Wednesday, December 21, 2011

La Vie Parisienne! La Vie Masion Rose!

“It’s said that St-Jean is the prettiest of the countless pretty villages in the Perigord.  It’s also said, to our embarrassment, that Maison Rose is the most beautiful house in the village.  There’s some stiff competition for both of those titles.  All we know is that we feel unbelievably privileged to have found a house here, and to be able to share it with our friends.”  --Jim and Mary Oppel, owners of Maison Rose in Dordogne, France
(Photo by John Nation) - The back terrace; people who visit in the warm weather months say this is the best part of the house.

Kentucky Opera has printed just 30 raffle tickets and the lucky winner and five friends/family members will have a week in this beautiful home.  There are three bedrooms so go in with two other friends and the $500 ticket price is only $166 each.  What a wonderful vacation!  Those who have visited Maison Rose describe it as a gorgeous home in an equally gorgeous setting, convenient to many day trips and activities.

The second prize is a wonderful dinner for eight with French food and wine at the beautiful Cherokee Triangle home of Tanja Eikenboom and Rick Albrink here in Louisville.  Not quite Maison Rose in France, but a prize more than worth the price of a raffle ticket.

The winners of these two fabulous prizes will be drawn at Kentucky Opera’s black tie event--Carnevale. . .la vie parisienne! at the Louisville Marriott Downtown Hotel
at 10 pm on Saturday, January 21, 2012. 
The winners need not be present to win.  Airfare and ground transportation are not included.  Commonwealth of Kentucky Charitable Gaming License #0534.

To be one of the 30 entries in this raffle, contact Michael Miller at Kentucky Opera at 502.561.7934 or via email at
More information on Maison Rose can be found here.
Read a Wall Street Journal review here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Weddings were a Great Success!

We had sold out audiences for the Marriage of Figaro!
 Check out the review from - where reviewer J. Barret Cooper says, "All are strong in voice, showing that Kentucky Opera does not scrimp on getting the best available talent in Opera today."

Selena Frye of stated "All in all, I think the night was a success -- and something of an experiment for both artists and audience." You can read her full review here

We were overwhelmed with the great support from the community and our loyal subscribers who let us know they understand our situation by showing up! We received a lot of anecdotal feedback about the lack of an orchestra in the pit. Most of the patrons who spoke to Opera staff acknowledged the difficult decisions that had to be made. We heard multiple times, "I expected to not enjoy this performance, but by the beginning of the second half I was won over." Or “at a certain point I forgot the orchestra wasn’t there.”

We gave the opportunity for people put pen to paper to tell us how they felt. While only a small number actually wrote out their comments, the written responses were varied and honest for the most part. 

"A wonderful effort! It would have been superlative with an orchestra."

"A Mozart Opera without an orchestra despite the stellar performances of the cast, is simply an incomplete opera."

A surprising number of people seemed to think that Kentucky Opera has 
influence over the contract between the Louisville Orchestra and it's musicians with statements like:

“The LO is entitled to a contract”

“Pay the musicians and orchestra their due. Give them their unemployment benefits.”

"I wonder where are the 'benefactors' for our orchestra like Louisville has for its sports programs."

But the majority of our patrons made statements like:

"We were comforted by the beauty of the music, our laughter and the strength of the performances today."

“Mozart is probably somewhere applauding wildly! What a masterpiece - masterfully sung, staged, acted.”

“The piano & harpsichord seemed appropriate accompaniment for this particular opera.”

“We appreciate the hard decisions that must be made. - You have our full support.”

Did you see Marriage of Figaro?  What did you think?  Leave a comment here or email us at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet the Happy Couple!

Along with his  Mo.Joe's Corner webisodes, Maestro Joseph Mechavich has interviewed the cast of Marriage of Figaro so you can get to know the amazing artists who will perform in the second production in the Brown-Forman 2011/12 Kentucky Opera season. Tickets are going fast, so you had better get them now if you haven't yet. Call us at 502.584.7777 or just click here. (The Kentucky Center now has a neat feature on their website where you can actualy select the seats you want.  VERY cool.)

