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Posted at 09:31 AM ET, 04/27/2011

Link: Let’s make an opera

In today’s Washington Post, an article about the enterprising way that Wolf Trap has gone about organizing the world premiere of tonight’s “The Inspector” (by John Musto and Mark Campbell). At a time when many companies say that they can’t afford to put on new work, Wolf Trap has found a way to do it — without even having a year-round opera company; every element of the production, including the budget, has to be done virtually from scratch.

Below, the cast, plus a brief taste of the music. Outtakes after the jump (from my piece, not from the opera).

Bonus: outtakes. Here are some quotes and vignettes that didn’t make it into the final story:

As Orth and Bird discussed “The Inspector” last week, the sounds of a banjo rose from an adjacent rehearsal hall; it proved to be Musto, who conceals a lot of unexpected talents beneath an unflappable exterior. Joining the singers to discuss his comedy, he listened to them try to describe his music, which Bird calls “the perfect combination of accessibility to the audience and challeng]e] to the performer.” After “Volpone,” she added -- she was in the 2007 production and recording -- “the audience would leave humming the melodies, but they wouldn’t be anywhere close to actually humming the melodies.”

“I said to somebody today during rehearsal, John is incapable of writing a normal scale,” Orth says, laughing, describing the blend of whole and half steps in an ascending line of music.

“A lot of them are octatonic scales,” Musto says, in a tone somewhere between simple explanation and deadpan humor.

“Well, I’m sure there’s a name for it, John, but I’m learning the language still!” Orth roars.

Quotes from John Musto:

“You know what? I don’t go to the opera really. I go when my wife [the soprano Amy Burton] sings.. But generally I am not an opera person. This business of sitting in the opera house for three or four hours — I’m sorry… that’s just not my gig.”

“The anxiety isn’t about whether the piece works. The anxiety is about what we just did. Are we going to get through the piece because the English horn part has some measures of wrong? That’s crazy-making. It really is... There’s a whole bunch of things in the orchestration that aren’t in the piano-vocal score. That’s why this process takes so long. This piece is going to Boston next year; I have to remember all the things that are in the orchestration that aren’t in the piano-vocal, and I have to go back to the piano vocal and put them in. It never ends. The composer’s part of this process never ends.”

A quote from Mark Campbell:

“People don’t realize that comedy is a lot harder to write than drama. It’s so easy to make people cry.... In comedy you have to do same things you do in a drama, but also have to be funny... and if they aren’t laughing, you know that you failed [at] your job. In opera you don’t hear if people are with the story, but in comedy you do, because they’re silent, and it’s deadly.”

By  |  09:31 AM ET, 04/27/2011

 
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