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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Artistic & Production Administrators Headlines
Unpaid Artists, and All the Ways They Can Stay That Way
Jenna DouglasSchmopera
I came across two separate articles the other day, on the topic of artists working without pay. The first was this open letter to Oprah, written by Revolva, a professional hula hoop act and vaudeville performer. Apparently, Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend tour invited Revolva to work for their San Jose stop earlier this month. The catch: she’d be working for free.
Jake Heggie's golden moment for 'Great Scott'
Janelle GelfandCincinnati.com
It's crunch time for Jake Heggie. The composer of "Dead Man Walking," "Moby-Dick" and "The End of the Affair" is in town for a workshop with the creative team of his latest opera "Great Scott. This is the golden moment where, instead of just hearing it in my head, I get to hear it coming off the page," says the 53-year-old American composer, over coffee last week at the Netherland Hilton, Downtown.
At Washington National Opera, 20-minute operas are on the right track
Anne MidgetteThe Washington Post
The Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative commissions work from young composers. This is a good thing. I am not completely ready to embrace its premise that the best way to start is by commissioning 20-minute operas, because I’m not sure exactly what writing a short-form piece proves about a composer’s ability to write an evening-length work — any more than short-story writers are all necessarily great novelists. But thanks to this program, the company is giving out four commissions every year — three 20-minute operas and a one-hour opera — and that alone is cause for celebration.
New world and old world combine for tweeting at the opera
Shayne DwyerWDBJ7
Opera Roanoke invited a select few Twitter users to live tweet the final dress rehearsal of Mozart's Abduction.
Smartphone App, Tweet Seats Add Interactivity to Philadelphia Concert Halls
David Patrick StearnsOperavore
The technological barbarians are at the gate – and are being welcomed graciously. Only three years after an errant ringtone during the New York Philharmonic’s performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony sparked an international uproar, two august Philadelphia institutions are telling audiences to keep their phones on – within particular limits.
Joyful Opera Performed In Nazi Concentration Camp Revived In Chicago
Cheryl CoreyNPR
Brundibár, a children's opera that premiered during World War II, became both a symbol of hope and resistance and a Nazi propaganda tool. Now, Petite Opera, a small company in suburban Chicago, is reprising the opera, originally performed by Jewish children held in a concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.
Feel the Noise: How to Appreciate Peking Opera
Kipp WhittakerThe Beijinger
We can all acknowledge that Chinese opera is very different from its Western counterpart. Although someone like Andrea Bocelli would probably make a fine eunuch on the Beijing stage, the similarities between the two styles are very limited. The use of gestures, acrobats, and cacophonous music is so alien to our cultural palate, but if you approach it with an open mind, the beauty of this amazing art form will eventually reveal itself. From the details of the costumes and makeup, to the other worldly sounds coming out of the performers, there is nothing else like it. Here are a few basic concepts to help newcomers get a better understanding of this art form, and clear your path to becoming a Mei Lanfang fanboy. 
Townsend and Fresno Grand opera companies to partner
Marijke RowlandThe Modesto Bee
In what is hoped will be a precedent-setting artistic partnership, Modesto’s Townsend Opera and the Fresno Grand Opera are joining forces. Matthew Buckman, the current Townsend general and artistic director, has been named the next general director of Fresno Grand Opera. He will serve as the head of both groups, merging the two companies’ production seasons to share costs and increase reach. Both companies will remain separate entities, with their own board of directors, but will produce the same operas moving forward.
Opera San Jose takes on Rossini's 'The Italian Girl in Algiers' for the first time
Crystal ChowSan Jose Mercury News
In Rossini's comedy The Italian Girl in Algiers, the heroine Isabella has to figure out how to deflect the amorous moves of a very married sultan. She must be cunning, resourceful and charming. Not a problem for mezzo-soprano Lisa Chavez, who will sing the part in Opera San Jose's premiere production of this seldom seen work, which runs Nov. 15-30 at the California Theatre.
Obituary: Johan Engels, Stage designer known for work at Lyric Opera
Maureen O'DonnellChicago Sun-Times
When the curtain goes up to reveal the phosphorescent dreams and menacing nightmares of Johan Engels, audiences gasp. Though the stage designer died Friday, Chicago audiences will continue to see his work for several years in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s ultramarathon of classicial music, Wagner’s “Ring” cycle.
