Operanation 8: A Muse Ball is happening Friday, October 21, 2011. This year the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio fundraiser has chosen "the Muse" as it's theme, and has created a teaser website called The Daily Muse which features notable designers, industry insiders, film and media notables, and members of the Canadian Opera Company talking about their Muses and personal inspiration. Operanation will showcase Canadian fashion designs and custom made garments from Calla (by Calla Haynes), Joeffer Caoc, Greta Constantine (by Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong), Arthur Mendonça and Ashley Rowe. These designers have created garments that reflect the personal muses of the design house, presented in the form of a fashion installation curated by RAC Boutique, with shoes provided by Holt Renfrew.
Now that fashion has been covered, let's get to the music. Rufus Wainwright will be headlining the evening and there will be a special performance by Austra in collaboration with soprano Ambur Braid and baritone Adrian Kramer, two rising opera stars from the COC’s Ensemble Studio. I love the mix of popular and opera.
Tickets to this magical night of dancing, rousing live entertainment and specialty food and drink are $150 per person, and are on sale at operanation.ca or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231.
Cecily Carver, the Social Media Guru at the COC has posted a series of behind the scenes photos from the poster shoot on the COC blog. Check out my gallery below for a selection of those photos. Cecily's original post can be seen on the Parlando blog.
Diana Di Mauro and Mark S. Doss - Photo by Charles Leonio
In the third part of my interview with Mark S. Doss I tried to have some fun with him, asking a series of short answer questions. We talked about his idols, favourite performers, and his aspirations. He told me about the difficulty involved with being an opera singer and how his work has changed over the last twenty-five years.
Thanks again Mark!
Please enjoy the last installment of my three part interview with Mark S. Doss, filmed at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto
Mark S. Doss and Diana Di Mauro - Photo by Charles Leonio
In this second clip with Mark S. Doss, the focus is on singing and the technical demands of performing operatic repertoire. I asked him about how he trained and maintains his voice, and he sang me a few impromptu high notes. Mark loves his technology, and mentions a few singer friendly Apps while we talked about everything from the musical score, to solfeggio and scales.
Please enjoy part two of my three part interview with Mark S. Doss, filmed at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto
Mark S. Doss and Diana Di Mauro - Photo by Charles Leonio
After months of work, I'm finally ready to reveal the latest addition to Art Life and Stilettos. I will be featuring video interviews and features on artists and events alongside my coverage and musings on all things artistic, fashionable and opera related. My first interview features bass baritone Mark S. Doss, the wonderful singer who is performing this month as Thoas in Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride at the Canadian Opera Company. It is a three part interview discussing Mark's work, his role preparation and life as an opera singer. Mark is a really interesting individual with many stories to tell and decades of experience in the industry. His sense of style (love the pocket square), matches his his rich and powerful voice perfectly, and it was a real treat having the opportunity to sit down and chat with him. Go hear him in Iphigenie this month while you can.
What I had intended to be a short interview, grew into a three-part introspective feature on Mark and his work. In this first part Mark talked to me about his current role as Thoas in Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride at the Canadian Opera Company before talking about other Kings and larger than life characters from other operas. From the devil to John the Baptist, Mark has played a huge variety of larger than life characters. He also told me a bit about his life before he became an opera singer, which had little to do with music.
Please enjoy part one of my three part interview with Mark S. Doss, filmed at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto.
The Met Opera is going through a transitional phase at the moment, since Fabio Luisi was named principal conductor last month, and musical director (and previous principal conductor) James Levine has been pulling out of performances due to health problems. It seems like a matter of time before Luisi takes over the reigns completely. He's getting the opportunity to oversee the newest productions debuting this fall, including "Siegfried" which forms part of Wagner's Ring Cycle, which has been slowly unfolding since last season, and on Thursday he will conduct a brand-spanking new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, directed by Tony award winner Michael Grandage.
