A model of the scenic design for CCM's production of 'Idomeneo.'

CCM Behind-the-Scenes: Lighting Design for Mozart’s ‘Idomeneo’

First-year graduate student Oliver Littleton’s first lighting design work was in churches, small theaters and tiny clubs. Now his designs will be seen in the Mainstage production of Idomeneo at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music.

The opera opens on Thursday, Mach 30 and continues through Sunday, April 2 in CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are available through the CCM Box Office.

Littleton began his theatre training in Alabama at the age of 12. He wanted to be an actor, but always had an interest in lighting design. After earning a BFA in technical theatre from Adelphi University in New York, Littleton chose to pursue his graduate studies at CCM. He enrolled in CCM’s Theatre Design and Production program, where he studies lighting design and technology.

Light plays a key role in creating the “gods and monsters” in CCM’s production of Idomeneo. In an interview with CCM graduate assistant Charlotte Kies, Littleton shared some of his thoughts on the expressive power of lighting and its effect in Mozart’s first great opera seria.

What drew you to the lighting design program at CCM?
I loved the opportunity to be the lighting designer for a huge variety of genres including dance, opera, theatre and musicals. I value our large production scale and commitment to modern technology in all areas of the technical and design departments. Most important is probably my comfort within the culture of the CCM community.

It’s a hardworking environment that demands excellence, and does its best to surpass being just an educational institution in order to produce great art in a variety of fields.

How does your lighting design for Idomeneo compare to your work in other CCM productions?
This is my first Mainstage production at CCM so obviously scale is the big one! I designed Middletown in the fall and Transformations just a month ago, both in the Cohen Family Studio Theatre. Though they presented unique challenges, the sheer size of those productions was much smaller than this.

We’ve heard that lighting plays a significant role in establishing the abstract setting and in creating the “gods and monsters” of Idomeneo. Can you describe how you use light to create these “special effects?”
The metaphors of gods and monsters in this production of Idomeneo, in my mind, are far more important than their physical presence in the opera. To this end the “gods and monsters” are expressed in lighting with the contrast between restraint and excess.  Using color, intensity and texture to contrast between safe comfort, otherworldly mystery and grimy disappointment helps tell the story of monsters and heroes.  Our sea monster is of the mind.  It is doubt, hate, selfishness and it gets expressed with rich vivid color and powerful waves of light.  I want the lighting to drive this change and make the audience question who really are the monsters and gods of the piece.

A god-like face can be seen in Littleton's lighting design concept for 'Idomeneo.'

A god-like face can be seen in Oliver Littleton’s lighting design concept for ‘Idomeneo.’ Photo provided by Oliver Littleton.

What other roles does the lighting play in this opera?
When you start looking at abstract or ethereal lighting design, the first pitfall you see lighting designers take is forgetting that the point of the production is for audience members to sit in seats and watch people do things. All the fancy design in the world doesn’t amount to anything if the patrons can’t see the performers and understand what is going on in the story. The first job of every lighting designer is the help interpret the story and we do that in a number of ways. Lighting some areas of the stage while leaving others dark tells the audience where to look and focus. Using toplight and backlight that makes it difficult to see facial features gives a sense of drama and tension, while front light imbues a naturalistic nature to the stage. Every choice is informed by the question, “How does this serve the story,” and any choice that is not enslaved to it must be mercilessly eliminated.

Do you have anything else to add about your experience working on Idomeneo?
Idomeneo is a criminally underrated opera that is one of Mozart’s greatest offerings musically. I hope that everyone who watches the show leaves the theater saying things like “what a wonderful and interesting production” or “that was a beautiful way to share that music and story with us.” If they are talking about my lights or the set more than the characters’ choices or vocal prowess, then we as a design team have failed.

The greatest joy I take in my work is contributing to performers sharing stories and feeling with the audience. I hope this show does that for everyone who comes to see it.

CCM’s production of Idomeneo is directed by CCM artist diploma candidate Marcus Shields and conducted by Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung. It is sung in Italian with English supertitles. Find more information on the production in our press release.

