Posts Tagged ‘opera’

Atilla

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This 1969 adaptation of Atilla marked a special occasion in the history of the NOOA, and even internationally.
As the pamphlet explains,

ATTILA, Verdi’s ninth opera, was written in 1846 for the spring season of La Fenice- the Phoenix- in Venice. It was an instantaneous success, due to the already established reputation of its 33-year old composer, and to its patriotic theme. Four years after its premiere ATTILA was enthusiastically received in New York at Niblo’s Garden, with Marini, for whom it was written, in the title role. ATIILA’s popularity was short-lived, however- Verdi’s later works eclipsing it- and it gradually dropped out of repertories. In 1951 Venice presented a concert version of the opera, but it was not until 1962 that the work was staged in Florence. This was followed by an English performance by Sadler’s Wells, and in the past few years revivals have been mounted in Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland and Argentina. The New Orleans Opera’s production is the first in the United States since the middle of the last century.

Not only that, in this pamphlet there is cover art, and the whole script was printed, which is rather new.  It is rather interesting to flip through and see the English version along with the Italian, so maybe you could learn some helpful phrases such as Qual suono?, which means ‘what is with all of the shouting?’.

If you would like to see this pamphlet from 1969, it is located in the New Orleans Opera Association Archives in Special Collections & Archives. We are also currently digitizing all of the programs in the collection; so far, you can see programs from 1943-1963 in the New Orleans Opera Association Archives in the Louisiana Digital Library. You can ALSO see more items like this in the Booth-Bricker Reading Room in Special Collections & Archives in our current exhibit, Encore! Encore! Bravi! Presenting the New Orleans Opera Association Archives.

This blog was written by student worker Miranda.

Black History Month and opera

The New Orleans Opera has had the privilege of performing with some of the most talented and accomplished opera singers in the world, including a number of black opera singers. In conjunction with Black History Month, following are a few of the illustrious singers of color who have performed with the NOOA.

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Native New Orleanian Shirley Verrett (pictured here in a 1983 NOOA performance of Tosca) filled in as Carmen for the NOOA in 1980, making her the first black singer to perform the role with NOOA. She had previously been the first black singer to perform the role at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

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Bass-baritone Alfred Walker has become an international superstar since he graduated from Loyola’s master’s program in 1996. Walker won the Regional Metropolitan Opera Council Audition and made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Grégorio in Roméo et Juliette in 1998. He has performed with NOOA in Macbeth and Elektra (1994); Madama Butterfly (1995); Andrea Chénier (1996); Rigoletto (1997); and La Bohème (2014). He is pictured above in Loyola’s 1996 performance of Die Fledermaus.

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Another Loyola alum, Giovanna Joseph, has performed supporting roles in Salome and Porgy and Bess with NOOA. In 2011, Joseph founded Opera Creole, a nonprofit company dedicated to discovering and performing music written by nineteenth century New Orleans Creole men and women of color. She is pictured above (left) with her daughter Aria Mason (right) and singer Hope Briggs (middle) in NOOA’s 2010 Porgy and Bess; this performance marks the first time a mother and daughter both had singing roles in the same NOOA production (image courtesy of Givonna Joseph).

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Mezzo-soprano Débria Brown was another trailblazing New Orleans native who battled prejudice to become an international opera star. Brown graduated from Xavier University and began her professional career with the New York City Opera opposite Loyola alum and fellow New Orleanian Norman Treigle. She later achieved success singing in Germany and Vienna before becoming a professor of voice at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Brown performed with NOOA in Un Ballo in Maschera (pictured above in 1981) and Eugene Onegin (1995).

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Opera soprano Marquita Lister performed two of her signature roles in Porgy and Bess and Salome with NOOA in 2002. Lister has also served as the national spokesperson for the Negro “Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation.

A large portion of the New Orleans Opera Association Archives are Artists’ Files. These include head shots, press kits, and correspondence, in many cases sent by artist management companies, for artists who performed with NOOA as well as many who didn’t. These files contain beautiful graphic materials for  some of the most famous opera singers of the 20th century, including many of the world’s leading black singers.

