Getting intimate with Figaro and Susanna

rachaelkerrI chatted this morning with Rachael Kerr; music director of Against the Grain’s upcoming Figaro’s Wedding.  I saw the original version back in 2013 and was wondering what might be different this time.  I also wondered whether there might be some insights to be gained by approaching it from the perspective of the music rather than the libretto.  Hence my decision to talk to Rachael rather than other members of the team.

I think I lucked in.  It proved to be a most interesting conversation which ultimately turned on why this would be an engaging show and how that turned on “intimacy”.  So first let’s review the elements of the show: Continue reading

Looking ahead to TapEX: Augmented Opera

I sat down today with Michael Mori and Debi Wong; the co-directors of Tapestry’s upcoming show TapEX: Augmented Opera to talk about the show and issues around it.  The TapEX series is all about low cost, low risk experimentation.  Previous shows have combined opera with punk, turntables and Persian rapping.  This time it’s about exploring ways of using digital technology to enhance opera performance and enable the creation of new kinds of opera.  It’s also about how can technology be incorporated in an affordable way.  Conventional studio produced VR comes in around $30,000 per minute which might be OK for the Royal Shakespeare Company  but is way out of reach of an indie company.  And, of course, it can’t be about the technology itself.  It needs to be about how we create art with it.

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Foresight

laurierubinI met with Laurie Rubin today to talk about her upcoming show with Liz Upchurch and Amplified Opera; The Way I See It. Laurie is a mezzo-soprano and she’s been blind since birth. All she can perceive visually is dark and light.  We talked about her life growing up and as a professional singer and the upcoming show.

The bio is interesting going from a fairly toxic high school environment in Los Angeles where music was pretty much her salvation, to Oberlin where she first appeared on stage in actual opera to Yale Opera, which took her on the strength of her voice and then didn’t cast her in anything in her two years there (which clearly still hurts), and on to a professional career based in New York.  She’s done a lot of new music including creating the role of the voice/witch in Lisa Bielawa’s episodic opera, Vireo, written for broadcast which aired in June 2017 on KCET Los Angeles and creating, with her wife Jenny Taira, an arts program in Hawaii; Ohana Arts, which in turn led to the creation of a musical Peace on Your Wings, about the life of a young Japanese girl who suffered from the Hiroshima bomb, which toured the Hawaiian islands and the US west coast.  If all this, and performances too numerous to list, weren’t enough she wrote a book, Do You Dream in Color? Insights From a Girl Without Sight, which in turn became a one woman show.  She has also recently become a mother.

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Barbara Hannigan in conversation

Barbara-Hannigan-07750-photocredit-MarcoBorggreveLast evening I attended a session with Barbara Hannigan under the auspices of the IRCPA.  The format was an interview with William Littler followed by audience Q & A.  In many ways it was typical Hannigan.  She came across as smart, incredibly driven, analytical and with quite a wicked sense of humour.  This I have seen before and there wasn’t much about her work methods that added to the information in I’m a Creative Animal.

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Pandora; an “out of the box” opera/ballet

FAWN_spring_INSTA_v003FAWN Chamber Creative and its artistic director Amanda Smith see themselves as pioneers.  They champion inter-disciplinary works that don’t fit easily into any taxonomy of music, theatre or dance styles.  Their latest venture; Pandora, an “opera/ballet” on a classical theme, might seem straight from the court of Louis XIV but Lully likely wouldn’t have scored it for drums, a piano, an electric guitar, a cello, a bassoon and electronics.  The Sun King would likely also be somewhat taken aback by Jenn Nichol’s choreography; her long association with Opera Atelier notwithstanding.

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How can I sing to descendants I will never have?

The header is a line from Yvette Nolan’s libretto for Shanawdithit; the work she is creating with composer Dean Burry for Tapestry Opera and Opera on the Avalon, which tells the story of the last survivor of the Beothuk people.  I sat down with them on Friday to talk about how the work has progressed since I saw an incomplete version in workshop last October.  The line really does get to the heart of the creative process that addresses the issues I raised in my review of the workshop (i.e. how we remember and tell stories) and this line, and it’s accompanying music, have become a kind of leitmotiv for the emerging work.

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truelinked.com

herrildI’m always a bit intrigued when someone comes up with a new technology solution for an old problem.  If that solution is riding a particular technology trend I’m even more intrigued so when I saw PR material that a start up was creating a “platform” for linking agents, singers and casting personnel in the classical music business I wanted to find out more.  Yesterday I spent some time with Danish tenor and entrepreneur Sune Hjerrild to find out what truelinked.com was all about.

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