Friday, December 17, 2010

Coming To An Inbox Near You

On Monday, December 20, VO will be offering a wicked opera promo with group buying site, Groupon.

So whether you're an opera-lover, opera-curious or you've got some Christmas shopping left to do, make sure to keep an eye out for this daily deal.

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Art of Blogging

Interested in social media for your business? Or know someone who is curious about starting a company blog? Or wondering what to get for the executive in your life? Christmas is just around the corner!

Pick up Blogging To Drive Business, written by Eric Butow and one of VO's Blogger Night at the Opera bloggers, Rebecca Bollwitt aka Miss 604. Rebecca was responsible for planting the seed for our blogger night initiative when she attended Eugene Onegin in the fall of 2008. She was also a part of our original blogger line-up.

Another reason to purchase the book? We're in it! Vancouver Opera was profiled as a case study, along with organizations such as Intel, Adidas, Vancouver Canucks, Molson Coors Brewing Company and Urban Spoon. You can find us on page 125 under the chapter, "Getting Eyeballs To Your Blog".

An insightful and informative read, it may even inspire you to start your own blog (for business or for pleasure).

Pick up your copy today!

~ Ling Chan

Bizet's Carmen In Concert

Say hello to Vancouver Concert Opera Cooperative! The newly formed company, "aimed at creating performance opportunities for Operatic Professionals and Emerging Operatic Professionals from Canada", will be making their debut by performing Bizet's Carmen in January.

You'll no doubt recognize many of the artists in VanCoCo from their close connection to Vancouver Opera:

Principle Repetiteur and Music Director of Vancouver Opera in Schools (VOIS), Kinza Tyrrell and Vancouver Opera choristers Natalie Burdeny, John Arsenault, Andrew Greenwood, Jeremy Griffin, Jeanine Fynn and Paul Just, as well as VO's Young Artist Coaching Intensive (YACIN) bursary winner Arianna Sovernigo.

Join VanCoCo for a fun-filled evening of opera!

January 8, 2011 @ 7:30pm
Canadian Memorial United Church
15th and Burrard, Vancouver, BC

Adults $22 and Students/Seniors $16 *

Ample FREE Parking available on 15th, Burrard and surrounding streets.

Click here to purchase advance tickets!

* General Seating on a first-come, first-serve basis. Reserved seating available for groups of 10 or more. For more information, click here.

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Farewell to Lucia di Lammermoor

And we're closing 2010 with a bang...

Can you believe that we're just a couple of weeks away from 2011?! It seemed like just yesterday that the singers flew in to start Lucia di Lammermoor rehearsals.

We knew from the get-go that Lucia was going to be special. It was our chance to introduce you to rising star (soon to be superstar!) Michael Fabiano, as well as welcoming back Eglise Gutierrez, who had blew us away with her portrayal of Gilda in Rigoletto (2009). We fell in love with this production and it seems, so did our opera-goers.

So here's a look back at a Lucia di Lammermoor that thrilled you, made you weep and brought you to your feet.

Thanks to everyone who came to Lucia di Lammermoor! See you back at the theatre in the new year!

~ Ling Chan

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The World Is A Stage

Opera stages either come flat or raked. When an opera stage is raked, that means that the stage is angled towards the auditorium. This is so that theatre patrons, especially those sitting in the orchestra level, are able to see all the action happening on stage. (Well, that one advantage of sitting way up in the "god seats!")

To compare, VO's last opera, Lillian Alling, was performed on a flat stage while Lucia di Lammermoor is set on a raked stage. Actually, it takes the raked stage one step further into what VO's Director of Production, Terry Harper, calls a curved deck piece.

It's a simple set but it takes up a lot of space; most of which is the downstage part. To construct the set, it takes about 9 hours and a crew of 16. Surprisingly, the easiest part to put together is the curve, whereas the most difficult would be the top of the castle.

Lucia di Lammermoor blueprint details the sharp curve of the stage

Of course with a curve this extreme, I couldn't help but ask my friend who is a professional skateboarder if he would want to skate the Lucia set. And indeed he would! But of course, we didn't let that happen. (it was just a hypothetical question)

The set was designed by Gerard Howland for San Francisco Opera's 1999 production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Unfortunately, the set was heavily criticized when it premiered.

