Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Key To Loompaland

Everybody loves to hate the little Mr/Miss Know-It-All, especially in movies.

Remember the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) where Gene Wilder's Wonka plays the musical lock in order for everyone to enter the chocolate room?

Well, if you're an opera fan, you may have gasped when know-it-all Mrs. Teevee incorrectly identifies The Marriage of Figaro Overture as written by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff and not W.A. Mozart.

Did you shout at the TV like I did?

Fast forward to 3:45 to see the travesty

Mozart-lovers everywhere agree: maybe her son Mike shouldn't have been the only one shrunken by the Wonkavision TV.

~ Ling Chan

I'm Ready For My Close-Up


The Smart Pics photo booth has been confirmed for the remainder of The Marriage of Figaro run. This means you can pose and mug to your heart's content!

Take a picture of yourself. Take a photo with your date. Grab some random peeps in the lobby for one gigantic group shot. (just watch out for those photobombers!)

The best part? (besides the "love it" or "try again" option) You can email it to yourself as a keepsake of your night out, or you can send it to someone to let them know what they're missing out on!

The Smart Pics photo booth is located right by the east end lobby staircase. Or you can just look for the line-up.

UPDATE at 610pm: Due to unforeseen problems with the Windows programming, the Smart Pics photo booth will not be running tonight. Sorry for any disappointment caused. Darn technology! The Smart Pics photo booth will be back up and operational for the Saturday and Tuesday performances.

Do You #operaplot?

Think you can sum up an opera plot in 140 characters or less?

The very popular Twitter contest, #operaplot, is back. Last year there were over 500 entries competing for prizes from 32 opera houses. Click here for the 2009 winning tweets.

This year, the prizes are bigger and more drool-worthy. The grand prize is from Opera Theatre Company in Dublin: a pair of tickets to The Marriage of Figaro, 3 nights accommodation and up to 1000€ to cover flights.

To take a look at some of the imaginative and hilarious entries, click here.

If you have a Twitter account and would like to try your hand at #operaplot, (as well as having your tweets judged by none other than tenor Jonas Kaufmann), the contest runs until midnight Friday 30th April EST.

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pop Up Posters

And now for something completely unrelated to The Marriage of Figaro!

Kudos to our Special Events Diva, Caroline Hay, for her eagle eye! While channel surfing the other week, Caroline stopped on a show called, Life Unexpected, on the CW channel. (we're not judging, Caroline)

There before her eyes were our Vancouver Opera Golden Anniversary posters; namely Norma and Nixon in China! The locally filmed tv show had hung up our Edel Rodriguez designed posters on a character's wall.

Here are the screen captures below:

Nixon in China poster on the left, Norma poster on the right

Nixon in China poster

Nothing gets past Caroline! Thanks for the catch!

~ Ling Chan

UPDDATE 5/12: Seems we may have the answer to the mystery of how the posters cropped up on Life Unexpected! A little birdie told me that Shannon Chan-Kent, an understudy for VOIS' Jack Pine and a singer with the UBC/VO Pre-Professional Internship Program, plays one of the characters on the show. Could it be?

Thanks to Kinza and Melissa for the tip!

Operamania 101: Fiiii-ga-rooooo?

My friend wanted to buy a ticket to The Marriage of Figaro because he wanted to hear that famous song with that famous line "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro....Fiiii-ga-roooooo!"

He, of course, remembered hearing that song in various cartoons growing up:

Bugs Bunny's The Long-Haired Hare

Merrie Melodies' One Froggy Evening

Tom & Jerry's The Cat Above And The Mouse Below

Droopy's Droopy Opera.

MGM Cartoons' Magical Maestro

I had to stop him in his tracks to tell him that the song he was referring to was Largo Al Factotum, which is actually from Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais wrote a trilogy of stories that featured the character Figaro: Le Barbier de Séville (The Barber of Seville), Le Mariage de Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) and La Mère coupable (The Guilty Mother).

W.A. Mozart, along with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, made an opera out of Beaumarchais' comedy, The Marriage of Figaro. Rossini and librettist Cesare Sterbini, on the other hand, made an opera out of The Barber of Seville.

A common mistake.

Slightly confused, he wondered if he heard anything from The Marriage of Figaro before.

If he had seen Shawshank Redemption, the answer would be yes. Sull'aria Che soave zeffiretto from Act III of The Marriage of Figaro was used in the 1994 film, which starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

Tim Robbins' character, Andy, locks himself in the prison warden's office and inspires his cellmates by playing Mozart over the prison's PA system. A little humanity in an inhumane place. This lyrical act of defiance was the iconic moment of the movie.

