Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lillian Tweets!

Follow Lillian Alling on Twitter as she makes her journey from the shores of Ellis Island to the mountain peaks of Telegraph Hill. Lillian will be tweeting her thoughts and observations as she makes the perilous trek across North America in search of a man named Jozéf.

What was she thinking? How did she feel? Was she scared? Who does she encounter?

Follow along to find out!

~ Ling Chan

Monday, August 30, 2010

Operabot 2.0 Animation Contest

Illustration by Roy Husada

Operabot 2.0 animation contest is almost here.

Sponsored by:

~ Ling Chan

Friday, August 27, 2010

Operamania 101: Rock Me Falco

Today is our last summer Friday here at work so let's go out with a bang.

Remember Austrian musician Falco from the 80s? He gave the world such memorable hits as Der Kommissar, Vienna Calling and of course, Rock Me Amadeus, which he was inspired to write after watching the 1984 biopic, Amadeus, starring Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham.

Rock Me Amadeus became a #1 hit all over the world, even though the song was sung in German.

Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Falco was a child prodigy. When he auditioned for the Vienna Music Academy at the age of 5, it was discovered that the wunderkind had perfect pitch.

Similarly like Mozart, Falco met his untimely end way too soon. In 1998, just weeks before his 41st birthday, Falco was involved in a fatal bus collision in the Dominican Republic. Mozart was just 35 when he died.

However, their music lives on, so here's something to kick-start the weekend.

Before the internet came along, unless you were German, you may not have understood what Falco was singing about, save for the "Rock Me Amadeus" part. (I know I didn't)

So here's the English translation of the song about Mozart, his "punk-rock rebelness" and the effect he had on the world.

Rock me rock me rock me rock me Amadeus
Rock me all the time to the top

He was a Punker
And he lived in the big city
It was Vienna, was Vienna
Where he did everything
He had debts, for he drank
But all the women loved him
And each one shouted:
Come on and rock me Amadeus

He was Superstar
He was so popular
He was so eccentric
Because he had flair
He was a virtuoso
Was a rock idol
And everyone shouted:
Come on and rock me Amadeus

Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, oh oh oh Amadeus

Come on and rock me Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, oh oh oh Amadeus

It was around 1780
And it was in Vienna
No plastic money anymore
The banks against him
Everybody knew
Where the liabilities came from
He was a man of women
Women loved his punk

He was Superstar
He was so popular
He was so eccentric
Because he had flair
He was a virtuoso
Was a rock idol
And everyone shouted:
Come on and rock me Amadeus

Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, Amadeus
Amadeus Amadeus, oh oh oh Amadeus

Come and rock me Amadeus...

Have a great weekend everybody!

~ Ling Chan

Props For Lillian Alling

Here's an initial sketch by designer Sue LePage of the props in the upcoming Lillian Alling opera.

Props will include:

* A truck & luggage tarps
* Ellis Island furniture on a dolly
* Canteens & hurricane lanterns
* Telegraph keys
* Canvas packs
* A rain barrel
* Kites
* Burlap prison sacks
* Gold pans
* 3 babies

Sue is working with VO's Head of Props, Valerie Moffat, on figuring out what might already be in our prop shop, what needs to be made and what needs to be purchased.

Valerie thinks the hardest things to find will be the telegraph keys. Also, guns are always a challenge and the rifles used for the Oakalla Prison scene may end up being rented from elsewhere.

For Lillian's ubiquitous backpack, Valerie is on the hunt to find one from that time period (the 1920s) and make replicas, as we will need several of them backstage. Lillian's backpack is an important prop as it speaks of the journey, of packing up and going, and the circumstances that change her along her journey. When Lillian begins her trek, the backpack is almost empty. Like any traveller, as she moves westward, she slowly adds items to her pack. By the time Lillian arrives in Vancouver, it includes a bedroll and camping equipment.

The Lillian Alling prop list is pages long because of the number of scenes and the constant switching of time periods (present day, and flashbacks to 1927, the 1970s, the 1980s). The scenes are also set in different locations: farms, prison, downtown Vancouver and BC's Telegraph Trails.

While it may sound daunting to provide set dressing, accessories and furniture when the sets themselves are not even here (they are currently being built in Banff), it is a challenge that our imaginative and resourceful Valerie Moffat is up for.

Stay tuned for pictures as Valerie sleuths, shops and builds all the little details you will see on the Lillian Alling stage.

~ Ling Chan

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Film Score Sound

Are you a fan of film scores? Opera is not all about high-hitting arias, recitatives and big showy choral numbers (as opposed to big showy chorus numbers which would include dancing showgirls). Also enjoyable are the overtures and intermezzos where only the orchestra is playing. No voices, no sound effects.

For your listening pleasure, here's a snippet of the orchestral music in Scene 10 of Lillian Alling by John Estacio, libretto by John Murrell. This electronic arrangment is by Emmy nominated composer and conductor Hal Beckett, who turned Estacio's MIDI composition into a realistic orchestral sound.

Beckett has worked on both Bryan Adams and Michael Bublé's albums, as well as produced the 102 national anthems for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Beckett's also conducted and produced music for Universal, Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Miramax Studios.

This synthesizer arrangement of We Have Had The Rain sounds like it can be found in a big budget Hollywood movie.

If you're digging this clip, just wait to you hear it played by a 60 piece orchestra.

Stay tuned! We'll have another excerpt from the lush and lyrical Lillian Alling score next week.