San Francisco Opera revived a 1994 production by Gerard Howland, a sad mistake of design then, no better now, and best trashed before used again. Its sole distinguishing element is a heavily skewed view of the castle seen from the perspective of someone lying on the ground in a courtyard and looking up, suggesting that the castle is an uncomfortably confined space, in which, of course, our heroine is trapped. Not a very profound point for such an aggressively vertiginous visual assault. - Culture Vulture

Gerard Howland’s production, in which Swenson appeared when it was new a few years ago, is a one-gimmick concept, that of a "worm’s eye view" of the courtyard with stone walls in sharp perspective ringing a rectangle of sky. - Concerto Net

The set provides one initial visual jolt, as the audience realizes that it's looking straight up the walls of a medieval Scottish fortress. After that, though, it's three hours of characters walking perpendicular to the backdrop, as if in an unintentional parody of M.C. Escher. - SF Gate

In all likelihood, Howland's productions are destined for the scrap heap, when new General Director Pamela Rosenberg arrives in mid-2001. The "Lucia" is the one with the unit set which represents a worm's eye view of a castle courtyard; the Ashtons apparently live in a Scottish bunker. - SF Gate

It could very well have not been appreciated in its time. The consensus amongst the opera patrons and reviewers who attended Lucia this past week was that they loved the set.

The set by Gerard Howling and lighting by David Fraser were exceptional. Reading like an MC Escher painting, a style called impossible reality, the set at first glance seemed gorgeous and functional but on closer examination, it changes the audience’s perspective, leaving the performers treading across a stage that in reality is the floor but should really be a wall. The audience’s perspective would be that of lying down on a floor looking up at a ceiling. This is crazy stuff but serves the purpose brilliantly in a story whose main character goes mad. - Vancouver Observer

The eye-catching set by Gerard Harland was a view of the castle from the perspective of someone looking straight up from the ground. Omnipresent and demanding it enveloped the Lammermoor family. A lowering forest from the same perspective continued the dark and brooding theme. - Review Vancouver

The opera unfolded gently, ominously, on a set that resembled something from an M.?C. Escher print—the view is of a castle’s four walls as seen directly from the ground, as if from a grave, with the action taking place, surreally, on one of the walls. A few minimal furnishings and some evocative projections were all that was needed to create a moody, darkly brooding atmosphere. - The Georgia Straight

Like what happens when making movies, sometimes the city that it's being shot in becomes another character. In my opinion, Howland's set is just as important as all the other characters it houses. I loved the forced perspective of this set, whereby your eyes are drawn to the "tops of the castle" and in the opening, videos such as ominous dark skies and silverly moonlight are projected.

Photo credit: Ken Friedman

This is where Lucia, bloodied and with knife in hand, lingers prior to coming down to be amongst all the reception guests. In those few moments, one wonders if she would really jump from the castle roofs, having gone completely mad.

Photo credit: Tim Matheson

And lastly while watching it in the dark of the theatre, I was reminded of the 2004 movie, Alien vs. Predator. Although hardly set in the lowlands of Scotland, AVP takes place 2000 ft below ground on Bouvetøya Island in the Antarctic ocean. Like Howland's set, the movie features stone pyramid structures and chambers, the lighting is dark and ominous and there's only one opening where the nightsky could be seen. In this case a long tunnel that takes the remaining survivors back up to the surface. An inspiration perhaps?

It may just have been me that saw that, although when I told a fellow opera-goer afterwards of my thoughts, he was then able to see it too.

Yes I know. The cheese stands alone.

~ Ling Chan

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Sextet From Lucy

Oh, those 3 stoogies and their madcap antics. In their short film, Micro-Phonies (1945), Moe, Curly and Larry encounter a pretty aspiring opera singer while working at a radio station. Curly later gets mistaken for the soprano by a talent scout as the trio were messing about in a recording studio.

To keep up with the charade, a cross-dressing Curly aka Señorita Cucaracha has to sing or should I say, lip synch at a posh dinner party. And the record The 3 Stooges choose to lip synch to? None other than the Lucia di Lammermoor sextet, "Chi mi frena in tal momento" or as they call it "Sextet from Lucy."

Fast forward to 2:10 for the hilarity.

To hear the non-Stooges version, press play:

Or even better, hear it sung live by Eglise Gutiérrez, Michael Fabiano, Gregory Dahl, Thomas Macleay, Burak Bilgili and Dionne Sellinger at the final performance of Lucia di Lammermoor tomorrow night.

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Love For Lucia di Lammermoor

Beautiful. Tremendous. Outstanding. Spectacular. Imaginative.

It may be a tragic opera, wrought with grief, heartbreak and bloodshed, but that didn't stop our opera patrons from loving Lucia di Lammermoor to pieces.

Tremendous. The vocalists were outstanding and the music was just top-notch. I really enjoyed it. A very professional production.

I enjoyed it tremendously. It was one of the best we have seen. Absolutely fabulous.

Wonderful. Outstanding. The music was spectacular. It just gave you shivers. It was a treat, a real treat. And the chorus was just so rich.

