Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Finish Line

A 14-week season is not exactly a distance run. Compared with much larger opera companies' marathon seasons, ours is probably more like a 400-meter dash. Nevertheless, we've paced ourselves for an August 20th finish line, and I don't think I could go a step farther.

Much has been said about this particular WTOC season, for in many ways it stood apart. We did increase the number of new productions from 2 to 3 (a 50% increase is nothing to sneeze at in a company our size!), and we took some significant risks with our programming. But we take great satisfaction and pride in this season in spite of these factors, not because of them. 2008 is really just another entry in a long unbroken line of accomplishments and artistic growth for our artists and staff.

The psychic fatigue began to set in the minute I let my guard down tonight, and I know from experience that it'll take a little while to rediscover my customary energy and optimism. Meanwhile, we can enjoy the echoes of the beautiful music and the many laughs that accompanied these last months. Verdi, Bernstein, Bolcom, Handel, Brahms and Strauss weren't too shabby as summer companions.

I'm going underground - away from email for a couple of weeks, and from blogging for about a month. I'll see you in September.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

End of Season Rumination #1: Opera People

Tonight's Ariadne opening was a success by any measure that mattered. I'm proud of all the productions we've done, but because this one was a huge leap out of our comfort zone, surviving it in style is an additional reason for celebration. The singing sparkled and gleamed, the characterizations made us laugh and sigh, and it was a labor of love within a community of people who are generous of talent and of spirit.

Mama Rose said there's "no people like show people." I'm not sure I always knew what she meant, but lately I do.

I grew up in a lovely but pretty sheltered and homogeneous environment. It wasn't till I spent a few years working as a music therapist in my 20's that I really saw much of life. (Well, that, and moonlighting in piano bars. I think the latter was far more shocking.) Still, when I fell into the opera business at age 28, I was intimidated by the range of larger-than-life personalities. But all these years later, I am endlessly grateful for the range of absolutely wonderful people I've met in this business. I never cease to be surprised by their courage, imagination, honesty, and big-heartedness. And the sheer variety is breathtaking.

Many opera people are old souls. This came up in conversation today, and it's timely.

And it's not just about the people on the stage and behind the scenes. These days, I'm also fascinated by the ones in the seats. I bookmarked an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun a few days ago, for it reminded me so much of Ariadne.

A few excerpts:

As an opera fan, I'm used to hearing, "How can you like opera?" Friends complain that opera is unrealistic: "Who sings when they are dying?" They imagine, as I once did, that opera is for the old or the rich. It's true that opera isn't for everyone. It's an acquired taste. But that's because to appreciate opera, you must first acquire some life experience.

So how can you know if you're old enough for opera? Here's my theory: You have to have lived a little and loved a lot.

Ask yourself: Have you ever, against your own good sense and your best friend's advice, fallen for the wrong person? Do you know, despite the false comfort we offer teenagers, that sometimes unrequited lovers do suffer for years? Have you ever begged God to stop an illness, a death or someone else's decision? And have you learned that forgiveness doesn't follow a formula but that it can come like grace after something as simple as hearing a song?

When you are old enough - and have hurt enough - opera doesn't seem silly at all. If you know from firsthand experience that grief and humor are the two lines running parallel down the center of life's highway, then you, too, are old enough for the opera.

(Diane Cameron)

I've loved Ariadne for a while, but I've always had some trouble connecting to the nonlinear, almost metaphysical final scene. I won't lie to you and say that it makes complete sense to me now, but I suddenly think that I may have lived enough to begin to connect with it.

Some of Hoffmansthal's text reaches beyond my comprehension, but Strauss's music spans the gap. 20 minutes of loss and longing is messy and protracted, but all of a sudden, just right. I cried 3 times at the opera this summer - maybe that means I'm old enough, and perhaps it just means that I'm tired. No matter - life would be much poorer in the absence of it all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ariadne Tech Week the form of a very long slideshow. Enjoy.

Can't share any audio yet (you really do have to hear this to believe it), but I promise to stream some (really!) by the end of the week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Audition Tour 2009

Sorry for the silence. The combination of fatigue from the 30-day July blogging blitz and the predictable end-of-season brain drain seems to have defeated me.

Ariadne is yet to come, but first, it's the onset of audition season!



Houston, TX - November 6
Los Angeles, CA - November 8
San Francisco, CA - November 9
Cincinnati, OH - November 12
Chicago, IL - November 13-14


Vienna, VA - November 16
New York, NY - November 18-21
Philadelphia, PA - November 22

Filene Young Artist callback auditions will be held on the same day as your preliminary audition, or by appointment on a subsequent audition day (if requested by the applicant).



Houston, TX - November 5
Los Angeles, CA - November 8
Cincinnati, OH - November 12
Vienna, VA - November 15
New York, NY - November 17

There are no callback auditions for Studio Artists.


Fellowship interviews and auditions are held according to the same schedule
as that for Filene Young Artists.


Go here for an overview of this year's audition tour.

Follow these links for specific application and audition instructions. Links to our interactive online applications are found within each of these pages:
Filene Young Artists
Studio Artists

New for 2009

The only substantial change to our process this year is that we're not accepting audio samples. A bit of background and explanation may be found in this post.

Back soon with Ariadne news and photos.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Britten Project 08.03.08

Daniel Anderson (Lysander, Sailor)
Sean Arnold (Novice)
Timothy Beenken (Dansker, Tarquinius)
Sean Brabant (Quint)
Timothy Campbell (Billy, Roman)
Patrick Cook (Male Chorus)
Tracy Cox (Lucretia)
Julia Cramer (Tytania, Roman)
Thomas Florio (Claggart, Roman)
Katherine Giaquinto (Governess, Puck)
Sarah Larsen (Hermia, Roman)
Timothy McDevitt (Demetrius, Sailor)
Celine Mogielnicki (Miss Jessel)
Christopher Newcomer (Oberon)
Brittany Wheeler (Female Chorus)
Ina Woods (Helena)

Eric Melear, Conductor
George Cederquist, Stage Director
Grant Loehnig and Tamara Sanikidze, Pianists and Musical Preparation
Joshua Winograde, Manager, Wolf Trap Opera Studio

Photos by Eleena Fikhman

Congratulations, guys! (It's awfully quiet around here without you today! :)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Ariadne Stumble-Through

Do Not Disturb the Composer.
Bitte nicht stören!

Leaning on the diva's dressing room door

Tanzmeister & Musiklehrer

Brighella & Scaramuccio

Echo as Brunnhilde


The troupe rehearses

Instant Message

No matter how exciting it is here, it's obviously more exciting somewhere else...

(12:16:06 PM): just doing Siegfried
(12:16:15 PM): we had 2 feet of flooding in the basement
(12:16:22 PM): but the electrics still work
(12:16:28 PM): firemen everywhere
(12:16:31 PM): pumping
(12:16:40 PM): and a bunch of really wet rich people in the house
(12:16:55 PM): we left our office through the window
(12:17:02 PM): but just were able to come back
(12:17:05 PM): quite something
(1:58:14 PM): they pumped the lower stage and we’re doing Act II