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Operamania 101: Opera Soothes The Savage Beast

Who here has already seen the summer blockbuster, Inception? If you have, you've no doubt caught the scene-stealing Tom Hardy who plays Eames the forger in the Christopher Nolan movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Tom Hardy may have propelled himself to Hollywood's A-list with that break-out role but he already proved he's quite the acting powerhouse with last year's British film, Charles Bronson. Hardy is nearly unrecognizable, but his compelling portrayal as Bronson injected much humanity into a film about England's most notorious prisoner.

At the age of 19, Charles Bronson robbed a post office and got sentenced to 7 years in jail. His sentence was repeatedly extended due to his "loose cannon" behaviour and several hostage-taking incidents that he instigated. Bronson found himself in and out of various prisons and psychiatric hospitals for the next 30 years, 26 of which were spent in solitary confinement.

The film is uber-violent and humorous in that "A Clockwork Orange for the 21st century" way. As a further homage to Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, Bronson director Brent Meeske used operatic music in several integral scenes. Unlike A Clockwork Orange with only Rossini's The Thieving Magpie and William Tell Overture as its main operatic pieces, the Bronson soundtrack featured many different opera composers.

Va pensiero (Chorus of Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco, Act III - Verdi

Trauermarsch from Götterdämmerung - Wagner

Chi dona luce al cor? from Atilla - Verdi

La Vergine degli angeli from La forza del destino - Verdi

Entry of the Gods into Valhalla from Das Rheingold - Wagner

Flower Duet from Lakmé - Léo Delibes

Coro a bocca chiusa/Humming Chorus from Madama Butterfly - Puccini

The soundtrack is not ALL opera though. There is a track from New Order and also one from Pet Shop Boys. And can I say, you'll never think of It's A Sin the same way again after watching this movie.

~ Ling Chan

Any Questions?

Have a question you'd like to ask Vancouver Opera? Well, you're in luck!

Presenting the Vancouver Opera blog, now with the super-shiny Formspring feature.

With this feature, you can ask absolutely anyone in the company for the answer to the questions burning in your mind. For example:

* Why did we decide to produce THAT particular opera?
* What is our audition process for singers, chorus and supernumeraries?
* Do staff get to go on the road with the traveling VOIS program?
* How do we choose next season's artwork?
* Who decides the themes of our special events?
* Any big "uh-oh" moments before the curtain went up?
* Do we get to zip around in the lottery car before we give it away?
* Are we a crunchy or a smooth peanut butter type group?

All questions welcome!

Your questions will be directed to the appropriate staff members, who are all waiting in earnest to hear from you.

Just click on the Ask VO tab, just below the blog header, and ask away!

~ Ling Chan

Friday, August 6, 2010

Project Unto Me

Tim Matheson is an award-winning projection designer, photographer, videographer and multi-media producer. His first foray into live theatre was in 1987 with Vancouver's Fringe Festival. It was at that festival that Tim first used projections as an element of set design. Since then, Tim has been much in demand, having worked over 100 performances in theatre, dance and opera.

And we have him for Lillian Alling.

Here's your first peek at Tim's projections on designer Sue Lepage's set.

The Land is Large

The Land is Large

Ellis Island

Ellis Island


Map set

Inverted map

New York Street

New York Street

Vancouver Street

Vancouver Stanley Park

Does it make you feel like you've traveled back to 1927?

More projections to come. Stay tuned.

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Social Media Weds Opera

Congratulations to Tris Hussey and Sheila Christie on getting hitched this past weekend!

Tris Hussey, THE go-to guy for anything and everything social media, joined us for Blogger Night at the Opera: Rigoletto, Salome, Nixon in China and The Marriage of Figaro. A published author, Tris also has his own blog and is a frequent contributor to the Future Shop blog, writing about software, hardware, photography and gadgets.

Sheila Christie has been gracing VO's stage in the women's chorus and in supporting roles since 2002. When she's not singing, Sheila teaches voice at a musical theatre summer school for kids aged 10-19. She's also the Musical Director at the Richmond Academy of Music. Did I also mention she makes wicked handmade jewellery? Her one-of-a-kind creations are very popular backstage during performances.

Sheila poses with Eglise Gutierrez, who played Gilda in Rigoletto

Tris met his lovely soprano 2 years ago and popped the question after 6 months of dating. (during the run of Rigoletto, in fact!)

So was Tris an opera fan before or after he met Sheila?

I didn't like (or thought I liked) opera before I met Sheila, but I went to Eugene Onegin in 2008 and became enthralled. I haven't missed an opera since. - Tris

The newlyweds plan to honeymoon in Whistler during the Labour Day long weekend.

Photo credit: Stacie Biehler

For more pictures of Tris & Sheila's lovely day, click here and here.

From everyone at the VO, we wish you both a lifetime of love, happiness and singing!

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

There's An App For That

To say that Kimli of Delicious Juice is socially wired is an understatement. Girl has it going on. That may explain why we invited her to join us for Blogger Night at the Opera: Carmen, Rigoletto and Salome. She also took on The Marriage of Figaro dress rehearsal as our Opera Ninja.

Kimli, lover of tech toys and gadgets, brought to our attention an opera app called Face to Face. With this puzzle app, one could play with as many as 130 colourful patterns inspired by facial makeup of Beijing operas.

Images by Quus.us.

A fun little time sucker that caters to all our many moods and faces.

To get your hands on this app, click here.

~ Ling Chan