Thursday, October 31, 2019

Soldier stories that inspired an opera

Opera Memphis production of The Falling and the Rising. Photo by Ziggy Mack.
The Falling and the Rising is a new American opera. It explores the sacrifice, duty, and human connection experienced by members of the armed services and is based on interviews and true stories from dozens of Army veterans. The story is told by an unnamed female soldier. After being injured in a roadside attack, she is placed in an induced coma. In her dreamlike state she encounters fellow service members who share their stories with her.

Below, meet three of the real soldiers who helped inspire the opera. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Audition notice: Seattle Opera Seeks Dancers and Child Acrobats

Elise Bakketun photo
Seattle Opera is committed to racial equity and to dismantling historic barriers of oppression. People of Color are encouraged to apply and audition for all opportunities listed below.

Praise for Cinderella

Miriam Costa-Jackson (Clorinda), Peter Kalman (Don Magnifico), and Maya Gour (Tisbe). Philip Newton photo
"Two exciting casts, a solid score, and staging as speedy as a runaway train: Seattle Opera audiences had a rollicking good time this past weekend with Rossini’s Cinderella."
The Seattle Times

"The audience at Seattle Opera's Cinderella knew from the first note of the overture that this evening was going to be fun."
Seattle Gay News 

"A performance to relish in a production that produced continuous laughs."
Opera Wire

"It's a charming take on a classic tale. Seattle Opera's production of Cinderella brings toe-tapping tunes, bright ensembles, and colorful characters together for an enchanting evening. [The] ultimate rags-to-riches show."

"It’s the concept and imagination of stage director Lindy Hume which makes this production so delicious, ably abetted by production designer Dan Potra, lighting with some wonderful effects by Matthew Marshall and the choreography of associate stage director Dan Pelzig. Not least are the apt supertitles of Jonathan Dean which caught each nuance of the libretto, which might otherwise have been missed, and frequently gained laughs for themselves."

"Wow. Cinderella was phenomenal. Great show, @SeattleOpera. Beautiful performance and good for plenty of laughs too!"
@thybeardedbard via Twitter, opening night 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Cinderella: Director's notes

Wallis Giunta as Cinderella in the production directed by Lindy Hume. Photo courtesy of Giunta
By Lindy Hume, Stage Director of Seattle Opera's Upcoming Cinderella 

It’s nearly two hundred years after Rossini, a precociously brilliant 25-year-old celebrity, wrote Cinderella (La Cenerentola) in three weeks. He wrote it over Christmas, and it opened on January 20, 1817. Two centuries later, notwithstanding the speed with which it was written, and the worldwide fame of The Barber of Seville, for me Cinderella, or Goodness Triumphant (the full original title) is his most wonderful creation.

Rossini’s Cinderella not only has a unique place in the history of opera in Australia—my homeland—the story of Cinderella has embedded itself in the Australian psyche, as it has all over the world. The upcoming production you’ll see at Seattle Opera seeks to respect two centuries of this opera’s performance history, while referencing popular contemporary entertainment styles such as the rom-com, the sitcom, and music theater—vernacular styles that speak to today’s audiences.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Cinderella: Ancient Story, Global Tale

The Rough-Face Girl, (1992) retold by Rafe Martin, tells the Cinderella story of a disfigured Algonquin girl who wins the heart of a mysterious being. Illustration by David Shannon.

By Michelle H. Martin, PhD 

[ You can also listen to a conversation on global Cinderella stories between Dr. Martin and Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean on the Seattle Opera podcast

“Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons exist but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”—Neil Gaiman, author

When you hear the name Cinderella, do the lyrics “Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” come to mind, along with doting mice and a kindly fairy godmother? For many viewers the Disneyfication of this folktale has eclipsed its rich global variations, leaving only a weak and toothless residue of these fascinating age-old stories, some of which would make Disney’s fairy godmother blush.

