Verdi's thoughts on La Traviata

Tuesday, February 22

“La Traviata last night a failure. My fault or the singers'? Time will tell." Verdi wrote this to his friend the day after the premier of La Traviata. Time has told that he performed for a fickle audience who were unhappy about the age and weight of Violetta. In 1854, one year later, the performance received favorable reviews and today is one of the top three operas. So prepare as this famous score is coming to MN Opera pronto! With a great cast including Elizabeth Futral and Georgia Jarman as Violetta.

Check out Renee Fleming and Renato Bruson. I promise these singers are not failures!


10 Questions with Megan Pelka

Thursday, February 17

Meet Megan Pelka, Programming Chair

1. What’s your sign?  I’m a Leo, which means I should like the spotlight but I’m more of a behind-the-scenes type of gal.

2. Favorite opera?
The only opera that has made me cry – Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) by Wagner.

3. If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?

4. What is your favorite dessert?
Panna cotta – it’s one of the easiest desserts you can make and has the ability to take on a range of flavors.

5. If you had to describe yourself using three words, what would they be?
Passionate, Dedicated, Joyful.

6. What is your favorite holiday?
Halloween! I start planning my costumes at the beginning of each year. And have amassed quite the collection of decorations for my annual party.

7. What was your first opera?
I watched various Met productions on Channel 2 as a child. My parents took me to see Aida, a traveling production performed at the Orpheum Theater, when I was in elementary school. The spectacle of the production was amazing and emotional connection I felt to the music was intense. I’ve been a lover of opera ever since.

8. If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you?Winona Ryder – I think she could really channel my rage-filled moments.

9. Are you a morning or night person? Definitely a night person as my 10am – 6pm work schedule will prove.

10. What’s your favorite thing to do in the winter?
Curl up by a fireplace and drink eggnog. But as I have no fireplace, the space heater works just as well.


Comic Artists: Mary Stuart (Part IV)

Tuesday, February 15

Last, but certainly not least...
Tempo and Black Hat Collective team up to bring you Comic Artists Night at the Opera.

Artist: Jeremiah Halonie

Jeremiah's Thoughts On the Experience
This was an amazing opportunity. It's often impossible to draw during an experience like this, even sneaking in a small sketchbook or camera is impossible, so to be invited to sit with the materials and space you need to really indulge is awesome. My thanks to everyone who made this possible, and to the amazing actors and the performance they gave.

ArtistAnna Bongiovanni

Anna's Thoughts On the Experience
I really enjoyed watching Mary Stuart! The costumes alone were amazing. The colors used throughout the performance and the music made it a wonderful night and I am thrilled I had this opportunity to watch and sketch the opera. 

Artist: Kate Saturday

Kate's Thoughts On the Experience
The singing by Mary and Elizabeth was amazing, inhuman.  I had a wonderful time.

Artist: Diana Nock


Artist: Abby Lehrky



Tuesday, February 8

It's almost here!  Tempo, and a host of other event partners, have worked tirelessly to bring you Spectacular!SPECTACULAR!, a dramatic preview event for Minnesota Opera's production of la Traviata.

The event will feature a screening of the film Moulin Rouge, a work of truly theatrical cinema inspired by the upcoming opera.

One of Tempo's favorite features is the magnificent party songs featured in both of these delightful, yet tragic productions.  For your viewing pleasure...

la Traviata - Brindisi

Premiered in Venice on March 6, 1853.  
The day after the opening performance Verdi wrote to a friend: "La Traviata last night a failure. My fault or the singers'? Time will tell."

Verdi's opera Il Trovatore, premiered in Rome during the same year, just a few months before la Traviata.

Moulin Rouge was based on la Traviata which was based on The Lady of the Camellias, a novel by Alexandre Dumas, written in 1848 and later adapted for the stage.

Moulin Rouge - Spectacular!SPECTACULAR!

Premiered May 9, 2001 at the Cannes film Festival

Refresh your memory with a review of the then new film:

Spectcular!SPECTACULAR! is Friday, February 18, at 8 p.m., at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown.
Purchase tickets by calling Minnesota Opera: 612-333-6669 or visit


Comic Artists: Mary Stuart (Part III)

Friday, February 4

Tempo and Black Hat Collective team up to bring you Comic Artists Night at the Opera:

ArtistUrsula Murray Husted

Ursula's Thoughts On the Experience
I loved drawing at the opera!  Well, to be more accurate, I loved watching the opera and had to keep reminding myself to sketch instead of becoming completely glued to the story.  Thank you so much for the opportunity. :)

ArtistNicole Lorenz

Nicole's Thoughts On the Experience
Thank you so much for that opportunity! I really enjoyed the event, and judging by the way the other artists were talking as we left the show, everyone else did as well.

