Tosca and Urinetown in the Same Week

October 20, 2013
    It really sounds like from the sublime to the ridiculous, doesn’t it? Actually it was two interesting and engaging works each beautifully performed. The Atlanta Opera has really taken a step forward with their recent Tosca. It was beautifully directed by their new general manager Tomer Zvulun, who had directed some of their most visually interesting past shows, and who did not feel called upon to make a 10-minute curtain speech beforehand.

   
The voices were wonderful. Soprano Kara Shay surely knew how many famous singers had sung the role before her with skill and artistry, but she filled the big shoes and the house. Her Visi d’arte was one of the best I’ve ever heard. Her tenor was Massimiliano Pisapia, and his Mario was equal in every way. It was a joy to hear. The baritone, Luis Ledesma was a beautiful singer, but his voice seemed a bit small in comparison to the other two stars, and he was much too attractive to be Scarpia. Musically it was a satisfying evening, and with all the other aspects of the production equally satisfying, it really was opera. I hope that a lot of first time opera goers saw it.


Lots of times, when I ask people what the first opera they ever saw was, I am astonished that they ever agreed to go to another.  La Forza del Destino is not a good choice for a first opera. I know that often a newbie is given tickets to something that someone else doesn’t want to go to. Maybe it’s five hours long, or as often happened to me when I was a teenager, it’s the modern piece on the Met tour. This Tosca would have alerted any musical person that opera can be a really good show.

   
So that was my Tuesday evening, and Saturday was at Fabrefaction Theater’s Urinetown. I do understand that the title is supposed to appeal to the young and the hip, neither of which am I. I get that. The problem is that this show is thoughtful, though-provoking, socially conscious, very entertaining, very funny, has wonderful music, and undoes stereotypes. Though I had not made an effort to know the show (icky title) it truly was something I would like to have seen, and liked when I did see it. It is in an edgy modern style, that I have to see in a really well-directed production in order to “get it”. I am the person who didn’t think Rosenkranz and Guildenstern Are Dead was funny until the Shakespeare Tavern folks took it on. Even the movie didn’t communicate with me, famous actors and all.

   
The Fabrefaction’s show (yes, I’m avoiding saying the title) was incredibly well directed by Heidi and Jeff McKerley, and it was a treat. There was not a weak performance anywhere in the show (just like in the Tosca). They danced well, sang well, said their lines so that I could understand them, had an interesting set (also like the Tosca), and did everything right at the same time. My husband and I were delighted by theater that works – twice in one week.

 

Singing Schumann

February 15, 2013
More years ago than I care to mention I began an exploration of the song cycles of Robert Schumann with my long-time friend and collaborative pianist George Mann.  We've been able to perform Dichterliebe a number of times, Liederkreis Op. 39 several times and Myrten two or three times.  Yesterday we finally got around to adding Frauenliebe und -Leben to the list.  George remains as always, but over these many years I've developed a standard wobble for my age.  Even in spite of my deficiency, ...
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To Blog, To Facebook, and To Teach Children

June 23, 2012
I was ashamed to see how long it had been between my last two blogs.  I've been enjoying creating and using the Studio's Facebook page, and blogging has kind of taken a back seat.  Anyway I've had a recent reversal in my thinking about teaching voice to children.  A mom who was raised with the Royal School of Music Achievement program was not satisfied with the training another teacher was giving her daughter.  I had just become aware of RSM/Carnegie Hall program because NATS has recently for...
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Don Giovanni vs. The Flowering Tree

June 19, 2012
I’ve seen two operas in the past few weeks, and both were beautifully performed, Mozart’s Don Giovanni by the Atlanta Opera and John Adam’s The Flowering Tree by the Atlanta Symphony. One was an utterly satisfying experience, and the other quite a bit less so. Yeah, well, it was Mozart wasn’t it? Well, yes, it was, but John Adams is a very fine composer who has written some operatic works that look as if they will stay in the repertoire – a pretty major feat without having to...
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Atlanta Lyric's Millie

October 8, 2011

Last week my husband and I trekked to Marietta to see Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Strand Theater where the Atlanta Lyric was producing the show.  I have a lot of fondness for the Lyric, having been around at the founding of the Southeastern Savoyards, and I thought that in most areas they did a fine job with Millie

Everyone in the show was in great form to do justice to a really fun show.  I was so happy to see Andy Dahn, whom I remember as a Shorter student at the NATS State Student Au...


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Todd Skrabanek's Incredible Concert

September 12, 2011
Saturday night we headed over to Glenn Memorial on the Emory campus to hear one of Atlanta's best pianists.  Todd Skrabanek does not do recitals very often because he's so busy accompanying the ASO Chorus, Glenn Memorial choirs, and lucky students from Agnes Scott and Reinhardt.  Todd is never one to let five notes do when fifty may be played, and all four of the works on his concert were stunningly brilliant.

My favorite was the Bach Partita No. 4 in D, BWV 828.  Not only were all the notes t...
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When to Start Singing Lessons

August 7, 2011
Recently I was asked a question that comes up every few months about when a child should start taking voice lessons.  In this case the child is six-years-old, loves to sing, and stays pretty much in tune.  Her mom wondered if her child should have voice lessons.  I did not have the opportunity to hear the child, but I would hesitate to suggest lessons for a child that young.  Even though today children start voice lessons much earlier than the 16 years that used to be the standard, I really t...
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Alcina at Brevard

August 1, 2011
It's been probably 25 years since the last time I visited Brevard.  Inge was still teaching there in the summers, and I was young and foolish enough to slide down Sliding Rock.  I'm not sure that I ever saw an opera there, and when I realized that they were doing Alcina, getting myself there was more about seeing a Handel opera that I've never seen than really having high expectations.  Well, no matter how high my expectations might have been, they would have been justified by the production ...
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NATS in Charlotte

July 31, 2011
I've been attending the NATS Summer Workshop on musical theater voice in Charlotte, and it was well worth the time and the money.  The sessions were excellent especially the auditions workshop by Terrence Goodwin, which offered a lot a specific information about auditioning in New York.  I don't think New Yorkers realize how mysterious the process is to those of us out in the rest of the world.

The highlight, though, was the Craig Carnelia master class.  The techie people made him wear a body ...
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My Other Voice Teacher

July 14, 2011
When I entered the DMA program at the University of Georgia, I was in my mid-40's.  We middle aged students are just terrible in grad school; we are not afraid of anyone, not even the professors!  I went to UGA determined that the voice teacher with whom I would study would be my friend Dr. Gregory Broughton.  I had sung with Dr. Broughton and heard him sing, and I was certain that he was the teacher for me.  I was so right!  Incidentally, for anyone choosing a voice teacher, do everything yo...
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