Thursday, September 27, 2007

Promises, promises

Okay, now that things are a little more settled a really do intend to get back on the blog-wagon. I haven't fallen of the wagon exactly, have been working quite hard considering, just not a lot of access to the internet. We have been promised a Wifi connection, but on Spanish time that could be anywhere from 1-4 weeks. Still waiting...Dan has been able to find wireless on our balcony, but none for me alas. I have found a connection here at ESMUC (the Catalan national conservatory) and so here I am, burning music and writing on the blog finally. (The conservatory is in the same building where the symphony performs and looks out over the beautiful neo-classical national theater)

I have recently been juggling programing ideas around for next year. Yes, I thought I had the next three seasons set, but things never go quite as one plans. I have found a fantastic work to possible trade in for next year (a work that no one does, but that won't break the bank). I have also been working on a fourth production for next year that will be performed in Baltimore. I am almost ready to announce this one because it is such a fantastic concept (not to give it away, but I'm in the perfect, almost perfect, place to do research...hint, hint).

Also not to give anything away, but Gerard Mortier (who might just be the savior of opera in American) recently announced his plans for his first season at City Opera which will be 2009-2010. It just so happens that his theatrical coup is my theatrical coup (and I flatter myself to say great minds think alike). That has made for a recent mess of our plans and I have been searching for a replacement. Now, however, I am considering going ahead with the original plans...we'll see.

Finally I have been looking at a number of opportunity to out of town shows and some potential performances in New York. Of course we make our New York debut in May with "David et Jonathas", but we would like to continue performing there. I am looking at one piece in particular work that has been performed in the US for quite a while and is extremely controversial. The happenings in this country and through-out the world in the last five years make this an important time to remount it. It is an stunning work that has the potential to create a dialougue on peace. Unfortunately, sometime the hardest messages to hear are the most needed.

Today I am going to walk to the sea to see what wisdom it might shed on these thoughts.

And, still looking for some project here in Barcelona. Check out this festival which looks pretty cool Festival d'Opera Butxaca

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

From Debussy´s mouth to my ears...a little clarity on my birthday.

¨Only the man who says half of what he intends allows me to graft my vision on to his: the man who invents characters whose story and origins come from no particular time, no particular palce: the man who does not depotically impose upon me a ¨scene which must be drawn¨, but allows me to be free from time to time to have more art than he and who allows me to complete his work. But let him not fear! I shall not puruse the falsehoods of lyric theatre, where the music insolently predominates, where poetry is relegated to the background, suffocated by a musical clothing which is too heavy...Each part must be painted in cameo, one must be content with grisaille...I long for poems which do not condemn me to perpetrate acts which are long and heavy. I need poems which give me mobile scenes, varied in both site and character├▒ where the characters do not discuss but rather are compelled to undergo life and destiny¨.

This articulates, and imagine my joy at happening upon it, my thoughts on what I require from the operas I direct. As the day of the director lengthens this statement of artistic longing comes full circle. What I want are works of music and text that are similarly elastic to the poems Debussy desired. And, like his promise to the poet, I shall not puruse the falsehoods of lyric theatre. Truth to oneself is finally the only artistic truth, enigmatic and unmeasurable. The art, the music, the work is served by only Truth. It the Work (capitalization intentional) is honest the work is served.

Incidentally, you might be wondering why I don´t write more about Spain and Barcelona since I have just moved here. In all honesty it is as simple as this...I have yet to find affordable batteries for my camera and so much of this magical place can only be shared with images.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Barcelona, Birthdays, and Bullfights, oh my!

So things are starting, very slowly let me assure you, to grow into a sort of routine here in Spain. We do not have internet at home yet, but we do have a large modern library close by, complete with a farmer's market and supermarket on the ground floor. The apartment is humble, but by walking out my door I stand less than 50 yards from the Sagrada Familia (Gaudi's still unfinished masterpiece, slated to be completed in 2020...I won't hold my breath). Also I am finally coming up for air and starting to return to the company matters at hand.

Our first performance in the Gonda Theatre was a real learning experience and is creating some possible changes in our 2008-2009 season. I am also cleaning up the financial...I hesitate to say mess, but...matters of "Ground". Also "Messiah" isn't that far away and there are three choruses to organize, let alone the cast and orchestra. Somewhere in there I need to get time to really dig into the score myself.

Tomorrow is my birthday and we are going to celebrate by going to the bullfight on Sunday. Now before all of you animal rights folks get upset at me, I completely agree. I am not going for sport, but for research. I must admit I am a little excited though. It all has to do with a not-so-little known opera I'm pondering over. Click here to read a commentary along similar lines by Sally Potter, that fantastic director of "Orlando" (a gorgeous film) who is now directing a production of unsaid opera at the ENO.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


In Barcelona...found an apartment right beside the Sagrada Familia (what a view)...without internet for the next several weeks (everything moves on Spanish time here, go figure)...have to use the compueter in the public library (for only 15 minutes at a time). More to come, promise.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I am moving to Spain today (Barcelona), so blogs might be a little scarce as we get resettled there. I had a wonderful meeting with Matthew Epstein of Columbia Artists yesterday. I never fail to be excited by this business. More to come soon, and I promise to keep it in English.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

the Times they are a'changin

bad pun I know...

So Ground closes today and I will write more about all that. For now here is an article from the Times which I think is very astute (of course I would find it more astute if it mentioned anything outside of New, say, AOT).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Hitting the ground running

We started restaging "Ground" yesterday it was an unpredictable experience. The music rehearsal was Saturday and went fine. Both Brian and Elizabeth (Brian Cummings, countertenor and Elizabeth Baber, soprano) have fantastic voices for the repertoire and both are really strong intuitive musicians. This is my first experience re-mounting a piece and I didn't know exactly what to expect. We had spent some time looking at the DVD and I knew I wanted to change some things. More than particulars I wanted to draw performances from both singers that were more organic.

I think last June (2006) when we premiered the work (you can watch clips of that performance here people were struck, and clearly moved, by the ingenuity of the structure, Kel Millionie's simple yet striking design, the immediacy of the music, and the strong vocal and physical performances of the cast. I don't think we really had enough time to explore the deeper emotions present in the drama and the effect was a relationship that felt cute, but not necessarily substantive.

Yesterday morning was rough - the piece opens with two Monteverdi madrigals which are the hardest stagings in the piece. I think we were all frustrated at trying just to put it back on its feet, let alone correct the awkwardness that was most in these two pieces even more than elsewhere in the show. I can't say I quite understand how it happened, but by the time we arrived at yesterday evening's run of the piece things had worked themselves out and how. Somehow these two performances were giving heartfelt performances that seemed very much organic. The chemistry between them was palpable and they both looked much more comfortable. Also, the gestures which are so important to my approach to staging, had been taken over by the performers and became natural extensions of the character's emotional state.

Needless to say I am pleased by all this and am hoping today goes equally as well as we rework the second half and run through the entire thing this evening.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Little Apple

Back in Baltimore after about twenty hours of driving in the last two days I will be thrown into "Ground" rehearsals today (did I mention that even though I know all of you have bought your "Ground" tickets you should still make sure to tell all your friends to make excellent gifts and "Ground" is perfect for non-opera fans...or is that opera non-fans...hmmmm).

We will start with musical rehearsals today and then start staging tomorrow. It is alot to do because we open on Friday!