Monday, April 12, 2021

Meet the Artist: Randall Scotting


Countertenor Randall Scotting returns to Seattle Opera as The Refugee in Flight following his debut in Semele ('15). Later this year, he performs the title role in Cavalli’s Eliogabalo with San Francisco’s West Edge Opera, and then he records a solo album of castrato arias with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in London. The Colorado native studied vocal performance at the Juilliard Opera Center and the University of Colorado. He was also awarded a PhD from London’s Royal College of Music for his thesis on 18th century Italian opera.

We last saw you here for your role as Athamas in Semele (‘15) with Stephanie Blythe, Brenda Rae, and Alek Shrader among others. This was also your SO debut. What was that experience like?
It was great! I love that piece, and what an amazing production and colleagues. My role in Semele was much smaller; by contrast, I get to sing quite a bit in Flight. It’s wonderful to be back in Seattle.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Flight takes wing in the press

Kyle Seago films Randall Scotting as 

"The Seattle Opera has produced an amazing show in Flightand during a pandemic no less. Make your reservation for this destination soon." — Eclectic Arts

"A unique streaming treat for both AvGeeks and fans of opera." —The Runaway Girl Network 

"Before seeing this production, I was already of the view that Flight is a masterpiece. This film does the opera full justice: hats off to Seattle Opera for delivering it in such style. And if anyone thinks the plot is too fatuous and improbable, they should look up the name Mehran Karimi Nasseri, whose real-life story is at its heart – and in this case, truth is even stranger than fiction."—Bachtrack 

"We know we’re in for an acting treat when we see Sharleen Joynt’s overpoweringly supercilious, impeccably turned out Controller, prowling her control tower and pulling the strings; we see her arched eyebrows and penetrating stare in close-up as she delivers stratospheric coloratura." —Bachtrack

Monday, April 5, 2021

Meet the Artist: Maestro Viswa Subbaraman

Maestro Viswa Subbaraman 

Internationally acclaimed American conductor, Viswa Subbaraman makes his Seattle Opera debut conducting Flight. The West Texas native recently served as the Artistic Director/Music Director of the Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee. During his tenure at the Skylight, he has expanded the company’s repertoire and placed it at the forefront of the industry in producing contemporary opera and reimaging traditional works. Prior to Skylight, he was the Artistic Director/Founder of Opera Vista, Houston’s innovative contemporary opera company.

What most excites you about this upcoming production of Flight? What has the process been like?
Having the opportunity to create an opera film. We are not simply creating a stage production for camera. We’re envisioning this work as if you’d be seeing it at a movie theater rather than an opera house.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Your Flight is Now Boarding

with Director Brian Staufenbiel

Director Brian Staufenbiel (center). Philip Newton photo

Operas, like airports, are filled with stories.

Some are familiar, some violent, some funny. Like airports, they are crammed with messy human lives journeying to a final destination. To push the metaphor, operas can transport us all over the world and connect us to what is happening now. Indeed, today we’re seeing more and more new operatic stories that are relevant, inclusive, and speak to our modern world—even to the point of setting an opera about a true story that took place in an airport. Jonathan Dove’s Flight is a funny, poignant, and thought-provoking exploration of colliding souls, each of whom is looking for something better, searching for that elusive dream state we sometimes call happiness. At the heart of the show is a story inspired by that of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian refugee who lived in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris for almost eighteen years—from August 1988 until July 2006.

Notes from Composer Jonathan Dove

© Marshall Light Studio

I had written the opera I wanted to see, but I had no idea how an audience would react.

Unlike many operas, mine wasn’t based on a hit play or a best-selling novel or blockbuster movie (although six years later, the same true story would inspire Spielberg’s The Terminal)—and while I hoped people would relate to the experiences of a group of travelers stranded in an airport, I didn’t know if they would laugh at any of the jokes, or enjoy the music.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The story of Jonathan Dove's Flight

Tina (Karen Vuong) and Bill (Joshua Kohl). Philip Newton photo
Full of intense drama, humor, pathos, anguish—and profound beauty—Flight was written in 1998 by composer Jonathan Dove and librettist April De Angelis for the Glyndebourne Festival. The work has been performed and is much beloved all over the world. Seattle Opera's April 2021 presentation is both Flight’s Seattle premiere, and the first time it’s been reimagined for film. Learn more about the characters and story below.