How will it all pan out? Will Luisi be able to fill the void left by Levine? Only time will tell. What I want to know is if this new production of Don Giovanni has any staying power. I've seen it performed many times under many guises but have yet to really connect with a particular direction. Yes, this is a story about a womanizing, sex-addicted rascal named Don Giovanni and his wingman sidekick Leporello. Yes, this the women are taken advantage of and either submit or seek revenge. Yes, this is a morality play where Don Giovanni must finally come face to face with his demons. There's a lot of drama and farce to work with in such a well thought out plot. Perhaps Michael Grandage can produce something worth sticking to.
Last weekend was Nuit Blanche, and I wanted to share some of the amazing, interesting and provocative art that I saw. I pretty much stayed on Queen St. West. The best art I saw was the giant balloon Ring Leader who watched over the entrance of the Drake Hotel, and the Clowns and Burlesque dancers entertaining guests at the Gladstone Hotel. Here's my first photostream for your entertainment!
I'll be out exploring the city tonight and trying not to freeze. If you're at Nuit Blanche tonight, you can tweet me any interesting exhibits or just say hi at @artlifestilettos. I have some links to event guides and washroom locations on my twitterfeed as well, so check it out. Happy Arting!
For all you lucky New York City inhabitants, and for those enamoured enough to travel over for the event, Anna Netrebko, currently starring as Anna Bolena at the Met, will be signing copies of her new album "Live at the Metropolitan Opera" at the Met Opera Shop on Wednesday, 12. Oct at 2:00 PM.
If you go, send me a photo and I'll feature it on the blog.
Maestro Stefano Montanari is back in Toronto as guest conductor for Opera Atelier's latest production of Mozart’s sensuous, sexual rom-com Don Giovanni, and you are invited to meet him. He will be giving a talk about his career and his interpretation of the extraordinary music composed by W. A. Mozart on Monday, October 3, 2011 - 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm Istituto Italiano di Cultura – 496, Huron St., Toronto. Admission is free.
Did I mention he's a fantastic whistler? Watch this video, someone should give him a Grammy for this.
Welcome back friends, I am officially back in Toronto and excited as ever to have Art Life and Stilettos back up and running after an, admittedly long, summer hiatus. To fill you in, I spent much of this summer away from Toronto. My summer began with a short trip to Los Angeles, then led me across the ocean to Europe, where I spent five weeks in the gorgeous Italian island of Sicily. In July, I had the great opportunity to spend a month in the Munich, Germany. The weather was cool but the opera was hot. The Bayerische Staatsoper was in swing with their popular Munich Opera Festival, where I had the opportunity to see Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail,Conducted by Johannes Debus, with Jennifer O'Loughlin as Konstanze and Pavol Breslik as Belmonte;Don Giovanniwith Gerald Finley as the Drunken, swinging Don and Alex Esposito as a hilarious Leporello. Veronique Gens, and Erin Wall rounded out the cast; Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos,conducted by Kent Nagano and production by Robert Carsen, with outstanding performance by Daniela Sindram as the heartbroken Komponist, and Daniela Fally as a smoking Zerbinetta; Maurice Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortilèges with Alexander Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg, conducted by Kent Nagano and featuring Camilla Tilling as Die Prinzessin and Donna Clara, and Paul Gay as Der Sessel / Ein Baum and Don Estoban.
Besides hearing great opera, I spent my month pursuing my own operatic training, working on my technique, coaching with top professionals and attending acting workshops. It was a fabulous month for my vocal growth, that is for sure.
The cherry on the sundae after a musical month in Munich was a stunning Liederabend recital with pianist Helmut Deutsch, featuring works by Strauss and Liszt.
After saying goodbye to Munich, I went back to the south of Italy for some well needed beach time. Munich is beautiful but alas the cool, rainy weather left something to be desired. From la bella Italia, I'm back in Toronto.
I have a lot on the go with training, and graduate school but now that I'm back in the swing of things I am very excited to get Art Life and Stilettos back on her feet again. Just as the seasons change for opera companies and in fashion, this season Art Life and Stilettos will have a bit of a make-over too. Stay tuned for updates.
