Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Delightful Lisa Vroman

By Wendy German

I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Lisa Vroman who takes the role of Charlotte Malcolm in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music playing November 14-22, 2009 here at the Detroit Opera House. She was gracious enough to share a little of her life with me. What an enchanting lady, with a fantastic approach about her singing, theatre career and towards life. She has made worldwide appearances due to the ease with which she navigates the rage from musical theatre to opera. She played Christine Daae in the Phantom of the Opera on both coasts and touring for years. Her list of vocal performances and theatrical appearances is extensive.

Q: What led you into the world of musical theatre?

A: I had a crossover path, my mother was a choral music educator and my dad was an undertaker. We grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald music all the at home when I was little. My parents would go so often to see her in concert in New York City that I believed this was my “Auntie Ella”, but that is not so.

Q: What motivates you to continue your theatre life?

A: We are the relief for people having a bad day. In this economy, it is the first response to go and put on a CD and listen to your favorite music. We as theatre people provide that escape from the everyday.

Q: What are the best and worst parts of the travel aspect of touring?

A: The worst parts, missing family, my husband and my dog. Best part, I get to travel the world, I was recently in Hong Kong and am booked to work in Beijing for the opening of a new opera house in 2010.

Q: Have you ever performed A Little Night Music before?

A: Yes, I have done ALNM three times, so I know the piece well from all aspects.

Q: How far in advance to you begin to prepare for a role?

A: As soon as I know I am going to do it, however long that is.

Q: What was it like meeting Stephen Sondheim?

A: He was at a rehearsal and tapped me on the shoulder, when I turned around and saw him, I couldn’t speak. Stephen is beautiful music; the complexity of his composing is on another level.

Q: Have you ever visited/performed in Detroit before? Is there anything that stands out for you?

A: Yes, Three times in concert with the Detroit Symphony and also while touring. There is a Pewabic tile store I can’t wait to visit!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

MOT Allesee Dance and Opera Resource Library Online!

The Michigan Opera Theatre’s Allesee Dance and Opera Resource Library just opened up to the public this past month. This is an awesome piece of MOT’s history as it creates a new and very useful resource for Michigan’s cultural history.

The database was created online through a partnership between MOT and Wayne State University. Masters students from WSU’s School of Library and Information Science began working on the project after receiving a $1 million grant in start-up funds from Maggie and Bob Allesee, which also assisted in the transformation of the physical library’s structure.

“What an incredible opportunity to open MOT history to the world through this state-of-the-art online database and our partnership with Wayne State’s School of Library and Information Science,” says MOT Archivist Tim Lentz. “We hope this will be a model for other arts organizations to follow around the country.”

The online database includes a complete performance history and a catalogue of thousands of unique items, including scores, books, CDs, videos, reviews, and many other unique items from MOT productions.

CHECK IT OUT! http://motlibrary.slis.wayne.edu/.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Review: Lost in the Phantom's World

So that you can keep Jonelle and I (and our blogs) straight, I’ll briefly reintroduce myself; I’m Wendy German, a student at the University of Windsor pursuing my B.A. in English and Arts Management. I have a dance, vocal and theatre background and a love of the performing arts. As promised, a review of the Friday September 11th, 2009 evening performance of Phantom.

Phantom of the Opera is a spectacle for the senses. Christine’s naiveté and fear as she steps into the underground lair are almost palpable. The Phantom himself is a magician, manipulative and a monster, both literally and figuratively. The music continues to replay itself over in my mind and is eerie and beautiful. The full company singing Masquerade in elaborate, glittering outfits is a fitting backdrop to the Phantom’s dominate red, skull-faced pirate attire. There are so many moments to mention, the chandelier floating up to the ceiling of the opera house, far above the stage was brilliant. Even thought I watched it happen, it is still hard to believe, how do they do that? (I realize the answer is a wire, however this is an unromantic, logical answer and I prefer to think of it as the magic of theatre!) The evening ended with a standing ovation for the leads, notably appropriate in my opinion. There is still time for you to get lost in the Phantom’s world. The show is here until September 27th.

The next event at the Detroit Opera House is Verdi’s Nabucco. This is an opera about religious epiphany, ascension to the throne, sibling rivalry and a love triangle (what’s opera without a love triangle or two?). With some planning and a little luck I am hoping to view a rehearsal, as we get closer to October. I’ll also have to start thinking about a costume for the Haunted in the House/Opening night of Pilobolus evening; it will have to be something whimsical!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maybe the Opera House is haunted by a Phantom...


With the arrival of Phantom of the Opera, it's only natural to invite you to come and find out if the Phantom really does haunt the House. So come and discover a secret passageway and even a dungeon at Haunted in the House this Halloween!

On Halloween 2009, 10:00p - 1:00am, the Detroit Opera House with be transformed into a haunted palace, inside and out, where everyone will be able to mingle, dance, drink and be merry!

If you're a true Halloween Spirit, you can dress up to enter one of the House's costume contests and win some pretty awesome prizes.

Not only will this event be THE place to be on Halloween, but it is also a great way to support that local arts/entertainment community! “Launching Haunted in the House is a way to try and re-engage the young people that may attend one of our larger events like BravoBravo!,” says MOT Director of Development Mary Parkhill. “We want the next generation of arts supporters to begin to take ownership of the Detroit Opera House, too." All proceeds from Haunted in the House will go to support the dance and opera programming at the world-class Detroit Opera House. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster.

Tickets for Haunted in the House are $35 general admission and $75 VIP tickets that include access to a VIP lounge with an open bar and hors d’oeuvres for one hour, an Opera House Dungeon Tour and valet parking. Guests must be 21 or older, please.

Sounds like a GREAT time to me! See you there!

<3
Jonelle

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And now for the other intern!

As stated previously, Wendy is one of the new interns here at the Opera House and I, Jonelle Pariseau, am the other. :D I graduated from MSU this past May with a Bachelor of Arts in communications and public relations. I also have an extensive dance background that has recently come to include being the Owner/Artistic Director of Studio 8 Dance Arts Center of Southeast Michigan LLC. The studio is a new venture that allows me to continue my passion for the dance arts, which is the main reason I was so excited to receive the position here at the Opera House.

I think it might go without saying, but I really enjoy going to the theatre. My favorite show that I've seen recently is Avenue Q. It is a great show for the twenty-year-old-crowd - VERY funny! I also LOVED RENT. I guess it rubbed off on how much I liked it since Rebekah, our supervisor, gifted me a RENT poster this morning :). (It's gonna look great in my room!)

The Detroit Opera House / Michigan Opera Theatre have a great Dance & Opera season ahead. With shows like Phantom, Nabucco, and The Nutcraker, everyone will be able to find som reason to come down to the Opera House!


Stay posted as Phantom has just opened (September 8-27)and there will be tons of 'insider happenings' you'll want to know about!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Haunting Tale...


