Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gala News: Joyce Kulhawik interviews John Conklin

Joyce Kulhawik

Boston Arts and Entertainment Critic Joyce Kulhawik has interviewed legends of screen and stage. This time, she set her sights on BLO’s Artistic Advisor, John Conklin. Conklin created the artistic program for this season's Fall Gala, Cantiamo, a Grand Serenade to Opera, and Joyce, who will be the MC of the elegant evening on October 13, got the scoop on John’s creative process.

Joyce: John, what was your inspiration for the program this year? It seems quite different from the themes of the past several years.

John: “If I cannot sing, let me fly” I came across this evocative quote from Stephen Sondheim somewhere, and it became more or less the source point and inspiration for the 2012 BLO Gala. It has been used in many of the printed materials we have sent out. I have worked on the programming of this festive event for the past four years. This year, I made a conscious effort to make the event feel different than in the past. It is often linked to an opera in the season, but this year, our program is entitled “Cantiamo” and, rather than focusing in on one opera, it celebrates the very essence of all opera—singing and song.

Joyce: It sounds like a lovely celebration of song, voice and opera. Tell me about how you will bring that inspiration to life.

John Conklin, Artistic Advisor
John: Eight singers, drawn from our Emerging Artists and from leading singers in this season’s operas, will perform an ever-changing collage of operatic excerpts. Mixed in with serenades, ballads, prayers, barcarolles, and lullabies will be soaring poetry (from the likes of Shakespeare, Shelley, and Whitman), which also revels in the power of the singing voice and the eloquence of song.

Joyce: How is creating the program for the Gala different than something you would create for the stage of a theatre, like the Shubert Theatre where BLO performs most of its season productions?

John: The Gala is an elegant evening of excellent food and drink, old friends and new acquaintances, good conversations, glamorous outfits and musical entertainment that is up close and personal. We try to weave the performance elements throughout the course of the evening, creating a theatrical flow in and around the gala atmosphere.

Joyce: In addition to the eight performers you mentioned previously, it seems that there are some special guests this year. Can you tell us more about them?

John: Well Joyce, we are thrilled that you will join us as host, as well as join in the theatrical programming of the evening by reading some of the beautiful poetry I mentioned earlier. In addition, we are excited to welcome PALS Children’s Chorus who will join us in one of the performances of the evening. And our Guest of Honor, acclaimed baritone Sherrill Milnes, will join us and lend his expertise and experience to our fund-a-need to support BLO’s Emerging Artists. It promises to be a rich mix indeed.

Joyce: John, can you tell me more about BLO’s Emerging Artists and their role in the Company and in the Gala?

John: The Gala gives recognition to, and raises invaluable financial support for, our important program for Emerging Artists. Boston Lyric Opera’s Emerging Artists are selected annually by invitation resulting from their presence at Company auditions or in BLO performances. Later in the program, we will highlight the Emerging Artists and ask the guests at the Gala to show their support in the form of donations that will keep this program going throughout the season and for many seasons to come.

Joyce: It sounds like an evening that is not to be missed. And I, for one, am looking very forward to October 13. John, are there any parting words you would like to share with us about the Gala?

John: In closing I would like to share a quote from Shakespeare: “Here will we sit and let the sounds of music creep in our ears; soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony.” I hope many of you will join us for some of that sweetness and some of that harmony.

  To purchase tickets or for more information about Cantiamo visit our website at or contact Renee Dunn, Manager of Special Events and Corporate Sponsorships at 617.542.4912 x264 or

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dr. von Lyric and his "Curious and Amazing Cabinet of Musical Marvels and Miracles"

Anne Sofie von Otter sings Schubert's Erlkönig with conductor Claudio Abbado

"A whole evening's worth of fear, wonder, seduction and horror - all in under 4 minutes" - Dr. von Lyric

For an English translation of the text click here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dr. von Lyric's "Curious and Amazing Cabinet of Musical Marvels and Miracles"

 "Don't you do exactly this (or long to) in the privileged privacy of your bedroom or satisfyingly echoing bathroom shower? ( Go ahead ...admit it.) I love this guy - undeniable passion, intensity, an appropriate air of completely joyful  operatic nuttiness... and that dog! Enjoy ...and sing along if you must" - Dr. von Lyric

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dr. von Lyric's “Curious and Amazing Cabinet of Musical Marvels and Miracles”

"You may have seen this before (after all it's had over 12 million hits on Youtube!) but whenever I look at it again I am struck anew with its quite brilliant and haunting manipulation of images so suavely allied to the Bach cello accompaniment. " - Dr. von Lyric

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CASTING CALL: UPDATE! Children’s role in Madama Butterfly (age 3-7 and 11-14)

Looking for a unique and exciting opportunity for your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild? Know any kids whom you might describe as being “born for the stage” or “a real character”?

