Moby Dick the Opera

This Friday PBSArts Fall Festival kicks into musical theater high gear with Jake Heggie’s 2010 opera Moby Dick, in its 2012 performance from the San Francisco Opera, at 9pm (check your local listings!).

Moby Dick at Dallas Opera

Moby Dick at Dallas Opera, Photos by Cory Weaver and Karen Almond.

Co-commissioned by the Dallas Opera, SF Opera, and three others, its since made its way round those partner companies, and will premiere at the Washington National Opera February of next year.  Its received mostly glowing reviews, so here’s your chance to see it for yourself (assuming you didn’t already see it live in Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, Adelaide, or Calgary).

Here’s an evening with Heggie, discussing his musical formation up to Moby Dick, at San Diego.  He’s an engaging speaker, and he covers his fortuitous fall into composing opera from working in an opera company’s PR department.  UCTV also has this spot devoted to the Moby Dick at Sand Diego Opera.

The next two Fridays on PBS are also devoted to the more musical side of theater, with Sondheim’s Company and Rodger & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!  So set your Friday nights aside for free musical fun!

This Used to be a Fun Home

Fun Home musical poster

Fun Home musical poster

I’d read about this years ago and hadn’t heard about it again until today, but Alison Bechdel‘s graphic novel memoir Fun Home has been adapted into a musical by composer Jeanine Tesori and is now up at the Public Theater.  Don’t know how I missed the premiere a full year ago, but better late than never…  Here’s the latest New York Times review.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home, Copyright Alison Bechdel

Obviously Bechdel is (or maybe was, before Fun Home) best known for her long-running strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and Tesori is known for musicals like Violet and Caroline, or Change, though also for the Shrek musical and for scoring several Disney animated sequels and prequels…  Here’s a clip of the production of Violet at Endstation Theatre in Virginia:

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

In other Tesori news, the score of Caroline, or Change is now available to stream on Spotify!  Good preparation maybe…

Vestal Virgin Live Stream

(Not the porny kind!)

The seldom performed 1807 opera La Vestale by the seldom performed Gaspare Spontini will be put on, live streamed, and available online for 6 months afterwards, on Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Elysées website, this Wednesday at 12:30pm, New York time.

La Vestale at La Scala, 1954

La Vestale at La Scala, 1954, with Maria Callas

Some refer to Spontini as the missing link to French Grand Opera, but some say he’s just really boring…  But still, an interesting novelty…  Here’s a famous aria, “Toi que j’implore” performed by Barbara Dobrzanska:

Two Boys Live Stream

(Not the porny kind!)

Tonight is the stateside premiere of Nico Muhly‘s Two Boys, commissioned by the Met Opera and given a workshop world premiere at English National Opera.  Tonight’s performance will be live streamed on the Met’s site at 8pm.  Here’s the NYT review of the premiere.

Two Boys at ENO poster

Poster from ENO’s Two Boys premiere

There’s a neat behind-the-scenes article about the development of the piece since ENO.  It also mentions some of the outside-the-box promotion the Met’s been doing (TV spots during Catfish seem appropriate), including an “Ask me Anything” session with Muhly on Reddit!  Strangely engrossing…   He elaborated on some of the questions on his own site too.

PS: “Two Boys One Cup” was definitely a Google autofill suggestion today…

EDITED TO ADD:  Britten‘s final opera, Death in Venice, is streaming until Friday on BBC Radio 3, which I mention here because of Muhly’s self-proclaimed love of Britten’s operas and the centrality of a boy character to each.  Maybe by listening to the two you can play spot-the-influence; I heard some gamelan-like touches are appear in both…

Also, here’s a video from the Met with the most music and footage from the actual opera as I’ve yet seen…  To put some visuals to the disembodied music you’ll hear tonight…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C80eJCaNedY&w=350&h=300]

Juilliard Baroque

Original Libretto for Handel's Radamisto

Original Libretto for Handel’s Radamisto at the V&A

Tickets for Juilliard‘s first operatic production of the academic year went on sale this week, and it’s for Handel‘s 1720 Radamisto, his first opera for the Royal Academy of Music in London.  Here’s a famous aria performed by Joyce DiDonato.

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

The libretto at top is from the collection of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, and it was used at the opera’s premiere performance, making it one of the earliest preserved prompt scripts.  They have a nice page on 18th century opera with more primary sources from their collections.

The other operas to be performed at Juilliard are Tchaikhovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Massenet’s Cendrillon (ie, Cinderella).  Here’s their full listing of operatic and vocal offerings this year, and as long as we’re talking about New York schools, here’s the opera schedule for the Manhattan School of Music too, an intriguing combination of Haydn, Cavalli, and Virgil Thomson…

Superheroes on PBS

I almost forgot about this myself, but PBS aired Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a 3 part documentary on the history of American comic book Superheroes, this week and now all episodes are online for a limited time only!

Here’s a panel on the documentary from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con if you wanna pre-game post-emptively:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RysrFfUAQc&w=350&h=300]

I saw the first installment of the series and enjoyed it, especially to see interviews with some of the original creators in the field who have since passed, like Joe Simon, Carmine InfantinoJerry Robinson, and even some archival footage of Jack Kirby.

PBS' Superheroes book

PBS’ Superheroes companion book

The documentary series has an accompanying book too, reviewed favorably for its inclusionary history over at DC Women Kicking Ass here.