My first day as one of the new interns here at the Detroit Opera House was even better than I anticipated. My name is Wendy German. I am an English major as well as pursuing my Arts Management Certificate at the University of Windsor. I will be seeking a career in the theatre/entertainment industry upon completion of my degree. First up was a grand tour of the beautifully restored Opera House. There are so many amazing spaces, lounges, rehearsal halls, staircases and of course the spectacular stage. There was even a secret passage, slightly unnerving when the current show is about a Phantom haunting an Opera House!

Since I have only seen the movie, I am thrilled to be seeing Phantom of the Opera, the musical, for the fist time on stage. A real connection grows between the actors and audience during live theatre so I am expecting to be both mesmerized and enchanted! In anticipation I have been looking up lyrics, and listening to the music. I confess I even changed my screensaver to a picture of Christine and the Phantom. Here are some particulars that might interest you about the touring production that opened here last night. The chandelier is 1,000 pounds (it is massive, I went and peeked) and has 35,000 beads and 50-radio controlled lights. There are 165 wigs used to compliment the 230 costumes for the show. I’ll post again once I have seen the production and let you know what I think. I hope you get a chance to see for the first time, or indulge again in the haunting tale of seduction and despair.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fond Memories at MOT...



My 5th floor view of Comerica Park is going to be missed when I leave today. My co-workers and this incredible building will both be missed as well. Today is my last day interning in the Communications department at MOT, and though I’m excited to return to school, I’d like to savor this summer experience.

Over the past two months, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Detroit Opera House. As the Public Relations and Marketing Intern, I was able to work on press and media kits, explore the marketing aspects of Twitter, and improve my communication skills. Most of all, I was able to experience the day-to-day operations of an opera house. But let’s not forget my exposure to the more lavish side – BravoBravo! 2009 was definitely the highlight of my summer!

As I say goodbye to the building, I know this isn’t my last time to set foot in the Detroit Opera House. Just today, I was recorded singing “Vedrai, carino” (Don Giovanni) for a $1 million dollar Michigan arts grant that MOT will be competing for in August. The competition for the grant relies on Internet donations, so resources such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will be used. The video of me singing was posted on YouTube - at least I can say I left my mark!

There are many people here at the Detroit Opera House that I would like to thank. First and foremost, Ms. Rebekah Johnson and Mr. Michael Hauser for all of their guidance. Mr. John Grigaitis for taking endless pictures for my blog, and keeping the department on their toes with his witty humor. Ms. Kathi Kucharski for letting me work / attend BravoBravo! 2009, which will remain the most memorable party yet. And of course, I cannot forget Dr. David DiChiera, who has made Michigan Opera Theatre what it is today, and ensures what it will be in the future.

A little bittersweet, but I have had a wonderful experience interning here. Classes start up again at UNC in August, so that’s where I’ll be! And who knows…maybe next time I step into a “role” at the Opera House, it will be a role on the stage – not behind the desk. =)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Welcome Aboard – LATOH Presents H.M.S. Pinafore

My mom and sister are both proud members of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society – and while I am not yet a member, I’ve always been a fan. So when I heard that the Learning at the Opera House (LATOH) Operetta Camp was performing H.M.S. Pinafore, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Pinafore, one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous works, is a comedic operetta that plays with love triangles and the separation of classes. Naturally, the captain’s lovely daughter falls in love with a sailor, sparking the initial romantic conflict. Will Josephine find true love with her sailor? Or will she be forced to marry the dreadful Sir Joseph Porter? Well, lucky for us, the LATOH Operetta Camp has been working hard, preparing for their upcoming performance. And one of the directors, Ms. Julie Smith, promises it to be one of the most “outstanding and remarkable groups” yet.

Ms. Smith, a doctoral candidate at Oakland University, says, “Kids come from all different areas, with all different talents. Every child is welcome regardless of ability.” Along with Ms. Smith, voice specialist Wendy Bloom guides the campers, providing them with exceptional vocal and theatrical training. And though the camp runs a tight schedule, Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm, there is no doubt that the youth are enjoying themselves. In fact, let’s see what some of our Pinafore leads had to say:

Why did you decide to do the LATOH Operetta Camp?
“It’s different from being in shows at school; operetta is a whole different ball game from musical theater!” -Raquelle Wilson (Buttercup)

So how’s the show coming along?
“Blocking can get a little tricky, but it’s going to be a great show.” -Duncan Burns (Captain Corcoran)

Have you done LATOH before?
“Yes, this is my 4th year, I love it.” -Mitch Kosters (Dick Deadeye)

Why do you think LATOH is an important program?
“It’s important to introduce classical opera and its culture to today’s youth so traditions can continue.” -Nick Baker (Sir Joseph Porter).

Are you excited for the performance?
“I’m so excited for the show. It’s Friday July 24th, and my family and friends are all coming to see me.” -Madeline Thibault (Josephine)

How has your experience with LATOH influenced you?
“I’ve been performing with LATOH for 6 or 7 summers, and now I’m going to Bowling Green State University to study Vocal Performance.” -Sarah Buckley (Camp Intern)

I think Sarah Buckley is a perfect example of this program’s success. Learning at the Opera House not only provides premier training and performance opportunities for young adults, but also encourages the pursuit of a career in the arts. And with this encouragement, a young Josephine could be one step closer to finding her future role onstage at the Detroit Opera House.

LATOH Operetta Camp will perform H.M.S. Pinafore on Friday, July 24th, at 6pm. Tickets are $5 at the door

**See Slideshow above for rehearsal photos!!**

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Center Stage: Dancers fill the Opera House with ABT Summer Intensive



The sounds of pattering feet, dressed in pointe shoes and ballet slippers, have filled the halls of the Opera House for the past two weeks. This is thanks to the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive, whose Detroit program has been hosted at the Detroit Opera House for 12 years now.

Being held in only five cities, ABT Artistic Director, Kevin McKenzie states, “The mission of ABT’s Summer Intensive is to cultivate a universal understanding of the art form at its highest level.” And a universal understanding it is; 130 of the most talented pre-professional dancers have come together for the four-week program. Their backgrounds range diversely from places such as Italy and Brazil, to our own Michigan, which is represented by 22 local dancers. Offered at four different levels, dancers often return year after year to gain elite experience and exposure.

The partnership between American Ballet Theatre, one of the world’s most prestigious dance companies, the Detroit Opera House and Wayne State University make the Detroit program possible. Throughout the program, young dancers are exposed to instructors from New York, Chicago, and Atlanta, to name a few, and are engaged in four classes a day. The mix of classes incorporates three in dance and one in lecture, discussing topics such as choreography, nutrition, and acting. The dancers shuffle from the Detroit Opera House to Wayne State University depending on the day and are housed in Wayne State dormitories. All of this leads up to a final showcase at the end of the program, which will be held on Friday, July 17th at 1pm and 4pm.