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LaVergne Monette

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Barbara Hendricks

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Simon Estes

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Barbara Conrad

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Vinson Cole

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Grace Bumbry

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Betty Allen

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Donnie Ray Albert

Many if not all of these singers faced intense racial prejudice in establishing the rights of black singers to perform with regional, national, and international opera companies. Alison Kinney’s “As the Met Abandons Blackface, a Look at the Legacy of African Americans in Opera” details struggles faced by black American opera singers as well as the use of white singers to portray black characters, as does Naomi Adele André’s Blackness in Opera (available for checkout from the Monroe Library).

The materials pictured above, and many more like them, are available for research in the New Orleans Opera Association Archives at Special Collections & Archives‘ Booth-Bricker Reading Room Monday – Friday from 9am-4:30pm.

A Night at the Opera

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On February 10th, at around 7:30 p.m., I walked into the Mahalia Jackson Theater. I gave the staff my ticket, and walked in. It seemed a little bland at first, but I got a a soda at the bar and made my way to my seat. It was in the center, in the middle of the large auditorium, so it was perfect. They called for the start at 7:55, and then, the curtains rose at around 8:10 after announcements. That’s when a man hobbled to the center of the stage, and started to break out into song about a demon barber.

The New Orleans Opera Association performed Sweeney Todd last weekend, and I had the chance to go see it. After scanning the pamphlets for months, I must admit, I was curious to see the opera for myself.

Although they missed out a chance to make it a dinner theater, it was still amazing. The voices were extremely talented, the set was wonderful, and how they managed to make blood spurt 10 feet into the air still confuses me. If anyone is not familiar with the story, I apologize. It is exactly what it sounds like. The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd, slit throats with a razor in order to fulfill his thirst for revenge. They inconspicuously managed to put a device on the victims and make blood spurt, even getting some on the orchestra, before making the chair seat drop and the body fell through the floor and into the basement, where they were ground up for meat pies. That thankfully was just props.  The show totaled up to 3 hours, with a 20 minute intermission, and it was 11 when I got out. Even though I was absolutely tired, ready to peel my makeup off and curl up in some blankets, I had such a wonderful time.

For anyone that hasn’t gone to see the New Orleans Opera, I highly recommend you go. They’re currently in their 74th year, so if there’s any year that you should go, it’s the next. They have numerous performances planned until then, so if you want to have a night of pure talent and have your mind blown, give them a visit!

We also have an exhibit on the New Orleans Opera Association in Special Collections & Archives and  pamphlets in our digital collections if you are curious to learn about their history.

-This blog was written by student worker Miranda

Thank you New Orleans Opera Board!

Last night, Special Collections & Archives was pleased to host the New Orleans Opera Board for a viewing of our exhibits, LOYNOOA: Loyola University and Opera in New Orleans, and Encore! Encore! Bravi! Presenting the New Orleans Opera Association Archives.

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Thank you to the Opera Board for coming and seeing a small portion of this wonderful collection.

Sounds of New Orleans Opera

We’ve blogged previously about the newly processed New Orleans Opera Association Archives and our exhibit, Encore! Encore! Bravi! Presenting the New Orleans Opera Association Archives many times now, but did you know you can also HEAR historic recordings of the New Orleans Opera?

Thanks to the generosity of the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Special Collections & Archives has recordings of excerpts from three NOOA performances available on Soundcloud and youtube:

These represent only a small fraction of the audiovisual materials available in the New Orleans Opera Association Archives. The collection contains ~500 reel-to-reels and ~100 visual media (VHS, Betacam, and more) that are in danger of deterioration. Contact archives@loyno.edu for more information about our digitization program.

LOYNOOA: Loyola University and Opera in New Orleans

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Special Collections & Archives presents our poster exhibit, LOYNOOA: Loyola University and Opera in New Orleans, located on the first floor of Monroe Library facing the library’s music collection. Using photos and information from the Loyola University Archives, student worker and vocal performance major Gloria Cosenza researched the relationship between the New Orleans Opera Association and Loyola’s opera education programs in conjunction with our 3rd floor exhibit featuring highlights from the New Orleans Opera Association archive. She assembled a timeline of instructors, alumni and notable events, which was translated into posters by SCA project assistant Sara White. Gloria is photographed here hanging some of the posters before vinyl decals were added to illustrate the three eras depicted in the timeline. If you are unable to see the exhibit in person, you may now view many of the posters individually on SCA’s Tumblr.

