Thursday, September 1, 2022

Five Ways Wagner Changed Opera Forever

German composer Richard Wagner (1813–1883) was tremendously influential on the development of opera. With his groundbreaking music dramas and extensive theoretical writings about art and theater, Wagner changed not only the way people wrote opera, but also the way audiences engaged with the art form. Here are five ways the eccentric polemicist changed opera forever.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A PATH TO HEALING

Seattle Opera’s Veterans Choir Keeps Singing

By Glenn Hare

Seattle Opera’s Veteran Choir performed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” and “Hallelujah” at the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center on Memorial Day, 2022.

Three years ago, Kim Christensen and her small family were living in Foxborough, Mass., in a home surrounded by two acres of land. Financial troubles, the sudden death of her husband from a heart attack, and the pandemic changed her life. The foreclosure and periods of homelessness made caring for her autistic son extremely difficult and each day brought challenges and anxiety. Kim’s life was turned upside-down. “It was exhausting,” she remembers, “both physically and mentally.” 
 
After relocating to Seattle, Kim started taking classes at Path with Art and joined Seattle Opera’s Veteran Choir last spring. The choir is an ongoing partnership between the opera and Path with Art, a Seattle organization that utilizes the arts to bring dignity, awareness, and recovery to its participants. 
 
“It’s nice to be able to talk to people who understand my situation,” says Kim, a former US Army videographer.

Friday, August 19, 2022

A CONVERSATION WITH TENOR MICHAEL FABIANO

THE FOUNDER OF ARTSMART

Photo credit: Jiyang Chen.

American tenor Michael Fabiano is the recipient of the 2014 Beverly Sills Artist Award and the 2014 Richard Tucker Award, the first singer to win both awards in the same year. This season he will perform at the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, and the Wiener Staatsoper, to name a few. Michael is a co-founder of ArtSmart, a national non-profit that provides free music lessons and mentorship by paid, professional artists to youth living in under-resourced communities. He is hosting a recital at Seattle Opera on Thursday, September 15, to benefit ArtSmart and the opera’s youth programs. In this interview, Michael shares why music education is beneficial and the inspirations behind ArtSmart. His last appearance at Seattle Opera was as Rodolfo in our 2012/13 production of La bohème.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

A Super Milestone

Longtime Seattle Opera supernumerary reaches 100th production

Luther Hintz backstage at Seattle Opera's 1998 production of Tristan and Isolde. Courtesy of Luther Hintz.
Luther Hintz has seen more shows at Seattle Opera than just about anyone else in the world. And he’s had a unique vantage point: a view from the stage. Luther is a supernumerary—an extra, in opera parlance. Supernumeraries (or “supers,” for short) don’t sing, but they do get dressed up in costume to play the roles of townsfolk, soldiers, servants, or anything else needed to complete an opera scene. This summer’s production of The Elixir of Love marks Luther’s 100th production with Seattle Opera—a major milestone in a relationship stretching back nearly 40 years.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Conductor Giampaolo Bisanti in Conversation

Italian conductor Giampaolo Bisanti has been praised for his musical knowledge and passion. In this interview, Giampaolo shares his affection for Donizetti’s music, the influence of his grandmother, working with Christina Scheppelmann, and a new passion—earning his pilot’s license. This is his US opera debut and his first Seattle Opera production.

Friday, July 15, 2022

A Conversation with The Elixir of Love Director Stephen Lawless

English stage director Stephen Lawless was 19 years old when he started his career. He has worked all over the world on the most prestigious stages. This is his first production at Seattle Opera. Learn how Stephen got his start, what he remembers about 9/11, which titles he has not directed, and if he’s a Liverpool or Manchester soccer fan.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Seattle Opera Appoints Michaella Calzaretta Chorus Master & Head of Music Staff

 

Seattle Opera announced today its new chorus master & head of music staff is Michaella Calzaretta, an experienced conductor acclaimed for her high standards and superb preparation skills. Calzaretta will prepare the 36-member Seattle Opera Chorus, which will be featured during the 2022/23 season in The Elixir of Love, Tristan and Isolde, Samson and Delilah in Concert, and La traviata. Additionally, Calzaretta will oversee the company’s musical activities, aiming for the highest standards in musical performance.

Friday, June 17, 2022

A Thousand Splendid Suns Synopsis

Photo by Philip Newton

Music by Sheila Silver
Libretto by Stephen Kitsakos
Adapted from the novel by Khaled Hosseini

Fifteen-year-old Mariam, the cast-off bastard child of a rich father, is forced to leave her rural home after her mother’s suicide and marry a middle-aged shoemaker from Kabul named Rasheed. Alone, scared and forced to wear the burqa, something unfamiliar to her, she tries her best to be a dutiful wife but is unable to conceive a child. Consequently, she lives a loveless existence with a husband who abuses her regularly for her failure to give him a son.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A CONVERSATION WITH MEZZO-SOPRANO J’NAI BRIDGES

Photo by Todd Rosenberg
J’Nai Bridges is among the world’s leading mezzo-sopranos performing today. She has been heralded and praised by critics at The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, to name only a few. J’Nai is a principal cast member of the 2022 Grammy Award-winning recording of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten produced by The Metropolitan Opera. In this conversation with Seattle Opera, J’Nai talks about growing up in Lakewood, WA, a suburb of Tacoma; her love of basketball; and returning home to perform in our concert production of Samson and Delilah.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Black Opera

The Afro Future

By Naomi André, Ph.D.

In 2017, Opera Philadelphia presented We Shall Not Be Moved, a new work by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph. The opera follows five North Philadelphia teens as they find refuge at the headquarters of the MOVE organization, where a 1985 standoff with police infamously ended with a neighborhood destroyed and 11 people dead.

In her final essay of this three-part series, Seattle Opera Scholar-in-Residence Naomi André speculates about the future of Black Opera. Using the lens of Afrofuturism—a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history, and fantasy to explore the African American experience and aims to connect those from the Black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry—André charts one path forward. In this essay, she uses historic events, music, and the writings of Octavia E. Butler to point the way.

Naomi André is a professor in the University of Michigan, where her teaching and research focus on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race. Her writings include topics on Italian opera, Schoenberg, women composers, and teaching opera in prisons. Her publications include Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement and African Performance Arts and Political Acts (2021), which she co-edited. She has served as Seattle Opera’s Scholar-in-Residence since 2019.