Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A note on Owensboro

Lisa Hasson, Thomson Smillie and Clark Sturdevant rehearse for Madama Butterfly at Artspace in Louisville.

Many may or may not know that Kentucky Opera went to Owensboro recently to perform a semi staged version of Madama Butterfly with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra. It seems as though other Orchestras are coordinating with opera companies to produce smaller less expensive semi staged concerts like this. Check out Nicks Notes here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Audition Advice

David Roth just got back from the BIG Apple where he was holding auditions for mainstage artists.

Last week Deanna Hoying listened to over 80 singers vie for the four postions in Kentucky Opera's Studio Artists Program.

I sat down with her to talk about how it was going...

Me: So, how are the auditions going?

Deanna Hoying: "I've been really happy about this year's auditions. We have more artists audtioning and from all over the country even the west coast. I think the program has been gaining attention within the young artist circles. Our program offers great opportunity for a young singer to directly work with mainstage artists and conductors while performing compromario roles as well as attending master classes. More than that, I think the Composer Workshop gives Kentucky Opera more crediblity with young singers because it offers a valuable and unique opportunity for these students to work directly with living composers, which isn't available anywhere else.

Me: What advice would you give someone who is about to sing for you?

DH: Your audition starts before you arrive. Your headshot should actually look like you. If you change your hair dramatically, get a new head shot. If you headshot is 10 years old, get a new headshot. We need to know what you look like because we are actually casting for real roles on stage.

ME Interjecting: (This is advice not just for those new to auditioning. I can't tell you how often we get a black and white headshot thats 25 years old from mainstage artists. It's pretty rediculous and we often joke about it. Who looks least like their headshots. And one more thing. You can always take the color out but you can't add it in. Don't do black and white!)

DH: If you are on time, you are late. If you are 30 minues early, you are on time. If we finish someone 4 minutes early and you are not there, it does count against you and you will have to work harder when you get in the room. Allow for traffic, parking and accidents. No one will fault you for being early, but you will always be at fault for being late.

Don't make excuses when you walk in the door. If you have a cold, we will be able to hear it. It's a part of the deal, people get sick and still have to sing.

Moc auditions are a great idea. Get your friends together and sing for eachother, sing for your family, strangers, who ever you can get to listen to you and take the criticism. Have them tell you how you look, how you're standing, if you are too stiff. The entire presentation is the package, and the more feedback you get, the more confident you will feel when you get in the room.

Sing something that you do well. That is the most important thing. You only have 10 minutes. You have to wow us in that 10 minutes and if you don't get it in the first three, it's not going to happen. I can tell in the first breath or the first two notes if this is going to be sublime or a bomb, so I would rather hear a brilliant Sempre Libre than an awful attempt at Sarah's Aria from Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair. Don't bring in something you're working on, bring in something you have.

Don't be afraid to get into character. When someone stands static and stiff it makes them look nervous (whether they are or not)and it doesn't tell us anything about them. If you can get into character a bit but not over do it, it will tell us that you know the plot, who you are supposed to be, how you are feeling and that you can ACT. Opera is a lot about the voice but it's also acting. Those who are animated always get noticed.

Have a couple of unique pieces on your rep list. Somthing that's not done all the time but something you do well. We don't want an entire day of Carmen, Figaro or Flute. If it's unusual we will probably ask you to do it, so don't put it on the list unless you can actually sing it well. We also will look for modern pieces by American composers. So many singers can't sing in english, and with the Composers Workshop, it will be a part of the program regardless of what the Kentucky Opera puts on the mainstage. We will also look for works by our friends, Carslile Floyd, Jake Heggie or Ben Moore. These gentlemen have been to our house and have worked with our kids and we love them and love to hear them. Again, only if you can actually sing it and sing it well. You've got to know it like you know your name.

In any way you can make yourself stand out in the best way possible, do so.

We will be announcing the new Studio Artists in January. Check back to see who wins!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Wagnerian on Of Mice and Men

Dear Opera Lovers,
When I was young my maternal grandmother used to take me grocery shopping with her. I soon came to realize that my grandmother was extremely rigid with her grocery buying list. The two of us used to pass aisle after aisle of products just to find the one that my grandmother had bought for the past 50 or so years in a row. I am now grateful for the extra exercise my grandmother subjected me to (good physique, tight buns…you get the idea) but I remember I could not understand why she did not want to try something new. “Grandmother”, I used to ask, “Why don’t you try this new brand of brown mustard?” hoping I would score a new treat waiting patiently to be discovered. “Oh no” she would reply with a horrified expression on her face, “you know as well as I do (insert brand name here) is the one I have been buying for years and the one I trust.” So we continued our shopping trips month after month, always going through this strange routine as if we were a broken record.

