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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Opera Memphis' Violetta in 1957

Today I received a beautiful photo from Joy Jemison who sang Opera Memphis' first production, a TRAVIATA in 1957. Joy was one of the many Memphis based singers who sang in the company's early productions.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Madame Butterfly

We had a great experience with Jun Kaneko's colorful and creative BUTTERFLY production. Originally created for Opera Omaha, Kaneko's sensibility, at once modern and Japanese brought out the essence of the opera and was a kind of visual amplifier for Puccini's musico-dramatic sensibility. The audiences reacted warmly to the production with many indicating it was a "top five" in their experience with Opera Memphis.

This picture, by Sean Davis, is of Pinkerton (Stephen Mark Brown) and Sharpless (Kenneth Overton)

Bust of Virginia Clark

Earlier this week, we unveiled a bust of the late Virginia Clark at the opera center. Virginia's pledge of a million dollar gift from the Adams Foundation launched the drive to build Opera Memphis' headquarters, which was named after her and her husband Henry Clark. Picture is with Renee Guibao, Virginia's daughter--also a great supporter of O.M.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Butterfly Preview on WKNO-FM

Madame Butterfly preview is tonight on WKNO-FM. We are doing lots of Act I and our friends Delta Cappella are performing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Is La Traviata hard to conduct?

There have been many articles and blogs about Leonard Slatkin at the MET, including this one by Anne Midgette. Is TRAVIATA hard to conduct? Mostly, the answer is no. But the orchestration of the show is very naked and faulty coordination shows up very easily. Things like the famous "Libiamo" have some tricky breaths that must be agreed upon and the worst is Alfredo's second act aria, "De' miei bollenti spiriti." Coordinating any kind of tempo variance with strings playing pizzicato is difficult, but at the pace of sixteenth notes as it is in this aria, it really requires some finesse, rehearsal, and a sense of agreement about what is going to happen.

I remember early in my career a production of COSI FAN TUTTE at Florida Grand Opera where a group of very well known professionals ate a director alive. He was an experienced director, but instead of coming in with a clear vision, he simply was intending to see what the cast was used to doing. Given all the hard work it takes to prepare a role--the hours and hours it takes to learn it, memorize it, shape it--the cast didn't appreciate it at all.