Monday, April 30, 2012

The Inspector EXPOSED

During intermission at Wednesday evening’s performance of The Inspector, something dramatic happened.

The curtain stayed up.

What? Why!?

The curtain stayed up, because we presented BLO Exposed, which is a conversation designed to bring you closer to the opera.

At BLO’s Wednesday night shows, we round up a few individuals involved with the production and have a live conversation about what it’s really like behind-the-scenes at the opera.

We also scour Facebook and Twitter for your questions (@bostlyricopera, #bloexposed) and answer them live. BLO Exposed is really all about you.

This past Wednesday’s performance was great fun. David Angus, BLO’s Music Director and conductor of The Inspector, Sandra Kott (concertmaster), and Craig McNutt (percussion) answered questions from quite a few people in the audience.  

Here are a few of the questions and answers you may have missed:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This was one of Danny Kaye's first big movie roles. Made in 1949, it features Kaye's inimitable blend of broad farce, unrivaled patter song prowess, unmerciful mugging, and a screen presence that, to me, can vary widely from charming to annoyingly overstated. A quite wonderful cast of supporting farceurs including Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart, and Elsa Lancester add spice. 

A bit of trivia -  in the film, the ingenue role is played by Barbara Bates who had a quite brief and somewhat undistinguished film career - except that she played the girl (the new "Eve" as it were) in the last scene of ALL ABOUT EVE - that memorably ironic scene with Ann Baxter. This INSPECTOR GENERAL, like the Musto-Campbell opera currently onstage at the Shubert Theater, transfers the action from its original Gogolian Russia to some unnamed Mitteleuropa country during the Napoleonic era - but the plot stays essentially the same. The extended GYPSY SONG (lyrics written by the future wife of Kaye - Sylvia Fine) is a great showcase for the comic. The whole movie (available on DVD) is uneven and sometimes a bid draggy but when it's good (like Kaye) it is quite special. 

- BLO Artistic Advisor John Conklin


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Free Open House this Saturday - Learn how BLO makes opera happen!

Boston Lyric Opera invites you to attend our Third Annual FREE Open House this Saturday, April 28 from 11am  - 5pm at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert TheatreSM - 265 Tremont Street, Boston.

From the main stage to the mezzanine and everything in between, we're giving you an all-access pass to explore opera in a casual, exciting new way.

Activities will appeal to all ages and include performances, backstage tours, demonstrations, and more!  Opera fans and newcomers alike will enjoy this rare chance to see the inner workings of a theater and explore the set of a professional production - BLO’s 35th Anniversary Season closer, The Inspector.

BLO will be joined by several partners and producers in this day of celebrating and exploring opera including Boston Conservatory, BU Opera Institute, New England Conservatory, Boston Metro Opera, Boston Opera Collaborative, Boston Midsummer Opera, Guerilla Opera, Puppet Showplace Theatre, and Wheelock Family Theatre.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Musto's Many Talents

Another facet of The Inspector composer John Musto's talents....a dynamic and virtuosic arrangement of Bernstein's music... interesting performance although it sounds as if it was recorded in the 103rd Street Subway stop. 
- BLO Artistic Advisor John Conklin

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bombalina is in charge.

Michelle Trainor as Bombalina. Photo by Julius Ahn.
By soprano Michelle Trainor, a BLO Emerging Artist who sings the role of Bombalina in John Musto's The Inspector April 20 - 29 at the Shubert Theater.

Wednesday night we had our final dress rehearsal for The Inspector, and I just love playing my role - Bombalina, Director of Education in Santa Schifezza. It was so thrilling to finally have an invited audience and to hear their laughter and feel their energy. Having an audience makes all the difference. Everything felt very natural and any small bumps we may have had will work themselves out. I can’t wait until opening night!

I love what my costume, wig, and makeup have done to my character. It is all exactly how I pictured Bombalina to be as I was working through the music. I am having so much fun with my colleagues that I forget this is “work.”  I know I’m going to feel separation anxiety after this show because we are such a tight-knit family. When you spend so much time with the same people for such a long period of time, it’s inevitable that you build bonds and grow quite fond of everyone.  

