Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marcy Stonikas to Sing Final Performance of TOSCA Saturday 1/24

Marcy Stonikas will sing the title role at our final performance of Tosca this Saturday, January 24. Ausrine Stundyte, who sang on opening night and on Wednesday, January 14, has withdrawn from the production after not recovering from a cold. Stundyte was originally scheduled to share the role with Mary Elizabeth Williams, who sang her own scheduled performance on January 11 as well as the broadcast performance last Saturday, January 17, and last night's show, January 21. Williams will also sing tomorrow, Friday, January 23, as scheduled. Williams returns to Seattle Opera twice next year: as Abigaille in Nabucco and as Queen Elizabeth in Mary Stuart.

Stonikas gave Seattle Opera riveting mainstage performances of Turandot and Leonore in Fidelio in 2012 as well as Magda Sorel in The Consul in 2014. Prior to those performances Stonikas sang Tosca in an Opera Santa Barbara production directed by Josemaria Condemi, who also staged Seattle Opera's current production. She sings Fidelio in Vienna in March and Turandot in Cincinnati in July. The Chicago-born soprano is scheduled to return to Seattle as Ariadne in May’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos, a role she will share with Christiane Libor.

Seattle Opera engages two casts for major roles, so that the company can present back-to-back performances such as this weekend’s Friday and Saturday. Leading roles, like Tosca and Ariadne, are so vocally demanding the singers need at least a day off between performances.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Ausrine Stundyte, whose riveting opening night performance received strong reviews. And many thanks to Mary Elizabeth Williams and Marcy Stonikas--both graduates of Seattle Opera's Young Artists Program--for their professionalism as well as their incredible voices.

Photo of Marcy Stonikas as Tosca at Opera Santa Barbara


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mary Elizabeth Williams Also Sings Tosca Tonight 1/21

Mary Elizabeth Williams will sing the role of Tosca at tonight's performance. Unfortunately, the cold which prevented Ausrine Stundyte from singing Saturday night's performance hasn't let up. Many thanks to Ms. Williams for again taking on the role at this evening's performance. Photo of Mary Elizabeth Williams as Tosca by Elise Bakketun

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Greer Grimsley Shares Seattle Opera Memories

The other night we snuck into Greer Grimsley’s dressing room—after Tosca had given him her fatal kiss of death—and showed him a series of photos chronicling the many fine performances he’s given us at Seattle Opera. Greer shared memories of the wonderful colleagues who appear in these photos and spoke about some of the challenges of bringing great opera to the stage.

1994 LOHENGRIN
Photos: Gary Smith

Ha ha ha ha! This was my first show here! I remember it vividly; I was so excited to get to work here in Seattle. I loved this costume, which Marty [Pakledinaz] designed—and I remember the robotic swan, and Ben [Heppner, who sang Lohengrin], and Gordon [Hawkins] as the Herald, who was awesome. That prop sword weighed as much as a real broadsword. It always bothers me when people look awkward handling props, so I always had that sword, carrying it with one arm, so it would look natural. That was my first Wagner role, and it’s all thanks to Speight [Jenkins]. He started me down this road. I was supposed to share the role, but the other fellow got sick, so Speight asked if I could do all the performances. I ended up singing 5 Telramunds in 7 days, including opening night and a matinee the next day. I was tired, physically, after that, but I remember saying to myself: “Okay...I think I can do this repertoire.” It was a fateful moment for me.

1995 CARMEN
Photo: Gary Smith

The next year, Speight had me come do Escamillo, that was fun. I love this little tango-move—that’s in the Toreador song, I’m pretending I’ve got the red cape, the muleta, and the bull is coming in very close.

1998 TRISTAN UND ISOLDE
Photo: Gary Smith

Here I am as Kurwenal, with Ben Heppner, on that amazing set for Francesca [Zambello]’s production, which was like being on board the Titanic. Ben and I had become great friends when we did Lohengrin, and here it really was a case of art mirroring life, because that was his first Tristan, and I was able to help him through the ordeal a bit as Kurwenal helps Tristan.

1998 FAUST
Photo: Gary Smith

Again it was Speight who said, “You need to sing Méphistophélès.” And I had such a great time! I don’t get to do this character often enough. There’s such humor in it. Bernard Uzan directed this production, and he gave me great insight into the character. It was really a gift, working with Bernard on this.

2001 TOSCA
Photo: Gary Smith

This is from the first time I did Tosca in Seattle, with Carol Vaness. What an honor! It was a thrill to do it with her.