Artist: Brittney Sabo
Brittney's Thoughts On the Experience
The opera and the costumes were absolutely beautiful, and I was especially drawn to the fabric of the flowing dresses. Capturing movement while producing a detailed sketch was hard, but after focusing more on the fabric of the costumes I was able to produce some sketches I'm pleased with.


Comic Artists: Mary Stuart (Part II)

Tempo and Black Hat Collective team up to bring you Comic Artists Night at the Opera:

Artist: Tim Tapp
Lady in darkness
Tim's Thoughts on the Experience
The experience was very good. The energy on stage was easy to understand because they genuine human emotions. This was my first opera and I had fun.  

Artist: Salina Travino 
Accepting Fate
Salina's Thoughts on the Experience
The costumes were gorgeous-- my eyes couldn't get enough of them! The singers' voices were powerful and moving. I felt honored to be welcomed as an artist and given the opportunity to try to capture some of Mary Stuart's magnificence!
Websites: /

Artist: Lee Blauersouth
Mary's preparations
Sketch 1
Elizabeth's decision

Lee's Thoughts on the Experience
Is there anything more fun to sketch than Elizabethan garb? Probably not. But there are probably easier things to draw on the fly on a moving target! The hats! The voluminous skits! Those crazy collars! Giant fluffy bloomers! Conveying emotion in body language under all those layers of clothes must be hard on the actors, but they did a great job. Then the task was up to me to draw what the actors put forth.


Comic Artists: Mary Stuart (Part I)

Tempo and Black Hat Collective Hat Collective team up to bring you Comic Artists Night at the Opera:

Artist: Kevin Cannon
Mary Stuart No. 5

Mary Stuart No. 9

Mary Stuart No. 9

Kevin C's Thoughts On the Experience
Last night I had the good fortune of being able to doodle during a dress rehearsal of the Minnesota Opera's Mary Stuart at the Ordway Center. I was invited by Tempo and the Black Hat Collective, and was part of a group of about fifteen cartoonists who tried to visually capture the opera. Our little group must have looked strange from the stage, fifteen dark-clad cartoonists scribbling madly under a haze of blue booklights, our rapt silence broken only by paper rustling or the occasional pencil dropping on the floor.

Want to see more of Kevin's Mary Stuart sketches? Check out his blog.


Artist: Lupi McGinty

Lupi's Thoughts On the Experience
Thanks for inviting us to draw the performance. I appreciated being able to enjoy the artistry that went into the show--the lighting, sets, and performances were all fantastic. I tried to bring some of the expressive color and body language into my sketch of Mary kneeling.  I look forward to seeing everyone else's work online.


Artist: Ken Avidor

Ken's Thoughts On the Experience
Thanks so much for inviting me to sketch last night. I had a lot of fun. I wish I could do it again. I've mentioned it on the Twin Cities Urban Sketchers blog.



Comic Artists Night at the Opera

Don't you love it when people have a good idea and that good idea turns into an amazing event? Yeah, so do we. Well, way back this fall (seems way back with all the snow that's happened since), Tempo received an email from a member of the Black Hat Collective pitching an idea - have comic artists attend a dress rehearsal, draw what inspires them, and share the results on our blog. Tempo's not one to ignore a good idea, so, a couple months later...

Tempo (and Minnesota Opera, of course!) hosted the first ever Comic Artists Night at the Opera. On Thursday, January 27, a group of Black Hat Collective artists attended the Mary Stuart dress rehearsal (after a lite bite at Pazzaluna) and drew whatever moved them. It was a great event - there was artist love all around (on stage, in the audience, after the performance - you name it!) We're all excited to see the resulting artwork, but the folks who saw it happen are probably the most excited (and who can blame them).

Anyway, we expected it the results to be good. Heck, we expected the results to be great. You know what? The artwork is FANTASTIC, AMAZING, BRILLIANT. . . we could go on, seriously, we could. Check back throughout the day as we post the fabulous work of Black Hat Collective artistsKen Avidor, Lee Blauersouth, Kevin Cannon, Ursula Murray Husted, Nicole Lorenz, Lupi McGinty, Brittney Sabo, Tim Tapp, and Salina TravinoUntil then, enjoy this teaser fabulous piece (it's like he knew we needed something for the opening post) by Ken Avidor:

Artwork by Ken Avidor
One last thing, wanna hear a firsthand take on Comic Artists Night at the Opera? Max Sperber gives us his take in Max About Town.


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