Tonight, I'm off to see opening night of the Canadian Opera Company's new season. Gluck's Iphigenia in Tauris is slated to open the house and will feature the ever lovely Susan Graham as Iphigenia.
As the opera season winds down in Toronto, it seems appropriate for Art LIfe and Stilettos to go on a well deserved vacation. I'm flying out to Hollywood this afternoon and will be heading to Munich, Germany during the month of July. I hope to fill you in on the summer festival scene as best I can from there. Unitl then, have a wonderful summer. I'll check in with you again soon enough.
The Met Opera is live streaming their much lauded production of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. Love it! Thanks Met Opera for keeping up this fantastic FREE resource. Listen Live to Ariadne auf Naxos online or on your cell phone tonight, Tuesday, May 10 at 8 pm.
With Maestro James Levine cancelling performances (including his beloved Walküre, though that was due to illness NOT persistent back problems), pulling out of Tanglewood and the Met tour of Japan, it seems more and more like Fabio Luisi will be keeping Levine's conductor's seat warm for good. Especially since critics and singers alike keep talking about how much they like his work, and Saturday's Ariadne auf Naxos seems to have been no exception. The reviews have been glowing for the conductor and singers, and I love the colourful juxtaposition of soothing myth and jarring shtick that comes across in the photos.
I have been so busy over the last few weeks and meaning to write some in depth reviews of the productions and concerts I have attended, but I would hate for you to read about this stuff in July, so here is a quick overview of my experience at Ariadne auf Naxos last week.
I had the opportunity to attend the COC's opening night (4:30pm!?!) performance of Ariadne auf Naxos last weekend. Why on earth start an opera at 4:30pm on a Saturday? I made it through the entrance prior to the overture, was in the elevator prior to the overture, but by the time I reached my floor the music had started. I was literally seconds late. Was I allowed to enter the theatre and sit in my single seat directly on the other side of the door? No. Now, I hate a disruption but I'm talking about side ring seats which are all separate, kind of like a long private box, ie. barely anyone would notice you scoot in and sit down. Fine, I accepted my fate of having to watch the entire first act on the atrium television along with what amounted to as many as 40 patrons watching from a single plasma TV alongside me. This situation could have been acceptable, but one thing was not: THE TV HAD NO SOUND. Can I repeat that? No sound. That means I had to watch the entire first act of a two act opera without sound. Oh, okay, fine, they were gently pumping sound from the auditorium through the lobby intercom system, but the low volume and poor transmission made it feel like I was listening to a version of musical white noise, rather than a brilliant Straussian opera. The single shot camera mounted somewhere at the back of the theatre meant that I could barely make out any of the practically silent stage action either. COC, if you aren't going to have late seating or even the option to stand at the back of the theatre (as was the case in the past) then please make the atrium viewing experience worthy of the money I paid for the ticket. I'm not asking for the VIP experience, but seriously, provide us with sound at the very least.
Once I got into the theatre for the second act I relaxed and enjoyed the experience. Well, almost. Adrienne Pieczonka who was to play Ariadne was unfortunately ill with a virus. She was replaced on very short notice by Amber Wagner, from the Ryan Opera Center at Chicago Lyric Opera. She did a very good job considering she was a last minute replacement, and kudos to her for standing up to the challenge. Unfortunately, the chemistry between her and Bacchus, Played by Richard Margison, was non-existent. Margison has had a fantastic career and loads of experience,which meant that I expected a lot more from him. His portrayal of the god Bacchus was lacklustre and his singing seemed somewhat laborious in the upper register. Overall, during "the opera" I felt that the buttery, expansive tonal colouring that makes Strauss' music so sumptuous was missing. Jane Archibald was a precise and entertaining Zerbinetta and I will refrain from discussing her singing since she was suffering from a chest infection at the time of the performance.
