Thursday, December 11, 2008
Here's a video of him in an egg separation battle...
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Dearest Opera Lovers,
When the Kentucky Opera 2008-2009 season was announced, a good friend of mine told me that if anyone missed the opportunity to attend one of the performances of Massenet’s Werther (and I quote) “you might as well go hang yourself.” Although I laughed wholeheartedly at his remark, I never thought that his prediction would be so prophetic. Indeed one needs to mourn and subsequently head for the gallows if by any chance he or she missed the opportunity to attend. Werther was by far the best offering this season has exhibited.
It would be futile on my part to try and explain through mortal words this sensational presentation by Kentucky Opera. I was fortunate to attend both performances; thus, I will simply touch upon specific key points. A big bravo to maestro Mechavich for his brilliant interpretation of Massenet’s score; it was touching, alive and without exaggeration. Mr. Kaplan’s costumes were exceptional as always. The direction under Ms. McIntyre created an absolutely dream-like atmosphere (especially with the phenomenal lighting). Ms. McIntyre completely “got it” as far as the heart of this French opera is concerned. Forget about the grandeur of Italian opera and the bombastic “over the head” pounding of German opera. The direction reflected the spirit of the concise, slow unfolding, soft, passionate yet restrained character of French opera which dives into a study of the individual soul and turmoil of the characters and builds slowly but gradually until the end when catharsis is achieved. The ones in attendance only need to bring to mind the bloody letters swirling in the snow, drifting away in the wind denoting the suicide attempt of Werther. Brilliant!! Mrs. Batton and Mr. Sorenson were absolutely breathtaking and exhibited talent which is at the highest level of today’s opera standards. I happen to possess this opera in a three vinyl set with interpretations by renowned Metropolitan Opera stars Jose Carreras and Frederica Von Stade. Mrs. Batton and Mr. Sorenson’s performances have nothing to be jealous of their Metropolitan counterparts. The same holds true for Ms. Vuong who electrified the theater as Sophie as well as the children’s choir which was delightful. Tenors Mr. Angell, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Collins, Mr. Cook and Mr. Sheehan did a wonderful job to complete a very successful performance.
Unfortunately, this is the point where my review takes a different tone…a tone of disappointment for a number of distasteful and out of line comments made by our respected arts critic Mr. Adler. Where should I begin? This time there are too many to mention. I will not spend too much time elaborating on his Werther review calling the tenors “mediocre” because it is obvious by now Mr. Adler and I disagree on our assessment of the talent that these young tenors bring to our
Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis
Edited with the help of Miss S.
Monday, December 1, 2008
David Roth's statement:
While we are shocked at the severity of the cutback in this fiscal year from Metro Louisville, we at Kentucky Opera have anticipated this inevitable drop in external funding from Metro Louisville and possibly the Kentucky Arts Council since each started to announce a month ago their estimated revenue shortfalls from the current economic slowdown. We, like other businesses, must prepare to weather this economic storm with noticeable changes in staffing and programming for this year and the next. Because we have in recent seasons developed a very lean business model, any further changes will require structural changes to programming on our subscription series and our educational outreach.
We are thankful that Brown-Forman has already confirmed their season sponsorship for our Fall 2009 season.
We encourage all Kentucky Opera patrons, subscribers and even single ticket buyers to participate in the Subscriber Appreciation Receptions so we can get your feed back on this and other issues facing your opera company.
Please call us 502.584.4500 and let us know when you would like to attend (dates and times below). There are two morning breakfast opportunities, two afternoon lunch opportunities and two after work opportunities. The receptions will take place at ArtSpace located at 323 West Broadway.
Wednesday, December 10 at 9:30 am
Thursday, December 11 at 9:30 am
Tuesday, January 6 at 12:30 or 6pm
Monday January 12 at 12:30 or 6pm
Monday, November 24, 2008
It seems as though just yesterday we were having a fun romp with Don Quixote in the Brown Theatre. Amid the holiday festivities, Kentucky Opera will present Werther at the Kentucky Center. It's not the candy, it's pronounced Vair- tair.
