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Nov 15, 2018
Interview: Soprano Deanna Breiwick On Dealing With the Currency of the Human Heart
Soprano Deanna Breiwick has been around music and performance her entire life. She comes from a family of musicians and vocalists. She sang her first studio recital at age five, began as a classical harpist at age seven, and was let loose on Italian arias by age 14. Her first opera production was “Dialogues des Carmélites” at age 21 and she hasn’t looked back since. She’s a serious student of yoga, a nature lover, and someone who exudes pure joy when speaking about her work because she doesn’t view her occupation as work at all, to Ms. Breiwick, being an opera singer is fulfilling her life’s calling. “I deal in the c...
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Nov 9, 2018
Rock opera gives people with disabilities a chance to ‘become who they want to be’
Retired teacher Marilyn Hinkle loves music, but she’s never paid much attention to opera. In 70-some years, she had never researched the genre, never attended a performance, never even listened to an aria on a recording. It took a diverse and lovable crew of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their advocates, four trained singers and her volunteer job as the director of the Gotta Be Me Heartlight Choir for Hinkle to get with the program. In fact, she recently wrote the libretto (script) for “Caleb and the Unicorn,” a rock opera that’s premiering Saturday night on the Marian High School stage. And she has a part in the show...
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Oct 23, 2018
World-Herald Article: James Keene, Friend of the Arts
When James Keene III was a high school student in Washington, D.C., he was an usher for arts events, earning free admission.... That’s when he fell in love with opera, said daughter Ruth Ann Keene of San Anselmo, California. Soon he felt the same way about the symphony and other musical endeavors, including cabaret performances in later years, though he had “zero musical talent,” she said. Keene channeled that love into support for the arts in Omaha and elsewhere in Nebraska. He was past president and chairman of Opera Omaha, a founder of the Opera Omaha Council and a trustee of the Opera Omaha Foundation, earning the Opera Omaha ...
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Oct 21, 2018
A Frighteningly Timeless Story of Abuse: Pagliacci
The storyline of Pagliacci is unfortunately just as realistic and relevant as when it premiered in 1892. Leoncavallo found his inspiration for the plot in a newspaper crime report, and he wouldn't have to look too hard to find similar cases of violence against women in a newspaper today. Sure the darker aspects of the story are surrounded by more lighthearted theatrical trappings, but at its core, the opera is less about clowns and more about the dangerous emotions of a jealous, abusive husband. Opera Omaha's production of Pagliacci delivered the classic contrast between the players' two worlds - the thin theatrical façade that hides their tumultuous emotions. The stark a...
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Oct 18, 2018
He's an Old Chicago bartender who doubles as a fire-breathing clown
Opera has its tenors, basses, sopranos and altos. And, in the case of this weekend’s “Pagliacci,” it also has a fire-breathing artist. The show, staged by Opera Omaha on Friday and Sunday, is about an Italian theater troupe and a play within a play. That’s where Omaha-based fire-breather Jack Austin comes in. He plays a nonsinging role as one of the clowns in the traveling entertainment corps. We talked to the 38-year-old Brooklyn, New York, native about his unusual career and his new gig as an opera performer. Q. How did you get into fire? A. I was out of the service and wandering around trying to figure out what...
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Oct 2, 2018
Opera Omaha opens their 2018-19 Season with PAGLIACCI
Opera Omaha will open its 61st season in the Orpheum Theater with Pagliacci, a quintessential Italian verismo opera, featuring the famously recognizable aria "Vesti la giubba". Pagliacci will be performed at the Orpheum Theater on Friday, October 19th at 7:30pm and Sunday, October 21st at 2:00pm. Written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo, Pagliacci is an opera inspired by a murder the composer claims to have witnessed as a boy. The story follows the behind-the-scenes lives of an Italian traveling theater troupe and the play-within-a-play unfolds as the lives of the troupe members begin to reflect the lives of the characters that they portray. Revival Director Dan Rigazzi makes ...
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Oct 1, 2018
BWW Review: PROVING Mazzoli's Place in the New Opera Scene at the Miller in New York
Mazzoli had me with BREAKING THE WAVES, her opera written with librettist Royce Vavrek (based on the Lars von Trier film) at Opera Philadelphia and PROTOTYPE 2017. With PROVING UP--same librettist and with a production also conceived by James Darrah, commissioned by the Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha and the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, where it had its New York debut last week--she proved she's a force to be reckoned with. Whether she's bringing dissonance to contrast with her melodic take on an 1862 song or conjuring bitter ghosts with otherworldly sounds, she is a marvel and the International Contemporary Ensemble under conductor Christopher Rountree showed the score off brilliantly. While ...
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Oct 1, 2018
Mazzoli Explores American Dream Fragile As Glass
NEW YORK – In her latest opera, Proving Up, Missy Mazzoli again balances on the grim divide between life and death. Her two previous operas have offered solitary terror in the desert and a study of sex and death in a cramped Scottish town. Proving Up, the dark side of Little House on the Prairie, takes place on the bleak plains of Nebraska, where a post-Civil War family of homesteaders embodies the crumbling of the American Dream. Missy Mazzoli is riding a wave of honors and opportunities. Mazzoli, whose Breaking the Waves received the inaugural Award for Best New Opera from the Music Critics Association of North America, is currently composer-in-residence at...
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Sep 25, 2018
Opera Omaha expanding its range through community engagement programs
Teresa Riss remembers the year: 1994. That’s when "Puccini" and "Madama Butterfly" first breezed into her life. A college student at the time, she’s been hooked on opera and Opera Omaha ever since: “I love the music. I really do. Italian opera is my favorite.” Lauren Medici was a teenager when it clicked for her: “I saw 'La Bohème' when I was in high school, and I said, ‘I get it. I really like this.’” She links her first exposure to one of Opera Omaha’s long-standing community engagement programs, Student Dress Rehearsals. Years later, Medici thinks of that experience often. She has to. She is now the dire...
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Sep 9, 2018
Review: An Opera Reaches the American Dream’s Brooding Heart
A tense and creepy journey into the heart of Manifest Destiny’s darkness, the opera “Proving Up” instructs us, teeth clenched, that the American dream eludes even — especially — those who give everything to gain it. Composed by Missy Mazzoli, with a libretto by Royce Vavrek, the brooding work had its New York premiere on Wednesday at the Miller Theater at Columbia University. While it’s well worth hearing, there’s just one more performance, on Friday evening, and it’s nearly sold out. But this is hardly the last we’ll be hearing from Ms. Mazzoli. Recently, the Metropolitan Opera announced that she and Jeanine Tesori would be the first female composers i...
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