Saturday, October 30, 2010

What exactly is The BLO Bunch?

We get it. A lot of young people probably think opera is stuffy. Staid. For the older set. But what if opera – with its gorgeous divas, dashing maestros, grand costumes and over-the-top storylines – could be interactive? What if it could connect students with a broader community of other young lovers of music, high drama and theatre?  

That’s exactly what BLO aims to do this season, by offering students a chance to join The BLO Bunch. Not only can students save a ton of money on great seats by subscribing to Boston Lyric Opera’s full seasonal program, but students can connect online, in the theatre and after performances.

BLO Bunch members will attend the opera in a theatre filled with other students during the Wednesday Series this season at Boston’s elegant Shubert Theatre. During intermissions, they’ll have access to a special Twitter lounge, where they can broadcast to friends and followers how much fun they’re having. After the show, they’ll move on to a student-only after-party. Subscriptions start at just $51!

The first performance of the student series is November 10th.

To join the conversation, use the hashtag #BLOBunch. Look for the Twitter Lounge in the upper-mezzanine lobby, or tweet from your seat during intermission and keep an eye out for other BLO Bunch members in the theatre! We'll have our flip cameras and we'll be looking for the newest stars of our videos, like these.

When you leave the theatre on November 10th, don't leave the experience behind! Share your impressions and pictures on this blog! By submitting your photo, you could be the next face featured in The BLO Bunch online!

Passive theatre is so passe. See you at the opera!

- The BLO Bunch

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let's go to the opera!

To see or not to see, that is the question. For a Theatre Studies major and someone who loves the performing arts, I try to see as many shows as I can. Going to school in Boston has now made that more accessible for me. And student rush tickets? Best invention in the whole world. Whoever thought of that deserves an honorary award.

But here’s something I’ve been thinking about though: Tosca. Opera? What’s that? Of course, in general, I know what an opera is. But really, what is it? What does it really feel like to see it onstage? How will it feel when I can witness it in person? How moved will I be when I can see it all happening in front of me? And wait… Student subscription at the Boston Lyric Opera? Is that REAL?!? This is exactly what I need. How else am I going to experience opera? This is the perfect antidote for my opera curiosity without leaving my wallet completely empty.

So get ready! I’m breaking out my pretty dresses and heels. I’m going to the opera

- Ying Songsana, Emerson College

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What BLO offers, a student perspective

I love the quality of Boston Lyric Opera productions! The BLO strikes a great balance (in my opinion) between interesting and unique productions and staying true to the nature of the opera and composer. (In other words, they are not too esoteric or modern for the sake of being modern.) While it is a relatively small opera company compared to, say, the Met, I find that the quality of the singers has always been very high, and they don't rely on "big names". Another aspect of the BLO that I love is the amount of outreach and opera education they do around Boston. The annual family opera is always so well done and is a perfect way to introduce children to opera and to show them that opera doesn't have to be stuffy and boring, but a lot of fun!

The BLO is always eager to reach out to the community and provide a great opera experience for people of all ages. The student subscription is such a wonderful way to make it possible for students on a budget to be able to spend a great night at the opera. Also, because tickets aren't as expensive, we can afford to go to all 4 shows, instead of spending all of our money on one or two. 

As a volunteer with the BLO in high school and as an intern now, I have witnessed first hand what an amazing job this company does of making sure their members and the whole community is satisfied with the whole experience, from buying the tickets to special accommodations to the show and more. With the addition of David Angus as music director, and being present at his meeting last week with the staff, there was a palpable excitement in the air as he explained his vision for BLO in the future and I really believe that he is going to take the high quality of Boston Lyric Opera and elevate it even further. This is definitely the time to be seeing the BLO shows and to get involved, because it's on the cusp of truly coming into it's own as an opera company!
- Hannah Shule, Boston University

Monday, October 18, 2010

Can't wait until Tosca opens?

Get an exclusive sneak preview of BLO's 2010-2011 Season!

Singers Michelle Trainor (soprano), Nicole Rodin (mezzo-soprano), Jeffrey Hartman (tenor) and Anton Belov (baritone) along with pianist Noriko Yasuda worked with director Erik Friedman to craft a very special concert with selections from each opera featured in the 2010-2011 Season. The company traveled to local venues, sharing the music. Watch selections from the October 6 concert held at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth!

- The BLO Bunch

What will my seat be like?

Sometimes attending the theatre is a nerve-wracking experience simply because we don't know where to sit! What will the seats be like? How much does it cost? Will I have a good view? Where is the bathroom? How do I get to my seat? Who will be sitting next to me? There are SO many unknowns!

The Shubert Theatre has 1500 seats. Every person has his/her own idea of a good theatre experience, so before you buy tickets, think about what is important to you:
Do you like having leg room?
Do you like sitting on an aisle?
Do you want the best sound quality possible?
Do you want to be so close that you can see the singers sweat?

