A Chinese Crescendo

Monday, August 15

Chinese visitors are seen in a hall of the Guangzhou Opera House in April 2010,
Imaginechina via AP Images
Time magazine has the scoop on the burgeoning opera scene in China: As Opera Struggles in West, an Art Form Flourishes in China.
"As if any more proof was needed of China's growing dominance, it is now being bellowed at full volume by tenors and sopranos. Chinese composers have become a major source for opera in Europe and North America, while more opera festivals are staged in the People's Republic than anywhere else."


10 Questions with Jamie Nieman

Saturday, August 13

Meet Jamie Nieman, Marketing & Communications Chair

1. What’s your sign?
Taurus, and that's no joke.

2. Favorite opera?   
At Minnesota Opera—The Adventures of Pinocchio but the Met production of Le Comte Ory may have topped it for all time favorite. Yummy opera threesome.

3. If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?
Archeologist—I blame a childhood obsession with Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford.

4. What is your favorite dessert?
Ice cream, it’s one of my few food weaknesses.

5. If you had to describe yourself using three words, what would they be?  
Sassy, Resourceful, Fearless

6. What is your favorite holiday? 
Thanksgiving—food, football and booze—what’s not to love?

7. What was your first opera?
Operetta actually—The Pirates of Penzance

8. If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you? 
Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock would star as me—I’d like to think it would be a Romantic Comedy and one of the good ones like Love Actually or When Harry Met Sally.  The disaster area called my personal life can be quite amusing at times. Can I request Colin Firth play my love interest?

9. Are you a morning or night person? 
Night—at all costs avoid me in the morning.  If you do have to deal with me in the morning it's wise to come bearing large quantities of coffee.

10. What’s your favorite thing to do in the winter? 
Sit in front of a roaring fire with a bottle of wine and a good book.


Tempo Hearts New Works!

Friday, August 12

Tempo members know that Minnesota Opera frequently presents new works, often in the form of that opera's American premiere or world premiere. So we are excited to see that Santa Fe Opera is presenting three new works in the 2013 - 2015 seasons!

The New York Times Arts Beat has the DL: Santa Fe Opera to Present Three New Works.

The works include:
David Daniels will star as Oscar Wilde
1. "Oscar," based on the life of Oscar Wilde and composed by Theodore Morrison with a libretto by John Cox. The great American countertenor, David Daniels, who starred in Minnesota Opera's production of Orpheus & Eurydice last season will sing the title role.

Nathan Gunn will star in Cold Mountain
2. "Cold Mountain," based on Charles Frazier's novel, composed by Jennifer Higdon and a libretto by Gene Scheer. In the 2003 movie version, the very attractive Jude Law played the lead role of W.P. Inman, the Confederate soldier. Matching Mr. Law's good looks, that role will be sung at Santa Fe by American baritone Nathan Gunn.

3. "Miss Fortune," by British composer Judith Weir and based on a Sicilian folktale, "Sfortuna."


Opera MBA: Business Benefits of Funding Opera

Thursday, August 11

Photo by bzylek100 from flickr
Bloomberg news analyzes the business benefits of funding opera: Investec Hails Benefits of Funding Opera Festival.

Speaking about funding Opera Holland Park in London, David Bulteel, executive director of investment management at Investec Wealth and Investment explains:  “It has been the most fantastic success.”  He continues:  “The response from all the clients and fund managers we’ve taken has been amazingly positive.”

Moral of the story?  Support the arts and succeed!


10 Questions with J.R. Kamra

Wednesday, August 10

Meet J.R. Kamra, Tempo Board of Directors

1. What’s your sign? 

2. Favorite opera?
Barber of Seville

3. If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?
Mayor of Memphis or Athletic Director of the University of Memphis

4. What is your favorite dessert?

5. If you had to describe yourself using three words, what would they be?
Perseverance, loyalty, driven

6. What is your favorite holiday?
Fourth of July

7. What was your first opera?
Roméo et Juliette

8. If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you?
The relationships that I have with my friends and family…Kal Penn.

