Monthly Archives: May 2010

Tobias Picker spotted dining at Applebee’s

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Tobias Picker is kinda a big deal. It’s safe to say that any composer who gets an opera commission from the Met is kinda a big deal. Any composer who gets an opera produced more than once is kinda a big deal. You can count the number of living composers who have had multiple operas professionally produced more than once in their lifetime on one hand. (John Adams, Jake Heggie, uhh… help me out here…)

I would venture a guess that this weekend marked the first time in his life that Mr Picker celebrated the opening night of one of his operas at Applebee’s.

We opened Emmeline this weekend at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma, and the production is proving to be quite a success. Mr. Picker himself has been incredibly generous with his time, making himself available for consultation during tech week and participating in several Q&A sessions after the performances. And he’s had nothing but wonderful things to say about our modest production (certainly modest by Metropolitan Opera standards). He’s particularly smitten by our own Emmeline, Carrie Hennessey, and with good reason. Her performance is nothing short of breathtaking, certainly worth the price of admission and a two hour drive alone. The remarkable girl’s chorus from Cinnabar’s Young Rep program also garners special praise. Never before has this very difficult music been performed by a group of girls aged 13-16, and they sound great.

But for all his gracious words and generosity of spirit, I think none of the cast or crew expected Mr Picker to actually join us for our post show celebrations at the local Applebee’s. But join us he did, as we all enjoyed some celebratory spinach artichoke dip and deep fried mozzarella sticks (compliments of the house, thanks Applebee’s!)

Here’s photographic evidence of a table consisting of teen age girls, spinach dip, and one of the most successful opera composers alive.  At the Applebee’s off of the Old Redwood Highway in Petaluma, California. This is made entirely of win.

Guggenheim Fellowship winner Tobias Picker dining at Applebee's (with Cinnabar Artistic Director Elly Lichenstein)

A Picker-eye view of post opening Applebee's festivities (with spinach dip)

3 Responses to Tobias Picker spotted dining at Applebee’s

  1. mary beth woodruff says:

    great. you left out john harbison. ‘great gatsby’ was commissioned by the met for the millennium. it was then reproduced by chicago lyric opera.

    • Brian Rosen says:

      Right, John Harbison certainly qualifies as kinda a big deal. But does he have a SECOND opera that has received multiple professional productions. That’s the criteria here for the one handed thing.

      And does he eat at Applebee’s?

      • mary beth woodruff says:

        this is his first opera so i guess that he doesn’t qualify for these criteria. yet, his oratorio ‘flight into egypt’ has been reproduced all over the place and won the pulitzer. i don’t know that he’ll ever write another opera. he said it was unbelievably all-consuming.

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Woot! Tech Week!

Yep. It’s tech week here in MvT world. We’re in hunker down mode in preparation for this Friday’s opening night performance of Emmeline at Cinnabar Opera Theater up in Petaluma, CA. It takes fifty minutes to get from my house to Cinnabar. And that’s without traffic. That should give you a sense of how much IContinue Reading

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Arts funding as psychological torture

Does arts funding do more harm than good? It’s no secret that arts funding is scarce, especially for smaller, unproven, “emerging” artists. I wrote a post a couple of months ago about how competitive it is to become eligible to apply for most grants, let alone to actually win any of those grants. The organizationsContinue Reading

2 Responses to Arts funding as psychological torture

  1. Brian Young says:

    Well, I don’t remember the name of the event, or movement I heard about. But, NPR ran a story a few months back about a new thing in the arts. The basic idea is that groups of artists are throwing big dinner parties where the guests come with the intent to fund the art projects they like. I can’t even remember if during the parties, the artist pitch their ideas, or what. But, the guests are not meant to be deep pocketed well known patrons, but instead average art loving folk.

    The articles main point was that this direct connection between the artists and a larger pool of people giving smaller donations was working because the new patrons were feeling like they were important to the process.

    I don’t know if it’s a better idea. But, it’s an idea. 🙂

  2. Nolan Love says:

    Here’s an idea: Have the grant makers accept no applications, and rather take it upon themselves to discover art that they want to support. Artists can keep channeling resources toward evangelizing their wares to the general public, among whom will be said patrons. No overt rejection, but instead delightful acceptance & support for the chosen few.

