The North Door
"...Almost four years to the day after he joined the staff of Austin Opera as general director, Joseph Specter has tendered his resignation. This summer, he'll be moving west to take over as president and general director of Arizona Opera...."
"...Forgive the cliche, but how better to break the news about Austin Opera's 30th season than to say it opens with a bang? I mean, the company's first production will be that thriller about political assassination The Manchurian Candidate, newly adapted for opera by Pulitzer-winning composer and former Austinite Kevin Puts...."
"...Richard Buckley knows a thing or two about the opera Of Mice and Men, and not just because he's conducting the Austin Opera production that runs Jan. 23-31 at the Long Center..."
"...In this most unconventional of election years, why not have an unconventional opera, one that speaks directly to American politics and also to the fear and paranoia that have become common tools in garnering votes and power? Believe it or not, The Manchurian Candidate – yes, that Cold War thriller about conspiracies, brainwashing, and a murderous coup d'etat on the campaign trail – has been adapted into operatic form by librettist Mark Campbell and composer Kevin Puts (former teacher of composition at the Butler School of Music), and it arrives in our politically minded city seven weeks before U.S. citizens choose their next president, courtesy of Austin Opera...."
"...So it is with the 21st Regiment. And yet, this charming opera offers an even brighter touch: a young woman, Marie, the regiment's foundling "daughter," whom its members have raised as one of their own..."
"...What is it that Rick tells Ilsa when he's convincing her to get on that plane with Victor Laszlo? "It doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." Of course, he's referring to their romantic triangle in Casablanca as World War II rages, but his words apply just as well to a trio of lovers on the other side of North Africa in a war a few thousand years earlier – at least as imagined by Giuseppe Verdi and presented by Austin Opera in its latest staging of Aida. Oh, the positions held by Verdi's protagonists may be much grander in the scheme of things, but even though the warrior Radamès is leading Egypt's army in battle against attackers from Ethiopia, and both women contending for his heart – Amneris of Egypt and Aida of Ethiopia – are princesses, they're still the "little people" Rick describes, to our eyes..."
"...Ultimately, the Chronicle's ecstatic to bring the ceremony to the magnificent Moody Theater, best room the AMAs have commandeered since the Austin Opera House, which the show's music director Charlie Sexton points out is serendipitously another Willie-related venue. We can tell you're excited, too, because ticket sales are strong..."
"...A small stick can do just as much, especially when it's being wielded by Peter Bay. The Austin Symphony Orchestra's conductor and music director communicates in a voice as gentle as they come, but put him in front of the ASO – or an orchestra for a performance by Ballet Austin or Austin Opera, an ensemble from the Austin Chamber Music Center or Austin Classical Guitar, the Austin Civic Orchestra, or a high school orchestra, all of which he's conducted for – and the dance of his baton, the motion always fluid and easy yet with gestures purposeful and precise, can tease forth sounds of exceptional feeling and depth..."
"...Gonzalez lived another 41 years, until Monday when he died of cancer after a two-year bout of illness. He was 65 and had dedicated his life to Austin's music and art culture as a muralist, poster artist, and jack-of-all-trades in the concert production world – including stage manager of the Austin Opera House...."
"...Opera in your coffeehouse, opera at your club...."
"...As a result of his ongoing presence and participation in the community, Linklater is in an exceptional position to be a shrewd observer of our cultural scene. So, when he was taken with the test print of a new, locally made movie called Rock Opera by filmmaker Bob Ray during a midnight screening at the last SXSW Film Festival, our curiosity was naturally aroused..."
"...Yes, that’s Austin’s own One Ounce Opera. The ristretto-strength renegades who overdubbed Jackass: The Movie with opera clips..."
"...The theme of morality versus lust is ubiquitous and timeless. So, even though composer Charles Gounod's 1859 operatic adaptation was originally set in medieval Germany, director Bernard Uzan has reinvented the production for our modern disposition...."
"...This bracingly sordid slice of microbudget punk-rock cinema from Super-8 maestro Bob Ray makes it clear that, despite a step up to 16mm, the Austin-based, self-taught filmmaker hasn't compromised much of the flagrantly deviant sensibility he flaunted in earlier opuses such as Night of the Kung Fu Zombie Bastards From Hell! and Cocaine Ninja. Rock Opera bubbles up from the same primordial college-town underground ooze as the starving bands/bad drugs/chronic penury lifestyle it simultaneously lampoons and celebrates..."
"...There is emotional attachment between any band and its fans, but DBT fans seem to take change especially hard. First, guitarist Rob Malone just up and disappeared in the fall of 2001 during the Southern Rock Opera tour..."
"...Blame the Big Boys, whose scathing punk for a classed-up Austin Music Awards show audience visited the genre’s desired effect on the era. Blame the security at the Austin Opera House, bikers and ex-Navy SEALs from Willie Nelson’s road crew, who typical of the times tried to maintain control through intimidation..."
"...Just when I thought the interminable soap opera of the Austin Music Network couldn't get any more inane, or pathetic, along comes Alex Jones to take it up a notch. As you may have heard, the Lizard King of cable access is in a total frothing rabid-dog freakout that is, his usual self about the planned shotgun wedding of AMN and Austin Community Television...."