9. Are you a morning or night person?
Morning during the week, night on the weekends

10. What’s your favorite thing to do in the winter?
Stay warm


Get your tickets for Opera Tasting 2011: Pouring out from the Heavens

Tuesday, August 9

Opera Tasting 2011:  Pouring out from the Heavens
Garden Party under the Stars

Like your Puccini with hints of smoky etherealness, bouquets of strawberry and oak, or aromas of earth and tobacco?  Then come and taste your opera while enjoying lashings of wine at Opera Tasting 2011:  Pouring out from the Heavens on Saturday, September 17, at Minnesota Opera Center.

A five course wine tasting courtesy of Solo Vino with delicious pairings from Toast Wine Bar & Café accompany your main dish - Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artists - as they swoon you, with a little Italian on the side.  Indulge your taste buds on cadenzas, cabalettas, and arias by opera’s greatest composers as you preview Minnesota Opera’s 2011-2012 season.  Wear decadent glam to fit in with our theme of Pouring out from the Heavens:  Garden Party under the Stars. 

Tickets are $50 for Tempo members; $75 for non-members. 

Purchase your tickets by calling the Minnesota Opera Ticket Office at 612-333-6669.
Going to Opera Tasting? On Twitter?  Then you'll need these: #operatasting #tempo

Not yet a Tempo member?  Join now for only $50 to get your discounted ticket to Opera Tasting 2011, as well as innumerable benefits:  over 65% off your Minnesota Opera season tickets, access to opening night cast parties, networking events, and reciprocal benefits with opera companies nationwide. 

All proceeds from Opera Tasting 2011 further the mission of Tempo, Minnesota Opera’s young professionals group.  Tempo is a membership program that seeks to build the next generation of opera goers by providing fun and folly for both new and seasoned opera-goers ages 21-39.

Opera Tasting 2011 Sponsors

Food and Beverage Sponsors:  Solo Vino, Toast Wine Bar and Café
Media sponsor:  l’étoile


Je ne veux pas travailler...

Monday, August 8

Photo by David Bourion @ Flickr
Looking for GREENER PASTURES?  Checkout Opera America's Job Listings for job opportunities with Opera companies across the country.

Not quite sure what you're qualified for?  San Francisco Opera has created a great resource to explain the opportunities available to you - Careers in Opera.


Opera 101: Singers and Voice Types

Sunday, August 7

Nuestra publica!  Tempo is proud to present a new series:  Opera 101.  Learn the basics of Opera (capital O, please) in our short and insightful articles.

We promise not to take up too much of your time, but leave you lasting impressions with which to impress your friends at the next cocktail party or Twin's game.  As this is a new series, please leave comments as to what you would like to see in future articles.

Today's lesson:  Voice types!

Sopranos sing the highest notes in Opera, and usually play sweet (or deranged) heroines.  The soprano range is from ~Middle C to ~High F.  Don't forget:  great $opranos also get paid the mo$t!

Famous sopranos include:  Renée Fleming, Natalie Dessay, Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas, and Leontyne Price.

Watch Natalie Dessay in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor:

Mezzo-sopranos sing lower than sopranos, and often play evil characters or even young men (a "trouser role").

Famous mezzo-sopranos include Joyce DiDonato, Dolora Zajick, and Frederica von Stade.

Watch Dolora Zajick sing "Strida la vampa" from Verdi's Il Trovatore.

Counter-tenors are "male sopranos".  In old-school Italia, counter tenors were castrati.  Don't know what a castrato is?  My friend Ken will show you.

Watch David Daniels sing "Barbaro Traditor" from Vivaldi's Bajazet.

On the High Cs, anyone?  After counter-tenors, a tenor is the highest of the male vocal "fach."  Just like sopranos, tenors get paid LOTS of moola, playing heros and hot lovers.

Famous tenors?  Pavarotti is considered the greatest.  His successors?  Juan Diego Florez and Lawrence Brownlee.  Jonas Kauffman ist sehr gut too, ja.

