Advocacy for Opera's Youngest Audience

I was looking through my portfolio when I came across three articles I wrote as an intern for Opera Columbus . Featured in Columbus Paren...

I was looking through my portfolio when I came across three articles I wrote as an intern for Opera Columbus. Featured in Columbus Parent Magazine, my single page contribution represents my first published writing on behalf of music heritage preservation! Education and outreach have always been central to my work and I'm glad that in the beginning I had the opportunity to write on behalf of an underrepresented subject: opera and children.

As a preservationist, I try to appeal to the broadest demographic as time, budget and other factors allow for any given initiative. It's always a challenge, but equally delightful when I discover that I've reached a bit further than unexpected. I didn't anticipate it, but children and young teenagers have also benefited from my The Met: Live in HD
contests when accompanying a winning parent to see Mozart's operas in cinemas.

Reading these articles again, I'm inspired to do more as a professional, community member and family member to engage our youngest audience. And I thought I'd share them here in hopes that they'll encourage others to take action as well. After all, doing our part to sustain the art form is a shared joy and responsibility!


A Mozartian Birthday Pilgrimage

I thought I'd celebrate my birthday today by making a pilgrimage to all of Mozart's notable November 9ths and the music ...

I thought I'd celebrate my birthday today by making a pilgrimage to all of Mozart's notable November 9ths and the music and events associated with them. I've given the Mozarteum's Day by Day entries along with music links to our celebratory playlist!

Tuesday, November 9, 1762 
Vienna: Performance for Marchesa Vincenzia Pacheco
(Count Collato presents Wolfgang with a poem by the Baron von Pufendorf)

Sunday, November 9, 1766
Munich: Wolfgang plays for Prince-Elector Maximilian Joseph III

Sunday, November 9, 1777
Mannheim: Wolfgang plays organ in the court chapel

Tuesday, November 9, 1784
Vienna: Composition of the String Quartet in B flat, K. 458 (Listen
(The entry in his hand-written catalogue of works reads: the 9th of November. 10, A Quartet for 2 violins, viola an violoncello)

Monday, November 9, 1789
Vienna: Premiere of the aria "Chi sà, chi sà, qual sia” for soprano, K. 582 (Listen) and the aria "Vado, ma dove? oh Dei!” for soprano, K. 583 (Listen)

This birthday "pilgrimage" is inspired by the surprise I received in my copy of the book, "A Mozart Pilgrimage: The Travel Diaries of Vincent and Mary Novello in the Year 1829." Documenting the English couple's visits with Mozart's sister Maria Anna ("Nannerl"), his widow Constanze, son Franz Xaver Wolfgang and some of his closest friends, their diaries are "trenchant, blunt and revealing" (Sir William Glock, General Editor). "A Mozart Pilgrimage" represents one of the earliest published accounts of music fans/admirers engaging in music heritage tourism and preservation through qualitative research and narrative history.

When I placed my order, the book service mentioned that it contained postcards and a letter, but I couldn't have anticipated its contents! The letter was mailed with the book just a few days after I was born to the city where I was born: Athens, Ohio. It was sent from Oxford, England to the sender's Professor friend at Ohio University where I pursued my undergraduate studies in music and psychology. Incredible!

The postcards, lending life to the Novello journey, were just as exciting to receive. The images are in black and white with handwritten captions. They're in pristine vintage condition. Subject matter includes a portrait of the Novello family and 1956 German stamps commemorating the bicentennial of Mozart's birth. Since the postcards aren't mentioned in the letter, I assume they were added later by the recipient. Were they curated from the Professor's travels? Did he find them in an antique shop?

I wish I knew more! The book has its own story just like the one it contains. And I'm happy that, through this extraordinary encounter, we've crossed paths.


Interlude in Prague: A Review

I've been following  Interlude in Prague ever since I read Variety's article  from last April when the film was shoo...

