Monday, August 31, 2009

Failsafe opera bio writing. Can't lose! Guaranteed!

Stuck writing a bio? Give this handy template a shot from The Cereal List:

[NAME] has been recognized as one of the most exciting [INSTRUMENT + 'ISTS'] of [HIS/HER] generation. Since [HIS/HER] debut with the [SMALL REGIONAL ORCHESTRA], [HE/SHE] has been igniting audiences with [HIS/HER] [ADJECTIVE] technique and [SPELLBINDING INTERPRETATIONS OR CAPTIVATING SINCERITY]. [NAME] has performed in [LIST AT LEAST FIVE COUNTRIES, BUT NO MORE THAN 15. IF NUMBER IS > THAN 15, USE CONTINENT NAMES] and garnered many prizes at prestigious national and international competitions, resulting in solo performances at [LIST UP TO 15 FAMOUS CONCERT/RECITAL HALLS]. In addition, [NAME] has been a featured guest performer at many renowned music festivals, including [LIST UP TO 10 FESTIVALS] and at meetings of the [ORGANIZATION(S) DEDICATED TO YOUR INSTRUMENT].

Admittedly, this looks a little too familiar. Almost like it was stolen from my bio.... Guaranteed to alienate, confuse, anger, puzzle, and, most of all, impress!

via The Collaborative Piano Blog

A little Monday morning music joke.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where does the energy come from

Not many posts this week. I tried my hand at my first Sarastro last night and then had an audition today.

The Sarastro was interesting in that it's the first opera that I've done since February that didn't have me running around the stage like a madman and it made it a bit of a challenge to find the energy needed to give a a really engaged performance. I've found, in the past, that you can either take the energy for the character from the physicality of the role (say Bartolo or Don Magnifico,) or from an engaging character that has a lot going on with him and build energy from the character depth and involvment in the levels that exist within that character (for example a Bluebeard or Commendatoreor even a smaller role like Grenville in Traviata.) In Flute, there's not a lot to go on as Sarastro is a fairly uni-dimensional character. He's in charge. He sets up tasks for Tamino, although he doesn't have anything to do with administering them (he has people for that.) He talks about friendship and love and then hands over the reins of the temple after the Speaker and the priests have guided Tamino and Papageno through. There's no internal conflict. There's no showdown with the Queen. There's nothing really at stake for him. Of course I've not discounted the possibility that there is more going on with him and I just didn't find it (or haven't found it yet.) Fortunately, when show time came around I found the energy in my fellow performers who were fantastic, each and every one, and who's energy was available for me to feed off of. It made the night go a lot easier. Thanks folks! Well done all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cheap opera tickets, plus perks!

The Star today has a blurb about splitting up Film Fest packs/subscriptions with friends in order to see everything that you want and save money at the same time, but also mentions it as a way to do the same with opera tix. I think that this is a great idea.

You get the tickets for the COC's Dutchman without having to sit through your 30th Carmen, (or however your opera preferences lean,) while your friend gets to see one of the most accessible operas around without having to try to wrap their heads around Stravinsky.

Even better than the selection is that you all get to take advantage of the subscriber benefits, chief among them are the discounts not only on tickets but on partner arts groups, stores, and restaurants. One of the other really great benefits is the free exchange privileges that virtually every subscription comes with. So you want to see VO's Figaro but don't know when? Buy the subscription now at a discount and change the date when your cousin's birthday party gets in the way in April. I'm also a big fan of the ability to buy additional tickets at a discount. So you get the first ticket at a discount and then get to add on more tickets for friends or obnoxious acquaintances also at a discount. Or you can decide to take in that Carmen anyway but not have to pay retail.

Other benefits include the seating. Ever wonder who gets to sit in the front row of the price categories? That's subscribers, who get to pick seats first. Some companies have other perks. Manitoba Opera throws in cheap parking, and a break on service charges. Others enjoy newsletters, invites to other events, an easy lost ticket replacement. Add it all up and as long as you can part with the cash up front, it's a great time to buy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Look Out Below: Falling into the pit

There was near disaster at Glyndebourne on Friday when Ana María Martínez, during a Rusalka, tripped on some stage props and fell into the pit. The good news is that she fell on a cellist, the bad news is that she didn't fall on a trombonist. Ba-dum-bum.

The fall happened right at the end of act 1 and so they took the intermission and kept on going. While Martinez said that the was good to continue, the festival insisted that she go to the hospital where, thankfully, she was released without and major injury. Natasha Jouhl stepped up from playing the First Nymph and finished the show.

Jeez, it's getting more and more dangerous to be a soprano every day. Fortunately, there are a few of them around, teehee.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Apples and singing

At rehearsal the other night for a Magic Flute next week, offstage discussion turned towards apples for dry mouth. Certainly anecdotally there is plenty of support for munching a small piece of apple right before you sing with the theory being that the apple is similar enough to your own mucus that it'll get things going. The thing is, I can't find any research to support apples over, say, chocolate.

