Monday, July 28, 2014

Speight Jenkins Cites Hiring African-American Men As Achievement

Ringmaster: Jenkins in Seattle
"Speight Jenkins is stepping down as general director of Seattle Opera after 31 years. And among the things he’s most proud of are the productions of two successful Ring cycles, surviving the economic recession by not resorting to just producing popular operas and advancing the opportunities for African-American men. 'When Leontyne Price came to the Met Opera in 1961, it ended the problem of black women in opera. But it didn’t end the problem for black men,' Jenkins said. 'When I came to Seattle, it was still the case of black men with great voices not appearing. I think people were afraid, and I was convinced that opera should be colorblind.' Jenkins says he takes satisfaction in bringing talented African-American and Asian-American singers to local audiences over the past three decades. And he’s proud of the role the opera has had in grooming young talent. One of the most notable examples is tenor Lawrence Brownlee, who came through Seattle Opera's Young Artists Program. Jenkins says he never heard a single complaint from Seattle audiences about his casting decisions. And he predicts the ranks will continue to become increasingly racially diverse with a wave of talent coming from China." [Source]

Christine Goerke Conquers "Ariadne in Naxos" At Glimmerglass Opera

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Diva Goerke sings the title role in English
"If there’s ever a work that cried out for an English language version to give some clarity, this is it and the adaptation by Kelly Rouke works very well. The original German returns though during large portions of the second act, when soprano Christine Goerke plays the role of Ariadne. Rather than pining away from a rocky island, she’s reposed on bales of hay. Yes folks, tradition is out the window in this production by Francesca Zambello. But poking fun at the conventions of the art form is at the heart of this opera anyway. So just do your best to enjoy the mayhem and meanwhile lavish in the excellent singing. Goerke, who is this year’s artist in residence, has an enveloping voice so mammoth that it practically becomes its own stage set. There are a couple of stunning moments when she steps out of the playing space to sing from the apron of the stage. The foil to Goerke in more ways than one is the equally fine coloratura soprano Rachele Gilmore. As a nimble Zerbinetta, she easily tackles an incredibly lengthy and acrobatic vocal part. Yet another strong performance comes from mezzo Catherine Martin as the composer. Director Zambello’s fresh approach to this character draws on what’s been in Strauss’ score all along. Normally it’s a trouser role (a male character sung by a female), since a composer has to be a man, right? Well, not here. This composer is a woman, though in trousers. And true to the original work, she falls for Zerbinetta. And so at the opera’s conclusion, along side the mythic pairing of Ariadne and Bacchus there’s also a lesbian couple in a warm embrace. Kathleen Kelly conducts the Glimmerglass Orchestra with sensitivity and finesse. The imaginative costumes are by Erik Teague and the set, which grows ever more sparse throughout the night, is the work of Troy Hourie." For more information about the opera and performance schedule, click here. [Source]

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tamar Iveri Plans Charity Concert For Violence Victims

"A Georgian opera singer plans a charity concert dedicated to gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities. Tamar Iveri’s announcement in Tbilisi on Thursday comes after she was denied to perform by Opera Australia and La Monnaie of Brussels because of her alleged homophobic statements. Speaking at a press conference, Iveri said that the concert is a way to once again apologize to LGBT people for the letter which was posted to her Facebook page after the anti-gay violence on May 17, 2013. The planned concert will take place in Tbilisi on October 11, which is the National Coming Out Day (NCOD). Iveri added that the concert is to be dedicated to the victims of all kinds of violence and called on other Georgian artists to also participate. The money made on the charity concert will be spent on assisting victims of violence." [Source]

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Leandra Ramm Reveals Dangerous Obsessive Stalker On TV

The real Leandra Ramm (pictured above)
suffered intense mental anguish.
"A man masquerading as a musical sponsor turns opera singer Leandra Ramm's life into a nightmare." [Source] Originally airing in October 2013, the Investigation Discovery channel featured the intense stalking situation of up-and-coming soprano Leandra Ramm (played by Alison Arnopp in the re-enactment). After a promotional stint on Anderson Cooper, Ms. Ramm started receiving telephone calls from an Asian man named "Carl" who promised a contract for performing at the Singapore Opera Festival. It didn't take long for the 20-year old starlet to realize that he was a fraud and was not going to help her at all. That is where her personal nightmare began. Soon thereafter he started stalking her by phone and email, to the point of destroying her personal and professional relationships. After approaching the police and the FBI, she was left on her own to watch the destruction of her career.  See more about her imprisoned stalker here. Music featured in the episode and a video of the real-life Leandra Ramm performing, after the jump.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Latonia Moore Set To Return To Ozarks For Opera Gala

The soprano costumed by Peter J. Hall for Aida
at the Dallas Opera in 2012 (Photo: Daylon Walton)
"Opera in the Ozarks, a nationally acclaimed training ground for emerging opera professionals, proudly presents its summer Gala Concert featuring star alumni of the program and the exceptional operatic voices of tomorrow. The special concert is a tribute to Jim Swiggart, Opera in the Ozarks’ longtime General Director who is now General Director Emeritus. Metropolitan Opera artist Latonia Moore is headlining the show along with American tenor Joel Burcham. Both are Opera in the Ozarks alumni. The Gala Concert will be held on Sunday, July 13, at 4 p.m. at Bentonville’s Arend Arts Center (1901 S.E. J Street). There is a silent auction scheduled for 3 p.m. with a reception following the concert. Tickets are $27, on sale now at The Gala Concert features Moore and Burcham in scenes and arias from Bizet’s Carmen, Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, Massenet’s Hérodiade and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin accompanied by the Opera in the Ozarks Orchestra. The entire Opera in the Ozarks’ company comes together as the chorus for extended excerpts from Mascagni’s passionate Cavalleria rusticana. And, the majestic final scene from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg has been adapted as a tribute to Swiggart." [Source]

"Penny Dreadful" Makes Dorian Gray A Sex-Craved Opera Lover

Nothing comes between a man of eternal youth and his needle: Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray.
"Some of literature's most terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and iconic figures from the novel Dracula are lurking in the darkest corners of Victorian London. Penny Dreadful is a frightening psychological thriller that weaves together these classic horror origin stories into a new adult drama." [Source] Showtime's latest original series, Penny Dreadful, features some of the best writing, acting, and scenography, in recent television. Creators, John Logan and Sam Mendes, have truly designed a turn-of-the-century atmosphere that encapsulates the British mentality moving away from rationalism into mysticism. One unique trait of the Dorian Gray character is his love of all things sensual, including opera. The audience is treated to several risqué scenes at his mansion where there is generally In flagrante delicto with opera playing for ambience. In one scene, it actually acts as a catalyst for a tête-à-tête with fellow actor Josh Hartnett. Listen to sound clips of the music sampled in the show, read more about the television series, and see some (NSFW) pictures of Dorian Gray's escapades, after the jump.