Meet the happy couple, Carlos Monzon will sing the role of Figaro, and Anya Matanovic will play his soon to be bride Susanna.

From the Classical 90.5FM WUOL Lunch and Listen 
Want to see more? Our friends at MetroTV have the entire hour long program available online now. Click here to check it out!

Carlos Monzon

Where do you call home? New York, NY, where my wife and baby are (or if this a more technical question then Guadalajara, where I was born and raised)

Who has had the biggest influence in your career and why? My parents, they built our family from the bottom up. They are still working and they are very present in my life as the inspiration that motivates me to be a better person and a better singer every day.

What is your process when preparing a role? Psychology first, I need to know the story, who I am, where I come from, where I’m going, why some characters interact with me and why some don’t. I read the libretto throughout and translate it completely and do research on it. Then I can start working on the music, and, the composer, through the music, usually answers questions that were left unanswered by my research on the piece.

What aspects of your character do you find the most rewarding? Being the “hero” of a story is always rewarding, but mainly Figaro is a very open and transparent person and that’s very refreshing since, with my type of voice, I get to play the villain a lot.

What are the most challenging aspects of your character? Honesty, the simple fact of having to ‘act honest’ is an oxymoron; and considering honesty is possibly one of the strongest attributes Figaro possesses, I believe this to be the biggest challenge along with the wittiness required to outsmart the Count.

What is your one guilty pleasure? Gadgets! I’m very passionate about technology.

What music is on your iPod or MP3 player (or music you like besides opera)? Anything from Metallica to Mariachi music, from Radiohead to Cesária Évora, I really like most music when I consider it has been well made and conceived.

What is your dream role and why? I’d love to play the Four Villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann; because they represent more than just an actual evil person or a nemesis. They represent those profound and destructive fears deep inside our subconscious, our split personality… when we become our worst enemy. To me this is one of the most powerful roles to play vocally and histrionically.

Anya Matanovic

Where do you call home? Ah...home. I grew up in the Seattle area and still feel most at home there, but at the moment I am based in NYC. The wonderful thing about traveling to new cities to sing is that each one becomes your home for the duration of the rehearsals and performances. As I was starting this career and working through the challenges of traveling often and being home less and less - my family would quote the beginning of the Emily Dickenson poem - "Where thou art - that - is home".

Who has had the biggest influence in your career and why? There are far too many to name, but it all started with Maria Callas. One listen to the La Divina album at sixteen and I was a changed person. I promised myself that if I could make even one other person in this world feel the way I felt listening to her - then I had to do this. But truly - if I hadn't had the support of my parents every step of the way, I never would have stuck through this.

What is your process when preparing a role? I try to approach each role freshly and to be forgiving with myself. The voice takes time to adjust between different roles and, for me, each new role must settle in my voice over a few months. So I try to start as early as I can with the music and text. I think of it in layers- the line I sing, the text, the rhythm, the harmonies I create and the harmonies around me, the style of the composer, the emotion behind what I am saying, the emotion of the orchestra under me. The way my brain works is that I must work on each of these separately and then start putting them together. Because once you get to the rehearsal process you don't have time to be thinking of any of those things - they should just be there by that point. And that is when the fun really starts....

What aspects of your character do you find the most rewarding? I get to have a blast on stage and sing some of the most beautiful ensembles every written.

What are the most challenging aspects of your character? Keeping track of everything around me and who needs what and which prop goes where - I would be an awful maid! I would have sticky notes everywhere....

What is your one guilty pleasure? BBC period dramas

What music is on your ipod or MP3 player (or music you like besides opera)? Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life Album, The Beatles, Tori Amos, Glenn Gould, Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Mozart, good mixes from my sister and brother-in-law (though I doubt I could name the bands…but they keep me up to speed on current music coming out), Sondheim and R&H musicals.

