Monday, January 31, 2011

Giovanni Begins - Lyric Opera of Kansas City - Kansas Arts Rally

Don Giovanni work has started at the Conservatory.  We began last night running the many recitatives.  For those who do not know, a recitative is sort of like speak singing.  It is important in many operas, especially Mozart, as most of the plot events occur during recitative.  Here is an example of recitative in Don Giovanni:

As you can see, after spending several hours with it, recitative can be very tedious to learn.  This week, we are mainly going through the music of the opera and we'll get that down and learned before we begin staging.  From what we've already done, our ensemble has done very well preparing, so it should be a very fun time working with this group.  One of the singers, Amanda Frederick, just won our region in the National Council Auditions for the Met and will go to New York to compete in the Grand Finals.  I will give you more information on that at a later time, but we are all very excited and proud of her!

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City announced their plans for the first season in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and once again, I am very excited.  They are beginning the season with the largest production in the history of the company with Puccini's Turandot.  I am confident that you all know its most recognized aria:

They are also planning on Cosi fan tutte by Mozart and one of my favorite operas - Nixon in China by one of my favorite composers, John Adams.  It is about Nixon's visit to China as you might suspect, but it is very important in music history as one of the first great achievements of Minimalist Music.  I will go into detail on what that is at another time, but here is the iconic first scene of the giant Air Force One landing in China and President Nixon being greeted by Chou En-lai.

And they will end their inaugural season with the Barber of Seville, which is forever immortalized thanks to its iconic music and in part to Warner Brothers.  And just in case you don't understand the end, the Barber of Seville is the prequel to the Marriage of Figaro. 

I am really excited as well about next year's Lyric Opera season because I will be auditioning for the company in late February.  I would love to be in some of these first performances in the new opera house and sing with Samuel Ramey, Kansas native, and the world's most famous Bass.

But back to the week at hand.  I am planning to have several coachings this week, one with George Darden who is a retired conductor of the Metropolitan Opera.  Last year I sang on a Masterclass that he gave and I worked with him in New York in 2009.  He is a great person, and I am very thankful for the opportunities that UMKC has provided for us.  

Also this week, I will be competing in the Kansas City NATS competition.  It is on Super Bowl Sunday, but thankfully, it should not conflict with my TV schedule.  It will be sort of weird compared to other competitions, because I only need to perform once and then they decide the winner.  There will be so many singers, I do not know how they plan to pick a winner, but it should be exciting.  I will let you know the results next Monday.

Last and certainly not least is a little heads-up about what an organization called Kansas Citizens for the Arts is doing to protest the Kansas Governor's proposal to eliminate the government's public funding for the arts, public radio, and public television.  They are having a march in Topeka on February 10.  CLICK HERE TO GO TO THEIR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE RALLY.

This week also marks the 150th anniversary of the State of Kansas and to help promote activism in supporting Kansas arts I have beeen naming a weekly Incredible and Artistic Kansan.  This week's Incredible and Artistic Kansan is Stephen Stucky. Steven is a composer from Hutchinson who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Music after composing his Second Concerto for Orchestra.  His first Concerto for Orchestra was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1989.  The arts in Kansas are thriving and many artists, authors, and musicians have made enormous impacts in the collective culture of our world.  For those who live in Kansas, now is the time to contact your representatives.  And for those who do not live in the Sunflower State, the most important thing you can do is to attend concerts, operas, plays, art museums, and don't forget to spend time learning something new and enjoy being entertained.  This is our world, our history, and our expression - cherish it all!

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