Editorials

"Why is it ugly?" & other good questions about new opera

"Why is it ugly?" & other good questions about new opera

After all, opera isn't just music, and it isn't just theatre. If it's well-written opera, the music we hear is directly connected with the action and text. I often wonder: if people had heard famous film scores - Psycho, Star Wars, etc. - without having ever seen the films, would they find the music appealing? Would they find the Imperial March catchy, or full of wrong notes? If they thought those sawing strings from Hitchcock's shower scene sounded screechy and ugly, could they be blamed?

Jenna Simeonov
Arts education teaches better manners, & more preaching to the choir

Arts education teaches better manners, & more preaching to the choir

What I'm saying is that confirmation bias is an issue, particularly in a corner of the internet like Schmopera. The people who don't know they're being rude with their phones likely aren't reading this. The people who think arts education is a waste of money certainly aren't seeking out opera-centric blogs. That asshole at the concert today will never read this and feel shame.

Jenna Simeonov
"A very Bohemian undertaking": AtG's La bohème

"A very Bohemian undertaking": AtG's La bohème

Poverty - and the limited options that come with it - is a major theme in the original story of 19th-century Paris. Today, young people across Toronto still have the same limitations, particularly those who choose to pursue the arts. "There are a lot of constraints on their ability to live," says Mokrzewski. "Bringing [La bohème] into this context exaggerates, almost, the underlying class stuff that was happening."

Jenna Simeonov
Success & hype: the first season of Opera Pubs in Toronto

Success & hype: the first season of Opera Pubs in Toronto

The success of the Opera Pubs brings to light something that is - and should be - considered seriously among operatic circles across the globe: the potential for circular gratification among those on the inside. In Toronto, the audiences of most operatic events include familiar faces - fans, colleagues, and friends of those involved in the show; these are a beautiful group of folks, full of support and delight for the work done in their city. But any opera company worth the hype is constantly seeking audiences full of new faces, an ever-widening pool of interested listeners.

Jenna Simeonov
Moving on & up: 3 ways my old career prepared me for my new one

Moving on & up: 3 ways my old career prepared me for my new one

In my own experience, coaching singers is kind of like journalism. There's a foundation of knowledge that continues to grow, but with every new singer - and every new story - there's the possibility of having your mind changed.

Jenna Simeonov
Don't you deserve a little Spotlight?

Don't you deserve a little Spotlight?

We have an ongoing list of artists to keep an eye on, and we want your help in expanding that list. So, if you know an artist who deserves a little spotlight, let us know! Call them out in the comments, or get in touch directly at [email protected]

Jenna Simeonov
5 reasons to get your drama fix from oratorio

5 reasons to get your drama fix from oratorio

Leave it to Krzysztof Penderecki, the Polish composer known for writing terrifying music, to bring to life every detail of the Passion according to the Gospel St. Luke. His St. Luke Passion is an eerie, uncomfortable, atonal setting; it's scored for three choruses, a boys chorus, three soloists, a narrator, and a huge orchestra that includes odd instruments like saxophones, vibraphones, and a harmonium.

Jenna Simeonov
Jenna's list: the year's Top 10 of London

Jenna's list: the year's Top 10 of London

Well, it's been just over a year since I started running wildly around London, trying not to miss any of the city's endless operatic offerings. On top of the many, many shows, I'll miss the charming little ice creams at intermission (sorry, interval), and the weird named for different seating sections (what the hell are the stalls), and of course, the sheer quantity of things to see and hear all year long.

Jenna Simeonov
Graceful exits & double standards

Graceful exits & double standards

Why, when Domingo is clearly still involved in the operatic industry in a huge way, must his schedule still include staged performances in roles meant for true baritones? When his work at WNO, LAO, and Operalia includes time spent with such skilled artists at the starts of their careers, has Domingo considered the possibility that he is taking opportunities from these rising stars - particularly the hardworking baritones?

Jenna Simeonov
Is new opera putting the répétiteur out of a job?

Is new opera putting the répétiteur out of a job?

Centuries ago, the piano could act as a self-contained, portable element that encompassed the sound world of an orchestra; the role of the répétiteur has evolved organically out of this practice, and most rehearsal pianists are valuable assistants to conductors and liaisons for singers. Now, composers are now working with a sound spectrum that is larger than a piano can represent; to use a piano in rehearsal no longer achieves the goal of re-creating what the singers will hear when the "real orchestra" shows up.

Jenna Simeonov

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