The production runs for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 30, May 3, 12, 15, 18, 21, 27 and 29, 2011.
It is lead up week to the Federal Election in Canada on May 2 and as usual the arts in Canada remain a largely neglected subject. It is amazing how difficult it can be to find out any information about each candidate's vision for the arts. That is why I am so grateful for the thoughtful people at Opera.ca who put together a very special advocacy edition of their monthly newsletter High Notes.
Their Federal Election Toolkit is full of resources that include links to party platforms, a social media primer and a guide to the questions we should be asking our candidates. You would usually require a membership to access Opera.ca and receive their mailings, but as they have encouraged the widespread circulation of their resources you can access them all here for free.
It has been a very busy Easter weekend for Art Life and Stilettos. Between Opera Atelier, The Met Opera Broadcast, the Canadian Opera Company's spring productions, and buying cute bunny themed gifts for the girls in my life, I am spent. For those of you who have a couple of hours to spare why not attend a production this evening? Tonight is opening night of the Canadian Opera Company's production of La Cenerentola (Cinderella) by Rossini. His is a wonderful adaptation of the classic fable that is a perfect showpiece for coloratura mezzo. American soprano Elizabeth DeShong will be dazzling the audience as Cinderella, you may remember her as Hermia in the COC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2009. Tenor Lawrence Brownlee is her Prince, Don Ramiro – a role he sang in a recent Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast. Ramiro’s valet, Dandini, is sung by COC favourite, baritone Brett Polegato (2009’s Madama Butterfly and 2008’s Don Giovanni). American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, (2001’s The Girl of the Golden West) returns to sing Ramiro’s tutor, Alidoro, who befriends Angelina. Italian bass Donato DiStefano (2007’s The Marriage of Figaro) is the evil stepfather Don Magnifico. Angelina’s wicked stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, are played by two rising young stars of the COC Ensemble Studio, soprano Ileana Montalbetti, whose Elettra in last season’s Ensemble performance of Idomeneo was highly praised, and mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, most recently seen as one of Chairman Mao’s secretaries in the COC’s critically-acclaimed Nixon in China.
Italian conductor Leonardo Vordoni makes his COC debut with this production. A former staff member of the Metropolitan Opera, Vordoni made his conducting debut in 2008 at the internationally renowned Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy, followed by what critics have called a “scintillating” debut performance at the prestigious Wexford Opera Festival. He is married to Joyce Di Donato and she may or may not be attending tonight's performance...
It doesn't have to cost your Alexander Wang budget to attend the opera, in fact there are a number of ways to attend that will cost you less than a subscription to Vogue. Here is the low down on your ticket options, along with my handy (guide) to each group:
Standing Room (Stay fit and Watch Opera) Standing Room tickets for only $12 go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Limit of two tickets per person. Subject to availability.
Young People (Those under 5 feet tall may actually like opera) Special young people’s tickets are priced from $31 to $95, plus applicable taxes. These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult.
Opera for a New Age (How Art Life and Stilettos rolls, just say I sent you) Patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase $22 Opera for a New Age tickets as of Sat., April 9, 2011 at 10 a.m., online at coc.ca or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Opera for a New Age is presented by TD Bank Financial Group.
Student Group Tickets (Bring your whole crew, then invite me to the after-party) Student group tickets are $22 per student and may be purchased by calling 416-306-2356. Rush Seats (Just show up) Rush seats, starting at $22 and subject to availability, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.
Tickets for Cinderella are available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231 or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto). Sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™, Cinderella runs for nine performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 23, 28, May 1, 7, 10, 13, 19, 22 and 25, 2011.
Now for the photos. Here is a sneak peak at the costumes and wigs that will make an appearance this evening, courtesy of the lovely Cecily Carver and the COC.
(l–r) Tamara Wilson as Clorinda, Earle Patriarco as Dandini, and Catherine Cook as Tisbe in the Houston Grand Opera’s production of La Cenerentola, 2007. Photo: Brett Coomer January, 2007