The Barns

The Short List Part 1

Time to start compiling the list of operas we might be able to do this year. We don’t program anything until we hear the singers, but there’s a process of winnowing that takes place concurrently with the auditions.

We start by determining which pieces we are unlikely to produce – namely, the ones that we’ve done in the last 5-6 years (History), and the ones that fall in “fringe” territory that we’ve recently traversed (Sondheim, Rameau, etc).

Of course, there’s a wide swath of rep that is never on any version of our list because it’s incompatible with our venue. The Barns is very small by opera standards – 380 seats – and the maximum forces we can use are 28-30 orchestra players and 16 choristers. And that’s stretching it.

What does that mean? No Verdi, Puccini, Strauss. Lots of Mozart, Handel, Rossini and contemporaries. Occasional Donizetti (but we have to trim the orchestra in order to do so). Contemporary chamber opera (some Britten, Stravinsky).

Some possibilities for 2006? (Warning! Subject to change! Caveat lector! Void where prohibited by law!)

Britten – The Rape of Lucretia (last here in ’88)
Cavalli – La Calisto
Donizetti – La Fille du Regiment (huge stretch for The Barns), Linda di Chamounix
Handel – Alcina, Ariodante, Orlando, Partenope, Radamisto, Rinaldo, Semele
(can you tell I’m rooting for Handel? no telling if we can cast it, though)
Haydn – Il mondo della luna
Martin y Soler – La capricciosa corretta
Mozart – Il re pastore, Così fan tutte (last here in ’98), Le nozze di Figaro
Paisiello – Il re Teodoro in Venezia
Purcell – Dido and Aeneas (last here in /’89)
Rossini – Le Comte Ory, L’equivoco stravagante, La gazza ladra, L’inganno felice, La scala di seta, Il viaggio a Reims, La pietra del paragone (all new to us except Viaggio)
Strauss – Ariadne auf Naxos (dare we?)
Telemann – Orpheus (having trouble finding the materials)
Of course, the real joke is that we’ll probably end up producing something that isn’t even on this list.
Shop Talk – E-mail addresses
Each singer should consider creating a simple email address that looks like your name ( At the very least, set up the preferences on your email program so outgoing messages identify you easily (From: [Sally Singer])
If we’re sorting through the mailbox, and the “From” field on your message easily coordinates with your real name, there’s a much smaller likelihood that it’ll end up being mistaken for spam.
Book recommendation of the day. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. Don’t pass over this one because you think it’s for dancers. Lots of unassuming solid advice for anyone who aspires to be creative in any avenue of life.
A few quotes, filtered through our particular lens:
On the Equation: “Without passion, all the skill in the world won’t lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life.”
On the importance of developing your technique: “A failure of skill is unforgivable. If you don’t have a broad base of skills, you’re limiting the number of problems you can solve when trouble hits.”
On the courage to breathe life into your singing: “In order to be habitually creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative, but good planning alone won’t make your efforts successful; it’s only after you let go of your plans that you can breathe life into your efforts.”
On the subject of producing in a venue as quirky as The Barns: “Whom the gods wish to destroy, they give unlimited resources.”

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