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IDOMENEO
Composed by W.A. Mozart
Libretto by Giovanni Battista Varesco
Aik Khai Pung, conductor
Marcus Shields, director

Performance Times
8 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 30
8 p.m. Friday, Mar. 31
8 p.m. Saturday, April 1
2 p.m. Sunday, April 2

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

 Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Idomeneo are $31-35 for adults, $22-25 for non-UC students and $18-21 for UC students with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/idomeneo.html.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s
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Story by CCM Graduate Student Charlotte Kies

CCM News Student Salutes

CCM Opera Presents Mozart’s Heroic Greek Tragedy, ‘Idomeneo’

A model of the scenic design for CCM's production of 'Idomeneo.'

A model of the scenic design for CCM’s production of ‘Idomeneo.’ Photo by Marcus Shields. Set Design by Matthew Hamel.

The Opera Department at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music presents an epic tale of love, war and sacrifice on March 30-April 2 in Patricia Corbett Theater. Hailed as Mozart’s first great opera seria, Idomeneo takes place in the aftermath of the fabled Trojan War.

Artist Diploma student Marcus Shields directs the CCM’s production of Idomeneo. Teetering on the edge between student and professional, Shields finds that he and the cast have a lot in common with Mozart, who composed this opera at the ripe young age of 25.

“This is essentially Mozart’s graduate thesis on the world,” says Shields. “It’s an amazing thing that he wrote this when he was 25, and we should be humbled by that fact. We’re all in the exact same place. In writing this challenging opera, Mozart was trying to prove himself — just like we are now.”

Idomeneo is a classic story of unrequited love, sacrifice and revenge. The plot revolves around King Idomeneo who is lost at sea during his journey home from war. To survive, he strikes a deal with vengeful god Neptune, but the king is then faced with an impossible decision — to sacrifice his entire nation or his son, Idamante. The King banishes his son from the kingdom, which separates the young prince from the two women who are in love with him.

While Idomeneo might not be as familiar as Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte, The Magic Flute or The Marriage of Figaro, the opera is just as exciting and inspired, Shields says. The work mostly adheres to the opera seria structure, which is known for its formulaic librettos and serious tone. However, Mozart “shatters the genre” in Idomeneo.

“The music is so amazing and virtuosic,” says Shields, “Mozart’s tap-dancing as hard as he can as he fights against the typical opera seria structure. It seems a bit stuffier on the outside because of the genre but it’s actually way more urgent and young.”

Mozart’s quest to infuse his own style in opera seria is similar to Shields’ unique vision for CCM’s production of Idomeneo. The opera is not set in a specific time period and has an abstract set, with lighting effects and costumes by CCM’s Theatre Design and Production Department. Shields uses costumes to represent the great division the characters feel from each other. Some cast members don stiff button-up coats reminiscent of the late eighteenth century and others wear full Greco-Roman attire.

“We are using the lighting, costumes and set to show people how to actually listen to the music,” Shields says. “It’s a beautiful harmonization of everything that this school can do.”

CCM’s production of Idomeneo is conducted by Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung, it is sung in Italian with English supertitles.
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IDOMENEO
Composed by W.A. Mozart
Libretto by Giovanni Battista Varesco
Aik Khai Pung, conductor
Marcus Shields, director

Cast

Idomeneo………………………………………………………………………Robert Stahley*,
Brandon Scott Russell^
Ilia………………………………………………………………………………..Grace Kahl*,
Erica Intilangelo^
Idamante…………………………………………………………Chelsea Duval-Major*,
Kayleigh Decker^
Elettra……………………………………………………………………..Nicolette Book*,
Murrella Parton^
Arbace/High Priest…………………………………………………………Dongwhi Baek*,
Benjamin Lee^
Voice of the Oracle…………………………………………………………Jacob Kincaide
Cretan Woman 1………………………………………………………………Maria Miller
Cretan Woman 2………………………………………………………..Briana Moynihan
Trojan 1………………………………………………………………………Logan Wagner
Trojan 2………………………………………………………………………Michael Hyatt
Chorus Men……………………………………Clayton Edwards, Michael Hyatt, Hayden Smith, John Tibbets, Logan Wagner
Chorus Women………………………………Brianna Bragg, Shannon Cochran, Page Michels, Maria Miller, Briana Moynihan, Claudia Neef

