Explore and celebrate opera's unique fusion of music and drama with Seattle Opera's 101 series or any of our behind-the-scenes interviews. Founded in 1963, Seattle Opera presents both European classics and new works of American opera.
Handel: the Opera Titan You Don’t Know
ALCINA, opening October 14th, will be only the fourth-ever Handel opera given at Seattle Opera. General Director Christina Scheppelmann, stage director Tim Albery, and conductor Christine Brandes discuss this great opera composer, and the rebirth of interest in his work, with Dramaturg Jonathan Dean. Starting about 19 minutes in, all three share favorite music from Handel operas.
Musical excerpts include singing “Va, tacito” from Giulio Cesare (Marijana Mijanovic and Les Musiciens du Louvre conducted by Mark Minkowski); “Vivo in te” from Tamerlano (Karina Gauvin and Max Emanuel Cenčić, with Il pomo d’oro conducted by Ricardo Minasi); “Piangerò” from Giulio Cesare (Sabine Devieilhe and Pygmalion, conducted by Raphael Pichon); “Cara speme” from Giulio Cesare (Anne Sofie von Otter and Les Musiciens du Louvre conducted by Mark Minkowski); “Se pietà” from Giulio Cesare (Sabine Devieilhe and Pygmalion, conducted by Raphael Pichon); “L’empio, sleale, indegno” from Giulio Cesare (Brian Asawa, the Seattle Opera orchestra conducted by Gary Thor Wedow); “Dopo notte” from Ariodante (Lorraine Hunt and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan); “Son nata a lagrimar” from Giulio Cesare (Bernarda Fink and Marianne Rørholm, with Concerto Köln conducted by René Jacobs); and a passage from “L’Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato” (Paul McCreesh conducted the Gabrieli Consort and Players).
SINGING DAS RHEINGOLD
Meet the characters and explore the rich vocal history of DAS RHEINGOLD with Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean. With recorded music examples ranging from 1904 to 2015, Dean considers how DAS RHEINGOLD challenges its singers to feats of lyrical and heroic singing—and even listens for the dreaded “Bayreuth Bark.” Includes special examples from Seattle Opera’s 1976 English-language RING, plus “tag-team” musical examples—where switching singers mid-aria offers an opportunity to hear even more amazing voices.
Musical credits: 100 Jahre Bayreuth als Schallplate, the Early Festival Singers: Anton von Rooy (Wotan), 1908; Hans Breuer (Mime), (1904); Ernestine Schumann-Heink (Erda), 1907. Les Introuvables du Chant Wagnerien: Friedrich Schorr (Wotan), 1929. 1953 Bayreuth; Clemens Krauss conducts Ludwig Weber (Fasolt), Josef Greindl (Fafner), Erich Witte (Loge), Hermann Uhde (Donner), Paul Kuen (Mime). 1953, RAI Roma; Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts Lorenz Fehenberger (Froh). 1976, Seattle Opera; Henry Holt conducts Malcolm Rivers (Alberich) and Noel Tyl (Wotan) singing Andrew Porter’s English translation. 1978, Covent Garden; Colin Davis conducts George Shirley (Loge). 1989, Bayerische Staatsoper; Wolfgang Sawallisch conducts Nancy Gustafson (Freia), Kurt Moll (Fafner), Marjana Lipovsek (Fricka), Julie Kaufmann (Woglinde), Angela Maria Blasi (Wellgunde), and Birgit Calm (Flosshilde). 1991, Bayreuth; Daniel Barenboim conducts John Tomlinson (Wotan), Matthias Hölle (Fasolt), and Helmut Pampuch (Mime). 1995, Seattle Opera; Hermann Michael conducts Monte Pederson (Wotan). 2013, Seattle Opera; Asher Fisch conducts Greer Grimsley (Wotan), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), and Dennis Peterson (Mime). 2015, Hong Kong Philharmonic; Jaap van Zweden conducts Kwangchul Youn (Fasolt), Stephen Milling (Fafner), and Kim Begley (Loge).
Vanessa Vo and the Vietnamese Instruments of BOUND
In June Seattle Opera presents BOUND, a one-act chamber opera (music by Huang Ruo, libretto by Bao-Long Chu). This opera features Vanessa Vo playing đàn bầu (monochord) and đàn tranh (Vietnamese zither). In this podcast, Vo demonstrates and discusses these instruments with Dramaturg Jonathan Dean. Plus, as a bonus: Vo’s performance, on the đàn bầu of “Summertime” from Gershwin’s PORGY AND BESS, arranged by Nguyen Le, with Frank Martin at the piano. This performance was chosen as one of NPR’s Songs We Love in 2015.
Looking at LA TRAVIATA Through a Sex-Positive Lens
In this conversation Briq House and Moonyeka share their perspective on Seattle Opera’s La traviata. Speaking with Gabrielle Nomura Gainor, the two sex-positive artists and community leaders discuss the "fallen woman" archetype in Verdi's opera, the joy and challenges surrounding sex work—and other politics of pleasure for women and femmes–particularly QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Color). Briq House has been featured in The Seattle Times, Time Magazine, and on the cover of The Stranger. She was honored in the Top 50 Most Influential Burlesque Performers in the World List (21st Century Burlesque Magazine). Moonyeka is a nonbinary Filipinx interdisciplinary artist who provides sacred, erotic, healing spaces. With roots in street-styles dance (including Tutting and Popping), you may have seen them on the award-winning film series, If Cities Could Dance. Learn more at msbriqhouse.com and instagram.com/m00nyeka.
Notes: This conversation includes a candid discussion of human sexuality, sex work, and pleasure.
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS Q&A Highlights
After our world-premiere performances of A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS in February and March, audiences stayed to discuss the show with cast, crew, and staff. Hear highlights from those post-show Q&As. In addition to audience members, voices include those of Christina Scheppelmann (General Director), Khaled Hosseini (novelist), Sheila Silver (composer), Tess Altiveros (Nana/Woman #1/Wajma), Martin Bakari (Jalil/Wakil/Guard), Viswa Subbaraman (Conductor), Humaira Gilzai (Afghan Cultural Consultant), Ibidunni Ojikutu (Wife #2/Woman #2), John Moore (Rasheed), Rafael Moras (Tariq), Andrew Potter (Mullah/Sharif/Soldier), Sarah Coit (Wife #3/Fariba), Sarah Mattox (Wife #1/Woman #3), Ashraf Sewailam (Driver/Hakim), Karin Mushegain (Mariam), and Roya Sadat (Director).
Opera and Imperialism: Saint-Saëns's Samson and Delilah and the Representation of the "Other"
Seattle Opera scholar-in-residence Dr. Naomi André, explores issues of orientalism, cultural representation, and musical exoticism in opera. French composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote his biblical epic Samson and Delilah (1877) at a time when European powers were aggressively pursuing imperial expansion. As part of the cultural project of colonialism, Europe’s artists became fascinated with the representation of non-European peoples, frequently turning to caricatures and stereotypes to justify European incursions. Such orientalist portrayals present numerous challenges when presenting these works in the 21st century. When does inspiration become exploitation? Who gets to tell stories about whom? And what happens when issues of gender, religious belief, and nation intersect with the power dynamics that underlie these works?