Yes, my dear friends, this is Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis and I am not writing about my childhood traumas. This is my usual opera review column and you are on the right page. I just wanted to start my article this way, in order to make a comparison between my childhood experience and the similarities I find with many of my fellow opera lovers. Of Mice and Men was indeed something new for our Louisville palate; it was indeed an opera that most of us might not even have heard of before. It was, however, a great American opera, a great American story of our roots, of pain, turmoil, dreams and yearning. We, however, did exactly what my grandmother used to do when I was a little kid, stick with the usual same brand of mustard!! I have nothing against the standard repertory; in fact, I wept uncontrollably at the Kentucky Opera performance of La Traviata with Mrs. Futral in the lead role, and I’m sure I will have a similar response to Madame Butterfly next season. Nevertheless, why do we, as the operatic audience, continue to be so limited in our selection of opera performances? Why do we want to listen to the same thing twenty times a year but never venture towards something new? Some of you may argue it is because you believe these are the best selections, the best operas and that is why we always love them. I would disagree 100% with this notion because even with famous composers we have not even scratched the surface of their operatic genius. For example, Donizetti composed a total of 70 operas but unfortunately most of us have only heard of 3 or 4 of his works. Few know other Donizetti masterpieces such as Poliuto, Fausta or La Favorita. I do not mean to be abrasive but I did feel great disappointment inside my heart when I realized that Louisvillians did not fully support Of Mice and Men (especially with Mr. Floyd being present and visiting our town) the way it should have been supported; and without wanting to be harsh with my fellow sports fans, if the Cardinals were facing a 3rd grade team in basketball or football tickets would be selling faster than one can say “sesame.” It is a true shame indeed for a town that boasts on its plethora of artistic offerings.

In my usual articles, I would continue by analyzing how I felt about the performance, not so much as a critic because I am not (we have critics in our community, please see Mr. Adler, who are great at what they do) but more as an opera lover and a regular human being. And I can tell you, I was moved, I was thrilled, and I was elated to be in the Brown Theatre for Of Mice and Men. I was glad to experience an opera company who is a leader, who is not afraid to take risks and showcase operas that will expand its operatic audience to a new breed, a new appreciation status, a Kentucky Opera Company that chooses to try another brand of brown mustard!! Thus, I rest my case and I implore you to read the critique that Mr. Adler, our respected critic, printed for the Courier Journal; it says it all and I have to say it is the first time that Mr. Adler and I fully agree and see eye to eye. So, as you read it just think that I would have written the exact same thing. I applaud Kentucky Opera for having a vision outside of the ordinary and for bringing to the forefront a boldness which will become a trademark and guiding light for the future. So, please join me for the opera next season and also in my quest for other, bolder, spicier and more flavorful brands of brown mustard!! VIVA VOCE!!

Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis
Other Reviews:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hansel & Gretel Rehearsal Video

Last night was Kentucky Opera's final dress rehearsal for Hansel & Gretel. We had a great crowd of appreciative students and the reactions of the audience really increased the energy of the show.

My guy Matt from Videobred was quite efficient with his videography. Here is the footage we captured and sent to the TV staions.

Anya Matanovic as Gretel
Leah Wool as Hansel
Victoria Livengood as the Witch
Andrea Graves as the Familiar
Kentucky Opera children's chorus

Tickets for Hansel & Gretel are still available by calling 502.584.7777 or by visiting We are still doing the buy one adult ticket get one child ticket free!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Delicious Opportunity!

From the Guild of Kentucky Opera:

The witch's house on stage.

Hansel and Gretel is fun. It's got cute kids, a sandman, a dew fairy and the mean ole witch who lives in a gingerbread house dripping with candy to entice her victims! The Guild of Kentucky Opera is always looking for new ideas to raise funds and found this opera wrought with possibilities!

Since Hansel and Gretel takes the stage at the Brown Theatre the weekend before Thanksgiving and the advent of the holiday season, Kitty Shaw, the Guild Treasurer, had the wonderful idea of finding a local baker to make us a gingerbread house. The original thought was a charming, standard gingerbread house. Then, when the challenge was brought to the talents of Helen Friedman, the owner of the exceptionally decadent Desserts by Helen offered to make a house based on actual witch's house that will be in the production. This was an opportunity NOT to pass up. So the Guild brought the master baker photographs of the set, and off she and her talented staff went. In a little over two weeks, Desserts by Helen crafted a tabletop version of the witch's house adding snow covered trees, gingerbread men, and a snow covered base. Although all of the elements are completely edible, we doubt you will want to consume this piece of gingerbread art!

The gingerbread house crafted by Deserts by Helen.

The Guild of Kentucky Opera is raffling tickets for the house at $10 apiece. The drawing will be on December 8 at the Guild's holiday party. Tickets are available at both performances (11/20 & 11/22) of Hansel and Gretel AND the final dress rehearsal for students tomorrow (Wednesday 11/18). You can also contact Tracy Terry at 561-7935 or

For more information on Hansel and Gretel go to the website!

Posted for The Guild of Kentucky Opera

Monday, November 16, 2009

See Heather Fly!

Heather Phillips is in her second year of the Kentucky Opera Studio Artists program. Last season she participated in the mainstage productions, education programs and the Composer Workshop with Jake Heggie. This season, not only did she get to workshop Ben Moore's Enemies a Love Story, have a master class with Carlisle Floyd, and sing along side the likes of Elizabeth Futral... she also gets to fly.

On one of the coldest days Louisville has seen this year, Heather Phillips got a flying lesson in the dojo of ZFX Flying to prepare for her role as the Dew Fairy in Kentucky Opera's upcoming production of Hansel and Gretel. The ZFX Dojo is a warehouse with tall ceilings, a padded floor and no heat. I was able to capture a bit of her flying lesson on video but because it was so cold, some of the footage is a bit shaky (lets use that as an excuse). The kilt wearing flying director, Jason Schumacher, guided Heather through a pretty tough workout and we all soon realized that it's not as easy as Peter Pan makes it look.

In the video, she is learning flips and a superman style of flying. She won't have to do this sort of acrobatics for Hansel and Gretel, but it really shows her how to move and work in the harness.

