A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, opera a cappella now available at Albany Records

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Orlando Montoya's Savannah podcast about ALICE RYLEY

I am a big fan of podcasts and regularly download Freakanomics Radio and This American Life. While in Savannah for the August workshop of ALICE RYLEY, I got a chance to record a podcast interview with Orlando Montoya who does a regular podcast about Savannah. He did a great job making me sound articulate.

One of my favorite points in the podcast was being able to emphasize that opera is an entertainment medium as well as an art form. We take ourselves way too seriously and need to concentrate on things that work as live lyric theater. I also finally say in public what I've thought for years, that the MET HD is a mixed blessing for regional opera. You can also hear where I've borrowed a phrase of Gershwin in the new opera.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Meanwhile, over at Schmopera

A little guest blog over at Schmopera about the healthy input I have received about ALICE RYLEY from singers and singer/producers at Savannah Voice Festival.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pictures from the workshop of ALICE RYLEY in Tarpon Springs

George Konstantinidis took some great photos of the presentation of ALICE RYLEY in Tarpon Springs. A polished workshop is about the audience reaction and it was gratifying to see the piece was engaging, gripping even, all the way through. 

William Wise (Cody Austin) lords it over his two indentured servants Alice Ryley (Ashley Dannewitz) and Richard White (James Wright). White is about to strangle him...

Alice (Jessica Ann Best) looks back in horror at what has happened. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

ALICE staged workshop at Tarpon Arts August 22, 2015

We do a staged workshop of ALICE RYLEY at Tarpon Arts Heritage Museum on Saturday, August 22, 2015. The preview of ALICE in Savannah was restricted by the lovely and historic confines of the Green-Meldrim house. In Tarpon, we have a more theatrical space and can truly see the piece on its feet. 

There are still minor but useful tweaks. For example "They say that Baine needs men to drain the swamp to the west" was changed to "Our neighbor Baine needs men to drain the swamp to the west" for the sake of instant comprehension. We are getting to run the show with supertitles too which I think is an absolutely necessity for new opera.

The show is also benefiting from ample rehearsal time--the cast and company can focus on it. I am still getting a constant kick out of the fact that Sherrill Milnes is actually in my show as the (speaking) tour guide.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

ALICE RYLEY staged workshops

My new one act opera, ALICE RYLEY, a Savannah Ghost Story, is getting two staged workshops this month. The first is at Savannah Voice Festival on August 14th. The second is in Florida in Tarpon Springs on August 22nd. The staged workshop even includes a little orchestration. All this is moving toward the premiere at the end of October.

Cast includes the two Alices from the New York workshop, Jessica Ann Best and Ashley Dannewitz. The other performers include Jim Wright as Richard White, Cody Austin in the multiple tenor roles, and Ann Louise Glasser as Mary. You can find your bios here on the SVF website. And there's a surprise appearance.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Nickel City Opera MARRIAGE OF FIGARO June 2015

So, over my objection, Nickel City Opera's founder Valerian Ruminski wanted me to conduct our recent June 2015 MARRIAGE OF FIGARO and also play the recitatives. Although I have done it before, I've always thought it to be a bit of hot-dogging and generally avoided doing both at once. Because of the extremely cramped pit, it turned out to be both a practical and artistically interesting decision. Although it's not quite clear whether Mozart used a harpsichord or a fortepiano, it is clear that he conducted his operas from the keyboard and used the instrument during the musical numbers to help set the tempi. As is mentioned in this article by John Drummond, one of the unexpected advantages was it increased the cohesion between the musical numbers and their recitatives. The small pit at the Riviera Theater made large conducting gestures unnecessary, so it became very tempting and fun to play along, which seemed to have a good effect. It felt a little like how I remember Count Basie playing along very sparsely with his orchestra and giving very few cues.You can see in this photo of dress rehearsal that the pit is so small that the winds are actually outside of the pit and face the stage. It was the first time that it felt like an advantage.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It's MARRIAGE OF FIGARO time in Buffalo

Nickel City Opera's production of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO opens this weekend, June 26 and 28, 2015. It's great to see so many old friends in the cast, crew, chorus, and orchestra. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

We gathered at the Opera America center last month to do a read-through of ALICE RYLEY, my new project set in Savannah when the colony was first being established. Sherrill Milnes (right) will have a speaking part in the opera and his wife Maria Zouves will direct. One of the changes during the workshop is that he was intended to play the part of a tourist. His speaking voice, though, is too authoritative and we have to make him a tour guide instead.

There is a brief excerpt here sung by Ashley Dannewitz. I'll talk about it more in a later post.


SPEED DATING TONIGHT! plays this weekend and next month at West Liberty University and BUOSO'S GHOST plays at Texas State University, where they did SPEED DATING TONIGHT! this fall.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

SDT! at Tri-Cities Opera

This weekend, SPEED DATING TONIGHT! plays at Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton. Here's a piece about it in the Press & Sun Bulletin. It is fun to see it on a season of traditional opera. Taking advantage of the flexibility of internet marketing, they have designed several different versions of their poster, featuring different daters. I've posted a couple of them.