I've been following Interlude in Prague ever since I read Variety's article from last April when the film was shooting on location in Prague (watch the trailer). The plot was to be set around the time Mozart composed his opera Don Giovanni in 1787. As a British release, the film's London premiere was held on May 25th and followed by many UK screenings. It is currently seeking broader distribution.

Since I have a background with British Mozart films (In Search of Mozart and Whom The Gods Love) and I've pursued Mozart's history in Prague through travel (three trips to date), organizational involvement and independent study, it made sense for me to reach out to Carnaby International in hopes that I could write a review. I'm grateful for the opportunity to recognize a new film inspired by Don Giovanni on the 230th anniversary of its premiere. Today!

Interlude is historically book-ended by two performances conducted by Mozart at the Nostitz Theater (now known as the Estates Theater), although fictionally narrated. The film begins in December 1786 when Mozart is visiting Prague to conduct his opera Le nozze di Figaro and it ends with Mozart conducting the premiere of Don Giovanni on October 29, 1787.  The romance and tragedy that develops during the time between these performances is what inspires Mozart's writing for Don Giovanni.

As advertised, Interlude is a fictional period thriller, so don't be surprised that the timeline, characters and script embody historical inaccuracies. Mozart, who was blonde and left-handed, is brunette and right-handed. While the Nostitz Theater is captured in the film's exterior shots, a nearby Baroque theater was utilized for the interior shots. You get the point. Although there is some historical authenticity and integrity to their approach, you'll enjoy this film best if you embrace it as entertainment and leave your historian hat at home!

With popular culture being saturated with the likes of Amadeus, its comparison to Interlude is inevitable. What binds the two is their overarching fiction sprinkled with fact along with the acute focus on an adversary. Amadeus gave us rival composer Antonio Salieri, who was a real colleague. An equally brilliant choice for Interlude is Baron Saloka, a malevolent aristocrat who although fictional, is representative of Mozart's biography.

Mozart dealt with his fair share of narcissistic and formidable members of the aristocracy who knew little about music, yet dictated his own through their wealth and influence. They were obstacles to navigate and overcome. Baron Saloka, in Interlude's fictional world, is just another pain in the Arsch for the Maestro (or is he?). While these affluent patrons were a means for his art, they were also a significant hindrance. Mozart spent most of his life creating within the framework of this patronage system, and eventually became one of the first artists to declare his independence from it. His emancipation informs part of Interlude's script.

Captured excellently by James Purefoy, Baron Saloka is a most unsavory individual. Ominous. He essentially is the rogue nobleman Don Giovanni, but without any glimmer of the comedy (dramma giocoso) afforded by Mozart and Da Ponte. Without expression and conscience, Saloka was a dark and disturbing presence throughout the film, and undoubtedly served as inspiration for the title character.

Interlude essentially represents Mozart's encounter with the infamous libertine, an encounter that leads to confrontation and composition.

While many of the main characters in the film are fictional, they all represent in some way individuals from Mozart's biography, just as is the case with Baron Saloka. Another character, the young soprano Zuzanna Lubtak, represents the singers with which Mozart enjoyed flirtatious muse-creator relationships throughout his career.

The real characters in the film were more historically informed. I enjoyed the manner in which the friendship between Mozart and Josepha Duschek was portrayed. Their professional respect was acknowledged along with the enjoyment of their shared star status in Prague. Mozart's wife Constanze only appeared briefly, but within that time, the script communicates that their marriage is strong and she takes an active role in his business affairs. It hints at Constanze's savvy that would someday lead to her success in managing his Estate.

Just like the opera, the film sways between light and dark, and character shadings comply. Mozart's role as composer was minimized in order to bring the man forward, and it worked well to suit the plot. Although I found his character romanticized, I didn't feel that it was without merit. Aneurin Barnard delivered a sensitive and sincere Mozart to the screen. Like a pendulum, he would swing between moments of joviality and melancholy. Barnard's depiction gave you the sense that Mozart was struggling to balance the two in his life, something one can surmise from reading his letters.