What is your dream role and why? Musetta. Luckily, I have already been able to sing it - and in the gorgeous Zeffirelli production in Tel Aviv - where I entered the stage in Act II in a carriage pulled by a horse! She just has fantastic music! She gets to be feisty, but you also see the compassionate side of her in Act IV. And the whole show doesn't ride on her shoulders!


A very special exclusive offer for Kentucky Opera Subscribers!
In honor of The Marriage of Figaro November 18 and 20.

Thomson Smillie, former general director of Kentucky Opera and an internationally acclaimed speaker and writer on opera, has written a user-friendly introduction for the opera newcomer, full of facts and entertaining stories and opinion for the seasoned opera-lover. 

….. hits exactly the right balance between fact, commentary and anecdote. And it reads SO well.”  John Duffus, arts impresario, Bangkok.

Order on-line [see below] PICK UP YOUR COPY(ies) AT A FIGARO PERFORMANCE and save $4.50! on each copy plus the publisher will DONATE an additional $3 per copy to the Honorary Council’s 2012 Campaign!

Thomson will be at the Marketing Desk in the Brown Lobby to autograph copies if desired.

AN INSERTED FLIER WILL TELL YOU ABOUT OUR CHRISTMAS OFFER: discount + personalized dedication and signature + special mailer TO TAKE THE HASSLE OUT OF HOLIDAY SHOPPING and contribute to Kentucky Opera.

it’s very simple:

go to, click on Ky Opera Figaro at the top of the page, complete the order form, enter KY Opera Subscriber Exclusive code: “Figaro”.  Order and pay online – save $2.00 off $16 published price PLUS save $.12 tax ALSO SAVE $2:63 postage and packing = Total SAVINGS of $4.75 PER COPY.

Monday, September 26, 2011

One Last Chance

We had an amazing weekend! Carmen is definitely one of Kentucky's favorite operas, and people came out in droves to the Brown Theater to prove it!

There is still one more chance to see this spectacular presentation.  Perhaps you have heard we added a a performance to fulfill demand.  Next Friday, September 30 at 8pm, Tara Venditti and Scott Piper will thrill the third crowd of the Brown Theater.  We haven't sold out yet, so if you want to see it again - bring a friend.  Call 502.584.7777 or just click here.

Scott Dowd wrote on "Vendetti and Piper, both making their Kentucky Opera debuts have magnificent voices that easily fill the Brown, supported expertly by conductor Joe Mechavich and the orchestra." Read his full review here.
And Selena Frey of Louisville.Com enjoyed herself as well saying, "Tara Venditti captures not just Carmen's powers of seduction, but also her passionate vigor and independent spirit. Singing the famous "Habanera" about the fickleness of love, Venditti is playful and appealing."  Read her full review here.
If you are not yet convinced, just watch the video, and you will be ready to see the whole show!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Aggreement with the Union for CARMEN!

Kentucky Opera announced today that it has reached an agreement with the Louisville Federation of Musicians Local 11-637 (Local 11-637) to play for the Brown-Forman 2011/12 Season opening performances of Carmen. The agreement, signed September 9, 2011 is pending ratification by the musicians of the union and approval by the board of directors of Kentucky Opera.

While the opening night performance of Carmen, Friday, September 23 is sold out, the additional performances scheduled on Sunday, September 25 at 2pm and the following Friday, September 30 at 8pm still have tickets available.

David Roth says, “Live orchestral music is a critical element to our performances and as we have said, we make it a priority to provide the best Kentucky Opera experience possible for our patrons. We are pleased to work with officials from the Local 11-637 and the Louisville Orchestra Musicians Association (LOMA) as it is a familiar partnership for both the musicians and the Opera. 

Rehearsals for Carmen, initially scheduled to begin Monday, September 12, have been rescheduled to start Wednesday, September 14.  The current agreement includes the rehearsals and three performances of Carmen only.  While Kentucky Opera is already planning for its next production, The Marriage of Figaro on November 18 and 20, Roth says, “We will continue discussions with the Local 11-637 in regards to our next performance once we finish Carmen. Again, it is our intent to use live music for all of our performances.”