Our photographer J.David Levy slipped me a few images from the piano dress rehearsal on Sunday, just to share with our blog readers.
Garrett Sorenson sings the role of our tragic hero, Werther. A poet so in love with Charlotte, that all he can do is compose poems for her beauty and grace. Sorenson has an easy task with this as the object of his affection on stage is his wife in real life, Elizabeth Batton. The couple will be on WHAS 11 in the noon hour on Wednesday, November 26. Be sure to tune in.
If you just can't wait until Wednesday, listen to a podcast interview on Classical 90.5 between the couple and Scott Dowd.
Be aware that it doesn't end well for our romantic poet. He does himself in, and we at Kentucky Opera are in no way condoning the violence of suicide.
Tickets are available by calling 502.584.7777 or by clicking here.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Dearest Opera Fans,
As a citizen who appreciates the arts and strives hard to be able to attend most of these oases of culture in our otherwise busy, difficult and unrefined lives I am most grateful when a nice “bonus”, a graceful “thank you” to the Opera Fan comes along. This is precisely the reason I was so appreciative of the Kentucky Opera’s performance of the Baroque Opera Showcase. The reason for this event was for
This past weekend’s performance did exactly that. Fresh, light hearted and delightfully done the evening opened itself to a wonderful discovery of new territory for this town both musically and artistically. The Showcase was structured not around Handel or Gluck, giants of the Baroque era, but around Georg Philipp Telemann which was a plus (since unless you are a vivid classical music listener you probably have not heard much of the music of Telemann). Thus, the discovery begun!!! I can continue on and on, describing the performance but you can read all about the details in the Courier Journal Arts section, where you will find Mr.
As far as “quality” goes, Mr. Nathan Stark stood out as the experienced professional but our studio artists did a wonderful job complementing his style and the pieces selected were tastefully done. Additionally, in the second part of the program the performances were crisp, simple yet well orchestrated, solid but with imagination, humor and well done arias. I can only state humbly that Mr. Adler’s opinion of Mr. Angell Connor’s performances for both Pirates of Penzance as well as the Showcase were harsh, definitely unfair and not in line with popular opinion who seems to be enjoying his performances this season. The rest of the cast as well as the ensemble provided a nice background and a solid groundbreaking experiment if you would like, from which Kentucky Opera will learn and expand to bigger and better things.
The Showcase succeeded in offering the audience a light hearted performance, a nice experiment in different Opera forms and a showcase of our local talent. If Mr. Adler feels the quality of the Showcase was not up to standard he should target his next review on the monstrosity being built downtown. Maybe more support would be offered to help the Kentucky Opera, the orchestra or the ballet if it was not wasted on yet another venue for 18 year old kids to bounce a ball around. Maybe Werther will satisfy Mr. Adler for a positive next review since I am tired of having my Sunday coffee go down the wrong way!!!
Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Yesterday, we had a nice article in the Courier Journal featuring the Studio Artists and the Showcase of Baroque Opera. the story was accompanied by a terrific photo of the "kids" as we call them, clockwise from front, Juliana Moura, Benjamin Robinson, Conor Angell, Heather Phillips, Natalie Krupansky and Courtney McKeown. The coach/accompanist Naoko Suga is not pictured.
Rehearsals for the Baroque piece have been in the 2nd floor lobby of ArtSpace. If I can locate the camera, I will go and capture the moment.
Today, Andrew Adler spent some time with out two leads in Werther, Elizabeth Batton and Garrett Sorenson at their home here in Louisville. The couple just moved here from New York with their 10 month old son Jonah, and are very excited about working from home for this production. They were extremely generous with their story and their home, making astute connections between the love story in Werther and their own adoration of one another. It should be a unique angle we rarely get in a preview. We are expecting that article on November 23, hopefully we will get the top of the fold with the charming family photos.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Now the Studio Artists must dive right into Teleman (Brown Theatre November 14 & 15). The Baroque Opera pieces won't be easy for them to learn because there are no translations of the arias in the first half of the show. I have been told (though yet to hear) that the selections are beautiful, and with the period instruments the event should be very cool. Rehearsals are at Austin Clark's home in the mornings, and I hope to get over there some time for a photo and a listen.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I am the very model of a modern major-general,
I’ve information vegetable, animal and mineral,
I know the names of fifty states in order alphabetical
I know about computers thou its mostly theoretical;
I know the names and pedigrees of all the
And all the dirt on
and can name the saints and sinners Frankfort
Then I can hum the Billboard hits of every recent Pop Era
[Ooh! Tricky! Orch riff of Phantom theme] Ah yes!
