Friday, August 27, 2010

on a break ~~ Ollie on top of everything

I seem to be in the middle of another blogging break. Meanwhile, feel free to explore the links in the margin or the labels at the bottom of the page, and enjoy this candidate for

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Someone is taking great photographs of a great county.

Thanks to HowChow again for an occasional look at what's going on outside the restaurants he visits. An anonymous blogger has been running HoCo360, a beautiful photography blog about Howard County, Maryland. Here is HoCo360's extraordinary portrait of a young cellist.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coming to an Opera House Near You in 2010-2011

Opera cats are wrapping up another season of summer opera and getting ready for fall-winter-spring opera. This summer, I enjoyed the inauguration of Opera Vivente Academy, free performances at Artscape in Baltimore and my first summer of opera-in-a-barn by the Wolf Trap Opera Company. WTOC was also my first experience with Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and I count it as one of the best productions I've encountered this year -- green pajamas and white gauzy curtains and all. I'll wrap up a series of posts on 2010-11 season previews here. Let's put together some links with a few comments. You could look them up yourself, but let's surf along with Ollie the Opera Cat instead!

American Opera Theater continues to update its site for what looks to be another season of opera and other vocal works with AOT's special twist. Ticket purchase via the site isn't quite ready as I post, but there's a note saying that prices for this season have been slashed thanks to a generous anonymous donor.

The upcoming roster of singers at Baltimore Concert Opera includes fabulous baritones David Krohn and Trevor Scheunemann and bass Jeffrey Tarr. I heard Krohn and Tarr together in a Peabody production of "The Rape of Lucretia" and they will perform together again in BCO's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" in September. Scheunemann, who we've heard at Washington National Opera, appears later in the season in BCO's "Le Nozze di Figaro". One other favorite core repertoire Italian work on the schedule is "La Boheme", but then note that BCO plans to delve into rare repertoire with Franco Faccio's "Amleto". They are looking for more funding for "Amleto".

I still go to Washington National Opera for big-house-style opera but like to look for something different in the repertoire. This will be my first time seeing Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" on stage. For Richard Strauss' "Salome", there's the big name attraction of Deborah Voigt. If that's the same "Madama Butterfly" production done a few years ago at WNO, that will be a lot of set design eye candy and a treat to see again. Then "Don Pasquale". Then the end of the season brings something that might be a rarity for the Baltimore-Washington area at least -- Gluck's "Iphigenie en Tauride".

Opera Lafayette specializes in earlier opera. I've only been to one performance so far -- "Idomeneo" a few years ago at the Clarice Center -- but I like to look at the season. Here I recognize singers Rosa Lamoureaux and Karim Sulayman. Lamoreaux was involved in an unforgettable production of Cavalli's "La Didone" staged by American Opera Theater when it was known as Ignoti Dei Opera. Sulayman was a delightful Arnalta for Opera Vivente's "The Coronation of Poppea" last season (where he was listed as an haute-contre tenor).

Here is the new Opera Vivente site again. This season: Donizetti's "Lucy of Lammermoor", Handel's "Rinaldo" and Puccini's "The Will-o-the-Wisps". (Definitely some rare repertoire in that list!) Check the Club OV tab on the site, too, for some events that round out OV's season with something extra. The Auditions and Training tab gives a peek at the season after this one. Later there should be information about OV's new annual Opera Vivente Academy, of interest to singers, musicians and most anyone training in other aspects of producing opera.

Conservatory opera can be very exciting and just as rewarding as any professional opera. Admission is very low (even free for some events), but I highly recommend buying tickets in advance. Peabody Opera has yet to update its page, but I was urged to look for the new operatic listings in the institute's events calendar, explored in this earlier post. The season at Peabody begins with a workshop lead by Philip Gossett, then as the season progresses we get to hear operas by Massenet, Ravel, Poulenc, Bernstein and Hoiby. ... Addendum: Peabody Opera's updated season page

Some new groups that appeared in Baltimore last year include Chesapeake Chamber Opera, initially Chesapeake Concert Opera -- hmmm, they're doing "Hansel and Gretel" in October -- and the Figaro Project.