The final showcase is a performance you won’t want to miss. Ms. Samantha Shelton, a 13-year instructor with ABT Intensive, who also teaches at Wayne State University, Rochester School of Dance, and Spotlight Dance Works, gave me some insight into the performance: “Each level will perform two pieces; one is part of ABT repertoire, and the other is choreographed specifically for them.” Ms. Shelton went on to explain that the “violet” group will dance the famous “Paquita” ballet from ABT rep, in addition to an original piece set to Vivaldi, which she will choreograph. ABT national directors will fly in to watch the final performance, making it prime exposure for up and coming ballerinas.

As I observed a rehearsal of the “blue” group, one of the four levels of dancers, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the blockbuster hit, Center Stage. The film follows dancers in an ABT Intensive program, leading up to a final showcase that determines their professional careers. “Similar, but a bit less dramatic,” is how Ms. Shelton compared the Detroit program to that of the movie. But as I watched the girls in black leotards and pink tights, with their hair pulled back into perfect ballet knots, I kept thinking: the next prima ballerina could be perfecting her fuetes and piqué turns - right before my eyes.

The ABT Summer Intensive final performances will be held on Friday, July 17th, at 1pm and 4pm on the grand stage of the Detroit Opera House. Tickets are available at the door prior to the performance, and are $15 for adults and $10 for children under the age of 15.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BravoBravo! 2009 – A Spectacular Success



For the past decade, BravoBravo! has been named “Detroit’s Party of the Year.” This year’s 10th Anniversary was no exception. Bringing together Detroit’s best tastes, sounds, and most beautiful people, the party had glamour written all over it. As the new summer Intern, I had the privilege of attending, selling raffle tickets to VIP guests in the early evening.

Set in a Roaring 20s atmosphere, nearly 2000 flappers and zoot suiters attended in support of the Michigan Opera Theatre and Detroit Opera House. The economic recession was forgotten as the entire Opera House transformed into a lavish, 3-level indoor-outdoor extravaganza. A platform extended the stage, VIP cabanas and lounge areas lined the theatre, and ice sculptures and lights set the mood. Premiere entertainment filled the house, with the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies pleasing crowds and a DJ spinning tracks later in the night.

Tastes from the best restaurants and bars in the Detroit area surrounded the theatre and lined the first, second, and third floors. From sophisticated foie gras to cheesy fondue, there were tastes for everyone. Sanders even had a sundae stand on the second level, and the Jagermeister girls wandered all levels, distributing novelty items in their orange wigs. At every turn, there was a new taste, a new drink, and a fabulous new costume to admire.

Guests agreed that the party was a hit. Mr. Derek Strek, a lifestyle specialist, labeled BravoBravo! a “crucial party.” “Every year, it’s the place to be; beautiful people, great networking,” Strek said. Mr. David Parent agreed, stating, “I love it, it’s my 3rd year.” First timers were equally impressed. “Spectacular, amazing,” described Mr. Josh Suhre, a Wayne State University student who had waited 2 years to attend.

After a decade of partying in style for an excellent cause, BravoBravo! would not be possible without the incredible sponsors and supporters of Michigan Opera Theatre. A special “Bravo” is also in order for General Director Dr. David DiChiera and the MOT staff. By 12:30am, the lights came up at the Detroit Opera House, and people began to clear the theatre. But with young supporters like Mr. Suhre, we can be sure that the theatre will fill again, and BravoBravo! will continue to be a success. Here’s to next year!

Did you miss the festivities?
Check out photos from BravoBravo! 2009, provided by
Michigan Opera Theatre: http://www.michiganopera.org/slideshows/bravobravo2009_ss/index.html
CW 50:

A New Perspective at MOT


Hi, all! My name is Lauren Schultes, and I’m the new Public Relations and Marketing Intern here at the Detroit Opera House. Originally from Grosse Pointe Park, I graduated from Grosse Pointe South with four honor society cords in French, music, theatre, and academics. Around the Detroit area, I was last recognized for my work and dedication as Michigan’s Junior Miss 2007.
I now attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and am approaching my junior year. I am a UNC Kenan Music Scholar, on full scholarship for Vocal Performance. I was also just accepted into the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, bringing me closer to a double major in Music Performance and Business Administration. People are often surprised at the combination of opera and business, but my internship here is just one example of how the two work together!
On campus, I am an active member of Habitat for Humanity, the VP of Marketing for the Carolina Economics Club and Carolina Women in Business, and a member of Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity. I also continue to market a private business of my own, Belles Chansons (beautiful songs), where I am hired to sing for all occasions. While I miss the Carolina blue and southern hospitality, I am so excited to be back in the Detroit area and working with MOT for the summer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

BravoBravo! and My Farewell Letter

The time has come again -- that time is the fabulous BravoBravo! event hosted by the Detroit Opera House. With funding cuts threatening the existence of Metro Detroit's arts organizations, a group of 30 young professionals are taking the lead on filling the funding gaps left by state and corporate sponsorship budget cuts.

On June 5th, 2009 from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., BravoBravo! will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. BravoBravo! co-chair, Carmen Bell Ross, said "Raising money for the arts has never been so important and BravoBravo! makes it easy for the average person our age to make a difference while having fun doing it."


Last year, the event sold out with a record crowd of 2,000 young professionals partying for a cause. BravoBravo! reveals the best sights, sounds, and tastes of Detroit all in one place. The event offers five indoor areas and an outdoor tent for taking in local music acts, lounging, and noshing on food from Detroit's best restaurants and bars.


Guests will see that the theatre's main floor is covered with a platformed joined to the stage to create a large lounge area for mingling and dancing. This is the one event where the gorgeous theatre is transformed into a posh night club.
The event will host 40 different restaurants and bars including Small Plates Detroit, Crave Restaurant & Sushi Bar, The Majestic Cafe, Chen Chow Brasserie, The Century Grill, Opus One, Jacoby's German Biergarden, Union Street Saloon, Slows Bar B Q, 24 Grille, Angelina Italian Bistro, Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes, and Wolfgang Puck.
The event is also hosted by WXYZ's Erin Nicole. In the ten year history, BravoBravo! is pleased to announce its first mainstream national entertainment, The Cherry Poppin' Daddies sponsored by Hard Rock Cafe.

Other local acts include DJ Captn 20, The John Arnold Trio, Malik Alston & the Linwood Ensemble and DJ Frank Raines from Funk Night Detroit. Internationally known Chuck Flask, John Johr and a surprise guest presented by Paxahau and Movement Festival will also be there.
Tickets are available at motopera.org or bravobravo.org.


And now the second part of this posting...



