BLOGGERS RULE at the Vancouver Opera… Live Blogging for Rigoletto!
Local Bloggers sat in the lobby during intermission, live blogging opening night at Rigoletto. (l-r) Monique Trottier “So Misguided”, Rebecca Bollwit “Miss 604”, Tanya “Netchick”, Kimli “Delicious Juice” – photo Todd Wong
Opera is one of the most intercultural art forms. It forces its audience to listen to foreign languages, as it tells stories from different cultures. Okay, it also presents a lot of stereotypes and racial chariactures too! But today's productions will balance historic stereotypes with 21st Century sensitivity for cultural diversity.
Vancouver Opera has been one of the most innovative arts organizations to find new ways to market themselves, whether creating Manga comics for promotion, marketing to the Asian population base in Vancouver with the Voices of the Pacific Rim recital, or beginning live blogging with Carmen and now Rigoletto operas.
Opening Saturday Night at Vancouver Opera, there are lots of people dressed up in the finery. The lineups are deep and long for the cappucinos or wine. Over at the East side of the lobby, 6 bloggers sit madly typing into their laptop computers during intermission. It's Live Blogging Night at the Opera. It started with a few bloggers being invited to blog Carmen in January. And now a few more have been invited to blog Rigoletto.
Some of the audience members are curious. Some are demanding. Some are complaining about the sound in the balcony. One audience member insists that they are not having a true opera experience unless they are drinking wine. One of the bloggers writes that she is having sooo much fun people watching, she finds it hard to touch type at the same time.
I bring out my camera and ask the bloggers for a picture. Actually I yell out, “Bloggers… smile for the camera!”
They all look up and smile. I will post the picture laters…
I recognize Miss 604 Blogger, Rebbecca Bollwitt. She recognizes me and writes on her blog that “We were just visited by Karen Hamilton of TinyBites.ca who is here to enjoy the show as well as Gung Haggis Fat Choy.
Rebbecca Bollwit “Miss 604”, Todd Wong “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”, Tanya “Netchick” – photo A. Youngberg/T. Wong
Back on January 18th, she was live blogging the Canucks hockey game. I comment that she probably wishes she was at the Canucks vs San Jose game. She says “yeah.”
It turns out that blogger
NetChick is a rower, now interested in dragon boat paddling. I tell her that my Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team has been featured on television documentaries for German and French public television, as well as the CBC. It would be pretty cool, if she joined our dragon boat team… we have lots of opportunities for blogging. Oops, I forgot to tell her we will have a parade entry in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.
At the opera, it's always interesting to see who is there in the audience. I spy an older couple, a male caucasian with an Asian woman. They are always at major arts events. I think he used to work at the CBC.
I chat with Doug Tuck, VOA Marketing and Selina Rajani, Communications/Media. I introduce them to my date for the evening, Alexandra Youngberg, my CUPE 391 Vancouver Library workers president. Alex loves this production of Rigoletto. She loves music and sings in a choir. Alex has even sung O Solo Mio, while I played my accordion.
The 2nd and 3rd Acts are wonderful ( I will write my formal review tomorrow). Some members of the audience give a standing ovation to
Eglise Gutierrez who plays Gilda, Rigoletto's daughter. We all stand up up for
Donnie Ray Albert who plays Rigoletto. It's quite the multicultural cast. Donnie Ray is African-American, born in Louisiana. Eglise is born in Cuba. Sam Chung, Chinese-Canadian born in Winnipeg, steps out of the Vancouver Opera chorus to play his first supporting role with Vancouver Opera in the role of Matteo Borsa. I congratulate Sam at the reception following.
During the reception, I also chat with Michael Mori, who is hapa Japanese-Canadian. Kinza Tyrell, chorus master tells me how exciting this production is, and asks me how I know Sam and Michael. “Well… through events at Joy Kogawa House, because we really supported, and raved about the Naomi's Road opera.
James Wright, VOA General Director congratulates the cast at the opening night reception – photo T. Wong
My old friend Walter Quan is here! We first met back in 1986, while we were volunteers for the Salt Water City exhibit celebrating 100 years of Vancouver Chinatown history. We recently had lunch in Victoria 2 weeks ago, when I had to return the life-size photos to the Royal BC Museum.
Opera Manager James Wright spots me, and waves at me. So does orchestra concertmaster Mark Ferris, who along with his wife Gloria, have been friends for years. Mark performed at the 2004 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner. Meanwhile, the bloggers are noshing at the food tables, taking pictures of the event, and chatting amongst themselves.
I think it's great that Vancouver Opera is connecting with bloggers. Back in December 2004, I blogged my own review of the VOA production of Madama Butterfly: Madama Butterfly Review: Vancouver Opera Nov 27 to Dec 11.
Since then, I have also reviewed:
Road: Pulls the heart in all the right places and directions –
Vancouver Opera's first Opera in the Schools Commission exceeds itself
Vancouver Opera's Turandot: a Canadian production of an Italian Opera of a Persian fable set in Peking China
Dialogues of the Carmelites: Not your ordinary opera – but extraordinary
Naomi's Road opera: Interview with cast members Gina Oh and Gene Wu
Vancouver Opera's Magic Flute: A journey between cultures to infinity and beyond
Italian Girl delights opera audience – but BC's best kept secret is bass Randall Jakobsh as Mustafa
Vancouver Opera's “Voices of the Pacific Rim” displays wonderful talent
Check out the opera night blogs:
Great to meet you there, Todd! I had an awesome night…
I'm definitely interested in learning more about your Dragon Boat team — When you have a moment, could you drop me a line letting me know how I can get more info?