LOMA official, Kim Tichenor says, “We are very pleased to have reached an agreement and to have gone through such smooth negotiations. It’s exciting to be back and performing the great music of Carmen.”

Tickets are still available for the September 25 at 2pm and September 30 at 8pm performances of Carmen and can be obtained by calling 502.584.7777. More information is available at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

 Due to incredible demand, Kentucky Opera is now selling tickets for a third performance of Carmen – Friday September 30.  Single tickets range from $35 - $78 and are available by calling 502.584.7777 or visiting

General Director, David Roth says “Our Brown-Forman 2010 Fall Season was such a success that in the spring we optioned with all of our artists a third performance of Carmen, to be added if we reached our higher subscription goals. We are already 10% above last season in sales, and currently have limited seats available for our opening night on Friday, September 23rd. Given that success, we have officially added this public performance, which should accommodate any fan, new or old, who wishes to see this great work.”

Kentucky Opera’s subscription campaign has been extremely successful this season, almost filling the 1350 seat auditorium of the Brown Theatre for the first performance of Carmen. Director of Patron Services for Kentucky Opera, Carla Givan Motes, says, “We have sold 1507 subscriptions to date and are very close to our season goal of 1600 subscriptions.” In 2010 season, the organization sold 1360, which was a 25% increase over the 2009 season.

Kentucky Opera would also like to assure all tickets buyers that each performance of Carmen will have a live orchestra. An agreement should be reached this week with Local 11-637 of the American Federation of Musicians so that Kentucky Opera can begin contracting local orchestral musicians to perform for these services.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supports Kentucky Opera
with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Brown-Forman 2011/12 Kentucky Opera Season
Carmen September 23, 25 & 30, 2011
Enemies: A Love Story October 4, 2011
The Marriage of Figaro November 18 & 20, 2011
The Merry Widow February 17 & 19, 2012

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kristine McIntyre's take on CARMEN

Kristine McIntyre will return to Kentucky Opera to direct the Brown-Forman 2011/12 Season opener - CARMEN  (CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA & I PAGLIACCI 2010  |  WERTHER 2008). With Maestro Joseph Mechavich the duo will be reinventing this classic tragedy for Kentucky Opera audiences.
In this video, McIntyre discusses some of the significant differences from Kentucky Opera's production in comparison to what has been performed for the last century.

Kentucky Opera will open CARMEN on Friday, September 23 at 8pm with a matinee performance on Sunday, September 25 at 2pm. 
Due to popular demand a third performance of CARMEN will take place on Friday, September 30 at 8pm.
Tickets for this not to be missed show, are now available by calling 502.584.7777 or online here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Message From David Roth

With the announcement of the Louisville Orchesta’s cancelation of their September and October concerts, Kentucky Opera has been notified as well by management that the organization is not able to perform services for Kentucky Opera during those months. In spite of this setback in the negotiations between management and musicians of the Louisville Orchestra, Kentucky Opera would like to assure all patrons that there will be a live orchestra for the upcoming performances of Carmen, which opens the Brown-Forman 2011/12 Season on September 23 & 25.

General Director David Roth says. “Kentucky Opera is reaching out directly to officials of the American Federation of Musicians Local 11-637. We hope to quickly secure an agreement with them for contracting local members of the union to perform Carmen in September. While we regret the very difficult situation with the Louisville Orchestra, we have an absolute commitment to our patrons who passionately believe in the power of the live performance.” To fulfill the promise Kentucky Opera has made to these patrons during this period, it will work with the AFM Local 11-637 to secure the necessary musicians for each opera until a resolution is found and the Louisville Orchestra can resume its season.


Entering its 59th season of production, Kentucky Opera was founded in 1952 and designated the State Opera of Kentucky in 1982. The mission of Kentucky Opera is to entertain and educate a broad, diverse audience by producing opera of the highest quality.