As summer is starting and Winter is ending, so is my semester-long internship at the Detroit Opera House. I not only saw it as a way to a free education and learning professional skills outside the classroom, but also as a way of networking, learning about the non-profit industry of Public Relations and Marketing, and experiencing my field in the real world with unfortunate realities, such as a non-profit surviving in this economy.
For those interested in what I did at the Detroit Opera House as the Public Relations and Marketing intern, here's a little bit about my semester-long experience. I wrote press releases with the amazing Rebekah Johnson guiding and teaching me to becoming a better writer, a created press kits and got the "hands-on" aspect of PR, I searched through magazines and newspapers daily or weekly and found clippings where the DOH was mentioned, I maintained this wonderful blog, interviewed world-famous artists such as Amanda Squiteiri, Stephen Lord, and others, along with helping out simple tasks like making program inserts, entering award contests, updating artists archives, entering events and updating press contacts.

Not only did I get to learn, but I got to go to almost every show during the Winter season for free. I also learned about strategies to be taken in a struggling economy. It makes me feel good knowing that I got to help out a non-profit (or so I hope) during these rough times. It felt good to be part of such a great cause- knowing that audiences are learning with me about opera or enjoying what they already know, that children come to see shows and hopefully are inspired and will one day become artists or supporters in the future.

I'm also glad my dance skills could come of use to my supervisor, Rebekah, at times along with my mad French skills when we were editing the copy of Bravo for Carmen.
Yes, I've had a great semester here at the Detroit Opera House and I hope another intern can benefit from this experience as much as I have. I have learned so much in these past five months and am forever grateful for the opportunity they awarded me. Thanks and farewell!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Interview with Lili Del Castillo

The last and final interview for the Carmen Series is with Lili Del Castillo. I had the pleasure of meeting with Lili and interviewing her with all my desiring questions about the choreography in Carmen. At the very end, you will find a slideshow of Lili coaching Kate Aldrich and Kendall Gladen who both are the lead role in Carmen.

Can you describe the choreography in Carmen?


I essentially give Spanish culture 101 lecture. It starts from the way that Spanish people walk in ordinary times opposed to the way Americans walk. Americans slouch, Spaniards don't so I teach movement so that’s the base. From there I have to work with special ladies that are going to do dance movements within the act and so I teach them very simple moves that immediately say “Spanish” opposed to doing Tap or ballet or something like that. Its all about teaching attitude for Carmen, the strata of society you're dealing with is different than if you were upper class. I deal with movement and I do my own dance. In different Carmen's, sometimes I'm asked more and sometimes less. There have been Carmen's where I dance throughout Carmen, and where I've done the fight scene actually fighting Carmen. So I have to find out what the vision of the director is and what movements best describes what he or she sees as part of the scene.

What do you do to choreograph for each different character?

I do Carmen's, Frasquita's and Micaela and the chorus ladies. So that three levels of command within the group of Carmen's. Carmen is the boss so I give her dominant movement. Frasquita and Micaela are flirtatious, and the chorus ladies are having a good time so I give them more exuberant movement.

Do you often choreograph for operas?

I've been doing it for 15 years. Once I retired from the flamenco world. I got into it and word spread, and this is my last and retirement from opera. So I do Carmen's and La Traviata's. I’ve been trained in Spain, in both Flamenco and Spanish dance and that has helped me in the world of opera.

What do you feel the audience gets out of watching the choreography in an opera?

Excitement, exuberance, and a sense of the emotion from the specific scene.

What got you into dance in general?

From the time I was a little girl, every time I would hear music, stories would come in my head and I loved musicals and the musical movies. My family was a very proper Spanish family- and good girls don't dance. And so, when I was 14 I said I wanted to dance and I started taking lessons in Spanish Dance. When I was a teenager, I am such a stereotype in looks to a gypsy woman and a man who had just come from a company in Spain wanted to start a company in New Mexico, and he said he would train me if I were in his company. From there I married a flamenco guitarist and lived and studied in Spain where we were both on a flamenco troupe over there. When we came back from the U.S. we went to New Mexico and started our own company and toured.

What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

To be able to express what the music says to you. It enters you and through the years of taking lessons you have the technique to interpret the technique into movement that symbolizes your feeling.

Have you been trained in any other styles?

I've had some ballet and some jazz. And it helps a lot. Ballet gives you centering. And jazz lets you have movement flow through you. So ballet and jazz really helped my flamenco.

What is your favorite style of dance/What is your expertise?

For me personally, it would be of flamenco and Spanish classical. For watching any dance, I love beautiful movement of whatever culture or background. A good show is a good show!

Do you teach? Own your own company?

I've retired my company but I do teach and I coach. I teach students in Albuquerque, New Mexico; I like giving them a good base. I don't believe in clones and flamenco is very individual. Your personality comes out when you dance. If you only take from one person you become a clone of them so by taking from many styles, you learn what your style is.

Why did you decide to go down that path?

The only thing I was trained in was dance and in New Mexico there wasn't any other company to join so I started my own. I was fortunate to come into flamenco at the time where there were very few people doing it there and start a company and have a lifestyle strictly in the arts.

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

That one of the great inspirations for me in flamenco is the fact that I'm married to a guitarist and I hear his music constantly and he gives me interpretations. If he gives me music that gives me bright and sunny things, and if I raise an arm he makes something that follows it. I'll give him a word such as “dark and smoky sounding” and he comes out with something that is evocative of something that is dark and smoky. It's been a lot of fun and has been quite the trip for the two of us. We married very young and have been together ever since.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Interview With Homero Velho

Hey again! Our second part of the Carmen interviews is with Baritone Homero Velho. Tomorrow with be the last part of the Carmen interviews with choreographer Lili Del Castillo.



What steps do you have to take in order to prepare for the show?
I guess what I try to do is being as musically prepared as I can. Make sure you have the music really well learned so you can follow what the director wants you to do. So I just try to be as best prepared I can with the music.

What is a typical day like for you when you arrive at the Opera House?
Well if I’m called from 2-5 I will warm up in my room and review a bit of the music and try to mentally think of the scene involved so I am prepared for what we are doing for that day. I guess it’s a little bit of anticipation so I’m prepared and when I get there I just do whatever has to be done.

How would you compare Carmen to other operas you have been apart of?

I think the one thing that sets Carmen apart is the sheer number of hit tunes. It has at least three or four tunes that everyone has heard of once in their life. I think that sets it apart from other operas. It’s one of those operas that becomes famous by its own right.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job?

The fact that I get paid to do what I love. That’s really the main thing that I get paid to do something I like and most of the time I’m lucky in that.

What sparked your involvement with opera?
Singing in my high school choir definitely. I was 16 when I started and gradually got involved with music. I can definitely trace it back to singing in the choir.

What is your favorite opera?
Its hard to choose a favorite opera and you end up getting involved in every one of them. But if I had to choose I would choose Don Giovanni.