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Channeling my inner Merman

In the great canon of musical theater and opera roles, there are a few numbers that every actor/actress aspires to perform. Show stopping, scenery chewing, career making moments that put all of your talents on display for the world to see. The finale of Cabaret, Ya Got Trouble from the Music Man, and my personalContinue Reading

One Response to Channeling my inner Merman

  1. Matt Cohen says:

    Sounds like it should be very funny. Break legs!

    I saw that production of Gypsy. Sam Mendes… what more do you need to know? It wasn’t as noteworthy as his Cabaret, but it was still very well done.

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Richard Foreman bails on theater

Looks like Richard Foreman was serious this time. He’s not doing anymore theater productions. I’m damn glad I caught Idiot Savant last year at Joe’s Pub. I’ve been a big fan of Foreman’s work since I went to see Lumberjack Messiah on a complete whim five years ago. Now I see whatever is playing atContinue Reading

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#operaplot winners announced (irony and post-modernism are shut out)

The judge has spoken and the winners have been announced. (I was kinda hoping that Jonas Kaufmann would record this momentous announcement in rich Wagnerian tenor in a full orchestral setting). With almost 1000 entries, narrowing the field to 5 winners was surely a daunting task and there was no doubt that many worthy entriesContinue Reading

3 Responses to #operaplot winners announced (irony and post-modernism are shut out)

  1. […] More #Operaplotting | It’s Time To Admit That I Have A Problem | How To Write An #Operaplot | Operaplot Winners Announced – Irony And Postmodernism Are Shut Out Vancouver Opera Blog – Do You Operaplot? Another Musicology Blog It’s The Most […]

  2. Hi Brian,

    Appreciate your comments/critiques on the whole #operaplot deal, and got a chuckle out of your “scholarly taxonomy” of entries. That is part of the fun, isn’t it, seeing the disparate roads people can travel within 130 characters?

    Having now unexpectedly finished in the top 5 for two consecutive years, and neither time having had what I thought was my best entry selected, I can understand whence you’re coming in your analysis. Both years, I had personal lists of my favorite 3% or so (that included liberal doses of @MMmusing, @nbrockmann, and @frindley), and have been completely shut out in those picks, if memory serves.

    The wild card is always the particular judge’s sense of humor, of course, and so we’re always at risk of something not translating, especially with regard to the snarkier, more irreverent wing of our culture. For my part this year, recognizing that potential for misunderstanding, I tried to spread my entries around: a couple of limericks, a couple mildly snarky ones, a couple with a more ‘literalist’ bent, and a couple of wild cards. I figure it’s my best shot, in case the judge doesn’t share my sense of humor (which tends more toward wordplay and snark. I’m still hoping we’ll get a judge one day who fully appreciates that most elegant of creatures, the #operaplot limerick). I’d like to think others will adopt the same strategy as time goes on; flexibility is key in subjective matters.

    At any rate, my point is only this: the contest gets better when we offer constructive criticism, which you and I and others have done in blogs and on @missmussel’s website. However, you and @jenniferstumm and even @eighthblackbird really put those of us who do win in an awkward spot when you deride the winning entries as “tame”, etc., publicly (especially using what is now an otherwise quiet hashtag). It’s not our fault after all, that the judge chose the entries he did, but as no one else gets his entries critiqued publicly by the masses, could we also perhaps keep criticism of the winners in perspective, too? We’re just opera enthusiasts and logophiles like you, who happened to get lucky, and I think all of us know that we did, so the public critiques come off as particularly harsh in that light.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and consider this. From one extreme iNtuitive (INFJ) to another, I’m looking forward to playing the game with you again next year.

    Very best,
    James (@musicbizkid, aka the luckiest #operaplotter who ever #plotted an #opera)

  3. Brian Rosen says:

    Hey there James. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    I certainly was concerned about trying to state my observations and opinions about the winning selections while being sensitive to those who did win (yourself included). I tried to use objective criteria, noting the nature of the winning selections rather than imposing too much judgement. (“Straightforward” and “conservative” is as harsh as I get.)

