by Suzanne Calvin
In this star-spangled month of July, the question that comes to mind is “What are the defining characteristics of an American Opera?” Should it be opera on identifiable American themes? Operas merely set in one of the fifty states? Or exhibiting a particularly American musical idiom? Operas composed by men and women who claimed the Americas as their “home” – either North or South?
For simplicity’s sake, I opted for the last definition when I contacted some of my favorite critics and opera writers, asking them to weigh-in on the three greatest “American” operas. The critics were allowed to rank them—one, two and three—or present them as a trio of equals, and their choices were assigned a numerical value based upon those decisions. Some critics asked to keep their participation or comments unattributed, others did not.
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moderated by Megan Meister
This month, I am sitting down with Hannah Rigg (Jack), Emily Hueske (Mother/Wife) and Travis McGuire (Giant/Trouble). They are performing in our TDOpage2stage production of John Davies' childrens' opera, Jack and the Beanstalk. Our first public performance is on Saturday, October 27th.
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Purchase a TDO Family Subscription before July 20, 2012, and receive two FREE passes to campTDO on July 27, 2012 (a $50 value!). campTDO is a three-hour workshop designed to give kids hands-on experience of what it takes to perform live opera.
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From the Desk of Jonathan Pell
Yesterday I went to a matinee at American Conservatory Theater of Kander and Ebb’s last collaboration before Fred Ebb’s death, the musical The Scottsborough Boys, in a production directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Susan Stroman.
Based on the notorious series of trials that began in 1931 in Alabama where nine innocent African-American boys, ranging in age between 13 and 17, were convicted of raping two white women, the audacious conceit of the production is to present it in the style of a minstrel show.
The impact was devastating.
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“The Arts and Sciences, essential to the prosperity of the State and to the ornament of human life, have a primary claim to encouragement of every lover of his country and mankind.”
— George Washington
“I loved your opera so much. It was so good that when it ended I was yelling “awesome” over and over again. My favorite character was Dr. Miracle because he was awesome. This opera was one of the best things I've ever seen.”
— Aidan, 3rd grade
Facebook Question of the Week
“Ballad of Baby Doe.”
“Porgy and Bess!”
“Floyd's Susannah!! Oh, but Barber's Vanessa, too. Tough to choose.”
“I have seen three operas and none of them were American, so I don't know right now. But I plan to become educated :)”
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