MEET THE CHARACTERS 

Refugee has been living in the airport for weeks. He cannot leave the airport because he does not have a passport or other documents to allow him to enter the country legally.

Controller
 is an omniscient presence at the airport who sees everything going on. 

Bill and Tina are a married couple going on holiday to try to rediscover romance in their relationship. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Opera takes wing at The Museum of Flight

Sarah Larsen (Stewardess) and Joseph Lattanzi (Steward) and the Museum of Flight's T.A. Wilson Great Gallery. Philip Newton photo 

Seattle Opera films new production of Flight amidst historic, vintage aircrafts. Streaming April 23–25, 2021 for $35. seattleopera.org/flight

Picture yourself at the airport: the excited rush of people coming and going. The roar of planes taking off. Familiar sights of suitcases, pilots, people lining up, and—the enchanting sounds of opera?! In Seattle Opera’s Flight, a unique collaboration with The Museum of Flight takes pandemic programming to new heights. The streaming opera created by composer Jonathan Dove and librettist April De Angelis was filmed on location at the museum, across several exhibits of the T.A. Wilson Great Gallery. Historic aircrafts are suspended in a 6-story exhibit—a jaw-dropping set that wouldn’t be possible in McCaw Hall. Other parts of the museum easily replicate the look and feel of a real-life airport.

What's at stake when Asian Americans are invisible?

Kathy Hsieh (center) sitting between Angel "Moonyeka" Alviar-Langley (left) and Matthew Ozawa (right) during the 2017 panel discussion "Asian Arts Leaders Respond to Madame Butterfly." Jacob Lucas photo 

As "forever foreigners" in their own country, Asian Americans h
ave often had little say in how they've been represented in mainstream theater and opera. In our July 2017 panel discussion, “Asian Arts Leaders Respond to Madame Butterfly,” Seattle Opera collaborator Kathy Hsieh provided a moving, and personal testimonial on cultural appropriation, invisibility and powerlessness, what it was like to grow up Chinese American in Seattle, and what's at stake with works like Madame Butterfly and The Mikado. Below are her words from the 2017 panel. A full transcript is available on Seattle Opera's website.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Praise for Don Giovanni

Laura Wilde (Donna Elvira), Vanessa Goikoetxea (Donna Anna), and Andrew Stenson (Don Ottavio). Ken Christensen photo

"Attractively sung, fluidly staged, and handsomely produced." — The Seattle Times 

"Although the all-female creative team is historic, the most impactful artistic difference on this production is the film format. Seattle Opera has consistently impressed me during the pandemic with their willingness to experiment with presentation and format. As their experience and the amount of time to plan their approach has grown, the results have become increasingly sophisticated." — Gemma D. Alexander 

"Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya led the performance with brisk, crisp tempi and encouraged singers to use long phrases. She is an excellent conductor and I hope to listen to her lead a full orchestra in the not-too-distant future." — Broadway World 

"The performances were nuanced and expressive just like one would imagine from almost any Seattle Opera performance." — Eclectic Arts 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Young singers work with Holocaust Center for Humanity

Youth Opera Online participants learn about the first performances of Brundibar in the Terezin concentration camp.

By Gabrielle Nomura Gainor

Amid a global pandemic and social unrest, Brundib├ír—a youth opera closely associated with the Holocaust—could easily hit an unsettling note. But Sara Litchfield was surprised to discover that this 1938 Czech work is a beacon of hope; a work of art for right now.

Litchfield, Youth & Family Programs Manager for Seattle Opera, is currently leading participants ages 7-18 in an 11-week online program. The final product, a streaming Brundib├ír performance, will be viewed by participants and families in April. In addition to working with Seattle Opera staff, the young artists had the chance to learn from individuals with the Holocaust Center for Humanity, which provided guest speakers, a virtual tour of its museum, and more to deepen participants’ understanding of the context and significance of the opera.