In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

BLO Signature Series Demystified

Dec 11, 2012 3:59:00 PM
By BLO Staff

Have you ever wondered what the Signature Series was all about? Here Artistic Advisor, John Conklin tells us his vision for the Series, which is a collaboration with the MFA, Boston.


"In 2009 Esther Nelson asked me to come to Boston to develop a series of events in conjunction with The Museum of Fine Arts - I had done similar programs when she was heading the Glimmerglass Opera. We decided that although each of the Sunday afternoons would be based on an opera from that season’s repertory, they would approach it from a varied and wide range of contexts. Rather than an direct analysis of the music and or a discussion of BLO’s specific approach to the piece , we would explore how ideas derived from that opera might stretch out into novels, poetry, theater, painting , cinema, history, popular culture. Also rather than a lecture , we would attempt to create mini-dramas (they are one hour in length) , dramatically conceived programs that would have their own theatrical validity . We are lucky to be able to use the quite elegant Remis Auditorium at the MFA . I personally get great enjoyment in researching , writing( or perhaps better creating a collage of the material) working with the performers and sharing the result with the our audience.

We have witnessed “Charlie Rose” type interviews with Rossini and Richard Strauss, (portrayed by actors I hasten to add rather than ectoplasmic manifestations) We have seen videos of performances of Carmen by Geraldine Farrar and Beyonce and a troupe of flamenco dancers We have heard actors reading poetry by Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson and Ogden Nash and stories by Henry James. We have listened to performances of music of Verdi, Handel, Mozart and Cole Porter. We have looked at images of Greek sculpture, Edward Hopper and Sarah Bernhardt from the MFA collections. Performers have included many from our “emerging artists”program, leading singers from our productions, actors from ART and the Huntington Theater and Boston personalities such as Joyce Kulhawik, Christopher Lydon and David MacNeill.

We at BLO have many ways that we try to bring our audiences closer to the opera they may be going to: background notes and information, relevant video links, rehearsal reports and insights from performers, blog entries on our website, pre-performance lectures at the Shubert Theater, programs at the Boston Public Library, and the BLO Exposed series with on-stage discussions with directors of the production about their specific approach to their BLO work. The Signature Series is another entry in our program to enrich everyone’s (including our own) experience of the excitement and fascinating complexities of that 'delightful madness known as Opera'"

Save the date for the next Signature Series Presentation: Genesis: Explorations on James MacMillan's Clemency.
January 13, 2013 | 2pm
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