Sunday, August 21, 2005

Notes on the previous post...

Before ya'll out there in blogger-land give me the smack-down:
Here's the deal with the player - I have very little control over what order it actually plays the songs - the playlist seletcs them based on how mnany times you have accessed the file and then puts in the most recent as first. then again, it could just be some random joke the Flash developer is having on the world.

2 - it's not MY fault that whoever mastered the Britten and the Arvo Part did it as a volume level so low you have to turn it up to "11" to hear it. Sorry that you have to play with the volume control, I do my best, but didn't have time this week to re-master them. :)
I just want to make sure you're paying attention, anyway!

New music in the player today - Mostly modern! - Britten, Adams, Nyman, Part, Lehar, Offenbach

WOD couldn't let a mention of John Adams go by without paying tribute to what came before, and his contemporaries.
Most of the music will be NON-vocal, and "minimalist" in nature, although this isn't "one-key" himself Philip Glass. (who I LIKE, btw, but if another musical key bit him in the ass, he wouldn't know what to do with it)
Arvo Part - an Estonian monk who writes brilliant, quiet (VERY QUIET) introspective music.
1- Cantus in the memory of Benjamin Britten (VERY QUIET - turn up your speakers - the bells at the end are so worth it)
2 - Tabula Rasa - I first heard this on a college alternative station in the 1980's. It is such an amazing piece of music that it goes without description. But again, VERY quiet - it builds much like the "Bolero" does.

John Adams - probably the foremost opera composer in the US today, following a tradition of writing operas about modern subjects. "Nixon In China", anyone? This selection is from his Harmonium - Wild Nights. Enjoy.

Benjamin Britten - Can't play a Cantus about him without bringing the master himself along. His opera A Midsummer Night's Dream, while abbreviated, is a fairly solid interp. of Shakespeare. Oberon the fairy king is traditionally played as a "trouser" role, Brian Asawa countertenor sings the Fairy King. (one I used for auditions - to this day, I still consider it my best acted/sung audition piece) Here we listen to Oberon give Puck his fateful instructions in "Welcome, wanderer!"

Franz Lehar - why is the operetta king in here? Well, something vocal needed to find its way in here, and why NOT a frothy, fun duet from the waltzing operetta master? Wie ein Rosenknopz sung by Barbara Bonney and Bo Skovhus.

Even though Offenbach is from the 19 century and not a modernist by todays title, he really is the only other composer besides Verdi who could write sung-through pieces for multiple voices the way Mozart taught them all, Mozart still being the Grand Master of the technique. Act 2 of Les Contes D'Hoffmann (also known as the "Antonia" act) Oeser version, Jose VanDam and Neil Shicoff as Dr. Miracle and Hoffmann, and Kurt Rydl as Crespel.

Michael Nyman - yes, we ALL saw "The Piano" and loved it - but MN has been around for quite some time, mostly as house composer to filmmaker Peter Greenaway. This selection is from another Shakespeare piece, Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" a fairly lurid and not particularly well-done version with Sir John Gielgud as Prospero and MN providing musical accompaniment - this vocal selection is "The Masque", which closes out the soundtrack. Ute Lemper, Marie Angel, and Deborah Conway sing the goddesses.

The closing music every week on "WOD", whether you are online or listening live to my Tuesday Broadcast, is Wagner's Prelude to Act 3, Tristan und Isolde. Just you try and write something this moving - go on, that's an official double-dog dare.

Former Pink Floyd frontman writes an opera about the French Revolution

and hey! It stars WOD perennial favorite, Bryn Terfel!!
Link here.
I'm compiling new music for the player as we will be up later today.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The costume sketch inspires an opera post

ok, well, D in my comments section actually inspired it. So for the record; a little about costuming for opera.

For those readers who aren't familiar with a costume rendering, techinically it is not supposed to be a "realistic" drawing. yes, some designers get sketch-happy, but it really is supposed to convey a mood, a feeling, or a concept to the staging director of an opera.

Understand that FEW opera companies in the US get the luxury of building costumes from scratch - most designers are forced to work with rentals, which often don't fit properly, and then a few pieces here and there are built to expand a limited selection or fit a singer who showed up at the 2-week-prior-to-dress staging rehearsal many sizes larger or smaller than the measurement sheet sent by said singer's manager.

So to go to the time and expense of fully rendering and painting a costume sketch is quite the luxury - I often got a hand slap from the managing director for doing sketches as detailed as this one - a lot of costumers do collages when they are out working in the field, and only go to this length if they are being paid for the rendering period, or going for the exam and need to fill out the portfolio.