You can see Heather fly on Friday, November 20 at 8pm and Sunday, November 22 at 2pm at the Brown Theatre. You can buy your tickets here or by calling 502.584.4777.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are you ready for Hansel & Gretel?

Hansel & Gretel is next week!!
If you haven't boned up on Humperdink, here are a few ways to get more out of your operatic experience.

Kentucky Opera's Lunch & Listen will be aired on Insight chanel 25
Wednesday, 11/11 at 2pm
Thursday, 11/12 at 9:30am
and Sunday 11/15 at 9pm

You can listen to the podcast at

Here is a portion of the Lunch & Listen where our conductor, Steven White talks about the music, the conductor and the Brown Theatre.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of Mice and Men Extras!

Rod Nelman as George Milton and Michael Hendrick as Lennie Small in Carlisle Floyd's OF MICE AND MEN which Kentucky Opera will present at the Brown Theatre on Friday, October 30 and Sunday, November 1. Photo by J. David Levy.

Kentucky Opera has been very busy with "Of Mice and Men" and the excitement is mounting! Composer, Carlisle Floyd was able to join us last night for the student dress rehearsal. See samples from the opera meet the composer.

Today, Mr. Floyd was in the WUOL studio with Daniel Gilliam chatting with fellow composer Jake Heggie (who was in Louisville for last year's composer workshop). Listen to the entire conversation here.

Also, if you haven't picked up this weeks LEO, do so. Bill Doolittle wrote a great article!

Friday, October 23, 2009

One Heavy Set!

The Of Mice and Men sets have arrived and the stage hands are busy putting the pieces together.

I just chatted with the stage crew. Apparently the bunk house wall weighs 2,400 pounds. Vern, the leader of the pack, says he's never had to deal with something that heavy. Even the helicopter in Miss Saigon wasn't that heavy. I suppose if the ranch hands have to get in the beds that they need to be pretty substantial.

Vern seemed a bit worried, but I have faith!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Composer comes to town!!

He is considered the Father of American Opera. Contemporary composers across the country and the globe admire him for his contributions to the craft.
His works combine penetrating social commentary with acute psychological insight. In 2008 he became the first composer to receive the National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honor award. And he's coming to Louisville.

Composer and librettist, Carlisle Floyd, will sit amongst the students of Louisville high schools and colleges on Wednesday night at the Brown Theater to watch the final dress rehearsal of one of his most successful operas, Of Mice and Men.

He has quite a busy schedule for the short time in town. Thursday morning he will chat with Jake Heggie (who came to town for the Kentucky Opera Composer Workshop last year) and Classical 90.5 FM's Daniel Gilliam. The entire conversation will be available later that afternoon online at

He will also conduct master classes with Kentucky Opera studio artists and students from the University of Louisville School of Music. Very special patrons will be able to dine with him at the President's Council Dinner before he attends the Of Mice and Men opening night performance on Friday, October 30 at the Brown Theatre.

Join the composer for the performance on Friday at 8pm. Call 502.584.7777 for tickets.

If you missed it:
See the Lunch & Listen recorded at the WUOL performance studios on METRO TV (Insight channel 25).

Thursday, October 22 4:30 pm
Friday, October 23 12:00 pm & 11:00 pm
Saturday, October 24 4:00 am
Sunday, October 25 – 9:00 pm

The weekly Metro TV schedule is available on line here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our most intimate contact with civilizations long since dust has been through the art which has survived them. Carlisle Floyd

Monday, October 12, 2009

Inside the Composers Workshop

Click image to see more Jan Abbot photos of Enemies, a Love Story

It's appropriate following Andrew Adler's article in the Courier Journal on Sunday, that we hear from one of the participants of this very important program. It just so happens, that one of the Louisville Orchestra interns, Jenifer Thomas is a student at UofL's School of Music and has participated in the Composer Workshop for the two years the program has been going on. She was able to give a bit of insight on her experiences.

Now, after two years of Composer Workshops, I am hit with two huge realizations: 1. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with these living composers, and 2. I am amazed at how much talent composers today have.

Jake Heggie, last year’s composer, was an enthusiastic, personable, and anxious to work with as many students as he could. His love for his music, obvious ability to write for the voice (a task not easily done), and desire for the singer to break out of his or her shell and truly embrace the music were the major tenets of his master classes. He had the singers jumping around the room, shouting, singing directly to other students, or other tactics to allow freedom and expression in singing.

Ben Moore, however, had very different tactics. His background as an actor (as well as a painter, composer and lyricist) allowed him to embrace the more subtle nuances of his songs. His music is more lyrical than Heggie’s, perhaps edging towards musical theatre- which makes sense, of course, since he has written several musicals. The lyricism, however, does not detract from the underlying sadness of many of his songs. His approach to interpreting the pieces was also inspired by his acting background. Singers were asked to identify a feeling that was in harmony with the song, and recreate it. Perhaps this is the influence of method acting? Regardless, it allowed for more understated, gripping performances in the singers- a vast difference from Heggie’s more external style.

Nonetheless, both composers provided tools to be used in performance from this point on. I feel honored to have been able to work with such talented men, on their music, from their point of view. And what a positive outlook modern opera has! With such talented composers out there (with Heggie and Moore being only a small sampling), new operas are compelling, musically interesting, and based on stories to which audiences can relate. What a lucky group of singers (and audience members) we are, to have such talent at our fingertips!

