Swan Aria

Anna Nicole at NYCO & BAM

Image by Sarah Krulwick, Copyright New York Times

New York City Opera‘s financial woes may have finally caught up to it in a big way, as today may be the company’s last day in existence (barring any last minute injection of $7 million, rich opera lovers take note).

They will have completed their first production this season, of  Mark-Anthony Turnage‘s Anna Nicole in a co-production with the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  I saw it and was very pleasantly surprised; it had a witty, boppy libretto by Richard Thomas, a colorful, engaging and insightful production by Richard Jones, and a fascinatingly score, equal parts jazzy, poppy, and spiky.

I’ve been looking everything I can up about it now, and just now discovered this “Making of” interview with the above creators at BAM this season:

It was definitely a good way for NYCO to go out if that’s what it comes to, showcasing their edge on the New York opera scene, not afraid to bring in unusual work, which I always appreciated.  I guess the comfort is that the Met seems to be getting more adventurous lately, taking on repertoire first championed by NYCO, and there are also many smaller companies popping up that can help fill that off-the-beaten-path niche.  Still, a sad end to a great local institution…

Comic Making Potpourri

I’m a sucker for advice from webcartoonists, and promoting your product isn’t something you hear much about, but John Allison of Scary go Round / Bad Machinery fame recently weighed in on the matter briefly;

The best way to get your work popular is to do good work, do a lot of it, and win people over with the force of your lovely personality. If your comics are no good, it doesn’t matter what you do. (source)

That’s sort of the main takeaway from all creative types, including, if you’ll allow this very tenuous segue,  Sarah See Andersen, an illustration student posting hilarious autobio Doodle Time comics on Tumblr on the side…

Even more tenuously related, I also enjoyed this Comics Journal interview with cartoonist Simon Hanselmann where he had some interesting things to say about the local Melbourne comics & zine scene and breaking onto the international stage, especially with this bit about Tumblr, his primary platform.

With the internet everything is linked up now. Tumblr is just a big zine faire that never shuts down. (source)

From Life Zone, by Simon Hanselmann

From Life Zone, Copyright Simon Hanselmann

Enjoying his Tumblr, which is a sorta scarily life-like depiction of quarter-life crisis suburban anomie…  With a talking owl…

Also gotta shout out to Allison’s current Bad Machinery storyline, which is hurting my head with all the time travel and butterfly-stepping involved…  Waiting to see how all the time tampering turns out for our kid detectives…  Also Lottie’s reaction to microfilm machines is basically how I felt when I first used one over the summer:

John Allison's Bad Machinery webcomic, The Case of the Forked Road

Copyright John Allison

Selfie Photo Album

Over on my other blog today, I used this gem by Maryland Institute College of Art student Sarah See Andersen to talk about born-digital documents.

As technology has improved, we’ve been able to produce more things, more easily, quickly outpacing production from years past and inundating ourselves in a sea of new material…  With digital items especially it’s easy to spiral out of control, since we’re never visibly constrained by the physical limitations of storage and maintenance…  Which can lead to a hard drive full of iPhone selfies, for example…

This was all a preface to the admittedly very exciting Kickstarter-ed iSketchnote, an iPad cover that digitizes your drawings and notes as you make them.  This could be a pretty nifty tool for cartoonists and illustrators especially, so any techy artists out there might want to check it out…

Also, Sarah See Andersen‘s tumblr comic, Doodle Time, is hilarious, so definitely check that out too.  In fact, watch this space tomorrow for some more of her work…

via Digitize as You Go.

MarIInsky Opening, months later…

In honor of last night’s Russian-themed season opener at the  Metropolitan Opera, with Tchaikovsky‘s Eugene Onegin (NYT Review here), enjoy the full video of the inauguration of the new Mariinsky II theater in St. Petersburg from earlier this year, featuring a who’s who of Russian conductors, singers, & instrumentalists in selections from opera, ballet, etc…

Mariinsky II Theater, St. Petersburg

I’d forgotten this was up over on Arte Live Web, which has lots of full performances up for months at a time, including lots of classical & opera (I’ll let you explore their opera tag, but it ranges from Francesco Cavalli to Knut Vaage; will have to explore these offerings s’more later).  This video is up for almost 40 more days, so there’s still time to catch up with some of the operatic highlights of the European summer season…

B(r)ook(lyn) Fest

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

This Sunday is the Brooklyn Book Festival, and with all the great events going on, I always find it useful to narrow my options down somehow…  So for your convenience, here are all the comics-related events I could find (plus one surprise opera-themed event!).

(Un)fortunately, looking at comic events doesn’t limit it too much this year!  I went last year, and I think the 2 comics events I went to were the only ones, so this is a much expanded roster of events, on a wide range of themes; nice to see the diversity of the medium on display…

If Sunday isn’t enough for you, David Prudhomme, who’s launching a new book at the Festival, will also be the guest of honor on Monday’s NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium.

Comics events after the cut, and here’s a map of participating venues to help you plan; happy booking! Continue reading

Arlen Hit Parade

Starting this Monday is the start of Off-Broadway Week (actually 3 weeks) in New York, with 2-for-1 tickets to a host of Off Broadway shows.  Among these are some musicals, the popular and long-running Avenue Q and The Fantasticks among them.  An even more classic option is The Wonderful Wizard of Song (warning, site launches into song), a revue of songs written by Harold Arlen.

Here’s a clip of Arlen at the piano, with some special guests, singing through a medley of his many hits.

Get your Off-Broadway Week tickets now!

One of my favorite Arlen songs not included above is Stormy Weather, which I’ve blogged about before…

Flip Book Comics

Sometimes it takes a publishing deal for a comic freely available on the web to get on my radar…

Sam Alden comic Hawaii 1997

Copyright Sam Alden

This short comic from Sam Alden of Portland, OR,  will be published next year by Uncivilized Books, paired with a new flip book style story (source).

Despite the rough pencils, it’s pretty masterful, with some impressive shadow play…  I had actually blogged about Alden before, but did not recognize this style at all, very different.

There are other full samples of his work, in both rough pencil & more fleshed out black & white. Household, another flip book story, is very dark, so those shadows come in to play in great form once again.

Sam Alden comic Hawaii 1997

Copyright Sam Alden