Archive for the ‘operaplot’ Tag

Tales of an Opera Standee

The Omniscient Mussel, hostess of the famed OperaPlot contest is writing a piece about opera standing room culture, and has put out a call for standees’ tales on the experience. Below are the my submitted musings.

Standing in San Francisco

I’ve enjoyed standing room at San Francisco Opera many times over my past 17 years in the Bay Area. My first experience of it at The War Memorial Opera House was from the rear Orchestra at the ’95 Die Walkure, starring Jane Eaglen and James Morris. It was also my first-ever live Ring opera. Having only familiarized myself with a few recorded highlights, the score was surprisingly lyrical, and Jane’s approach refreshingly bel canto.

The first half flew by, and I nearly forgot I was standing, so captivated I was by the evening. Plus, given that opera singers work SO hard, standing for hours themselves, whilst exhibiting a mastery of language, character, vocal technique…it’s a worthy trade. Cupid struck my heart with this taste of the Ring and I haven’t looked back since.

OK…I confess, I did that night what many daring standees do, which is to trickle down into a seat left empty by someone who bailed during the intermission. SO, I got an Orchestra seat for the price of standing room, at least for half the performance. However, I rarely try that stunt these days, and the ushers, perhaps understandably so seem to be more stern guardians these days.

Photo by Yutai (Flickr)

My most recent standing room at SFO was from the rear Balcony at the Verdi Requiem. It was a gala performance that served as the farewell to Donald Runnicles as Music Director, and featured Heidi Melton and Stephanie Blythe.

Below are some excerpts from my blog review of that performance that reveal some benefits of standing in the rear Balcony:

“After my friend scored a single last-minute seat in the Orchestra, I scaled the heights to find the last standing room spot in the Balcony (aka “nose-bleeds”)…

I was reminded that where I stood was the real acoustic sweet spot of the house, and nowhere else can one hear such fine textures in the soundscape, far better than in the rear Orchestra, where I first scavenged for a spot. It does seem to favor voices over instruments, as the chorus actually seemed to overpower the orchestra a bit…but I’m certain that’s just a slight acoustic imbalance, and was hardly a problem.”

My verdict? The rear Orchestra offers the better standing room views, but the rear Balcony offers the finer acoustics…it’s a trade-off. Perhaps the deal breaker in favor of the rear Balcony is that I’ve observed many of the senior standees sitting or laying on either the floor or a bench near the back wall, enjoying just the aural pleasures alone. I have a special admiration for them, as they hearken back to the days of gathering around for an old radio show, creating one’s own visuals with only a ripe imagination.

Read Further Tales of an Opera Standee —>

Giddy With #OperaPlot Nods & Early Booty

Wow, the pleasing aftershocks of #OperaPlot have proven to be just as fun as the contest itself. Here’s my latest happy news!

Short Lists & Nods


#OperaPlotter extraordinaire, and former winner muzicbizkids posted Highlight Reel, featuring his favorite “top 3%” on his blog ambling with i am. Two of my entries were included:

Her name was Violet, she was a call girl. With camélias in her hair & consumption in the air. At the AH-PRAH! Don’t fall in love!
[La Traviata]

My head says Turandon’t! But my heart says Turando! [Turandot]

Then, musicvstheater posted How to write an #operaplot, on his blog Music vs. Theater. It’s a fascinating “semi-scholarly taxonomy” of entry trends and categories. My above “Copacabana” Traviata entry was included under “The Lyrics.” I jokingly told him that I’m really a dramatic coloratura trapped in a lyric’s body.

MMmusing has created a genius audio version of my winning entry, using text2speech.org. Thanks MM!!!

Premature Booty & Glory


It only gets better!

Next, blogger opera-toonity announced her top 4 results from the #OperaPlot Don Giovanni entries. I was thrilled to discover that my Right Said Fred entry received 2nd Place:

I’m too sexy for amor—too sexy for Seville. I’m a charmer—I shake my lil tush on the piazza. I’m too sexy for this opera. *burns*

Finally, I fell off my chair when Decca sprang a surprise on the eager proceedings, and offered 5 early, unexpected prizes. My “Copacabana” entry landed Best Pop Culture Reference,” and a copy of Jonas Kaufmann’s latest CD (Thanks Decca and Miss Mussel)! Just a CD, you ask? Well, it’s more about the glory and pleasure of winning than the prize itself. ;-) Boy, I’m going to owe a lot to Barry Manilow for this!