And whistle all the melodies from Phantom of the Opera.
I know the televangelists and all the rabble-rousers
Who preach the joys of chastity, till caught without their trousers!
In short in matters vegetable, animal and mineral
I am the very model of a modern major-general.
I’ve studied all the gossip rags and know the sordid details
Of every rock groups drugging trips, as far back as the Beatles;
I know the names of Presidents from
to dubble-ya Washington
Tho’ more on that, I rather think, I do not need to trouble-ya
I know the matrimonial stuff that really does embarrass,
On Brangelina, Britney Spears and even Hilton….Paris;
I know the inner secrets of the Kennedys of Camelot.
[Ah? Camelot? child super crosses with coconut shells :I have it!!!”]
And whistle all the tunes from that infernal nonsense Spamalot
I‘ve memorized the story line of HBO’s Sopranos.
And more of soapy opera plots as any other man knows
In short in matters vegetable, animal and mineral
I am the very model of a modern major-general.
I’ve read the books on strategy and know it all in theory,
I’ve played at all the war games and believe me they are dreary;
On military matters though I’m anything but brainy
I know as much, I rather guess, as either Bush or Cheyney;
So when I’ve learned the sciences of firepower and ballistics
And know to differentiate the lies from the statistics
When I can tell a Sunni, from a Shia-type Iraqi
You’ll say a better general has never worn the khaki.
For my military knowledge though I’m gallant and adventury
Has only been brought down to the beginning of last century
But still in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern major-general.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
1. Thomson would like a tall processional cross for the divinity in Act I.
2. We are using almost all of the daggers you brought us, and some of them could use some TLC. They are laid out on a table stage left.
3. Thomson borrowed a small whisk broom from the costume shop today…I believe that is more the style of brush he would like for the clothing brush.
1. The change for Frederic from cadet to pirate is approximately 5 minutes. He exits stage left and reenters stage left.
A new addition to these notes include:
The David Levy Requested QUOTE OF THE DAY
10/11 Watch him picking his butt! React to that! – Barrett Cooper
10/13 Natalie and I are practically married – overheard from Courtney McKeown, context unknown
10/14 It breaks my fart… – Colm Fitzmaurice, misspeaking the line “It breaks my heart..”
David Michael taking a break while Jamie-Rose and Colm work on "Stay Frederic Stay".
The cast is working so hard on Pirates of Penzance, they are ahead of themselves. They are doing so well, they took the day off yesterday!
Colm Fitzmaurice hamming it up. He is an excellent actor.
Rehearsing at Artspace is an added bonus! We move into the Brown Theatre next week. So exciting!
We are selling this show very well. If you want to come to opening night, you had better get your tickets soon. We do have availability for Tuesday 10/28!
Friday, October 3, 2008
Pirates of Penzance Cast/Staff Lunchon.
I learned A LOT at the lunch today. I sat next to our Mabel, Jamie-Rose Guarrine. She has just moved to Fairbanks Alaska, and LOVES the fall weather here in the 'Ville. Just before her move, she had a gig in Arizona where it was too hot. She was in Alaska for a month during which time she had to take a course to prepare for encounters with Moose and ice fog. She is grateful for the temperature and the view of the river from her room at the Galt House.
I was also sitting next to Anne-Carolyn Bird, who isn't in our show, but is the fiance of Matt Burns who is our Pirate King. She is actually on her day off from Nashville Opera's Don Giovanni. It always facinates me when opera singers get married. I suppose they live such hectic schedules this city one month another city the next, only another opera singer could cope with that kind of schedule. These two had a great getting together story.