 * Thursday, March 30 and Saturday, April 1
^ Friday, March 31 and Sunday, April 2

Performance Times
8 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 30
8 p.m. Friday, Mar. 31
8 p.m. Saturday, April 1
2 p.m. Sunday, April 2

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Idomeneo are $31-35 for adults, $22-25 for non-UC students and $18-21 for UC students with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/idomeneo.html.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
____

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s
____

Story by CCM Graduate Student Charlotte Kies
CCM News Student Salutes

Voice Alumni Compete in 2017 Met Opera National Council Auditions Semi-Final

Four UC College-Conservatory of Music alumni will compete in the Semi-Final round of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, which will take place in New York on Sunday, March 12.

The prestigious competition for young singers has four rounds: District, Regional, Semi-Final and Final. Ten of the semi-finalists will move on to the final round, where five of them will be pronounced winners. Each winner receives $15,000, and the other finalists receive $5,000 each. This year’s final round will take place on Sunday, March 19 on the stage of the Met Opera.

The four CCM alumni who will participate in the Met Council Semi-Finals are Jessica Faselt, soprano (MM Voice, 2016); Summer Hassan, soprano (MM Voice, 2014); Andrew Manea, baritone (MM Voice, 2016); and Cody Quattlebaum, bass-baritone (BM Voice, 2015). Read their bios below to learn more about these outstanding young musicians.

Known for her “keen expression and impressive delivery” (Music in Cincinnati), soprano Jessica Faselt hails from Iowa. Faselt completed her master’s degree at CCM, where she was the recipient of the Corbett Award, and she earned her Bachelor of Music from the University of Iowa. Faselt has sung with the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, studying with mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick, and will return there in 2017. She was a Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2015 and was engaged there in 2016 to cover the role of Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos. Other roles include: Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Hanna in The Merry Widow, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito and Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw.

Soprano Summer Hassan is a member of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. She made her company debut in 2014 as the Second Lady in Dido and Aeneas and returned as the Ghost Quartet Soprano in The Ghosts of Versailles in 2015. Her LA Opera appearances in the 2015/16 season include the Second Lady in The Magic Flute.  Recent performances include Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle under the baton of Placido Domingo, as well as Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the Colburn Orchestra. She was featured as Musetta in Wolf Trap Opera’s 2016 production of La Bohème and in recital with Steven Blier at The Barns at Wolf Trap. Ms. Hassan made her Carnegie Hall debut as Second Niece in Britten’s Peter Grimes with the St. Louis Symphony, and in 2014 she made her debut as the Second Lady in The Magic Flute with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis where she was a Gerdine Young Artist. Other roles have included Mimì in La Bohème, Betty in The Threepenny Opera and Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito. She received her Master of Music from CCM and her Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory.

Lauded for his, “charming…robust baritone…,” Romanian-American baritone Andrew G. Manea has been continually rising to the top of the opera world at an impressively young age. Andrew’s recent roles include Marcello in La Bohème, No. 7 in Transformations, Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen, Escamillo in Carmen, Danilo in The Merry Widow and the Father in Hansel and Gretel. In a very successful 2016 season, Andrew was awarded first place and audience favorite in the Mary Jacobs Smith Singer of the Year Competition with Shreveport Opera, second place and audience favorite in the Opera Columbus Cooper-Bing International Vocal Competition, Finalist in the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition and he was a Career Grant recipient in the Giulio Gari Foundation Competition. Continuing to rise to success, Andrew has been awarded a position as a new member of the San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship program. This coming season at San Francisco Opera, he will be performing Marullo in Rigoletto, covering Marcello in La Bohème, performing Marchese d’Obigny in La Traviata, performing in a world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West and performing a Schwabacher Debut Recital with esteemed pianist Warren Jones. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a master’s degree from the CCM, where he studied with Bill McGraw.

Bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum from Ellicott City, Maryland, is currently earning a Master of Music in Voice Performance at the Juilliard School. He received his bachelor’s degree from CCM. He has performed Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Lautsprecher in Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Der Fischer in Matsukaze, Melisso in Alcina and Colonel in a premier workshop of Daniel Catán’s Meet John Doe. He recently performed Guglielmo in Così fan Tutte with Merola Opera. He won the Seybold-Russell Award in the 2015 Corbett Opera competition, first place and “Audience Favorite” award at the 2016 James Toland competition and second place in the 2016 Gerda Lissner Liederkranz competition. He recently performed Claudio in Handel’s Agrippina in Alice Tully Hall and Wilson Theater in New York City. He will also perform under the baton of Maestro Michael Morgan with the Oakland Symphony next season.

About the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions
The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. Known as the venue for the world’s greatest voices, the Metropolitan Opera holds National Council Auditions throughout the United States and Canada each year. The goal of the National Council Auditions is to discover promising young singers, give singers from around the country a chance to be heard by the major opera companies of the U.S. and Canada, and find potential participants for the Lindemann Young Artist Development program, an opera training program sponsored by the Met.

For more than six decades, this competition for exceptionally talented singers from across the country has helped launch the careers of some of opera’s greatest stars, including Stephanie Blythe, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Patricia Racette and Deborah Voigt — as well as, more recently, Lawrence Brownlee and Angela Meade.

View a full list of this year’s National Council Auditions Grand Finals Winners at www.metopera.org/about/auditions/nationalcouncil.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News Faculty Fanfare

CCM Announces 2017 Opera Scholarship Competition Results

Artist Diploma candidate Yi Li with Mark Gibson and the CCM Philharmonia.

Five voice students were named winners of CCM’s 2017 Opera Scholarship Competition, which was held on Saturday, Feb. 25, in UC’s Patricia Corbett Theater.

Since its inauguration in 1976, the annual competition welcomes current and incoming CCM voice students to compete for scholarships and cash prizes, and a panel of judges composed of opera industry professionals selects each year’s class of prizewinners.

The 2017 CCM Opera Scholarship Competition winners are:

Nicolette Book (first year Artist Diploma student)
From Minneapolis, Minnesota, studying with William McGraw
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the Corbett Award ($15,000)
The Corbett Award is supported by the Corbett Foundation in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Caitlin Gotimer (second year Master of Music student)
From Long Island, New York, studying with Kenneth Shaw
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the Italo Tajo Memorial Award ($15,000)
This award is supported by the Italo Tajo Memorial Scholarship Fund (established by Mr. Tajo’s wife, Mrs. Inelda Tajo) in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Chelsea Duval-Major (second year Master of Music student)
From Ithaca, New York, studying with Thomas Baresel
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the Andrew White Memorial Award ($12,500)
This award is supported by the Andrew White Memorial Scholarship Fund in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Karis Tucker (first year Master of Music student)
From Brussels, Belgium, studying with Amy Johnson
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the Seybold-Russell Award ($10,000)
The Seybold-Russell Award is supported by the Seybold-Russell Scholarship Fund in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Eric Heatley (second year Master of Music student)
From Tulsa, Oklahoma, studying with William McGraw
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the John Alexander Memorial Award ($10,000)
This award is sponsored by the John Alexander Memorial Scholarship Fund in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

The judges panel for CCM’s 2017 Opera Scholarship Competition included:

  • Benita Valente, an acclaimed American soprano who has performed and recorded with some of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century
  • Roberto Mauro, Director of Music and Artistic Administration for the Canadian Opera Company
  • Stephen Lord, Music director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the principal conductor of Michigan Opera Theatre in the 2018-19 season

About CCM Opera
The Department of Opera at CCM boasts one of the most comprehensive training programs for opera singers, coaches and directors in the United States. Students at CCM work with some of the most renowned teachers and artists active in opera today.

CCM students frequently advance to the final rounds of the Metropolitan Opera National Council AuditionsAs reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, four singers with ties to CCM advanced to the semi-final round of the 2016 Met Auditions. This year, four more alumni advanced to the semi-final round of the Met Auditions: Summer Hassan (MM Voice, 2014), Cody Quattlebaum (BM Voice, 2015), Andrew Manea (MM Voice, 2016) and Jessica Faselt (MM Voice, 2016).