Or, perhaps being chauffeur for 3 different Violetta’s, including Anna Netrebko in SF Opera’s Traviata last season rubbed off on me? What a wonderful way to start my 40th birthday festivities! The fun of it all was alone worth the participation, but I’m no closet competitor, so this has me positively giddy. It looks like pop references might just be my calling card.

[UPDATE: Jonas has spoken! His picks have been announced. Congrats to all the winners! No more glory for me...but I'm not complainin'. Til next time!]

jcm’s Best of #OperaPlot

In attempting to peruse all 907 entries of #OperaPlot, I realized that there are so many great ones, taking so many diverse approaches that the result is and will be HIGHLY subjective. Honestly, there are probably 20-30 deserving tweets. But, it will all come down to Jonas’ particular funny bones ;-)

Well, as far as my own take, these are the best of those that were posted by midday today on T.O.M.! Hopefully, at least a few of these (and my own!) will make the prize list. My top favs by “chickenfeet2003″ and “patty_oboe” are proof that simple can be better. Also, interestingly, very few bel canto operas were tackled…perhaps proof that they are indeed all about the beautiful singing.

The Best of Other’s OperaPlots


villa_lobos Be vewy qwiet, I’m hunting wabbits – Oh Bwunhilde, you’w so wuvwy – stwike da wabbit! [dead] What do you expect, a happy ending? [Die Walküre]

chickenfeet2003
Batter my ears three noted score [Dr. Atomic]
Witch son was that? [Il Trovatore]
Hunchback ticks off boss. Get’s the sack. [Rigoletto]

Patty Oboe She dances just to get a head. [Salome]

musicvstheater Ego Rex,yo! With my mad flow. Tiresias be hatin on my bling tho. Cuz I’m the king, aint no other. Is my ho fly? Word to my mother! [Oedipus Rex] (This entry was accompanied by an amazing rap audio track!)

pschleuse Though cigarettes can be a killer, they’re nothing to a Seguidiller. As Don Jose’s been known to quip, love can really be a gyp. [Carmen]

devoncestes Cougar on the prowl, her cousin shows up. Random Italian Tenor. A silver rose later, prey finds a girl his own age. Time flies. [Der Rosenkavalier]

Bonnie Situation Alb. makes a ring, Loge & Wotan plan a sting. Erda: give up the bling! Fafner: Ka-ching! [Das Rheingold]

DrGeoduck Their relationship was doomed from the beginning. Elsa wanted a champion, but he preferred swanning about. [Lohengrin]

musicbizkid WhenCleverDalilaFinesses/MightySamson,HeDumblyConfesses/
SourceOfHisStrength/IsInHisCoiffure’sLength/&DameColdlyHacksOffHisTresses [Samson & Dalila]

gtheule Cigarettes are unwise and bullfighting is nuts, but a mezzo has them beat for crazy any day of the week. [Carmen]

Sam Neuman The Princess is double-parked, so she has to be succinct: kid’s dead, sister’s engaged, love the habit, sign here, kthxbye. [Suor Angelica]


My Five Best


“Ice Ice Baby” [Jenufa]

My head says Turandon’t! But my heart says Turando! [Turandot]

I’m too sexy for amor—too sexy for Seville. I’m a charmer—I shake my lil tush on the piazza. I’m too sexy for this opera. *burns* [Don Giovanni]

Her name was Violet, she was a call girl. With camélias in her hair & consumption in the air. At the AH-PRAH! Don’t fall in love! [La Traviata]

TwoMenWageToProveWomenFickle/LandingThemInQuiteAPickle/
AsAlbaniansTheyKnew/BothSistersThey’dWoo/AudiencesAgelessHijinksDothTickle. [Così fan tutte]

jcm’s #OperaPlot Contest Entries: Redux

Thank goodness today is the final day of The Omniscient Mussel’s contest. I’m feeling the need to race off to #OperaPlot 12-Step after this week (it’s insanely addictive)! I want those tickets to Ireland so bad, I can smell the shamrocks.

