Thursday, August 17, 2006

La folle journée

Shame on me for not posting more often this week. Figaro opens tomorrow night, and we're terribly proud of it. It looks as if the weather just might cooperate, too. I'm not superstitious but still think it would be unwise to be too cocky. At this venue, the bottom line can be scarily dependent on barometric pressure.

If you're in the DC area, we're looking forward to seeing you at the Filene Center. Good tickets are still available in every price range for both Friday and Saturday. If you're here on Saturday, come to the pre-show talk at 7:00. I have yet to figure out what to say, but I'm sure it'll be just fine.

Pictures on today's entry are courtesy of Stan Barouh, and they come from last night's dress rehearsal.

I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom. (Thomas Carlyle)

Opera tech weeks are never a walk in the park, but they're particularly punishing in an outdoor multi-use venue. I'm increasingly dependent on a decent night's sleep in order to be coherent, and there hasn't been a lot of that this week. We get to go home by around 2am (and we're the lucky ones... stage management and lighting staff stay until sunrise) and come back less than 8 hours later. They keep telling me that the older one gets, the less sleep one needs, but I have yet to see it kick in.

Audition Season Starts Next Month!

If you're looking for audition information for 2007, it should be up on the Wolf Trap website by September 1. We're hoping to roll out a completely online application experience - interactive application forms, opportunity to upload your resume and headshot, and a secure credit card payment page for the application fee. Should beat filling out forms, getting money orders, and paying for overnight mailing :)


I've had a love/hate relationship with this blog, and in many ways I've been looking forward to letting it go. Living the examined life has its assets, but I'm not sure I have the stamina to continue doing it.

I planned to type the final chapter as of closing night of this season, but I do have some postscripts. Things that have come up in these last few weeks that I really should write about, but I'm simply too tired. So I'll go against my better judgment (something at which I have a lot of practice), and I'll be back with a few afterthoughts in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

Home Stretch

Beautiful music and great company last night at The Barns, with Steven Blier's Four Islands...

...and a terrific trip through Figaro yesterday afternoon during our designer run at the Center for Education.

Now we move into the theatre. Overnight lighting call just began about an hour ago. It's the main difficulty with producing in an open air theatre - the only time to work on lighting is between 11pm and sunrise.

Now just pray that the good weather holds until next weekend!

I'd say more, but my brain has turned to mush. Sorry.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Thinking a lot about money. Waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-kind-of-thinking-about-money. We're going into the most expensive week of our entire season, as we move into our big theatre for Figaro. So it's good to find out ...

How Much Is My Blog Worth?

I visited the Business Opportunities Weblog today, and learned that this blog is worth $6,774.48. I figure that could buy us some costumes, pay for lighting time or orchestra overtime. If you come back here next week and I'm gone, it's because I've cashed in. :)


Posting tonight from Figaro rehearsal because my stage managers have shamed me into doing so. Haven't written since Sunday. The days just all run together. Why is there so much to do?

Thank goodness the curtain has to go up. Otherwise all of this drivel would just expand until it suffocates us. Right now it's all about the *@&$^$ supertitles.

Instead of listening to me whine, visit this great new blog by one of our singers.

A Mini-Vacation

It's really very exciting, what with a terrific concert with Steven Blier on the horizon this weekend, and Figaro going into the theatre next week. There are tickets remaining for Four Islands (Steve's concert on Saturday) at The Barns. Program will include:

Britten's arrangements of songs from Moore's Irish Melodies
L’île heureuse (Chabrier)
Youkali (Weill)
Chansons madécasses (Ravel)
Lamento cubano (Grenet)
La cleptómana (Luna)
Island in the West Indies (Duke)
Enchanted Train (Kern)
What a Movie! (Bernstein)
Manhattan Madness (Berlin)
Manhattan (Rodgers)

Steve is brilliant, and our singers respond to him in unique, surprising, and marvelous ways. Audiences are the beneficiaries of their collaboration, as well as Steve's beautiful innate musicianship and his easy charm. I can't think of a better place to be this Saturday evening.

See, just writing about it has made me less cranky!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dangerous Dukas

It was a symphonic weekend, starting with guest soloist Renee Fleming on Thursday evening. The concert opener was Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice, and in the 12 minutes that elapsed from downbeat to cutoff, we went from stagnant 95-degree heat to a full-blown meteorological event. As the final notes died away, the storm reached its peak and we were plunged into darkness.

Well, it wasn't really that dramatic, but continuing the show with backup power was a challenge. Emil entertained the crowd for a few minutes (including a plug for the upcoming Wizard of Oz that encouraged folks to come and enjoy "If I Only Had a Brain - a song you wish you'd hear more often in Washington, DC."

Friday night brought a "Video Game Symphony" - about 6,000 concert-goers, many many of them first-timers. My son's a gamer, so this stuff isn't all new to me. And some of the scores aren't bad at all. It's film music for a new generation and it certainly has a fighting chance to re-invent the Symphonic Pops audience. I'm not one of those folks who believes that the Pops audience will ever migrate to mainstream symphony in any significant numbers, but I'm still all for this. (A scene from Mario Bros. on the giant screen above)

Last Songs

I did appreciate Tim Page's article in yesterday's Post about the passing of Elizabeth Schwarzkopf. Most particularly this paragraph:

The best evaluation of Schwarzkopf remains that of the English critic J.B. Steane in his invaluable book "The Great Tradition": "The thought and art are so marvelously exact that one wants to call them calculated, which immediately suggests something unfeeling and insincere; yet this is self-evidently absurd, for insincerity, like sentimentality, betrays itself by inexactness and distortion. What one has in Schwarzkopf is a high degree of awareness -- of colors and styles, and of the existence of choice."

Indeed, that's something that we're too often willing to overlook when we work with aspiring singers. We could do worse than to cultivate a high degree of awareness of the power of choice.

(Postscript: I must confess, though, that I was among those young musicians terrified during a master class with Miss Schwarzkopf in the 80's.)

Passing It On

Speaking of such things, I've forgotten to report that three of our singers did a Non-Master Class a few weeks ago with some aspiring high school and undergraduate singers. The idea is to allow the younger singers to ask questions of artists who are just a few steps beyond them in their career paths. And who are likely to have more detailed, current answers to their burning career questions than the teachers/coaches/parents. Things like whether or not it's essential to go to a big name conservatory for undergraduate study (emphatically no), whether it's OK to move your arms at all in an audition (yes), and how critical it is to develop a full character in order to sing an excerpted aria (very).

Other topics included language fluency and study, the difficulty in performing baroque da capo arias, ways to deal with preludes/postludes/interludes, and how important it is to keep one's perspective in this wacky industry.

Flowers 8.06.06

Doing remarkably well in spite of the neglect.