2001 GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG
Photo: Gary Smith

I sang Donner and Gunther the first time we did the ‘Green’ Ring in Seattle. I love this scene, from the end of Act 1 of Götterdämmerung, because it’s supposed to look like Siegfried has transformed into Gunther, and it never does. But [stage director] Stephen [Wadsworth] had the idea to let me mouth the words and have the tenor singing into a cut-out, he’s behind that wall. It worked brilliantly. One reviewer didn’t understand that it wasn’t me singing, and I got a review that in that scene my high notes were a little tight!

2003 PARSIFAL
Photo: Rozarii Lynch

Parsifal, the first opera in McCaw Hall, was also a great production. I haven’t sung this role, Amfortas, too often—they don’t do Parsifal a lot—but it’s a great role. Bob Israel’s designs were fun, as you can see—here I am holding the holy grail.

2003 PARSIFAL
Photo: Chris Bennion

In this one you can see I have this prosthetic wound that will never heal. That’s for the scene where, as Amfortas, I rip off my bandages and cry out, “Let me die!!!!”

2004 FANCIULLA
Photo: Rozarii Lynch

I sang my first Jack Rance here in Seattle, too! I’ve done it 4 or 5 times since then. What American singer would complain about getting to wear a leather coat and a leather vest with a star on it and a sidearm! Every American boy wants to be a cowboy. Bernard directed this show, too.

2005 DAS RHEINGOLD
Photo: Bill Mohn

Ewa Podles was wonderful as Erda. She was really a very nice lady, I really enjoyed working with her.

2005 DAS RHEINGOLD
Photo: Bill Mohn

There’s Peter [Kazaras] as Loge, in 2005, the only time I did it with him. That was great fun. The very first thing I ever sang with Peter was Orpheus in the Underworld, in Santa Fe, a long time ago.

At this moment I’m keeping everybody from running after Freia, who’s just been kidnapped by the giants. You have to get the spear at just the right balance point in order for that to work. And the way the stage floor is this uneven mountainside, my balance is always a little bit off anyway, so it’s hard to get it right. Plus, that coat is really heavy!

2005 SIEGFRIED
Photo: Rozarii Lynch

There’s Tom [Harper] as Mime! We had a great rapport in that Riddle Game scene. He was a wonderful Mime.

2005 DIE WALKÜRE
Photo: Chris Bennion

And there’s Jane [Eaglen], we’re doing Wotan’s monologue. I never think of the monologue as a solo piece of music, I think of it as a duet. Brünnhilde plays such a big role in it. I love this picture of us together—she’s there with me, through my pain.

2008 TOSCA
Photo: Rozarii Lynch

Here I am as Scarpia, with Steven Cole as Spoletta. I’m wearing the same coat I have on now, which still fits quite nicely! Steven was an amazing Spoletta. He played him so concentrated; everything was exact.

2010 TRISTAN UND ISOLDE
Photo: Rozarii Lynch

This is the Tristan und Isolde that Peter [Kazaras] directed, with Cliff [Forbis]! I’ve done a lot of Tristans with Cliff. I love singing Kurwenal with him—he’s a great colleague, and he sings the snot out of it. And he also is very in it—he acts it so well, he makes it easier for me.

2012 FIDELIO
Photo: Elise Bakketun

Chris Alexander updated Fidelio, setting it in contemporary Europe somewhere. I’m getting ready to shoot Florestan here, but I’m stopped by Fidelio holding the gun to me. I’ve worked with Chris Alexander two or three times, I’ve loved it every time.

2013 DAS RHEINGOLD
Photo: Alan Alabastro

Here’s a great moment: when I take the ring away from Richard [Paul Fink] as Alberich. I’m so focused on the ring, I don’t even notice that he’s there. Before the end of his aria, there’s one word he sings that shakes me out of the trance I’m in. just looking at this photo, I couldn’t tell you which year it was taken—we’ve been doing it together for ten years now!


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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mary Elizabeth Williams to Sing Tonight's Broadcast of Tosca

Mary Elizabeth Williams will sing the role of Tosca at tonight's performance of Puccini's opera, which will be broadcast locally on Classic KING FM 98.1 and throughout the world on www.king.org. Ausrine Stundyte, who was scheduled to sing tonight, is indisposed. Many thanks to Ms. Williams, whose performance as Tosca last Sunday was described as "riveting in all its nuances" by the Seattle Times, for taking on the role at this evening's performance.