Once again: my list of operatic groups in the region.

this blog now comes with a label cloud

I recently started using labels on posts, and I'm still labeling archive posts. Note that there is now a label cloud -- it's at the very bottom of the page. You'll have to scroll all the way down to see it. You can do it. Come on, we all need the exercise.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Baltimore Opera Companies in "Style"

September/October issue of Baltimore's "Style" magazine has an article on the opera scene in Baltimore: The Show Goes On, by Alexis Blair. There is a developing thread of readers' comments.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How does a company get on these opera radars?

Dear Opera Cats! The September issue of Opera News (not on line yet) has the yearly "The Year in Opera" pages showing upcoming season schedules and website addresses of companies all over the United States and Canada and then the world. The U.S. listings are by state and one District -- everything from Opera Idaho (staging Rorem's "Our Town" in October, then Menotti's "Amahl" and some Puccini and Donizetti) to Nevada Opera (Barber's "Vanessa" and some Mozart). The District of Columbia is represented by Washington Concert Opera and Washington National Opera. And Maryland? Nothing.

Do the magazine's editors search for items to include in those listings, or do companies submit information with requests to be included? Does a company have to be of a certain "size" or professional standing to rate being on the list? Well, there it is. Maybe some of the companies active in Baltimore now can get on that radar.

Opera News also has the monthly Dateline at the back of the hardcopy issue. Here is the current online Dateline, August's as I post. Wolf Trap's Midsummer is there, and I note that the online copy has some extra items not included in the August issue's hard copy. Another radar scope to blip?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wolf Trap Opera Midsummer Souvenirs

This Wolf Trap production is my first experience with Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", an opera I've been waiting to hear since becoming a Britten admirer. I just saw the Sunday matinee, and there's one more performance on Tuesday, August 17, in a production run that's unfortunately too short! The updated production design still captures the kind of "Tis fairy time" magic that I associated with this opera before ever seeing it. The cast is superb and very strong all round. I was most looking forward to the performance of Oberon's role -- as stately and mysterious as I had hoped -- but I was pleasantly surprised and amazed by the singing and acting of all concerned.

The play within a play in the third act was sublime inanity...then came that closing scene with one more appearance by the fairy folk and a wonderful lilting chorus that's going to stay with me for a while.

Links: a photo diary with cast and crew lists on the Wolf Trap Opera blog ... Tim Smith's preview on Clef Notes with an explanation of how WTOC operates

Links added after my initial post: The Dresser was there, too, and gives a detailed review with more photos (but I disagree with the suggestion of using a dumb show during the opening music) ... Charles Downey's review on Ionarts, apparently of the opening night last Friday. Most of Sunday's audience was still there at the end of the show and very appreciative with applause ... Perhaps later I'll find a review of tonight's closing performance to link here.

blog admin time -- where Felis pushkini is linked

Of interest to some readers... Note that down in my margin links I have a block of sites to which this blog is linked. simply has a list of links to various local blogs. Hocoblogs and the Post's directory have more active link arrangements that show individual bloggers' latest posts. Hocoblogs is a volunteer effort run by another blogger here in Howard County -- thanks so much for that! I've been listed in the Post's directory for a year or two now, but I only just figured out that in order for my latest posts to appear in the front list, I had to have my RSS address included in my profile. It's there as of yesterday, and it's working. (Hocoblogs doesn't need the RSS address, by the way, and my posts have been showing up there ever since I joined that site a couple of years ago.)

Thanks also to other bloggers who have included this blog in their rolls. Right now, I'm aware of Wellsung and Monotonous Forest, also in my roll.