‘Fidelio’: Beethoven’s struggle, Madison Opera’s reward
Michael MuckianWisconsin Gazette
Talking to Kathryn Smith, general manager of the Madison Opera, it’s clear how much she loves her medium. And how challenging a medium she’s picked. “Opera is the greatest of art forms, in my opinion, but it is not an easy one,” says Smith, entering her fourth season with the company and its 55th season overall.
Here's a startup idea: take opera, add beer, put it in Brooklyn
Daniel RobertsFortune.com
Not every opera company has the budget of The Metropolitan Opera. But smaller companies are earning crowds and buzz thanks to unique, alternative models in creative venues.
David Budbill and Erik Nielsen to Reprise A Fleeting Animal Opera
Amy LillySeven Days VT
After Brookfield composer Erik Nielsen finished writing his first opera, A Fleeting Animal, in 2000, he says, "I couldn't write a note of music for six months. It drained me. It was a tremendous undertaking." The work was commissioned by Vermont Opera Theater in Montpelier and written with librettist David Budbill of Wolcott, who drew its plot from his poem-turned-play Judevine. It premiered in October that year with acclaimed performances at three Vermont venues. Then it disappeared from view.
Soprano Renee Fleming at 55: 'I May Leave Well Enough Alone'
ReutersThe New York Times
Super Bowl fans heard her hit a creamy "high A" note when she sang "The Star Spangled Banner" in February, and she has a jazzy new Christmas album. But people who want to see Renee Fleming in the operas that made her "America's sweetheart" better hurry.
Savannah Music Fest runs gamut from opera to Americana
Joshua PeacockDo Savannah
The 26th annual Savannah Music Festival is set to offer one of the largest programs in the festival’s history, as well as a new addition that is sure to appease repeat patrons.
Opera San Antonio Looks Ahead
Nathan ConeTexas Public Radio
After a successful production of his family opera "Fantastic Mr. Fox" at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, Opera San Antonio's Artistic Director Tobias Picker shares his plans for the future of the young company.  
Opera Piccola Opens A Window Onto Suburban America In The 1950s
Nathan ConeTexas Public Radio
It’s a good time to be an opera fan in San Antonio. In addition to the newly-formed Opera San Antonio, Opera Piccola, led by longtime singer and impresario Mark Richter, opens their third season this weekend at the historic Empire Theatre. On the bill are two one-act operas that capture America in the 1950s.
Opera Star Joyce DiDonato Will Sing National Anthem at Game 7
Karen CrouseThe New York Times
The Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie was not the only person with Kansas City ties who spent Tuesday fervently hoping for the opportunity to perform on Wednesday at a World Series Game 7. The opera singer Joyce DiDonato, who grew up in Kansas City as an avid baseball fan, got the call from Major League Baseball to sing the national anthem for the game, should it be necessary.
Portland Opera makes dramatic move to summer seasons beginning in 2016: 'We want to avoid death by 1,000 paper cuts'
David StablerThe Oregonian
Portland Opera is planning to undergo the biggest change in its 50-year history. Beginning in 2016, the company will perform its entire season in a compressed, 12-week summer period.
Opera Southwest premieres long-forgotten Hamlet opera
StaffAlbuquerque Journal
For Artistic Director Anthony Barrese this was a labor of passion, perhaps obsession. But labor certainly and nonetheless a formidable task. The fruits of his painstaking work at long last came to fruition on Sunday at the National Hispanic Cultural Center when Opera Southwest gave the stunning premiere of the long lost and forgotten “Amleto” (Hamlet) by Franco Faccio. The opera had been performed only once before, the 1865 premiere given by an ailing tenor badly received, causing Faccio to withdraw the work and never compose again.
Florentine Opera Offers Residencies For Young Conductors
Bonnie North and Audrey NowakowskiWUWM
A collaboration between The Solti Foundation U.S. and Florentine Opera offers two emerging conductors, one now and one in the spring, private coaching and mentorship as well as opportunities to conduct staging/orchestra rehearsals.