In addition, CCM’s Mainstage Opera and Studio Opera Series have received some of the National Opera Association Production Competition’s highest honors throughout the years, taking home six of the 18 non-professional prizes awarded in 2010 and four prizes in 2011.

CCM Opera graduates have performed on the stages of the world’s greatest opera companies, including Cincinnati Opera, Metropolitan Opera (New York), Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera (London), La Scala (Italy) and more.

CCM’s 2016-17 Mainstage Opera season concludes next month with Mozart’s Idomeneo, conducted by Aik Khai Pung with stage direction by Marcus Shields. The production runs from March 30 through April 2. Learn more about the production at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/idomeneo.

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Production photo of 'Something Rotten!' by Joan Marcus. Provided by Gabriel Firestone.

Making A Scene: Q&A with Alumnus Gabriel Firestone, Scenic Designer

Cincinnati audiences may remember Gabriel Firestone (BFA Stage Design, 2014) for his scenic designs in CCM Opera’s Mainstage production of Owen Wingrave in 2013. After graduating from CCM’s acclaimed Theatre Design and Technology program, Firestone went on to design scenery for Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional and international theatre productions. Working alongside award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask, Firestone most recently served as the associate scenic designer for the first National Tour of Tony-nominated musical Something Rotten!.

Gabriel Firestone. Photo by Emilio Madrid-Kuser

Gabriel Firestone. Photo by Emilio Madrid-Kuser.

Firestone isn’t the only CCM alumnus involved in the national tour. Something Rotten! is produced by Kevin McCollum (BFA Musical Theatre, 1984), and onstage performers include alumni Joel Newsome (BFA Musical Theatre, 1989) and Pierce Cassedy (BFA Musical Theatre, 2012). A fun fact from Firestone’s time at CCM: the house he lived in on Wheeler Street in Clifton was actually passed down to him from Cassedy, along with his sofa set. “CCM really is an extended family,” Firestone says.

We caught up with Firestone to talk about his experience working on Something Rotten! and what life has been like for him since he graduated from CCM.

What is it like working in scenic design for the first National Tour of Something Rotten? What does a typical day look like for you at work?
As Associate Scenic Designer for the Something Rotten! first National Tour, my job was to work along-side Scott Pask, who designed the highly successful Broadway production, and effectively translate the original design of the scenery and props into one that could be taken out on tour. There are many different physical and logistical constraints when a production is playing a wide variety of venues, and making sure the set will look just as good on the road as it did on the stage at the St. James Theatre in New York was critical.

I don’t believe there is such thing as a “typical day at work” — my responsibilities with the tour changed as the design progressed. The beginning stages involved lots of modeling and sketching. Later, I was drafting and documenting how all of the scenic pieces moved onstage. I spent a few weeks running back and forth between the scenic shops who built and painted the scenery and drops, giving notes and making sure everything was looking and functioning as it should. Finally, I spent a month out on the road with the show, overseeing as the various elements finally came together in the theater, and reacting to any last-minute changes. Each day was a different and exciting challenge.

What has been your most challenging scenic design project and why?
While every design presents its own set of challenges, one of the more interesting ones I’ve encountered involved transferring a design I did for Red Light Winter in New York City to the National Theatre in Warsaw, Poland. The set in New York was a small, drab room with three crumbling plaster walls and the suggestion of a ceiling — all grounded in realism. Due to limitations for the re-mounted production, we couldn’t use our scenery overseas. Although it might not seem like a huge challenge, the creative team had to reconcile the telling of this story, where the constricted environment itself becomes a major player, with the comparatively spacious bounds we were given in which to work. We reconfigured the staging and design in a pretty remarkable way that didn’t detract from the story, but rather added to the audience’s understanding of what happens to the characters in the brief moments after they leave the room we no longer represented so literally. The sometimes one-dimensional characters suddenly became multi-faceted, and what was lost in the way of aesthetic realism was replaced by much more emotionally driven performances. It was a fascinating production to have been a part of.