Watch Juan Diego Florez (or JDF, as I affectionately call him) sing "Ah mes amis" in Donizetti's La fille du régiment.

Bass-baritone's are the "middle" male voice type, not quite being able to hit either the High Cs that tenors can hit or the low basso profondo notes of basses.  The men are usually quite hunky.

Current famous bass baritones include James Morris and Bryn Terfel.  Although watch out for Ryan McKinny ...

Watch Ryan McKinny sing "Die Frist ist um" from Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer.

Basses are the lowest of the low.  And that's pretty low.  So low that the Devil in Boito's Mefistofele and Gounod's Faust are both basses.

Watch René Pape sing "Le veau d'or" from Gounod's Faust.

That's all for today, folks.  Be sure to check back often for upcoming Opera 101's!


Listen to Porgy & Bess LIVE from Seattle Opera, Tonight at 9:30 CST

Saturday, August 6

Seattle Opera's production of The Gershwins' PORGY AND BESS opened last Saturday to ovations from critics and audiences alike:
  • "The show is brilliant!  The glorious production is nearly flawless. Every single person delivers soul shaking vocal performances.” –BroadwayWorld.com
  • “A stirring…splendid…tender, vivid account of a justly treasured classic.” –The Seattle Times
  • “A lavish revivial with a first-rate cast, excellent chorus, and…a treasure trove of magnificent music.” –The Vancouver Sun
  • "A lush, living piece of Americana." -Cornichon
  • “Alive and exhilarating.  Modern, jazzy and brilliant.” –Herald.Net (Everett)
  • “Rousing, zestful, consistently riveting.  Gershwin’s opera transcends formulas.” –Crosscut
Be sure to listen to this brilliant cast Saturday evening at 9:30 p.m. CST/7:30 p.m. PST on KING FM.


In the Clear to Jeer? When is Booing ok?

Friday, August 5

The New York Times offers an insightful history of booing at the opera and, in turn, questions whether this tradition transcends all of performance art:  Checkout Theater Talkback: Is It Fair to Jeer?

"Booing hit its stride in the 19th century, when opera was part circus, part blood sport. Staging conventions called for curtain calls after each act, and even the continuity-shattering practice of having singers bow following their arias. Booing, like cheering, was a passionate comment on star performers."
Rolando Villazon, Director of the only
production your Blogger-in-Chief
has ever booed.
I, your Blogger-in-Chief (BLOTUS), was "inspired" to boo at only one of the 80 or so productions I have seen - and many were indeed horrible.  This one, however, took the cake:  Rolando Villazon's directorial debut with Werther at the Lyon Opera House was so incoherent and lacking in sense that I jeered the famous tenor-turned-director when he stepped out for a bow.  

Although I was the only one with the courage (and conviction) to boo that night, I was vindicated in reading the review in Financial Times:  "What we get is a garish conceptual production – anti-realistic, anti-romantic, over-stylised – in which Schmidt and Johann are transformed into vulgar circus clowns and various characters spend time in a birdcage."

What do you think, Tempo-peeps?  Have you ever booed at an opera?  Leave your comments below!


Opera singer Susanne Mentzer takes on America's Got Talent!

Thursday, August 4

Mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer takes on America's Got Talent in a guest post for Huffpost Arts.
"When did operatic singing become something that needs to be souped-up or dumbed-down? Ok, not everyone has been exposed. I would like to add a little perspective on what it is like to make an operatic sound.
Let's just say, for starters, that one is born with this type of instrument. This is not enough. Opera singing is an athletic endeavor.
Just as an athlete is trained, we are trained in the technique of propelling a sound into a large space -- sometimes 3500-4000 seats. Many assume we are amplified. No mic. No net."
Read the full article at Huffington Post.

Be sure to also checkout Ms. Mentzer's athletic endeavor in action (a.k.a. mad vocal skills):


Tempo to Super Spectacular!: To Opera with Love

Join your fellow Tempo members at Minnesota Fringe for Super Spectacular!:  To Opera with Love, a performance by The Donovan Ensemble.

