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Friday | Apr 03, 2009

Maureen McKay – Musetta in La Boheme

 

IMaureen McKay 2 cropped have already been charmed by the friendly hospitality of the Omaha-nians (coined after our La Bohème bohè-mians) and the “Old Market District”, in particular. There are some fantastic “antique boutiques” in Omaha! I found a post-card from 1925 depicting the New York City skyline. I am going to have it enlarged for my apartment in Long Island. What a find!

We are in full-swing rehearsal mode at Opera Omaha. This week the cast began working with the talented adult and children opera chorus ensembles – the impressive music coming from these Omaha-nians is brilliant! What is in the water here, or should I say… steak?

This La bohème is special to me for several reasons. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to make my debut as Musetta under Garnett Bruce’s direction and Hal France’s baton – the sky is the limit for artistic possibilities and fulfilling music-making with this artistic team. They are enthusiastically guiding me through the process of exploring this role for the first time. Garnett cleverly directed my first Pamina in Die Zauberflöte last season at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. It is also a treat to work with old friends and meet new ones- the cast is stellar. Musetta’s love interest, Marcello, will be played by my friend Jeremy Kelly. Jeremy was my first Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro during our young artist days at Seattle Opera. We are going to have a blast creating another operatic dynamic duo. I am pleased to have the opportunity to sing my first Musetta in Italian – its original language – before I shift gears and perform it again in German this fall in my debut with the Komische Oper Berlin. Also, I am honored that I will have a dear aunt and uncle in the audience in two weeks along with some other family members!

Opera Omaha’s La Bohème promises to be a special event- it will warm your heart and stir your soul. I am looking forward to meeting and greeting our “Omaha-nian” audience in a few weeks when the curtain rises!

Thursday | Apr 02, 2009

Talise Trevigne – Mimi in the upcoming La Boheme

Yes, my “maninas are gelida”! True to my preferred form of method acting, I called in a few favors and asked for snow to help me get into character. As I walked to rehearsal on what should have been a spring day I got snow, and cold hands. I left my scarf and gloves at home in NYC!

It’s been a magical experience to create my first Mimì amongst new and old friends. It is times like these which remind me of how incredibly blessed I am to have such a wonderful job! I am still finding tears in my eyes as I sing Donde Lieta, although I have been singing it for quite some time now. Bring your tissue to the opera folks!

Yesterday was our first day off, and like true bohemians we spent the day at the wonderful Henry Doorly Zoo! It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to bond with the boys; we’re truly like a little family. I even baked them my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies! Now that is amore!

Monday | Mar 30, 2009

Adam Diegel – Rodolfo in the upcoming La Boheme

“Hello Omaha! What a great opportunity for we as artists and singers to perform one of the greatest operas ever composed. I hope that you all get a chance to experience this amazing musical and artistic event. Puccini’s La Bohème is one of the MOST performed operas in the history of opera and there is a reason for it! You don’t have to know about opera, music or singing; the music is so incredibly beautiful and moving that there won’t be a dry eye in the house. This opera is one of the most accessible operas ever composed. Fellas, this is a great date opportunity! Seriously, come check out La Bohème; you won’t be disappointed. See you at the opera!!”

Adam Diegel

Thursday | Mar 26, 2009

La Boheme – Artist Blogs: Garnett Bruce

Returning to a familiar score like La Bohème is one of the joys of our business. When I open the pages, almost like a journal, my small scribbles, cue indications, marginal comments are links back to memories, great and horrible. In 1996, I was involved in 3 different productions of this opera and all three were beset with trauma. I actually felt the show was cursed and put the score on a shelf for about five years.

Production A was a revival that I was staging for another director in a big theater. We had late arrivals, language barriers, and a slightly enlarged concept – all the neighbors of Rodolfo & friends were added, including the very nosy wife of the landlord Benoit. Extra figures in the piece like this are tricky – especially if the principal artists start to feel neglected or upstaged. That’s when the fur starts to fly! Or illness sets in, feigned or otherwise. I had a footstool hurled at me in rehearsal in anger (and I will never, ever, forget the Italian word for footstool again: SGABELLO!), a soprano storm out in a screaming fury, the original director rip me apart the day he arrived for (god forbid) adapting some bit of business for the new artist in the role, etc. No fun.

Production B was a very small vanity project for a certain soprano. Trying to be helpful ended up getting me roped into not only directing, but supernumerary recruiter, props master, rehearsal space negotiator, scheduler, etc. Somehow, a small donation of time overwhelmed my life for nearly 2 weeks (with very little compensation). I did have a chance to explore some of my own ideas about the piece, but more through the forced compromises of the situation than artistic principals. I suppose “damage control” would be the most apt description. Painful process.

Production C was a last minute replacement situation. It was high-profile revival that needed a good shepherd. However, I wasn’t hired to maintain the production after it opened. On the day of the final performance the scheduled Marcello and Rodolfo were ill. A flu bug was going around, but we had no idea how serious it would get. Schaunard was going to move up to Marcello, and a new Schaunard was located the day before. And I was asked to come back for the day and coordinate. By the end of the performance that evening we had been through 3 Rodolfos, 3 Marcellos, 2 Schaunards, and we were on the verge of losing the Colline to the same flu bug, but he managed to hold it together. I was re-staging scenes behind the curtain at the act changes; we went into 3 increments of overtime. We started Act IV; we had 4 bohemians who had never sung the piece with one another, 3 of whom had never seen the set before! Talk about your nail-biting experiences! Yet the audience was completely thrilled, knowing they were witnessing history! And, it was so earnest, so improvisational, and so emotional; it was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience! And hard enough that I decided to step away from Bohème for a while.

With a piece so familiar, everyone assumes ‘they know it’ and often fail to invest time or energy into re-creating it with new spirit. So, part of my preparation is to acknowledge my past with the piece (those old notes, those ghosts), and relegate it to “foundation” work as we re-animate the piece with our new cast.

I know many of these singers from previous engagements. Some of them are singing these roles for the very first time. Who knows what the conversations will be? Like a great recipe, you can make it again and again, and new ingredients spice things up and keep it fresh. You’ll be hearing from most of them in this blog over the next two weeks, and then seeing the results onstage. I hope the piece will be renewed for you, as we bring our knowledge and experience to focus on a masterpiece of the operatic literature.

Thursday | Mar 05, 2009

Ooh La La – Gala Boheme


FL (aka Fat Lady) here to invite all you darlings to
Gala Boheme at The Slowdown on Saturday March 14th. Inspired by Opera Omaha’s upcoming La Bohème, The Slowdown will be transformed into a high energy cabaret club.
Not your traditional ‘Gala’ – this party has pricing and party options. Join us at 6:15 pm for cocktails and a silent auction followed by dinner and live music by Seattle’s French cabaret styled ensemble group, Rouge. Tickets for the dinner and concert are $200 per person (Bon Vivant Ticket) or $175 per person for young professional 40 years or younger (Bohemian Ticket). For individuals wanting to add a private pre-party, Puccini’s Clique Tickets are $250 per person. The pre-party begins at 5:30 pm and features Rouge vocalist, Janet Rayor, showcasing her stilt walking entertainment.
Want to just check out Rouge? The doors open at 8:00 pm for a Concert Only option. Concert Only tickets are $10 per person.
Tickets and additional information are available by calling Opera Omaha at 346-4398 and online at operaomaha.org.

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