Met GM: ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ proves protesters wrong
Peter GelbNew York Post
Monday night’s premiere of The Death of Klinghoffer was not one of the easiest nights in the history of The Metropolitan Opera, but it was one of the most important. Composer John Adams has now joined the ranks of Giuseppe Verdi, whose Don Carlo, set during the Spanish Inquisition, was protested by various religious groups in the early 1950s, and Richard Strauss, whose provocative Salome premiere at the Met in 1907 was thought to be unseemly on at least seven counts.
Colorful productions of Opera Week celebrate the vocal arts
Mary Kunz Goldman The Buffalo News
Like Viva Vivaldi and “Baba Yaga,” Opera Week is fast becoming an autumn tradition for music-minded Western New Yorkers.

Every year, the celebration – which burst on the scene in 2012 – seems to get a little bit richer. This year’s festival, which kicks off today with a ceremony in the Buffalo and Erie County Central Library, celebrates more than opera. It embraces a wide variety of vocal arts.
Indiana University Opera Hopes to Score in Football Stadium
Brian WiseOperavore
In the heart of basketball country, Indiana University's football team has long elicited collective sighs and groans. The school generates the second-lowest football revenue in the Big Ten and historically has had trouble filling 52,000-seat Memorial Stadium. The team's fall record is 3-3 – in advance of a daunting match-up Saturday against Michigan State.

All too aware of this, Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music announced Friday that it will present a live simulcast of its production of Puccini's La boheme on the stadium's Jumbotron. The simulcast, dubbed "Opera in the End Zone," will take place on October 24. Tickets will be free.  
De Blasio Blasts Giuliani For Protesting ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera
Ross BarkanNew York Observer
“I don’t want to judge something that I haven’t seen. I think that there’s a serious problem today in the world that has nothing to do with this opera. I’ve spoken about it many times,” he said. “There’s an anti-Semitism problem in this world today, particularly in Western Europe that worries me greatly. That’s where my focus is.”
Multimedia opera probes Wikileaks and Chelsea Manning
Noah HurowitzBrooklyn Daily
"The Source,” a new opera premiering at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Oct. 22–25, is all about espionage and information. The composer of the piece said he wrote the play after he became fascinated by how Americans interact with an array of data far too vast for any one person to consume.
The Depth of Klinghoffer: What Does the Controversy Say about Freedom of Expression?
Fred PlotkinOperavore
There is an opera at the Metropolitan Opera right now that is causing a great deal of discussion in the media and among the public in which an innocent man is murdered onstage and his killer sings an exultant aria. This opera is Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi.
Vancouver Opera tackles issue of bullying with ‘Stick Boy’
Ben WilsonNews1311
It’s a provocative, emotional opera that looks at the issue of bullying and what it can do to a young person. Vancouver Opera is presenting the world premiere of “Stick Boy.”
Opera Ithaca launches with 'Bluebeard's Castle'
Barbara Adamsithaca Journal
What began as a stand-alone creative project among four artists — two singers, a pianist and choreographer — ended with founding a new professional opera company in Ithaca.
An Opera Under Fire
Zachary WoolfeThe New York Times
When the arts play with contemporary history, they play with fire. The Metropolitan Opera has learned this lesson anew in the furious protests that have raged in advance of the company premiere, on Monday, of John Adams’s ruminative, unsettled, unsettling 1991 operatic masterpiece, “The Death of Klinghoffer.” Another simple, straightforward title concealing another story of seething pain from the recent past, “Klinghoffer” is a reflection on the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestine Liberation Front militants, who murdered Leon Klinghoffer, a disabled Jewish-American passenger.
When art sings: How paintings have fared on the musical and opera stage
Anne MidgetteThe Washington Post
Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” is one of the most famous works of concert music; even if you think you don’t know it, you know it. You don’t, however, know the paintings and drawings it was based on, by the artist Viktor Hartmann. Hartmann died at 39; after his abrupt death, friends arranged a show of his work; and Mussorgsky, who adored him, illustrated part of the show, in music, in about three weeks. The result is frequently played in both the original piano and subsequent orchestral version. Most of the images that inspired it have been lost.
