Tag Archives: Don Giovanni

James Conlon Talks the Carmen Myth

Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Georges Bizet’s last opera has struck deeply into the soul of Western Civilization.

Its music is universally loved and its meaning constantly analyzed, debated and reinterpreted. As a protagonist, Carmen is unique. Contrary to many mythological characters who served as operatic subjects, she transcended her stage existence and then evolved into an archetype, a popular and modern myth. Unlike Don Juan, Faust and numerous Greek, Roman and Nordic mythological characters adapted for the opera stage, Carmen had little prehistory. But like Mozart’s Don Giovanni, her obvious male counterpart, she became immortal thanks to the genius of a composer. The protagonist of a short story by Prosper Mérimée, she was perfectly realized the moment Bizet set her to music.

Who is Carmen and what does she represent?

Ask a dozen opera lovers, and there will be a dozen answers. Evil temptress, femme fatale, erotic demon, 19th-century Eve for some; victim of racism, gender inequality and social injustice, symbol of emancipation and feminine empowerment for others.
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Two Sensual Operas

“[Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk] was meant as a tribute to the Soviet state and its new ideology – Katerina’s [sexual] revolt was an instance of class struggle, an ideal central to the way the young USSR chose to define itself.” – Mitchell Morris, Professor, UCLA Department of Musicology

Larissa Shevchenko as Katerina and Vladimir Grishko as Sergei in <em>Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk</em> (2002); Photo: Ken Howard

Larissa Shevchenko as Katerina and Vladimir Grishko as Sergei in Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk (2002); Photo: Ken Howard

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#TBT: Erwin Schrott in Don Giovanni

Erwin Schrott as the title character in <em>Don Giovanni</em> (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Before seeing Erwin Schrott’s live concert, Cuba Amiga, this Saturday, take a journey through LA Opera history and check out Schrott in Don Giovanni. He’s sung the title role in Mozart’s “Don Juan” opera 17 times here in Los Angeles, most recently in 2007.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAlpr8ZEJaQ

Can’t get enough of Erwin Schrott? Learn more about his latest concert, Cuba Amiga, below and make sure to snag your tickets before they’re gone.

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Angela Meade on Norma

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

Soprano Angela Meade, who made her LA Opera debut in 2012 as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, returns as Bellini’s Norma, a role that catapulted her to prominence when she first performed it in concert at the Caramoor International Music Festival in 2010. She has subsequently performed in productions of Norma at the Metropolitan Opera and Washington National Opera. Shortly after rehearsals began in October, we sat down with her to get her take on this famously challenging role.

Angela Meade as the title character in Norma (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

Angela Meade as the title character in Norma (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

Let’s talk about Norma. It’s a big, giant, iconic work.

Indeed. Let’s call it Mount Everest.

 Many opera lovers associate Norma with Maria Callas and a whole host of other great singers.

I’ve listened to all of them and, of course, I find great inspiration in many of them. But I try to make it just Angela’s interpretation, rather than anybody else’s.

Between performances, auditions and competitions, how many times do you think you’ve sung the entrance aria, “Casta diva”?

A bajillion. I really don’t know! I did a total of about 60 competitions, and I probably sang it for all of them, and I’ve also sung it in concerts, private functions and other things, not to mention within the role itself and, of course, rehearsals for performing the role. I’m sure it’s well over 250 times, probably more than that. I should have kept a tally of it.

Many different types of singers have sung Norma.

It has ranged from lyric coloraturas to mezzos. It’s different for everybody, as it should be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WzPK0mVbe0

Angela Meade singing “Casta Diva” for the Giordani Foundation Gala in 2009

It seems like you weren’t intimidated by the role.

I guess I never gave it much thought. When I first started singing “Casta diva,” I didn’t realize the sort of implications that went along with singing the role. I think plenty of people around me did, but I thought it was a beautiful aria. Clearly, I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

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7 Opera Halloween Costumes

This is the time of year when things get spooky – horrific even! It’s also that time when people scour various pop up Halloween stores in search of the perfect costume. Here at LA Opera, we don’t have your typical witches (Hocus Pocus, anyone?), vampires (Dracula), and ghosts (do you see dead people Sixth Sense style?). While these are all good options, consider taking your costume to an operatic level with these 9 opera Halloween costumes.

The Countess in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades is a force to be reckoned with, dead or alive. With her obsession about keeping the secret of what makes her constantly win at cards, the Countess is more fun and regal than other aristocrats (looking at you, Cleopatra!).

The cast of The Queen of Spades (2001); Photo: Ken Howard

The cast of The Queen of Spades (2001); Photo: Ken Howard

The Dragon in Elliot Goldenthal and Julie Taymor’s Grendel puts Khaleesi’s brood to shame.

Denyse Graves as The Dragon in Grendel (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Dressing up as Don Giovanni, the title character in Mozart’s Don Giovanni is guaranteed to charm.

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

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10 Great Starter Operas

There are thousands of great operas to experience, but figuring out where to begin can be a little intimidating. However, opera newbies might be surprised to learn that they’re more familiar with opera than they think. Ever seen an episode of Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry? Many television shows, Broadway productions and even films are based on or inspired by some of the most popular operas to ever hit the stage.

Here’s a list of ten operas that would be great for any opera newbie to check out, most of which can be seen at LA Opera this season.

Moby-Dick – It’s a classic read and will be a classic opera performance for any newbie to watch. Sung in English, Moby-Dick is easier to follow musically and newbies will also be wowed by set designer Robert Brill’s creations, which bring the high seas to life on stage. Read more about a unique stage prop called a cyc, and the Moby-Dick ship set here.

La Boheme – For the Broadway junkies out there, this is the opera that sparked the musical Rent. It also served as the inspiration for Moulin Rouge (along with La Traviata) making the plot familiar and easy to follow for first-timers.

Aida – The elaborate costumes and set design give any opera newbie enough incentive to watch this beautiful opera. The story takes place in Egypt and focuses around the enslaved Ethiopian princess, Aida. The large pyramid sets and Egyptian attire, much like Pagliacci, show how much planning and work goes into making one of these shows come to life.

Ana María Martínez as Cio-Cio-San in Santa Fe Opera's Madama Butterfly

Ana María Martínez as Cio-Cio-San in Santa Fe Opera’s Madama Butterfly

Madame ButterflyMadame Butterfly is a romantic tragedy with an easy to follow story line and gorgeous music. The set is simple, beautiful and elegant and is sure to impress anyone who sees.

The Barber of Seville – Opera fan or not, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of The Barber of Seville. With famous tunes (check out this overture) and a few good laughs, it’s sure to be a lively performance and a great show for opera newbies.

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Muppets Opera Love

From Hey Arnold! to The Simpsons, several cartoons have featured opera . Of these, The Muppet Show most notably included several opera references during its run that introduced younger audiences to the art form. Did you know that Miss Piggy wanted to sing opera? We think Miss Piggy would love our Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci. Can you picture her singing Lauretta’s aria, “O mio babbino caro?”

Plácido Domingo as Gianni Schicchi and Andriana Chuchman as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

Plácido Domingo as Gianni Schicchi and Andriana Chuchman as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

In honor of tonight’s The Muppets series premiere on ABC, we have found some “Muppets meet opera” moments we think you’ll enjoy:

Beaker’s Habanera

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXKUb5A1auM

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