What do you think makes opera singers unique compared to singers in musicals or pop singers?
I think we have to have more discipline. Practicing everyday, learning languages, and taking care of our voices. I’m not going to go out drinking every night or anything like that so I think it’s the discipline that sets us apart from other singers.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Carmen-Behind the Scenes Part 1

I had the opportunity to interview Janinah Burnett who will be performing the role of Micaela in the Detroit Opera House's Production of Carmen May 9-17.

What steps do you have to take in order to prepare for the show?
Well I have to learn my notes, learn the words that I’m going to say, memorize what the words are, what I say, and what the character I interact with says. I also have to know the storyline so I get the libretto or the story so I have background information. And I get vocally lined up as well by my teacher if need be.


What is a typical day like for you when you arrive at the Opera House?

First we go into the rehearsal hall and wait for the director to tell us where to start. So I go in and wait until its time for me to go into the rehearsal. Then we run it and he’ll give us notes after we finish. Then we watch the other artists do their scenes and chat a little bit.


How would you compare Carmen to other operas you have been apart of?
Being an opera singer, most of the work that I do I really like. Carmen is really popular because it has a lot of memorable melodies that are rhythmically exciting, which makes it interesting for the artist. Carmen is different because there is a female heroine that is so free, which makes the opera so cool because we have a woman that is unwilling to conform to the norms.


What do you find most fulfilling about your job?

Well I love to sing so just the fact and the ability to do that is really exciting. Singing with other colleagues and singing with the orchestra is the most fulfilling thing.


What sparked your involvement with opera?
In college I had to sing arias from various operas and I was pulled in- I really enjoyed it. When I got to graduate school that’s when I really did opera. And what continued it was to see my colleagues doing it and I really loved it, which inspired me to be apart of it.


What is your favorite opera?
Carmen and Turandot are my two favorites.


What do you think makes opera singers unique compared to singers in musicals or pop singers?
Well the first thing is that we use the amplification of our bodies opposed to microphones. So that’s the primary difference. Other than that, we all have to act. I will say though that opera singers have to be more stage actors than pop singers.

Anything else to share with our readers?
That opera is really a fascinating medium and it seems kind of boring but if you get out to a show like Carmen and draw into the fact that these are just people making these sounds it is fascinating. Also, allow the music to be the catalyst of the emotion that you feel.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2009-2010 Dance Season Announced!

The Detroit Opera House is pleased to announce the details of a dance lineup with something for everyone – ballet, modern dance, and the classics – in a 2009-10 season that includes two exciting debuts and two returning favorites. The 2009-10 dance season includes the Detroit Opera House debut of Pilobolus (October 31-November 1, 2009), the return of the Cincinnati Ballet for The Nutcracker (December 3-6, 2009), Ballet Hispanico (February 13-14, 2010), and the debut of the Tchaikovsky Ballet in Sleeping Beauty (March 26-28, 2010).

PILOBOLUS DANCE THEATRE
October 31-November 1, 2009
Pilobolus Dance Theatre makes their Detroit Opera House debut in October 2009, bringing their athletic and innovative modern dance repertoire to the magnificent Detroit Opera House stage. The internationally-renowned Pilobolus Dance Theatre began in 1971 and quickly became known for their imaginative and athletic exploration of creative collaboration. Pilobolus Dance Theatre will perform at the Detroit Opera House October 30-31, 2009. Repertoire for the performances will be announced fall 2009.

In the nearly 40 years since its founding, Pilobolus has evolved into a pioneering American arts organization of the 21st century. The 2009 season will mark Pilobolus’ 39th year of growth, expansion, and refinement of its unusual collaborative methods to produce a body of over 100 choreographic works. Based in Washington Depot, Connecticut, the company performs for stage and television audiences all over the world. Pilobolus Dance Theatre performances have been characterized by the strong element of physical interaction between company members and contortions of the human body often similar to gymnastics. Company works appear in the repertoires of many major dance companies, including the Joffrey, Feld, Ohio, Arizona and Aspen/Santa Fe Ballets in the U.S., the Ballet National de Nancy et de Lorraine and the Ballet Rhin in France, and Italy’s Verona Ballet.
Pilobolus regularly appears on broadcast media and advertising. Recently the company was featured on the 2007 Academy Awards show, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and most recently, on the Late Show with Conan O’Brien. The company has also appeared in television spots for Mobil, Ford, Toyota, Opel and Hyundai.

THE CINCINNATI BALLET: The Nutcracker
December 3-6, 2009

In December 2009, the Detroit Opera House will once again usher in the holiday season with the Cincinnati Ballet’s captivating production of The Nutcracker, appearing at the Detroit Opera House for the first time since 2003. One of Detroit’s most beloved holiday traditions held annually at the Detroit Opera House, this magical tale will enthrall audiences with Tchaikovsky’s incredible score, performed live by the Michigan Opera Theatre orchestra. The Cincinnati Ballet Nutcracker will entrance Detroit audiences in six performances, December 3-6, 2009.


This enormously popular full-scale production choreographed by Val Caniparoli is an annual tradition for many Detroit families. Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker is rich in glitter, adventure and charm, and features magnificent sets (including a tree that grows 56 feet!), 180 lavish costumes, over 100 local children and mesmerizing special effects full of dazzling surprises including the return of the beloved Mother Ginger. The production’s broad appeal to adults and children alike make it a classic and a holiday tradition for all.
The Nutcracker, presented in 2 acts, is the classic tale of Clara and her Nutcracker Doll as together, they visit the land of fantasies and sugar plums, toy soldiers and Christmas mice all set to the dazzling costumes and sparkling sets of the Cincinnati Ballet. Sets and costumes designed by award-winning children’s book illustrator Alain Vaes and constructed at the Kirov Studios in St. Petersburg, Russia, will delight the young and the young at heart.
The 2009 Nutcracker festivities will again feature special family matinee activities, including box lunches, face painting, photos with Santa and the Nutcracker, and the Sugar Plum Parade – a special opportunity to meet Nutcracker dancers on the stage of the Detroit Opera House.

BALLET HISPANICO
February 13-14, 2010

Ballet Hispanico returns to the Detroit Opera House in February 2010 for the first time since making their Detroit Opera House debut in 1999. Founded in 1970 by Artistic Director Tina Ramirez, Ballet Hispanico is the foremost dance representative of Hispanic culture in the United States, with a professional company which tours nationally and internationally. Ballet Hispanico will perform at the Detroit Opera House February 13-14, 2010. Program repertory will be announced in early 2010.

Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, the Ballet Hispanico Company has performed for over two million people throughout eleven countries, on 3 continents, appearing in such major venues as The John F. Kennedy Center, Houston's Wortham Center, the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, UCLA's Royce Hall, the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, Wolf Trap, Jacob's Pillow, Boston's Celebrity Series and The Joyce Theater. The company's national television appearances include CBS Sunday Morning and, on NBC, Hispanics Today, Latin Access and the 1999 Hispanic Heritage Awards.