Now, cross your fingers with me, and pray that hunkentenor (Jonas) chooses right! In my next post I’ll share my favorites from ALL the entries (there are some doozies), and then follow up with the actual prize winners. But for now, here’s my second round of tweets

My Final 13 Entries


“Ice Ice Baby” [Jenufa]

My head says Turandon’t! But my heart says Turando! [Turandot]

“It Takes a Village (To Ice a Child)” [Jenufa, variation]

“It Takes a Village to Raze a Child” [Jenufa]

“Kaiser & Kaiserin Plus 8″ [Die Frau ohne Schatten, variation]

TwoMenWageToProveWomenFickle/LandingThemInQuiteAPickle/
AsAlbaniansTheyKnew/BothSistersThey’dWoo/AudiencesAgelessHijinksDothTickle. [Così fan tutte]

Irish ♀ + Breton ♂ = ♥ death [Tristan und Isolde, variation]

My dazzling beauty, vast pleasure palace & pearly fioriture weren’t enough for “The Six Tenors”? Screw love, revenge is sweeter! [Armida]

A cautionary tale about eloping with Papa Smurf, honeymoon feng shui & baggage. Behind door #7? “The Real Housewives of Hungary” [Bluebeard's Castle]

“Women Are Like That/Thus Do They All/The School for Lovers/Tit for Tat/Fiancée Swap/Such Are All Women” (Call it what you will!) [Così fan tutte]

Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered, but mum’s the word…smooch, smooch, glub, glub. [Rusalka] (via Gil)

“Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was freak like me? Don’t cha, don’t cha?” [The Threepenny Opera]

I ♥ NY [West Side Story]


The 2010 #OperaPlot Twitter Contest Begins!

Today, The Omniscient Mussel launches her second annual “OperaPlot” contest. The goal? To synopsize any opera in 140 characters (including the hashtag #operaplot), and post up to 25 on twitter.com, before midnight EST, friday, April 30th. Anyone can enter, so hit her with your best shots!

T.O.M. scored a major coup, landing the biggest hunken-tenor on the intl. scene Jonas Kaufmann as arbiter! It was tempting to tailor my entries to his repertoire (ie: Werther, Tosca, Die Walküre, etc.), but I maintained my integrity! My entries milk song lyric adaptations, current mainstream celebrity fixations, whimsical text icons, and my love for the melodramatic side of the art form.

(Photo by Johannes Ifkopvits, 2006)

Follow all submissions here. Here are the Rules and FAQs, the 2010 Prize Pool, and the 2009 Winners & Prizes.

My First 12 Entries


I’m too sexy for amor—too sexy for Seville. I’m a charmer—I shake my lil tush on the piazza. I’m too sexy for this opera. *burns* [Don Giovanni]

Her name was Violet, she was a call girl. With camélias in her hair & consumption in the air. At the AH-PRAH! Don’t fall in love! [La Traviata]

Irish ♀ + Breton ♂ x ♪ leitmotifs in ♠s = ♥ death [Tristan und Isolde]

(Inappropriate for Children) “Je-rry! Je-rry!” A chick with a *BLEEP*. Commercial break. Satan/Jesus fued *BLEEP*! Final Thought. [Jerry Springer: The Opera]

All that stands between Turandot and her man: a millennia-old feminist grudge, “Hope, Blood, Turandot,” slave girl and frigidity. [Turandot]

The primacy of words or music? Inseparable! A poet or composer’s heart, and whose operatic ending? Hmm…what’s a Countess to do? [Capriccio]

Shadow chasing ensues, proving Her Heart Belongs (nicht) To Daddy, but to hubby. Next up: “Empress & Kaiser Plus 8″ or Octomom? [Die Frau ohne Schatten]

3 protagonists enter. 3 cries of “Turandot.” 3 gongs. 3 riddles. 3 correct answers. 3 ministers lament. 3 “Vinceròs!” 3 Acts end. [Turandot]

1) Death by strangulation on a barge on the Seine in Paris, 2) by poison in a convent near Siena, 3) and by old age in Florence. [Il Trittico]

The Don’s Hectic Calendar: Seduce. Rape. Duel. Kill. Flirt. Lure. Flee. Regroup. Accuse. Swap. Fool. Invite. Revel. Refuse. BURN! [Don Giovanni]

The Empress needs what the mortal woman has, decides she doesn’t want it badly enough, but gets it anyway. Typical daddy’s girl! [Die Frau ohne Schatten]

“Questo è il fin di chi fa mal!” So, don’t seduce, rape, accuse, fool, desert, lure, beat, or kill, lest you be dragged to hell! [Don Giovanni]

Perhaps I’ll be inspired to generate a second phase of entries! This is VERY addictive, and I wanna win!

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