Evidence of 1982 SDCC…

This cache of pictures from the 1982 San Diego Comic Con recently posted to Flickr by Alan Light show off some then-living cartooning legends like Eisner, Kirby, & Caniff, but most of all I’m impressed by how classy everyone looks!  I thought the 80s were supposed to be ugly…

1982 San Diego Comic-Con

Barb Rausch & Terry Beatty at 1982 San Diego Comic-Con, Photo by Alan Light

Seriously though, this is a really neat collection of images.  “Digitization” is a big buzz word in library science these days, referring to the scanning of analog materials to put them online and increase accessibility in our digital age, so this is a great example of a one-man venture in that process…  Can’t imagine going through boxes of old pictures to scan them  😛

Also, Terry Beatty‘s Wikipedia page has already been updated to include this picture; increased resource retrieval at work!

Opera in the Garden

In the midst of finals, I missed the first of only two performances by Gotham Chamber Opera of a rarity in a unique & appropriate site-specific setting…

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1941

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1941; Image from Brooklyn Public Library

La Hija de Rappaccini by the now late Mexican composer Daniel Catán was based on a play by Mexican Nobelist Octavio Paz in turn based on a story by American slut-shamer Nathaniel Hawthorne.  A scientist keeps his daughter locked in a garden where she’s exposed to his poisonous plants and acquires their deadly touch herself.

Gotham Chamber Opera‘s production is set outdoors, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; very cute no?  There’s just one more performance next Monday, so here’s a review from Parterre.

Also, the first image comes from the cool new collaborative photo collection sharing site, Brooklyn Visual Heritage, which brings together archival image collections from the Brooklyn Library, Museum, and Historical Society.  Hours of fun, and plenty of lovely pics too!

Rat Pack Rigoletto on PBS Tomorrow

Enrico Caruso in Rigoletto, 1903

Enrico Caruso in The Met’s Rigoletto, 1903, photo by Aimé Dupont

This new, Las Vegas-set Met Opera production of Verdi‘s 1851 opera Rigoletto is a far cry from earlier Met productions, including the 1903 season-opener where celebrated Italian tenor Enrico Caruso made his house debut as the Duke of Mantua.  It was an important debut, so the Met archives have a whole article devoted to it, with lots of fun anecdotes and primary documents.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzk5YLH4oxo&w=350&h=300]

Did you know there have been 9 different productions of Rigoletto at the Met?  Just one of the fun (if you’re me, at least) things you can learn on The Met’s online archives, which I am learning to love.  New productions are very well-documented, with plenty of production and rehearsal photos.

Rigoletto at the Met in 2012

Met Rigoletto 2012, photo by Ken Howard, copyright Metropolitan Opera

PBS will show the Met Opera‘s new production of Rigoletto tomorrow at 9 pm, with a repeat airing on Sunday at 12:30 in New York.  Check your local listings.

Depuis le Library Conference


So I’m going to a conference today about libraries and I’m reading up on the speakers, and oh wait, what’s this, one of them works at the freakin’ Metropolitan Opera Library!!!  Tanisha Mitchell, a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, works as a music librarian in three different NY libraries, and get this, she sings opera too!  That profile on her includes a link to an unlisted YouTube video of her singing “Depuis le Jour” from Gustave Charpentier‘s 1900 opera Louise…  so here’s Leontyne Price performing the same aria at the Hollywood Bowl in 1958:


Oh man, I am going to have to geek out about opera with her…

Speaking of the Met Opera and libraries, here’s the Met Opera Online Database, with archival materials, histories of Met performers, and statistics on house repertory.  Not the most user-friendly interface, but tons of great info laying in wait…  If you want to just jump in and look at pictures, I recommend clicking on “New Photo” on the left sidebar; lots of good jumping off points from there!

After a bit of scrounging around, I did find some information on the Met premiere of Louise, in 1921.  No pictures or designs, sadly, but there is a full-text review by Richard Aldrich of the New York Times:

For the first time Charpentier’s opera of “Louise” was given at the matinee performance at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday. The audience was very large and full of curiosity and interest to witness a performance in which Mme. Farrar made her first appearance as the wayward heroine, and Messrs. Harrold and Whitehill and Mme. Bérat took the other leading parts. It was apparently pleased with the results and was liberal in its applause.

Geraldine Farrar as Tosca at the Met, 1909

Geraldine Farrar as Tosca at the Met, 1909

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.

Okun at the Opera

Two of my parallel interests intersected recently, when an artist I discovered while cataloging books at my library internship showed up as a set designer for a production at Los Angeles Opera this season.

Carmy Skylight Triptych by Jenny Okun

Carmy Skylight Triptych, Copyright Jenny Okun

Jenny Okun is a LA-&-London-based photographer who creates abstract, cubist-like digital composite images of architectural spaces.  The LA Opera production in question is the world premiere of Lee Holdridge‘s Dulce Rosa, based on a story by Isabel Allende.  Set to premiere in May, Okun will be working with set designer Yael Pardess, designing backdrop projections. Continue reading

Courtesan with a Heart of Gold

La Monnaie, Brussels’ opera house, has a new production of Verdi‘s La Traviata updated to take place in a brothel, and it’s now available for free online viewing.  Leave it to those crazy Europeans!

La Monnaie La Traviata 2012 poster

Poster for the 2012 La Monnaie production of La Traviata; Photo by Flore-Aël Surum

Oh but what’s this…  Even some Europeans are uncomfortable with aspects of the production, prompting La Monnaie to invite four stage directors and production director Andrea Berth to comment on the question of artistic freedom, censorship, and what’s appropriate for the stage.  Interesting stuff…

Another interesting aspect of La Monnaie is their online database with information on past productions.  You can look for posters (like the one above) and design schematics (like the one below; I’m guessing the 1955 production didn’t have as many naked ladies prancing around).

La Monnaie La Traviata 1955 set design

Hours of entertainment for a library science student like me…