Friday, April 29, 2011

Michelle Pfeiffer, the Beatles, and Donald Duck...

John Conklin has pulled together quite a selection of striking clips from the Web, all with a different spin on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Enjoy!

In various versions of MIDSUMMER this group is call “the rustics”, “the mechanicals”, the “workmen”, the “clowns”… and now the “Beatles.”
A luscious vision of the Britten opera set in a mythical India with Bollywood overtones. From Opera Australia, directed and lusciously designed by Baz Luhrman (of “R + J” and MOULIN ROUGE) and his wife Catherine Martin.
And now instead of the Beatles we get Donald Duck and his crew wreaking havoc in Athens.

From Peter Hall’s 1968 film with a 23-year old Helen Mirren as Hermia, and Diana Rigg as Helena. David Warner is Lysander and Ian Holm is Puck.

Everyone grew up to become major stage and film actors... and for those old enough to remember the 1960s TV drama THE AVENGERS, Diana Rigg went on to create the inimitable Emma Peel.

 And from the same 1968 film, a (somewhat green) Judi Dench as Tytania.  

A ballet by John Neumeier for the Hamburg Ballet in 1977. It uses the familiar Mendelssohn score, but the spirit kingdom sequences employ music from the contemporary  Hungarian composer Gy├Ârgy Ligeti. Narration in this clip is in German, but there is much to listen to and see.

A silent Shakespeare (!) gives an interesting feel for theatrical style at the turn of the century.

A trailer for the 1999 movie with Michelle Pfeiffer as Tytania, Calista Flockhart as Helena, Stanlety Tucci as Puck, Christian Bale as Demetrius and, most notably, Kevin Klein as a totally unique Bottom. 

Beatles, ducks, mice…and now children.

The Balanchine ballet…as recently performed by Boston Ballet.

The Max Reinhardt film from 1935—Hollywood extravagance merges with an equally wild German baroque-expressionistic aesthetic…add Mickey Rooney (age 15) as a manic Puck and rather snarly James Cagney as Bottom, and you have a totally fascinating event. We’ll talk more about this Dream in a later blog entry.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Magic of Midsummer

The wait is nearly over! Tomorrow evening BLO brings one of the world’s most beloved romantic comedies to the opera stage with a NEW production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The performances mark David Angus’s first appearance at the podium as BLO’s Music Director. Metropolitan Opera regular Susanna Phillips returns joined by John Gaston and rising sensation Nadine Sierra with English National Opera favorite Andrew Shore as Bottom.

A fusion of Benjamin Britten’s sparkling score and William Shakespeare’s whimsical play tells of the romantic adventures of two pairs of young lovers and the king and queen of the fairies. Audiences are transported to the luminous world of Oberon, Tytania, Puck and their fairy attendants where the line between fantasy and reality is hopelessly blurred.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is onstage at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theare April 29 - May 10.

Below, David Angus muses on opera, Benjamin Britten, and the magic of Midsummer

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We have a winner!

Congratulations to the 'Show us your Midsummer Night's Dream' contest winner, T.K! 

The prize includes 2 tickets to the opening night performance of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and a $200 gift certificate to O Ya!

Thanks to all our entries and congratulations again to T.K!

Stay tuned for future contests, trivia and fun opera prizes!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Great Day for Boston!

It was a great day for Boston on Monday (4/18). The sun glinted off the gold dome of the State House; the blue sky was glowing, in the radiant morning light a seemingly endless stream of bright yellow school buses glided down Tremont Street carrying hardy runners to the race. And then -- it was by many accounts the best Boston Marathon ever. Geoffrey Mutai took almost a minute off the world's record - an astounding feat. The USA's Ryan Hall came in fourth and still set a record time for an American. The women's race had an unbelievably dramatic finish as Caroline Kilel out sprinted American Desiree Davila (sounds like an opera singer to me) in the final stretch and then collapsed at the finish with a victory in her Boston debut. Davila was only two seconds behind Kilel and set a course record for US women herself. If you didn't catch any of this live or on TV check out The Boston Globe website ... pure theater.

And so what if the International Track and Field Federation doesn't recognize the Boston Marathon (it doesn't meet its topographical requirements -- something about too much "drop") -- we, (and the world) know, that the Boston Marathon is the oldest, most famous and by every count the best -- and it will always be so.

As if that weren't enough, it was announced Monday that the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism went to Sebastian Smee of The Boston Globe for his "vivid and exuberant writing about art" and his knack for "bringing great works to life with love and appreciation." Smee, a native of Australia, joined The Boston Globe in 2008.  Yesterday he lauded the Globe for "a belief that the arts matter and that good writing about the arts is going to be an important part of newspapers as they evolve."

