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 RenĂ©e 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