March 26, 2012

Bling: Opera and Hip Hop

I'm a bit of a hip hop junkie if you didn't already know. There's nothing better than a great beat, crazy rhymes, and a great artist on the mic. And the more I delve into hip hop, the more I witness connections between rappers and classical artists. I wrote about this topic once before, but now sometime later I recognize stronger parallels between worlds that, otherwise, seem just as related as a jungle and desert.

Hip hop stars have to know "text" like a crazy person! To be at the top of their game, it's not enough to simply use words. Hip hop stars have to master them. They have to be able to command the use of words in fresh and creative ways. We opera people pretty much stick to what's printed on the page, but the hip hop gurus are creating new ways words are used. Either way, both performers have to know what they're talking about.

Improvisation. This key word of Baroque and Bel Canto literature rests at the center of the Hip-hopster's mojo. Prolonging syllables, toying with word emphasis, and manipulating beats and creating new rhythms on the spot is something both the skilled rapper and classical singer share in close common. Improv is a method of embellishment and technical autonomy for both artists.

Lastly, Bling! Both arenas are categorized by decadence, of imagination and the pocket book. Diamonds, pearls, champagne, couture, and delicious decadence. Callas wore Channel everyday; Lil Wayne has exclusive rights to Nikes made only for him; 50 Cent has Stanley Korshak upholstered car interior; and Yves St Laurent designed the entire opening night wardrobe of 3 Metropolitan opera stars.

No matter how it's sliced, opera and hip hop share amazing attributes. Whether it's in the music, in the dressing room, or on the stage, both are worlds of supreme creativity, technique, and extravagance.

March 25, 2012

Creative Arts Expo

Chicago's Cultural Center is not only a beautiful place, but a place to learn about the business of art! Thanks to this year's Creative Chicago Expo more than 8000 singers, dancers, photographers, and writers came together and learned deeper levels of the arts as a business. The best part of it all, it was totally FREE!

Arranged in a series of 1-hour seminars spread over two days, artists were able to dabble in everything from marketing, project planning, city spending, networking, and a whole host of useful tools to help make what we do a whole lot easier! With more than 60 on site vendors, retailers, and arts organizations, this year's expo was probably fairly successful. It was packed and definitely the place to be with a few extra business cards on hand. More expo info here.

Jennifer Rapp Peterson, a representative of Indiemade, gave a great presentation on creating a strong web presence. She's made all the material from the workshop available online. However, the gamut of her resources is also worth browsing. Check it out.

In case you weren't able to make it to this year's expo, not to worry. Many of the topics and workshops can be found online. Maybe this is just a starting place?

March 18, 2012

Eye See You

The power of the eyes is unmistakeable. Whether a person is happy, tormented, or full of joy, the eyes really are a window to the soul and an indication of what's happening on the inside, mentally and emotionally. On a recent venture to ol' Lyric Opera, a cast of singers presenting a new production of Rinaldo was a show not only of musical beauty but one containing an emotional integrity worth mention, made especially evident through the use of eyes from the entire cast!

Not until this production did I witness the power of "the eyes" first hand. Granted, I had good seats, still no where near the stage, but with every aria I was compelled at the emotion behind each singer's eyes. Cheryl Studer is a particular name springing to mind when considering the effective use of eyes as a unit of technique. The cast performed at a level beyond the black and white of the page; their characters were real, alive, and feeling.

This is great a enigma for the performer: how to make the character come to life without standing in the way of this process or confusing personal circumstance with that of the characters we create? Bottom line, eyes help audiences understand the character, their thoughts, and all the things that the voice is not be able to completely express.

March 3, 2012

None The Less

Reading through a few posts I've published in recent weeks, I decided that, apparently, I have favorite word. Why has no one mentioned my obsession with the word nonetheless?

March 2, 2012

Blogging Opera

Just when you think you're all alone in the big scary world the internet says, "nope, you aren't." On a recent Google search, lo and behold--I love saying that; it makes me feel so biblical-- I found another opera blogger comme moi. Though the blog has taken a mild hiatus, nonetheless, the creator is another opera-loving ranter just like me. I swiped the image from he blogger's original site because it was darn cute. Since her new job, the blog has found a new home at here. Check her out!