Well, guess what…
Boston Lyric Opera will hold auditions for the roles of Sorrow and Teenage Sorrow in our upcoming production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. These auditions are planned for October 2nd from 6:00pm-7:30pm. In the opera, Sorrow is the child of Madama Butterfly and Lieutenant Pinkerton, and although the roles are very important to the story, the parts (non-speaking, non-singing) are not too demanding – perfect for young performers!

The audition is open to children between the ages of 3 and 7 as well as 11 and 14. The child playing Sorrow is meant to appear as a 3-year-old on-stage, so auditioners’ heights will be limited to 3’6”, or 42”. There are no restrictions beyond age for those auditioning for Teenage Sorrow.

Rehearsals for the production begin on October 15, 2012 and continue until October 31, with performances on November 2, 4, 7, 9, and 11. We plan to limit rehearsals to weekday evenings and Saturdays before 5:00pm, with no more than 3 rehearsals per week. Any interested parties should feel free to contact Boston Lyric Opera for more information, or to apply, using the details below.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see that special kid in your life onstage and in costume!

Jordan King
Artistic Associate
617-542-4912 ext. 239

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dolce and Gabbana take on the Opera world!

Not new to the opera scene, Italian fashion moguls, Dolce & Gabbana have tossed their hat in the ring in a totally new way. Thanks to the duo the Metropolitan Opera's Met Titles will now feature Italian translations in addition to the current offerings of English, Spanish, and German.

According to OperaChic, an American blogger living in Milan, the fashion house presented a Maria Callas themed runway show in 2009. Read more on this pairing here!

In honor of Fashion Week currently happening in NYC: What designer would you like to see collaborate on an opera? Comment on this post and you could win a BLO 2012 Madama Butterfly T-Shirt. (These shirts are only available as online prizes!) 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Behind the Scenes - Summer Intern Kim Curhan

BLO is an organization that thrives not only due to the hard work of its administrative and artistic staff but through the incredible efforts of volunteers and interns! This summer, Kim Curhan a student at Boston University interned in our Development department, this is her story.

Thank you for all of your hard work Kim!

Touring the BLO office on my first day, I could not help but notice how genuinely all the employees smiled at me. Although a smile is often impulsive during a greeting, the employees at BLO smiled jovially and contagiously, and they got me thinking about how the act of philanthropically gifting the community with art teaches the meaning of heart-warming, altruistic work. It is this generosity that first attracted me to a career in arts management. In fact, working to preserve and share with others the enchantment of art does not sound like work to me at all. My final month of summer this year could have been filled with pool parties and internet surfing, but I chose to spend it here making a difference in the Boston community!

At college, I am a proud History of Art and Architecture major and Communications minor, and I firmly believe that the performing arts are extremely valuable. Growing up, I took singing lessons, trained in ballet, and performed with theatre groups. I painted, conquered artful photography, and taught myself how to play the guitar. If art gives me such a strong sense of purpose and happiness, I am confident that it can have the same effect on others. Hence, it is not a surprise that my constant involvement with art, growing up, furthered my professional passion to retain a rich arts culture in my community. My passion for sharing art with the masses shines openly, especially since I launched an art history blog during my free time in June.

When the opportunity arose to intern with BLO in development, I was thrilled to learn about the inner workings of a non-profit performing arts organization. Under the incredibly helpful supervision of Ceceilia Allwein, I designed and implemented processes and data entry templates to organize the sea of due dates for fundraising publications throughout the artistic season. It became clear how important monetary support from donors is and how essential voicing gratitude is to sustaining longstanding relationships with opera lovers. Branching out into the marketing side of development, I compiled a report of my analysis on which fundraising techniques will work most efficiently and which ones will work best for Boston Lyric Opera’s patrons. Most importantly though, I have grasped an understanding of fundraising principles and actively created efficient, organizational tools that I can take with me to my future career in non-profit, arts management work.