Today, Ballet Hispanico performs works by the foremost Latino choreographers as well as emerging artists, including Talley Beatty, William Whitener, Anne Reinking, Graciela Daniele, Sergio Triujillo, and Pedro Ruiz. The Company's innovative repertory fuses ballet, modern and Latin dance forms into a spirited image of the contemporary Hispanic world. Nearly 80 new works have been commissioned by Tina Ramirez from choreographers of international stature such as Alberto Alonso, Talley Beatty, Graciela Daniele, George Faison, Vicente Nebrada and Ann Reinking, and such dynamic young artists as Susan Marshall, Ramón Oller, David Roussève, Pedro Ruiz and William Whitener.

Alumni of the Ballet Hispanico school have gone on to careers in theater (Nancy Ticotin), film (Jennifer Lopez, Leelee Sobieski and Rachel Ticotin) and television (Michael DeLorenzo), as well as with other leading dance companies.

TCHAIKOVSKY BALLET: Sleeping Beauty
March 26 – 28, 2010

Also debuting at the Detroit Opera House is the Tchaikovsky Ballet, one of Russia’s most distinguished artistic companies, with their critically acclaimed production of Sleeping Beauty. With Tchaikovsky’s famous and whimsical score performed live by the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, and Marius Petipa’s glorious choreography as the foundation for this enduring ballet classic, Sleeping Beauty, will be performed March 26-28, 2010.

Somewhere in an imaginary land, the Princess Aurora is born, and the king calls for a grand christening celebration in which all the fairies of the kingdom are invited to welcome the newborn child. The ceremony is interrupted by an evil-doer who curses the princess and says she will one day prick her finger and die. Luckily, a fairy gives a present to the princess and says that the princess will not die when she pricks her finger, but instead will fall into a deep sleep and will be awoken by a prince after 100 years. On the princess’s 18th birthday, she pricks her finger and sleeps for 100 years until her prince charming awakens her with a kiss.

Since the premiere of their first ballet season in 1926, The Tchaikovsky Ballet Theatre of Perm, Russia, has produced a growing number of classical and contemporary works, with an emphasis on the operas and ballets of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The magic of several Kirov artists profoundly influenced the ballet company, which shares in the standards and styles of the Kirov school. The company is unique in that it draws all of its dancers from its own school, one of the most prestigious training institutions for ballet in Russia. The Tchaikovsky Ballet’s artists have distinguished themselves in national and international ballet competitions and festivals, and have won international fame. They are now known throughout the world from numerous foreign tours and appearances at international arts festivals in Viena, Bregentz, Spoleto, Seget, Dubrovnik, and Servantino in Mexico.

For tickets visit www.motopera.org or call the ticket office at(313) 237-SING (7464).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stephen Lord's Interview Q & A's

This is the last part of our interview series for The Elixir of Love. We will have more updates about the Detroit Opera House later this week! Enjoy.

Stephen Lord


What steps do you have to take in order to prepare for the show?

In order for me to prepare for this show, I have to know the singers- In this sort of music you have to know what the singers can and cannot do- you have to rehearse with the singers and have the same common goals. And hopefully the acting will come as we continue to rehearse.

When people start gathering for the production, what is a typical day like for you?

I have to be with the singers individually so we get to know and trust each other. So my typical day I will have an hour or hour and a half with just me the piano and the person and I can hear how they sing it and we come to an agreement. Then we start putting people together so they get to know each other. This is usually a two day process. If we don't establish that rapport in the beginning you don't get a complete product.

How would you compare Elixir of Love to other operas you may have conducted?

To quote Benjamin Brittan “the notes are all the same, they're just arranged differently.” This is a comedy with a lot of heart and I try to find the operas with the most honest sentiment. Its funny, but its also about a lovers misunderstanding. It has its own life in itself. I wouldn't conduct it if I didn't love it.

What is your favorite score of music to conduct?

My favorite operas to conduct are Norma, Salome, and the Marriage of Figaro.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job?

Communicating with my performers. When we're all on the same wave length, theres no feeling like it. Its a love fest. Its the give and take between us as performers. Its the unsaid things thats the most fulfilling part of it.

Is there any kind of unique story you could tell that you have experienced?

I started my career here- my first job is at the MOT doing the barber of Seville on tour. We opened in Alpena, MI, that's where my career started. I'll always be very thankful for starting me on this wild path. And I've been doing this for 35 years. In Michigan I made some of my most significant professional friends first and we've stayed friends this 35 years.

I read in your bio that you have conducted both traditional and contemporary works- Do you
favor one style over another?

Yeah, I favor the traditional ones because they're the ones that need the most help. They've become cliché written, you have to invent the musical demands opposed to contemporary. You have to find out whats behind the notes and not just do the notes.

What kind of relationship do you have to have with the singers in order for the score to come together?

I'm reuniting myself with old friends, but I have several cast members I've never met before, but its establishing new relationships and its very wonderful once you've been in the business for a long time. And I hope it shows to the public. We cant forget in opera that we have the singers but we also have the orchestra, and we have to bring them into the family as we do it.

Anything else you would like to share?

Historically people have found relief from the grind of everyday and the hard times that they have they found it through art and hopefully In these bad times, we can give them back some of what they have invested in by spending money thats hard to come by. Hopefully they'll feel rewarded by us.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

OPERA-TUNE-ITY Continued...

Hello again! As promised, here are Ken's interview questions and answers. Look forward to seeing Stephen Lord's questions and answers tomorrow!

Ken Saltzman



As stage manager for The Elixir of Love, what kind of preparation are you responsible for?

I do a lot of information gathering to prepare the foundation for a good rehearsal process. I prepare a score that I work out of which becomes my production book containing all the cues for the show. I also am the scheduler so I am gathering all the info from the conductor and staff members to coordinate all our production meetings and rehearsals. I touch base with all of the guest artists and make sure that everyone knows whats going on- that everyone is informed and that there are as few surprises as possible. I also work with my two assistants that help me with all of the preparations. We prepare paper work for the rest of the Production team, the rehearsal hall for day-to-day rehearsals, and divide responsibilities to balance our work load.

As we approach the show, what is a typical day in your shoes like?

There are three phases to a shows progress: the preparations and rehearsal period, the tech process, and performances. I prepare a daily schedule, I distribute rehearsal notes to the different departments and keep everyone informed of what’s happening in rehearsals to lay the foundation for tech week. During tech week, everything grows exponentially when we move to the stage. We inform our Stage Hands and Wardrobe and Wigs/Make-up colleagues of what they need to do to support the show. And in the performance process we make sure that everyone is does what they are responsible for so that everything goes swimmingly. It’s a live performance so anything can happen.

What other responsibilities do you have with coordination of all the people involved (cast, musicians, costumes, etc)?

