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.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
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
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.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Thursday, December 4, 2014
CVNC is not a drug store chain. It is a group of critics that has been reviewing classical music in North Carolina since around 2001. I remember one their number, John Lambert, very fondly as he covered performances I did at Triangle Opera Theater and even before that at Duke. The review is very thorough, clearly not dealing with the limitations of print word count.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
A few days ago, the Savannah Voice Festival officially announced that I'm writing a new opera for them. It's going to be about early Savannah history--namely Alice Riley and the first murder in the new colony. Alice's ghost has been seen around Wright square, where she was hung in the 1730s. With its beautiful location and delicious food, it's going to be a hardship assignment.
Strangely enough, when we first looked at Wright Square, a fellow approached us with his version of the Alice Riley story.