Maybe you just want the experience of attending the theatre...then maybe the cheap seats are the best choice for you! Everyone is different, so tell us what YOU like!

If you desire an entirely stress-free opera experience, subscribe with The BLO Bunch because you'll be seated with other students! Still on the fence? Join two staff members on a tour of the Shubert Theatre, exploring all sections of the house.

- The BLO Bunch

Friday, October 15, 2010

Boston Has an Opera House, Right?

If you walk on Washington Street (passed Boston Common Coffee), you will encounter a building emblazoned with the words: The Boston Opera House.  Surely, you must think, this is Boston’s opera house, where all opera should be performed.  Indeed, the Boston Ballet now calls this place home.  Why on earth doesn’t the Boston Lyric Opera or Opera Boston use this facility?  Because, quite simply, this building was built as a vaudeville theater and is not designed for opera. 

The B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre (as it was originally known) opened on October 29, 1928.  It was built under the supervision of Edward Franklin Albee (1857-1930) as a memorial to his late business partner, Benjamin Franklin Keith (1846-1914).  No expense was spared when the building was built.  After life as a vaudeville theater, it eventually became a movie house with the occasional vaudeville show.  In 1965, the theatre was purchased by the Sacks Theatre Company, who renamed the theatre the Savoy.  By 1978, when Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston was in desperate need of a home, her company bought the theatre, which it held until 1991, when her company went bankrupt.  The house fell into disrepair until 2002, when a major renovation by Clear Channel Communications was initiated.  When The Opera House was finally opened, its first show was The Lion King.

Unfortunately, the pit area is far too small to do any reputable operas, hence why it usually presents musicals.   Sarah Caldwell would not let this deter her in the pursuit of opera, except her bankruptcy, will can deter anyone, especially when people come looking for money!

The harsh reality is that Boston once did have an actual opera house, which opened on November 8, 1909, near Symphony Hall.  The building sat 2,700 people, had no obstructed views, and at the time, had the largest stage in the United States.  No expense was spared as the owner of the building, Eben D. Jordan, Jr. (of the department store Jordan Marsh) wanted Bostonians to experience opera in the grandest way possible.  Quite unfortunately, the organization that the opera house was built for, the Boston Opera Company, went bankrupt after a few short seasons.  The opera house was bought by the Shubert organization of New York.  This is the same organization that owns the present-day Shubert Theatre in Boston, where Boston Lyric Opera presents operas.  With a capacity of 1,600 or so, it is very small compared to other opera performance venues and it is unsuitable for most large opera productions. 

The Boston Opera House continued to show opera and other shows until the 1950’s, when it was decided to tear down the opera house.  It was thought to be structurally deficient and the City of Boston demanded that the Shuberts pay $300,000 to fix the foundation.  The Shuberts decided not to pay the money, tried to sell it to the city, and was unsuccessful.  With the city unwilling to buy the structure, the Shuberts sold it for $135,000 to S. and A. Allen Construction Company on September 4, 1957, a firm that specialized in auto parking lots and garages.  The Allen Construction Company claimed though that it had not yet been decided if the opera house would be demolished for a parking lot at the time of the sale. 

The president of Northeastern University, Dr. Carl S. Ell, decided to purchase the building from the Allen Construction Company and build a women’s dormitory in its place.  He had been looking at ways to fix the chronic overcrowding of Northeastern and this seemed to be a perfect solution to his problem.  On September 25, 1957, the Opera House was sold to Northeastern for $160,000 and torn down in the summer of 1958.

Yes, you unfortunately read that right: the opera house was torn down.  Such a beautiful, majestic structure was reduced to rubble.  The women's dormitory that was built in its place is still standing.  The City of Boston deserves and needs a new opera house.  Imagine what operas Boston Lyric Opera, with the right facility, could do.  Hopefully, in the near future, this dream will become a reality. 

-Rob Tedesco, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Monday, October 4, 2010

Oh the DRAMA!

The world of opera is one filled with color and magic. The scores and librettos written by the great composers and new composers bring exciting stories to life. When my friends ask me why I love to go and see an opera it is a simple answer; I love the melodramatic and exciting tales that are brought to life through the rich music. Boston Lyric Opera brings these old and new masterpieces to life with a new spin. BLO’s artistic staff is not afraid to add a contemporary edge to Bizet’s Carmen or find a creepy location for Brittan’s The Turn of the Screw.  In addition, the staff and patrons of BLO are welcoming and they’re there to teach new opera lovers what ever they can. Boston Lyric Opera builds a warm, fun, and exciting community for opera that everyone, young, old and even us the in between, should have the chance to experience! I am extremely excited to see what new twists Boston Lyric Opera has in store for its community this year in its new season of operas! 

- Kara Fleishaker, Boston University