It was in Opera Grand Rapids production of The Marriage of Figaro where they met. There was a photo shoot, the photographer noticed a great connection and what great actors these singers are, when infact, they were falling in love. The photographer saw it before they did - the eye of an artists! Turned out their next show was the following month at Daytona Opera with the Barber of Seville and thats where they figured it out. They will be taking a cruise and Matt is VERY excited about it!
Thomson Smillie was a fountain of wisdom as well, but his information was more about the show at hand...
For those who may not already know, Thomson is the Stage Director for Pirates of Penzance, and the former Director of Kentucky Opera. The last time the company performed this piece was in 1991 at the Brown Theatre with Thompson directing and Bob Bernhardt leading the Orcehstra. The duo will be reunited back home to the Brown...
Thompson told us about the miniature dopplegangers that will be in the show (more on this another time) and the use of monochromatic palate until the ladies arrive. The first 20 minutes everything is in black and white. Then when the maidens arrive, the pirates start adding color and the sets become more colorful. This is supposed to signal the pirates evolving into gentlemen.
From what I know, Opening night is selling very well, but we have a lot of room still for the Tuesday October 28th performance. Get your tickets here or call (502)584-7777!
Oh if you have a moment, Anne-Caroline Bird is a fellow opera blogger. Find her here.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I play the violin every Sunday on my church (Walnut Baptist) and on this Sunday I also sang the Lord’s Prayer. Just before the sermon began I left for my opera chorus call at the
When I opened the Kentucky Center Lobby’s door I saw Alise Oliver, Kentucky Opera’s artistic administrator, with this scary look on her face and saying, “Oh, Juliana is here, she is here…” suddenly Julie Maykowski (the education director), Alice, Julia (the assistant stage manager) and everybody was there just smiling and asking, “How are you today???” Then I asked, “What’s going on?” Nobody said anything; they just had those freaking smiles. Then I asked, “Where is Kelly?” They looked at each other THIS TIME with a nervous laughter they said, “
He showed me the place already prepared in the pit and took me to talk to our star, Kelly Kaduce. Julie took me to Todd Hall so I could run through some parts that I wanted to work on with the coach Naoko Suga . I asked to go through third act (God knows why!) and then we looked at the death scene in the fourth act because this was the only part we didn’t coach for this opera.
Before the opera began, Julie was in the dressing room forcing me to eat and I heard the announcement made by Lisa, the stage manager, on the speaker, “Attention please, Juliana Moura is not singing today with the chorus, she will be in stand-by for Mrs. Kaduce in the pit.” I just looked at Julie, covered my ears and said “I don’t want to here this, la, la, la, la, la…”. So I could still trick my mind and pretend that this was just a rehearsal.
During the performance, Kelly made it through acts one and two without incident. In the third act all the lights in the orchestra it went out, except for my light and Naoko’s. I stood up and just like the guys with the flashlights on the airport runway I held up the lights to help the orchestra see something in the middle of the blackout. I started screaming for Naoko to get somebody to do something about the lights and this went on for a while. Kelly Kaduce ended up singing one or two bars without music but then the lights came back. From that moment on I was sure that THIS WAS NOT REAL!!!
Well as soon as Kelly finished her duet in the third act I thought, “Thank God she will be able to do the whole show!” Suddenly Julie appeared at the pit and said “You are ON!!!”
I took my shoes off to try to relax and thought “This is just a rehearsal!!!”
And I sang!
After the third act they rushed me to stage right to do act four because the singers on stage couldn’t hear me.
Thank goodness we worked on the fourth act. After my last word on stage, ADDIO! I felt just like that, I am dead, and good bye. It was amazing to see so many people back stage cheering for me and with big smiles saying so many good things. Honestly in my mind I have no clue how it sounded; I had NEVER sang with an orchestra before, or in a big theater like the Whitney and doing this gigantic role that my voice isn’t ready for yet.
I can still picture the moment when Kelly and I embraced in center stage. To hear all the applause was the most exciting moment of my life!!!