Cinderella tales, according to folklorist and children’s book writer Judy Sierra, “can be found in more parts of the world, told in more languages and in more different ways than any other folktale.” Estimates range from 350 to over 3,000 variants. The Aarne-Thompson index of tale types identifies two main Cinderella structures: one with a jealous and destructive stepmother, which is most familiar to contemporary audiences; and another featuring a father whose incestuous desire for his daughter after the death of her mother motivates the child to flee.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Jessye Norman: legacy

Matt Campbell—AFP/Getty Images
By Naomi André, Seattle Opera Scholar in Residence 

There are so many things to think about as we celebrate the legacy of Jessye Norman’s life. Her passing this week came as such an unwelcomed shock to me not because of anything I knew about her health, but because as I entered adulthood in the 1980s, Jessye Norman had always been someone I could count on to be there. Many people who know her roles in opera or heard her perform live, know of the velvety, warm sonic soundscape of her voice. But it was much more than just a voice—she embodied a presence for me, and, I suspect, for many others.

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Wallis Giunta (Cinderella) and Jonathan Michie (Dandini). La Cenerentola, Oper Leipzig © Kirsten Nijhof
By Jonathan Dean 

La Cenerentola is Cinderella...almost. 

Rossini’s opera differs from most of the world’s many Cinderella stories because of a few key features: there is no magic, the traditional evil stepmother and fairy godmother are replaced with male counterparts, and the prince identifies Cinderella thanks to a bracelet, not a slipper. And then, of course, there’s Dandini, the prince’s clever and mischievous servant. He isn’t part of the standard Cinderella-story cast list. What is he doing in this opera? He provides a much-needed reality check; while in real life there are people as virtuous as Cenerentola, or as awful as Magnifico, mostly there are people like Dandini.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Opera’s sensational sisters bring sibling revelry to McCaw Hall

Marina, Miriam and Ginger Costa-Jackson. Photo by Amy Fae 
Seattle Opera presents ‘Three Singing Sisters’ concert featuring Ginger, Marina, and Miriam Costa-Jackson 
One night only: Nov. 2
McCaw Hall
Tickets start at $35

For the Costa-Jackson sisters, singing isn’t just a passion, it’s a family business. Ginger, Marina, and Miriam Costa-Jackson—all recent or upcoming performers with Seattle Opera—are offering a special, one-night-only concert at McCaw Hall on Nov. 2. Audiences can expect an entertaining mix of opera, Broadway, and Neapolitan hits from these glamorous Sicilian-Americans. Each a rising star in her own right, the singers are especially memorable when performing together.

“Technically we have three different voice types: mezzo, full-lyric soprano, and coloratura soprano,” said Ginger Costa-Jackson. “But our different colors and strengths complement each other and create a very natural blend. It’s like a Neapolitan ice cream, except we are Sicilian!"

Friday, September 27, 2019

A message to our community from President Brian Marks

Seattle Opera's civic home, The Opera Center. Sean Airhart photo
Dear Seattle Opera Community,

Before a new arts season ramps up this fall, I want to take a moment to reflect on the past year. As you know, Seattle Opera has a proud history as a change-maker in the arts. It was our founding artistic director Glynn Ross who said in 1969, “We are not custodians of the old order. We are not curators of establishment art. We must be oriented towards the future. It is our business to improve the quality of life. We had better become positive and not just stand by.”

Seattle Opera continues to hold those words true to our daily work fifty years later. We tell stories to celebrate our rich traditions, while speaking to our world today. We use opera to engage in civic dialogue with our diverse community.

Here are a few recent examples of Seattle Opera’s success that I’d love to share with you.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cinderella lights up the stage with vocal fireworks

Wallis Giunta as Cinderella. Photo courtesy of Opera Leipzig 
When stage director Lindy Hume last worked at Seattle Opera, her powerful Rigoletto sparked important #MeToo conversations with a story intended to be devoid of hope. Next up, she’s bringing something completely different to McCaw Hall—a sparkling fairy tale that families will fall in love with. 

“When Rossini composed his Cinderella (La Cenerentola), the alternative title was Goodness Triumphant,” Hume said. “Cinderella ends in a blaze of optimism, which is sorely needed in these times. This show is joyful, quirky, and led by a feisty heroine whose defining character is her goodness.”

Hume’s upcoming production stars audience favorite Ginger Costa-Jackson (Carmen in Seattle Opera’s 2019 Carmen) alternating with Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta (company debut) as the title character. Inspired by the whimsical worlds of Charles Dickens and Tim Burton, Hume sets the familiar classic in and around an emporium filled with multi-level sets, unexpected twists, and Victorian-era costumes, including two jewel-encrusted ball gowns for the heroine. But this fairytale isn’t Disney