I never took the exam, and got my USA card by actually working in the industry - I was hired enough by opera companies to fulfill my Taft-Hartley and go up to USA #829.

As I said in the comments, I "retired" at the ripe old age of 32 after 16 years, to never, ever go back.(yes, I designed my first production at 16 y/o) Designing costumes for live theater is grueling, back-breaking work that pays barely enough to eat on.

I also suffered a severe case of burnout - in 2 years I was asked to do 5 productions that all needed to look like a "Merchant-Ivory" production. I saw enough cream/tan summery fabrics to choke a horse. The previous rendering was from one of those productions, which is also why it was never painted - I had done so many prior to it, I just couldn't work up the energy to paint it.

And that is when opera started becoming a JOB, and not a career, and it was time to leave.

It has taken me 4 years just to be able to go back and LOOK at these sketches again ...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Where I actually talk about working in opera

Yeah, it may just be time to start talking about the industry of opera. Although I could talk about what it's like to do a radio show...what would you prefer?
Ok, I am going to post a photo, and later this weekend, talk about it while those of you who read here take stabs at it.
For the uninitiated - this a costume rendering, which means it represents what the costume may or may not look like. I tended to go for more detail than less:

This is Fiordiligi from Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti. How about those lobster claws?
New music on Sunday.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Borodin - Prince Igor - Tuesday broadcast

Tuesdays opera will be Borodin's Prince Igor, with all - Russian cast. Its on vinyl, and dates from the late 50's. Sorry for the lackof detail, but I don't read Russian!


10AM -1PM Tuesday, EST on WHFR.FM
Tune in just to hear a certain well-known blogger featured in my promo!!


Friday, August 12, 2005

Doctor Atomic - a new opera

Those of us that follow such things regularly have known about this for about 2 years now, but to see the premiere of a new opera make the front page of Yahoo - ok, THAT is news. All hope is not lost.
And I am a "Peter Sellars = yes" kinda gal. For those of you in the anti-PS camp, think about this - what better for him to direct than modern opera?
And for those of you who have NO IDEA what that sentence actually means, here's the deal - Peter Sellars (the director, NOT the actor) is well-known in opera for his rather elecetic take on staging opera - a Don Giovanni amongst drug dealers and 'ho's, a "Cosi" in a diner, and a "Nozze" with the Count as Donald Trump. Our version of Eurotrash opera direction, to hear some opinions.
And for those of you who don't like John Adams, you're welcome to your opinion, but I think you're really wrong and encourage you to give it another try.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

New Vivaldi composition - and its CHORAL!!

We love it here at WOD when composers who have been dead since oh, the 1700's write new works:


Sunday, August 07, 2005

New music on What's Opera Doc - Isn't It About Time?

Mendelssohn, Mozart, Bizet, Wagner, Brahms and a few others. This time I was able to get fairly complete information on the performances, although if someone wants to help identify the baritone doing the Toreador Song, have at it!
The Bjoerling/Tebaldi selection is particularly wonderful, Domingo performing the only tenor aria in Mozart's Don Giovanni is a bit "bland-ish" for my taste, but then again, so is Don Ottavio, so I give PD high marks on tapping into that characterization.

ok, so I may go off a bit about Don Giovanni all the time, as it is one of my "desert island" operas, but hello? Isn't DG the bad boy we all want? It doesn't help that my first live performance was with none other than Samuel Ramey in his heyday. Yikes, people - yikes. And it's true - he has lifts in his shoes, but WHO CARES with that voice.

So without further blathering, it is highly likely that Don Giovanni will be Tuesdays featured opera - join me over the Internet at WHFR to listen live - 10 AM - 1PM. Nicolas Harnoncourt conducting (period tempi in this one!) and Thomas Hampson as the Don.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

What's Opera Doc - See WHFR live at Dearborn Homecoming!

We will have our tent setup and be broadcasting live at Homecoming - Michigan Ave. and Military. Come see your favorite hosts - What's Opera Doc will be there from 10AM-noon today.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The dust has settled - on with the music

Well, it looks as though the dustbowl has started to decrease in size over at Waiter Rant - thanks to everyone who sent such nice messages my way after the storm of abuse.

Tangent jump: So Detroit is going to have a new radio station, and it will be 24-hour classical, at the High School for the Performing Arts next to Orchestra Hall, also known as the "Max", after Max M Fisher, who donated so much to the city to build this wonderful performance facility.

The new station will have 50,000 watts.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Waiter Rant 2.0

Take a look at Waiter Rant, and you will see why I didn't time to post in July. Yep, that's my work, folks.
Today's opera will be L'Italiana in Algieri. On the air from 10AM-1PM EST.
WHFR.FM to listen live.