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Category: music – opera


Celebrated opera baritone Sherill Milnes comes to Tacoma for public talks, workshop and fundraiser for Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist program

Opera fans, rejoice: Sherill Milnes is coming to town. No, not to sing – the former opera superstar’s heyday was in the last quarter of the 20th century, and it was a big one, ranging over almost every baritone role in the repertoire and every major house on several continents. But Milnes will be giving four public events: one this Saturday at a interview meet-and-greet fundraiser for Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist program, free one-hour talks at both the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University next Monday, and a vocal workshop Monday night at UPS.


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Twelve Tacoma Artist Gifts of Christmas – Day 7

Welcome to the Twelve Tacoma Artist Gifts of Christmas! Inspired by both the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song and fellow features writer Sue Kidd, who’s offering you her own “Twelve Tacoma Foodie Gifts of Christmas” on her TNT Diner blog, I’ve come up with 12 alternative gifts for Christmas: no partridges in pear trees, but something a lot more uniquely local. (See older posts for the other days.)


So here’s Day 7:

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Seven concert tickets, six sumi paintings, five gothic rings…Four pottery bowls, three CDs, two baby

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“Cosi” sees bigger orchestra, grander set, beautiful voices but static action from Tacoma Opera’s new director Noel Koran

For a directorial debut, Noel Koran knew how to make an entrance. Friday night at the Rialto Theater saw the new director of Tacoma Opera mounting his first production, with enough changes to make a big effect. New personnel with big voices, a bigger orchestra with new conductor and a splashy set made it clear that Koran is steering Tacoma’s opera company into bigger and more flashy waters. Yet despite the good looks (and sounds) the change came with problems: messy pit-to-stage communication, a lukewarm orchestra and tepid action.

It was also the Tacoma Symphony’s debut with the opera – replacing without fanfare the opera’s usual ensemble – and with twice as many strings as before. Playing from the front rows at stage right, the large group followed Portland conductor Keith Clark (also a newcomer) in brisk tempi, with nimble woodwind and a lovely oboe solo to open. But the extra strings only meant sluggish eighth notes and sometimes dubious intonation, which was to pull the whole opera backwards in Mozart’s quicksilver ensemble scenes.

Vocally, though, this “Cosi” shone. Read more »


Christiane Libor is stunning and the storytelling gripping for Seattle Opera’s remount of Beethoven’s only opera “Fidelio”

Clifton Forbis (Florestan), Christiane Libor (Leonore), and Seattle Opera Chorus and Supernumeraries Photo © Elise Bakketun

It’s quite an experience to see the one and only opera by that master of sweeping musical thought: Beethoven’s “Fidelio.” It’s even better when the key role is played by a masterful soprano making her U.S. debut: Christiane Libor. Those two experiences outweigh any minor complaints of staging (and Beethoven’s own inability to write well for voice) to make Seattle Opera’s “Fidelio” – which just opened at McCaw Hall and continues through Oct. 27 – a musical treat you shouldn’t miss.

Of course, it’s not Libor alone who carries this opera, though as Leonore – a devoted wife who disguises herself as a male prison employee to rescue her husband Florestan from political imprisonment and death – the German soprano gives the role both strength and truly convincing emotion with a voice that flows like molten gold through Beethoven’s every register change, octave leap and endless phrase.

No, like any good production this “Fidelio” is strong on almost all sides. Read more »


You too can perform onstage with Seattle Opera – supernumerary auditions for “Fidelio” happen this Saturday

Ever wanted to be in an opera, but don’t have the vocal chops? Here’s your chance. Seattle Opera is auditioning for supernumerary roles this weekend for its October production of Beethoven’s one and only opera, “Fidelio.”

What’s a supernumerary? Simply a non-speaking, non-singing actor in an opera – in other words, an extra. The job’s unpaid, and you do need to commit to all the rehearsals and performances. (Rehearsals are 7-10 p.m. Sept. 27, 29, Oct. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11; performances are Oct. 13, 14 (matinee) 17, 20, 24, and 27.)

But you

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Tacoma Opera to partner with Tacoma Symphony for performances; other changes in the works

Tacoma Opera director Noel Koran. Courtesy image.

Noel Koran, in his first full season as director of Tacoma Opera, has announced that the company has agreed to partner with the Tacoma Symphony to provide the orchestral score to two of the season’s three operas. The change is one of several which include morphing the Young Artists program into a mainstage opera, casting out-of region singers, programming more well-known operas and featuring Koran himself as stage director for “Così fan tutte” and “La Traviata.”

We’re really excited about this relationship,” said Koran. “We have a long-standing relationship with our own orchestra, but in this economic environment there’s a lot of focus from funding organizations on collaboration. And our best-selling production ever was “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” which was done in conjunction with the Northwest Sinfonietta.” Read more »


Lakewood mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges wins two national opera awards

A Lakewood native has taken out two major opera awards totaling $20,000 in the last month. J’nai Bridges, 25, a mezzo-soprano who grew up in Lakewood and who recently graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, was last week awarded a Sarah Tucker Study Grant of $5,000, part of the Richard Tucker Foundation awards to recognize young opera talent in America.

The award, one of several given each year to young singers transitioning from study to professional career, follows on the heels of Bridges’ receipt of the Marian Anderson Award Prize, a $15,000 cash prize which

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Tacoma Opera’s “La Bohème” a success, despite the Rialto Theater and the male leads

Tess Altiveros as Musetta in Tacoma Opera's "La Bohème." Photo: Peter Serko

It’s a brave opera company that puts on a big opera like “La Bohème” in a theater like Tacoma’s Rialto. No pit, no fly, no wings, no backstage and not even much stage room – it’s the kind of thing only a small community opera can get away with. Tacoma Opera’s bigger than that, but the decision to take Puccini’s tangled love-story about starving bohemian artists out of Tacoma’s bigger Pantages was a financial one made by a cautious board. And last Friday night it worked – but despite the venue, not because of it.

Tacoma Opera’s “La Bohème” was, in fact, a success, thanks to smart directing, skilful playing, and some excellent singing from most, if not all, singers.

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