The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Madison Opera stages Charles Gounod’s opera “Romeo and Juliet” this Friday night and Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare

November 1, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

Madison Opera will present Charles Gounod’s “Romeo & Juliet” on this Friday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall of the Overture Center.

It will be sung in French with English subtitles and will last about three hours with one intermission.

Tickets are $18-$130.

With soaring arias, impassioned scenes and plenty of sword fights, Gounod’s gorgeous opera brings the famous tragic tale of young love to vivid life.

Set in 14th century Verona, Italy, the opera follows the story of Shakespeare’s legendary star-crossed lovers. The Montague and Capulet families are caught in a centuries-old feud.

One evening, Romeo Montague and his friends attend a Capulet ball in disguise. The moment Romeo spots Juliet Capulet, he falls in love, and she returns his feelings. Believing they are meant for one another, they proclaim their love, setting in motion a chain of events that will change both their families.

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous love stories in Western literature,” says Kathryn Smith (below, in a photo by James Gill), the general director of Madison Opera. “Gounod’s operatic version of it is equally beloved, and it’s exciting to present an amazing cast that brings such vocal and dramatic depth to their story.

“I’m also delighted that we are performing the opera the same weekend that Shakespeare’s First Folio goes on display at the University of Wisconsin-Madison‘s Chazen Museum of Art, enabling our community to enjoy a very Shakespearean weekend.”

Kathryn Smith Fly Rail Vertical Madison Opera

Gounod’s operatic adaption of the tragedy of “Romeo & Juliet” premiered in 1867 at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris. While Gounod is now better known for “Faust,” “Romeo and Juliet” was a bigger success at its premiere, and has stayed in the repertoire for 150 years due to its beautiful music, genuine passion mingled with wit, and exciting fight scenes.

“Having conducted Gounod’s Faust so often, I’m thrilled to finally have the opportunity to conduct his romantic masterpiece,” says John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad), the artistic director of Madison Opera who will conduct the two performances.

“The vocal and orchestral writing is lyrical and downright gorgeous,” DeMain adds. “We have a glorious cast, the Madison Opera Chorus and the Madison Symphony.  What more could a conductor ask for!” (You can hear Anna Netrebko sing Juliet’s famous aria “Je veux vivre” — “I want to live” – in the popular YouTube video at the bottom.)

John DeMain full face by Prasad

Madison Opera’s cast features both returning artists and debuts.

John Irvin (below top) and Emily Birsan (below bottom) return to sing the title roles of Romeo and Juliet.  Irvin sang Count Almaviva in the 2015 production of The Barber of Seville, while Birsan returns from singing at Opera in the Park 2016 and Musetta in last season’s La Bohème.

john-irvin

Emily Birsan 2016

Sidney Outlaw, who sang at this past summer’s Opera in the Park, makes his mainstage debut as Romeo’s friend, Mercutio.  Liam Moran, who sang Colline in last season’s La Bohème, sings Frère Laurent, who unites the two lovers in the hope of uniting their families. Madisonian Allisanne Apple (below) returns as Gertrude, Juliet’s nurse.

Alisanne Apple BW mug

Making their debuts are Stephanie Lauricella as Romeo’s page, Stephano; Chris Carr as Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin; Philip Skinner as Lord Capulet; and Benjamin Sieverding as the Duke of VeronaFormer Madison Opera Studio Artist Nathaniel Hill returns as Gregorio, while current Studio Artist James Held sings the role of Paris.

Directing this traditional staging is Doug Scholz-Carlson (below), who directed Gioaccchino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land” and Benjamin Britten‘s “The Turn of the Screw” for Madison Opera. Scholz-Carlson is the artistic director of the Great River Shakespeare Festival and has directed the original “Romeo and Juliet,” among many Shakespeare plays.

He will discuss the differences between staging “Romeo and Juliet” as a play and as an opera in another posting tomorrow.

douglas-scholz-carlson

For more information about the production, the cast and tickets, go to:

http://www.madisonopera.org/performances-2016-2017/romeo-and-juliet/


Classical music: The weekend is a good time to catch up on the current tour of Italy by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

July 9, 2016
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, which has done so much to educate thousands of area young people and ensure future audience members as well as players for classical music.

As part of the celebration, the senior performing group — the Youth Orchestra (below) under the baton of UW-Madison conducting  professor and WYSO music director James Smith — is on a tour of Italy from July 6 through July 16.

WYSO Youth Orchestra

Using social media, WYSO has posted a page devoted to the tour on its website. The itinerary includes traveling, sightseeing and performing.

http://www.wysomusic.org/italytour/

And here is a link, with commentary and photos, directly to the blog that is being written from the tour:

http://wysoitalytour.tumblr.com

And here is a li k to the WYSO page on Facebook where you can also see lots of photos and gets a lot of information.

https://www.facebook.com/WYSOrchestras/

You can catch up and then keep up day to day.

