Bluebeard Rehearsals Begin-by Hal France, Conductor and Guest Blogger

Apr 3, 2013

In just a few days, our team for Bluebeard’s Castle will arrive and start work. We will begin our process for this intriguing work with Stage Director Andrew Eggert, Designer Julia Noulin-Merat, and our superb cast led by the renowned American bass Samuel Ramey and rising dramatic soprano Kara Shay Thomson. We also have a special guest joining us, Accompanist and Hungarian Language Coach, Krisztina Kover. I’m pumped!!

You will not find a major American opera singer of the past three decades that epitomizes “best in the world” more than Sam Ramey. He is a superb performer who drew audiences to opera with his visceral stage presence, signature sound and rock solid technique. He has been sought after for leading roles in the finest productions and best recording projects year after year.

Whether singing Boris, Mephistopheles, or Figaro, Bel Canto or American Musicals, he has delivered on the world’s biggest stages. The contributions he’s made to opera and music have been very significant.

Sam has sung with Opera Omaha on two previous occasions. Early in his career, he joined Beverly Sills for the historic production of Lucia di Lammermoor that re- opened the Orpheum in 1975. His world tour program of Opera’s devil roles, Date with The Devil, came to Omaha in 1999. Samuel Ramey starred with Jessye Norman in a new production of Bluebeard’s Castle at the Metropolitan Opera that was broadcast on PBS. To say Opera Omaha is fortunate to have Samuel Ramey as our Bluebeard would be the greatest of understatements.

Of our leading lady and her performance of Tosca, it was said, “by her passionate restraint she was able to build a character, which was in every sense, a great woman.” I’m looking forward to working with Kara Shay Thomson.

I’m so impressed with the range of her repertoire and roles. Concert works like The Bells by Rachmaninoff, Strauss’s Four Last Songs and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony require personal depth and musicianship. Leading operatic heroines like Tosca and Sieglinde take great presence and understanding. Adventures operas like Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt, Schoenberg’s Erwartung and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle take a special kind of intelligence and courage! These are only a few of her accomplishments to date.

The character she portrays in Bluebeard’s Castle, Judith, is cut from the same cloth as many of the great operatic heroines. Brave, complex, creative, and ultimately human, Judith is a superb character and a great challenge for a talented singing actress.

I’m thrilled to be working with Samuel Ramey and Kara Shay Thomson.

In my previous blog entry, I mentioned upcoming events surrounding Bluebeard’s Castle. Here are a few that you won’t want to miss.

Kansas native Sam Ramey will lead a Vocal Master Class for aspiring UNL singers at First Plymouth Church in Lincoln on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. It’s free and open to the public. This is a great opportunity for the singers and audience.

Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m. at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Andrew Eggert and Julia Noulin-Merat will present their concept for the production of Bluebeard’s Castle. I’ve watched this young team at work over the past year and expect that this conversation between director and designer will be an fascinating one for Omaha’s visual arts, theater, and opera communities. The Bemis is the perfect site for this discussion about design, symbols, secrets and history!

Speaking of history, 1911 was a very important year for the world of art. It included the completion of Bluebeard’s Castle, the publishing of Arnold Schoenberg’s Theory of Harmony and Kandinsky’s On The Spiritual in Art.

Schoenberg’s twelve-tone harmony revolutionized music. Kandinsky, a painter widely credited with making the world’s first abstract paintings, was closely associated with Schoenberg and music. Kandinsky wrote extensively about music’s inherent abstract language and how it might be carried over into visual art. An epiphany came to Kandinsky during a performance of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin. He dedicated himself to creating pathways where visual arts, poetry, music and theater could intersect and be infused with new energies. Kandinsky became one of the most important visual artists of the 20th century and his creativity exploded while listening to of all things, an opera performance!

April 9th at the Bemis will be your chance to hear how art forms will merge in Opera Omaha’s upcoming production with Stage Director Andrew Eggert and Production Designer Julia Noulin-Merat. Don’t miss them!

More information about these events is available on Opera Omaha’s Facebook page. To buy tickets to Bluebeard’s Castle, call 402-345-0606 or visit Ticket Omaha online.

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