Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hello And Welcome To My Online Portfolio!

Within this blog, you will find all the posts that I had written during my time as Social Media Manager at Vancouver Opera. I communicated and promoted VO by setting up and then managing VO's blog, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube accounts.

In writing content to increase brand awareness, site traffic and ultimately, to drive ticket sales, I came up with regular blog features such as:

* Operamania 101 - pop culture tie-ins to opera.

* Top 10 Fridays - a weekly poll engaging readers in a discussion on their preferences.

* Lunchtime Poll - a lunch hour poll to crowd source people's thoughts on a subject matter.

I was responsible for identifying new and innovative methods of engaging customers. Such initiatives included:

* Blogger Night at the Opera - a community outreach initiative inviting bloggers, who were opera newbies, to blog about the opera experience

* Opera Ninja - live-tweeting dress rehearsals in order to build excitement about upcoming productions

* Fan Night - fan appreciation nights with guest speakers, backstage tour and access to VIP lounge

* Smart Pics at the Opera - photobooth for patrons. Pictures would be emailed as a keepsake for attending the opera.

* Ask VO - online question form. Questions from readers would be then be directed to appropriate staff members for answering.

* QR Codes - exclusive access to photos, videos, interviews and ticket promotions for smartphone users.

I was also able to incorporate my love of photography into my job and came up with:

* Fashion at the Opera - capturing the young, hip and well dressed opera attendees. This reinforced the image of VO as a young, vibrant and innovative company, as well as, offer ideas on what to wear.

* Behind the Scenes - a backstage look at what is involved in bringing an opera to the stage.

I spent a wonderful 3.5 years at VO. I've worked alongside the most talented and creative people in the industry. I've gotten to know what it means to be passionate about working in the non-profit and performing arts sector. Unfortunately, due to a sudden and major company re-structure last month, my position, along with 12 others, were eliminated.

And so, here I am looking for my next great job!

If you're offering an exciting and dynamic opportunity and are looking for someone passionate, innovative and dedicated, please get in touch. We could be a great fit together!

For interviews or earned media that I had received through my work, check under the "Press" tab above or click here.

Happy reading and hope to hear from you soon!

~Ling Chan

Friday, February 11, 2011

Who Wears The Pants Around Here?

Girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls, who do boys like they’re girls, who do girls like they’re boys. – Blur

Sounds like a high-falutin’ comedy of errors, doesn’t it?

It’s not unusual to find trouser or breeches roles in many of today’s popular operas. This refers to the opera’s male character being sung by a female who sings in the mezzo soprano or contralto vocal range. Instead of hip-swaying crinoline skirts and bust-popping corsets, these female singers are binding their breasts and donning on trousers, men’s jackets, vests, wigs, facial hair and adapting male mannerisms.

Audience members who may or may not know this prior to curtain (surprise!), have to suspend their belief and accept the woman who’s playing the male part is a “man”, who may even be romancing a woman onstage.

So how did this all come about?

Back in mid-16th century Italy, these now “trouser roles” were written for and sung by a castrato, a young man who was castrated before puberty and as a result was able to maintain singing in such a high vocal range. At its peak in the 1720s-30s, it was estimated that 4,000 boys were castrated. All in the name of opera. Thank goodness that practice has died out. In 1861, castration for musical purposes was officially declared illegal.

Nowadays, women or men who have been trained to sing in the counter-tenor vocal range are employed in these roles.

Let’s not confuse cross-dressing roles such as Leonore in Fidelio or Gilda in Rigoletto as trouser roles. They’re just women disguised as men. True trouser roles include Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Orpheus in Orpheus and Euridice, the title role of Xerxes, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, and VO’s current production, Sesto and Annio in La Clemenza di Tito.

