POSTED ON APRIL 18, 2012:
Flowers of Spring
Strange transformations in Madame Butterfly and Urinetown
A tour of 11 local art studios, with the chance to speak one-on-one with the artists and perhaps purchase the art that catches one's fancy is being presented by Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition April 21-22, 12-5pm.
The Tulsa Art Studio Tour is an art lover's rare opportunity to watch artists in their working space. From the sublime paintings, to inspiring photography, to performance, furniture, and painted silk, this treasure trove of artistic expression and experience can be purchased as Passports to the entire Tour.
Passports are $5 in advance and $10 at the studios during the event. Children 12 and under and Students are free!
Tickets available at The Gadget Company, Dwelling Spaces, Nielsens Gifts, and Lovetts Gallery, or by visiting TulsaArtStudioTour.org.
Con onor muore. Tulsa Opera proves that complex relationships are nothing new with Puccini's Madame Butterfly
Another jewel in the crown of Tulsa Opera descends onto the Chapman Music Hall April 21, 27 and 29 as they present Madame Butterfly. Many important debuts will add zeal and excitement to this well-loved opera with soprano Maria Kanyova and tenor Frank Lopardo reprising their acclaimed portrayal of Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton.
Fresh from one of her signature roles as Pat Nixon in John Adams' Nixon in China at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Maria Kanyova brings a pure forceful voice to the tragic lead Cio-Cio with a maternal soul to keep the action fresh and inviting.
"One thing that I have to do in preparing for this role is call upon the characteristic aspects of being Japanese, which is totally different than roles like Violetta and Mimi. Another difference lies in the fact that Cio-Cio is a mother unlike the other heroines. I completely identify with this aspect of Cio-Cio-San, and I frequently use my experiences as a mother when characterizing her. It may sound cliché, but in preparing for any role that I portray, I try to become that character in every way," Kanyova said.
To be such a vessel of grief requires Kanyova to draw upon the strength many mothers learn to draw out of themselves in times of great emotion, creating the paradox of being both strong and weak.
"Two months after I gave birth to my first child, I sang the role of Suor Angelica," Kanyova said. "I wasn't sure how I would channel my own emotions as a new mother. However, I managed to find my inner strength, and yet at the same time incorporate my intense emotions without it effecting my voice. It was truly an amazing experience. I felt so powerful and yet so vulnerable. Because of that show I learned how to use these emotions in other tragic roles like Jenufa (another tragic young mother) and ultimately one of the most tragic young mothers in all of the opera repertoire, Cio-Cio-San."
Tenor Frank Lopardo began laying the foundation for a fantastic and rich life in the world of opera by cultivating a relationship with his teacher Dr. Robert White Jr. This is a working relationship he utilizes and calls upon in many roles onstage and in the classroom.
"Dr. White has been my teacher for 36 years. From my very first voice lesson when I was a student at Queens College in New York. He has helped develop every opera role I have ever done. He is teaching at Juilliard these days. I have been doing some teaching myself as if late and Dr. White's tutelage over the past 36 is at the very core of my teaching," Lopardo said.
Frank Lopardo has performed with many opera houses all over the world, from Opera National de Paris, Royal Opera House, Vienna State Opera and has collaborated with some of the world's greatest conductors, including Leonard Bernstein, Sir Andrew Davis and James Levine. Lopardo brings the same high standard to create his highly acclaimed performances to his role as Pinkerton for the Tulsa Opera.
"I try to bring the same preparation to my work regardless of the venue. To meet the demands of the composer, conductor and director should be a universal standard in every theater all over the world," Lopardo said.
How does preparing for an opera in a European country compare to preparing for an opera in the United States?
Lopardo said that unless it is a new production, the period of rehearsal is brief. "I have worked a great deal in Europe over the years," he said. "I must say I have enjoyed working here in Tulsa immensely."
Madame Butterfly will be held in the Chapman Music Hall at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center on Saturday, April 21, and Friday, April 27, at 7:30pm with a Sunday matinee April 29, at 2:30pm. All performances will be sung in Italian with English supertitles above the stage. Single tickets are available at tulsaopera.com.
Satirical Signs of Life
At first glance, Urinetown might seem like show about the topic of urine. Set in a Gotham-like city, this satirical romp through the Brechtian world of good vs. evil conveys a message that goes far beyond the call of nature.
"It's a show I've wanted to direct for a long time, and I have a sensational cast," said director, Courtneay Sanders. "It's incredibly challenging because the piece really has very little to do with 'pee.' It's a piece about society and capitalism, and who actually is 'right' (they just go about it the wrong way), vs. those who make emotional decisions, have the best of intentions, and then society has to pay for their actions. It's the whole game of the good of the many vs. that of the few."
"Who wins? The set was designed by Jared Roberts. This was the first time we've worked with him, and that has also been a great experience," Sanders said.
To further add to the drama, Urinetown was presented recently by "the oldest theatre west of the Mississippi" in the area. Shall we start the pissing contest now?
Social Discharge. Find much more than bodily fluids in the Playhouse Tulsa production of the satirical musical comedy Urinetown.
"Haha! We've known since last spring that Theatre Tulsa was going to be doing it," Sanders said. "We announced our season in April and then heard from them that they were also looking at it, so I've had a year to prepare for the comparisons. I didn't see their production, simply because I knew we were doing it and I didn't want to get any preconceived ideas before I started directing it.
"Every artist brings something different to each piece they work on. I tell my student actors that they can't compare themselves to other actors because they are sourcing off of their own heart and life experience to create the role, not someone else's. Individual hearts, tastes, methods, and experiences all come in to play to create the work, and just like no two people are the same, no two productions are the same. So although our production of Urinetown is the same book and music as other productions, it will be a different and a new experience for the audience, simply because it's a different group tackling it."
Concerning satire, Sanders commented on the special techniques Playhouse uses to create these colorful characters.
"We've spent a lot of time looking at Brecht and his acting style. It's very easy for this piece to be very cartoony and come across fake and just as a 'funny musical.' The only problem with that is, it's not a funny musical. It's a satire. There are moments that are extremely funny, but also heart breaking and dark. We've really enjoyed exploring all of those elements of the piece. All of the actors have to approach their characters from an honest place so their actions are sincere and not contrived."
Playhouse presets Urinetown April 19, 20, 21 at 730pm, and April 21 and 22 at 2pm in the Doegnes Theater of the Tulsa PAC. For tickets call 918-596-7109.
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