Brava! director says opera is alive and well

Martin Majkut
Martin Majkut

Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra Music Director Martin Majkut is currently conducting Brava! Opera Theater’s production of “Orpheus and Eurydice,” to be performed March 3-6 at the Camelot Theatre in Talent. We met after a rehearsal one afternoon to discuss the challenge of opera.

MM: From a technical point of view, opera is a challenge for a conductor. The challenge is tracking everyone’s movement and making sure that they are in sync together. In opera, you have the orchestra: they’re in their seats. Then you have the singers and the chorus: all in movement, and they don’t hear the orchestra very well.

When you stand on the stage, and the orchestra is down in the pit, you sometimes hear very little. Say: you run up some stairs, you’re breathing heavily, you hear some sounds from a distance, and you’re basically singing more or less to a vacuum. You don’t get that beautiful symphonic support that the audience gets. So you really rely on the conductor to cue you, to lead you. Continue reading Brava! director says opera is alive and well

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SOU stages Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’

Jim Edmonson
Jim Edmonson

James Edmondson is directing Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” at Southern Oregon University opening this Friday, Feb. 26. The play is based on the witch trials that took place in Salem, Mass., in 1692. This is the centennial of Arthur Miller’s birth. Many productions of his plays are being produced internationally.

James Edmondson has been an actor and director with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 1972, where he performed 60 roles including the title roles in “Richard II” and “King Lear.” He directed 30 productions for OSF, most recently, “Rabbit Hole,” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Edmondson has directed and acted for the American Conservatory Theatre and numerous other nationally known theaters.

I saw an early run-through of “The Crucible” and the production promises to be a compelling night of theater. I met with Edmondson in the Theatre Arts building on the SOU campus to discuss the play. Continue reading SOU stages Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’

Opera is a world onto its own

Willene Gunn
Willene Gunn

BRAVA! Opera Theater Artistic Director Willene Gunn, is directing Gluck’s “Orpheus and Eurydice” at the Camelot Theatre in Talent. Gunn, an accomplished performer herself, directed the Opera Program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for 30 years, and served on the faculty of the University of California at Santa Cruz. Last year her direction of “Breasts of Tiresias” was stunning. Early in her career, Gunn performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We visited at the Downtowne Coffee House in Talent.

EH: How did you find your life in opera?

 WG: I always sang, loved music, played all kinds of instruments. By the time I left the University of Montana, I knew I was going to go into opera. When went back to New York, my teacher arranged for a sponsor for me. He said one of the reasons was: I had talent, yes, but also, if I got kicked and knocked down, I got up again.

Continue reading Opera is a world onto its own