And, if even that weren't enough, congratulations to Opera Boston as Zhou Long won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for Madame White Snake, premiered by the company in 2010.

Performance, strength, determination, creativity, innovation, excitement and empowerment for the arts - all alive in Boston.

-- John Conklin

Midsummer Dreams?

So there's this contest. You could win 2 tickets to opening night of A Midsummer Night's Dream and a $200 gift certificate to O Ya. Those stakes are pretty high and today is the final day to enter! Need some inspiration? Your midsummer dream can be anything, like say, a video featuring the Sims.

Thanks Whitnese for the inspiration!

Or maybe if you grew up during the 90s, Animanics will get those creative juices going (or send you careening down memory lane...)

Posted by Wakkofrankie.

You must have some incredible idea - share it! And be entered to win.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What [Not] to Wear

The age old question of “What should I wear” is always a dilemma for women regardless of the occasion. But going to the opera is considered a special occasion so it is a chance to get dolled up. While it once was a tuxedo and ball gown affair, most people dress in whatever they feel most comfortable (snuggies aside). Professional attire is always a safe bet, and it isn’t a bad idea to bring a sweater or jacket incase it’s chilly in the theatre!

If you’re still unsure of wardrobe choices, Karen and Tyler made this helpful video before BLO’s Tosca this past November.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Midsummer's night dream is this picture!

Submitted by T K.

[Entry #4 in the 'Show us your Midsummer Night's Dream' contest. Stay tuned for more entries and on April 25th a winner will be selected!]

'Midsummer' inspires poetry!

Before milk-white, now purple

Citgo on the real
river like lipstick; Charles, dark
liquid skunk, goes by.


[Entry #3 in the 'Show us your Midsummer Night's Dream' contest. Stay tuned for more entries and on April 25th a winner will be selected!]

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let's BLO them away!

These fans show their BLO pride in true style!

BLO swag is perfect for cheering on the Boston Marathon runners!

BLO's 2000th Facebook fan shows off her prize!
A winner will be chosen on April 25th.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Midsummer Night's Dream in Midtown Manhattan

Submitted by Michele Arnold

[Entry #2 in the 'Show us your Midsummer Night's Dream' contest. Stay tuned for more entries and on April 25th a winner will be selected!]

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Midsummer's Poem

by Leslie Rosenberg

On a midsummer night
Pure magic ensues
Leading to romance
With whom-ever you choose

Together in pairs
Whether through love or luck,
While some couples brought together
By the mischievous Puck!

Through fairy dust,
True romance will blossom
As the lovers unite
(It’s totally awesome!)

But come the morn
Washed fresh with the dew
You see your lover

[Entry #1 in the 'Show us your Midsummer Night's Dream' contest. Stay tuned for more entries and on April 25th a winner will be selected!]

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gucci, Armani, Prada, Louboutins… Nadine Sierra’s (Early Spring) Dream

Fashionista alert: Joseph Gualtiere, founder and editor of the new online magazine UpTempo, has posted some fun behind-the-scenes pics from his photo shoot with our own Nadine Sierra on Facebook.

How about a sneak peak?
Nadine Sierra gets glam for the photo shoot!
Nadine Sierra testing out the seats in the Shubert Theatre during the photo shoot.
Nadine, who will sing Tytania in our upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, spent last Thursday morning frolicking around the Shubert in about $30,000 worth of couture, thanks to Joseph’s amazing power to wrangle the most stunning gowns and stilettos from Saks 5th Avenue. And as a witness to every look – from the Emporio Armani jacket to the little black Fendi… the flowy Marc Jacobs to the show-stopping Alexander McQueen floral gown – this gorgeous young diva can’t make a bad picture. (And we say diva with nothing but love, Nadine – because you were a dream… gracious, creative, energetic, a real pro… and early even!)

UpTempo, which will focus on fashion and the performing arts, launches on April 21 with Nadine on the cover and a soiree at the Liberty, part of the hotel’s Fashionably Late series. Gowns from the recent BLO hit Agrippina will be featured, along with frocks from BSO’s popular Project Beethoven competition. The party, where Joseph promises dancers, singers, a red carpet, surprise guests and even an aerialist swinging above our heads (watch out!), kicks off at 8 p.m. and will go til’ last round. (The runway show starts at 10 p.m.). You know we’ll be in the front row!

Want to know more? Details here.
Want to join us? RSVP to

Check out the party and the production. Live the Dream this spring!

Photo shoot by Kenneth Edwards Photography
Photos by Daniel Buckley Photography (behind-the-scenes photos)
Hair by Justin Robey of Jean-Pierre Hair Salon
Make-up by Grace Mahoney of Blushing Brides

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Show us your Midsummer Night's Dream!

