Opera News announces the launch of its new, redesigned web site at www.operanews.com, which boasts a dynamic, image-rich look, new and expanded content, and improved navigation and search tools, making online exclusives, favorite sections, and new material more accessible than ever before. Meanwhile the world’s premier opera magazine takes on a southern flavor this June, with a cover story profiling Louisiana’s bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, and numerous related articles, featuring Charleston’s Spoleto Festival USA; the state of opera in Nashville and Atlanta; Southern church choirs; Eudora Welty’s musical inspiration; and three southern singers: countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and tenor Keith Jameson, who hail from North and South Carolina respectively, and Texas-born mezzo Joyce Castle. Also included is the magazine’s annual guide to the best U.S. festivals of the summer season.
Opera News’s online home, www.operanews.com, boasts a beguiling new look with enhanced multimedia and exclusive online content. “The revamped www.operanews.com will be a major step forward in how our established readership, as well as newcomers to opera, interacts with the magazine,” says Adam Wasserman, online editor of Opera News. “The design, at once inviting, efficient, and functional, will highlight the breadth of content featured on our web site and in the print edition of Opera News. From ‘Breaking News’ items to CD and DVD appraisals, audio and video features to performance reviews, Q&As to photo galleries, the new www.operanews.com will truly be the opera lover’s home on the internet.”
The site’s new design is clearer to read and navigate, with more content pushed to the home page, while improved search tools make searching current and past issues easier and more effective. New features include specially designed areas for audio and video podcasts, recording excerpts, and exclusive media, plus a new blog from Wasserman himself. Thanks to new sharing tools, content is not only more easily accessible but also available for sharing with friends, social networks, and other sites. The new web site – along with Opera News’s new fan page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/operanews) and Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/operanews) – demonstrates the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s commitment to fostering an informed and active audience for opera, even in cyberspace.
The June issue of Opera News checks in with New Orleans native Greer Grimsley, who has skirted the fast track, carving out an honorable career path on his own terms. Today, the bass-baritone’s imaginative acting and elegant musicianship have made him a favorite at U.S. regional companies and around the world. After a Vancouver Opera appearance, critic Steven Schelling declared: “Greer Grimsley, as Macbeth, is nothing short of uniformly perfect. … The power of his voice is such that the audience can literally feel his crescendos in their chests and the shaking of the floor in his lower register.” Next month Grimsley’s growing reputation as a Wagnerian takes him to Seattle to play Kurwenal in a new Tristan und Isolde, which role has long appealed to him; the singer once explained: “Kurwenal is such a steadfast and true friend to Tristan. … In a couple of productions I saw, you didn’t quite get the sense that there was that deep a relationship between the two men, and that was something I was eager to show.” Now, as the bass-baritone prepares to reprise the role, Opera News’s Editor-in-Chief F. Paul Driscoll chats with him about his ever-evolving artistry, in “Sweet Victory”.
It was composer/librettist Gian Carlo Menotti who founded the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina in 1977, so the festival’s commitment to opera should come as no surprise. New operatic productions – whether of rarely-performed masterpieces or innovative takes on the classics – play a central part in the annual 17-day event, which has presented 100 international premieres and 93 U.S. premieres to date. In “Restoration Period”, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Tim Page looks back at the contentious and colorful past of Spoleto Festival USA and tries to discern its future.
Unlike Charleston, Nashville boasted no annual opera productions until the late 1980s; in “Grand Ole Opera”, regular Chicago correspondent Mark Thomas Ketterson recalls growing up opera-deprived in the country-music-dominated Tennessee capital. Yet times have changed, and as Nashville Opera prepares for the coming season, Ketterson returns to his roots to find the lyric art holding its own in his hometown. Meanwhile, over the Georgian border, Atlanta has developed into an economic powerhouse. Travel writer Ian Keown wonders whether the city’s operatic ambitions will ever catch up, in “Song of the South”, as Atlanta Opera – now into its fourth decade – endeavors to become the southeastern U.S.’s leading opera company.
The cast of Atlanta Opera’s upcoming production of Porgy and Bess includes just a few of the African-American classical singers to emerge in recent years from the southern states. In “If I Could Sing Like a Daughter of God”, Rosalyn M. Story, author of And So I Sing: African-American Divas of Opera and Concert, considers the origins of this phenomenon, crediting the South’s superlative church choirs with playing an important part.
The first living author to have her works published in the prestigious Library of America series, the late Eudora Welty spent most of her life in her native Jackson, Mississippi, and the American South forms both setting and subject of her fiction. In interviews, Welty discussed her love of Fats Waller’s soul-altering blues, listening to radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera, and music’s ability to inspire, heal, and forge connections of love and memory. Opera News’s Features Editor Brian Kellow, biographer of Ethel Merman and Eileen Farrell, examines music’s deep and lasting influence on Welty’s inimitable prose, in “Listening with the Heart”.
June’s Opera News features three Southern singers: two emerging young stars and one of American opera’s great veterans. North Carolinian countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo – Grand Finals winner of the 2009 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and First Place and Audience Choice winner of the 2010 Houston Grand Opera Competition – is the subject of June’s “Sound Bites” column with Oussama Zahr. In “Singer’s Diary”, David Belcher checks in with tenor Keith Jameson, the South Carolina native who recently appeared as Remendado in Bizet’s Carmen during the “Live from the Metropolitan Opera” HD broadcast in movie theaters worldwide. Jameson is also the Founding Director of South Carolina’s Greenwood Music Festival, which had its inaugural season in January 2007. Texas-born and Kansas-raised, mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle has spent a lifetime honing her knack for connecting with a role – and with the audience. In honor of her four decades on the opera stage, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom is writing a chamber work for her to premiere in New York this coming fall. William V. Madison investigates further, in “Character Study”.
Finally, as spring gives way to summer, Opera News offers a guide to this year’s music festivals in the US. Adam Wasserman and Tristan Kraft highlight the best offerings from around the country, in “Summer Holiday”.
June’s exclusive offerings on the substantially redesigned web site at www.operanews.com include interviews with Isaac Mizrahi, who makes his directing debut with the upcoming company premiere of A Little Night Music at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and with Robert Lyall, general and artistic director of New Orleans Opera.