So for some company administrators who might be baffled by how Internet connectivity works, all of this means increased online visibility for company websites and events whenever this or any other blogger posts about them. I'm also aware that either people conducting searches or their bots (web robots) programmed to pull on certain word strings will pick up some of my posts and link them on any number of other sites, including once in a while a Twitter feed without me even lifting a finger to aid the process. (For better or worse, this includes bots that trap people into looking at spam sites.)

Other links to this blog that happen: whenever I post a comment on another blog that lets me include my blog's URL (web address), which usually shows up as my clickable highlighted personal name. Plus, of course, I've included a link to my blog in my Facebook profile.

Finally, all of these are things that any blogger can do if they wish.

Note on the new OV blog: I tried to link it in my blog roll yesterday, but it won't work like other blog feeds in the roll -- see how latest post headlines appear under main blog titles. I'll keep the old OV blog there for now. Maybe when more posts are added to the new blog and the old blog is linked to it, this problem will fix itself. I'll watch developments on OV's site and try again later.

Baltimore Lieder Weekend at An die Musik

An die Musik is organizing what they hope will become an annual event, Baltimore Lieder Weekend. That's a special website which they just set up. Note that Anne Midgette from the Washington Post will moderate at one of the weekend's events. Another speaker on the schedule is legendary bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk, who is on the voice faculty at nearby Peabody Conservatory. Midgette and Shirley-Quirk will be joined by scholar Susan Youens. Here is the regular website and calendar for An die Musik.

Focusing on the songs of Hugo Wolf, the performers will include baritone Ryan de Ryke, soprano Andrea Edith Moore and accompanist Daniel Schlosberg. Admission was subject of debate during planning, but now this event appears to be part of Baltimore Free Fall, an annual circuit of free performances.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Opera Vivente's Fabulous Website

Opera Vivente's new website is operational. They advise that some tweaking is still needed, but you should be able to buy OV tickets on line now. The temporary home page reflecting the season brochure's design was just a glimmer of what's there now!

Friday, August 13, 2010

In "Opera News": Recession Repertory

David Belcher's article, "Surviving the Crunch", in the September issue of Opera News explores what five mid-sized regional companies in the U.S. are doing to get through hard times. It might not be news for some opera cats -- some of our own local companies are doing the same things in terms of repertoire choices. For this opera cat, the good news is more exposure for new and rarely performed operas.

Companies considered in the article: San Diego Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera Memphis, Cincinnatti Opera, Tulsa Opera. (I'll see whether an online copy is available on Opera News' website yet, then I'll provide a link.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Opera Vivente on WBFF Fox 45, August 12

A little e-bird just told me that Opera Vivente will be the cover story on WBFF Fox 45 TV's 10:00pm news this Thursday night, August 12. Tenor Frederic Rey will sing an excerpt from "Lucy of Lammermoor", which opens OV's season in October, and OV Director John Bowen will be interviewed.

links: WBFF Fox 45 Baltimore ... Opera Vivente

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Yeti Opera

From the advertisement for Santa Fe Opera's summer 2011 season, seen in the September issue of Opera News:

"THE LAST SAVAGE: Menotti's 'grand opera buffa' follows an ambitious young Vassar anthropologist on her journey to capture the Abominable Snowman. She succeeds, they fall in love, and both discover that American 1960s suburbia is far more savage than life in a Himalayan cave. Starring Anna Christy and Daniel Okulitch."

Monday, August 9, 2010

on track with opera

Yesterday's post was another one of this blog's regular "off-topic" features. I try to make them interesting without leading anyone down the garden path, plus there is sometimes a community service and awareness angle in those posts. I'm tagging the present post with labels for some issues I've been following recently to help get back on track.

I have my subscription tickets in hand for both Opera Vivente and Washington National Opera's seasons, and I'm watching other calendars for interesting events. I'll continue to post a series of season previews.

Also, thanks so much to the people of Opera Vivente for recent contacts and opportunities for my social and opera support calendars. I'm looking forward to becoming more active in supporting the company.