With our new production of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream opening at the end of the month, we want to see your visions of midsummer dreams.

Students of RAW Art Works in Lynn, MA, inspired by hearing Britten's music in class, created their own drawings of one scene of fantastical forests which were in turn reproduced by the painters at the American Repertory Theater Scene Shop as elements for the BLO production.

Get in on the fun and send us a visual, a short video, a poem, a song - any creative expression of YOUR 'midsummer night's dream.'

Submissions will be featured at In the Wings and all submissions will be entered into a raffle to win a pair of tickets to opening night of A Midsummer Nights Dream, Friday April 29th along with a gift certificate valued at $200 to O Ya for dinner before the show! 

The winner will be selected on Monday, April 25th.

Please send submissions to For video submissions please send a link to your video posted on YouTube.

How about a sample from Galileo?

Hey, here are some sketches I made of the Moon...not quite actually Midsummer time but it was close...around the 3rd of May. We'd been outdoors skinny dipping in the Arno and the moon was so bright and luminous that I thought I ought to record it…Happily I'd brought along some ink and paper and using my girl friend Lucezia's back as a smooth if slightly damp surface I drew away. Enjoy everybody.

Galileo Galilei
June 1584  Florence

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Brave New World

On Thursday April 7, 2011, I was lucky enough to score tickets to a Brett Dean concert with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.  The program consisted of Johannes Brahms Tragic Overture, op. 81; Dean’s The Lost Art of Letter Writing; and Ross Harris’ Symphony No. 4.  The concerts are held at Auckland’s Town Hall, in an auditorium modeled after the old Leipzig Gewandhaus (it is remarkable to see, since Symphony Hall was modeled after the old Gewandhaus as well).  Unfortunately, the Gewandhaus was destroyed in World War II.

Photography was not allowed, so I’ll just have to link to a photo.  The hall itself was recently renovated, so it is a nice enough space to hear a concert.  Tickets are much more expensive than back in Boston (a student rush ticket is NZ$15.00, which is US$11.75).  Although, expensive, I was able to sit right above the horns, which was a great experience, especially for the Harris.  The Auckland Philharmonia is a great orchestra and I is a rewarding experience to go to their concerts. 

The Brahms was nicely paced and atmospheric.  It felt weighty enough for my tastes, even if the orchestra was too small (only five basses!?!)  The balance was correct, which is all that matters.  The Dean was a nice violin concerto (with a blue-haired Kristian Winther).  It is the only time I have ever seen a soloist come out on stage with noticeably color-dyed hair.  The piece itself was certainly interesting and the soloist was amazing.

The Harris was obviously a labor of love for the composer.  He is one of New Zealand’s most well-known composers, and people seem to really enjoy his work.  In fact, this concert was recorded to be released at a later date.  The composition was dedicated to Mahinarangi Tocker, a singer, composer, and poet who died three years ago.  Each of the pieces five sections is linked by a “bell toll.”  It has some great brass and string writing.  But, one has to wonder, if all the percussion noise was really necessary.  Is that what compositions must have, lots of senseless noise?  I hope not.  Melody is still quite important.  The brain, in fact, is able to link and follow melody quite easily. 

All in all, this was a concert worth going to.  I have even just become  a student subscriber to the APO, so it will be nice to finally hear all the concerts.  Up next week, a concert called Organ and Orchestra.  It will be fun to finally hear the organ play!

Rob Tedesco
University of Auckland, New Zealand 

Monday, April 11, 2011


A few of our trivia titans - those opera smarties who know so much about A Midsummer Night's Dream - show off their new gear just in time for baseball season!

You can't quite see it, but the gentleman here is wearing a BLO cap.
At Boston Landmarks Orchestra's free concert at Fenway Park, July 2010.

Looks like opera and baseball mix! Show your opera love next time you visit Fenway Park!

Follow Boston Lyric Opera on Facebook and Twitter for more opportunities to win fabulous prizes, BLO swag and more!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why you might enjoy an Opera more than you think…

A lot of people disregard opera as the type of performance for them. For whatever the number of reasons, they simply assume they won’t enjoy it: it will be boring, it’s for old people, I won’t understand it, it’s too expensive, etc; but here are a few reasons why you may enjoy it more than you think.

1) Before we had Netflix, Hulu, DVR and even TV, we had opera. How else do you think people got their fix of scandalous love affairs, evil plots, violence and of course romantic love stories? They went to the opera of course! And it didn’t hurt that while watching these stories audience members got to take in beautiful and lavish costumes and sets, as well as listen to some of the best composers of their day.