#PageFrights

Today’s #PageFrights comes from the New Orleans Opera Association Archives. Pictured below is a program cover for a 1975 production of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots.

Les Huguenots program cover

For more like this, come to the Booth-Bricker Reading Room in Special Collections & Archives and view our exhibit, Encore! Encore! Bravi! Presenting the New Orleans Opera Association Archives.

#PageFrights is a month-long social media celebration of Halloween, library & archives-style.

Special Collections Internship report

This internship report was written by music major Gloria Cosenza, Special Collections & Archives intern

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Gloria Cosenza with photos of Norman Treigle (directly behind Gloria) and her grandfather Arthur Cosenza (right) at Pascal's Manale, 2015. Image courtesy of Gloria Cosenza.

Music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it even if we so desired.

Boethius (AD 480 – AD 524) is a philosopher best known for his treatise, Consolation of Philosophyand the most notable of his ideas is The Wheel of Fortune. However, he is most important to me because of the philosophy within his manuscript De institutione musica. Boethius identified what he considered “the threefold classification of music”. Musica mundana is the music of the spheres (planets and universes), which is soundless to the naked ear but can be felt more or less like goose bumps or butterflies in your stomach. Musica humana is the harmony sounded in between the physical and spiritual human body – the vibration and sound of OM in yoga is an example of this harmony. Musica instrumentalis is understood on the most basic level as instrumental music produced by something under tension (i.e. strings, wind, water, or percussion). The quote above is taken from this ancient manuscript.

I recognize music as a driving force in my life – as one I have run from and now a force with which I attempt to coexist. Music is the reason I decided to finish my undergraduate degree at Loyola, and my Cosenza family legacy with the university begins (and will soon end) with the art of opera. Arthur Cosenza, my operatic baritone of a grandfather, spearheaded the Loyola Opera Workshop in 1964. His instructor status at the university allowed for his sons (my dad and uncle) to earn – free of charge – not only their undergraduate degrees in English and Accounting, but also their law degrees. It was in the law classrooms of the Broadway campus where my parents met and fell in love. One of the reasons they fell in love was because of their shared passion for the arts.

[My mother recalls reading in Time magazine of Arthur’s work (before she ever met my father) with the New Orleans Opera Association during their 1972 opera season. The infamous season when soprano Carol Neblett, performing the role of Thais, revealed her nude self to an unsuspecting crowd in the Act I finale of the opera!]

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Arthur Cosenza (standing, right) rehearsing with Loyola Opera Workshop singers Carl Kauffman (left) and Judith Fischer (middle), and accompanist Eugenie Passera. Image from the Loyola University Archives.

I am the third of four children my parents have together. My oldest sister graduated summa cum laude with degrees from Loyola in Mass Communications and political science. Since I am not married, and my youngest sister is graduating from LSU, I will be the last Cosenza with a degree, as a “Cosenza”, from Loyola.

The operatic sound is one of the many frequencies, which makes up my own musical chemistry. We listened to operatic recordings on vinyl; my grandfather would occasionally sing; and eventually, I saw my very first live performance when I was about nine years old. I experienced the opera at the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts with my grandfather while he was still the Artistic Director of the New Orleans Opera Association. The production was The Ballad of Baby Doe, and I ate too many chocolate covered raisins. Truthfully, my first heartfelt operatic experience was many years after my first opera, but several months after my grandfather passed away. Up late studying for a high school geography exam and strung out on caffeine, I was playing music I found on an old computer. Puccini’s “O Mio Babino Caro” sung by Maria Callas started to play, and I cried. I played it a few more times in order to witness myself emoting through a classical piece of music. I was sure the aria’s text was of overcoming hopelessness and sadness, but alas it is not. Though sometimes I still cry when I hear that recording, in spite of the text – just because it makes me think of Arthur.

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Arthur Cosenza. Image from the New Orleans Opera Association Archives.