Jenifer Thomas

Along with students from UofL's School of Music and the Academy of Music at St. Francis in the Fields, Kentucky Opera Studio Artists also participate in the Composer Workshop program. To audition for a Studio Artist position with Kentucky Opera, visit the website for forms, schedules and so much more!

KY Opera Mice and Men QUOTE OF THE DAY: You’re the tiger and you’re the dragon, so you are crouching and you are hiding. Michael Cavanagh

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I went to M&M rehearsal today and captured video. Unfortunately I am unable at this point to edit. Once again thwarted by technology. D-:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Getting ready for Of Mice & Men cast/staff Lunch. Adler just finished chatting with our Lennie and George. Its gonna be a great Opera.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Of Mice and Men cast is starting to arrive. Alise has been back and forth to the airport ALL DAY. She still manages to get her work done!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not sure how I feel about Ping yet. I will let you know.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Studio Artist Update

Studio Artist Music Director, Lisa Hasson; Madama Butterfly Stage Director, Thomson Smillie ; and Clark Sturdevant as Goro

Kentucky Opera's Studio Artists are hard working "kids."

They spent all of September working on La Traviata. Last week they worked on Ben Moore's new opera, Enemies, a Love Story. (Photographer Jan Abbott took pictures of the Enemies program Saturday, October 3 at Comstock Hall. Check out the work here.)

Now these very industrious singers have Madama Butterfly AND Of Mice and Men for the rest of this month!

Right now they are in the rehearsal space downstairs busy working on Butterfly which will be presented with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra on November 6 & 7. More details on this performance to come.

Sarah Klopfenstein as Suzuki and Clark Sturdevant as Goro

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dear Opera Lovers,

Ahead of me stands tall once more the most impossible of all tasks…expression of a divine performance through the limitations of written word. I have spent hours and hours contemplating if such a feat can be accomplished and hour after hour I have come to the same conclusion…simply impossible!! Yes indeed, many literary scholars, critics, poets and writers will captivate you, enchant you or illuminate your imagination with their abilities to transform your surroundings and provide you with images that transcend your human limitations. If I will be allowed to say, however, (to the point of being dragged out in the city square and be stoned to death as a blasphemer) none has been or ever will be able to come even close to describe as grand of a production as the premiere of LA TRAVIATA by Kentucky Opera.

What a phenomenal spectacle, a performance so absolutely captivating and deeply rooted in the depths of our own human existence that it is impossible to conceivably describe if one failed to be present inside the Brown Theatre. I will declare this for years to come that this performance was a feat of determination, perseverance and hard work by the dedicated staff and board of directors of this amazing Kentucky Opera company (major congratulations should be given to David Roth and his illustrious staff for their impeccable ability to be visionaries and get the JOB DONE!!). The principal artists that Kentucky Opera was able to attract for this performance left no room for doubters. A cast that could deliver with such force and grace, not only in their operatic vocal crescendos, but also with their abilities to act out beyond a static, paperback, cliché reproduction of what Verdi intended. Elizabeth Futral is a star that needs no introduction but inside the Brown Theater proved in all her grandeur why she is one of the most notable Violetta’s in the operatic scene today. Her voice soared in the theater and her acting captivated even the most hard to move patrons. We felt her passion reach out to the audience as she gasped for air and begged for another day to see the ray of light alongside her beloved. Her singing can move even a siren!! She is truly a performer who “lives” her role to the fullest. Sebastien Gueze is a real find and has a brilliant career ahead of him. He could deliver his singing with incredible force and gusto while mesmerizing the audience with his very convincing acting… when he was happy, one could feel happiness, when he was angry, anger and when sorrowful, sorrow. Donnie R. Albert was once more a baritone who knows how to deliver to his audience with considerable technical ability, just like he delivered in last year’s production of OTELLO. KY Opera could challenge any other company with such cast and definitely WIN!

The congratulations, however, do not end here. Just pick up the program and you will realize the entire bill is indeed worthy of major Bravo and Brava!! Our Kentucky Opera Studio Artists were brilliant and I have to admit this year the Studio Artist Program has some of the strongest residents I have ever experienced. They deserve our warmest applause and support since their hard work colors in such an elegant way every performance. Conductor Kelly Kuo did great justice to Verdi’s score and provided a full bodied and nostalgic performance with the Louisville Orchestra. Everything, from the costumes, to the set, to the lighting design was impeccable, imaginable, and lush which provided a time capsule where the audience could travel from the comfort of its seat back to 1850’s Paris. And to make things even better, the Brown Theatre proved the perfect venue for Kentucky Opera with its beautiful renovations, expanded pit, close, intimate setting and formidable acoustics. The new motto seems to be “there is not a bad seat at the BROWN”. So, with $78 for a season subscription I am stunned you are still reading the rumblings of an insanely emotional operagoer and you have not reached for the phone to call for your seats for the next 15 seasons to come…I am still not able to hold back my tears as I weep uncontrollably listening to my recording of LA TRAVIATA and remembering the night at the BROWN. I am sure Giuseppe was looking down upon us from his throne in operatic heaven, also weeping from deep exuberance knowing this production was exactly what he had in mind when he first conceived his brilliant masterpiece.

Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Composer Workshop with Ben Moore

Ben Moore working with Kentucky Opera Studio Artist, Sarah Klopfenstein with the role of Tamara in Enemies, a Love Story at UofL's Comstock Hall

Ben Moore arrived in our fair city on Saturday (between La Traviata performances) and started working immediately. Only being here for a week, he has a lot of ground to cover in a little bit of time. He will be working with students from the University of Louisville School of Music, the Academy of Music at St. Francis in the Fields along with Kentucky Opera Studio Artists to refine elements of a new opera he is working on, Enemies, a Love Story.

