Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A little Sylvia Jazz in the morning

It is an overcast day here in Amsterdam. I returned from London yesterday, after an amazing performance of Harawi, which will be appearing in some London festivals next year after being seen in this premier. I had a great meeting with Hans Neiuwenhuis here yesterday, who runs the respected Netherlands Opera Studio and does a fantastic job of it indeed. They have a Dido on now in the Hague, and I will go tomorrow and give a full report.

In the meantime...I have long said the Sylvia McNair is one of the few opera stars that can sing jazz convincingly...here is a little sample!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Tonight is the premier of my new piece, "HARAWI"...which Messiaen's epic 1945 song-cycle, fully staged as a "cabaret on eternity". It is an exploration of the idea of transfiguration, a concept that exists in all cultures and is that moment and mankind reaches out into the infinite, the eternal. My fantastic performers (soprano Sarah Barnes and pianist Ido Ariel) and I have been working at the farmhouse of Steve and Cherry Large. These are remarkable people that lost their daughter Sophie in a car accident nearly 10 years ago. They honor her by their foundation (patronized by Dame Judi Dench) which supports young artists and their creative work. They have turned their barn into a theater where we workshopped the piece all week and gave an informal premier on Friday which was fantastically received. Now we are in the big city and will give the work its London premier tonight at The Space. Then back home to Amsterdam tomorrow!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The incomparable...

My next series of posts are going to be on the divine Sylvia McNair. Sylvia, outside of being a beautiful friend, is one of the great sopranos that American has ever created. She has a huge recording career and has won two Grammy aways. I fell in love with her first for her work on Mozart and Handel, and that is where I will start my posts. Here she is singing Susanna's aria from the last act of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. What a voice and what an artist!

I'm going to mention this again and again, but this heavenly voice is coming to Baltimore to perform with AOT November 6th-14th, in a Kurt Weill staging designed just for her. It is a HUGE honor, and it is going to be the hottest opera ticket in Baltimore in years. She is truly beyond words, and Kurt Weill's music is among some of the most memorable of the 20th century. Tickets are limited and still available (though going fast). They are available here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photos from Sardinia

I'm back in Amsterdam and hard at work for a few days before going to London to work on a new project, a staging of Messiaen's "Harawi" with dynamite soprano Sarah Barnes. Here are some pictures from AOT's trip to Sardinia. None of the production unfortunately. The first is work beginning on the theater, a long way from finished. Then Maestro Simone Luti from La Scala that led the production musically with Sophie Roland who was our Carmen. The two Fiats kissing, a picture we just couldn't resist. Then at the bottom you'll find a series of photos from our day at the beach (some of you might recognize soprano Bonnie McNaughton who sang a beautiful Micaela with us). There is a free pair of tickets to the show of your choice to the first person that can tell me which opera I'm scoping the site out for to make AOT's first filmed opera...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ignoti Dei's Stabat Mater

Off tomorrow to return home to Amsterdam for a couple of days before beginning a new project in London. But before that, one more concert in Sardinia...the Pergolesi Stabat Mater and some fantastic Italian 18th century chamber music.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Success in Sardinia

Two performances of "Carmen" successfully completed to sold out houses of enthusiastic crowds. The production has grown a lot since its Baltimore premier and I look forward to bringing it back with some new cast members and a greater honed artistic vision. In the meantime, AOT has been invited back to the festival next year as part of a larger European tour of one of our Baltimore home grown shows.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Le Cabaret de Carmen" Tonight!!!!

AOT will open "Le Cabaret de Carmen" as part of the Ente Concerti festival in Iglesias, Sardinia tonight. Artistic Director GianLuca Eriu has done a fantastic job of organizing this festival. It is a thankless and gigantic task, and all of us at AOT are very much appreciative of his efforts. The show is in great shape and looks fantastic in this very unconventional space. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to continue developing its concept and realization. It is a real pleasure as a director to be able to revist these works over and over again. Unlike other theatrical forms that develope a show over a long rehearsal period and then it is set, in opera a show is put together over a relatively short period. It is only changed of years and years of remounting. It is a slowly evolving creature that has continuous dialogue with an entire history of composers, directors, opera stars, and myriad designers. It is a fantastic thing to be cog in this process!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sardinia with or without my clothes

I made it to Sardinia, and despite all my good intentions to keep you up to date...there is VERY little internet here. Things are progressing for a fantastic production though. A baritone has been lossed, replaced, lossed again, and now replaced with Adonis Abuyen, a fantastic American bass-baritone living in Berlin, but who will also be singing in AOT's next two Handel productions (Jephtha and Giulio Cesare, both in 2010).

My clothes however...they seem to be enjoying a nice vacation in Palermo, and in no rush to rendez-vous with me in Cagliari!