Thursday, July 22, 2010
We are sorry to note the passing of opera conductor, coach, and producer John Douglas. John had one of the best ears of any musician I have ever met. He was meticulous--when he listened to a singer, he made very careful lists of issues. Sometimes the list was overwhelming, but John was able to communicate in a very level headed and helpful manner. Although I don't know the full list of singers with whom John worked,I know there were some great ones, including Denyce Graves, William Stone, and Victoria Livengood. John was also willing to delve into the area of contemporary opera--including works by opera composer Bruce Trinkley.
Here's a weird confluence of challenges--state fair programs and opera seasons. Opera companies struggle between balancing the familiar tried and true--the BOHEMES, CARMENS, and FIGAROS--with more adventurous programming. If you program too many of the old standbuys, then some of the audience is truly tired of them and won't come back. On the other hand, innovation is costly and might scare away the traditionalists. Apparently state fairs like Iowa's have the same problem--as the Des Moines Register says, balancing the "wows with the butter cows."