I am very happy to have been chosen to study this role with Kentucky Opera Studio Artists Program and to be prepared so I could face this once in a lifetime opportunity. I can say that I depended on God the entire time, and just kept saying in my head: THIS IS NOT HAPPENING… IT IS JUST A REHEARSAL!
posted by Juliana Moura
Monday, September 29, 2008
Lots of feedback coming from the Otello Audience:
OTELLO was magnificent last night.
Truly a memory that will stay with us for a very long time. During the performance I found myself looking at what I thought was an oil masterpiece from one of the great masters from the period. WOW!!!
Juan and Cindy
Dear Kelly -
I saw both the Opening Night and the Sunday Matinee of Kentucky Opera
's production of Verdi 's Otello. In over 25 years of seeing opera around the world, I have never seen two more professional gestures that those you made this weekend.
First, despite that sinus infection, you sang beautifully on Friday night. As a matter of fact, many of my friends wondered, "If she sounds this good with a sinus infection, I can only imagine how great she sounds without it!!" Second, your generosity with the understudy at the matinee was truly a first rate, professional act. I
'm sure Julianna appreciated it, and I wanted you to know that it did not go unnoticed in the audience.
Again, thanks for being KO
's Desdemona. I hope to hear you again in the future!!
Pretty damn good for a sinus infection! Made the kissing scenes a little... "interesting." though. Great job all around. -
Feel free to leave your review in the comments section!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The Opera announced their three season plan which includes an "Audience Choice " in the 2010 Season! Here is the line up:
Verdi's La Traviata
Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men
Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel
Beethoven's "Fidelio" in concert with the Louisville Orchestra
Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci
Audience Choice -- Donizetti's The Elixir of Love;Britten's The Turn of the Screw; Offenbach's La Perichole. At $1 a vote one of these very different operas will bring in the Louisville-born soprano Emily Albrink.
Puccini's Madama Butterfly
Verdi's, Nabucco in concert with the Louisville Orchestra
Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair
Read Andrew Adlers story here
Do tell us what you think through the comments but remember if you want to vote on the Audience Choice, you must submit $$$! Vote eary & often! You can call the opera if you would like to vote via credit card. 502-584-4500.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The image above is from the first Otello piano dress rehearsal, the first run through with the full chorus full sets, costumes, wigs and makeup. The directors and designers can finally see how everything works together and make changes as needed. Apparently in this rehearsal, they had to change Cassio's wig and the lighting was on the red side at one point. I think they got it worked out by the Final Dress Rehearsal for Students last night (Wednesday). The Student Dress is a great opportunity for students to see the entire opera for a LOW price and it gives the cast an opportunity to work out the kinks of the performance with a live audience. Most of the students we get for these are in high school and college and are usually very responsive. Much of the audience last night was comprised of three choirs from Fort Knox high school. They all seemed extremely eager to be at the center and dressed up like it was prom night.
The video below is from Kentucky Opera's last Otello rehearsal in Todd Hall. Its the drinking song from act I and Christian Reinert, playing Cassio, does a great job acting drunk in this.
Monday, September 22, 2008
If you did not see the article in yesterday’s paper, Andrew Adler interviewed Donnie Ray Albert about his role of IAGO and the challenges of recreating one of Shakespeare’s most contemptible antagonists. The link to the archival copy of Andrew’s article is here.
Tuesday September 23 @ Noon, the first Lunchtime Arias @ Vincenzo’s sponsored by the Kentucky Opera Guild. Only $20 so call Tracy Terry, 584-4500 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
Wednesday, September 24, @ 7:00pm, Student Dress Rehearsal for Otello
Friday, September 26, @ 6:00pm, President’s Council Dinner in the North Lobby of the
Friday, September 26, @ 8:00pm, in Whitney Hall, OteLLO For tickets call 584-7777, or visit our websight www.kyopera.org
Friday, September 26, @ 11:00pm, @ Proof, Cast Party for Otello
Sunday, September 28, @ 2:00pm, in Whitney Hall, Otello
See you all at the Opera!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The Otello Cast Arrives!!