“If they don’t let me in, I won’t go anywhere else.” That’s what I told my parents when I decided to audition for Loyola’s School of Music. I was a twenty-three year old yoga teacher/nanny/full time employee at Whole Foods Market in Baton Rouge, “with a dream”. The Loyola voice faculty made a strange decision, and they accepted me into their program. I have been studying classical voice and the art of operatic performance for over three years now. This summer I was given the opportunity to study the business of opera, and specifically the business my grandfather ran for almost 20 years at the New Orleans Opera Association. During my internship, I worked as an associate of the Special Collections and Archives department on the third floor of Monroe Library. My project for the summer was to layout a timeline based on the history of the New Orleans Opera Association (NOOA) in correlation to the one hundred boxes which make up the NOOA collection. On the first day, I was briefed on basic rules and practices of keeping and working in archives. I learned the layout of each collection and what kinds of information these collections had to offer in way of research aids.

Learning the basics of managing and maneuvering an archive seems to me a legitimate library science skill that I could use to persuade employers looking to hire someone for a basic library position or any position that would require book keeping or basic organization/ attention to detail qualities. I eventually created a digital timeline using software called TimelineJS.

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Click image above to go to timeline

Granted the software was very easy to use, it will be a great tool for future presentations and possibly an element to a kind of portfolio I might put together to impress employers. The last, important skill I learned while working as an intern this summer was how to work with new personalities. I pride myself in having known and worked with many different kinds of people, and this summer I met a couple of new attitudes I was otherwise not familiar. I regretfully admit that I am a people pleaser, first and foremost; but I feel like I made headway into reasons why being a stand up, reliable worker is the most important and usually the easiest way to gain anyone’s affection or approval. I don’t need to be “nice” or “cute” in order to be an asset to the team. What a team wants more than anything – for the sake of the individuals and the project at hand – is a clever, focused, confident worker. All of my colleagues have offered themselves as references for future job opportunities I may have. These women are eager to see me succeed in whatever I do, and they are some of the smartest, empowered, good-humored women I have met. I believe we will stay friends for quite some time.

The first day of my internship was May 23, and though I stopped working twenty hours a week on August 1. I am still working with the team, though they could only take me on at ten hours a week instead of twenty to meet their budget. On August 23, I will have been with SC&A for three months. I am not sure I can articulate all of the amazing new ideas I’ve had in such a short time. These new ideas range from how the past can shed light on a successful future for the opera as a thriving art form in New Orleans, to the necessary facets of my own projects as an up and coming artist in the world – and how I can make a thriving career for myself as a performing artist. I kept a notebook while working in the archives. This notebook is full of lists of things to do for the exhibits and places where I can find what I need, etc. However, in and throughout my notes, I have scribbles of marketing ideas for myself – equipment I need to purchase, ideas for a kind of press package, thoughts on head shots, possible day jobs for when I graduate, lists of repertoire I need to learn, quotes and special places of beautiful photos of my grandpop. One of the most amazing parts of this New Orleans Opera Association project was reading about how all of these famous musicians made it to the top. I picked up on a few key points that have kept me thinking forward into my own future. The first is passion for the music and for the art of performance – a passionate dedication to beauty, precision, and honesty when making opera. Second, there is a teacher who believes in the student or artist. It seems strange that dependence does in fact exist especially in a world where individualism is strong and we believe that the individual can do whatever he or she puts their minds to… But the truth is, with an art such as voice, a quality teacher is a necessary for the progress of the vocalist – a teacher who believes in the student’s possible career and a teacher who can articulate breathing technique, freedom of muscles, sound and creative expression. The third quality is diligence. I think diligence encompasses perseverance at a steady pace, thorough and quality preparation, and a promise to live up to his or her vocal talent. By this I mean, never taking for granted the natural vocal gift that exists, taking good care of it and looking forward to expressing it.

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Gloria working in the archives, summer 2016. Image courtesy of Gloria Cosenza.