I loved it. It was my favourite one. The best ever, I think.

I feel like I'm on another planet. It was so beautiful.

I thought the set was quite imaginative. This is a first class performance.

I'm always impressed with the productions at this theatre. It's really great.

Wonderful ending to it. It ended off with a bang.

Press play to hear what everyone had to say. Or double-click the video to see it directly on VO's Youtube channel.

Video by Mike McKinley and Bombshelter Productions

Get your tickets now! Only 2 performances left! Call 604.683.0222 to speak to our box office or order online!

See you down at the theatre!

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lucia di Lammermoor: Bloggers Final Thoughts

From left: Miranda Lievers, Frances Sprout, Stacey Robinsmith, Nik Belanio

A big thank you to our bloggers who joined us for Blogger Night at the Opera. As suspected, all of our bloggers were really enjoyed Lucia di Lammermoor.

Here are their thoughts on Lucia, Eglise Gutierrez, Michael Fabiano and the excitement of opening night:

The Vancouver audience roared their approval when the final curtain fell. When the lead performers returned to the stage, the Vancouver audience leapt to their feet in the most spontaneous standing ovation I have ever see. The Vancouver audience needed this performance and unequivocally showed their love for the performance. Well done. Very well done.

The bottom line; if you are going to see one Vancouver Opera performance this season, make sure it is Lucia di Lammermoor. This is the opera of the season.
- Stacey Robinsmith

To read more from Stacey, click here.

This opera is astonishingly beautiful, stunning music, really. and Lucia's first aria -- the end of a duet with Alisa (mezzo-soprano Dionne Sellinger) had the crowd applauding and even, from a gentleman in the row ahead of us, several heartfelt hoots. Gutiérrez's soprano is breathtaking -- how can something so powerful appear to float so effortlessly, note piling on note in a sumptuous wreath of sound... - Frances Sprout

To read more from Frances, click here and here.

Wow! Eglise Gutierrez is like none other! A stunning performance. Her range is extraordinary. I'm speechless. - Nik Belanio

To read more from Nik, click here and here.

I was told ahead of time I was in for a treat with Eglise Gutiérrez playing the part of Lucia, but I was not prepared to be so completely blown away by her performance. I don’t want to lessen the work of the rest of the cast as it really is beautiful – particularly that of Gregory Dahl who plays Lucia’s brother Enrico and of course Michael Fabiano’s performance as Edgardo, especially in the final scene where the power of his voice really shines.

That said – Eglise has my heart. I think I could listen to her for hours, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any more incredible Act 3 started and…well… if you’ve been on the fence about heading out to the opera, this is absolutely the show to see. She will blow you away.
- Miranda Lievers

Thank you Bloggers for being a part of such an amazing night! We look forward to welcoming you back for La Clemenza di Tito!

~ Ling Chan

Monday, December 6, 2010

On The Town With Lucia's Men

What do you get when you invite Lucia di Lammermoor's Michael Fabiano, Gregory Dahl and Thomas Macleay out for coffee and CD shopping?

Hours of merriment, loads of cheeky fun and some pretty lively discussions. (there were some doozies!)

When you get these guys together, it's no surprise they will draw people's attention. Gregory Dahl was even recognized and stopped by a passerby in the middle of the street!

Here's a peek of what it was like to hang out with affable and charming men of Lucia di Lammermoor.

CD shopping with Michael Fabiano & Gregory Dahl

Michael Fabiano buying a Verdi's Requiem CD

Thomas Macleay & Michael Fabiano talking music

Press play or go to our Youtube channel to listen to the men talk about opera, music and what it takes to be an opera singer.

Big thanks to Michael, Gregory, Thomas, Sikora's Classical Records, Subeez Cafe and Queen Elizabeth Theatre!

For Lucia di Lammermoor, call our ticketing centre at 604.683.0222 or purchase online here. Single tickets starting at $29 (plus handling fee).

BONUS: To get your free Lucia di Lammermoor poster with your tickets, give our box office PROMO CODE 2956 when you call in or enter PROMO CODE 2956 on the login page on our website.

Tweet A Conductor December 8

#Askaconductor Day is just around the corner!

This Wednesday, folks on Twitter will be able to ask maestros from around the world their burning questions. Vancouver Opera's Music Director, Jonathan Darlington, will be participating with 40 other conductors in this exciting initiative. You can ask a general question to any conductor or you can pick a specific conductor you'd like to ask.

Photo credit: Christoph Müller-Girod

Maestro Jonathan Darlington at @j_darlington will be available for your questions between 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm (Pacific Standard Time).