Enjoy!

And be proud!

WYSO Logo blue


Classical music education: How do you capture sound in pictures? Photographer Michael R. Anderson talks about his images of musicians at the UW-Madison School of Music. His photos are on show at the Lowell Center through April 30. A public reception is this Sunday afternoon 1-3.

March 6, 2015
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

If you go to the official website (http://www.music.wisc.edu) and the A Tempo blog (https://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music — and you really should do so regularly if you are a classical music fan in the Madison area — you are likely to see a lot of photographs taken by Michael R. Anderson.

UW School of Music

So who is he?

And what does he say about his photographs, which feature striking compositions and a fine sense of animation?

You can judge for yourself from the new exhibition of his images at the Lowell Center, 610 Langdon Street, phone (608) 256-2621. It went up last Sunday, but has its official opening and reception this Sunday afternoon — with refreshments and with the photographer present — from 1 to 3 p.m.

The free exhibit runs through April 30 at the UW-Extension Building   At some future time, according to UW School of Music officials, some of Anderson’s images will be put on display outside Mills Hall and Morphy Hall.

For more information, visit:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/photo-exhibit-mike-anderson/

Michael R. Anderson (below) kindly spoke to The Ear about his photo show:

Michael R. Anderson portrait

Can you briefly introduce yourself to readers and tell them about your personal and professional interests?

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1970 with a degree in Chemistry. After teaching for nine years, I returned to school, earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering and subsequently worked for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. When we retired, my wife and I returned to Wisconsin.

Michael R. Anderson quartet of students

How and when did your interest in photography start and what drew you to music as a subject matter?

In 1966 I went to summer school in Germany. An aunt lent me her Kodak Instamatic to take with me. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed trying to capture that summer in pictures. I’ve enjoyed photography as a hobby ever since. Since my wife and I like to camp and hike, landscape and nature photography is a favorite subject.

Our older son, Eric, is a UW-Madison School of Music graduate. He’s now the band director at Verona Area High School and he also conducts the Verona Area Concert Band. My first real attempt to photograph musicians was when he asked me to take pictures of the Concert Band for their website. That turned out to be more fun than I had anticipated, and I’ve photographed them several times over the past few years.

UW Chamber Orchestra, James Smith, conductor

How did you get started taking pictures for the UW-Madison School of Music?

Kathy Esposito, who manages Public Relations for the School of Music, placed an ad in a local photography newsletter seeking a volunteer to take pictures that she could use to update the school’s website. One of the joys of retirement is having time to volunteer for jobs like this, so I contacted her.

Do you have favorite areas of interest or subject matter —portraits, action shots, rehearsals or performances, individuals or groups?

Candid shots of the musicians rehearsing or performing are my favorite, especially those of individuals or small groups. Trying to capture their energy, emotion and concentration as they play is an interesting challenge.

Michael R. Anderson horns square USE

Do you see any parallels between photography and music?

They’re both food for the right side of the brain. Life would be rather boring without the arts to inspire us.

Do you care to share any technical information (camera, lenses, flash, processing software, printer, paper) for those who are interested?

Photographers like to say that the equipment is not important. Nevertheless, many people, even other photographers, are interested. All but one of the photos in this exhibit were taken on a Canon 7D with a Canon 70-200 f/4L or a Canon EF-S 17-85 f/4-5.6 lens. Lightroom and Photoshop were used to process the RAW files and the pictures were printed on Red River Polar Matte paper with an Epson Stylus Photo R2000 printer.

UW School of Music

What do you most enjoy about making photos of music? What aspect do you least enjoy or find most challenging?

Photography gives me a chance to describe an aural experience with a visual language. That’s an interesting task. The difficult part is that classrooms are not photo studios with plenty of bright lights. I often have to use slower shutter speeds and higher ISOs (film speeds) than I would like.

UW School of Music

How many images to you generally shoot during a typical concert to arrive at a “keeper” shot?

This can vary quite a bit, depending on the type of scene I’m trying to capture as well as the lighting and other factors. But it’s not unusual to take 10-20 photos to get one I like. One is never enough, of course, so it’s easy to take several hundred during a concert to get a selection of final images that cover various phases of the performance.

Michael R. Anderson tympani player

What else would you like to say?

These photos capture just a few moments in time but the music lives on through the excellent programs and performances at the UW-Madison School of Music.

If your readers have additional questions, there will be an open house for this exhibit at the Lowell Center (below), 610 Langdon St., on this coming Sunday, March 8, from 1 to 3 p.m. At 2 p.m. I will make a few comments about the exhibit and answer questions.

 


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