Last year Purdue University, headed by the former governor Mitch Daniels, purchased Kaplan University, a for-profit university, for $1. Having worked for a for-profit university, i.e. Grand Canyon University, the last thing such an institution cares about is education. It is a shame that such a prominent Big 10 institution, particularly in terms of engineering, is moving to a for-profit model. Please consider sending a message to Mitch Daniels that education is a for-profit business, but a for-enlightenment business.
This summer while I was in Stockholm, I ran into an old friend who is the author of Diction Police. She loved the paper my DMA student and I presented, and asked to interview us. Here is an excerpt.
Britten, Physics and Phonics
While I was at the International Congress of Voice Teachers this past summer, I happened upon a seminar given by an old friend of mine, Dr. Kevin Hanrahan, who is Associate Professor of Voice at the Glenn Korff School of Music of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Matthew Clegg, a DMA voice student at the same university. The seminar was entitled Benjamin Britten: A Study in Vocal Acoustics, and focused on Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, and A Charm of Lullabies for mezzo-soprano, looking into how the composer set the text, to see if the singer simply sang exactly as the text (specifically the vowels) as composed whether it would match the dynamics and expression that Britten intended. It was so fascinating that I asked him to share some of their findings with us!
In July of 2013 I traveled to Australia to present at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Brisbane. While there I ventured down to Sydney to do some recitals with my good friend and collaborator, Australian composer Diana Blom. Part of that trip was to record two of her “long songs” for her now released CD. I recorded “The Library” and “At the End of the World We Learn to Dance” aka “Tango”, the latter of which was composed specifically for me. Here is a review from the MusicTrust.com.au.
Many of Diana Blom’s Songs are sections of text taken from novels. New Zealand writer Lloyd Jones was the source for At the end of the world we learn to dance, described by the composer as a mini-theatre piece. It was written in 2012 for tenor Kevin Hanrahan who it performs here. His diction is impeccable and the listener can readily immerse into the story of the dance lesson and enjoy its sensuality.
OPERA OMAHA’s fifty-eighth season opened on October 14 with Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia in a staging by Michael Shell that was hilariously delightful with every random turn. Set in Spain during the Seville Fair, the highly stylized production, previously seen in Philadelphia and Saint Louis, is more like a Mexican comic variety show than the Almodóvar films that supposedly inspired it; the staging featured high-energy fun with a string of random events and characters. There was a clown on stilts aptly placed for Figaro’s “una la volta,” a bumbling chorus, cross-dressers, naughty nuns, and the obligatory randomly appearing chicken.
The creative driving force behind all this random ridiculousness was the thoughtful and detailed score study of director Shell. Every “bit” was so perfectly timed and drawn from the score that Shell’s masterful storytelling obliterated the need for the supertitles, allowing the audience to sit back, relax, and enjoy this exhilaratingly funny production. And, like all great storytellers, he kept you energized, engaged, and wanting more. The set design by…more
Opera Omaha’s 2014–2015 season, “Opera Unbound” came to a close with Beethoven’s Fidelio (seen Apr. 17). Much like a song-cycle, each production of the season explored a different facet of unbounded love. Fidelio was the perfect dénouement. The centerpiece of this production was the scenic and costume designs of artist Jun Kaneko. The designs were black and white lines that formed a grid representing a jail or “box” trapping the characters and the audience. During the overture a mesmerizing and captivating video animation timed precisely to the music depicted the black and white grid accented with a mixture of colored lines drawn into angular shapes. Continue reading “Opera Omaha Fidelio Review – Published in Opera News Online”
Drew Neneman, a Master of Music in vocal performance student in the Glenn Korff School of Music from Omaha, Nebraska and student of Kevin Hanrahan, won recording time in an Omaha studio with Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis, as part of a recent songwriting contest.
Neneman and Luke Heffron, 18, of Skutt Catholic High School, were chosen from nearly 100 entrants in a songwriting contest associated with the musical “Once” through the Omaha Performing Arts Society.
“I was really surprised,” Neneman said of his winning the contest. “Flattered, but surprised. It was exciting.”
Opera Omaha’s production of John Adams’s opera A Flowering Tree was a study in minimalism. The staging by director James Darrah did not reflect the color and energy of the Adams score: costumes, lighting, and scenic designs were gray and static. Even the performers’ movements were slight and minimalistic. There were long and exhausting sequences where the performers simply stood motionless. Darrah stated in his director’s notes that his goal was to inspire the audience to engage their imagination and interpretation “through a suggestive dramatic economy,” and he achieved that. When one closed one’s eyes, the music conjured up vivid images, full of excitement — but one could have easily had the same experience by staying at home and listening to an audio recording.
The story of A Flowering Tree, by Adams and Peter Sellars, who staged the world premiere in 2006, was taken from Tamil and South Indian folklore. There are only three principal singing characters in the opera…(more)
“Opera Unbound” is the slogan for Opera Omaha’s 2014-2015 season, and the company successfully let loose with vibrant, contrasting visual and musical colors in its season’s first production, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, on October 17. A co-production with Boston Lyric Opera and Atlanta Opera, this Rigoletto was set in its original historical context, depicting a world where absolute rulers have absolute power over life and death. The scenic design by John Conklin, vibrantly lit by designer Robert Wierzel, featured a white marble replica of an ideal city taken from a Piero della Francesca painting, set above large walls creating “a dark pit where love, lust and revenge fuel the city.” The dark walls were brightened by a fractured Italian-style painting of Mars and Venus that symbolized the conflict within Rigoletto, trapped between his desire for vengeance against the Duke and his love for his daughter. Costume designer Victoria Tzykun crafted spectacular, colorful period clothes, among them the Duke’s gilded costume and Rigoletto’s blood red jester’s outfit in Act I, and a stunning vibrant blue cloak worn by Gilda in Act III.
The musical colors and expressive details were just as impressive. Led by conductor Steven White, the Omaha Symphony Orchestra provided full yet sensitive support and freedom to the singers. This was most apparent with Argentine baritone Fabiàn Veloz who sang the role of Rigoletto, marking his North American professional opera debut. In Act I his voice was warm and pleasing; by Act III it was brilliantly rich. The sensitivity with which…(more)