Some swear by lemons, and others, like Lotte Lehmann had candy sewn into her costume. Anybody out there know of any science behind the apples thing? What do you use, if anything, to get saliva going when you need it, or to head the problem off at the pass?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Recording gear sale

I've just been told that, a really reputable source for recording gear, has the Eridol R-09 at 42% off right now at $289, (reg. $500). The R-09 is one of the best devices out there for doing recordings on your own. It's a solid state device (SD cards) with a separately housed professional grade mic built in that records in CD quality(24bit/96kHz linear PCM + I.A.R.C.). A little pricey, to be sure but if you've been looking for one, or something like it, I've not seen them this cheap.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New German Fest contract blog

I just got word of a new blog about someone who will be starting their first German fest contract on Wednesday. If she's able to keep up the posts - and I hope she can - it should be great reading for anyone who's considering the "if it doesn't kill you it will only make you stronger" route.

An Englishwoman abroad

At Salzburg, not a BBW to be found

The Telegraph is running an article today talking about the absence of larger singers at this year's Salzburg Festival. This isn't really news - it's been a creeping trend for years and has only been cemented with the tenure of Peter Gelb at the Met. Under the guise of "This is not about dumbing down the Met, it’s just making it accessible," he has led the retreat away from singers with the greatest voices in the world should they be larger than one would want them to be.The interesting point covered in this article is: If we can't cast by race, how is it that we can cast by size? The author uses the line "We've also learned, for perfectly good reasons, not to be put out when operatic Russian generals come with Afro-Caribbean faces or if Mary Stuart looks a touch Chinese. We listen for dramatic truths beyond the colour of the singer's skin. And in the modern world that must be right."

I would ask "why?" My personal feelings on the issue notwithstanding, (I would tend to lean towards a "realism is good" idea,) that part that bothers me the most is the double standard. If you don't want fat people, fine. But I don't want to see Domingo in blackface as Otello either then.

Arts and the recession

There's an interesting op-ed piece in the Toronto Star today about how Ontario arts groups are surviving the recession. It doesn't talk about anything new or visionary but still makes for good reading in that the sky may no longer be falling.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kiri Te Kanawa retiring

Dame Kiri announced yesterday that she will be retiring from the opera stage next April at 66 years young. Her last performance will be in Rosenkavalier with Cologne with her penultimate one being at the Met in February and both will, I guarantee, sell completely out. Apparently she's going to keep singing, however, promising to do recitals and concerts for as long as people keep buying tickets.

via The BBC

She's making a what now?

A CBC article on Measha Brueggergosman's road to recovery has an even more interesting story hidden in it: She's making a "dance video." Whether that means a video of her dancing or a dance music video, it doesn't say but either way, this has all sorts of interesting written all over it.

What's your hope out there? Dance Music Measha or Ballet Measha?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Vancouver Opera job

Vancouver Opera's looking yet again for a staff member. Sadly they wandered off last Thursday.....

Seriously though, they are hiring an Individual Giving Coordinator. The job is in helping to run their fundraising and membership campaigns and requires at least a couple of years experience in non-profit fund raising. See more about it here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Shaw Festival singing auditions

The Shaw Festival is holding auditions for both acting and singing, in September. For the singing auditions they want one monologue and two contrasting pieces, one of which needs to be a traditional musical theatre piece. For more information, see here.

COC pre-sale on today

The COC's e-Opera newsletter is advertising a pre-sale for their 09/10 multi packs that are supposed to go on sale Monday. However, good blog readers, you can get yours today, ensuring better seats, I imagine, by going here and entering the promo code: EOPERA


A Friday Canadian opera video

John Relyea doing La calunnia. I'll admit, I'm partial to him not only because he's a bass but also because his father has been my mentor for quite a few years.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ponderance of the day

Why doesn't Opera Canada magazine have a web site?

It's 2009 but there's not even so much as a home page with subscription information. Don't get me wrong, I love Opera Canada. I think that tons of us get a lot of value from it every month, (even more so now that the radio listings don't come out after the performances have aired.) I just want to see more of it, along with an official presence. A cover shot with subscription information would do, although reprints of old articles/reviews, a monthly calendar and even information about their fundraising campaign would be great too. Oh well, someday maybe.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Opera shorts to participate in Toronto Film Festq

11 of the 41 shorts participating in this year's Toronto International Film Festival are going to be Bravo! FACT videos, including a piece by Pedro Pires centred around around the aria Casta Diva. No Branagh, tank riding, violin marching, cgi orgitastic Magic Flutes this year though.... you just can't go back to 2006, sigh.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

For the second week in a row: who wants to be an opera admin?

For the second time in two weeks a Canadian opera company is advertising for an outreach staff member. After the Vancouver Opera posting, this week brings a vacancy at Pacific Opera Victoria for an Education and Outreach Coordinator. The position is a new one for POV and so I imagine that there will be a lot of room for someone to build a program almost from the ground up. Applications are starting to be reviewed today so if you want to run an opera company someday (a job I could never envy!) get your start here!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

July's most popular posts

In case you missed them, here are the posts that you loved most(s?)

1. Free opera scores (despite being a June post)
2. Free opera listening (I'm noticing a trend here,)
3. The Vancouver Opera job posting

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday Afternoon at the Opera gets guest host

Starting today, Aug. 1st, CBC's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera gets a guest host in the form of Vancouver Opera's Marketing and Community Programs Director, Doug Tuck. His three week stint starts at 1pm with Faust.

via Vancouver Opera Blog