He was able to share a bit of time for WUOL's Daniel Gilliam, listen to the entire conversation here.

This Saturday, October 3,2009 at 8pm, the workshop will present their efforts at UofL School of Music Comstock Hall. Mr. Moore will narrate through the story line of Enemies, a Love Story, while the workshop participants will perform excerpts from the opera. The event is FREE and open to the public.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thanks for the Comments

We have had many great responses to the La Traviata weekend. People have been posting on the Kentucky Opera Facebook Fan Page, on my page, on twitter... No one has really commented on the blog, so I thought I would share some comments from the other social media sites here:

The Kentucky Opera's, La Triviata, was spectacular! It looked as if every seat was filled at the Brown Theatre. Perfect event!
I have always enjoyed broadway but this was my first opera and it was truly an amazing experience. The ambience at the Brown theater is breathtaking and the setting intimate, just the way I had envisioned opera to be! Bravo

It was fabulous! I really like the new venue. there's so much more emotion when you're close enough to read the expressions on the performer's faces. So many people focus on the music alone, forgetting that opera is truly a visual art as well. Elizabeth Frutal was flawless and Sébastien Guèze is asexpressive with his face as he is with his voice. Donnie Ray Albert owned the stage when he was on it, too. It was lovely seeing some familiar faces from the UK Opera Theatre as well. I look forward to seeing more of Sarah Klopfenstein and Eric Brown this season.


everyone should see it !!!!


Wasn't she great? The whole production was to die for!


What a thoroughly delightful evening!!! Everyone involved with this production should be very proud.


Bleeping spectacular production. Four stars on all fronts--singing, sets, costumes...and what's not to love about Traviata?

Commented on YOUTUBE (Sebastian's performance at the Patron’s Circle party)

Raythespian I was there for Sebastien's American debut!! Never before have I seen all of Alfredo's requirements fulfilled by one tenor...youthful good looks, lustrous voice, dramatic intelligence, and the acting ability to convey every nuance with clarity and impact. Next, Rodolfo in Austin!!

Twitter responses

· Had a wonderful night at the opera! Verdi certainly knew what he was doing when he wrote "La Traviata"11:35 PM Sep 25th from TweetDeck

· It was fantastic! Everything about it was wonderful! Violetta was AMAZING! Her name is Elizabeth Futral11:34 PM Sep 25th from TweetDeck

· I'm heading to the KOA (Kentucky Opera Association) production of La Traviata tonight!3:42 PM Sep 25th from TweetDeck

_SanDiegoOpera Soprano Elizabeth Futral is hooked on La traviata. She better be! Sings it with us in 2010.

Brannon rocked today in La Traviata! Oh, I do love the opera! about 17 hours ago from Twit

continuing our unintentional sampling of the arts, just saw the opera La Traviata performed at the brown theatre.

Watching La Traviata! #fb

It's "La Traviata" time at Kentucky Opera, with no less than Elizabeth Futral singing Violetta.

Another "Traviata" is history. And Violetta is still dead.

Will you be at La Traviata?

Tonight is @kentuckyopera's first performance of the season. We hope to see you at La Traviata!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What did you think?

Were you amoung our full house last night for Kentucky Opera's grand gala opening of the 2009 Brown-Forman Fall Season of La Traviata?

Tell us what you thought? Did you enjoy the Gala atmosphere?
Did you enjoy the intimacy and opulance of the Brown Theatre?
Were you mesmirized by the new sound of the expanded orchestra pit?
Did you fall in love with the voice of Metropolitan Opera star, Elizabeth Futral?
Did you get to meet Sébastien Guèze at the cast party following the show?

Tell us everything, we want to hear your review! Post your reviews in the comment area and thanks for joining us!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tonight's the Night!

Tonight, Friday, September 25, 2009 the Brown Theatre will be transformed into a grand opera house when Kentucky Opera opens the 2009 Brown-Forman Fall Season with La Traviata.

We have extremely limited seating for this evening as the Grand Gala has everyone all excited (and rightly so) but there are great seats still available for Sunday, September 27 at 2pm. Call for tickets 502.584.7777 before they're gone!

Here are some pictures from the Final Dress Rehearsal by O'Neil Arnold.

Some photos may reveal specific plot elements of the story.

Kentucky Opera Chorus looks and sounds amazing on the stage of the Brown Theatre. This is the party that opens act I and these are the people that helped make it look so good:

Stage Director: James Marvel
Set Design : Edwardo Sicango
Costume Design: John Lehmeyer
Lighting Design: Jeff Bruckerhoff
Wig & Make-Up Design: Sue Stitko Shaefer
Choreographer: Diana Dinicola

Metropolitan Opera star, Elizabeth Futral stars at Violetta, and Sébastien Guèze makes his U.S. Debut as Alfredo.Sempre libera degg'io at the end of Act I

Donny Ray Albert as Garmond in Act II.

Sébastien Guèze Act II scene 2

Flamenco Louisville dances in the end of Act II

*Unfortunately, she dies at the end...