When:  Thursday, August 11 · 8:30pm - 11:30pm

Where:  Augsburg Main Stage
2211 Riverside Ave
Minneapolis, MN

After the performance, Tempo members will gather for discussion and drinks at Moto-i with members of the Crescendo Project. (Moto-i is located at 2940 Lyndale Avenue.)

A has-been/never-was actor and his sidekick reinvent classic operas including "La Boheme", "Madama Butterfly" and "Carmen" by injecting Puccini, Guns N' Roses, Taylor Swift and more.

This 60 minute comedy just completed a hit run at the Kansas City Fringe Festival this July where it won "Best of the Fringe" and was called, “A very funny show,” by The Kansas City Star and, “a joyous romp that will have you smiling and singing long after you leave the theatre.”by KCMetropolis.org.

For more information, checkout Minnesota Fringe's website.


10 Questions with Colton Michael Carothers

Wednesday, August 3

Meet Colton Michael Carothers, Tempo Board of Directors

Colton at La Scala in October 2010.
1. What’s your sign?
Virgo: “perfect is almost good enough.”

2. Favorite opera?
Very hard to pick. But these stand out as marvels: Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Puccini’s La fanciulla del West, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and Die Walküre, and Weinberg’s The Portrait.

3. If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?
I’m just starting out as a lawyer and am going to love it. Should I ever want to switch things up, I’ll try something simpler, like Ambassador to France, or General Director of the Metropolitan Opera or Opéra National de Paris. 

4. What is your favorite dessert? 
Coconut milk sticky rice with mango. Or macarons. Yumm… 

5. If you had to describe yourself using three words, what would they be?
Never stop. Period.

6. What is your favorite holiday? 

7. What was your first opera?
Verdi’s Attila in Rome.

8. If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you?
Have you seen The Last Unicorn? 

9. Are you a morning or night person?
I’m early to bed and late to rise; I’m at my prime during happy hour over cocktails (The Lawyer from Philadelphia at La Belle Vie, please). 

10. What’s your favorite thing to do in the winter?
Watching The Muppet Christmas Carol, over and over and over again…while opening presents.
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Money Ain’t a Thang: Save some Dough with YFO

OPERA America and many participating organizations are pleased to invite Tempo members to Young Friends of Opera! This North American initiative seeks to increase the opportunities for young professionals to see and hear opera. As a part of Young Friends of Opera (YFO), Tempo members enjoy special ticket offers, and have the opportunity to attend networking events in cities across the U.S. and Canada. To learn more and to view the various program offerings, go to operaamerica.org.

Admission/purchase restrictions are different with each participating organization, so please contact the company you are visiting prior to making your ticket purchases. Please remember that all ticket offers and discounts are available at the discretion of the participating company.

Participating companies include: 
The Atlanta Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Central City Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, The Dallas Opera, Edmonton Opera, El Paso Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Michigan Opera Theatre, Minnesota Opera, Mobile Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Carolina, Opera Cleveland, Opera Memphis, Opera San José, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Palm Beach Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, Virginia Opera, and Washington National Opera.

Be sure to check out the June 2011 Young Friends of Opera E-Newsletter:  June 2011 YFO E-Newsletter


Like your Opera with a side of O negative?

Tuesday, August 2

Johannes Simon/Getty Images
Johannes Simon/Getty Images
Can’t get enough True Blood?  Go to the opera!  NPR has Five Operas that are truly Bloodier than True Blood.


10 Questions with Carolina Lamas

Meet Carolina Lamas, Tempo Board of Directors 

1. What’s your sign?  

2. Favorite opera?  

3. If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?   
I would love to be a singer, cosmetologist or personal trainer instead of a lawyer.

4. What is your favorite dessert?   
Bread pudding

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

6. What is your favorite holiday?   

7. What was your first opera?  
Either Carmen or Madame Butterfly

8. If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you?   
About self-discovery played by Mila Kunis

9. Are you a morning or night person? 
Either – just not an afternoon person

10. What’s your favorite thing to do in the winter?  
Ski.  I love winter.


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