Cunning Little Opera

In my own end-of-semester flurry, I overlooked the end-of-semester operatic offerings from the music schools here in New York!  For example, the Juilliard School’s Opera program is ending the semester with an all-out production of Leoš Janáček‘s 1924 Czech opera The Cunning Little Vixen.  

The Juilliard School's Cunning Little Vixen

The Juilliard School’s Cunning Little Vixen

There are performances tomorrow and Thursday at 8pm, with $30 tickets, half-off for students in-person at the Juilliard box office.  This is bound to be a popular event, so if it sells out before you can get in, check out the Juilliard calendar for other end-of-semester performances (including lots of ticketless, free ones!).

The Cunning Little Vixen seems like a fun challenge for directors and designers; you don’t get too many chances in opera to direct singing animals.  It’s been performed before in New York at NYC Opera in a 1980s Maurice Sendak-designed production and more recently at the NY Philharmonic.  Somehow a video of the complete 1983 NYCO performance is up on YouTube, and since NYCO‘s Sendak production was lost in a fire, it’s an especially valuable resource.

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Carousel Reminder

It sure has been primary sources week on Bizarro Twins, huh (guess my library research classes are getting to me).  To remind you about PBS‘s airing of the New York Philharmonic‘s semi-staged performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein‘s Carousel tonight, here are some resources from the NYPL Digital Gallery from the original production on Broadway in 1945.

1945 Carousel cast photo, from NYPL Digital Gallery

Jan Clayton and John Raitt in Carousel, 1945, from NYPL Digital Gallery

As I mentioned last time, NYPL’s Library for the Performing Arts is a predictably amazing resource for Broadway history, and lots of that is on the Digital Gallery.  A search of “Carousel” there brings up cast photos, set designs, playbills, etc., from the original 1945 production and from 1949, 1965, and 1994 revivals too.

Set design for Carousel, 1945 on NYPL Digital Gallery

Set design sketch by Jo Mielziner for Carousel, 1945 on NYPL Digital Gallery

For some wider entry points into NYC Theater history, you can see NYPL’s digitized archival collections of Jo Mielziner, including his set design drawings for plays and musicals, and the Vandamm Studio, for backstage photography of NYC theater from the 1920s to the ’50s.

Peruvian Perricholi

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

Tonight and Saturday are your last chances to see the final opera in New York City Opera‘s current season, Offenbach‘s 1868 operetta La Périchole at New York City Center.

The story is inspired by the real-life 17th century Peruvian singer (and mistress to the Viceroy) Micaela Villegas.  So in addition to opulent costumes like the one above, costume designer Suzanne Fabry also got to design some altiplano cholita costumes…

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

These designs come from La Monnaie‘s super entertaining digital archives, but I’ll admit that my original motivation for the “fashion” tag was Nana Mouskouri‘s awesome get-up in her duet with Thierry Le Luron.  Oh man, 1960s French variety shows, yes please.

NYCO and director Christopher Alden‘s production leans a little more modern (and Mexican), but it looks like a riot!

June is Bustin’ Out Early this Year

Carousel souvenir program, 1945

Carousel program, 1945, from the NYPL Digital Gallery

PBS will be airing the New York Philharmonic‘s performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein‘s 1945 musical Carousel this Friday at 9pm.  (Check your local listings.)

I think I’ve said before that I’m not necessarily a huge musical fan, but Time did call Carousel the best musical of the 20th century, so might have to give it a shot…  Besides, NYPhil + a cast drawing from the opera and musical worlds sounds like as good a way to see it as any.

If you want to read up on it before Friday, NYPL’s Digital Gallery has the full 1945 program available online (just click through the pages at the top right, where it says “View Image Set”), so you can hear all about it from the horse’s mouth.  As you can imagine, NYPL’s Library for the Performing Arts is an outstanding resource for Broadway history…

Tripping Over Tuesdays

The last gay romance webcomic I blogged about went on a quick hiatus (Hazel & Bell are both students after all!) so I was going to blog about another one to make it up to y’all…  But Always Raining Here returned from hiatus before I got around to it…  But whatever, the more gay high school romance webcomics the merrier, right?

So yes, Tripping Over You, by Suzana Harcum and Owen White, is an English boarding school-set romance between two pals who decide to be more than pals on the sly.  It’s really cute and there are four full chapters in the bank, with the fifth one underway.

Tripping Over You by Suzana & Owen

Tripping Over You, copyright Suzana Harcum & Owen White

It’s always fun to see people’s art improve over the course of their comic, and that’s certainly true of Suzana’s art here.  One of the distinctive visual features of the comic is the blue and white color scheme, but in the current chapter they’re actually using full color.  Took some getting used to, but gotta applaud artists pushing themselves.  Start at the beginning here.

Suzana and Owen have a Kickstarter to collect the comic in book format, and it has been wildly successful, with $11,000+ pledged for a $2,500 initial goal!

Revenge-Heartburn

Magic Flute on Boumeries

Copyright Boum.

Didn’t know French-Canadian cartoonist Boum was an opera fan!  A kindred spirit out there!  Interesting though, maybe that’s a good way to turn kids on to opera, by exploiting the dramatic aspect of it all…  I saw plenty of opera as a kid, but didn’t start to really like it until I was older, so I wonder how I would teach any little ones in my life to like it…

Boum posted a great Dessay interpretation of the aria to accompany her comic, so to mix it up, here’s one by Joan Sutherland instead:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R5F6aPMRSk&w=350&h=300]

Wonder Women of (not through) History

If you’re like me and you missed PBS‘ screening of Kristy Guevara-Flanagan‘s documentary Wonder Women!, you’re in luck, because the whole thing is up on the Independent Lens documentary minisite for your viewing pleasure.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines on PBS

It occurred to me after posting on Monday that my title sounded kinda familiar…  Here’s why:

Wonder Women of History by Alice Marble

As Brian Cronin lays out in this installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, Wonder Woman‘s 1940s series, by what was then All-American Publications, was graced with the #1 woman’s tennis champion as associate editor!  After retiring from her historic tennis career, Alice Marble went about publicizing Wonder Woman as a icon for young girls and wrote a back-up segment in each issue celebrating notable historic women.  Adorable, no?  Click on the image for the full post and the full Nightingale story too!

Alice Marble had a pretty eventful retirement, later claiming that she had worked as a spy for the US government during WWII.  When I was taking my first class on making comics, with cartoonist Tom Motley, I actually wound up using her as my subject!  Not the greatest, but if you’re curious about Marble or my art “skills”, the story is up in full on my woefully neglected DeviantArt account:

My short comic about Alice Marble

Ms. Marble, by Me!