Tag Archives: Orchestra

What Is It? Objects That Help Make Opera Magic.

The Tales of Hoffmann (2002); Photo: Robert Millard

The Tales of Hoffmann (2002); Photo: Robert Millard

Have you ever wondered – “How’d they do that?” Opera brings stories to life, and the magic you see on stage is often the result of incredible ingenuity on the part of our behind-the-scenes artisans. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite objects used in productions—old and new, both onstage and off—to give you a glimpse at what’s involved in staging the operas you love.

Can you guess what these objects are for? (The answers are below, but no cheating!)

Torch

  1. The torches we use onstage have a name that references a crucial safety feature. What are these props called?
  2. Butane-Bufer
  3. Dead Man’s Torch
  4. Burnless Bunsen
  5. Touchable Torch

… Continue reading

Posted in Did You Know? | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

In the Pit: Roberto Cani, Concertmaster

Roberto Cani; Photo: Robert Millard

Roberto Cani; Photo: Robert Millard

Experiencing a violinist on stage performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in Milan, Italy, 7-year-old Roberto Cani determined then and there he would someday play that concerto. Attending Milan Conservatory, he practiced diligently to fulfill his dream. It was there that he remembers meeting Plácido Domingo, who was recording Otello but still took time out to greet young Roberto.

Moving to Moscow at age 20, he studied violin at the Gnessin Institute. He also traveled throughout Europe as a concert soloist, his repertoire including the Tchaikovsky Concerto, which he still enjoys playing. During the Paganini Competition, which he won, Abram Shtern heard Roberto perform and invited him to become his student. Roberto followed Mr. Shtern to Los Angeles in December 1992. Eventually receiving an Artist Diploma from the University of Southern California, Roberto continued to perform concerts in Europe and also served as guest concertmaster at La Scala, the London Philharmonic, and the Radio and Television Orchestra in Milan.

… Continue reading

Posted in Faces of the Opera | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on In the Pit: Roberto Cani, Concertmaster

In the Pit: Steven Becknell, 1st Horn, LA Opera Orchestra

Steven Becknell, 1st Horn, LA Opera Orchestra

Steven Becknell, 1st Horn, LA Opera Orchestra

“Of all the things I do, playing with the LA Opera Orchestra is my favorite. I want to keep doing it as long as I can. I wish the opera did more productions because I love being there.”

In 1987 he joined the LA Chamber Orchestra as 2nd horn and began performing with LA Opera. Soon he discovered that he really enjoyed opera music and welcomed the opportunity to become 1st horn with the new LA Opera Orchestra.

In the 30 years since, Steve has performed in the studio orchestras of over a thousand movies and TV shows, and recorded with famous vocal personalities. Musical theater experience includes this summer’s revival of The Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages. He plays chamber music with Camerata Pacifica, participates in a woodwind quintet, and plays occasionally with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the California Philharmonic Orchestra and Muse/ique.

… Continue reading

Posted in Faces of the Opera | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on In the Pit: Steven Becknell, 1st Horn, LA Opera Orchestra

Music Monday: Gianni Schicchi Orchestra

Orchestra Rehearsal“We are starting in the middle of a huge family fight,” conductor Grant Gershon says as he directs the orchestra during a rehearsal for Gianni Schicchi. They are reviewing the overture and the opening scene of the opera, where family members gather at the deathbed of Buoso Donati. There are moments when Gershon perfectly describes how the music changes to reflect the action on the stage. A section they rehearse contains a large crescendo reminiscent of classic Hollywood-era films (very fitting connection for a Woody Allen production) that lightens towards the end. Gershon says this is the moment where the music “switches to decaff.” Orchestra members laugh at this and play the music accordingly, completely understanding the charming analogy.

… Continue reading

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Music Monday, Week Day Spotlights | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Music Monday: Gianni Schicchi Orchestra