    I do agree that the best gift we can give each other as #operaplotters is the gift of attention. No one likes slaving over a clever bon mot only to see it lost in a sea of other #operaplots, which happens all too easily. I’d venture a guess that if not for the added value of actually producing an audio track, my Oedipus #operaplot would have been completely unnoticed. (I’m still frustrated that my own Nixon in China #operaplot has barely registered a blip on anyone’s radar. Come on, that’s frickin inspired!) I ultimately decided to write this entry not to dismiss the winning entries, but to ensure the many many un-winning entries that their efforts were not for naught, and to reenforce their suspicions that being declared an official winner should not be considered the sole yardstick for success.

    Unfortunately as an ENT, I know that I can easily bruise an INF without even realizing it. That certainly wasn’t my intention. Hopefully it’s nothing a nice dinner at Mangia! and a good opera won’t solve. 😀

    Oh… did you take any classes with my good friend Jon Holland at Berklee? He was my “little brother” at Interlochen Arts Academy way back when…

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Owen Pallett rocks my world

Owen Pallett‘s new album Heartland is just fantastic. I was introduced to his work by Sequenza21 and after listening to a couple of tracks I made a special trip to Aquarius Records to pay full price for the CD (hooray for supporting artists and local record stores). It was that compelling. A month later, theContinue Reading

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How to write an #operaplot

Looking through the 900 odd (sometimes very odd) #operaplot entries, I started noticing some distinct trends, a number of “schools” of #operaplot authoring. This isn’t that surprising, there are only so many ways one can distill a multi hour convergence of music and theater into a coherent series of 140 characters (130 excluding the #operaplotContinue ReadingContinue Reading

12 Responses to How to write an #operaplot

  1. Chickenfeet2003 says:

    “Batter my ears three noted score” was Dr. Atomic

  2. Dale Matt says:


  3. Irene Vartanoff says:

    Irene Varatanoff (to my knowledge) does not exist, and this entry is not one of the 25 I submitted under my correctly spelled name. But the entry is very good, so whoever wrote it, congrats.

    • Brian Rosen says:

      Ah. You’re right. I copied that off of the OM summary, but searching the twitter archives shows that its actually RalphGraves’ submission. Thanks for letting me know!

  4. Brian/MvsT: This is a fabulous collection and assessment! Thank you! I love being defined a lyric…but, you see, I’m really a dramatic coloratura trapped in a lyric’s body! 😉 😉

    You too have proved that the body of strong entries is quite large… 30 or so, me thinks. Honestly, I think J.K. should just set up a pin-the-tail-on-the-entry to pick the top 7, it’s so subjective this year.

    San Francisco, eh? Perhaps our paths will cross one of these days.

    Enjoy my “Best of…” here:

    • Brian Rosen says:

      Yah. I have my favorites, but it will all depend on his sensibilities.

      I’m sure our paths will cross. I’d venture that we have several facebook friends in common. And if the ROTL prod of Into the Woods you were in was the one with Maggie as Cinderella (as far as I know, the only one they’ve done), I’ve seen you on stage.

      • NO WAY! That was indeed the production, and Maggie was my Cindy. TOO FUNNY! (Is she a friend?)

        That was in the earlier beginnings of ROLT. They just won 6 BATCC Awards…they’ve come a long way!

        Take care!

        • Brian Rosen says:

          Yep. Maggie’s a good friend. We’ve been in several shows/operas together. She’s played my wife at least once. She’s actually the main reason I saw that production (I had just finished music directing her in A Little Night Music.) I’ve heard great things about ROLT these days. Lots of friends in their productions. I would have LOVED to do Jerry Springer this time around, but I’ve got prior commitments. 🙁

  5. […] wrote a fantastic assessment of several emerging categories of entries titled: “How to write an #OperaPlot.” My La Traviata/Copa Cabana entry was grouped under “Lyrics.” I jokingly posted […]

  6. […] my above “Copacabana” Traviata entry was included in musicvstheater’s “How to write an #operaplot,” under “The Lyrics,” on his blog Music vs. […]

  7. […] Digestible Opera Chunks | More #Operaplotting | It’s Time To Admit That I Have A Problem | How To Write An #Operaplot Vancouver Opera Blog – Do You Operaplot? Another Musicology Blog It’s The Most […]

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