Monthly Archives: October 2015

Abigail Fischer Explores the Mind of Isabelle Eberhardt

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

“An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I’ve left the opera house.”

– Maria Callas

Opera is a place where all other art forms – art, film, even dance – meet to create a spectacular production. This is a convergence that’s very familiar to mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer, who plays Isabelle Eberhardt in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar. Fischer utilizes various artistic talents in the multimedia opera now showing at REDCAT. It is her haunting singing, however, that mesmerizes throughout the 75-minute opera.

“Singing is a very intimate art form. It’s very connected to the deepest parts of you. You really have to know yourself,” says Fischer. The intimacy of singing – and truly all performance – is heightened in Song from the Uproar, because of its abstractness. Fischer plays Isabelle Eberhardt solely, but there is also a “Chorus of Isabelles” that alternatively showcases Eberhardt’s emotions. There’s a strong synergy between the chorus members and Fischer to the point where they repeat each other’s dance moves and lyrics. Together, they illustrate the evolving psyche of a complicated woman, her many lives, and her many deaths.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P2pH3qhYpM

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CONTEST: SPOT THE WHALE ABOUT TOWN? SOCIAL A SELFIE, WIN BIG

whale-tail-sticker_v2In honor of our upcoming production, Moby-Dick, we’re launching our Whale About Town Contest. We’ve placed stickers (pictured above) in a few of Los Angeles’ trendiest places (locations listed below). If you spot the whale sticker, take selfie and get social with it. If you include #WhaleAboutTown in your post, you could win a whale of a prize:

Moby-Dick Experience Package

Two Tickets for Moby-Dick’s Opening Night on October 31

Two Intermission Champagne Vouchers

and

Entry into Downtown LA’s Hottest Halloween Party

The Black & White Ball

   Hosted by The Black Tux at The Theatre at Ace Hotel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd-Z4-3Ip_Q

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Moby-Dick: No Book Report Required

A timeless classic, Moby Dick sits atop just about every literary reading list. You’ve heard of it, you’ve probably read it and if you have a high school freshman, like I do, it’s on their reading list right now.

And as said freshman pointed out, the book is big – really big.

On October 31, Moby Dickthe opera – opens at LA Opera.While reading the novel can seem daunting due to the sheer volume of details, the opera brings the story to life. We’d never recommend you see the opera instead of reading the novel – it’s not a substitute or the Cliffs notes version or anything – but, the opera provides you with a rich and vibrant telling that’s pretty close to the big book. (It really is the perfect way to get the would-be reader excited about the classic tale.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd-Z4-3Ip_Q

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Missy’s Song from the Uproar

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo Credit: James Matthew Daniel

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo Credit: James Matthew Daniel

“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and unchartered places.” – Isabelle Eberhardt

In May 1897, an adventurous Swiss woman named Isabelle Eberhardt relocated to North Africa. There she went down a path of self-discovery very atypical for a woman of her time. Eberhardt lived her life to the fullest. She reveled in her time alone experiencing the desert just as much as she adored discussing Islam with members of the Sufi order she joined called Qadiriyaa.

Missy Mazzoli (right) with Director Gia Forakis (center) and singer Abigail Fischer (left)

Missy Mazzoli (right) with Director Gia Forakis (center) and singer Abigail Fischer (left)

Eberhardt also romanced and eventually married an Algerian soldier with whom she had a sometimes tender, sometimes tumultuous relationship. Tragically, her extraordinary life ended at the age of 27 when a flash flood roared through the Algerian province of Aïn Séfra. Yet, elements of Isabelle’s life have been immortalized in the words of her journals, which were published posthumously.

Eleven years ago, composer Missy Mazzoli picked up a copy of Isabelle’s journals in a Boston bookstore and read the following passage:

“On days when I have no money, I am a vagabond on the road, enjoying the reflections of gold and scarlet sunset on the white dunes. The grave alone can rob me of such wealth, not man. If I am allowed the time it takes to write the odd fragment of a description, it may even survive the minds of some.”

Eberhardt’s words stopped Mazzoli in her tracks and “haunted her for years.” This Thursday, Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar has its west coast premiere, brought to Los Angeles through a partnership between LA Opera and producer Beth Morrison Projects.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P2pH3qhYpM

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Opera at the Beach: Bringing Music to the Masses

Santa Monica Pier is one of Los Angeles’ largest tourist attractions. Groups of people flock west to experience the beach, ride the ferris wheel, and pose in front of the sign signaling the end of Route 66. This past Saturday, tourists and Angelenos alike came to Santa Monica for one reason: opera.

LA Opera at the Pier Photo by Craig T. Mathew/Mathew ImagingLA Opera hosted its second annual, live HD simulcast called Opera at the Beach on Saturday. This year, an estimated 4,000 people were treated to performances of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. People arrived early to claim their spot in front of the large screen, participate in opera trivia, and listen to music from LA Opera’s upcoming season, including Beth Morrison Projects’ Song from the Uproar and Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick. Guests who purchased tickets to the Wine Terrace, sponsored by Los Angeles magazine enjoyed tasting various wines and meeting the wineries responsible for creating some of the best drinks southern California has to offer.

