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Tag: Tacoma 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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“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 »


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 »


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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Critic’s Picks: Canonici in Old Town Tacoma, Tacoma Opera at Theatre on the Square, Northwest Sinfonietta at the Rialto and Gauguin at Seattle Art Museum

Canonici. Courtesy photo.

Canonici sings Renaissance love songs

Step back to Valentine’s Day in 1550 with a cappella group Canonici, who present “Plaisir d’Amour: The Pleasure of Love” as part of the free Classical Tuesdays in Old Town series. The program includes Renaissance love songs in English, French and Italian. 7 p.m. Feb. 14. Free, all ages. Slavonian Hall, 2306 N. 30th St., Tacoma. 253-752-2135, classicaltuesdays.blogspot.com

Kurt Weill with Tacoma Opera

Tacoma Opera’s annual Young Artists’ performances this weekend offer a cabaret version of music by Kurt Weill, the 20th-century German composer and enormous stage influence, with works like “The Threepenny Opera.” Cast members include Celeste Godin, Woong Kim, Ksenia Popova, Bryan Hiroto Stenson and Heather Weirich. 8 p.m. Feb. 11, 2 p.m. Feb. 12. $30. Theatre on the Square, 915 Broadway, Tacoma. 253-627-7789, www.tacomaopera.com. Read more »


Opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” – with Tacoma Opera singers and director – at St. Luke’s Episcopal, Tacoma

From left: Brian Trunk, Barry Johnson and Dave Olson as the three Kings in "Amahl and the Night Visitors" at St. Lukes' Episcopal, Tacoma. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

This weekend sees a first for me: Usually I’m the one watching and writing about local opera, but this Saturday and Sunday I’m in one. It’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” the sweet-and-short opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti about the Three Kings of the Christmas story; and the production is at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Tacoma, featuring members and a director from Tacoma Opera as well as church singers.

Don’t expect to see me on stage, though – my voice isn’t that good. No, I’ll be accompanying on piano, along with a harpist. It isn’t the first opera I’ve played for by any measure – my former career was playing double bass for symphony and opera orchestras – but it’s my first in Tacoma.

And the other first for me is seeing my two kids singing in an opera: my son in the children’s chorus, and my daughter in the lead role of Amahl.

“Amahl” was the first opera written just for TV, in 1951, and as such it’s very approachable for those of us who can’t sit through Verdi or Wagner. Just 50 minutes long, its music is modern yet sweet and tonal, with harmonious duets and witty humor. It tells (in English) the story of the Three Kings from the point of view of a poor crippled shepherd boy, Amahl, who gets a visit from the kings as they make their way to Bethlehem. Read more »


Tacoma Opera’s Rialto Theater production of “The Turk in Italy” is sheer dramatic delight.

Tacoma Opera. Photo: Dean Koepfler, The News Tribune.

When an opera company mounts a regional premiere of a 200-year-old opera, you have to ask why no-one else has done it. The answer, once you see Tacoma Opera’s production of Rossini’s “The Turk in Italy,” on this weekend in the Rialto Theater, is clear: It needs a brilliantly even cast and a clever stage director. This production has both in spades, with the bonus of a skilled conductor, sensitive orchestra and a very versatile set.

In telling the story of a married couple torn apart by a woman who can’t stop flirting, this opera doesn’t exactly break ground plot-wise; nor does it go emotionally beyond Rossini’s usual froth – though that’s always lovely to hear. But three and a quarter hours of froth is pretty hard to take without something more, and for Tacoma Opera that something would be sheer vocal and comic chutzpah. Every one of the five main principals has superb control of these difficult lines, and each has a delightfully entertaining take on the opera’s stock characters.

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Tacoma Opera hires Dr. Noel Koran as new general director

Tacoma Opera has hired Dr. Noel Koran as its new general director, three months after the resignation of former director Kathryn Smith, the company announced today. Koran was selected by the Tacoma Opera board of directors after a national search, and has extensive experience directing opera in the Northwest.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Noel’s caliber and experience leading Tacoma Opera, said board member Peter Serko.  “It really is a dream come true, he definitely has the skill and experience to take us to the next level.”

comes to Tacoma from directorship positions at Roque Opera

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