Three performances of Tosca remain; Mary Elizabeth Williams is scheduled to sing Friday, January 23 and Ausrine Stundyte on Wednesday, January 21 and Saturday, January 24.

Photo of Mary Elizabeth Williams as Tosca by Elise Bakketun


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Thursday, January 8, 2015

First Photos from Tosca

We had a great rehearsal of Tosca last night at Seattle Opera! Enjoy these photos taken at the final dress by our expert photographer, Elise Bakketun.
Lithuanian soprano Ausrine Stundyte, who made her Seattle Opera debut as Madama Butterfly in 2012, returns as Tosca. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

Greer Grimsley returns to Seattle Opera in one of his favorite roles, Baron Scarpia. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

“You are so skilled at making me fall in love with you.” Cavaradossi (Stefano Secco) woos Tosca (Ausrine Stundyte) in the church scene of Act One. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

Scarpia (Greer Grimsley) and Spoletta (Alasdair Elliott) find a clue, to the consternation of the Sacristan (Peter Strummer). (Elise Bakketun, photo)

Tosca (Ausrine Stundyte) tries to comfort Cavaradossi (Stefano Secco) after his interrogation. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

“Traitor! I’ll see you hang!” Scarpia (Greer Grimsley) is angry that Spoletta (Alasdair Elliott) has failed to catch Angelotti. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

The Sacristan (Peter Strummer) shares the news that Bonaparte’s forces have been routed at the battle of Marengo. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

Scarpia (Greer Grimsley) fans the flames of Tosca (Ausrine Stundyte’s) jealousy with the fan of the Marchesa Attavanti. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

“Tosca, you make me forget God!” Scarpia (Greer Grimsley) kisses the hand of the Cardinal (Rob Martin) at the end of Act One. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

Scarpia (Greer Grimsley) duels with Tosca (Ausrine Stundyte) in their Act Two confrontation. (Elise Bakketun, photo)

“Speak to me as you spoke before; the sound of your voice is so comforting.” Cavaradossi (Stefano Secco) and Tosca (Ausrine Stundyte) in the final scene. (Elise Bakketun, photo)


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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

AIDAN LANG on Tosca

Seattle Opera’s new General Director, Aidan Lang, is getting excited about our production of Tosca, which opens this weekend. We discussed Tosca with Aidan, who has a long history with this great work. He has much to say about this masterpiece, and most of all he’s eager to find out what Tosca means to you.

How should opera newbies prepare for Tosca?
Tosca is one of those operas that you don’t need to do any prep for. I always envy someone who has never seen one of the great operas before, because if you don’t know what’s going to happen, you’re in the privileged position of receiving the full stomach-churning intensity of this piece and enjoying that visceral experience.

Tosca is a thriller! When you go into a thriller, watch it on TV or a movie, you know there’s gonna be a body count. Blood and thunder is so integral to the experience of this piece. And it’s plot-driven and very clear what is happening. Tosca is fundamentally a play which has been set to music, and just as you wouldn’t prep for a play, you don’t really need to prep for this. It’s not like getting to know the text of one of the Wagner operas, which will enhance your understanding.

Seattle Opera's 1986 Tosca (Matthew McVay, photo)
 Is it fair to call Tosca a melodrama?
Yes, that’s the appeal of Sardou’s play, Puccini’s source for the story. It’s an opera waiting to be written, really. Melodrama was one of the theatrical forms of the time; 19th century melodrama means theatrical action described by music. Plays had music playing consistently. You would act to music, which is what happens here. And it’s very strong stuff.

The beauty of this opera is all the protagonists are just thrown into this nightmare. That’s the awful, gripping part of it: how events can spiral out of control. You could innocently arrive as a visitor to a country with a brutal political regime and find yourself swallowed up. All Cavaradossi does wrong is to hide a political prisoner. And Tosca is simply sucked down into this nightmare. That’s the fascination, the horror of the thing: how normal people find themselves embroiled in events over which they have no control. And there’s no escape. The audience knows that—you understand, there will not be a happy ending here.

Raina Kabaivanska (Tosca) and Louis Quilico
(Scarpia) at Seattle Opera in 1977 (Des Gates, photo)
Is Tosca a tragedy?
I don’t think describes it. Madama Butterfly is the closest Puccini came to writing tragedy. Butterfly’s death comes about because of something more profound: her understanding of the hopelessness of her situation. Her death has an almost symbolic nature, a mini-emblem for Japanese society. Whereas Tosca’s death is locked firmly into the events of this plot.