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“You Are The Dust” from Song from the Uproar

https://youtu.be/cjhuxMwXreU

Watch “You Are The Dust” from Song from the Uproar above

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Song from the Uproar: About Isabelle Eberhardt

https://youtu.be/sBSv5z9rZaA

Learn about Isabelle Eberhardt and Song from the Uproar above

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Gianni Schicchi Cast Shout Outs – Opera at the Beach

https://youtu.be/k8sXsz_zIz0

The cast of Gianni Schicchi Says “Hello,’ to Audience Members at Santa Monica Pier

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Pagliacci Sneak Peek

https://youtu.be/24H_2q_QmDQ

Watch a Sneak Peek of Pagliacci above

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5dq7UzG8gs

Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci make a fabulous pair for this year’s Season Opening. Blending comedy with tragedy from two wonderful composers, these operas have made an impact both at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and at Santa Monica Pier. Have you missed some of the Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci magic? Have no fear! We’ve collected a bunch of articles and videos for you to check out and see why so many Angelenos (and non-Angelenos alike) are flocking to see this double-bill.

Get To Know Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci

All Is Bustling On The Opera Front

Weeks before opening night, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion bustles with preparations for the upcoming opera season. As summer draws to a close, props are unpacked and organized, costume fittings occur, large sets are unloaded, and rehearsals are in full swing for Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci.

A Donkey Named Sue

Making his operatic debut in this month’s upcoming production of Pagliacci is none other than a donkey named Sue (aptly named after the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue”). This tough leading animal arrived this week with his handler in tow, who will be a supernumerary in the show.

Music Monday: Pagliacci Prologue

Pagliacci opens not with a love triangle scene between Canio, Nedda, and Silvio, but instead with a clown. This is Tonio, the fool of Canio’s troupe. He emerges and addresses the audience directly—“Si puo, si puo,” asking for indulgence.

5 Favorite Things From This Week’s Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci Rehearsals

There’s a lot to be said about LA Opera’s opening show, a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci. We’ve been watching rehearsals all week and have compiled a list of a few of our favorite things.

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Schicchi To Pagliacci Changeover

https://youtu.be/1PjdueCs68k

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“o mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi

https://youtu.be/ZE1UPfRu4Es

Hear Andriana Chuchman sing the classic aria

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Gianni Schicchi Sneak Peek

https://youtu.be/cWdodQVBXlw

Get a Sneak Peek of the hysterical Gianni Schicchi above

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Greg Fedderly: 63 Productions, 390 Performances, and Counting

LA Opera is a family company. Nowhere is this more evident than in the returning singers that spend long stretches of their career gracing the stage at Dorothy Chandler. Greg Fedderly is the epitome of these singers. Throughout the course of LA Opera’s history, Fedderly has been in 63 productions – that’s over 390 performances in 30 years (and counting). This includes Borsa in Rigoletto (1993, 2010), Monostatos in The Magic Flute (1992, 2002, 2009), Red Whiskers in Billy Budd (2014), and many, many more.

Greg Fedderly

Greg Fedderly in his dressing room before portraying Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

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Momo Casablanca: Gianni Schicchi’s Character Star

Momo Casablanca as Buoso Donati in <em>Gianni Schicchi</em> (2015)

Momo Casablanca as Buoso Donati in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

Of the many stars hustling around the stage in Gianni Schicchi – the frenetic first half of a double bill with Pagliacci – there’s only one cast member who remains on stage the whole time. That’s character actor Momo Casablanca, who portrays the significant role of Buoso Donati in Puccini’s comedic opera. The opera centers on Buoso’s greedy relatives, waiting to see what he has left them in his will. That’s right – Buoso Donati is already deceased when the curtain rises.

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7 Questions with Jay Hunter Morris

MobyDick5pub

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in San Francisco Opera’s 2013 production of Moby-Dick

This Halloween, Jay Hunter Morris reprises his role as Captain Ahab in Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick. It will be the first time he’s performed the opera in Los Angeles, coming fresh from a year of tremendous roles in The Flying Dutchman and Cold Mountain. Here’s our Jay Hunter Morris Edition of Questions.

What’s it like to revisit the role of Ahab for the 4th time?

Thrilling. Ahab is #1 on my wish list every year. The music has been simmering in my mind, and I can’t wait to try again, there are so many options for me as a singer!

Ahab is complex, to say the least. What do you like best about the role?

The madness. Can you imagine the horror of being attacked by such a sea beast, surviving in those days, the agony endured, the festering, acidic anger, the single-minded drive for revenge? AND, I must embody the power, the charm and charisma that he must wield in order to lead grown men willingly to their death. It’s a mighty task, a privilege granted to few, and I am so grateful to step into his cloak once again.

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