A Poster of Posters
A Restoration, A History Lesson and A Design Project!
October 15, 2012
This summer, I was asked to undertake a project. This project ended up becoming part history lesson, part restoration, and part design! I was asked to create a poster featuring the best of Annapolis Opera's 40 years worth of posters.
This was pretty much a dream project for a girl like me! I was able to see the progression of posters throughout the years, while bringing some of them back to life! 40 years can lead to a great deal of ware and tear on a poster, though thankfully photoshop can repair much of the damage. The first Annapolis Opera poster dates back to 1972 (before I was born), It was in grayscale and very faded. The opera was Menotti's The Medium. I was able to up the contrast so that you can see how beautiful it once was. The details at the bottom show you how different the opera was in 1972 from venue (The Hilton Ballroom) to format (Dinner and an Opera)! One of my favorite posters to work on was Cosi Fan Tutte. If you took away the title, it would stand alone as a work of art, it was faded and slightly tattered and hung in the office where we could all look at it. I was drawn to it from the moment I was hired. The colors are captivating!
It's only fitting that we should share these wonderful posters with you our audience, so we will be selling the poster full of posters outside the auditorium during Aida!
July 23, 2012
Spotlight on Aida
Good Morning Everyone! I hope you all had a good weekend! Mine was hectic but productive; I was blessed with cooler temperatures for my move on Saturday! I’ll take a drizzle over surface of the sun temperatures any day!
Our spotlight this week is on Aida, our first production of our 40th anniversary season. I touched on this briefly last week, but I’m going to endeavor to go a little deeper here. I should mention, being the greenest member of the Annapolis Opera family, that when I first heard the name Aida my first thought was the Elton John Musical. Of course I quickly found out that the two have nothing to do with each other. I was excited to find out about the Egyptian theme of the Opera, as I have always been a fan of historical Egypt, the culture, the architecture and the art.
This will be a premier for us and also the first time we’ve done and entire opera in concert format; we have a great cast of singers joining us!
We will also be joined by members of the Morgan State University Choir who will join the Annapolis Opera Chorus. The opera will be accompanied by the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Ron Gretz, our Artistic Director for the past 30 years!
Aida premiered in Cairo in 1871 and is said to be based on the writings of a French Egyptologist, there is some argument about whether the Egyptologist in question was Auguste Mariette, who was heavily involved in the Cairo production, or Temistocle Solera. The Cairo premier was open only to a select group of invitees which was a source of consternation for Verdi, who went on to declare the premier in Italy one year later to be the official premier.
“Aida continues to be a staple of the standard operatic repertoire and appears as number 13 on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide. As of 2007, the Metropolitan Opera alone has given more than 1,100 performances of the opera, making it the second most frequently performed work by the company behind La bohème.”
-- Statistics, 2005–10". Operabase. Archived from the original on 2 July 2011. http://operabase.com/top.cgi?lang=en#opera Retrieved 2 July 2011
I check the site today and it now sits at number 15, which is still a respectable standing.
“Called "the grandest of grand operas," Verdi's Aida premiered in Cairo in 1871 and quickly became one of the most beloved operas of all time. Verdi was at the pinnacle of his musical prowess when he composed Aida, elevating a doomed love triangle into a musical masterpiece of searing intensity, passion and grandeur.” – Greg Stiverson, Former President, Annapolis Opera
Suscribe today and don't miss what is sure to be an amazing experience!
July 18, 2012
Spotlight on Verdi
As we are celebrating the bicentennial of Giuseppe Verdi’s Birth this season, and our theme revolves around his work, I thought that it would only be appropriate to dedicate a blog post to giving you a little more information about him. There is a wealth of information available about Verdi. I started with Wikipedia.
Verdi was born in Italy in 1813, in an area that was at the time under French rule. He was raised as a Catholic which is not unusual given the prevalence of Catholicism in Italy. He spent a great deal of time in a Jesuit Library as a child as well as beginning lessons in musical composition. He later moved to Milan to further his studies and spent time observing German Opera’s. He was married in 1836 and he and his wife had and lost two children in quick succession. He ultimately lost his wife not long after the death of their second child which greatly affected his work and lead him to take almost two years. “Legend (and Verdi's own "An Autobiographical Sketch" of 1879) has it that it was the words of the famous Va pensiero chorus of the Hebrew slaves that inspired him to write music again.” -Wikipedia During his later years he spent time revising his earlier works and writing a ballet score for Otello. Verdi wrote 37 operas in total including translations and revisions, and this season we will be presenting two of his most beloved works, Aida and Rigoletto
Aida was written for Soprano Teresa Stolz, though she did not perform in the 1871 premier in Cairo. She was a close friend and rumored paramour of Verdi up until his death. “Called "the grandest of grand operas," Verdi's Aida premiered in Cairo in 1871 and quickly became one of the most beloved operas of all time. Verdi was a the pinnacle of his musical prowess when he composed Aida, elevating a doomed love triangle into a musical masterpiece of searing intensity, passion and grandeur.” – Greg Stiverson/ Former President, Annapolis Opera
Rigoletto was based on a highly controversial play by Victor Hugo. Hugo had faced opposition when he attempted to stage Le roi s'amuse. Verdi ultimately had to change the setting of the opera from France to a defunct duchy in Italy to appease the censors. Verdi was extremely leery of plagiarism and forbid the singers from practicing outside of rehearsals. “Verdi dashed off Rigoletto in just 40 days. It's a simple story of boys behaving badly and an innocent girl caught in the middle with a tragic, outcome. The opera has some of the most beautiful music ever written, with caro nome and la donna e mobile ranking among the most beloved arias in all of grand opera.” – Greg Stiverson/ Former President, Annapolis Opera
*Interesting Sidebar: Two of Verdi’s contemporaries are Vaugner and Gounod which is interesting to note as we ended our last season with a production of Gounod’s Romeo et Juliet.*
Good Morning! Welcome to the brand new Annapolis Opera Blog! My name is Jessi and I'll be your host and primary Opera correspondent. I started working for the opera back in February and have already been through one major transition with them. I have learned a great deal in the past five months and definitely hit the ground running. My background is primarily in administrative work and accounting, though I have a digital design diploma from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division. When I started here I was a temp through an agency and was hired to do basic office work and some bookkeeping. Since then I have learned what it takes on the administrative level to get an opera from concept onto the stage!