San Diego Opera: Progress report
James ChuteSan Diego Union-Tribune
The reborn San Diego Opera continues to make strides. Here’s a progress report.
Dance Like an Egyptian
Heidi WalesonThe Wall Street Journal
This year’s 250th anniversary of the death of Jean-Philippe Rameau hasn’t led to any high-profile productions in the U.S., other than the concert version of “Platée” by Les Arts Florissants at Lincoln Center this past spring. So kudos to Opera Lafayette, the intrepid Washington, D.C.-based company that specializes in 18th-century French opera, for mounting “Les Fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, ou Les Dieux d’Égypte” (1747), in one of their most imaginative productions ever, and bringing it to the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center last Thursday.
Opera finds new life in Central Jersey
Carlton WilkinsonAsbury Park Press
The latest attempt to keep opera alive in the Central New Jersey region is Jason Tramm’s company, MidAtlantic Opera, which unveils its first fully-staged performances on Oct. 26 in Basking Ridge with the production of Giuseppe Verdi’s classic “Rigoletto.”
Met’s ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Remains a Lightning Rod
Michael CooperThe New York Times
As the Metropolitan Opera prepares to stage John Adams’s critically acclaimed 1991 opera “The Death of Klinghoffer” on Monday for the first time, it has become enmeshed in a vitriolic debate that often seems to have more to do with the polarizing politics of Israel and the Middle East than the oratorio-like opera its singers have been rehearsing.
Opera Philadelphia celebrates 40 years with groundbreaking initiatives
Bobbi Booker The Philadelphia Tribune
The Delaware Valley is the creative hub for the future of opera. Since 1975, Opera Philadelphia has been committed to delivering outstanding productions of traditional repertoire, often in new and innovative ways. Now in its 40th year, Opera Philadelphia is launching groundbreaking initiatives that are making the music world stand up and take notice. David B. Devan, general director and president of Opera Philadelphia, relocated to the region from Victoria, B.C. two years ago to lead the company and is enthusiastic about the future. “I was just blown away by the quality of arts in this community, the vast amount of it and the high quality of it.”
Opera Lafayette celebrates 20th anniversary, and Rameau
Anne MidgetteThe Washington Post
This year is the 250th anniversary of the death of Jean-Philippe Rameau and the 20th anniversary of Opera Lafayette. It makes perfect sense that the one should celebrate the other. Opera Lafayette, which started in the Capitol Hill basement of its conductor, Ryan Brown, has turned into an internationally recognized company precisely because it performs work that hardly anyone else is doing. Rameau is one of the most important French composers, but you’re unlikely to see his work at the Washington National Opera or the Metropolitan Opera, compelling as much of his music may be.
Opera Saratoga Aims High for 2015
Amy BiancolliTimes Union
A world premiere, more community engagement and a production featuring dance are forthcoming next summer at Opera Saratoga, which has bumped its season from June to July and expanded its productions from two to three under the guidance of new artistic and general director Lawrence Edelson.
Houston Grand Opera to present second mariachi-style work in May
Steven BrownHouston Chronicle
Houston Grand Opera will follow up on the success of its mariachi opera "Cruzar la Cara de la Luna" by presenting a new mariachi-style work by the same creators in May. "El Pasado Nunca Se Termina," or "The Past Is Never Finished," comes from composer Jose "Pepe" Martinez, leader of the band Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, and librettist Leonard Foglia." Mariachi Vargas will perform
The Rumors of Opera's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (Pt. 2)
Jennifer RiveraHuffington Post
A couple of weeks ago while I was admiring all the work The Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago has been doing, I was simultaneously following another project that I found especially intriguing and that I was frankly a little jealous not to have been a part of myself. I first started hearing about director R.B. Schlather's presentation of Handel's Alcina at the Whitebox Gallery in Soho after noticing that several of my colleagues whose work I greatly admire were all participating in the same project. The rehearsals all took place in the gallery and were open to the public, and the performance, which looked sleek, stylish, and unique (from photos and online streaming - I wasn't able to attend in person), was highly commended by several critics. 