What motivates Scarpia?
Power. But keep in mind, he’s there to do a job. Let’s differentiate how he deals with Cavaradossi from how he deals with Tosca. With Cavaradossi he is carrying out the law. Of course, today we look back with horror at the cruelty of a world where torture is perfectly legal. But if you were to ask Scarpia, he’d say he’s just trying to do his job. He needs information in order to catch Angelotti, and the law provides for torture, so he’s doing what’s necessary.

Of course he manipulates his authority and power to fulfill his lust for Tosca. He abuses power for his own ends, and I think what he’s lost is the moral compass which differentiates between pushing the boundaries of the law to achieve his ends and a willful disregard for other people’s rights in pursuing his individual lust. But it’s very true to life. Are there people in this world who would manipulate power? Absolutely, we see it all the time.

What makes a soprano a great Tosca?
You need a singer with a blazing intensity, both musically and dramatically. You need a voice which is very flexible, able to do both drama and musical elegance. At the same time, a great Tosca needs humility before God. The clearest motivating fact for Tosca is her devout Catholicism. She’s aware that God is forgiving, and maybe she manipulates that to a certain extent. But she’s fundamentally a very simple person who suddenly finds herself in the spotlight. And completely out of her depth when confronted with a monster like Scarpia. So you need a very subtle actress!
Greer Grimsley (Scarpia), Lisa Daltirus (Tosca), and Frank Poretta, Jr. (Cavaradossi) at Seattle Opera in 2008
(Rozarii Lynch, photo)

Were it not for Scarpia, would Cavaradossi and Tosca have ended up married and settled down?
They have a stormy relationship. He might get a bit fed up with her schoolgirl-like jealousy. I’m not sure it’s a marriage made in heaven, really.
Michele Capalbo (Tosca) and Brandon Jovanovich (Cavaradossi) at Seattle Opera in 2008
(Rozarii Lynch, photo)

What’s the trick to directing Tosca?
It’s an example of what I call the sugar-and-honey principle. That is, if you put sugar in your tea, you don’t also put honey. The danger with this sort of opera is that you over-egg the pudding. The intense emotion is already there; and if you allow the performers to exaggerate that passion, that emotion, you get something which is a bit too much. It’s actually why some people say they don’t like Puccini: they find it too emotional. I’m always puzzled by that. How could anyone not like such well-written pieces? But if there’s this surfeit of emotion musically, and then it gets duplicated in the acting, it becomes almost unbelievable. So the trick is to pull back the acting a bit, which allows the emotion in the music to speak, and then just find key moments when you turn it up.

Take Scarpia, for example. You can play this character in a very detached and laconic way, as if he’s so almost amused by the power he has, and it’s actually very easy, that this is almost a routine day for him. And just finding the odd moment when he lets his guard down and really lets his savagery come out. You get something which is actually far more sinister than someone who goes at it 100% from the first moment to the last.
Greer Grimsley (Scarpia) and company in 2008
(Rozarii Lynch, photo)

What kind of production does justice to Tosca?
In recent years I’ve seen more productions set in Mussolini’s Fascist time than I’ve seen productions set in 1800! This opera updates very well. But because Tosca is driven by its plot—and that’s great—it doesn’t really work to attempt a radical deconstruction of the piece, that is, taking the emotions and thought patterns to a more universal plane.

We’re using a very historic set, which will give us a glimpse of how theater looked in the early 1960s. With a sense of history on the stage it will enhance the historic background to the opera. The brilliant paint-work of our scenery, by the Italian school of Ercole Sormani, will give us a real sense of accurate place, which funnily enough sometimes you can get better by painting it than attempting to recreate it three-dimensionally. This way, you understand the monumentality of the church in Act One, but once you’ve taken it in, you focus back on the performers.
Peter Strummer (Sacristan) and chorus in 2008
(Rozarii Lynch, photo)

Discuss Tosca in person with Seattle Opera and the artists at our post-show talk backs, held in the Allen Room after every performance. 
 