LA Opera's beautiful and provocative poster for their 2005 production of Der Rosenkavalier

Vienna Classic's Der Rosenkavalier, ENO's Xerxes and Opera Atelier's Opheus & Euridice

Julie Boulianne (right) as Cherubino in VO's The Marriage of Figaro

Another La Clemenza di Tito trouser role: Norine Burgess (left) as Annio

It may be confusing at first to suspend your belief and not think girl-on-girl action, but we’ve seen examples of trouser roles on tv and film:

Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously, Tilda Swinton in Orlando and Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in I'm Not There

Not trouser roles:

Barbra Streisand in Yentl, Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love, Angelina Jolie in Salt and Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria

Definitely not trouser roles: (women portraying men portraying women)

Kathleen Turner in Friends, Rebecca Romijn in Ugly Betty and Famke Jensen in Nip/Tuck

On the flip side, there have been skirt roles, where a man portrays a female character in opera, theatre and film, for so long that the audience accepts what they’re seeing without even a bat of an eyelash. So why the hang-up with women portraying men?

An opera patron told me last night that, at first, he was distracted by how physically attractive Krisztina Szabo was, singing the role of Sesto, Vitellia’s would-be male suitor. But after a while, any hesitation subsided and he found himself sucked into the story of La Clemenza di Tito. (even as he was hoping for an on-stage kiss between the women)

It might take an aria or two, but the audience should keep in mind that writers and composers have always played with gender and in the case of opera, it should always come down to the singing. Be it a man or a woman’s voice.

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, February 10, 2011

La Clemenza di Tito: Bloggers Final Thoughts

A big thank you to Stacey Robinsmith, Frances Sprout and Nik Belanio who joined us for Blogger Night at the Opera on opening night. (Miranda, we'll see you at Traviata!) It looks like our bloggers had a fabulous time.

Here are their thoughts on La Clemenza di Tito and of all the excitement of opening night:

A friend of mine said they do not like opera because of all the screechy women’s voices. The reality of it is that the voices are like birds swirling and swooping around one another on stage. Some soar higher than others before descending to join the other voices.

La Clemenza di Tito is a classic opera. There are no video backdrops, no extensive lighting tricks. There is a simple white stage with the simplest set. This opera is about the voices and the music from the orchestra interacting.
- Stacey Robinsmith

To read more from Stacey, click here and here.

Let me say first that this opera engaged me intellectually from the outset, even as it pulled me in musically and visually. I’m intrigued by the libretto itself, its politics – commissioned for the coronation as King of Bohemia of the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold. It makes some pretty strong statements about what is required of a truly noble leader – the opposite approach, in a way, to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro which instead condemns a ruler’s lack of nobility.

Favourite musical moments so far: Annio and Servilia’s gorgeous and touching duet which emphasizes the conflicting demands of love and duty. And Sesto’s aria beseeching Vitellia not to turn away from him, promising he will do her bidding and destroy Tito – her voice is beautifully shadowed by the woodwinds looping along the broken-chord runs.
- Frances Sprout

To read more from Frances, click here and here.

My fellow bloggers and I went backstage to see the set and props. I felt like I was walking into a 18th century ballroom from Cinderella. Everything is white and bright. (luv the sofa.)

Not as many props as the last opera, Lucia di Lammermoor. Lucia had tables of props. This time there's one table with flowers and of course, the bloody knife.(you gotta have a bloody knife in an opera.)
- Nik Belanio

To read more from Nik, click here, here and here.

Thank you Bloggers for being a part of such an amazing night! We look forward to seeing you opening night of La Traviata!

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Divine Mozart

There's no disputing that Mozart was a masterful and influential composer. He remains one of the most beloved composers to this day. VO was excited to premiere Mozart's magnificent last opera, La Clemenza di Tito this past weekend. We were doubly excited to find out our opera patrons fell in love with it too.

Absolutely delightful. One of the best performances I have seen in the past couple of years.

I really enjoyed it. I thought it was excellent. The voices were incredible.

It all came together quite well. It was moving.

Love the music. The divine Mozart.

It was beautiful and the costumes were spectacular.

I thought the sets were great. That was one of my favourite parts.

The music direction was excellent. The chorus was fabulous.

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

Get your tickets now! Only 3 performances left! Call 604.683.0222 to speak to our box office or order online!