The Brown-Forman 2011/12 Kentucky Opera Season
September 23, 25 & 30, 2011
November 18 & 20, 2011
February 17 & 19, 2012

Friday, August 12, 2011

Interview with Heather Phillips

Heather Phillips was a Kentucky Opera studio artist in 2008 & 2009.  In our Brown-Forman 2011/12 Kentucky Opera Season, Heather Phillips will be one of the mainstage artists - Micaëla in CARMEN.   
Recently Shane Shapps of 520 East Brands had a chat with Heather about Opera, Louisville and everything inbetween.

When did you know Opera was your future?

“Probably when I first saw my first opera at the age of about 13. My Mother and I went to see Puccini's Madame Butterfly at Cleveland Opera and I was blown away. Even though our seats were in the "nose-bleed" section of the balcony of the theatre and I couldn't really see a lot of detail of what was going on onstage...I was so deeply affected by the power of the voices, the orchestra and the music. From then on, I was instantly hooked on Opera and had to find out more about it.”

How long have you been studying/practicing Opera?

“A little over 10 years now. I started private voice lessons when I was about 15 or 16 years old and after high school studied for 6 years at the Conservatory in Cincinnati, where I earned my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Vocal Performance. After that, I apprenticed with the Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City as well as other summer programs in between. I still however, and always will, consider myself a student of’s an art form with a rich history that is over 400 years old. There is always something new to learn. That's what makes it so intriguing to me.”

What's the greatest city you've been to? 
“Well in my travels thus far, I have visited a fair amount of the bigger or what you might call ‘grand’ cities. I lived in NYC for little while, and I recently visited Paris, which I loved, just last year. However the best city I've been to has to be Lucca, Italy. It’s a wonderful "little" city in Tuscany just an hour or so away from Pisa. It’s the birthplace of the famous opera composer Giacomo Puccini, and I spent a summer there studying Italian and singing in an opera production. To me, from the food and wine, to the history and culture and atmosphere of the was heaven on earth.” 
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Heather Phillips with Jake Heggie in
Kentucky Opera's Composer Workshop 2009
 Wow. Those are some amazing cities. You are a very lucky person. What makes you look forward to returning to Louisville? 
“Definitely the people at Kentucky Opera - they were a real support system for me while I was a studio artist, right out of college. But I'm not only looking forward to seeing the people that work for the company, but the audience members and supporters of the Opera that are a part of the community of Louisville - a very social and fun-loving group.
What's your favorite part of the city? 
I really enjoyed the Riverfront and the park near the river and near the "Belle of Louisville.” That area is great for an afternoon run. But I also liked the restaurants and shops on Bardstown road.

What's your favorite local restaurant in Louisville? 

“Proof on Main was a great place for its atmosphere and great food. The other artists from the company and I would go there a lot after performances.”
Watch these videos to hear Heather sing Poulenc

 and Mozart 

And on this very blog where she is Learning to fly for Kentucky Opera's Hansel & Gretel.
Here she is as one of the daugthers in Kentucky Opera's Pirates of Penzance. (green dress with the orange feather)

We are always glad to see our Studio Artists succeed, watch this shining star soar!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mo.Joe interviews Michael Mayes

In our OVATIONS! Magazine, Maestro Joseph Mechavich interviews Michael Mayes who will be returning to Kentucky Opera to perform the role of Escamillo in the opening production CARMEN (September 23 & 25). Mayes was here last season to play Silvio in I PAGLIACCI.

The OVATIONS! Magazine is sent to subscribers to prepare them for the upcoming opera. It includes information on the composer, the opera, the characters, the setting - basically any information that we can get. In our CARMEN issue, not only does the Maestro interview cast members the stage director, Kristine McIntyre has her "Director's Corner" to discuss her side of the stage.

The OVATIONS! will be hitting mailboxes next week! (If you don't get one, think about subscribing. 502-584-4500

Here is a bit of the Mo.Joe's interview with Michael Mayes.

MO.JOE: Where do you call home?

M.Mayes: Ft. Worth, Texas, aka The Panther City

MO.JOE: Who has had the biggest influence in your career and why?