There are more pictures on our Facebook Fan page.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Load In

This is the Traviata set, strewn in the alley behind the Brown Theatre. How exciting!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dearest Opera Lovers,

Another season is upon us! It is such a delight to be involved in a vibrant community of Opera enthusiasts waiting patiently for the curtain to rise once more and reveal passion, artistry, mastery in the art of great singing (thank you Fadel!!), dramatic plots, breathtaking music, drama, comedy and my list can go on and on…because Opera is a golden junction, a whirlwind of fusion where fine arts from singing to dancing, from costume design to stage design, from theatre to intricate lighting come together to create a spectacle, an art form, a divine intervention in the hearts of an audience that can do nothing less but weep uncontrollably when such a stimulant for the senses appears before them in flesh and blood.

Some of you reading this piece are probably already in tears laughing at my over-the-top, extremely emotional, maybe even ridiculous rumblings. My intent, however, is not to be eloquent or dazzle you with my use of the English language; I will leave that to English scholars and respected art critics in our community who make a living from their writings. In my poor writing form, I merely try to convey my inner exuberance, utterly frantic emotional state and deep love for our Kentucky Opera and the upcoming Brown-Forman 2009 Fall Season. Isn’t after all love supposedly a state of emotional distress, one of madness, lunacy if you would like? I would not be true to my feelings if I provided you with a well polished piece while trying to express how much love and anticipation I harbor inside me (to the point of madness) as we move day after day, hour after hour towards the opening night gala…it would not be a true Opera lover’s piece; it would just be another page among the many that get published every minute of every day.

Thus, my dearest Opera loving consumers, I will keep this short! I do not even need to go into detail about the phenomenal performers that are going to parade through our elegant, vibrant Brown Theater stage providing us with sensations beyond our wildest dreams or even try to persuade you of the amazing scores and productions that have been chosen for this season. You have your own notions and appreciation of this company’s superhuman efforts to provide us with the best Opera in the region. Your heart and ears will solidify what you already know about this company; whatever it does, it does it right, to the maximum, with elegance, style, knowledge and with US, the Opera audience always in mind. Never lose sight of this because then you will lose sight of how much toil and tears go into the grandeur and beauty the rest of us enjoy. Our Kentucky Opera is a beacon of artistic excellence, uprising star promotion and constantly pushing its audience to new pathways, to new roads of operatic discovery (DO NOT MISS “OF MICE AND MEN”; you will miss more than just an Opera).

So, join me, Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis in another season of emotional, musical, and vocal growth through the nostalgically beautiful walls of the Brown Theater as we celebrate our own Kentucky Opera. I would also like to invite you to our Guild of Kentucky Opera events and membership. Be among Opera lovers who enjoy more than a performance at the theater; be among Opera lovers who without Opera will breathe no more. To all of you VIVA VOCE!! VIVA BROWN THEATER!! VIVA BROWN-FORMAN 2009 FALL SEASON!! VIVA KENTUCKY OPERA!!

Christos “The Wagnerian” Dimitriadis

Monday, September 14, 2009

Introducing Sébastien Guèze

Monday evening, Gill Holland hosted Kentucky Opera's Patrons' Circle party at the Green Building.

One of the highlights of the evening was the introduction of Sébastien Guèze who will make his U.S. premiere when he sings the role of Alfredo in Kentucky Opera's upcoming production of La Traviata. He charmed the crowd with his amazing voice and dashing good looks.

Here is a sample, as he sings "De' miei bollenti spiriti."

There are still select seats available for the Friday, September 25 Grand Gala opening of La Traviata but they are going fast. Call the Opera (our online forms are not working at the moment) 502-584-4500.

In attendance were arts leaders from the entire city including Robert Birman, CEO of the Louisville Orchestra; Jennifer Bielstein from Actors Theatre; Dwight Hutton and Bruce Simpson from the Louisville Ballet and Barbara Sexton Smith from the Fund for the Arts to name a few. We were also pleased with a number of season sponsors who were able to join us such as Edward O'Brien from Atlas Brown and Jim Allen from Hilliard Lyons. Kentucky Opera board member, Matt Hammel from Brown-Forman was able to stop in for a little bit as well.

It was a lovely evening, and there were more performances captured on video that I will post eventually. We must share this amazing talent!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Did you miss it??

In case you have missed any of the auxiliary events surrounding Kentucky Opera's LA TRAVIATA there is still time!!! Don't miss any of these great opportunities to learn about the talented cast, the gorgeous production and the amazing spectacle that is grand opera!

Sights & Sounds at the Speed:
Speed Museum Auditorium, 2035 South Third Street
Sunday, September 13 at 1:30pm
The Bad Girls of Art and Opera

Lunch & Listen:
Metro TV (Insight Channel 25)
Sunday, September 13 at 9pm

Lunchtime Arias
Vincenzo's Italian Restaraunt, 150 South Fifth Street
Tuesday, September 15 at 12pm
$20 RSVP by calling Tracy Terry at 502.561.7935

Art of Great Singing
Classical 90.5 FM WUOL
Sunday, September 20 & 27 at 8pm

If you haven't gotten your tickets for the Brown-Forman 2009 Fall Season Opening Night Gala on Friday, September 25... first, shame... second, you had better do so soon, as I just overheard we may sell out! 502.584.7777 or

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Art Of Great Singing

On Labor Day, while many were out grilling or running down 3rd Street with the Mayor, Kentucky Opera had the great pleasure to co-host a special in studio interview for the Art Of Great Singing with Elizabeth Futral. The show's host, Fadel Friedlander, came in from Oberlin Ohio to conduct the interview at the WUOL Studios.