Some of the things I've done are corresponding with Artists and defusing housing issues. I’ve also dealt with outside venue rental contract issues. I laid out a playbill and asked for help editing bios. I've designed the new season brochure and I have flipped the website for the new season. All in all I’m using all of my work experience and now my schooling! It has been an amazing few months and I'm very excited for our 40th anniversary season! Stay tuned to this page for behind the scenes info about all of our performances and guest blogs from our trustees and volunteers!
I hope to use this blog as a place to talk about not only our productions but the stuff of everyday life here at the Annapolis Opera. I am also going to reach out to our board and volunteers to provide insight into their experiences with the opera. Our first guest blogger is our newly elected President Lee Finney and I'm excited to share her words with you!
6/7/12 (From a Speech given to the Annapolis Rotary)
When I moved here 7 years ago after living for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area where I had easy access to one of the world’s great opera companies, I was amazed to discover that a city of 37,000 not only had its own opera company but, after going to my first Annapolis Opera performance, I was completely thrilled by the high quality and was so impressed that this community has nurtured the opera for so long. As a newcomer I perhaps had a fresh appreciation for the Annapolis Opera’s quality and contributions to the community. This appreciation leads me to commit my own time, talents and treasure to seeing that it thrives for another 40 years.
A visionary group of music lovers got together in 1972 to form the nonprofit Annapolis Opera for the purpose of presenting artistically excellent, professional opera. We believe that opera is a unique art form totally unlike anything else as it provides a total experience of music and drama with the visual delights of a stage play, the soaring music of a full orchestra and the magic of the human voice expressing the full range of the human story. You are angered by the villains and enchanted by the lovers, you laugh at the whimsicality and you cry when the hero or heroine dies in the end – which happens a lot. If you have never been to an opera we invite you to try it – my partner had never been to any opera until he met me at age 70+ and he now loves it, saying he had no idea what he had been missing. We have supertitles in English that make it very easy to follow the action and we think you will be swept up in both the visual and musical feast before you.
As part of our mission the Annapolis Opera supports emerging local artists and each year we employ over 100 professional artistic and technical personnel through the course of a season. Our annual vocal competition which will be 25 years old this year, attracts more singers every year. This year we had 30 semifinalists who performed for our judges and the public on Saturday with 8 finalists competing for a series of prizes the next day in another public recital. Many of our vocal competition winners as well as the singers we have hired have gone out into the world and achieved significant success. I want to show you the most recent copy of Opera News which is the premier opera world magazine published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and in just this one issue, 5 of the singers who have sung with us in the last few years are pictured and 3 are featured such this one - Corinne Winters, a native of Frederick, MD and Peabody graduate who sang for us in Opera Lite in April 2010 and went on to make her debut at the Met the next year. We are fortunate that the region where we live has so many conservatories turning out great singers and we are proud of our ability to provide opportunities to share their talents with you here in Annapolis.
This year our season theme was “Shakespeare Goes to the Opera” that just finished with our fully staged production of Gounod’s Romeo & Juliet, described by many as our best yet – voices, acting, orchestra, sets and costumes. The Capital’s review headline said, “Annapolis Opera’s Romeo and Juliet Simply Fabulous.” I’d like to tell you about our plans for next year which is our 40th anniversary season, and the 30th anniversary of our artistic director, Maestro Ron Gretz, to whom we owe the high quality of our performances. It is also the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of opera’s greatest composers, Giuseppe Verdi, so we are planning a Verdi Season with the theme of “Vengeance, Valor, Verdi!” We have heard from our audience that they would rather have us do more actual operas than a series of concerts featuring various operatic arias as we have done in the past so as we celebrate all these important anniversaries we will be doing a semi-staged concert version of Verdi’s much beloved Aida in October and fully staged performances of his well-known Rigoletto in March. We will hold our 25th annual vocal competition in April and a children’s opera in January. We are justifiably proud of the contribution our children’s operas make to the community and I will let Kris Powell-Bennett tell you more about that in a minute.
But before I turn it over to Kris I want to tell you about the 3 ways you can help see to it that the Annapolis Opera serves our community for another 40 years: first, you can buy tickets and come to our performances – this is easy to do through the Maryland Hall box office and our season subscription brochures will be out soon – we are confident it will be a great experience. Second, you can support us directly through donations – also easy to do through our website: www.annapolisopera.org, and third, you can buy an ad in our playbill which benefits the opera but also benefits your business through access to a unique audience.