Arizona Opera Hispanic Heritage Festival promotes understanding of culture with art
Maria LopezDowntown Devil
Local community leaders and scholars congregated at the Arizona Opera Center Monday to discuss Hispanic culture and issues, and how they can be better understood and promoted through the arts. The “Borders of Understanding” lecture was the first segment as part of the Arizona Opera’s Hispanic Heritage Festival, which will begin the 2014-2015 season for the Arizona Opera. The goal of the event, and the festival, is to recognize cultural contrasts and find a common ground.
'Klinghoffer' opera captures the violent dynamic of the Israeli-Arab conflict
Mira Sucharov Haaretz
As the Metropolitan Opera prepares to launch its production of “The Death of Klinghoffer,” John Adams and Alice Goodman’s 1991 operatic account of the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship and the murder of a Jewish, wheelchair-bound passenger by Palestinian militants, the media has been abuzz. Protestors have gathered outside Lincoln Centre demanding that the Met cancel the show, and agitating by the likes of the ADL has succeeded in blocking the planned global simulcast.
Salome's Second Act
Keith CernyTheaterJones
In his latest "Off the Cuff," The Dallas Opera's Keith Cerny imagines a longer version of the Richard Strauss opera, based on Oscar Wilde's original thoughts about his play.
Opera Saratoga Season to Grow
Michael CooperArtsBeat (NYT)
The evolution of Opera Saratoga, which changed its name from Lake George Opera in 2011 to better reflect its new home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is continuing. The company said Monday that it was planning an expanded three-week season this July featuring Rossini’s “La Cenerentola,” Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” and its first world premiere in 27 years, “The Long Walk,” composed by Jeremy Howard Beck with a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann.
Syrian refugees join Mozart opera to deliver message of peace
Kieran GuilbertReuters
Appeals for peace in Syria are usually made by politicians and activists calling for ceasefires, negotiations and aid supplies. However, in southwest Germany dozens of Syrian refugees who have, for now, found safe haven after fleeing civil war in their homeland, are delivering a message of peace through opera. A special adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, which had its premiere in Stuttgart on Sunday, starred several Syrian refugees alongside a cast of international opera singers.
Paola Prestini: Following Her Vision
Frank J. OteriNewMusicBox
Paola Prestini combines wild imagination and controlled practicality on an almost molecular level—it’s as if both are fused together in her DNA. Whether she’s talking about her own multimedia operas or VisionIntoArt, the interdisciplinary arts production company she co-founded 15 years ago, she tends to think big but she always manages to make it happen.
Forgotten opera 'Amleto' proves worthy of excavation
Tim SmithBaltimore Sun
The first public hearing in 143 years of Franco Faccio's “Amleto,” presented Thursday night by Baltimore Concert Opera in the elegant ballroom of the Engineers Club, offered rewards and frustrations.
Forget Netrebko. Here’s an Opera With Courtney Love.
Allan Kozinn ArtsBeat (The New York Times)
Most productions at the Prototype: Opera/Theater/Now festival seek ways to erode the boundaries between opera and pop. But the composer Todd Almond and the director Kevin Newbury plan to kick those boundaries over entirely. They have cast Courtney Love, the rock singer and widow of Kurt Cobain, as the star of Mr. Almond’s “Kansas City Choir Boy,” which will have its world premiere at the Manhattan Arts Center during the next Prototype festival, Jan. 8 to 17.
$40 Million to Help Build Audiences in the Arts
Felicia R. LeeArtsBeat (The New York Times)
Most arts organizations these days are seeking ways to fill seats and to expand their audiences. On Wednesday, the Wallace Foundation will announce a $40 million effort to help performing arts organizations around the country do so.
Migrating Maestros: Why Are So Many European Conductors Quitting?
Fred PlotkinOperavore
Last year, I wrote about long-time prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's negative impact on every aspect of Italian society, including the arts. Reform efforts after his departure came through a new law called Il Legge Valore Cultura, which was intended to strengthen and maintain monuments (such as the Coliseum) and the 14 important Italian opera houses, often called foundations. One of the stipulations of this law was to reduce the size of the boards of the theaters, which may have resulted in a reduction in fundraising potential precisely when more money has to be sought from private sources.

Fall 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Are Women Different?
  • Preparing for Klinghoffer
  • Emerging Artists: Act One


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