Month: October 2012

A Masked Ball | In Review

Reviews
Madison Opera’s ‘A Masked Ball’ elegant, understated (Rena Archwamety, 77 Square)

Madison Opera Has a Ball Unmasking Verdi (Greg Hettmansberger, Madison Magazine) 
  
Madison Opera’s A Masked Ball is a beautiful display of Verdi’s power and passion (John Barker, The Isthmus)

Madison Opera’s successful production…is an auspicious beginning to the tenure of its new General Director Kathryn Smith (Jacob Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear)

Madison Opera’s “A Masked Ball” is Masterful (Mike Muckian, Culturosity) 

Great Singing, Familiar Plot (William R. Wineke, Channel3000.com)
 

Ten Questions with Alexandra LoBianco

Ten Questions with…

Alexandra LoBianco, soprano
Amelia
in A Masked Ball



1. My favorite thing about being a singer is: 
Being the vessel for this incredible sound. It’s a thrill to realize you’re a human amplifier. I also love the journey that opera allows us to take through theater and sound. The vibration of the human voice is completely unique and healing. I love the whole process.
2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:
It’s tough being on the road away from your family all the time. Finding ways of bringing home with you and making each place a new home.
3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
Most definitely seeing Patti Lupone in Gypsy on Broadway, the first time I went to the Metropolitan Opera, and Garth Brooks. Gypsy was just mind-blowing. I hadn’t had goose bumps like that in years. Patti Lupone was so committed to her character and to the audience to take them with her. I learned so much that night. The Met was Cavallerica Rusticana / Pagliacci when I was in high school and I thought I was going to be a professional clarinetist. My parents were amazing enough to get seats close enough so I could see in the pit, but during that show, my eyes shifted from the pit to the stage, and I fell in love with opera. It wasn’t till a few years later that I even started to think I had potential to be an opera singer. Garth Brooks, well, that was just an incredible concert. What an amazing performer and showman. That and he’s just so dang cute! 
4. A few of my favorite films are:
I admit I’m in many ways a total kid when it comes to my movies. Cartoons make me happy. How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek, The Lion King, Up, etc.. I also love movies like Chocolat, Amélie, Braveheart, Batman, The Avengers. I’m a little eclectic in my movie choices. When I’m watching movies it’s generally a mental break time for me. 
5. Three things I can’t live without are:
My family, a kitchen, and sadly my iPhone. I hate to even admit that last one but with all my traveling right now it’s much easier to keep in touch and in the loop… I’m thinking of upgrading to an iPad… My family and friends for obvious reasons. They are my rock and the amazing support system that keeps me sane. The kitchen, sigh, I love cooking and making all these crazy concoctions to eat. I rarely use a recipe except as a guideline but I swear it’s usually pretty darn good. 
6. My number one hobby is:
Cooking!!! So if anyone wants to share their kitchen with me while I’m in Madison I’d be happy to make you dinner!! I also love to read and – when I have the time and money – ride horses. I’m also kind of a beer enthusiast and I hear there are some amazing beers in Wisconsin, so I can’t wait to try them! 
7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
The list could go on for pages and pages. Living, it would be my teacher and mentor, Carol Kirkpatrick. It would have been an honor to share the stage with this amazing woman. I’d happily sing Chrysothemis to her Elektra! Also living I would have died and gone to heaven to share the stage with Elinor Ross. I’d also say Mario Del Monaco, Rosa Ponselle, Dame Eva Turner, Leonard Warren, Laurence Melchior, Leonie Rysanek, Franco Corelli, Zinka Milanov… Like I said I could go on for pages and pages!
8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I had really considered going into Equine Science. I was a competitive horseback rider when I was younger and loved working with animals. I had always dreamed of being part of the equestrian Olympic team… granted I was never THAT skilled a rider.  I could always be a teacher. And, following the theme above, I would absolutely go to culinary school and open my own restaurant. I think a breakfast and lunch place would be perfect!
9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type/gender?
Macbeth because it’s just amazing for the baritone; how amazing would it be to be a Verdi baritone – that’s just cool! Carmen and Dalilah would be two of my first choices if I could be a mezzo again. I miss singing that rep. Juliette if for nothing other than the poison aria. 
10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
My debut was in Il Trovatore as Leonora and it was opening night. I was singing the D’amor and when I finished that section the audience applauded into the Miserere section, which was almost surreal, and when I finished the audience was absolutely silent. I remember thinking “What do I do…. Stay in character, don’t lose, it just go on…” so I went on to the cabaletta and when that finished the audience went a little crazy. I have never been so humbled and moved by a response. It was then that I realized every time I was on stage it was my responsibility to tell the story in such a way that it was a journey.
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
What’s been your most embarrassing moment on stage? 
I was a freshman in high school and it was closing night of Hello, Dolly and the eve of my 13th birthday. I was in the chorus and we were in the midst of “Put on Your Sunday Clothes.” At my high school we built all of our sets, so this one had a runway out into the audience that helped create a pit. More of a crescent shape then runway. I came around the front as we were crossing each other and instead of brushing my foot alongside the toe board, I stepped on top of it and à la Wile E Coyote (minus the sign that said OH S#!@) into the front row of the audience. I popped up, looked left and right, then found my exit and exited quickly. I had a gash on my leg and my toe hurt (it was broken but I didn’t know or care at that time), but I got back out on stage within about one scene. That night was the cast party and that evening’s performance had been taped, so we watched me fall off the stage over and over again, in time, fast forward and of course SLOWMO! So, for anyone who has ever asked that question of “what happens if….?” The answer is you get back up and get out there and laugh at yourself when it’s all over.
P.S. There was also a surprise party for me that night at the cast party…I was laughing the whole entire night.