I have contact with everyone for various reasons, from the General Director to the Stage Hands and front-of-house. I have to communicate with everyone.

Is the production of Elixir different than other operas? Is this opera more difficult or easier in any way?

Because it has been put in a more modern time, that changes things a bit. It’s a smaller show in some respects, the cast is smaller, the run of performances is shorter. But for the most part it’s another opera. This seems to be more manageable than many. It's one set that doesn't move, its a smaller Chorus, fewer Supers, fewer Principals, it’s a remount of a show that has been produced before so we are not recreating the wheel.

During the shows, what is your role and how do you make the opera run smoothly?

During performances I see myself as the calm voice through the chaos. It’s essentially up to the Maestro and Stage Management to guide all the variables involved to create a performance. Stage Management is responsible for cueing every entrance including the Maestro, every curtain rising, every lighting change, trouble-shooting when anything goes awry. Once the house lights go to half, there’s no stopping it. In a musical, the actors can improvise or the Orchestra can vamp if something goes wrong, but in opera it’s like a big snowball rolling downhill and there’s no stopping it once the house lights go out. I and my two Assistants do everything possible to support the Artists in giving their best performances.
What do you like most about being the stage manager for an opera?
Everyone has their own talents and I see a large part of mine trying to be a good facilitator so the artists can give their best. I like pulling all the different parts together and creating a whole with all of my colleagues. Its great to see from first rehearsal to closing night especially if it’s a real challenging piece. To see it all come together is very satisfying, along with earning the respect of my colleagues. I get a lot of satisfaction from working with great people.

Is there anything about your job that you would change?

If Stage Managers were compensated more closely to that of their colleagues, better Stage Managers would stay in the business longer.

Are there any unique stories you would like to share?

I was doing a show at which the Producer happened to be a bass baritone. And during the curtain call the Producer said something in a loud bass baritone voice and the stage hand thought I called the curtain in just as the singers lowered their heads for a bow. The curtain was motorized and could not be stopped. And the singers rose up from their bow a fraction of a second before the curtain clobbered them all. The moral of the story is- keep deep-voiced producers away from back stage at all times.

Anything else I can share with my readers?

This is my 8th season with MOT. It's my 27th year in this business. Carmen was my first opera here in 2001 and I’m excited to be doing it again in May. I feel very fortunate to have been entrusted with two world premieres with this Company where most Stage Managers rarely have the opportunity to do one. I'm looking forward to my 9th season.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Unique OPERA-TUNE-ITY

Hello once again! I appologize that it has been so long from my last post, but I have some amazing interviews to share with you! The Elixir of Love will be at the Detroit Opera House performed by the Michigan Opera Theatre March 27- April 4 (buy tickets at motopera.org). I had a chance to interview the wonderful Soprano, Amanda Squitieri, Production Stage Manager, Ken Saltzman, and conductor, Stephen Lord. I asked them about opera and what it means to them.

Amanda Squitieri

What steps do you have to take in order to prepare for the show?


The first thing that you have to do is first of all make sure that its right for you, second if its a language thats not one of your languages, you start with the text first, because we are telling a story, and since we have words, the text is really important. I read the whole libretto first, and if its in Italian or English I just keep reading through and understand the story. If its in a language I don't know, I go to a diction coach and get a handle of of to pronounce it. And then, for me, once I have a handle on all of the words, the music comes a lot easier. I couldn't imagine just jumping into a piece and going straight to the music. Each language also has it's own melody. And then theres of course, where it takes place, what the people are like, what status your character has, the story- theres just a lot of research that goes into it. Then thinking about your character, you have to think about what you would bring to it. For example, Adina can seem mean, but shes educated and a land owner and she has certain standards and expectations, so you just kinda learn why people act the way they do and you can add the layers on after that.

What is a typical day like for you when you arrive at the Opera House?

The first thing we usually do is a music rehearsal whether its one on one or with a group and run through the whole thing and get to know each other musically a little bit. Before we start the staging.

How would you compare Elixir of Love to other operas you have been apart of?

I love the music, I love the text, its light and comic but it has depth also. Theres some musical lines and text that's pretty deep- its not just a typical slap stick comedy. It can be more than what it seems, its fun and beautiful.

What is your favorite score of music to sing?

I thought I did have one, but this past year, I learned the Cunning Little Vixen and I got introduced to the music...I'm at heart a Puccini girl, and I feel that is where I belong. I think Boheme, I had a lot of fun with Rondine- I think Puccini in general really touches me.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job?

That I get to do it. I am really thankful everyday that this is my job. The fact that I'm doing something that I've wanted to do since I was 12 is really special to me. I love that I get to come to work, tell stories, sing beautiful music, I get to do exactly what it is that I can imagine myself doing.

What sparked your involvement with opera?

I was about 12 years old and I was looking in the news paper and I saw there were auditions for The King And I and I asked my mom if I could audition for it. And I memorized a song from the videocassette and they took me. They were opera pushers and when I was 13 I started taking opera lessons with them, I learned every aria they gave me and I fell in love with it. Its just something that came to me, I didn't search out, but once I found it, I chased after it.

What is your favorite opera?

I don't have a favorite opera, I've sung everything from extreme modern opera to baroque opera. In the end I wind up putting everything I can into each piece I do. A lot of times you become apart of it. You want to tell them the best story that you can. In the end, you give it everything. Naturally you're going to love it.

What do you think makes opera singers unique compared to singers in musicals or pop singers?


First thing is that we have to have a technique that is healthy enough and strong enough to cut through an orchestra without being microphoned in pretty big spaces. Its a completely different way of singing.


***********************************

Look forward to seeing Ken's interview tomorrow and Stephen's the day after!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interview with Sarah Smith

Hello once again! As you may know, Romeo and Juliet is being performed this weekend at the DOH by the amazing American Ballet Theatre. I had the chance to interview a member of the corps de ballet, Sarah Smith. Here's what Sarah had to say:

At what age did you start dancing?

I started when I was six and I started to do the pre-professional training when I was 11.

What made you want to become a ballet dancer?

Honestly, I have a sister that is a year older than me, and I did everything she did. So when she started ballet class, I had to start ballet class too. At age 12, I did the ballet Giselle and that was my first big ballet and that’s when I knew I had to do it for a living.

Have you always wanted to dance with ABT?

Yes, it was always a dream to me. I had to dance somewhere, so I would dance for any company as long as I was making a living out of it.

What was you most challenging experience with dance?

I would say injury. My senior year in high school I had a stress fracture in my foot. Just anytime you’re injured its hard.

What was your most accomplishing experience with dance?

Definitely, getting into ABT.

How do you feel dance has made you a better person?

I think with the acting that’s involved, you have to take on so many different roles. It just makes you really get a feel for what each kind of person experiences. It’s also made me appreciate my body more.

What is a day in your shoes like at the ABT?

It varies a lot, but typically class then seven-hour rehearsals with a one-hour break. Some days we’ll have a longer time for breaks than others, it just depends. It’s most strenuous when we’re performing.

What other dreams would you like to accomplish in life?

I would love to have a family one day and experience life with family. If I find another passion with work, then that would be great too.

What do you like most about performing with ABT?

I would say the repertoire that we get to do, the choreographers we get to work with, the costumes, the set. The thing above all that is the people you get to work with, the company members are so great.

Do you have a message you would like to send out to dancers that are reading this blog?

Push through the times that get tough and don’t loose hope because its so rewarding once you get through it. Also, don’t take any one person’s opinion too seriously.

Do you have anything you would like to tell or say to readers in general?


Just love what you do and enjoy every minute of it, whether its ballet or anything.



So come see the show this weekend! I had a sneak-peak and I can say that it's absolutely breathtaking!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coming Soon to the DOH!

The Detroit Opera House is welcoming the Grand Rapids Ballet Company again this year with their production of Aladdin. Go back in time to an enchanted Middle Eastern landscape with princesses, theives, and genies that make your wildest dreams come true. I've always loved the story of Aladdin and Jasmine and I'm very excited to see the Company's interpretation in movement. This full-length production will include lavish costumes, wonderful set-design, and of course beautiful dancers.

I saw the Grand Rapids Ballet Company last year when they performed Peter Pan. Of course being a performance intended for children, the performance and theatrics were never dull.

Romeo and Juliet by the American Ballet Theatre is also coming to the DOH. In case you're not aware, the American Ballet Theatre is one of the best ballet companies in the world. Having them at the DOH is just simply amazing! I'm not sure if any of you have seen the movie Center Stage, but there is a clip in the movie where the company is performing Romeo and Juliet with Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel. Take a look:








[p.s.] According to IMDB.com, "When Cooper blows Jody off after the performance and walks off with another girl ( leaving Jody standing alone by the door) the "other girl" is played by Ethan Stiefel's real-life girlfriend, Gillian Murphy," who is playing Juliet at the Opera House on one of the days! Can I just say, "AMAZING!"?

So those are just a couple of things to look forward to in the next month here at the DOH!

Talk to you guys soon!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Alvin Ailey Touches the Human Spirit Once Again

As I noted in previous posts, I went to go see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on Thursday and Sunday. Although both of those nights consisted of the same pieces, chills went down my spine and I could feel the rhythm and passion in my heart. The dancers were not only amazing in technique but also in the life they brought to the dance itself.

I took my little sister from Big Brothers/Big Sisters to the Sunday show. She had never seen a dance concert (or any kind of live theatrical concert) before, so Alvin Ailey was quite the experience for her. She said she liked the duets in Festa Barocca, along with the entire series of Revelations. On the way home, she couldn't stop talking about how much she wants to be a dancer just like the dancers in Alvin Ailey. After every piece I'd ask her things like, "Wasn't that beautiful!" and "Did you think that was completely gorgeous, or what?" Of course she just laughed, smiled, and agreed with me.

She and I were flipping through the publication of Bravo and she was so excited that Aladdin was coming in late February. (I told her I might be able to score some tickets- V.I.P. style) I let her know all there was to know about the Grand Rapids Ballet Company and how I saw their production of Peter Pan last year and I thought it was great.





Aladdin is being performed at the Detroit Opera House on February 28th at 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. The full-length production includes lavish costumes, scenery that transforms the stage into a Middle Eastern landscape, a full rangeof orchestral music, a Genie of the Lamp that grows, and of course, amazing choreography by Artistic Director Gordon Peirce Schmidt.



I'll let you all know if I'm going- Maybe if you do go and you find me- we can get a fabulous picture of ourselves up on here!



Also coming to the Detroit Opera House this month is Rent (and the readers gasp with excitement!). Rent will be performed February 17-22 and will star original cast member Anthony Rapp and Broadway cast member Cary Shields.

I don't think I really have to explain what this one is about. Come on- If you haven't heard of Rent yet, you've been living under a rock. But just in case you would like a reminder, BroadwayInDetroit.com says:
RENT is the classic musical about love, friendship and community, and the seventh longest-running show in Broadway history. Now, RENT is coming to Detroit in a new touring production starring original Broadway cast members Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp!
Over the course of its groundbreaking 12-year New York run, RENT transformed the definition of musical theater -- and changed Broadway forever. Set in NYC's East Village, RENT is a modern take on the classic Puccini opera, La Boheme. It tells the unforgettable story of a group of young artists learning to survive, falling in love, finding their voices and living for today.





The showings are:


Tuesday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 18 at 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 19 at 8:00 p.m.
Friday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 21 at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 21 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 22 at 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m.





For ticket information visit http://www.motopera.org/

See you all again soon!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater This Weekend!





Hello Again!
Wow- I feel like it's been forever! But this weekend we have the AMAZING Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater coming to the Detroit Opera House. I am super excited to go see them. The company is not only amazing because of the dancing they do, but also what they represent.









Alvin Ailey Jr. was born in 1931 and studied with great dancers in history like Lester Horton, Martha Graham and Charles Weidman. He started the company in 1958 and included a multicultural/multiracial cast of dancers. His style includes inspiration from jazz, modern and African dance elements. Revelations is considered his masterpiece and will be performed every night that they perform at the Detroit Opera House. Other pieces being performed include Festa Barocca, Treading, Blues Suite, Suite Otis, Go in Grace, and Anniversary Highlights.


Here is a clip from Blues Suite:




Alvin Ailey said, "Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people."

See you at the show! (I'll be at the shows in bold!!! Come see me!)
Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14 at 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2:30 p.m.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Alvin Ailey in the House! (The Detroit Opera House that is)

So, Alvin Ailey is coming to the Detroit Opera House from February 12 to the 15. The company is in its 50th anniversary year and has been pushing boundaries of modern dance in America by showcasing the power and importance of black cultural expression.
One of the most popular and performed dances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre is Revelations. Let me tell you: It is an experience! Here is an excerpt:


Isn't that beautiful?! I'm very excited about the show- as you should be too!

This past weekend, I went to the International Association for Blacks in Dance Conference (a.k.a. IABD) and I got to meet George Faison, who danced with Alvin Ailey in the 60's. He later went on to choreograph The Wiz, and concerts for Earth Wind and Fire along with Gladys Knight and the Pips. Here's a picture of Faison and I at IABD.


And another one of us laughing and joking around. We're best buds!

I'll be at the Thursday night showing if you want to come find me!

Dates and Times:
Thursday, Feb 12 at 7:30
Friday, Feb 13 at 7:30
Saturday, Feb 14 at 2:30 and 7:30 (Now that would be a cute V-Day Date!)
Sunday, Feb 15 at 2:30

Visit motopera.org for ticket information.

Talk to you guys soon!