Posts Tagged ‘opera tours’

Getting out of an Arrest, Opera Style

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Carmen, one of the most famous “bad girls” of opera, loves who she wants, smokes ‘em if she’s got ‘em, and has a penchant for knife fights. As you’d imagine, her run-ins with the law are far from infrequent. Of course, her charms are legion, so it’s not too hard for Carmen (Rinat Shaham) to convince Corporal Don José (Neil Shicoff) that she really doesn’t need to spend another night in prison after all. For translation of the aria Près des remparts de Séville (outside the walls of Seville), click here.

Well, that’s one way to negotiate…if you’d like to see more of Carmen, join us this December for Shining Stars at the Met, where you’ll see their sultry new production with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Elîna Garança. With our orchestra prime seats, you might even get a whiff of Carmen’s perfume…and her cigarette smoke, of course!

Who’s your favorite “bad girl” from opera, theater, literature, or film? Please share!

The Magic of La Bohème

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Puccni’s opera La Bohème first debuted in 1896 and has become one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide. Set in Paris in 1830, the opera follows the lives of four starving artists, the poet Rodolfo, painter Marcello, musician Schaunard, and philosopher Colline. Mimì, a seamstress who lives in a garret above the artists’ apartment, meets Roldolfo by chance when looking for someone to light her candle, which has gone out. They quickly fall in love, but as often happens in opera, Rodolfo becomes jealous for no reason, breaks Mimì’s heart, and then realizes his folly. But it’s too late—Mimi has become ill with consumption and dies at the conclusion of the drama.

Here, watch Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sing the tender aria Sì, mi chiamano Mimì–”Yes, they call me Mimì,” as she introduces herself to her new neighbor, Rodolfo, during Act I of La Bohème.

Fallen in love with Mimi yet? We have, so we’ve set a date with her this December during our Shining Stars at the Met experience. The best part? You can come too! Click here for more.

What’s your favorite opera? Please share.

Spoleto Festival USA

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

New York City, London, and Rome are all known for their cultural arts. You can see a ballet performance, stage show, or opera easily in any of these cities. But sometimes you don’t have to go that far to see a festival with world-class performances. The Spoleto Festival USA takes place in one of the most beautiful and historical cities in the United States—Charleston, South Carolina.

The festival was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti, Christopher Keene, and others who sought to create an American counterpart to the annual Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. Since its inception, the festival has presented more than 200 world and American premieres.

So why did they choose the southern city of Charleston for such an event?

Simply put, the city is full of amazing architecture—including theaters, churches, and other spaces that prove ideal for these kinds of live performances. At the same time, the Charleston offers an intimate and charming feel to the festival while still being cosmopolitan enough to attract supportive audiences from around the globe. The result is a successful world class festival celebrating decades of breathtaking performances.

If you’ve never been to Charleston, here’s a taste of “The Holy City.”

What’s your favorite thing about Charleston, South Carolina? Share below.

Learn about the Spoleto Festival’s 2010 performances, while enjoying the southern scenery.

Video: A Night at the Opera: Aida

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Musicals are known for being cute, perky, and usually have jazz hands at some point in the performance. Then, there is opera, which has a completely different kind of fanatical fan base. Known for intense passion for the art, opera’s loyal followers are drawn to the huge stage sets, elaborate costumes,  and the drama of the performances on and off stage. It has been known that when certain performers call out sick, European fans have continued the time-honored tradition of booing for as long as two minutes. Imagine being the understudy performing that night after such a public display of disgust. Americans tend to be more polite, and tend to believe in a more conservative  interpretation of their opera. Either way, opera fans love the passion, love, death, suicide, and drama that these performances provide. Here is a video of the Triumphal March from Verdi’s Aida, which you can see on our Opera Lover’s Italy tour.

Afterwards, you might be inspired to go to Egypt next.

Are you a musical or an opera fan?

Love Italian food, wine and opera? Opera Lover’s Italy has them all.

A few words with Study Leader Arthur Kaplan

Monday, October 26th, 2009
 Arthur Kaplan has more than 20 years of experience in the opera field, lecturing for major opera companies in this country and leading groups of opera fans to France, Italy, and across the US. Arthur has served as editor of the San Francisco Opera Magazine, written numerous scholarly articles on opera, and interviewed various opera personalities. Here, we sit down with him to learn more about his love of the art. 

Musicians perform at the Santa Fe Opera.

Musicians perform onstage at the Santa Fe Opera.


Smithsonian Journeys: When and how did you first become interested in opera?

Arthur Kaplan: Although I was born and brought up in New York City, my family was not much interested in classical music. We went to Broadway musicals, but not to symphony concerts, ballet or opera. As a teenager, I developed a taste for classical music but thought opera was for a high society elite in tuxedos and evening gowns. Little did I know! As a first-year graduate student at the University of California in Berkeley, I decided on a whim to attend a free matinee performance of Aida. At least I had heard of the opera and thought that if I didn’t like the performance, I could enjoy an few hours basking under the autumnal sunny bay area skies. Well, I was bowled over! Not only did I thrill to Verdi’s sublime score, but the star-crossed lovers were sung magnificently by Leontyne Price and Jon Vickers. How’s that for a beginning!

SJ: How did your taste for opera develop?

AK: After the Aida performance, I began listening to friends’ opera recordings and a bit later to subscribe to the San Francisco Opera. Since my academic studies were in Romance languages and literatures, I had an ideal non-musical foundation for the dramatic and linguistic basis of many of opera’s most popular offerings. As I became more and more psssionate about this most all-encompassing of art forms, I left my job as a French professor for a position as writer in the PR department of the San Francisco Opera. There I was able to witness firsthand the workings of an opera company, interview many famous singers and directors, and watch the amazing process of how an opera production evolves from the beginning of the rehearsal period until opening night.

SJ:  Do you have a favorite composer and why?

AK:  My favorite composer is Giuseppe Verdi. Not only did he continue to develop interestingly and dramatically during a career spanning more than 50 years, his operas are filled with a deep sense of humanity for man’s foibles and triumphs. There is a touching inscription near Verdi’s tomb at the Casa di Riposo, the home for indigent musicians which he established in Milan, that sums it up beautifully: “Pianse ed amò per tutti,” “He cried and loved for everyone.”

SJ:  The two main venues for Smithsonian Journeys for opera in the United States in 2010 are the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and the Santa Fe Opera Festival in New Mexico. How do these venues differ?

AK:  The Met is arguably the leading opera venue in the world with a seasonal repertory of over 25 opera a year in lavish productions, cast with the world’s leading singers. In the imposing red plush interior with its magnificent acoustics, a fascinating variety of production styles can be experienced. The opera house in Santa Fe, majestically set on a hill seven miles from the center of New Mexico’s enchanting capital, is unique in its indoor/outdoor design. During the festival, America’s prime summer opera venue, the company presents five challenging works with stellar casts featuring exciting young singers often on the brink of important international careers. Some productions have as a backdrop the starry sky and hills of New Mexico.

SJ:  What gives you the greatest satisfaction as Study Leader for Smithsonian Journeys opera tours?

AK:  The possibility of kindling the flame of interest and enthusiasm for an art form which I dearly love among newcomers to opera and, secondly, of broadening the horizons and knowledge about that art form in those already interested in opera.

What’s your favorite opera and why? Share below.

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