Photo of Aidan Lang, at top, by Brandon Patoc. This interview was also published as a podcast, which can be downloaded from Seattle Opera's SoundCloud account.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Get to Know Seattle Opera's New Community Programs Manager

There's someone special we'd like you to meet: Nick Malinowski, Seattle Opera's New Community Programs Manager! Get ready to see a lot more of him at McCaw Hall, and in all of our learning and engagement programs across the Pacific Northwest. Nick will manage our adult learning programs, plan a variety of community engagement events, and give opera talks throughout the Puget Sound region. You may also see him out and about as the company's Education Department liaison to affinity groups such as Wagner and More, BRAVO! Club, and the Seattle Opera Guild. We are beyond excited to welcome this outstanding educator, musician, opera-lover and all-around fascinating guy to Seattle Opera. Follow Nick on Twitter @malinopera. And if you see him, go up and say hi!

Tell me a little bit more about your first taste of opera. I hear a pig may have been involved.

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, Farmer Appreciation Day is one of the highlights of the year. Fireworks, tractor pulls, a parade, and, of course, a hog calling contest are all part of the celebration. I was 13 years when, for some reason, The Barber of Seville popped into my head as I stepped up to call the hogs. Apparently, my rendition of “Pigaro! Pigaro! Pigaro!” attracted more sows than anyone else’s calls of “sooey pig.” My trophy from that hog calling contest is the first award I ever won with my voice.

You’re a former college basketball star! Any idea how we could get more sports fans to bring their passionate selves to the opera? In general, how can we cultivate new audiences for our art?
That’s the $64,000 question. What is alluring about sports? For me it is, in order of importance, competition, camaraderie and kinship, high drama, and universality and accessibility. Competition is a compelling part of the developing career of any singer. How many Seahawks fans are aware of that? What are the parallels between the International Wagner Competition and the NFC playoffs? Who could deny, upon seeing the film The Audition, that operatic competition is any less compelling than the pennant race?

While earning his BA in music at Grinnell College, Nick scored over 1,000 points as a member of the highest scoring team in college basketball history! 
Sports alliances create camaraderie and kinship, and the result is pride in one’s team. Being the best at something is a quality that appeals to all sports fans. How are we making known those things at which Seattle Opera is the best? Also, how are we creating a sense of community ownership of the opera company, such that it’s not an isolated entity but an organization in which everyone in Seattle takes personal pride and through which people feel and display camaraderie? Can we get people to fly and to wear the colors of Seattle Opera like they would a Sounders flag or a Russell Wilson jersey?

Sports are also universal and accessible in such a way that barriers to entry are almost non-existent. Opera exists on almost the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve never been to a Storm game, but I bet I know what I should wear, how much money I should bring, and how and when to cheer when I do go. Opera can be made more accessible by connecting it to experiences with which people are already familiar, taking it out of the concert hall venue, eliminating the language barrier when appropriate, and, of course, providing good education to make it meaningful to all comers.


Nick singing the role of Giuseppe in La Traviata. 

You earned your BA in music and then went to The New School's Mannes College of Music for your Master's in Voice. How did you discover your passion for singing?
I have loved to sing for as long as I can remember. One of my first memories is singing “Take Me out to the Ballgame” in the bath as a toddler. My mom conducted the youth choir at our church, and I sang in that choir alongside my brothers. I can link a genuine passion for singing, though, directly to an annual event my family began attending the year I turned 12. The Madison Chamber Symphony Orchestra held a Messiah Sing Out concert at Christmastime. Featured soloists sang the arias and recitatives, but the congregation got to sing all the chorus numbers. The first year my family attended, I sat in the balcony – where the mixed (aka “can’t carry a tune”) singers sat. The next year, I insisted I be able to sit away from my family in the bass section on the ground level. The experience blew me away. Singing Messiah was formative in a way few other musical experiences have been.

What was the most difficult part about your Teach for America experience?
I taught students from the poorest county in one of the poorest states in the country. The school in which I taught had precisely zero students score at least proficient on the state exam the year before I arrived. The cards were stacked against my students. The hardest thing, though, was the feeling that, for the first six months, I was failing my students. We had so much catching up to do and I felt like I was barely treading water. Once I eventually developed the skills I needed to be an effective teacher, my students began to achieve great things. I taught second grade that first year – and I’m so proud of the fact that those second graders will graduate from high school this spring, many of them with multiple college acceptances.

As you know, Seattle Opera loves Wagner. I hear you have experience singing tenor arias of his? What are your thoughts on this important composer?Wagner is important to me personally because two of his arias are the tools by which I made the transition from bass baritone to tenor. Starting with Siegmund’s “Winterstürme” from Die Walküre, and eventually moving on (and up) with Lohengrin’s “In fernem Land,” I worked for over a year to develop the technique and capacity to sing heldentenor repertoire. This was the most musically rewarding year of my life, and I owe so much of that to Wagner’s incomparable music. I also know what it takes to perform Wagner – exceptional technique, massive sound, extreme attention to score and text, cultural awareness, etc. It is no easy task.

