Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks for Werther

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

A review from an opera fan

Photo courtesy of Beth Olliges (the donkey)

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 Louisville to celebrate and showcase (thus the name) our studio artists as well as some of our local musical talent while offering a “bonus” performance to the opera lovers of this town. Since we cannot provide the same strength in numbers like major Metropolitan areas namely Chicago, New York or San Francisco our opera is pretty impressive in its repertoire and its ability to provide such a full and refined season offering for its audience.

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. Andrew Adler’s review. But I caution you not to take every word in Mr. Adler’s review literally. Although, I will forever fight for his right to be the arts critic of this town and express his free opinion, I will also forever fight for my right (and yours) to emphatically disagree with him. I believe Mr. Adler missed the point of this performance as a “showcase”, a “bonus” to the opera lover as well as a discovery trip to the territory of Telemann and our local talent. Of course an organization like the Kentucky Opera will try to be cautious with its finances in order to remain viable and continue to offer quality programming to its audience; without, however, compromising its integrity and artistic ability as Mr. Adler has eluded to.

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

So much going on!

Kentucky Opera celebrated the Patron's Party last night at Steve Van Hooser & Wayne Jenkins' last night. What a great time. The studio artists performed a choral piece from the Baroque Showcase that will open on Friday 11/14 and the Werther cast showed off their vocal prowess with arias and ensembles from the Massenet piece slated to open on 11/28. This is the first time in my history with the company that we had overlapping rehearsals. It's kind of exciting.

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.