Parlando: The COC Blog


Best Lines from Nixon in China

Last week, Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, tweeted a few lines from the libretto of Nixon in China, tagging them with the hashtag #favoritenixonlines (a hashtag is a way to tag your tweet as relating to a certain subject, so that others with an interest in the subject can find it quickly). Soon lots of others were jumping in to submit their own favourites. I've collected many of them here, starting with the original tweet: 

@alexrossmusic: A car roars past, playing loud pop. 

@alexrossmusic: Let Gypsy Rose kick off her high-heeled party shoes.

@harveypenguin: It's prime time in the USA! 

@N8Ma: As our hands shield the spinning globe from the flamethrowers of the mob.

@InklessPW: The rats. The rats begin to chew the sheets. 


Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (0) / permalink


John Adams is Blogging

Nixon in China is the only opera in our mainstage season composed by someone still living, and this leads to a lot of other "onlys:" He's also the only composer in our mainstage season with a twitter account (@HellTweet) and a blog. He has a Facebook page too, but then again, so does Mozart (although it's not quite the same thing). 

I highly recommend reading his latest blog post, about casting the original production of Nixon in China. Here's an excerpt: 

"The most punishing writing of all, that for Chairman Mao, required of the tenor John Duykers that he virtually reprogram his voice. Instead of composing reasonably modulated lines that allow the vocal musculature to periodically relax and recoup its strength, I gave him lines that started on a high wire and just mercilessly remained up in the stratosphere. I must have been thinking at the time that if Mao were going to be heard by a billion Chinese he would have to sing very loud and very high—all the time. Duykers 'created' the role in every sense of the word, finding ways to exploit not only the 'heroic' quality of his voice but also using his imposing stage presence to evoke a larger than life presence perfectly suited to the Mao of those classic posters and statues. He was indeed the model of the philosopher-dictator, the wily strategist who stumped the Americans while dallying with his young secretaries."

Of Thomas Hammons, who created the role of Henry Kissinger and will be singing it in our production, he writes: 

"The bass buffo role of Henry Kissinger was sung with humor and gusto by Thomas Hammons. He has continued to sing it in the intervening years in various other productions around the country. In the Peter Sellars production Kissinger morphs into cartoon-like gangster in the second act ballet and has to be as nimble as a ballet dancer. Tom did the morphing with zeal. Kissinger has perhaps the most humiliating final exit of any role in the operatic repertoire. He doesn’t die in a duel, nor does he ride off into the sunset on a white steed. He simply asks where the toilet is and says 'Excuse me for one moment, please.'"

Go read the whole post! It's fascinating stuff.

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (0) / permalink


Two Opera 101 Events Coming Up

Opera 101
 has consistently been one of our most popular events over the last few years. Usually held three times per season (once for each run), this winter we're offering a double dose: an event for each opera. Opera 101 events are free and relaxed, and give you a chance both to learn about the operas you're about to see and interact with members of the creative team. Here's what's coming up: 

Friday, Jan. 7: Isabel Bayrakdarian and The Magic Flute

Isabel Bayrakdarian will be familiar to many of you. We've seen her most recently at the COC as Ilia in Idomeneo last spring, and Mélisande in 2008's Pélleas et Mélisande. Even those who have never been to the opera may find her voice hauntingly familiar: her vocals were featured in the Grammy-winning soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers as well as that of Atom Egoyan's Ararat.  

She will be our Pamina in The Magic Flute (sharing the role with Simone Osborne), a role she has also sung to great acclaim at the Metropolitan Opera. 

Johannes Debus, our Music Director and the conductor of The Magic Flute, will also be lending his insight to the discussion. At Opera 101, they will chat with the CBC's Brent Bambury and answer questions from the audience. 

This event takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (doors at 5:30) at the Duke of Westminster, 77 Adelaide St. W., First Canadian Place. For the hungry, there will be complimentary appetizers. Tell us you'll be attending on Facebook.

Also check out this blog post at Definitely the Opera about Isabel Bayrakdarian, the relationship between science and music, and Romilda.

Photo © Dario Acosta 2005

Wednesday, Jan. 19: Robert Orth and Nixon in China 

When you see Robert Orth on stage you may find his presence hauntingly familiar as well, but for a different reason. He'll be portraying someone whose image has repeatedly appeared on prime time television, the front pages of newspapers, political cartoons, documentary films, and the glossy photo inlays of history books—that is, former President Richard Nixon. By all accounts, his performance is uncanny. Of his performance as Nixon at Vancouver Opera during the Winter Olympics, The Globe and Mail wrote that "from the first moments of baritone Robert Orth’s descent down the steps . . . he is Richard Nixon."

His task as a singer and actor is complex: portraying a real-life figure in the midst of a sequence of events that much of the audience will have seen on television, and working with a living composer acknowledged as one of the most important of his generation. His conversation with Brent Bambury is sure to be fascinating. 

Note the different venue and start time for this event: It begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Drake Hotel (Drake Underground). Here's the Facebook event to let us know you're coming!

Photo © 2004 Ken Howard, Opera Theatre St. Louis

Posted by Cecily Carver / in Opera Appreciation / comments (0) / permalink

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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



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