We are all really feeling our roles develop and are having fun with them now. Once the music and the staging are ingrained we can take the time to let go and everything becomes more natural. It's thrilling to sing with the orchestra and is one of my favorite things about opera. People often ask me if I get scared singing with so many instruments.  It doesn’t feel that way at all.  In fact, I find that it is easier to sing with orchestra.  It’s like going for a ride, you just relax and sail over it all.

One of the inevitable challenges I will be facing is what happens when the show ends and I am unemployed again. One of the most difficult things for a singer is securing a job in between gigs - I still have bills to pay! Will I be fortunate enough to find a business opportunity that will carry me for a few months and give me the flexibility I need in order to fit in coachings, lessons, and trips to New York to audition? My previous employer was flexible until one day when I was given the choice to stay on and give up my next role, or lose the job. This was an unbelievably difficult decision to make. Not because I didn’t know the answer to the question, but because I was being forced to make it. My story is not unique. I know many singers who have been faced with this type of situation. It’s the difference between a steady paycheck and an inconsistent one. During these times it’s so important to have a spouse who is emotionally supportive and I am so blessed to have one. I’m not sure what I will be doing in the following months to help support my little family, but I do know this… I don’t regret my choice! For the next two weeks Bombalina is in charge of education in the little town of Santa Schifezza… and she is earning her paycheck!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Workin' 9 to 5 - A day (and night) in the life of an opera singer.

Michelle Trainor and her cat, Sut.
By BLO Emerging Artist and The Inspector cast member Michelle Trainor.

Rehearsals for The Inspector are going really well.  It's amazing how quickly it all flies by.  In no time we will be rehearsing with the orchestra and leaving our rehearsal space. I look forward to being on the set and in the space of the theatre. As wonderful as stage management is at making our rehearsal space feel as close to the real thing, it always feels quite different. I can't wait to slip into my costume. The designer has done such a wonderful job giving me a costume that not only enhances my character but also accentuates my body's features to make me feel my best. Costume, makeup and wigs really give you that extra boost when you’re performing.

I find that building your character when you have a smaller role is much more difficult than when you have a leading role. You receive much less information from the score to build on.  Another challenge is keeping the energy up all the time. You may be singing less but could find yourself in scenes when you are not singing and having to stay in character and reacting to the action. I find that in comedy you are required to deliver even more energy and when you feel like you can’t give any more. What do we do on days when we don't feel so great? This is something a singer has to face a lot. More times than not, we have to perform even if we are under the weather but not let anyone know that we are. Speaking of weather, this is a terrible time for allergies and I am one of Mother Nature’s chosen ones, allergic to all of her beauty.

I am often asked what a typical rehearsal day looks like. For me, it starts around 7:00 am. I shower, dress, and put on my makeup, quickly pat my sweet cat, Sut, and say goodbye to my husband. Scott and I both leave early in the morning and poor Sut just doesn’t understand why we cannot spend the day with her! When I leave my house it is 8:00 AM and I am about to enter the horrific world of traffic. I drive about 45 minutes to the T stop that is actually 20 minutes from my home, and take the train to Park Street in time to stop and fuel up with an iced coffee. We might rehearse from 10:00 to 1:00, break for lunch and then rehearse again from 2:00 to 5:00 depending on the scene schedule. I then pack up and walk back to the Park Street T stop hoping and praying for a Braintree train, but inevitably it will be Ashmont. I wait and wait until my train arrives. It could possibly take me an hour and a half to get home on a good day, and I only live about 25 minutes from Boston. I usually run errands on the way home as time permits and if I am teaching a lesson I run home, make a quick dinner, feed the cat, pat her on the head and then teach for an hour. It will probably be around 9:00 PM when my husband and I can finally relax on the couch. At this point Sut has forgiven us for abandoning her for the day and jumps up for some much needed attention. Her purring is just the kind of music I need to hear after a long day in the life of a singer.  