See you down at the theatre!

~ Ling Chan

Friday, February 4, 2011

La Clemenza di Tito: The Trailer

Here's your first look at Mozart's magnificent last opera, La Clemenza di Tito starring Wendy Nielsen, Krisztina Szabo and John Tessier.

Press play or click here to see it on VO's Youtube channel.

Video by Bombshelter Productions

Get your tickets now! Call our ticketing centre at 604.683.0222 or purchase online here.

~ Ling Chan

La Clemenza di Tito: Rehearsal

Wondering what the not often performed La Clemenza di Tito sounds like? Here a sampling of the cast rehearsing Deh, Conservate, Oh Dei, the last number in Act I:

Maestro Jonathan Darlington and cellist Ari Barnes

Maestro Jonathan Darlington

Wendy Nielsen (Vitellia), Krisztina Szabo (Sesto) & Norine Burgess (Annio)

Thomas Goerz (Publio), Norine Burgess (Annio) & Kathleen Brett (Sevillia)

To view more rehearsal clips, click here for our Youtube channel.

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blogging La Clemenza di Tito

Bloggers Stacey Robinsmith, Nik Belonio, Miranda Lievers and Frances Sprout will return for opening night this Saturday to take on the opera seria, La Clemenza di Tito.

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!

Sponsored by:

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shadow Of The Ninja: The Return

We are breaking protocol! In the past, we've employed one Opera Ninja to take on our dress rehearsals, but tomorrow night, we will welcome two!

Tris Hussey aka "The Shadow" will once again go undercover, reporting from the dark recesses of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre during La Clemenza di Tito. But he won't be alone!

Who could it possibly be? A newbie ninja-in-training? Or perhaps his daimyo? Or maybe The Shadow is forming an alliance with another "behind-the-scenes" warrior?

I mean, we are talking about La Clemenza di Tito here. An opera where the daughter of a deposed Emperor wants the current ruler, Tito, assassinated because he does not return her love. Who does she get to do the dirty work? A man who's helplessly in love with her and who just happens to be Tito's close friend. Things are gonna get serious!

It's no wonder we'll have 2 Opera Ninjas.

Follow Thursday night's dress rehearsal at our Twitter: @Operaninja or along the right side-bar of this blog.

The action begins at 7pm!

Sponsored by:

~ Ling Chan

re there Opera Under Thirty tickets available for 2011 programming? I'm specifically interested in seeing the upcoming opera, La Clemenza di Tito.

Hello and thanks for your question!

Our Get O.U.T.! promo for La Clemenza di Tito has been posted on our blog, Facebook and Twitter for the past couple of weeks now.


Please call our box office at 604.683.0222 for availability.

Hope to see you at La Clemenza di Tito!

Ask me anything

~ Ling Chan

Listen: Opera Speaks: Qualities Of Leadership

If you were unable to attend Opera Speaks: Qualities of Leadership at the Vancouver Public Library on January 25, we will be posting audio excerpts from our speakers this week.

Here's Chris Kennedy, Superintendent of Schools, West Vancouver School District talking about what it takes to be a political and community leader today.

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Interview with Chas Rader-Shieber

There's really almost nothing to which you can compare Mozart. It's on a level that is astounding. The body of work, in just short amount of time about such important matters. He really wrote about important matters all the time.

During rehearsals for La Clemenza di Tito last month, director Chas Rader-Shieber talks about the production and the genius of Mozart.

Press play, turn up the volume and enjoy.

For La Clemenza di Tito tickets, call our ticketing centre at 604.683.0222 or purchase online here.

~ Ling Chan

Interview With Krisztina Szabo & Wendy Nielsen

It's rare that the soprano's the villain. It's way fun and Mozart knows how to write for a villain. Lots of extremes of highs and lows. - Wendy Nielsen

There's a camaraderie in a Mozart cast that you don't find elsewhere. - Krisztina Szabo

Taken during rehearsals for La Clemenza di Tito, mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabo and soprano Wendy Nielsen talks about why Mozart's magnificent last opera is so compelling.