What was your proudest accomplishment during your time at KIPP Delta Public Schools?
This is easy. My proudest accomplishment was having my elementary choir accepted to perform at Walt Disney World and then raising the money over an entire year to make it happen. We subsidized the entire trip for 34 students, many of whom had never been further than an hour from home.

Nick and his wife Julia on their wedding day. 
Throughout your career and education, you’ve bounced back and forth between the worlds of opera and education. Now, you’re going to fulfill both of those passions equally. What specifically are you most looking forward to about coming here?
Playing some of Seattle’s incredible golf courses. No, I do love golf, but I’m more excited about what I already notice is happening in my brain. I wake up thinking about Tosca – and not just hearing and analyzing the music, but wondering, “How can I teach this? How can I make people care about this?” In order to truly care about learning something, a person needs to believe three key messages: 1. You can do this. 2. This is important. 3. I’m here to help. I cannot wait to make people believe that they can appreciate and understand opera, that it is an important art form for their life and time, and that I will do whatever it takes to help them love opera as much as I do.



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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Teen Opera Players Visit Piano Museum

By Elisabeth Williams
A 16-year-old classical music lover and Seattle Opera Education workshop participant 

My appreciation for music blossomed even further last week, when the workshop I'm in, Seattle Opera's Magic of Mozart Teen Opera Players, visited the home of University of Washington Music Professor Dr. George Bozarth. Roughly 25 of us crammed into a room full of pianos as we looked on excitedly. Dr. Bozarth and Tamara Friedman have collected pianos up to 300 years old, all housed in the Seattle Early Keyboard Museum. The pianos ranged from a foot-and-a-half long keyboard, to those closely resembling modern grand pianos. But the most wonderful thing about this museum was that the pianos weren't behind a Plexiglas wall. Most were tuned to the correct period sound and ready to be played! 

Harpsichord
Our group listened intently as Dr. Bozarth talked about the history of each piano, and did a demonstration for each one. Starting in the early 1700s, the first keyboard instruments were closer to harpsichords, probably starting with the archicembalo (a name meaning harp harpsichord).

Archicembalo
During the Classical Period, pianos had keys that were about half the height and 1/5 the weight of modern counterparts. Some early pianos had switched colors of black and white keys, as well as an occasional knee pedal. When played, the pianos all sounded unique. My favorite piano, the fortepiano, had a bright, clear tone.

Fortepiano 
The piano’s wonderful staccato abilities influenced many of Mozart’s brilliant melodic works and comedies. Pianos started possessing deeper, warmer, more sustained tones as time progressed, including higher tuning standards.

Participants in Seattle Opera's Teen Opera Players "Magic of Mozart" workshop meet George Bozarth, a professor of Music History and Theory at UW. Bozarth specializes in 19th-century studies, especially the music of Johannes Brahms and musical life in Boston. He is also interested in the early history of the piano. Mark Allwein photo
While I have always appreciated orchestral music, I haven’t had much experience learning about music without words. By learning about pianos and how they influenced compositions, I confirmed my belief that one must marry an instrument’s natural abilities with emotion, as is so brilliantly integrated by composers.


As we concluded our tour, some students got the invaluable gift of performing their Lieder with a piano from the period the song was actually written. Finishing the bites of our kindly-baked muffins, we left the museum not only with knowledge of pianos, but how important instruments are to any composition.


Note from Sarah Potter, Music Administrator at Seattle Opera:
Dr. Bozarth and his wife Tamara Friedman have been a delight to work with for their generosity and infectious passion for their collection of period keyboard instruments. We first met them in January of 2011 when the maestro for our Barber of Seville, Dean Williamson, wanted a historically correct instrument for the show. Dr. Bozarth agreed to provide a forte piano as a personal favor to Maestro Williamson. During the course of that production our top-notch stage crew demonstrated that we could take proper care of their instruments; so now we are fortunate to be able to rent all of our period keyboards from them. Most recently Maestro Wedow played a forte piano in Don Giovanni and our upcoming Semele will feature both a virginal and harpsichord. When I called to inquire if Dr. Bozarth even had a virginal, he replied “I have two you can choose from!”


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