Kentucky Opera’s impressive cast for the first production of the season arrived in our fair city over the last couple of days. Today will be the first (and quite possibly the last) time the principal cast, production crew and KYO staff are in the same room at one time. The Cast/Staff lunch is an opportunity for every one to put names (and roles) with faces. While it would be a challenge to find someone in this group that wouldn’t be able to immediately identify Kelly Kaduce after her cover of the Opera News, I am sure there are those that have yet to meet Linda, the sweet woman in finance who cuts the checks, and everyone who is expecting to get paid needs to know her!
Linda has been working with Kentucky Opera's finances for 3 years and we love her.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Photo: Hats in progress by Shari Cichran.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Music preparation for the Otello chorus has begun! In the Brown rehearsal room at ARTSPACE, Dr. Phillip Brisson and Dr. Mozelle Clark Sherman teach the Kentucky Opera chorus their parts and diction for the upcoming production. The chorus only has 6 music rehearsals to learn the very challenging score prior to the arrival of Mo. Steven Crawford on Sept. 5 !!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I have an easy day planned today. My flight out of
After staying up late to pack up my Fiesta Room at the Bobcat Inn, I slept little and woke up out of sorts at an all too early hour. While my assistant back in the Eastern Time zone, two hours ahead of the New Mexican time zone, was earnest in her desire to get work done on a Friday morning, her early call did nothing to clear my head. An hour later, at , I was enjoying a fresh cup of Amy’s brewed coffee and more wafting smells of grilled bacon. I kept the breakfast repose light this morning because I have a meeting with an agent friend, Ana de Archuleta, at the Tesuque Market, just down the hill from the opera house. Shaded from the bright morning sun, Tesuque maintains its hidden charms as a favorite breakfast or lunch escape for meetings. Following a cup of good joe and a great plate of American Fries, Ana and I wrapped up some quick business and proceeded back up the hill for the second day of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Auditions.
Now for a couple of thoughts on last night’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd. Having gathered a strong cast for this production, one of Britten’s most tragically intense opera’s, Santa Fe Opera baited our anticipation as they sought to make their mark on this powerful and complex composition. The cast, led by the lyric baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, and joined by Richard Stilwell, Timothy Nolen, John Stevens and William Burden, absorbed their roles and created the ensemble necessary to manifest the tension in the relationships that fatefully move the conflict forward. They didn’t perform Britten’s masterful score as much as they became willing partners with the music, losing themselves in the passion and drama, in such a complete manner that pulled the audience into the fray. All onstage, including the accurately prepared men’s chorus, deserved the ovation they received at the end of the performance.
I finished the auditions on Friday a little after one, offered several surprises, particularly with the baritones. I headed back to
Later in the afternoon, I met up again with my friend, Franco, to set off into the hills above
While much could be said about Friday evening’s production of Handel’s Radamisto, controversial it was not. Vocally, one could describe it as stellar fireworks with countertenor David Daniels exceeding all expectation in the title role and supported by a truly exceptional cast of unparalleled vocal beauty. This writer would be remiss toward the tremendous talent in this production if I left unmentioned all onstage rose to challenge Mr. Daniels’ pure artistry in the act one, including: Lucas Pisaroni as Tiridate, Heidi Stober as Tigrane, Laura Claycomb as Polissena, young bass Kevin Murphy as Farasmane and finally, mezzo Deborah Domanski, a sudden replacement in the role of Zenobia. Kudos to all. One final comment about the evening’s event: the stage director of this production has a reputation in the industry for being unconventional, perhaps at times controversial, but certainly, no one would expect to see the usual in his work. That said, I was disappointed in how unemotionally moved I was throughout the first act of this production, neither connecting with the dramatic intent nor repelling from a contentious interpretation. It just wasn’t, and in that, I felt satisfied in having experienced an incredible performance of baroque opera by an exceptional group of artists, and headed out for a nightcap of Woodford on the rocks.
Photo: by Garry Smith, Seattle Opera's Billy Budd