Here is a segment of the interview in video, where Elizabeth discusses how she started with the role of Violetta and how she interprets this heroine.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cast Staff Lunch

Traviata artists have arrived!! Friday afternoon everyone came together (cast, staff, production...) and had lunch. It is a casual easy way for the cast to meet or be reunitied.
David Roth makes introductions.

Old friends hugged and chatted, those new to the company shook hands and met who will become old friends by the month's end.

One such new comer, is Sébastien Guèze who is making his US Debut as Alfredo. We were concerned he would need a translator, but his English is good. Hear it for yourself by listening to Lunch & Listen on WUOL on Wednesday, September 9 at 12 pm.

The cast/staff lunch is also an opportunity to highlight elements of the production that may be of interest. James Marvel, the stage director gave a little background on the set and costumes. He was at ease and able to get everyone comfortable with his wit and relaxed manner.

(I'm just learning how to edit these videos, so I will add more when I figure it all out)

Things are getting excited around the opera. Be sure to you our email list for all the updates so you don't miss a thing. Join Our Mailing List!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Arts and Social Media.

Andrew Adler featured yours truly in his latest Courier Journal article. Now you all know who is the main blogger for Kentucky Opera. I do have a few others that contribute, and I am always open to more. Lets give a shout out to the Wagnarian and Holly the Pirates of Penzance costume designer.

One element to the whole social media/ PR world that wasn't addressed in Andrew's story - with my social media activities, I don't have the third party endorsement that increases value. So it's not just about what I write and post, its also trying to get others to write and post about the opera too.

Finding the right blogger is a challenge. There isn't a yellow pages directory of bloggers in your area broken down by beats. Google blog search is pretty good, and really the only resource to find the right writer. While it would be great if Brian Dickie, blogger for Chicago Opera Theatre, it is doubtful that a Kentucky Opera mention on his blog would actually result in a ticket sale. So area is important.

Pitching to a blogger is very similar to pitching to traditional media reporters. You have to know their beat; I wouldn't ask Robin Garr to write a story about Howard Kaplan, the costume designer extraordinaire who the opera brings in at least once a year. Garr is a food guy and that is his beat. So, I wouldn't ask Jason Falls to write about the music of La Traviata because he writes solely about social media. Jason may however reference Andrew's article and the opera may get a reference from that.

It helps to know the bloggers off line. When I found Consuming Louisville, I was able to connect with the talented Michelle Jones (who writes about everything Louisville) at one of the Social Media Club of Louisville meetings and after taking her to lunch, I learned how she prefers to be approached for stories.

Just like how the Opera is striving for personal connections with its audience through the various receptions, connecting through social media has given us another layer to interact. I have really enjoyed developing the social media component to our marketing strategies and I am sure that the future will bring more interesting and creative ways to mingle with opera audiences.

Leave your comments, we love comments!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Studio Artists have arrived!

This morning we had a little meet and greet with our new Studio Artists. There were some familiar faces like soprano Heather Phillips who recently took first place at the 2009 National Opera Association Vocal Competition; and pianist/coach Naoko Suga (who was able to work hard in L.A. this summer) both of whom were with us last season.

New to the ranks include baritone, Eric Brown from Washington D.C.; Sarah Klopfenstein, a mezzo-soprano from Fort Worth, Texas both of whom are University of Kentucky Graduates. Craig Philip Price a bass- baritone who got his masters from Manhattan School of Music; Johnathan Stinson, a baritone whose work with Lyric Opera of Kansas City included a World Premiere of John Brown. Also among the new singers, is tenor Clark Sturdevant who will be the new Artist in Residence for Dayton Opera. We have also enlisted the talents of University of Louisville masters student Lydia Cepeda as an apprentice.

You can read their full bios on Kentucky Opera's website here.

Along with these talented young professionals, Kentucky Opera's Studio Artists program has deepened its educational role by developing a third tier to include four interns from the Youth Performing Arts School who will participate in the Kentucky Opera chorus.

Their first tour of duty will include performing at the Guild of Kentucky Opera's event, Viva Voce on Thursday, August 28. Get your reservations now by calling 502.584.4500!

They will be working hard through the season with Traviata, Of Mice and Men and Hansel and Gretel. Beyond the main stage commitments, they will also be responsible for a Madama Butterfly concert with Owensboro Symphony as well as the Opera Bound program and the multitude of other school tours.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

KYO receives Economic Stimulus

Tuesday, August 11, Gov. Steve Beshear presented checks to each of the 18 organizations and to the group of arts workers whose jobs were preserved through the economic stimulus funding. This federal funding is a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided to Kentucky through the National Endowment for the Arts and granted through the Kentucky Arts Council.

Kentucky Opera was one of 12 of the groups to receive the highest amount of $20,000.

"The arts industry in Kentucky has made significant contributions to our Commonwealth as well as local economies by generating tax revenue and enhancing cultural tourism," said Gov. Beshear. “This federal funding will help preserve jobs within our art industry during this critical time when our nation is facing such a tough economic downturn.”

"We were fortunate to have a little over $300,000 in resources from the NEA to fund the 18 organizations that demonstrated the strongest need and best plan to sustain jobs or pay for artists' fees,” said Lori Meadows, executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council.

Photo (l. to r.) : Lindy Casebier, Deputy Secretary, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet; Todd Lowe, Chairman, Kentucky Arts Council; Deanna Hoying, Director of Education, Kentucky Opera; Tanja Eikenboom, Director of Development, Kentucky Opera; Gov. Beshear; Marcheta Sparrow, Secretary, Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet; and Lori Meadows, Executive Director, Kentucky Arts Council.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Subscribing can save your life!