"...1986: The 1985/86 Austin Music Awards took place at the Austin Opera House on March 13. One of my fondest memories of that show was Roky Erickson playing with the True Believers..."
"...The sharpest upward momentum of our learning curve came the next year, for the 1984-85 show on March 6 at the Austin Opera House. Some major acts verbally committed to play, but, Austin being Austin, each had a favored band that it also wanted on the bill..."
"...In their fourth year, the ACA Honors go out to Janet Seibert, the tireless advocate for creative programs in the city's Cultural Arts Division; Lisa Byrd, past director of the African American Cultural Heritage District and of Dance Umbrella; Dewy Brooks, longtime ACA board member and co-founder of ProArts Collective; Bruce Willenzik, the engine behind the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and the oldest living Arts Commissioner (wink); and groundbreaking (and currently homeless) stage company Salvage Vanguard Theater. As I think you'll agree, there's a lot there to honor. As if that weren't enough, the program promises a bounty of entertainment from One Ounce Opera, comedian Maggie Maye, DJ Orion, Matt Armbruster of Tetractys performing a work for solo cello by Yevgeniy Sharlat, and house band the Invincible Czars, and ACA Director John Riedie (also the emcee for the evening) has been teasing a major announcement that will "impact the community conversation about the decline in affordable space and displacement of arts organizations in Austin."..."
"...Rotating on a circular stage in the middle of the arena where the beasts had tamed the bipeds, the eight-man band brassed off with a dual horn section and an auxiliary accordionist that gave the band a Mariachi punch. Fifty minutes of carnival pop invigorated the hall, and finally brought everyone’s boots upright for closer “All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down.” Malo led the charge with a tenor slumming in pop music rather than opera...."
"..."The biggest weakness by far has been lack of communication," conceded Wynn. "Both as to what the city operationally has been doing and then the whole community component of the plan..."
"...An artist of flashing eyes and souful voice, Ameerah Tatum can burn herself into your memory. Twice this year, she did that to me: as the smoldering wronged woman in Carl Settles' blues opera and the ambitious Diana Ross-like singer in Dreamgirls...."
"...Sure, opera's an acquired taste; many find it hard to sit through -- much less love. After watching Jon Else's truly hilarious, Emmy- and Sundance-awarded Sing Faster: The Stagehands' Ring Cycle -- Wagner's opera from the stagehands' perspective -- even those who think a Ring Cycle is one of the choices on a washing-machine dial might be inclined to give opera a chance (if only just to experience this one as it's meant to be seen -- from a seat in the audience)..."
"...Austin Lyric Opera has a new face. Last week, the board of trustees announced that Kevin Patterson of Pittsburgh Opera would be joining the organization as its new general director..."
"...When you talk up that "live music capital of the world" thing, you include opera in the mix, right? Well, you should. Austin Lyric Opera includes almost every other kind of music in its mix..."
"...Think opera is the sole province of degreed divas and baccalaureate-boasting basses? Then meet Spotlight on Opera, a locally based training program where you may hear arias belted by young professionals but also by a marketing manager, a scientist, a grocery store worker, a lawyer, and a teacher. As program founder and director Cindy Sadler says, "You do not have to be an aspiring opera singer to perform with us – only someone who enjoys singing."..."
"...Today, just as a "new way forward" in this war is being heralded by the administration, there comes to our shores a work of art that speaks to these dark days, sometimes in language that echoes what we've been told by the leaders of the current military campaign. Waiting for the Barbarians is the latest opera by Philip Glass, an adaptation of the novel by Nobel laureate J.M..."
"...Opera smells of age. That isn't meant as a slap at the venerable form of musical drama; it's merely a comment on the way opera is enveloped almost exclusively in the past..."
"...And yet that – and other such diabolical antics – are exactly what the members of Austin's acclaimed One Ounce Opera will be trying to do this Sunday afternoon, Oct. 4, at the North Door...."
"...In the latest drastic move to address its seven-figure financial crisis, Austin Lyric Opera has opted to sell its headquarters on Barton Springs Road and sever ties with the Armstrong Community Music School which has operated in that facility since its founding in 2000. In the series of harsh measures that ALO has taken this year – having Kevin Patterson resign as general director, downsizing performance runs for all ALO productions, eliminating in-house box office services, and canceling its silver anniversary gala – this is the harshest yet..."
"...Spring has brought a fresh promise to the performing arts in the capital of Texas, and nowhere is this more evident than at Austin Lyric Opera. A new, hip logo and an impressive new website accompany the ALO's move to its new home at the Long Center, a transformation the company hopes to capitalize on dramatically with its new staging of Bizet's torrid, ever-popular Carmen...."
"...The final weeks of 2006 signaled big changes for Austin Lyric Opera in the coming year. On Dec..."
"...Next season Austin Lyric Opera turns 20 my, time flies when you're having fun and Artistic Director Richard Buckley has announced what's coming in the big year. The season's coup the American premiere of Philip Glass' new opera, Waiting for the Barbarians (Jan..."