2) It’s something different. I know there are some nights when my friends and I want to get together but there’s nothing to do. A night at the opera is an exciting opportunity – a chance to get dressed up and experience something you might not have done otherwise. Plus, how cool is it to be able to say you attended an opera when asked what you did over the weekend? If you’re a student, tickets aren’t expensive at all – with a valid student ID you can get 50% off tickets. If you’re not a student, you can still get great prices on tickets – the Balcony seats start at around $34.

3) The length of an opera may seem daunting, but when you factor in that there are usually 1-3 intermissions of typically 15 minutes long, that’s almost 45 minutes shorter than what you initially expected. That’s just about the length of a movie – plus, you get time to stretch and take a break so that you don’t miss anything!

4) Who doesn’t love the chance to see amazingly talented people perform live? Opera singers have their work cut out for them – not only do they have to sing these detailed and intricate pieces of music, but they also have to act. If you love going to the movies and seeing your favorite actor in a challenging role, then you’d certainly enjoy being in the same room as such talented performers.

- Katie McNamara, Saint Anselm College

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I feel pretty!

The fabulous Nadine Sierra (singing the role of Tytania in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream) shares her experience at a photoshoot with Uptempo Magazine:

The entire experience was any woman's dream come true really. To have the opportunity to be photographed in beautiful clothes for a magazine feels incredible, like the movies. It's something we always see in films and wish that could happen in real life. For me, I've never felt like a diva and don't necessarily want to be one. But living a few moments in stunning Christian Louboutin's and sweeping the stage with an erotic Alexander McQueen dress made me feel like an opera diva! I got to play a part in many different designers and even walked with more character as I left the theater. But that's the point of wearing a $2,000 dress feel like your worth every penny and more. Each fold, pattern, color, texture, made me feel like I could express everything I felt in the clothes! And thats the point of fashion, to express something about yourself without the words written all over your body. Instead, there's fabric illustrating your personal tastes on your own skin. It's a fabulous feeling and I truly loved every minute of it.

-- Nadine Sierra

Nadine tries on a dress at her fitting.

Backstage drawing

 Sure,  this is a realistic  detailed technical drawing of backstage machinery... but it seems to me an intriguingly  apt metaphorical representation  of  the theater event itself seen from "the wings" .  All that beauty  and spectacle and meaning, drama and performance that the audience sees ( or is allowed to see) literally  depends on , is run by , is organized by, an intricate series of  hidden wheels, ropes, pulleys, tracks, interconnected cogs all  seamlessly  working together (or anyway that's the plan)   These ropes, the cogs etc are real  enough but they might also represent  the  mental systems of interconnected plans, thoughts, imagination, instincts and even  whims ...the backstage of the mind as it were  ...of a  group of theater people who have come together to work, to  create  a play... an opera event...

-- John Conklin

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You know I don’t speak Italian…

While it is common for operas to be sung in the languages they were written in (Italian, German, etc), not everyone that attends these operas necessarily speaks the language. While it would be great to learn a different language, it’s not necessary when attending a production. BLO, like many opera companies now uses surtitles, which are line-by-line translations of the opera’s text that are projected on screens near the stage during a performance. Although it seems like it would be distracting, it’s just like watching a foreign film – eventually you forget that you are reading along and can just enjoy the music and the beautiful sounds of the original language! At the Shubert Theatre, the surtitles will be on screens to both the left and right of the stage.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Let's talk about 'wings'...and 'borders'...

Guest Post: John Conklin
Someone once said that all the theater needed was passion and a platform. Well, that’s a start. But you also need an audience. And what’s around that platform? Empty space? Or, all the hidden mystery of the backstage space that the audience finds so fascinating? Mysteries hidden in the wings…

In addition to wings, 18th and 19th century sets had borders—pieces that closed in the stage setting above. Of course we still use these terms today. These elements are sometimes called masking or torm(entors) or teasers; interesting how the terminology suggests a hidden world tantalizingly just out of sight of the audience, a view desired and denied. Does the magic and mysterious power of the theater disappear when you are allowed to see how it is created? Or, is it deepened?

Well, let’s use this forum to show and discuss and debate everything. No limits, no borders, no masks. Let’s fly off on wings of curiosity and knowledge, reveal the semi-hidden and participate in the creation of the theatrical event. The production of any piece takes place not in the theater space only but also and more crucially in the minds and hearts and guts of you, the audience.

Friday, April 1, 2011

BLO's blog got a facelift!

Welcome to Boston Lyric Opera's blog, "In the Wings" - a place for everything you didn't know about opera. And maybe more!

John Conklin, Artistic Advisor to Boston Lyric Opera and general opera aficionado will join us occasionally to share ideas, comments and concepts on the wonderful and beguiling world of opera.

Stay tuned for posts, pictures, and arias.