With my new-found knowledge, I am much more aware of the relationship between supporters and art-makers. Unfortunately, this alliance is often overlooked when one is merely an occasional ticket buyer. My experience here has ensured my future involvement with non-profit arts organizations as a donor. After all, without the support of the community, BLO and other arts organizations that rely on contributions in addition to ticket sales would no longer function. And although this terrifies me, since so much seems to depend on so little, it also inspires me. I could not be happier working with a staff that dedicates its time, energy and creativity to keeping opera and the arts in the Boston community.

Have you volunteered or interned at BLO? If you want to share YOUR story email!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dr. von Lyric's “Curious and Amazing Cabinet of Musical Marvels and Miracles”

We start off with a quite extraordinary performance - a recording of a live concert. No it was not pre-recorded... the students indeed play from memory (and play very beautifully) while executing hypnotic choreographic patterns. The whole event somehow lets us HEAR the music in a totally revelatory way at the same time as we are seeing a liberating kind of "deconstruction" of the formal symphonic event we are so used to. The simplicity and informality of the dress, the bare feet, the intense concentration, even the sometimes endearingly quasi-awkward movement as the young players "dance" with their often bulky instruments all add to the undeniable appeal of this unique event. - Dr. Von Lyric

Introducing Dr. von Lyric and his "Curious and Amazing Cabinet of Musical Marvels and Miracles"

Dr. von Lyric will open his “Curious and Amazing Cabinet of Musical Marvels and Miracles” each Wednesday on our blog “In the Wings” so stay tuned!

Dr. Otto Nicolai Bonaventura von Lyric was born in Bratislava. His mother was a famous ornithologist and his father a distant descendant of Emile Zola. He attended the Richard Wagner kindergarten in Bremen for “overachieving youngsters under 3”, the Beethoven Hochschule in Marseilles and the Giuseppi Verdi University in Modena. He studied singing, musical criticism, and riot control before making his operatic debut in Parma as Hans Sachs at age 19. He’s sung at all of the minor opera companies in Europe and America in such roles as Mephistopheles, Wozzeck and Radames to mixed acclaim. He served for a short stint as the music critic of the Lincoln, Nebraska Times-Union. He lives in an elegant converted factory warehouse in Braintree, MA uneasily sharing the space with his aging Russian wolfhound Amadeus.

Dr. von Lyric, has since retired from the stage and the world of newspapers and devotes his time to collecting musical curiosities on video, a mixture of the charming, extravagant, off-kilter, and sometimes deeply serious. He has agreed to share his collection exclusively with Boston Lyric Opera online and says:

“I hope this will bring a constantly changing and ever amusing perspective on the rich diversity of musical expression that exists out there in cyberspace. I consider myself a kind of 21st century flaneur, in the mode of Baudelaire. But rather than roaming the streets of 19th century Paris looking for, and recording, the unusual and the curious, I wander down the streets and byways of the Internet, seeking out (and bringing back to you), the sights, sounds, and impressions that intrigue me and hopefully will do the same for you!” - Dr. von Lyric

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Christian Lacroix teams up with the SF Opera

Our Scenic Designer for Clemency, Julia Noulin-Mérat comments on the collaboration between Christian Lacroix and the San Fransisco Opera: (read the SF Gate article HERE)
I remember fondly, when growing up in Paris, walking by Christian Lacroix’s boutique on the Champs Elysees; I was fascinated with his color palettes, fabrics, use of silhouettes – and his dramatic designs that were so interestingly inspired by costumes of the past. When I first read that his costumes were going to be used in the San Francisco Opera’s production of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi in a co-production with Bayerische Staatsoper, I could not have been more thrilled!

The sneak peek released in the SF Gate article reveals a world rich in textures, a visual feast of vivid color palettes. This marks a grand return for the fashion couturier to the world of American opera after his costumes for Renée Fleming in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Thaïs .

Vincent Boussard’s production is such a sexy version of the Romeo and Juliet story and I cannot wait to see it!  - Julia Noulin-Mérat