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.