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See Michelle Trainor in John Musto's The Inspector, April 20-29 at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Musto Makes Movies

It turns out that John Musto, composer of the upcoming BLO production of The Inspector, is not only the prolific creator of a body of very successful operatic works, a song composer of note, a distinguished concert pianist, and a  popular educator, but quite a deft hand as a video maker. Here are a few of his brief, entertaining inventions introducing some pretty shady, but sharply amusing characters from The Inspector. You also get to hear some of its delightful music. Come see, hear, and enjoy the preposterously sordid antics of these guys in person at the Schubert Theater from
April 20 – 29.     
– BLO Artistic Advisor John Conklin

Friday, April 6, 2012

Two weeks to go!

It’s hard to believe that at this time just two weeks from now we’ll be gearing up for Opening Night of John Musto's The Inspector! Take a gander at photos taken this week inside the rehearsal hall by BLO Emerging Artist and The Inspector cast member Julius Ahn, and see how things are coming together. 

Mezzo-soprano Victoria Livengood (Sarelda) and Soprano Meredith Hansen (Beatrice)

Music Director David Angus and Stage Director Leon Major

Bass-baritone Jake Gardner (The Mayor), Mezzo-soprano Nicole Rodin (Bobachino),
and Soprano Molly Paige Crookedacre (Bobachina)

Stage Director Leon Major, Production Stage Manager Karen Oberthal,
and Soprano Meredith Hansen (Beatrice)

Tenor Neal Ferreira (Tancredi)

Lunch time... Just kidding, props! 

Mezzo-soprano Victoria Livengood (Sarelda)

Get your tickets soon and see this spirited cast in action! John Musto's The Inspector is onstage at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre April 20 – 29, 2012. Visit or call 866.348.9738. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Best Singer in the World...

The first in a series of posts from BLO Emerging Artist Michelle Trainor who sings the role of Bombalina in John Musto's The Inspector this month.

So, rehearsals for The Inspector have begun. After all of my hard work preparing I was really anxious to meet the cast and just dive in. I’ve been working with a coach and feel quite confident about my role. I will have to adjust to the commute to the city again. Driving to the station at rush hour is not so much fun and I really dread sitting on the train because, as a singer, I am constantly thinking I’ll catch a cold every time I hear a sneeze or cough. But, due to the astronomical prices of parking in the city, the train is my most economic choice. It has been wonderful to have time lately to coach, take lessons, teach and go grocery shopping. I will now have to adjust and find a schedule that works around the staging rehearsals so that I still have time to spend some quality moments with my husband, Scott and our beautiful cat, Sut.

Our first musical rehearsal went well. There was some unexpected free time given to us in our schedule, and this is when living outside of the city can become bothersome. Sometimes you might have a three or four hour break in your day, I live too far away to go home and come back, so what do you do with yourself? Well, in a foreign city, I would go to a museum, go shopping, go back to the hotel and take a bath. But, I have already done all of that in Boston. So I walked down to the yarn store that is very close to our rehearsal space to kill some time and look around.  I love to knit or crochet during rehearsals while I am waiting for my scenes. My grandmother taught me how work magic with yarn, we were extremely close. It had been many years since she had been able to hear me perform, but every Sunday I would visit her and tell her about the music I was learning, show her pictures, and show off the new crochet project I was working on. She especially loved seeing pictures of me in costume. She would laugh so hard at the wigs, or when I would tell her about how fast some of my costume changes were.

We lost my grandmother last fall, and I inherited her knitting needles. I am finding great comfort in holding my needles and yarn… Periods of uncertainty happen to every singer even though they might not admit it to others. Things like, will the cast members like me, does the conductor think I’m a good musician, am I doing what the director wants…am I doing my job well…It's at times like these that I just grab my knitting, with my grandmother’s well-worn needles, and think of her telling me that I am the best singer in the world…

Michelle Trainor with her grandmother.

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Check back soon for more musings from Michelle, and see her in The Inspector, April 20-29 at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre.