Tuesday, February 24, 2009

West Side Story

As I write this, I realize that it's been almost 24 hours since I heard the first notes of the West Side Story overture that pierced me and sent me over the edge. The chills I felt last night still linger. I am still reeling. I can't stop thinking about that brilliant, soaring score played by the glorious and lush thirty one piece orchestra, which includes a huge percussion section visible in two boxes on either side of the mezzanine. If there had only been the music, that would have been enough.

But, then the dancing began. It's in the movie, but seeing it live is thrilling and overwhelming. This cast, particularly the men, convey the emotion of the score with brilliant precision in their dance. From the very first scene of the Jets and Sharks, to the dance in the gym (the famous mambo in gorgeous color and light), to the second act ballet as Maria and Tony make love, every moment is a dream come true.

It's hard to keep your eyes off the men, but the women demand attention in their gorgeous costumes - short and tight for the Americans, bright, frilly and festive for the Puerto Ricans. All are sexy. And all are fierce dancers.

Karen Olivo as Anita is a star in the making. She is sex on legs. I don't think she's quite there, but the transformation is happening. As Chita Rivera, the original Anita said, she was no better in other shows, but the material is better. You see Anita as a practically frumpy seamstress and then she literally lets her long hair down and sheds her work coat to become bright and regal. Her frightened and panic-stricken portrayal in the rape scene is probably enough already to not only get her a Tony nomination but to take it home as well.

And, then the singing began. The cast in its entirety is strong enough, but Matt Cavenaugh's beautiful high tenor is a revelation for Tony. He is the stuff that is Leading Man. You would never know that young Josefina Scaglione as Maria is making her New York stage debut. She is confident in every aspect. Her voice is pure crystal and she is absolutely angelic-looking. Your heart breaks for her as she falls in love so blindly.

Some of the book and some lyrics have been translated to Spanish. There are no super titles. This did not detract for me at all. I know enough Spanish to get by, besides the acting is very, very good and well, I've seen the movie. I know what's happening. If anything, it added to the story for me. It's more realistic, that's for sure.

Even though the set is minimalistic, it's incredible. The buildings and the bridges really seem like the West Side of New York. After the the set transformed into the scene below the bridge before the rumble, the audience applauded.

The only slow moments for me were the Officer Krupke scene. The lyrics are standard Sondheim funny and smart, but it felt too long. It almost took too much time away from the drama and heartbreak of the second act. I knew what was coming and although I didn't want to rush to it, Officer Krupke just distracted me.

I was carried away in this completely packed house. The audience cheered wildly every chance it was given, rightly so. It was an emotional roller coaster and I couldn't help but shed tears for the characters and for the sheer joy of the work. The Maria theme has been with me all day and I know that I must experience it live again, probably over and over.

I hear that there's a huge advance and only single seats are available through May. That's good news for this worthy classic. There are no discounts, but there's a lottery that takes place two hours before curtain. If you win, there are 18 front row seats at $26.50 each, cash only. Be warned, the stage is very high and if you sit there, you will not see the actors' feet.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tonight: First Preview of West Side Story

How many times did I retreat to my parents' bedroom to watch West Side Story on AMC? Countless. My mother made sure I did that. I can't believe I'm seeing the revival live on Broadway tonight.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Night of Cats

Last night I spent a glamorous evening with super cool cats. Dear Doug pointed out that we had a cat theme going on - dinner at Bistro Chat Noir, Betty Buckley sang Memory from Cats and I wore my silver cat pin. Voila! Of all the incredible things I get to do in New York City, going to Feinstein's is always one of my favorites, especially when Betty Buckley is there. Betty is doing a month of Broadway Request shows until March 7th. We got what we asked for last night - I got Love Song from Pippin (Seth wanted this one too since he got to sing on it) and Kari got Meadowlark. The evening began with a little of Seth's deconstruction then Betty opened with As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard. Other requests granted, interspersed with stories of her career, included He Plays the Violin from 1776, Whoever You Are from Promises, Promises, When There's No One from Carrie, No One is Alone from Into the Woods, Send in the Clowns from A Little Night Music, and of course Memory from Cats.

Go here to watch a BroadwayWorld clip about the show.

Photo by Kari, my official Adventures photographer

Friday, February 20, 2009

Send in the Revival

Michael Riedel says in his NYPost Column today that Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Natasha Richardson are up for a revival of Sondheim's A Little Night Music at Roundabout next year. I'm just a tad disappointed that it may be Roundabout, which seems to make things ugly and cheap. On the other hand, the two fully staged productions I've seen were not exactly steeped in luxurious sets. And while it's not my dream casting, I have loved both Redgrave and Richardson in other things I've seen them in so it's not a total loss. It's sort of cool that they would play mother and daughter on stage too. And of course, it is Sondheim's most beautiful and transcendant work and therefore is practically failproof, no matter the sets and casting. At this point, I'll take just about whatever I can get.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Il Trovatore at the Met: BLOCKBUSTER!

Bravi to tonight's Il Trovatore! It was classic, thrilling, exhilerating, soaring grand opera. The set was cool and efficient. The direction was smooth and brisk. Every one of the singers was tremendous! The performances were stellar all around. I don't think a more perfect cast could be assembled. Sondra Radvanovsky, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Marcelo Alvarez, Dolora Zajick and Kwangchui Youn were all brilliant in every aspect of performance. Maria Zifchak and Eduardo Valdes left nothing to be desired in their small roles. I haven't felt this excited after the opera all season. Honestly, this feels like the blockbuster of the Met's 08/09 season.

Tonight: Il Trovatore at the Met

Tonight: Il Trovatore
Composer: Verdi
Librettist: Cammarano
Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
Leonora: Sondra Radvanovsky
Azucena: Dolora Zajick
Manrico: Marcelo Álvarez
di Luna: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Ferrando: Kwangchul Youn
Production: David McVicar
Set Designer: Charles Edwards
Costume Designer: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting Designed by: Jennifer Tipton
Choreographer: Leah Hausman

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cody, Grab your partner & dosey doe!

Cody's the one in the plaid shirt and white stetson. Doesn't he look all George Strait as he swings his Laura Ingalls partner around?

Christine Ebersole & Billy Stritch in Morristown, NJ

Tonight I did the reverse bridge & tunnel out to Morristown, New Jersey, where I was graciously invited by Roxie to see Christine Ebersole and Billy Stritch. We started the evening out at the Dublin Pub with a great pub dinner and necessary theatre talk. I had the acclaimed Irish coffee for dessert. That would have been enough to make the trip worth it, but the concert was definitely the cream on top.

The Community Theatre at the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts is a beautiful theatre. There are about 1,300 seats and while it seams like it may have been a vaudeville theatre, it started life as a movie house. The set list included songs from the two albums that Christine and Billy have recorded together, last year's Sunday in the New York and the earlier In Your Dreams, as well as some other standards and theatre songs. Notably, Christine sang the most tender and gorgeous version of How Are Things in Glocca Morra? from Finian's Rainbow. They ended the evening with My Funny Valentine, to top off the Valentine's love theme evening.

Christine and Billy did a signing after. Christine told me that she had rehearsal today for Blithe Spirit. Maybe that's why my curtain call shot of her looks so ghostly. Spooky! I also had the pleasure of witnessing Roxie become completely mute when I offered to take her picture with Christine. I said, "Roxie ask her for a picture." The response was quite incoherent so I did the honors with a lovely result.

Thanks for the evening Roxie! I can't wait for another opportunity for a reserve bridge & tunnel! Hint, hint.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Windyway: Cops close 49th Street & the Eugene O'Neill

The NYPD closed down part of 49th street earlier this evening due debris flying off the building across from the Eugene O'neill. They were not letting anybody into the O'Neill, including ushers. No word yet on whether or not 33 Variations will go on tonight. Cops contacted the Mayor's Office and indicated that the owners of the building, which is under renovation, will be fined $500. Only $500? Surely more than $500 worth of tickets have been sold tonight so don't producers deserve more than that if the show doesn't go on tonight?

*Update* The show did go on. A chatter at talkinbroadway said, "The most dramatic happening was having to enter the Oneill thru back passageways as 49th Street was closed due to a scaffolding collapse across the street."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Photo of the Day

On Monday night, The Vinyard Theatre honored our lovely and much deserving Marian Seldes at their annual gala. Walter McBride, for BroadwayWorld, was there to take some lovely shots, including this one. To me it's a picture of a fine woman enjoying a finer thing of life, in so many ways. Marian originated her role in Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Three Tall Women at the Vinyard in 1993. It's one of my favorite plays that I've read but not seen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wipe away that drool and break out the ticket scramble training schedule

Metropolitan Opera 2009-10 Season Complete Repertoire and Casting


Premiere: April 12, 2010
Composer Gioachino Rossini
Libretto Giovanni Schmidt
Conductor Riccardo Frizza
Production Mary Zimmerman
Set and Costume Designer Richard Hudson
Lighting Designer Brian MacDevitt
Choreographer Graciela Daniele*
Armida Renée Fleming
Rinaldo Lawrence Brownlee
Goffredo Bruce Ford
Gernando José Manuel Zapata
Carlo Barry Banks
Ubaldo Kobie van Rensburg

(April 12, 16, 19, 22, 27, May 1 mat, 4, 7, 11, 15)
Armida is gift of The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund

Premiere: February 23, 2010
Composer Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto Temistocle Solera and Francesco Maria Piave
Conductor Riccardo Muti*/Marco Armiliato
Production Pierre Audi*
Scenes and Costumes Miuccia Prada*, Jacques Herzog* and Pierre de Meuron*
Lighting Designer Jean Kalman
Odabella Violeta Urmana
Foresto Ramón Vargas/Russell Thomas
Ezio Carlos Alvarez
Attila Ildar Abdrazakov

(February 23, 27, March 3, 6 mat, 9, 12, 15, 19, 22, 27)
Attila is a gift of Elena and Rudy Prokupets

Premiere: November 12, 2009
Composer Leoš Janáček
Libretto Leoš Janáček
A production of the Metropolitan Opera and Wiener Festwochen, in co-production with Holland Festival, Amsterdam; Festival d'Aix-en-Provence; and Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen*
Production Patrice Chéreau*
Set Designer Richard Peduzzi
Costume Designer Caroline de Vivaise*
Lighting Designer Bertrand Couderc*
Choreographer Thierry Thieu Niang*
Filka Morozov Stefan Margita*
Skuratov Kurt Streit
Shapkin Peter Hoare*
Shishkov Peter Mattei
Gorianchikov Willard White

(November 12, 16, 21, 24, 28, December 2, 5 mat)
From the House of the Dead is a gift of The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc., and of Robert L. Turner

Premiere: March 5, 2010
Composer Dmitri Shostakovich
Libretto Yevgeny Zamyatin, Georgy Ionin, Alexander Preys, and Dmitri Shostakovich
A co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, New York, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and the Opéra National de Lyon, France
Conductor Valery Gergiev/Pavel Smelkov*
Production William Kentridge*
Set Designers William Kentridge* and Sabine Theunissen*
Costume Designer Greta Goiris*
Lighting Designer Urs Schönebaum*
Associate Director Luc de Wit*
Police Inspector Andrei Popov*
The Nose Gordon Gietz*
Kovalyov Paulo Szot*

(March 5, 11, 13 mat, 18, 23, 25)
The Nose is a gift of Frederick Iseman. Additional funding is provided by The Richard J. Massey Foundation for the Arts and Sciences.


Premiere: New Year’s Eve Gala, December 31, 2009
Composer Georges Bizet
Libretto Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin*/Alain Altinoglu*
Production Richard Eyre*
Set and Costume Designer Rob Howell*
Lighting Designer Peter Mumford
Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon
Micaëla Barbara Frittoli/Maija Kovalevska
Carmen Angela Gheorghiu/Olga BorodinaDon José Roberto Alagna/Brandon Jovanovich*/Jonas Kaufmann
Escamillo Mariusz Kwiecien/Teddy Tahu Rhodes

(December 31, January 5, 8, 12, 16 mat, 21, 27, 30, February 1, 5, 9, 13, April 28, May 1)
Carmen is a gift of Mrs. Paul Desmarais, Sr.

Premiere: March 16, 2010
Composer Ambroise ThomaS
Libretto Michel Carré and Jules Barbier
Production owned by the Grand Theatre of Geneva
Conductor Louis Langrée
Production Patrice Caurier* and Moshe Leiser*
Set Designer Christian Fenouillat*
Costume Designer Agostino Cavalca*
Lighting Designer Christopher Forey*
Ophélie Natalie Dessay/Marlis Petersen*
Gertrude Jennifer Larmore
Laërte Toby Spence*
Hamlet Simon Keenlyside
Claudius James Morris

(March 16, 20, 24, 27 mat, 30, April 2, 5, 9)
Hamlet is a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer J. Thomas, Jr.

Premiere: December 3, 2009
Composer Jacques Offenbach
Libretto Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
Conductor James Levine/TBA
Production Bartlett Sher
Set Designer Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer Catherine Zuber
Lighting Designer James F. Ingalls
Choreographer Dou Dou Huang
Olympia Kathleen Kim
Antonia/Stella Anna Netrebko
Giulietta Ekaterina Gubanova
Nicklausse/The Muse Elīna Garanča
Hoffmann Rolando Villazón
Four Villains René Pape

(December 3, 7, 11, 16, 19 mat, 23, 26, 30, Jauary. 2)
Les Contes d’Hoffmann is a gift of the Hermione Foundation

Premiere: Opening Night Gala, September 21, 2009
Composer Giacomo Puccini
Libretto Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Conductor James Levine/TBA/Philippe Auguin
Production Luc Bondy*Set Designer Richard Peduzzi*
Costume Designer Milena Canonero
Tosca Karita Mattila/TBA
Cavaradossi Marcelo Álvarez/Jonas Kaufmann/Marcello Giordani
Scarpia Juha Uusitalo/George Gagnidze/Bryn Terfel
Sacristan Paul Plishka/John Del Carlo

(September 21, 24, 28, October 3 mat, 6, 10, 14, 17, April 14, 17, 20, 24 mat, 29, May 5, 8, 13)
Tosca is a gift of The Annenberg Foundation


Composer Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto Antonio Ghislanzoni
Conductor Daniele Gatti/Paolo Carignani
Production Sonja Frisell
Set Designer Gianni Quaranta
Costume Designer Dada Saligeri 
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky*
Aida Violeta Urmana/Hasmik Papian
Amneris Dolora Zajick
Radamès Johan Botha/Richard Margison/Salvatore Licitra
Amonasro Carlo Guelfi
Ramfis Roberto Scandiuzzi/Orlin Anastassov/Carlo Colombara
The King Stefan Kocán*/Keith Miller

(October 2, 7, 12, 17 mat, 21, 24 mat, 29, November 2, 6, March 26, 31, April 3 mat)

Composer Richard Strauss
Libretto Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Conductor Kirill Petrenko
Production Elijah Moshinsky
Sets and Costume Designer Michael Yeargan
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Ariadne Nina Stemme
Zerbinetta Aleksandra Kurzak
Composer Sarah Connolly
Bacchus Lance Ryan*
Music Master Jochen Schmeckenbecher*

(February 4, 8, 11, 15, 20 mat)

Composer Gioachino Rossini
Libretto Cesare Sterbini
Conductor Maurizio Benini
Production Bartlett Sher
Set Designer Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer Catherine Zuber
Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind
Rosina Joyce DiDonato/Diana Damrau
Count Almaviva Barry Banks/Lawrence Brownlee
Figaro Rodion Pogossov/Franco Vassallo
Dr. Bartolo John Del Carlo/Maurizio Muraro
Don Basilio Orlin Anastassov/Roberto Scandiuzzi/Samuel Ramey

(October 3, 8, 10, 15, 24, 27, 31 mat, November 4, 7, February 26, March 1, 4)

Composer Giacomo Puccini
Libretto Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
Conductor Marco Armiliato
Production Franco Zeffirelli
Set Designer Franco Zeffirelli
Costume Designer Peter J. Hall
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Mimì Anna Netrebko
Musetta Nicole Cabell/Ruth Ann Swenson
Rodolfo Piotr Beczala
Marcello Gerald Finley/George Petean*
Schaunard Massimo Cavalletti*/Patrick Carfizzi
Colline Oren Gradus/Shenyang
Benoit/Alcindoro Paul Plishka

(February 20, 24, 27 mat, March 2, 6, 10, 13, 17, 20 mat)

Composer Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto Francesco Maria Piave and Arrigo Boito
Conductor James Levine/TBA
Production Giancarlo del Monaco
Set and Costume Designer Michael Scott
Amelia Adrianne Pieczonka
Gabriele Adorno Marcello Giordani
Simon Boccanegra Plácido Domingo
Jacopo Fiesco James Morris

(January 18, 22, 25, 29, February 2, 6 mat)

Composer Hector Berlioz
Libretto Almire Gandonnière and Hector Berlioz
Conductor James Conlon/TBA
Production Robert Lepage
Associate Director Neilson Vignola
Set Designer Carl Fillion
Costume Designer Karin Erskine
Lighting Designer Sonoyo Nishikawa
Interactive Video
Designer Holger Foerterer
Image Designer Boris Firquet
Choreographers Johanne Madore and Alain S. Gauthier
Marguerite Olga Borodina
Faust Ramón Vargas
Méphistophélès Ildar Abdrazakov

(October 23, 26, 30, November 5, 9, 14 mat, 17 )

Composer Richard Strauss
Libretto Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Conductor Fabio Luisi
Production Otto Schenk
Set and Costume Designer Jürgen Rose
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Elektra Susan Bullock*
Chrysothemis Deborah Voigt
Klytaemnestra Felicity Palmer
Aegisth Wolfgang Schmidt
Orestes Alan Held

(December 10, 15, 18, 22, 26 mat, 29)

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto Lorenzo da Ponte
Conductor Dan Ettinger*/Fabio Luisi
Production Jonathan Miller
Set Designer Peter Davison
Costume Designer James Acheson
Lighting Designer Mark McCullough
Choreographer Terry John Bates
Countess Almaviva Emma Bell*/Annette Dasch*
Susanna Danielle de Niese/Lisette Oropesa
Cherubino Isabel Leonard
Count Almaviva Bo Skovhus/Ludovic Tézier
Figaro John Relyea/Luca Pisaroni

(September 22, 26, October 1, 5, 9, November 23, 27, 30, December 4, 8, 12)

Composer Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto Jean-François Bayard and J. H. Vernoy de Saint-Georges
Conductor Marco Armiliato
Production Laurent Pelly
Set Designer Chantal Thomas
Costume Designer Laurent Pelly
Lighting Designer Joël Adam
Choreographer Laura Scozzi
Marie Diana Damrau
Marquise of Berkenfeld Felicity Palmer
Duchess of Krakenthorp Kiri Te Kanawa
Tonio Juan Diego Flórez Sulpice Maurizio Muraro

(February 6, 10, 13 mat, 16, 19, 22)

Composer Engelbert Humperdinck
Libretto Adelheid Wette
Conductor Andrew Davis
Production Richard Jones
Set and Costume Designer John Macfarlane
Lighting Designed by Jennifer Tipton
Choreographer Linda Dobell
English Version David Pountney
Gretel Miah Persson
Hansel Angelika Kirchschlager
Gertrude Rosalind Plowright
The Witch Philip Langridge
Peter Dwayne Croft/Alan Held

(December 14, 17, 19, 21 mat, 24, 28 mat, 30 mat, January 2 mat)

Composer Richard Wagner
Libretto Richard Wagner
Conductor Kazushi Ono
Production August Everding
Set designer Hans Schavernoch
Costume Designer Lore Haas
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Stage Director Stephen Pickover
Senta Deborah Voigt
Erik Stephen Gould*/Philip Webb
Holländer Juha Uusitalo
Daland Hans-Peter König

(April 23, 26, 30, May 3, 6, 10, 14)

Composer Alban Berg
Libretto Alban Berg
Conductor James Levine
Production John Dexter
Set and Costume Designer Jocelyn Herbert
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Lulu Marlis Petersen
Countess Geschwitz Anne Sofie von Otter
Alwa Gary Lehman
Painter Michael Schade
Animal Trainer/ Acrobat David Pittsinger
Dr. Schön/Jack the Ripper James Morris

(May 8 mat, 12, 15 mat)

Composer Richard Strauss
Libretto Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Conductor James Levine
Production Nathaniel Merrill
Set and Costume Designer Robert O'Hearn
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Marschallin Renée Fleming
Octavian Susan Graham
Sophie Miah Persson*/Christine Schäfer
A Singer Ramón Vargas/TBA/Eric Cutler
Faninal Hans-Joachim Ketelsen/Thomas Allen
Baron Ochs Kristinn Sigmundsson

(October 13, 16, 19, 22, January 1, 6, 9 mat, 15)

Composer Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto Francesco Maria Piave
Conductor Plácido Domingo
Production Giancarlo del Monaco
Set and Costume Designer Michael Scott
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Stage Director David Kneuss
Lina Angela Marambio
Stiffelio José Cura
Stankar Andrzej Dobber
Jorg Phillip Ens
(January 11, 14, 19, 23, 26, 30 mat)

Composer Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto Francesco Maria Piave
Conductor Leonard Slatkin
Production Franco Zeffirelli
Set Designer Franco Zeffirelli
Costume Designer Raimonda Gaetani
Lighting Designer Duane Schuler
Choreographer Maria Benitez
Stage Director Kristine McIntyre
Violetta Angela Gheorghiu/TBA
Alfredo James Valenti*
Germont Thomas Hampson

(March 29, April 3, 7, 10, 13, 17 mat, 21, 24)

Composer Giacomo Puccini
Conductor Stefano Ranzani*
Production Jack O’Brien
Set Designer Douglas W. Schmidt
Costume Designer Jess Goldstein
Lighting Designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer
Libretto Giuseppe Adami
Giorgetta Patricia Racette
Frugola Stephanie Blythe
Luigi Aleksandrs Antonenko/Salvatore Licitra
Michele Željko Lučić
Libretto Gioacchino Forzano
Suor Angelica Patricia Racette
Sister Genovieffa Heidi Grant Murphy
Principessa Stephanie Blythe
Libretto Gioacchino Forzano
Lauretta Patricia Racette
Rinuccio Saimir Pirgu*
Gianni Schicchi Alessandro Corbelli
Zita Stephanie Blythe

(November 20, 25, 28 mat, December 1, 5, 9, 12 mat)

Composer Giacomo Puccini
Libretto Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni
Conductor Andris Nelsons*/TBA
Production Franco Zeffirelli
Set Designer Franco Zeffirelli
Costume Designers Anna Anni and Dada Saligeri
Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler
Choreographer and
Supervisor of
Stylized Movement Chiang Ching
Stage Director David Kneuss
Turandot Maria Guleghina/Lise Lindstrom*
Liù Marina Poplavskaya/Maija Kovalevska/TBA
Calàf Marcello Giordani/Frank Porretta*/Salvatore Licitra/Philip Webb
Timur Samuel Ramey/Hao Jiang Tian

(October 28, 31, November 3, 7 mat, 10, 14, 18, 21 mat, January 4, 7, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23 mat, 28)

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto Emanuel Schikaneder
Conductor Bernard Labadie*/Adam Fischer*/TBA
Production Julie Taymor
Set Designer George Tsypin
Costume Designer Julie Taymor
Lighting Designer Donald Holder
Puppet Designers Julie Taymor and Michael Curry
Choreographer Mark Dendy
Pamina Genia Kühmeier/Julia Kleiter*
Queen of the Night Erika Miklósa/Albina Shagimuratova*
Tamino Matthias Klink*/Matthew Polenzani
Papageno Christopher Maltman/Nathan Gunn/Rodion Pogossov
Speaker David Pittsinger
Sarastro Georg Zeppenfeld*/Hans-Peter König*

(September 23, 26 mat, 30, April 1, 6, 8, 10 mat, 15)


Tosca, October 10 – Levine; Mattila, M. Álvarez, Uusitalo, Plishka

Aida, October 24 – Gatti; Urmana, Zajick, Botha, Guelfi, Scandiuzzi, Kocán

Turandot, November 7 – Nelsons; Guleghina, Poplavskaya, Giordani, Ramey

Les Contes d’Hoffmann, December 19 – Levine; Kim, Netrebko, Gubanova, Garanča, Villazón, Pape

Der Rosenkavalier, January 9 – Levine; Fleming, Graham, Schäfer, Cutler, Allen, Sigmundsson

Carmen, January 16 – Nézet-Séguin; Frittoli, Gheorghiu, Alagna, Kwiecien

Simon Boccanegra, February 6 – Levine; Pieczonka, Giordani, Domingo, Morris

Hamlet, March 27 – Langrée; Dessay, Larmore, Spence, Keenlyside, Morris

Armida, May 1 – Frizza; Fleming, Brownlee, Ford, Zapata, Banks, van Rensburg

Cold Cuts: Reading Series for New Works

Last night I went down to the Algonquin Theatre on East 24th for a play reading. I was invited by my friend Melissa Vogt-Patterson to a reading of her own play "Serendipity" at Cold Cuts.

Cold Cuts is presented by Ten Grand Productions. It's a program to bring new unpublished works and actors together without directors. Actors show up with their headshots and resumes and are cast in the play readings. Cold Cuts first began in the living room of one of the team members of Ten Grand Productions and over the years has grown into a open invitation to actors and writers. There's never any charge to participate or just enjoy.

I knew my friend Melissa is a talented soul, born to sing and act, but she's kept her writing a hidden talent until now. We only heard the first act, so I'm excited to read and/or hear the second act to see what happens. The first act play is about two friends, a girl and guy, who love each other but aren't in love with each other. They have some relationship hang ups to say the least and are there to help each other out. It's a very funny look at love and being 20-something. Some lines are downright clever and hysterical, and she manages to create words like "sexbidextrous". It was fun witnessing members of the audience come up to Melissa after to congratulate her and wish her well with the next step.

The bonus of the evening was meeting Ken Jennings. I walked into the Algonquin with Melissa and her husband Matt Patterson, who by the way is also an actor and the drummer in the terrific power pop band Vine House. Matt called out, "Ken Jennings!" He introduced me to him and added "You know, The Ken Jennings." Yes, I beamed and managed to mutter, "Toby - Sweeney Todd. Nice to meet you."

Ken is currently in Sessions, a new musical that's running at the Algonquin Theatre. He is also starting his own acting school. For information on joining his acting classes, contact Ten Grand Productions.

The next Cold Cuts is on Monday, February 23rd, 6:00 pm at the Algonquin Theatre. Take your headshot/resume to be cast for the next reading in March, or just show up for a delightful evening of readings of new works.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Attend the Tale of Meeting the Original Cast of Sweeney Todd

I'm slowly but surely meeting all of the original cast members of Sweeney Todd. Winter nights seem to be best for such an endeavor. Tonight, February 9, 2009, I met Ken Jennings! He was the original Tobias.

On February 4, 2008, I met Sweeney himself, Len Cariou.

On February 11, 2007, I met Victor Garber, the original Anthony.

On February 21, 2006, I met Sarah Rice. She was the original Johanna.

On January 26, 2006, I met Angela Lansbury, the original Mrs. Lovett, for the first time.

That just leaves four characters. I guess I need to wander over to the Billy Elliot stage door to meet the original Beggar Woman, Merle Louise.

Anybody know where I can find Edmund Lyndeck (Judge Turpin), Joaquin Romaguera (Pirelli) and Jack Eric Williams (the Beadle)?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

These Playbills Are Making Me Thirsty!

I've been studying all of the playbills I recently received from Ed. It occurred to me that the biggest difference between the playbills from the 1960s through the 1980s and the ones from the shows I've seen myself post-2001, is that there are fewer articles of substance. This is a big void. The other difference is advertising content. Ads for perfume, cars and watches are still prevalent, but liquor ads are replaced by ads for sleeping pills. Perhaps Playbill joined the liquor ad ban craze in the 90s. All I know is that I could go for a cocktail right about now.

Flyovers at 78th Street Theatre Lab

One of the coolest things about living in New York is being able to walk down five blocks, meet up with your friend, walk some more blocks to a new restaurant, have a decent meal and a great glass of wine, walk a couple more blocks and see a terrific play with some really terrific BROADWAY actors for $18 bucks in a tiny theatre with less than 75 people.

That's what we did last night and it was Jeffrey Sweet's play Flyovers. While we waited in a tiny foyer at the top of a very long flight of stairs to go into the house, Richard Kind walked in and chatted with friends. He was happy that he lived just around the corner. Michele Pawk was waiting around too.

For the second row in a week, I saw a play that I really want to read. That's a good sign to me - I want to relive the words and catch things I might have missed. It's a sharp, funny story that has me laughing and thinking and loving it all at once. This one's about a New Yorker who returns to Ohio for his high school reunion. He reunites with a couple of rough characters who didn't treat him so well back in the days. Kevin Geer played one of the rough ones and his wife is played by Donna Bullock. Donna's role is a brief one, but affective. Kevin's character is sleezy and funny, but sympathetic.

Flyovers is humorous and intelligent, with some really unexpected twists and turns. Just when I thought it was going to be cliche, there was a sharp turn that brought down the house. It had us shocked and holding our sides all at once. I love Michelle Pawk in anything she does - she's so damn funny with that smokey voice and even smokier look. The play is full of really dry wit and sarcasm, which I love. At one point, one of the best lines delivered by Richard, the playwright was perched on the riser next to me and he was laughing as hard as I was. It much be a thrill to hear your words delivered to a room that eats it up and has you laughing too. To me, that speaks volumes. Flyovers runs through February 15th.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Quick, send me $50,000,000!

In today's NYPost, Michael Riedel says that Jujamcyn Theatres may be up for sale. That includes the St. James Theatre, the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, the August Wilson Theatre, the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, and the Walter Kerr Theatre. The last Hoovers report estimated 2007 sales around $24.1 million. Oh the shows I'll make sure are produced! I'll keep Jersey Boys at the August Wilson - I haven't seen it, but it sounds like a cash cow. The shows I don't like can always go to the Hirschfeld because few shows do very well there anyway. Arty stuff can stay at the Kerr and the O'Neill. The piste de resistance will be at the St. James: a repertory theatre! Which composer? Sondheim, of course (no Frogs! No Roadshow!). And the Actors Fund Performances will be Jerry Herman shows (only Mame, Hello, Dolly and La Cage Aux Follies). First in, frequent Sondheim collaborator James Lapine can get us going with his revue iSondheim. Okay, send $$$!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Sweet Smell of....revealed!

The smell of maple syrup in Manhattan is revealed! From WNYC: Mayor Bloomberg says sleuths from agencies in the city and New Jersey have identified the source of the mysterious maple syrup smell that would pop up from time to time, usually on the Upper West Side. The source: a facility in Hudson County that has processed foenugreek seeds to produce flavors and fragrances that resulted in esters being formed in the air....The Mayor declares the case closed and says the smell was never a danger, but the city investigated because you can never be too sure. I kind of liked not knowing the truth.

Mission Accomplished

I now have my Blithe Spirit tickets for the first preview on February 26th! Mock if you must, but I used the discount code and by going in person to the Box Office, I saved nearly enough on fees for these two tickets to buy a Varis Rush Ticket in the orchestra section at the Metropolitan Opera. So there. There was a bit of a que when I first arrived at 10:06 and the box office wasn't quite open yet. At 10:08 it opened just as a man came in and began to riot because it was 8 minutes late opening. A lovely lady told him where to stick it and then she and I struck up a conversation. She's quite excited to see Angela Lansbury, who she was surprised to find out is 83. She's 86 and she'll be buggered if she's going to go out and work at any job at her age. Besides, she's way to busy seeing shows. She just saw Auntie Mame on tv the other day and told me all of her favorite lines. A woman after my own heart. By 10:15 I had my tickets in hand just as the lobby was filling up with excited ticket buyers.

On the way to and from (baby, it's cold outside!!!) my office, I saw the 9 to 5 Marquis has been put up. Plus, I lingered as long as I could stand it to watch some of the load-in at the Palace for West Side Story!

It's Today

Music in the Air is Sugary Sweet!

The Encores! Music in the Air is sweet, but fortunately, thanks to very funny turns by Douglas Sills and Kristin Chenoweth I didn't sugar overdose. It's an old show - it first opened on November 8, 1932 and was briefly revived in 1950. This was the invited dress so there were a few industry people there as well as school groups, members and sponsors. We entered through the stage door, which was a little thrill for me. We didn't notice until intermission that we were sitting across the aisle from John Kander!

The first and last scenes were a bit excrusiatingly old fashioned and silly for me, but every moment that Sills and Chenoweth were on stage was a joy. It was true musical comedy. Music in the Air, by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern, is considered operetta but came in an era of American theatrical evolution. I have never been much of the Chenoweth antics, but I very much enjoyed her here. She was off-book and her delivery and timing was on spot. Her performance seemed effortless and she was in great voice. She and Sills were also very funny together. He's a strapping, handsome baritone and paired with her miniscule stature, they could have just stood there and gotten the laugh. It was fun to see Marni Nixon back on stage and she sang a very sweet song. Sierra Boggus and Ryan Silverman were sweet as the young lovers, with voices perfect for this syrup. I loved seeing David Schramm too in the non-singing role of the music publisher.

As far as Encores! productions go, this is no No, No, Nanette or Follies, but it was a fun and warm way to pass the very cold evening in New York City. Music in the Air opens tonight and runs through February 8th.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tonight: Music in the Air

Tonight: I'm going to dress rehearsal of Music in the Air at Encores! at City Center

Starring: Sierra Boggess, Walter Charles,Kristin Chenoweth, Dick Latessa, Anne L. Nathan, Marni Nixon, Tom Alan Robbins, David Schramm, Robert Sella, Douglas Sills, Ryan Silverman Featuring The Encores! Orchestra Music, Director Rob Berman, Directed by Gary Griffin

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Opera Fifth Avenue

From a Met Newsflash: The Met's 125th anniversary has inspired Saks Fifth Avenue's first window display of the spring season, which was unveiled last weekend. The display combines accessories from the store's spring collection with original costumes from a century and a quarter of Met history. Some of the costumes on view include the hat and coat worn by Enrico Caruso in Pagliacci in 1903, Regina Resnik's dress from the 1965 The Queen of Spades, and a gown designed by Christian Lacroix for Renée Fleming in this season's new production of Thaïs. It's the third collaboration between Saks and the Met. Previous window displays were inspired by Anthony Minghella's production of Madama Butterfly and the 2007-08 season's new productions of Hansel and Gretel, Peter Grimes, and Satyagraha.

Bidu Sayao - Massenet's Manon 1937

Pilar Lorengar - Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflote - 1967

Lucia Popp - The Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflote 1967

Jerome Hines - Sarastro in Mozart's Die Zauberflote 1967

Leontyne Price in Verdi's Aida 1985

Anna Moffo - Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata 1966

Chorus costume - Verdi's La Traviata 1966

Placido Domingo - Verdi's Otello 1994

Geraldine Farrar - Massenet's Manon 1909

Regina Resnik - Countess in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades

Renée Fleming - Massenet's Thais 2008

Luciano Pavarotti - Duke of Mantau in Verdi's Rigoletto 1989

Enrico Caruso - Canio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci 1903 and Maria Jeritza - Puccini's Turandot 1926

Ezio Pinza Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov