Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Opera Up Close: The Flying Dutchman Preview

On Sunday, a hearty crowd filled the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Lecture Hall for Madison Opera's Opera Up Close: The Flying Dutchman Preview: General Director Allan Naplan led a multimedia presentation on Richard Wagner's life and works, followed by a musical exploration and discussion of the The Flying Dutchman with Maestro John DeMain, director Michael Scarola, baritone Bradley Garvin and soprano Turid Karlsen. We all learned the lingo of "gesamtkunstwerk" and Bayreuth, had a peek into Wagner's tumultuous personal life, and heard about our guest artists' varied experiences as Wagner interpreters. Of course, much more was covered during the 2 hours--including a recap of The Flying Dutchman's pop culture reincarnations--so be sure to tune into to Madison City Channel when it airs this week and next.

Here's the schedule for re-broadcasts (Charter Analog 98, Charter Digital 994, AT&T U-Verse 99):
  • Friday, April 2 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 4 at 10 p.m.
  • Friday, April 9 at 9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 10 at 8 p.m.
Or, visit to stream Opera Up Close online, anytime.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Director's Corner, Part 1

Hi everyone. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Michael Scarola and I have the honor of directing the first Wagner opera ever to be presented by Madison Opera, Der Fliegende Holländer, or The Flying Dutchman. This is my third time directing for Madison Opera and I have to tell you that it is one of my favorite companies to direct for. I can’t even begin to tell you how special it is for me that your esteemed General Director Allan Naplan and Artistic Director John DeMain have trusted me with this huge project.

And HUGE it is. 6 brilliant soloists, an almost 60 voice chorus (and this chorus sounds better than it ever has), 5 fighter guys and 1 Body Double…which I’m not saying anything else about so as not to give anything away. And then there are the immense and very bold sets that were originally designed for a new production by the New York City Opera, my home company where I have had the privilege of spending five seasons now. 

We have just finished our first week of rehearsal and as this is the first time I am directing a Wagner opera I was not really sure what to expect. To my surprise we actually have about two-thirds of the opera already staged! This is due in large to part to how well-prepared everyone is and how giving the cast, chorus and crew have been to me. I could not have asked for a better group of colleagues to do my first Wagner with. Well, on to week two. More as we approach our final room run later this week before we move into the theatre!


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Flying Dutchman on State Street

It's becoming a trend to present pop-up opera, whether in grocery stores, subway stations or street corners. The idea is to spring the beauty of opera on unsuspecting shoppers or passersby. Well, Madison Opera had just such a moment this past Saturday, except it wasn't at all planned. During a chorus rehearsal at the Overture Center for the Arts, a fire alarm forced everyone to evacuate. Looking to make up for lost time, the Madison Opera Chorus along with our our Steurman Gregory Schmidt began rehearsing right on State Street, with chorus master Andrew Abrams leading the way. General Director Allan Naplan caught the results on his iPhone:

UPDATE:77 Square has an article on the State Street rehearsal, with better video too!

Announcing our 2010-11 Season: Celebrating 50 Years of Madison Opera

It's true, Madison Opera is turning 50 next year! To celebrate, we've lined up an exciting season of classics and new company repertoire. Without further ado...
by W.A. Mozart
Nov. 5 & 7, 2010 | Overture Hall

by Kurt Weill
Feb. 4, 5 6, 11, 12, & 13, 2011 |The Playhouse

by Giuseppe Verdi
April 29 & May 1, 2011 | Overture Hall
Starring Elizabeth Caballero, Giuseppe Varano (US Debut), and Donnie Ray Albert 

OPERA IN THE PARK 2011: 10th Anniversary Celebration!
A Madison Summer Tradition
July 16, 2011 | Garner Park
Featuring guest opera stars with the Madison Opera Chorus and Madison Symphony Orchestra

THE BASICS: Subscriptions are now on sale, starting at $32 for the Overture Hall Series. New Subscribers receive 15% off! Visit to download our season brochure and order form. Expect your brochure in the mail by mid-April, PLUS be sure to visit our brand new website on April 12th, with online subscriptions starting then.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dutchman artists in town

Our guest artists for The Flying Dutchman arrived on Sunday. Whether from Norway or New York, they are now in Madison for this special occasion and began rehearsing on Monday. And it sounds like they've already clicked. This morning, I had the pleasure of sitting in on an interview with our director Michael Scarola, bass-baritone Bradley Garvin (The Dutchman), and soprano Turid Karlsen (Senta), who were all very enthusiastic and brimming with insights on Wagner's work. Something that stuck out was Michael's sheer excitement about the beautiful voices of the cast, and the unique mix of performers who have deep experience with their roles (Turid has sung Senta in over 6 different productions) and those making role debuts (like Bradley as The Dutchman and Arnold Rawls as Erik). There is great creative energy at work, and we all get to reap the benefits in three weeks!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wolfgang Wagner dies

News this morning is that Wolfgang Wagner, the grandson of Richard Wagner, has died at the age of 90. Wolfgang was the longtime leader of the Bayreuth opera festival (above) in Germany, which is committed exclusively to producing works of his grandfather, the famed opera composer. More information in the Washington Post.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Top 5 Things you May Not Know About Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman

  1. Before Wagner composed his epic 5 hour operas, he wrote The Flying Dutchman, a compact, 2 and a half hour gem.
  2. Wagner's musical influences for The Flying Dutchman came from the operas of Verdi, Donizetti, and other popular Italian tunesmiths.
  3. The Flying Dutchman is a straightforward tale of love, loss, one haunted ship and a bunch of drunken sailors.
  4. Pop icons such as Jethro Tull and Tori Amos are just a few who have also set the Dutchman story to music. Other references can be found in The Pirates of the Caribbean and SpongeBob SquarePants.
  5. Madison Opera's production of The Flying Dutchman opened at New York City Opera on September 15th, 2001, four days after its intended premiere on September 11th. At Mayor Guiliani's request, it was the first show held at a major New York arts venue after the tragedy.
BONUS: Norwegian soprano Turid Karlsen returns to Madison Opera in the role of Senta after her stunning debut in Turandot (2004). The Los Angeles Times raves, "Her voice is thrilling." Watch Turid perform excerpts from The Flying Dutchman on YouTube!

TICKETS: Don't wait to purchase your seats for this Madison premiere on April 9  and 11 in Overture Hall. Buy online or call (608) 258-4141. Tickets start at just $16!