M.Mayes: It's hard to really pick one person~ so I'll have to spread the love around a little bit. My agent, Ana de Archuleta has been an incredible friend, promoter, and advisor to me for my entire professional life... Ana took a chance on me back when I was a virtual nobody~ she saw in me something that I couldn't see myself, and over the years, together we've developed a career that hasn't followed the traditional track to notoriety~ but one borne of hard-scrabble determination, fierce loyalty, and an unwillingness to abandon course when things got lean. Ana is a true American success story and my admiration for her increases with every passing year.  (More here in the CARMEN issue of OVATIONS!) 
MO.JOE: What is your one guilty pleasure?

M.Mayes: Sour Patch Kids candy; I can't walk into a movie theatre without loading up~ it's a childhood habit that has never truly been quashed.

MO.JOE: What music is on your ipod or MP3 player?

M.Mayes: Right now I am listening to a band called the Fleet Foxes based in Seattle. They're a kind of baroque folky band that's super mellow. My staples are Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Metallica, Iron and Wine, Hank Williams, Amber Digby and Midnight Flyer, Loretta Lynn etc... I think I was born in the wrong decade.
Stay tuned for more interviews from Mo.Joe here on the blog. Check out Mo.Joe's latest video on what's so special about CARMEN here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

News, Reviews and lots of to dos...

Our dear friend, Charles Parsons from Opera News wrote a review of Madame Butterfly which closed Kentucky Opera's Brown-Forman 2010 Fall Season. The review made Opera News' online version and you can read it here.

Perhaps some of you who joined us at Kentucky Opera's black-tie fundraiser on January 11, Carnevale noticed a "news crew" in the early part of the evening. That was Becca White and Chris Caswell from the CW Louisville with Laura Snyder from NFocus Magazine who chatted with David Roth and Kara Shay Thomson. Carnevale was the first on-location event for NFocus and they have posted the video online.

You can pick up a copy today (Wednesday, February 2) at the NFocus February launch party at the Peterson-Dumesnil House at 301 S. Peterson Ave from 5:30 - 7:30pm.

If you can't make it tonight, the issue will be available on newstands throughout the city. Pick one up!

Tomorrow (Thursday, February 3) is a big day for Kentucky Opera, with one of the last public performances of OH FREEDOM! at 5:30 at the Frazier International History Museum AND the opening night for our co-production with the The Burning Fiery Furnace at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church, 6710 Wolf Pen Branch Road. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. For more information, call (502) 228-1176.

Congratulations to the Fund for the Arts for another successful campaign kick off lunch. It was a great presentaiton of the great arts our city shares! When the Fund comes knocking on the door of your business, remember they are our largest individual donors and we appreciate all they do for us.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two more chances for OH FREEDOM!

I may be bias, but the OH FREEDOM! performance at the Frazier International History Museum was truly inspiring last week. Our artists, Courtney Cleveland and Eric McKeever have really brought themselves into the work and made it their own.

There are two more opportunities to see this beautiful tribute to African American history. The Fund for the Arts is sponsoring two more happy hours at the Frazier Thursday, February 3 & 10 from 5 - 7pm.

Here is a clip from last week to whet your appetite. Courtney and Eric perform pieces from Porgy & Bess. (Eric just finished a national tour as Jake in Porgy & Bess for the PAB Theater Inc. and has performed the role for Dayton Opera and covered it with Virginia Opera.)

The singers will continue to perform the entire OH FREEDOM! program for schools through the middle of February.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fund for the Arts Happy Hours

In the arts, we love a party.  We think sharing some music with a glass of wine is one of the best things in life.  The Fund for the Arts will be hosting such events at the Frazier International History Museum every Thursday starting tomorrow through February 10.

This is the second year the Fund has sponsored these Happy Hours to honor Black History Month. 
Kentucky Opera Studio Artists will perform excerpts from the school tour, OH FREEDOM!
Here is a short video that the Frazier posted from last year's event featuring last year's artists, Phillip Morgan and Erica Cochran.

We hope you will make it to the Fraizer for one of these festive Thursday celebrations!