Press play, turn up the volume and enjoy.

For La Clemenza di Tito tickets, call our ticketing centre at 604.683.0222 or purchase online here.

~ Ling Chan

Interview With Jonathan Darlington

It's as if he's putting everything into a melting pot and just taking out the bare bones. It's like having an x-ray scan of all his greatest pieces. I've done this piece many times and every single time, there are certain moments, I can barely keep it together. It's distilled Mozart. Perfection.

Taken during rehearsals for La Clemenza di Tito, Maestro Jonathan Darlington plays the fortepiano and talks about his love for Mozart's magnificent last opera.

Press play, turn up the volume and enjoy.

For La Clemenza di Tito tickets, call our ticketing centre at 604.683.0222 or purchase online here.

~ Ling Chan

Monday, January 31, 2011

La Clemenza di Tito: The Manga

An unrequited love that leads to a path of destruction and the merciful ruler who pardons those involved.

Here's La Clemenza di Tito as seen through the eyes of manga artist Rafaella Ryon and editor Roy Husada.

To supersize, double click on the images.

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Mozart

On January 27, 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. He was a celebrated child prodigy and in the course of his lifetime, composed over 600 works. Although Mozart died in 1791, he remains one of classical music's most popular composers.

Authors and playwrights were inspired to write books about him. Movies were made based on his life. Musical artists paid homage to him. Who hasn't been influenced by Mozart?

Vancouver Opera is celebrating Mozart's birthday by offering a special QR code promotion for Mozart's magnificent last opera, La Clemenza di Tito.

Our street posters with the QR code are now posted around town. Or you can just scan the QR code below for the wicked deal:

You may need to download a reader for your Smartphone, so click to get your free app from Neo or Mobio.

This rarely performed opera will be a treat for all Mozart and opera lovers. Come celebrate his life with Vancouver Opera. Happy birthday Mozart!

~ Ling Chan

Monday, January 24, 2011

La Clemenza di Tito: Cast Interviews

Video by Bombshelter Productions & Mike McKinley

The opera is really a masterpiece. It's an unsung masterpiece. - Chas Rader-Shieber

It's all about power. It's all about relationships that we have with other people, in regards to authority and how we use that. - Jonathan Darlington

I think he's written something quite spectacular. For the music alone, it's worth seeing. - Krisztina Szabo

It's a typical Mozart ensemble opera in that everybody has their moment to reveal themselves, their inner selves and in the relationships with others. Wendy Nielsen

I think most stage directors are attracted to Mozart because the source materials, just the work on paper, is so full and it demands to be put on a stage. It calls out to be recreated and recreated and recreated. - Chas Rader-Shieber

You should come and see La Clemenza di Tito because it is an amazing experience. For those of you who've never experienced it, it's something you'll only get perhaps once or twice in your lifetime. - Jonathan Darlington

Don't miss out! Get your tickets now!

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

~ Ling Chan

Friday, January 21, 2011

You Look Marvelous!

You've gone ahead and taken the plunge. You purchased a ticket to your very first opera and now you're wondering, "What should I wear?"

Let us help you out with some suggestions. Opera needn't be all ballgowns and tux and tails. (although those outfits are certainly welcomed as well!)

A VO staffer put together this video montage using our Fashion at the Opera photos to show you just how easy it is to put together an opera-worthy look. And oh, there are many looks!

Thanks again to all the beautiful people in the photos. You make us look good!

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Death By Opera: The Answers

Death by opera! For those of you who took our Tuesday Trivia quiz, here are the answers to how the following composers met their untimely end.

1. Robert Schumann - Died from mercury poisoning as a complication of syphilis treatment

2. Jean-Baptiste Lully - Died when he smashed his foot with a pole while keeping rhythm and it got infected.

3. Charles-Valentin Alkan - Died when a bookcase fell on him

4. Alban Berg - Died from complications from an insect bite

5. Peter Tchaikovsky - Died from cholera after drinking unboiled water.

6. Henry Purcell - Died after getting sick in the cold after being locked out by his wife

7. Maurice Ravel - Died from complications after being whacked in the head while in a taxi

8. Ernest Chausson - Died by riding his bicycle into a wall

Thanks for taking our quiz! Oh, and a gentle reminder to please be careful out there.