Our friends at the Kentucky Center made us aware of a recent BBC report on the cardiovascular effects of opera. The study by Circulation journal states:

"The researchers tested out various combinations of music and silence on the volunteers and found tracks rich in emphasis that alternated between fast and slow, like operatic music, appeared to be the best for the circulation and the heart.

Verdi's arias, which follow music phrases that are 10 seconds long, appeared to synchronise perfectly with the natural cardiovascular rhythm."

With Verdi's Traviata opening the Kentucky Opera season, for your life, for your heart; subscribe to Kentucky Opera today!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Did you hear??

Already we are getting excited about the Brown-Forman 2009 Fall Season. Traviata is going to be spectacular with soprano Elizabeth Futral as Violetta. Some may remember Elizabeth from the first season of the Metropolitan Opera HD productions, the world premier of Tan Dun's The First Emperor starring along side of Placido Domingo. Her parents were in the audience at Tinsel Town that day, and were so proud.

Another exciting element of this season is the
risk free subscription
offer from the Fund for the Arts. If you buy a subscription and see Traviata and do not enjoy the experience, Allan Cowen will refund the entire price of your subscription. What have you got to lose?

Lyric Opera of Chicago's La Traviata photo by Dan Rest

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where's David Roth??

Last weekend, we were all very busy with the car raffle drawing and the Guild of Kentucky Opera held a birthday party for David.

The winner of the 2009-10 Car Raffle is (drum roll please) Ruth Ann Compton of Washington DC! Congratulations to Ruth who decided to take the $50,000 in lieu of the Porsche. All in all, the Opera exceeded their goal for the car raffle netting about $80,000.
The Guild's birthday party also raised a little coin for KYO. Donations in David's name are still rolling in but we are over $1000 at this point which isn't bad for a little birthday gathering. The invitation only event was held at the studio of Bryce Hudson and was well attended by Guild, Board, and friends.

Now that we are getting into summer, we see more sun and less David. Already, Kentucky Opera's General Director has gone to France to enjoy opera with friends, today he is in Toronto where he will see La Boheme and Mid Summer Nights Dream, and in a couple of weeks he will be in St. Louis. All to hear the artists that may make it to our fair city. Pick some good ones David!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Wagnerian on Bomhard

During these tough financial times, every single arts organization in our city is making necessary and important decisions to keep its fiscal responsibilities intact without compromising its artistic integrity. Many patrons of the arts have already been heavily involved in making sure that this great city will continue to provide great art. Louisville is known in many surrounding states for its offerings and thus has become a destination for art lovers region-wide. As our respected critic, Andrew Adler, pointed out in his well constructed article in The Courier-Journal on Sunday, April 19 every organization is making strategic moves to consolidate, regroup and rise through the occasion.

As expected, the Fund for the Arts is a vital part of this process. They are always an integral piece in the development and the continuation of the arts that pulsate in our city. As a supporter of the arts I am delighted with their existence. As proclaimed on their web page their mission is to increase revenues for the arts and to enable our community to become the preeminent regional arts center in the United States. The Fund continues to provide financing, facilities and administrative support for twenty-nine area arts groups and programs. This week the 60th Anniversary edition of Bravo came out. The Fund for the Arts magazine has an article listing the 60 persons who have defined the arts in Louisville. Robert S. Whitney, Louisville Orchestra's first Music Director, is at the top of the list which is wonderful. The publication elaborates on the great support the arts in Louisville have appreciated for decades.

As an Opera lover I am always fighting with passion and enthusiasm to provide as much support as I can for this incredible art form, which combines theater, vocal and orchestral music, dance and visual art. That being said, an addition to the Fund for the Arts’ otherwise thorough and diverse list, I would add Moritz Von Bomhard, Kentucky Opera’s founder. For those of you that have forgotten who this great man was, here is a very quick history lesson.

Moritz von Bomhard (1908-1996) was born in Germany. Bomhard received a law degree from the University of Leipzig and a music degree from the Leipzig Conservatory of Music. He moved to the United States in 1935, continued his studies at Juilliard and became a music instructor at Princeton University, where he also directed its orchestra and glee clubs. He eventually settled in Louisville where he founded Kentucky Opera and taught at the University of Louisville. He is well known for his transcriptions, especially to melodies by Strauss. So there you have it…a great man, a great instructor, a great patron of the arts. He is the embodiment of someone who has given to this artistic community not only a respected Opera organization but an enormous legacy throughout these past decades. Moritz Von Bomhard should be recognized in every occasion as not only someone who brought Opera to this city but as someone who has touched many generations of Louisville residents with his artistic integrity and vision. Viva Voce! Viva Kentucky Opera! Viva Moritz von Bomhard.

posted by: Christos "The Wagnerian" Dimitriadis

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

140 Characters to help Kentucky Opera

Now this is an interesting fundraising strategy.
Hugh Jackman has offered to donate $100,000 to one person's favorite charity if they are able to convince him he should do so in 140 characters (spaces and punctuation included) on the social media site, Twitter. The online news source, The Australian quotes Jakman as twittering:
"The more passion shown for your charity the better! Get the support of your friends and teach them the importance of giving."

So all you opera fans, sign up for twitter, follow Hugh Jackman, and tell him why he should give Kentucky Opera 100K in 140 characters or less!