Do you have a specific CCM memory or experience that you would like to share?
A favorite memory of mine was going through the design process for CCM Opera’s Owen Wingrave as part of the year-long centenary celebration of Benjamin Britten’s career. Due to a directorial change, all the work had to be scrapped and we started over from the beginning. It was exciting to re-envision the piece under the lens of a different director, and to figure out what changed and evolved from the previous iteration. Although we as a creative team were working within a truncated amount of time, I think the design ended up being every bit as bold and grand as we had imagined. The first time you see the scenery, which takes months to realize, assembled on-stage is always a magical experience; it never grows old.

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Do you have any advice for current or soon-to-be graduating CCM students?
My advice to somebody who’s soon-to-be graduating is to be patient and not to believe he or she is above getting people coffee for a while, so-to-speak. As a young theatre arts professional, there are an endless number of opportunities to get one’s foot in the door, but the people who get those jobs, keep those jobs and grow in those jobs are the ones who have a great attitude every day, show up with a smile and don’t mind supporting the team in ways sometimes deemed menial. In an industry where we spend so much time working in large groups, you can quickly earn a lasting reputation as somebody who is passionate and dependable, and when it comes time to take on more advanced work, your name will be the first one considered. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a while to make the right connections.

And also, try to find some balance in life between success in a career and a personal life. Both are more fun and fulfilling when there is a sense of balance between them.

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Something Rotten! photo by Joan Marcus; provided by Gabriel Firestone.

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Vocalists Compete for 2017 CCM Opera Scholarships on Feb. 25

Artist Diploma candidate Yi Li with Mark Gibson and the CCM Philharmonia.Every year since 1976, the young vocalists of UC’s College-Conservatory of Music take the stage by storm to compete for five coveted full-tuition scholarships and $62,500 in awards that accompany them. This year, the competition will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater.

Twenty-five current and incoming students will compete before a panel of acclaimed judges for the five scholarships and named awards, including:

  • Corbett Award ($15,000): Supported by the Corbett Foundation in cooperation with CCM.
  • Italo Tajo Memorial Award ($15,000): Supported by the Italo Tajo Memorial Scholarship Fund (established by Mr. Tajo’s wife Inelda Tajo) in cooperation with CCM.
  • Andrew White Memorial Award ($12,500): Supported by the Andrew White Memorial Scholarship Fund in cooperation with CCM.
  • Seybold-Russell Award ($10,000): Supported by the Seybold-Russell Scholarship Fund in cooperation with CCM.
  • John Alexander Memorial Award ($10,000): Supported by the John Alexander Memorial Scholarship Fund in cooperation with CCM.

Each contestant will be judged on the basis of voice, acting, language, musicianship and style in a complete dramatic performance of an aria. This year’s judges are Benita Valente, Stephen Lord and Roberto Mauro.

Valente is an acclaimed American soprano who has performed and recorded with some of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. Additionally, many composers have collaborated with her to create new works, including William Bolcom, Alberto Ginastera and Libby Larsen. Lord is an American opera conductor who is currently the music director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and who will become the principal conductor of Michigan Opera Theatre in the 2018-19 season. Mauro is the Director of Music and Artistic Administration for the Canadian Opera Company.

About CCM Opera
The Department of Opera at CCM boasts one of the most comprehensive training programs for opera singers, coaches and directors in the United States. Students at CCM work with some of the most renowned teachers and artists active in opera today.

CCM students frequently advance to the final rounds of the Metropolitan Opera National Council AuditionsAs reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, four singers with ties to CCM advanced to the semi-final round of the 2016 Met Auditions. This year, alumna Summer Hassan (MM Voice, 2014) and alumnus Cody Quattlebaum (BM Voice, 2015) were first place winners in their respective regions of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

In addition, CCM’s Mainstage Opera and Studio Opera Series have received some of the National Opera Association Production Competition’s highest honors throughout the years, taking home six of the 18 non-professional prizes awarded in 2010 and four prizes in 2011.