My Figaro-curious friend would also have heard Mozart in Trading Places (1983), The Last Action Hero (1993), The Whole Ten Yards (2004) and Wedding Crashers (2005). All of these movies include snippets from the overture of The Marriage of Figaro. Sometimes it's quite obvious, like in the entire opening credits of Trading Places, whereas you can barely hear it in Wedding Crashers, during the church scene with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.

Clockwise from top left: The Whole Ten Yards, Wedding Crashers, The Last Action Hero, Trading Places

More recently, it was used in last year's hit movie, Zombieland. Forty-three minutes into Zombieland, The Marriage of Figaro, K.492 Overture can be heard as the four main characters decimate an Indian trading post. The quartet wreck havoc on headdresses, cowboy hats, tchotchkes, turquoise jewellery, shelving and windows; a result of pent-up frustrations from living so long in a zombified world.

And as Mozart's overture comes to a sweet end, you'll hear the main character, Columbus, telling us to "Enjoy the little things, even if that means destroying a whole lot of little things."

I think Mozart would approve.

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Analyze This

So just how dizzyingly crazy and absurd is The Marriage of Figaro?

Take a gander at this flow-chart of Act I and II:

Act I

Act II

All clear now? Good.

Big up to publisher/editor Michael Cox for the creation of this flow-chart. Cox used The Visual Understanding Environment to create this little gem. To learn more about Michael, check out his website, Coastline Journal.

Monday, April 26, 2010

It Was A Really Lovely Show

Lovely. Fantastic. Hilarious. Just perfect. It's unanimous. Everybody, but everybody, loved them some Mozart on Saturday.

Excellent peformance from the minute it started. It was a pleasure.

It was quite entertaining. I think alot of people found the humour quite good.

I love theatre and I love music. So the opera really does bring it all together. It was wonderful.

The costumes are lovely.

Great score. Great orchestra.

The whole drama in the garden - that's my favourite part. Very romantic.

Everybody was fantastic. It was a great performance. Great opening night.

Video by Bombshelter Productions & Mike McKinlay

Get your tickets now! Only 4 performances left! Call 604-683-0222 to speak to our box office.

See you down at the theatre!

~ Ling Chan

Strike A Pose At Figaro

The Smart Pics photo booth on opening night was a smash. Can we just say how beautiful everybody looked at Figaro? Like, "really, really, ridiculously good-looking" beautiful?

The good news is that the Smart Pics photo booth will be on-site for tomorrow and Thursday's performance of The Marriage of Figaro.

So don't be shy. Strike that pose!

Pssst. There IS a "love it" or "try again" button to save or veto your picture. (phew!)

~ Ling Chan

Figaro Blogger Night: Final Thoughts

Left to right: Gus Fosarolli, Tris Hussey, Peter Andersen, Kelsey Dundon (with her friend Briony)

A big thank you to all our Figaro bloggers who joined us for Blogger Night at the Opera this past Saturday! It was indeed a magical night filled with much laughter and music. But don't take our word for it...

Yes, Figaro is a comedy, a farce really. And yes the singing is glorious. Oh so glorious. The whole opera is one of those that you just lose yourself in. A lot of that is thanks to the genius of Mozart. - Tris Hussey

The music has been wonderful to hear and all the principals are wonderful to hear. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve been laughing and, for lack of a better word, grooving to the music of Mozart. - Gus Fosarolli

But the Marriage of Figaro is to the opera world what the Nutcracker is to the ballet world: it is accessible, popular, and full of melodies anyone would recognize. Which is why Briony and I are having an absolute blast. - Kelsey Dundon

I was told The Marriage Of Figaro is a great “first opera” and I for one am glad I was initiated by it. It was very enjoyable from start to finish. The story was well written and well accompanied, but the best entertainment came from the performers themselves. All of the players were very skilled vocally, as expected, but they also seemed right at home doing physical comedy. It was a great combination overall, and the 3+ hour length went by surprisingly quickly. - Peter Andersen

For more Blogger Night pics on our Flickr, click here.

~ Ling Chan

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What A Farce!

Figaro and Susanna are in love and about to wed.

Count Almaviva has the hots for Susanna.

Marcelline has the hots for Figaro.

Cherubino has the hots for the Countess.

Barbarina has the hots for Cherubino.

The Count & Marcelline conspire to thrwat Figaro & Susanna's wedding.

The Countess, Figaro & Susanna conspire to have the Count's affection return back to the Countess.

Bartolo ends up marrying Marcelline.

Add into the mix: love notes, tools to break down doors, jumping out of a window, dancing the fandango, mistaken identities and secret rendez-vous' in the cover of night.

So much happens in La Folle Journée! (or The Marriage of Figaro)

Watching the Figaro dress rehearsal Thursday night, I was reminded of none other than watching Three's Company when I was growing up. The funny thing was that the 3 other people I spoke with that night said the same exact thing. (even the Opera Ninja!)

But how could this be?

