Maria Stuarda tonight…

The past few months have been extremely busy ones for me, (Castor & Pollux in Sydney, a New Year’s Eve concert in Pittsburgh, Falstaff at the Sydney Opera House, and the birth of my daughter!) but I simply had to take this opportunity to alert everyone in the DC area about Washington Concert Opera’s performance of Donizetti’s MARIA STUARDA tonight, at Lisner Auditorium at 6pm. We have a stunning cast: Georgia Jarman, Brenda Harris, Michael Spyres, Patrick Carfizzi, Troy Cook and Alexandra Loutsion, and it has been a particularly joyful 10 days of rehearsal with the principals, chorus and orchestra.

One of the things that I really love about my work with WCO is that I have been able to create a wonderful, close-knit team around me. Not only by my choice of singers and instrumentalists, but also with our wonderful staff, volunteers, board and donors.  I think that our audience can tell that we all enjoy making music together, as well as presenting gems of the bel canto period to our very loyal, knowledgeable and passionate group of our subscribers and supporters.

This will be a real feast of bel canto singing: beautiful voices, elegant phrasing, expressive ornamentation and passionate characterizations. Our orchestra sounds like another character in the drama, and our chorus has been working on really beautiful colors in their big number in the final scene.

Don’t just take my word for it, though, do come along to Lisner tonight, and experience it live…

More information about MARIA STUARDA can be found on the WCO website:
http://www.concertopera.org

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m quite excited to be conducting this tonight!

Opening Rigoletto Tomorrow at Pittsburgh Opera

Rigoletto at Pittsburgh Opera
Opening is tomorrow and it’ is exciting to be here! Classical WQED FM 89.3‘s host Stephen Baum interviewed Mark Delavan, Lyubov Petrova, and me last week!   Listen at http://www.wqed.org/fm/listen.php.

For more information, visit Pittsburgh Opera’s Website.

La Sonnambula Wrap Up

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This gallery contains 12 photos.

Huge thanks to our principals, chorus, orchestra, and everyone who made this performance of La Sonnambula possible. And a special thank you to our loyal audience: the roar of appreciation that went up after Eglise’s first cavatina was both incredible … Continue reading

La Sonnambula Rehearsal Photographs

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This gallery contains 10 photos.

Thanks to Don Lassell for taking these photographs during yesterday’s rehearsal. It’s hard to believe that the performance is Sunday afternoon! You can visit WCO’s website for information and tickets.

Imagining and Living Opera

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English: Portrait of the famous Greek soprano ...

English: Portrait of the famous Greek soprano Maria Callas painted by Oleg Karuvits. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As preparations for La Sonnambula gather steam and begin to consume us, I share this quote…one of my favorites!

“An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I’ve left the opera house.”

–Maria Callas

I hope that all of our friends have already purchased tickets to the performance at 2:00 on September 16 at the Lisner. If not, there are still some seats available. Visit the Washington Concert Opera website or call 202.364.5826.

WCO Season Preview Podcast

Podcast preview of Washington Concert Opera’s 2012-2013 Season.

I had a great time creating this video with colleagues Crystal Manich and Don Lassell to share some interesting facts and insights into two great bel canto operas we will be performing this season. Hope you enjoy learning a little more about the background of these pieces.

New Kid on the Blog

Welcome to my first posting in this very new world (for me at least) of blogging. Those who regularly attend Washington Concert Opera may be aware that, although I live in DC, I am Australian by birth, and have lived in London and Cardiff as well as Sydney. Some might even be aware of my secret desire to live in Paris again: living in that City of Light for over a year as a child turned me into the most ardent of francophiles.

My love of travel and experiencing different people and cultures  is, curiously enough, one of the reasons I love being a conductor of classical music, and opera in particular. When conducting opera, I completely immerse myself into the specific musical, cultural, linguistic, poetic and emotional world of the composer, librettist and their chosen story. It’s a really incredible head-space to be in. For example, the last time I conducted La Bohème, I was transported to the artistic, bohemian milieu of Paris in 1849, as seen through the lens of Puccini and his librettists (who conceived and wrote the opera in Italian) in 1896, almost half a century later, in a beautifully traditional production sung by an wonderful all-American cast, and performed in the magnificent Benedum Center (1912) in Pittsburgh. For those with a heady imagination, such an experience is completely intoxicating and great fun: welcome to my world…

As intoxicating a cocktail of artistic experience as a fully-staged opera performance
can be, I don’t necessarily need all the trappings of the stage to feel part of an incredibly satisfying performance. Washington Concert Opera is a great example of what can be generated by pure musical and emotional communication. When you have principal singers, orchestra, chorus and conductor all on the same stage singing and playing their hearts out in order to communicate what can’t be communicated by words alone, you have a distilled musical and emotional experience that is hard to beat! There is also something quite wonderful in seeing a singer in a concert dress transform into a character infront of your eyes and ears. Mostly, in a fully-staged opera, one is carried away immediately to another world, and the performers wholly present themselves as their costumed personas. This is more difficult in concert performances, but actually there are times where I love knowing that there are two personas on stage: the singer in their formal dress or tails, and the character that is created and comes through from the performer’s mental and musical embodiment of their story.

As the son of an Australian father who was a french academic, and a physical education teacher and dance loving Hungarian mother, it now seems to me that I was destined to become a conductor. From my father I inherited a love of language, the ability to hear and process sound to a high degree, and a fascination with European culture. My mother gave me physical co-ordination, the desire to interpret musical sound through my body, and a direct connection with Europe.

My journey so far has been a fascinating and rewarding one, but I still feel it is just begininng…

Please feel free to join me as it continues through this blog!