CCM Opera graduates have performed on the stages of the world’s greatest opera companies, including Cincinnati Opera, Metropolitan Opera (New York), Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera (London), La Scala (Italy) and more.

CCM’s 2016-17 Mainstage Opera season concludes next month with Mozart’s Idomeneo, conducted by Aik Khai Pung with stage direction by Marcus Shields. The production runs from March 30 through April 2. Learn more about the production at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/idomeneo.

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2017 Opera Scholarship Competition

Performance Time
Saturday, Feb. 25, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Admission

Admission to the Opera Scholarship Competition is FREE and open to the general public. Reservations are not required and audience members may enter and exit the theater at appropriate times throughout the day.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus.

Please visit uc.edu/parking for information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

 

Student Salutes

CCM Studio Series Presents Fantastical Opera ‘Transformations’ Feb. 17-19

Transformations, a chamber opera by American composer Conrad Susa crafted from Anne Sexton’s 1971 book of the same name, runs Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 19 at CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater. The opera presents ten of Sexton’s confessional and somewhat sardonic poems that are based on stories by the Brothers Grimm, including Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel and Briar Rose.

Admission is free but reservations are required; tickets become available at noon on Monday, Feb. 13 through the CCM Box Office. Transformations is directed by Assistant Professor Emma Griffin and conducted by Avishay Shalom, CCM graduate orchestral conducting student.

Transformations contains adult themes and is not recommend for young audiences. Sexton struggled with mental illness for most of her life, which culminated in her suicide in 1974. Her work explores mature themes of sexuality, both consensual and imposed, and mental illness, including its traumatic causes and its public reception.

“There are many surprising moments in this show, but I think the most unanticipated thing about them is the grace with which they come together as a whole, even though some sections contain events that are unbelievable or uncomfortable,” says Transformations dramaturg Hope Rice, a senior art history student at UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. “No surprising moment in this show is gratuitous; it really was Sexton’s experience, and everything comes together in the end with purpose.”

While the time and place of the action in Transformations are unspecified, many productions present it in the American 1970s, in part because of the many pop culture references scattered throughout the libretto. CCM’s production does the same, although it also contains stylistic elements from present day.

“The world of the play was born in the 1970s, but, like fairytales, it contains themes that are relevant to the human condition in any time period,” Rice says. “Transformations is visceral because its time and place are not specified.”

It is very much a modern opera in terms of the score, which uses a significant amount of dissonance, but not necessarily to jarring effect. The rhythms that composer Conrad Susa uses are very much influenced by pop culture, according to Transformations conductor Avishay Shalom.

“In the opera you will find grooves like tango, samba, blues and many more that frame the dissonant harmonies within the traditional and familiar grooves,” Shalom says. “Anne Sexton’s world of metaphors is eclectic and full of references. Susa’s approach to setting her text celebrates Sexton’s unique voice and matches her wide-ranging imagination with his use of pitch, harmony and rhythm.”

The opera calls for eight singers and each play at least six roles. There is also an Anne Sexton character who guides the action throughout the opera and experiences her own transformation along the way.

“While the singers in this show are characters from fairytales, like princesses, dwarves or talking mirrors, they all speak to experiences that many audience members may be able to relate to,” Rice said. “Like fairytales, Sexton’s poetry is born out of reality but contains elements of myths in order to speak to a broad audience.”

This production contains adult themes and is not recommend for young audiences.

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Cast List
Caitlin Gotimer*, Annie Barr** as Anne Sexton
Ashley Fabian as Green Cowboy Boots
Eleni Antonia Franck as Woman with Black Hair
Thomas J. Capobianco as Blonde Man with Beard
Pedro André Arroyo as Headphones
John Tibbetts as Red Hat
Benjamin Lee as White T-shirt
Jacob Kincade as Tall Man with Beard

* Feb. 17 and 19
** Feb. 18

Performance Times
8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17
8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19

Location
Cohen Family Studio Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Admission
Admission is free. Reservations are required. Tickets become available at noon on Monday, Feb. 13. Please visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
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Opera Department Sponsor: Mr. & Mrs. Edward S. Rosenthal

Opera Production Sponsor: Genevieve Smith

Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

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