Thread: Opera Small Talk

          
   
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  1. #226
    Senior Member Veteran Member Aksel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    You sure Sig's voice is still up to the task?
    It does sound like quite possibly the hammiest Aeghist ever. Could be fun.

  2. #227
    Senior Member Veteran Member Aksel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanGesamtkunstwerk View Post
    The Orpheus in der Unterwelt is rather hilarious. Also, the sets are amazing, especially the wooden skirts of the nymphs. And a very funny fly scene.

  3. #228
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    There are a couple of very interesting items in the latest issue of "Opera Now." One is an interview with New Zealand Opera's general director Aidan Lang and the "National Business Review"'s CEO Todd Scott on the newspaper's sponsorship of the opera company. What makes this sponsorship unusual is the fact that it includes naming rights. So, officially, the opera company's name is actually NBR New Zealand Opera. The equivalent would be The New York Times Metropolitan Opera, were the newspaper to purchase a similar sponsorship with the Met. Normally, opera companies have recognized the names of prominent donors by naming facilities for them. For example, Music Hall in Cincinnati has its Corbett Tower (named for Ralph and Patricia Corbett, who gave oodles of money to the opera, symphony, and other performing arts organizations through much of the late 20th century), and Springer Auditorium (named for 19th century philanthropolist Rueben Springer, who funded much of the building's construction -- not former Mayor and City Councilman Jerry!). Or credits may be given in a performance program -- i.e., this production of Le Nozze di Almaviva is made possible by a gift from Mr. Hezekiah Schmidlapp. And sometimes, corporations will sponsor a particular opera production or even a season. But this is the first time I can remember a corporation/business sponsoring an opera company AND acquiring naming rights.

    I wonder if this is going to become a trend in the future as the tight economy sees more and more governments cutting back on their financial support of the arts.

  4. #229
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    There are a couple of very interesting items in the latest issue of "Opera Now." One is an interview with New Zealand Opera's general director Aidan Lang and the "National Business Review"'s CEO Todd Scott on the newspaper's sponsorship of the opera company. What makes this sponsorship unusual is the fact that it includes naming rights. So, officially, the opera company's name is actually NBR New Zealand Opera. The equivalent would be The New York Times Metropolitan Opera, were the newspaper to purchase a similar sponsorship with the Met. Normally, opera companies have recognized the names of prominent donors by naming facilities for them. For example, Music Hall in Cincinnati has its Corbett Tower (named for Ralph and Patricia Corbett, who gave oodles of money to the opera, symphony, and other performing arts organizations through much of the late 20th century), and Springer Auditorium (named for 19th century philanthropolist Rueben Springer, who funded much of the building's construction -- not former Mayor and City Councilman Jerry!). Or credits may be given in a performance program -- i.e., this production of Le Nozze di Almaviva is made possible by a gift from Mr. Hezekiah Schmidlapp. And sometimes, corporations will sponsor a particular opera production or even a season. But this is the first time I can remember a corporation/business sponsoring an opera company AND acquiring naming rights.

    I wonder if this is going to become a trend in the future as the tight economy sees more and more governments cutting back on their financial support of the arts.
    I wouldn't be surprised & think it's a shame but if it means the house will survive then who am I to argue against it for aesthetic/cosmetic reasons?

    Some of the historic & much loved names of football (soccer) grounds in UK which were named after their location have been changed to that of the team's sponsors.

    Newcastle United's ground was called St James's Park but the name was changed to The Sports Direct Arena, much to the disgust of the fans.
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

  5. #230
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Yes, like Arsenal's Emirates stadium. Here in my town we have the Meymandi Concert Hall named after a local donor. I think this is inevitable and I'd much rather endure corporations' names than not have viable and financially healthy opera companies.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  6. #231
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    The sponsor in this case being a newspaper, it was also interesting that the inteviewee/ees (names weren't attached to responses) insisted that the relationship between the paper and the opera company would not affect the former's reviews of the latter's performances. I hope that continues to be the case; on the surface, there would appear to be some possible conflict of interest.

    The other "noteworthy" -- and I use the word guardedly -- item in this issue is the back page editorial piece ("Curtain Call"). This regular feature has a different contributor each month, and May's is Lee Connolly, ITV Studios' creative director and the executive producer of the infamous "Popstar to Operstar" reality show. He tells us how his experiences with the show have made him an opera fan. Of course, he also writes at some length about how he and others associated with the show (Rolando Villazon, in particular) weren't ready for the lambasting it/they received from opera lovers and well-known music critics. He mentions Rupert Christiansen of the Daily Telegraph specifically, who labelled Villazon a "disgrace" for his participation in such "ghastly vulgar trash." A few paragraphs later, Mr. Connolly rather gleefully notes that Christiansen's hopes for the show to flop went unfulfilled. In fact, writes Connolly, "The series became the most watched entertainment programme on Friday nights on ITV1 in 2011. It was such a success that a second series was commissioned and was subsequently aired last year, drawing an even bigger audience than the first."

    Which proves exactly what?, I'd like to ask Mr. Connolly. For those of us who regard much of television programming these days to be an intellectual wasteland (with the notable exceptions of some networks such as the BBC and PBS), it simply illustrates that his show is probably the ghastly trash that Rupert Christiansen called it. Near the end of his commentary, Connolly also mentions that one of Opera Now's regular contributors, Mark Glanville, wrote in an editorial of his own that Villazon's and Simon Callow's involvement with "Popstar" made him feel as though he'd been "abandoned by senior officers in the war to preserve high culture against a numerically far superior army of barbarians." Oh dear, concludes Mr. Connolly, "I think he might be talking about me there."

    Well, buddy, if the shoe fits . . .

  7. #232
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    What we need to tell Mr. Connolly:
    "OK, so your show is popular. So is McDonald's.
    I'd rather see real opera singers, and eat in gourmet, individually owned restaurants."
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  9. #233
    treemaker
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    I'm still reading reviews of the Seattle Opera HD simulcast last week. If I could summarize into a phrase it would be "opera for the common masses". People came dressed casually and brought their children. There were people in wheelchairs. They had activities out in the lobby: a green tea tasting, an origami table, a chance to try on various costumes. Before the opera and then again at intermission they watched the opera-themed "Loony Tunes" cartoons. There were roving snack vendors...they even served beer. At the end, during the bows, everyone booed Pinkerton. (Poor Stefano Secco, what did he do to deserve that?) It really took opera to a new level.

    If you want to read the entire article, then HERE.

  10. #234
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Wow, very interesting initiative from Seattle Opera; something other companies might want to look into.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  11. #235
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    A pretty cool approach, and great that they're making opera accessible. But you'd have to adjust for different contexts: what works for Puccini may not work for Wagner. An audience booing Wotan at the end of Die Walküre has kind of missed the point.

  12. #236
    Schigolch
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    The audience is always right.

  13. #237
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    The audience is always right.
    I'm not sure how that squares with the history of operatic premieres, but OK.

  14. #238
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Who's my bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    I don't think I've failed to understand any of the anecdotes. I just don't find bodily functions as described by a grown man funny at all. Yep, human beings and animals fart and pee and poop. So what? Is that what "having an ear for anecdotes" is? There are a couple of half-funny moments (like the fat singer who was eating chips on a wheelchair) but bed-wetting funny? Whoa!

    I think that the "across the pound" humor difference is mostly lilnked to the Brits being more subtle and the Yanks more infantile and silly. Here it's kind of the other way around. This man's "humor" is not subtle at all.

    This review, although favorable, does get that it is mostly an angry melancholic rant. I find his comments about successful colleagues and conductors rather mean-spirited, envious, and inelegant. Sure, the book is useful to understand the business of opera, but like I said, it is not pleasant. It is actually pathetic. Like the saying goes, when Peter puts Paul down, we learn more about Peter than about Paul.
    I've just finished reading this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think that the problem with the humour is that it is very English, not because it is sublte but because it is self-deprecating in a "the Blitz was the best time of my life" kind of way, and with a good peppering of Private Eye style rudeness. I reckon you guys over the Pond in my experience are much more polite and therefore likely to find this offensive (so actually are New Zealanders).

    I also REALLY like that it is more realistic about life as an opera singer than most books.

    Anyway here is what Chris Gillett has to say about your comments, Alma.

    http://saddoabroad.blogspot.co.nz/20...old-limey.html
    Natalie

  15. #239
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    I've just finished reading this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think that the problem with the humour is that it is very English, not because it is sublte but because it is self-deprecating in a "the Blitz was the best time of my life" kind of way, and with a good peppering of Private Eye style rudeness. I reckon you guys over the Pond in my experience are much more polite and therefore likely to find this offensive (so actually are New Zealanders).

    I also REALLY like that it is more realistic about life as an opera singer than most books.

    Anyway here is what Chris Gillett has to say about your comments, Alma.

    http://saddoabroad.blogspot.co.nz/20...old-limey.html
    Hey, Nat, his comments confirm the opinion I had of him and of his book, starting with the many assumptions he made about me. So, let's see:

    He says that I said that his book caused me great offense. Where did I say it? I said I didn't like it, didn't find it funny, thought it was pathetic. I didn't cause *me* any offense. If an artist puts forward material to be bought and read, he should be able to take criticism without misinterpreting it as "taking offense."

    Then he offers me one dollar to calm my rage (well, thanks, but no, thanks; I'm not that cheap, and not exactly poor, so his one dollar is unlikely to sway me). What rage? Again, I'm criticizing his book. I'm not personally enraged. So, he finds it easy to criticize most of the operatic world, but God forbid if someone criticizes *him.* The person must be enraged. But he won't accept that one believes he is bitter.

    So he assumes that my "loathing" (sic) is because he talked about the underbelly of the opera business in a way that isn't reverential - well, he has some trouble understanding what others say, because I said that this was the *only* aspect of his book that I valued, quoting that it is useful to understand the business.

    Then, he predictably (I'm used to the stereotyping of considering Americans to be prudes, which you, Nat, know I'm not) justifies my criticism because he "shock, horror - uses the odd naughty word." Again, I'm not bothered in the least by the use of foul words, I just don't think it is funny - that's what I said. Fart jokes? I used to hear them in grade school. We're grown men. It's not funny any longer.

    So, he says he is not bitter. Well, I disagree. He thinks I'm full of rage and loathing, I think he's bitter. We're even. By the way, the words "angry melancholic rant" weren't even from me, but from another reviewer, so I'm not the only one who picked up on his bitterness.

    Then, about a personality disorder, he says "I quite possibly do [have one]" and adds "don't we all to some extent?" No. We don't.

    See, Nat, if this guy had reacted to my criticism with something like this: "oh well, this reader didn't like my book; it happens, one can't please everybody. Although in principle I disagree with his points, I'll try to think about them to see if there is any validity to them; every criticism should be examined as an opportunity to improve. In any case, he bought my book, for which I thank him. Let's move on" - then I'd say, "oh well, maybe I misjudged him, and he isn't personality disordered after all." But he spends 130 pages criticizing others, and reacts harshly when someone criticizes *him.* Look up the definition and diagnostic criteria of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and you'll see what I mean.

    Then he goes on to insist, "I recognize there's a risk that telling the truth about being an opera singer is not what some people want to hear. They desperately want to believe the publicity; that we live in an opera bubble, free from the burdens of ordinary mortals, such as having mouths to feed and bills to pay, and in which we focus on nothing but singing technique and lovely photo-shoots."

    Again, he assumes a lot about me. That's the part I *valued* in the book, and said so. In the first interview published on this site I addressed this very point with a veteran and a beginner (Marilyn Taylor, and Richard Ollarsaba), did it again with Jessica Cates, and with a couple of others, most notably Dina Kuznetsova and especially Paulo Szot in the Portuguese section of his interview, when he went on and on about material similar to that in Mr. Gillett's book (but, I must say, in a much more elegant way). So, no, Mr. Gillett, I'm not the kind of person who believes in the opera bubble. I actually make a point of addressing the underbelly of the business with the singers I interview.

    Then he said it's unfair that "we opera singers are expected to behave like the heroes and heroines we so often have to portray on stage." No, Mr. Gillett, I don't expect that (again, as proven by my interviews). But I expected your book to be good, since you gave yourself the trouble of publishing it. It isn't.

    Then he goes on a long rant about how Sir Ben Kingsley uses "verbal potty" but an opera singer can't, otherwise he is sullying his craft. Again, I never said so. I just said that his juvenile bodily functions humor is not funny.

    Then he concludes by saying that if I want a crispy sugar-coating on my opera puffs, I shouldn't read his stuff; should buy a PR-funded glossy magazine instead. Again, he entirely missed the point. He can't even get that this is the only aspect of his book that I value. It's the low quality of the writing, the juvenile humor, the envious tone, the inelegant bashing of his peers that turned me off. He can use as many foul words as he wants, and can disclose as many non-glossy aspects of the trade as he wants (I know about those, see my interviews) - but it would be a lot better if he did it subtly and with quality. Being funny might help. He falls short in all of the above.

    So, see, his entire argument is based on straw men. He bashes me for what I didn't say, to better ignore the valid points that I made. I add to my low opinion of his writings, a low opinion of his capacity to argue a point without reaching for a fallacy. He demonstrates for the opinion of a reader of his book, the same contempt he has for opera fans. And he is inelegant about both.

    His final words: "And please don't confuse having a humorous rant with being bitter."

    What *humorous* rant? He is flattering himself. His writings are hardly humorous. And his bitterness doesn't come across due to his foul language and his potty humor, but rather, it does when he lets out all that envious, mean spirited vitriol about his more successful peers (and now, about a reader of his book).

    Again, like I said a couple of times to you and Annie, it's most definitely not some sort of across-the-pond cultural difference. I understand the self-deprecating approach, I get the jokes; I know very well about the hardships of an opera singer's life; it just doesn't amuse me to read a mediocre singer and mediocre writer who actually in spite of the apparent self-deprecation has a big (rather groundless, I think) opinion of himself, puts down everybody else around him (and to add to it, he can't even take criticism of a book he chose to publish without lashing out at the critic).

    Anyway, he should rather be thanking me. There is no such thing as bad publicity. Probably people will want to buy the book to form their own opinion, and will read his blog more. Good for him. Maybe with the accumulation of those $1 he makes when each copy sells, he'll be less bitter.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); May 13th, 2012 at 04:08 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  17. #240
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    I'm much less enthusiastic about forthcoming broadcast of this with Kasarova and Netrebko. Scene starting at 0:28 looks like she would climb on sink in public toilet to talk with huge spider on the wall. This staging is no good.

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