 20 & 21 at 7:30 pm, Aug. 22 at 2 pm). Broadway star and Lodi native Tom Wopat will be featured as Emile de Becque, along with Verona native Alli Foss as Nellie Forbush. Added to the mix, FST Managing Director (and Madison Opera supertitles master) Sarah Marty is blogging about the production on the new FST Blog.

      Wednesday, August 18, 2010

      What are you most excited for next season?

      (Set for The Marriage of Figaro, Courtesy David Bachman)

      Madison Opera fans, what are you most looking forward to in our upcoming season? The beautiful ensembles in Figaro? Jim DeVita in Threepenny? Or maybe the famous brindisi in Traviata? There's so much to choose from, let us know! Join the conversation on Facebook or leave a comment below.

      Monday, August 16, 2010

      More Opera on WPT

      Wisconsin Public Television is continuing its broadcasts of Great Performances at the Met through the rest of August. Unfortunately, I'm a day late to post the information for Carmen, which aired last night and featured Elina Garanca in the title role, along with Madison Opera favorite Elizabeth Caballero (our Micaela in Carmen last November, and our Violetta in La Traviata next April) as Frasquita.

      However, it's not too late to watch Placido Domingo as a baritone (!!!) in the title role of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra next Sunday, Aug, 22, 9:30 p.m. And don't miss the final broadcast of the summer: Ambroise Thomas's rarely staged Hamlet on Aug. 29 at 9:30 p.m., starring Simon Keenlyside in the title role, along with a fantastic cast incluiding Marlis Petersen, Jennifer Larmore, Toby Spence, James Morris, and David Pittsinger (Mephistopheles in our May 2009 Faust).

      Wednesday, August 4, 2010

      Isthmus Vocal Ensemble this Friday

      The Isthmus Vocal Ensemble is presenting an "Isthmus Christhmus" this Friday night, August 6th at 7:30 p.m., Luther Memorial Church. Tickets are $15, and $10 for students/seniors. Madison Opera has a few choristers in the IVE, which performs only once a year, so if you're craving the choral sound this will surely be a rewarding evening of music making. The program will feature Advent and Christmas choral music ("yes, in August," as they say) by Praetorius, Lauridsen, Paulus, Rachmaninoff, and others.

      Friday, July 30, 2010

      WPR video of Opera in the Park

      Wisconsin Public Radio was at Opera in the Park as a lead media sponsor, and their team created this fantastic video of the evening. Check it out!

      Friday, July 23, 2010

      What our fans are saying

       Stage view from park path (C) Brian Hinrichs

      Madison Opera's Facebook fans have been vocal about their feelings for Opera in the Park. Here's what they're saying:

      "What a wonderful event. It was a celebratory evening." -Michael

      "It was SENSATIONAL!!! A literal sea of people for as far as you could see.... some 14,000 of us! Way to go, Madison Opera!" -Pete

      "Congratulations on another spectacular Opera in the Park!" -Cate

      "Came from Rockford for the show, truly wonderful" -Dena

      "Bravo!!!! In a word... Wonderful!!! What a beautiful night for beautiful voices singing beautiful music ~ It is as if I slipped someone my personal request list. Again... Wonderful... Thank you to all of you~" -Rebecca

      Our youngest fans (C) Brian Hinrichs