With misunderstandings aplenty, plots being hatched (nudge-nudge-wink-wink), the underdog hoodwinking the topdog, slapstick hijinks and a parade of characters, The Marriage of Figaro was indeed a pre-cursor to comedies like Three's Company.

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, the author of The Marriage of Figaro which Mozart based his opera on, was a master at writing farce; in particular, taking jabs at the aristocracy. He liked the Figaro character so much, Beaumarchais weaved him into 3 stories: The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro and The Guilty Mother.

Beaumarchais' characters were vain, irrational and neurotic. They spoke witty repartee while being engaged in highly improbable situations. Such comedy of errors moved at a frantic pace, involving innuendos, misunderstandings and physical humour. However ridiculous the plot was, the story always finished with a happy ending. A present wrapped up in a bow.

Not unlike some of the half hour comedies you see today.

Pierre Beaumarchais and John Ritter: they may have been 200 years apart, but both men were considered kings of comedy gold in their days.

~ Ling Chan

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Marriage of Figaro: Cast Interviews

Video by Bombshelter Productions & Mike McKinlay

It's working on the harmonic level, the rhythmic level, colours in the orchestra. Everything possible that anybody ever thinks about, as a musician, is there. And in such perfection, that you could never get bored with this one. It's the most sensation things that's ever been written. - Maestro Jonathan Darlington

If you never been to the opera, it's a great one to come to because it's funny. You'll recognize alot of the music. It's melodic. It's beautiful. It has a really young vibrant cast. - Daniel Okulitch

Of all of Mozart's music, it's probably one of the these most popular. So if you're only going to pick a few operas in your lifetime to go to, make sure that Le nozze di Figaro is on that list. - Nikki Einfeld

Don't miss out! Call 604.683.0222 to get your tickets!

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Banner In The Sky

Look up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's the Vancouver Opera banners!

Now that the Olympics are over, our Golden Anniversary banners are back up on the streets.

Unmissable if you're walking along Robson Street or Hamilton Street, sitting on the steps of the Vancouver Public Library or heading to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, these banners inject some colour against a backdrop of glass, concrete buildings and sky.

Colour is good, now that spring is here.

To check out all our banners, click here.

~ Ling Chan

Virtual Class Is Now In Session

The Nixon in China online learning course was so popular and helpful for our opera peeps, we're bringing it back again!

Get your Mozart on with The Marriage of Figaro online learning course. Then you can spread all that your knowledge when you're at the opera!

If you're an e-News subscriber, you would've received an email invitation from Opera America - our North American service organization - to explore The Marriage of Figaro.

With the free online learning course, you can:

* Learn about the characters
* Read a synopsis of the opera: act by act
* Listen to audio clips

If you're an e-News subscriber, you would've received an email invitation from Opera America - our North American service organization - to explore The Marriage of Figaro. If you're not yet an e-News subscriber but would like to take part, send an email to to get hooked up.

I'll race you to the head of the class!

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Opera Ninja Time!

Photo credit: I Am The Game

What's that I see? I could've sworn I saw something moving in the shadows. Do you hear a rustling sound? Hmmm. Gone now.

Maybe I was just imagining things.

Or maybe you weren't.

The Opera Ninja is back. She's going to bring you all the juicy details from our Figaro stage. All the love, passion, jealousy and tomfoolery.

Join us tomorrow night for the Marriage of Figaro dress rehearsal with Ninja Girl Kimli. You can follow along on our Twitter: @Operaninja or along the right side-bar of this blog.

Don't miss out. The action begins at 7pm.

~ Ling Chan

Putting Your Best Face Forward

When you're at The Marriage of Figaro this Saturday, you may notice a tall rectangular column situated in the lobby. The tall black device with the lightbox and touch screen may have you scratching your head, wondering what on earth it could possibly be? More importantly, why would you want to stand in front of it?

Why, to take a picture of course!

Vancouver Opera has partnered with Smart Pics to bring some photo booth fun to our opera-goers.

This photo booth will also email your picture to you, and you can then post it to your own Facebook, Flickr or blog. It's a great memento of being at the opera with your significant other, friend or a first time date. What a perfect way to also let family & friends know where you are and what they're missing out on!

Opening night pictures will also be posted to VO's Facebook and Twitter in real-time, so follow along to check out all the beautiful peeps.

So don't be shy, step up to the booth, show them pearly whites and smile pretty (or mug) for the camera.

~ Ling Chan

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's On Your iPod?

Photo credit: Christoph Müller-Girod

Ever wonder what an internationally renowned maestro likes to listen to? Well, for Vancouver Opera's Music Director, Maestro Jonathan Darlington, his three favourite composers above all others are: Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn.

Left to right: Bach, Mozart & Haydn

So come check out the Maestro, as he conducts his magic on The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart's amusing and beautiful opera about infatuation and forgiveness.

