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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Two Good Performances

The third act of Macbeth turned out to be particularly fun to conduct--witches chorus, ballet, apparitions scene, another chorus/ballet, and a duet with Mac and Lady Mac.

Verdi elected to leave out "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes," so we added it back in as a spoken line. In Italian it goes: "Dal prurito che ai pollici sento, vien qui qualcosa di cruento..."

It was nice to see Rudolph Cleare of the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation,
at the second performance. We will host a branch of the competition later in the spring.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Macbeth: An opening day like any other

Although there are those that like to rest up on the day of an opening, I find that if I do not have some semblance of normalcy--some errands, some chores, some correspondence--I arrive at the theatre lethargic. I need to jump around backstage to get my energy up.

One of my conductor colleagues mentioned to me that once the performance starts, it is useful for
there to be a small mistake early on, some slight mishap in ensemble perhaps, in order to really give a little adrenalin boost.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Backstage at Macbeth

In Macbeth, King Duncan is played by a supernumerary who doesn't speak as he does in the Shakespeare play. Check him out cutting up backstage on You Tube at dress rehearsal.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Virginia Clark

A few days ago, one of our dearest friends and supporters, Virginia Clark, died. Opera Memphis' headquarters, the Clark Opera Memphis Center, is named for Virginia and her late husband Henry. Virginia was one of the most positive people on the planet. She was the one who came in one day and said "we need to get you a new office." That idea became our headquarters.

This photo is from 2003 when the Clark Opera Memphis Center was still under construction.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

More Macbeth Costumes from Preview Party

Last night's preview featured a segment about our costumes. Here's our third apparition (King) and a lady at the banquet.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Taping the floor

Our normal procedure is to work for two weeks at our headquarters and for one week at our theatre. At the headquarters, generally things like music stands and chairs will stand in for columns and walls. Occasionally we will build things like the castered things in the picture which stand in for some walls that cast members have to move.

Along with this goes a floor taped with different colors to stand for the different scenes. Every now and then our stage management folks come up with a work of floor-tapng art.

More Costume Shop Photos

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Costume Shop

Deb Smith, our costumer, is from Oklahoma. Macbeth is a massive undertaking, with multiple costumes for the ensemble.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Macbeth tries on a costume

Gregg Baker (Macbeth) tries on his costume. Our costume shop is right across the hall from the rehearsal room so performers can try on their costumes and the director can see how they look.


Marquita Lister (Lady Macbeth) and Larry Marshall (Director) working on the sleepwalking scene in Verdi's Macbeth.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

By the pricking of my thumbs, Shakespeare and Verdi this way come...

Today we started rehearsals for our upcoming Opera Memphis production of Verdi's MACBETH. The director is Larry Marshall. Larry did a definitive job with PORGY AND BESS last season. We have combined our chorus of witches with dancers witches from the New Ballet Ensemble.

This blended group of specialists--singers and dancers--seems to be the way many productions are going these days. It adds a much stronger visual element and allows the singers to focus on their vocal production.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

P. Craig Russell

Craig Russell is a very talented comic book artist and author. He has spent quite a bit of time doing lovely adaptations of operas into comics. Unfortunately, the opera field, while not quite neglecting him, has come pretty close. We take our selves oh-so-seriously and comics, an art form that is associated with pop culture, couldn't possibly be consumed except as a guilty pleasure by the opera elite.

I'm planning on reviewing his version of The Ring of the Nibelung before I go see Wagner's tetralogy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Eve with Kallen Esperian

Last night, Kallen Esperian and bassist/ arranger Sam Shoup did a concert at the Germantown Performing Arts Center. It was a pops affair, with great American classic songs like "Someone to watch over me" and "Cheek to Cheek." Yours truly had the fun task of conducting members of the Memphis Symphony.

This photo is backstage after the concert with dancers from the New Ballet Ensemble and their choreographer, Emma Crystal.