One of my music business advisers strongly recommended I register for the internship course within the music industry curriculum. He has always told me that if I am going to try for an operatic performance career that I will need some kind of a back up plan in order to supplement my income. This summer I learned that though my grandfather had a unique vocal talent and stage presence, he was also an incredible businessman. Because he was a performer, he was able to communicate with many different kinds of people and those people wanted to be around him. All summer I read of how he had never imagined he would spend fifty years of his life stage directing and managing a professional opera house. He loved opera and everything else happened from that passion. Where my own career is concerned, I believe I have a significant chance of making a living as a singing actor. If this is not the case, I will remain content as long as I am surrounded by music and according to Boethius I always will be.

Encore! Encore! Bravi! Presenting the New Orleans Opera Association Archives

Special Collections & Archives is very pleased to present its newest exhibit, “Encore! Encore! Bravi! Presenting the New Orleans Opera Association Archives.”

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This exhibit serves as an introduction to our newly processed New Orleans Opera Association Archives. This collection documents the business and creative operations of New Orleans Opera Association (NOOA) from its inception in 1943 to their most recent performance programs.

In conjunction with the exhibit, we also present a digital timeline of NOOA’s history created by music major and Special Collections & Archives intern Gloria Cosenza:

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The archive and the exhibit provide a behind-the-scenes look into the art and business of NOOA and are comprised of costume lists, rehearsal schedules, promotional programs and posters, fundraising records, personnel files, and production archives. In addition to these accessible materials, the collection also contains audio-visual recordings that we are pursuing funding for both digitization and public access.

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The exhibit is on view in the Booth-Bricker Reading Room in Special Collections & Archives, 3rd floor of the Monroe Library, from now until May 2017.

Lorraine “Lorena” Dureau

Lorraine Dureau Newsham graduated from Loyola University New Orleans in 1955 with a Bachelor of Music. She had become somewhat of a local celebrity, praised for her ability to be both a wife and student, but more importantly for her voice.  She was an up and coming opera singer, having performed with Norman Treigle during the 1940s and an active member of NORD (New Orleans Recreation Department), and was accepted to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House after finishing her time at Loyola but was unable to attend after suffering from a broken rib that put her out of work for the opera season.
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Devastated by her missed opportunity she sought out other options and was encouraged by Miguel Bernal, the dean of the College of Music at the time, to try her hand in Mexico where the opera scene was growing in popularity and was performing year round.  It is not clear by our records the exact time she left, but by 1957 Lorraine was in Mexico, apparently leaving everything behind, including her husband at the time, John Newsham. Her collection is full of photos and articles from her time in Mexico, giving us a picture of what her life was like and all of the people she met and grew close to.
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In Mexico she became a star and her music career soared while earning herself a new name in the process, Lorena Dureau. She preferred performing repertoire of her favorite songs rather than complete operas but excelled in both, appearing on stage, radio, and television, all while also furthering her career as a writer.

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She wrote articles for many publications around the world both during her time in Mexico and after returning to New Orleans in 1978. She had been writing short stories and poems since she was a little girl and took up the skill again as she led her singing career away from performing and in the direction of teaching and turned to novels.  While her first unpublished manuscript was titled By the Sword (date unknown) and written under the pen name Lorry Newman, her first published work was a book titled The Last Casquette Girl (1981), starting her on the trend of romance novels that would follow which included Lynette (1983), Iron Lace (1983), and Beloved Outcast (1987).


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After returning to New Orleans she captured the attention of a local businessman by the name of George Lehleitner, famous for his work both in the New Orleans community and his actions in helping both Alaska and Hawaii achieve statehood. George had seen an article about Lorraine that was written by an old family friend and contacted the friend to say that he was interested in meeting this fascinating woman. Persistent in his desire to meet Lorraine she eventually accepted his offer for lunch, starting the beginning of a wonderful relationship as the two were soon married and lived our their lives with each other, traveling to many places together as Lorraine also re-visited Mexico many times.

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Interesting cannot even begin to describe this woman as her collection takes you on a wild tale of one woman’s journey through life. From her days at NORD and Loyola to Mexico and opera, writing of romance novels and articles on voodoo, dolls, Mexican culture, and more.

This information is from the Lorraine Dureau collection, which is currently being processed at Loyola University New Orleans in the Special Collections & Archives by students.

Blog Post by Caitlin Page, a Special Collections Student Worker.