To purchase tickets, call 604.682.0333 or buy online here.

~ Ling Chan

The Marriage of Figaro: The Manga

Love and lust. Coveting and philandering. Ah, such is the world of The Marriage of Figaro.

Here's some Figaro eye-candy from the talented duo of Fiona Meng and Roy Husada.

To feast your peepers on the supersize version, click here.

~ Ling Chan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Poster Of The Week

Wowzers! Our Marriage of Figaro artwork has landed in the Vancouver Courier newspaper as Poster of the Week!

Big props to illustrator Edel Rodriguez and VO's graphic designer Annie Mack for such a stunning image!

~ Ling Chan

James Valenti: Break-Through Star

Photo credit: Dario Acosta

A big congratulations to tenor James Valenti today!

James, who will be gracing our stage as Pinkerton in next month's production of Madama Butterfly, is the winner of this year's very prestigious Richard Tucker award. How prestigious is it? It is undoubtedly considered to be the "Heisman Trophy of Opera."

Not only did James receive the $30,000 prize but he now has the distinction of being THE singer on the verge of a major international opera career.

James shares the honour with past winners Renée Fleming, Deborah Voight, Stephanie Blythe, David Daniels, Joyce DiDonato, Matthew Polenzani and Lawrence Brownlee.

Not bad for the 32 year old who just made his Metropolitan Opera debut a couple of weeks ago, singing the role of Alfredo in La Traviata. James will be making his Royal Opera House debut in July and Paris Opera debut in September, singing the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly.

But you can catch James singing Pinkerton on our stage first and see for yourself a star on the verge.

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Get Your Mozart On

Sure, everyone knows of the child-wonder who was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. At age 6, Mozart found himself playing for the Imperial Court in Vienna, blowing them all away with his talent. He was at that time already a budding composer who was about to embark on a 3 year performance tour of Europe.

Mozart would go on to write over 600 compositions throughout his life, including the world famous operas The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, La Clemenza di Tito and Così fan tutte.

But did you also know...

* His baptismal name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart

* He sometimes composed his symphonies while playing billiards

* The city of Salzburg, Austria still honours Mozart today with a museum and an annual music festival dedicated to him.

* He had a photographic memory

* He could play back an entire piece of music after just one listen

* He had a potty mouth, as seen in his surviving letters. He even wrote a musical canon, a party piece just for friends, called Leck mich im Arsch (Kiss My Arse)

* He measured 5'4"

* In love but rebuffed by soprano Aloysia Weber, Mozart went on to marry her sister, Constanze Weber

* Mozart and Constanze had 6 children, but only 2 survived through infancy

* His final commission came in the form of a requiem Mass, for which he would be paid 100 ducats. The funeral song turned out to be his swansong.

* The cause of Mozart's death is unknown, although there have been speculations that it was trichinosis, mercury poisoning or rheumatic fever.

* Although he was a well-known and well-loved composer, he died practically penniless.

~ Ling Chan

Blogging The Hijinks and Hilarity

Meet our Marriage of Figaro Bloggers !

Come say hi on opening night (Saturday, April 24) as our bloggers take on Mozart's subversive tale of love, lust, philandering, mistaken identities and servants sticking it to their masters.

Clockwise from top left: Gus Fosarolli, Kelsey Dundon, Tris Hussey, and John Biehler

Shenanigans are bound to happen! Follow along on the right sidebar as our bloggers navigate all the twists and turns of the night, onstage and off.

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Figaro Tidbits

When you come to Figaro, you will see:

A raised orchestra pit.
The musicians' heads will be seen, just like in Mozart's day. The raised pit and smaller orchestra make the sound more present.

A pianoforte.
Instead of a harpsichord, a pianoforte will be played. This was the instrument Mozart had in mind when he wrote the opera in 1786. The pianoforte will be raised to stage level.

Maestro Darlington's son.
Max Darlington will be a supernumerary. See if you can spot him on stage!

An all-Canadian cast. Yay to home-grown talent!

~ Ling Chan

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Kate The Great

We love Kate Aldrich. She was positively incandescent as Adalgisa in our Golden Anniversary season opener of Norma last fall. The audience found themselves enchanted with her, as well as the VO staff.

Wondering how Kate got her start in this crazy business of opera? How about who she admires in the biz? Or what Kate's dream roles are?

Well, there are interviews and THEN there are interviews. Nothing beats listening in (or in this case, reading) an informal chat between 2 people who are good friends. On top of being good friends, Kate Aldrich and Jennifer Rivera are also mezzo-sopranos and next door neighbours. As such, this makes for the best interviewing as some really interesting morsels are revealed.

So check out all the "girl talk" here and see why Kate's star is fast on the rise.

~ Ling Chan