See Alexandra in Madison Opera’s production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball (Un Ballo in Maschera) October 26 and 28 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!

Ten Questions with William Joyner

Ten Questions with…

William Joyner, tenor
King Gustav III
in A Masked Ball


1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:

Discovering, through the marriage of text, music, and colleagues, who my characters are, and then letting the audience in on that discovery. 
2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:
Part of me wants to say, “Knowing that you’re only as good as your last performance.” But the truth is, the greatest challenge is to maintain proper balance between one’s professional and personal lives. I have no idea how many of my children’s “major events” I have missed.
3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
Dwight Yoakam, January 2010 in Atlantic City. Awesome! 
4. A few of my favorite films are:
Saving Private Ryan, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and pretty much anything to do with baseball. 
5. Three things I can’t live without are:
Internet, intellectual curiosity, and hugs from my daughters. 
6. My number one hobby is:
A while back, I would have said surfing the internet, but I’ve recently discovered writing. 
7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
Giuseppina Strepponi. I’d love to have been able to meet Mrs. Verdi.
8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I think I’d like to be a sportswriter, specifically a columnist. Either that, or I’d have gone into the family business and become a lawyer. And I adore baseball, but I wasn’t very good at it. 
9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type/gender?
Méphistophélés in Gounod’s Faust. He’s evil, but not mean… And he has so much FUN! 
10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
Singing the role of Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon at La Scala. 
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
How many pairs of cowboy boots do you own?
Four. 😉


See Bill in Madison Opera’s production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball (Un Ballo in Maschera) October 26 and 28 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!