"...Austin classical music scene for almost 10 years now, and I can't remember a season more star-studded and thrilling. After all, any season that starts out with Itzhak Perlman, Leontyne Price (a living national treasure) and a new Philip Glass opera (La Belle et la Bete) simply has to be spectacular. Others scheduled to appear include Pinchas Zuckerman, Eugene Fodor, Philippe Entremont (one of my childhood idols) -- and, yes! -- cellist Yo-Yo Ma...."
"...For Austin Lyric Opera, most of 2011 was as gloomy as a Wagnerian bass, but two days before it ended, the company managed to close the year on a high note by selling the Mary Ann Heller Opera Center, its home of almost 12 years. The $5.45 million sale to Megalomedia Inc., the local film and production company behind such cable reality shows as Shipping Wars, Smokejumpers, and Quints by Surprise, allowed ALO to wipe out the last of its $2 million debt and start 2012 with a sizable chunk of change in the bank..."
"...If you don't already think that 2009 is a year of changes, try this on for size: Austin Lyric Opera will have one of its productions on television this week. That's a rather remarkable achievement considering how rare opera on the tube is in the 21st century – so rare that it feels like a relic from the medium's early days, the heyday of Leonard Bernstein and Gian Carlo Menotti..."
"...Still, Bernardoni was the spark, and his vision for a revivified Paramount, always related with feverish fervor, ignited in Scott, his co-worker at the Point Venture resort on Lake Travis, and Scott's pal Eckerman, who moved to Austin from Chicago to help them realize this crazy dream. Over the next year, the trio pulled together a prospectus – part love letter to the Paramount's past, part budget for the renovation and operations (both wildly optimistic)..."
"...The Zachary Scott Theatre Center found the right person for the job, as there is probably no composer in Austin better prepared for this particular assignment. Bolin's doctoral thesis was in opera, he has an interest in musicals, and while possessing a personal style in his composition, he is also accustomed to the submission of ego and relative invisibility of the job of orchestration..."
"...This year such world-famous chamber-music groups as the Beaux Arts Trio, the Jupiter String Quartet, and Quartetto Gelato will join such Austin favorites as the Tosca String Quartet, the Austin City Brass, the Wild Basin Winds, and the American Repertory Ensemble. But perhaps the most interesting event this year will be, for the first time in the history of the festival, the presentation of a chamber opera: the Texas premiere of Grigori Frid's The Diary of Anne Frank...."
"...Could be that I'm writing the songs & book for one right now. I am, in fact, although who knows if it'll come to fruition as an actual production, this idea of a dubstep opera with the whole spectacle featuring music somewhere along these heavy lines. But this is Austin, so, you know – it just might happen. This is Austin, where the idea of a dubstep opera was ignited, at least in my mind, while interviewing Julie Fiore and Emily Breedlove of the One Ounce Opera Company. They're the new group that's intent on taking opera – the best opera, with the soul-stirring arias & so on in a classical-music context – out of the fancy halls & church auditoria and into, like, the coffeehouses & nightclubs of the ATX..."
"...After months of searching coast to coast for a new general director, Austin Lyric Opera finally found its top man at the top of the operatic food chain: the Metropolitan Opera. Joseph Specter, who joins ALO officially on April 16, has spent a year and a half as the Met's director of institutional relations..."
"...On the eve of the city's annual Halloween rites in the Castro, calm blanketed downtown. City Hall, across the street from the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, lit its dome orange...."
"...It's nice to see so many five-figure grants and to see the city's Cultural Arts Division get $35,000 to build up its very useful Take It to the Next Level workshop series. And congratulations to Vortex Repertory Company on getting its first-ever show of support from the NEA and to Austin Lyric Opera and the Austin Chamber Music Center for teaming up to present the opera based on Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat..."
"...Ada Anderson, patron, educator, arts advocate (Austin Lyric Opera, Leadership Enrichment Arts Program, Laguna Gloria Art Museum/Austin Museum of Art, Umlauf Sculpture Garden, Long Center for the Performing Arts)..."
"...After launching his tenure at Austin Lyric Opera with a few seasons of Old World standbys, new artistic director Richard Buckley is setting sail for new territory in a major way. For ALO's 20th season next year, he's lined up the company's first American premiere, and it's grand: Waiting for the Barbarians, the most recent opera by Philip Glass so new that it premiered only last month..."
"...On the eve of its big 25th anniversary season, the Austin Lyric Opera looked like it was facing its own Götterdämmerung. A mountain of debt reportedly approaching $2 million and the resignation of Kevin Patterson as general director in May suggested the crashing finality of a Wagnerian twilight..."
"...• Austin Lyric Opera has canceled the 2009 Opera Ball, its huge fundraising gala that is traditionally held in late January, in favor of the Curve Ball, a cleverly titled campaign that speaks to the loop everyone has been thrown by the financial collapse and suggests a nonevent to which donors may contribute without the fuss that goes with a big social wingding. The campaign aims to raise the same $170,000 that the Opera Ball would have but without the expenses involved..."