To participate:

Step 1: Think of a question

Step 2: Log in to Twitter (free to join if you are not already a member)

Step 3: Pose your question on December 8. Just remember to stick to 140 characters or less and be sure to include the hash tag #askaconductor

Step 4: Wait for the conductor to answer!

Whether you're a longtime classical music/opera fan or a newbie, everyone is welcome to join in on the conversation on December 8.

See you online!

~ Ling Chan

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lucia di Lammermoor: The Trailer

Here's your first look at the thrilling and tragic bel canto masterpiece Lucia di Lammermoor starring Eglise Gutiérrez, Michael Fabiano and Gregory Dahl.

Press play or double-click the video to see it directly on VO's Youtube channel.

Video by Bombshelter Productions & Mike McKinley

Get your tickets now!

Single tickets starting at $29 (plus handling fee). Call our ticketing centre at 604.683.0222 or purchase online here.

BONUS: To get your free Lucia di Lammermoor poster with your tickets, give our box office PROMO CODE 2956 when you call in or enter PROMO CODE 2956 on the login page on our website.

~ Ling Chan

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas With Les Dala

When Leslie Dala, VO's Associate Conductor and Chorus Director, was appointed the new Music Director of Vancouver Bach Choir last year, we were thrilled. The opportunity couldn't have happened to a nicer and talented-beyond-belief guy. Les was recently named one of the 'Top 10 Artistic Leads Whose Stars Are On The Rise' by the Vancouver Sun.

To open Vancouver Bach Choir's 80th anniversary season, Les will take the podium to conduct a trio of Christmas concerts at the Orpheum Theatre.

Christmas with the Bach Choir
December 5

Leslie Dala's first season as Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir begins with this ever-popular annual concert. The concert brings together all the choirs of the Bach Choir organization.

Handel's Messiah
December 11

A grand performance of Handel's Messiah, surely the most popular work of all time, in the fabulous setting of the Orpheum Theatre. Music Director, Leslie Dala conducts the Bach Choir, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and noted Canadian soloists Allison Angelo, soprano; Lauren Segal, mezzo; Colin Ainsworth, tenor, and Alexander Dobson, bass.

The Sing-Along-Messiah
December 12

The Bach Choir's Sing Along Messiah will receive its 30th Annual performance on Sunday afternoon, December 12th. The Sing Along Messiah is an afternoon of music making and good fellowship which includes the audience, the Bach Choir, the Vancouver Symphony and fifteen auditioned soloists.

Three wonderful events to get you in the mood for Christmas. (It's approaching fast!)

For more information, click here for the Vancouver Bach Choir website.

~ Ling Chan

Lucia di Lammermoor Ticket Giveaway!

Artwork by Leonard Dente

Up for grabs are 2 tickets to Tuesday, December 7 performance of Lucia di Lammermoor!

Here's what you need to do:

1. Track down a street or bus shelter poster of Lucia di Lammermoor

2. Scan the QR code on the poster

3. First person to scan and email their location gets the tickets!

And go!

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Food Drive For The Food Bank

Vancouver Opera will once again be collecting non-perishable food items on behalf of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

We will have Food Bank boxes placed throughout the Queen Elizabeth Theatre during our run of Lucia di Lammermoor, so we invite you to make a donation if you can.

We welcome all food donations from EVERYONE during our performance hours down at the QET:

Saturday, December 4
Tuesday, December 7
Thursday, December 9
Saturday, December 11

The Food Bank receives 75% of its yearly donations during the holiday season. It is through the support of individuals that they are able to continue to provide food to those who are struggling to make ends meet. The Food Bank continue to serve up to 25,000 recipients each week, 40% (10,000) of whom are children. The Food Bank receive no government funding.

If you are unable to attend Lucia di Lammermoor but would like to make a contribution, please feel free to drop by the theatre too! Vancouver Opera staff will be one hand to receive your donation from 630pm to 10pm each night.

All efforts are much appreciated during this holiday season!

~ Ling Chan

Blogging Lucia di Lammermoor

The drama! The heartache! The madness!

Bloggers Stacey Robinsmith, Nik Belonio, Miranda Lievers and Frances Sprout will take on the dramma tragico, Lucia di Lammermoor, this Saturday.

The quartet will also be sharing their thoughts on the entire experience: from hobnobbing with other opera patrons, reporting from the backstage tour and listening to the exquisite bel canto singing.

Follow along the sidebar to the right for their weblinks as they blog pre-show and during the intermission.

Clockwise from top left: Stacey Robinsmith, Nik Belonio, Miranda Lievers and Frances Sprout

Don't be shy! Stop by and say hello to our friendly bloggers on opening night in the main lobby of the QET. They can't wait to meet you!

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