Ten Questions with John Arnold

Ten Questions with…

John Arnold, bass-baritone
Count de Horn
in A Masked Ball










1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:
I was and still am really drawn to the complexity of being an operatic singing actor. I am fascinated by the music and the primal aspect of being up there on stage making that kind of sound with my voice, without amplification. But I am also in love with the dramatic element in opera and hate that so often the opportunity to make real music drama is discounted. I relish the challenge of marrying the music to the drama and finding ways to make characters interesting. This is all of course just a long-winded way of saying I love getting to play make believe all day.
2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:
I see more and more how difficult the nomadic life of the professional musician is on my family and friends. Not seeing folks for months at a time is tough.
3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
I will never forget seeing Bon Iver in Chicago last year. It was one of the greatest and most satisfying musical experiences of my life. Also, seeing and hearing Ferruccio Furlanetto perform Boris Godunov at the Lyric was about as inspiring as you can hope for.
4. A few of my favorite films are:
Oh man, I love movies so much. A few favorites, and in no particular order, are: Hot Fuzz, The Royal Tenenbaums, Casablanca, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Ben-Hur, Unforgiven, The Seventh Seal, The Empire Strikes Back, Raising Arizona. This list could go on indefinitely.
5. Three things I can’t live without are:
If forced, I’m sure I could learn to live without most anything, but I show extreme partiality toward good books, Atlanta Braves baseball, and microbrews.
6. My number one hobby is:
I am an avid reader. I read the first five books of the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin over the last three months. Good stuff.
7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
There are many, but I think it’d be a riot to sing with Sir Thomas Allen.
8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I would probably have chosen something else with just as low a success rate as professional singing, like acting.
9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type / gender?
Canio in Pagliacci. I think he’s one of the most amazing characters in the repertoire.
10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
I’m horrible at picking favorites, but the finale of Don Giovanni figures prominently amongst some my favorite moments on stage, both as Leporello and Giovanni. I’ve performed both roles and getting to really give everything you’ve got with that incredible music underneath and around you is both astounding and extremely gratifying. That’s about as perfect a musical moment as has ever been created.
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
“What is some good advice you’ve received for a career as a singer?”
The three pieces of advice that have made the biggest impact on me personally in carving out a career as a singer are: 1) Always be the most prepared. 2) Try your best to cut out all the negativity in your life that you have control over. 3) Eat everyday. Literally, just stay alive and keep singing and let age and experience do the rest.

 
See John in Madison Opera’s production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball (Un Ballo in Maschera) October 26 and 28 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!

Ten Questions with Caitlin Cisler

Ten Questions with…

Caitlin Cisler, soprano
Oscar
in A Masked Ball

1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:
No two days on the job are the same. Every day presents a new aria to learn, a new scene to stage, new people to meet, a new city to visit. It’s a very dynamic profession; so full of life and creativity, and certainly never boring!
2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:
Realizing that I will never be done learning. Some days, I wish I could just snap my fingers and be a perfect singer, but I do enjoy the challenge. I always look forward to those days when all the hard work has paid off and I do feel like the perfect singer… for at least a little while, until something new to learn comes along.
3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
Tosca at the Vienna State Opera. I was with my mother and stepfather. First of all, it was a stunning performance, but mostly it was my stepfather’s reaction to the opera. He’s not really an opera sort of guy, but during intermission he turned to me and said, his voice full of excitement and wonder: “What do you think is going to happen?!” I was just as enthralled as he was, but his reaction really showed me what this art form can do when it is done with passion. It made me want to become an opera singer. 
4. A few of my favorite films are:
The Princess Bride, Zoolander, Amadeus – I love films that make me laugh. 
5. Three things I can’t live without are:
My morning coffee, a good book, and every once in a while, a lazy morning.
6. My number one hobby is:
 Hiking. 
7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
Beverly Sills.
8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
Probably scientific research. I studied biology in college and I really enjoy figuring out how to answer some of life’s mysteries. Until recently, I’ve worked in research labs to help fund my singing habit. 
9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type / gender?
Salome, hands down. That is my favorite opera score, and her music is just phenomenal. The way that Strauss uses tonality to expose her instability is genius, and it is so beautiful! A girl can dream… 
10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
This is a tough one, but most recently: Fresco Opera Theatre’s production of “The Good, The Bad, The Divas” ends with an old fashioned shoot-out. My character, Bonny Jo Loco, is the first to be shot and then the action shifts immediately into slow-motion. On opening night, I was totally unprepared for the audience’s reaction. They started laughing. Dying in slow motion is such hard muscle work that I never considered it was funny looking. I almost started laughing right along with the audience that opening night, but thankfully I was able to maintain a look of agony throughout all 2 or 3 minutes of my “instant” death. Each subsequent performance got the same reaction – but this time I was ready for it. 


See Caitlin in Madison Opera’s production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball (Un Ballo in Maschera) October 26 and 28 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!