~ Ling Chan

Monday, January 17, 2011

BOV: Hansel & Gretel: An Opera Fantasy

I don't know about you, but the story of Hansel and Gretel kinda freaked me out when I was a child. First you're taken into the woods and then abandoned by your parents. Next you encounter a witch hellbent on making you her supper.

Course, as with most children's fairytales, it end up well. The witch meets her fate by getting shoved into the oven and the children are reunited with their father (who was against the whole abandonment plan in the first place)

On that note, here's a 1954 stop motion animated short based on Engelbert Humperdinck's opera Hänsel und Gretel. The special effects were created by Ray Harryhausen and the part of the witch was sung by English-Canadian singer and comedienne Anna Russell.

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To Bare Or Not To Bare

That is the question...

Yesterday, after reading an Epoch Times article on nudity on opera stages, we posed a very interesting question to our online friends: Would you be offended to see nudity/excessive skin in an opera?

Here's what you told us about this skin-tastic subject:

From Twitter:

@MeganMichael - Personally, no. One would have to argue that the body is the foundation for art...audiences might be inclined to disagree :)

@ArtsGroupSales - Not really. When @pittsburghopera did Dead Man Walking there was such a row over the nudity but it wasn't anything graphic

@DameEmma - Oh HELL no. The naked-er the better ; )

@arieltenor - When you see the productions you wonder what the hell did you watched. Did the director actually read the libretto?

@leboyfriend - Surely,entirely a matter of being appropriate/employing good taste. Thus, Cherubino as a no-pants role gets a big thumbs-up..While, Dido being naked during her lament...okay, not a good counter example. I'll try to get back to you with one.

@reneestephen - People are so uptight. OMG think of the children! You know what: 5k yr of casual nudity vs ~1000 of prudery. We survived. In other words, the author needs to untwisted his or her knickers :)

@_SanDiegoOpera - With the current crop of singers performing today, nudity would give opera a healthy jolt of "oh hell yes".

@kbpmv - No, Erwartung and Salome are both fab

@stellavg - I would be offended NOT to see nudity in opera. ;-)

@forgetful_man - I'd suggest those offended by nudes avoid museums as well.

@AFewShortNotes - I've seen it done really well -- Tannhäuser in Paris -- and really... not well. Won't name any names for that one.

From Facebook:

Roger Leroux - Salome had nudity on stage, and so did Rigoletto (I believe) a couple of years ago. And the near burlesque scene from the male lead in The Italian Girl from Algiers was brilliantly funny. It's no big deal.

Michael Colbruno - It's fine if it fits the story, like Billy Budd or Rape of Lucretia, but it baffles me when topless gypsies appear in Il Trovatore.

Garrett Rodman - No problemo - Lady Macbeth of Mtensk at the COC had oral sex simulated.

Wow! When it comes to the subject of the flesh, it seems like everyone wanted to weigh in! Our social media channels lit up like a Christmas tree.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to answer our poll!

~ Ling Chan

A Cartoon Explanation

So wondering what the heck La Clemenza di Tito is all about?

A staffer made this videoclip using Xtranormal to help explain the plot of Mozart's magnificent last opera.

Press play and not only will you them talk about an attempt on Titus' life but you'll also get to hear these 2 adorable hello kitty-type characters say "crazy" and "seriously" alot.

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

~ Ling Chan

Monday, January 10, 2011

Student Discounts?

Thanks for your question!

Get O.U.T. (Get Opera Under Thirty) is our discount program to allow those aged 18 to 29 to buy great seats for just $25. Designed for a younger audience but not exclusive to students, Get O.U.T. is the first ticket program of its kind for a major arts organization in Vancouver.

Keep an eye out on the blog for our Get O.U.T. tickets to La Clemenza di Tito.

Ask me anything

~ Ling Chan