Mozart's music, although present often in the film, takes somewhat of a backseat to the thriller and its original soundtrack. Although Mozartians may pine for more excerpts, it makes sense for the overall aesthetic. The cinematography is very modern, so initially, I felt disconnected as a viewer. It didn't have the feel of a period film. But the approach made sense when I watched the featurette afterwards. "I wanted it to look like a modern film and be cut like a modern thriller," said Director John Stephenson. He wanted Interlude to appear "as if a modern film unit arrived in the days of Mozart and shot it using everything available from visual effects all the way to modern camera techniques."

With its opulent sets and costumes, Interlude is beautifully crafted as an interval, an incomplete look into Mozart's life through the prism of contemporary filmmaking and storytelling. It was made to appeal to a broader audience beyond the core of Mozart fans and I applaud their effort. Dramatic license and entertainment value in period films have a transcendent ability to attract new audiences and rekindle passion in existing ones. My hope is that Interlude will perform well in this role, and more specifically, serve as a reminder of the enduring appeal of Mozart's Don Giovanni on its 230th anniversary.


Campaign to Create Accessibility for Mozart Opera Celebrates 100 Tickets

My campaign for Mozart's  Die Zauberflöte   this month is my second outreach initiative this year ( read about Idomeneo in ...

My campaign for Mozart's Die Zauberflöte this month is my second outreach initiative this year (read about Idomeneo in March) with Fathom Events and the The Met: Live in HD. 2017 marks the fifth year of our collaboration and there's much to celebrate! 

Including this opera, I've now offered 36 live broadcast tickets and 64 encore tickets for a total of 100 tickets free of charge to Mozart's fans in the U.S. The effort has introduced participants to Mozart's operas and also served as a means for rekindling existing interest through cinema. Tickets have spanned five operas and winners from 14 states, including children and young teenagers through parental participation. 

Although my partner organization Fathom Events is national in scope, the The Met: Live in HD transmissions are offered on more than 2,000 screens in over 70 countries, so I hope that one day we'll be able to expand our reach to audiences worldwide. 

For a chance to win tickets to see the live broadcast of Die Zauberflöte in cinemas on Saturday, October 14th, I invited U.S. fans to enter my drawing via Facebook by sending a brief explanation as to why they feel Mozart's music and dramatic works are relevant to our world today. And the lucky winners are...

Lorraine Joachim // Illinois
Staci Riley // Ohio
Ariela Haro von Mogel // California


All three winners expressed heartfelt sentiments about Mozart's relevance that I hope will inspire others to take a more active role as patrons, consumers, advocates and volunteers in their support of Mozart and the classical genre in general.

"Mozart proves his influence is still relevant today, whether it be visual theater or a background score in a film. Mozart perfected the craft of capturing emotion into composition, leaving the listener's mind to make up psychological illustrations. It's been proven that classical music reduces stress. Some of my favorite places have been places my mind takes me. Mozart, years later is a household name. Even if they don't know his name, they know his music." -Staci Riley

"I strongly believe Mozart's music is relevant to today's audiences for its clarity and beauty. Mozart's music speaks to eternal struggles of the human spirit. During these especially troubled times, politically and socially, Mozart's music does well to soothe our collective souls and offer respite from our modern world." -Ariela Haro von Mogel

"Mozart always heard the voice of God in the everyday mundane and obtuse events and translated what he heard into the most beautiful music ever heard, expressing God's love, mercy and forgiveness in an ever troubled world. Mozart's music and message in all of his works, is still as much alive in healing now as it was then. I believe Mozart wished us to live that message and pass it forward." -Lorraine Joachim 

It's a pleasure to award these dedicated Mozartians with tickets for Saturday!

Once again, I'd like to express my congratulations to the winners and gratitude to my friends at Fathom Events. Since 2012, their generosity and support have given me a platform where greater reach is possible. What an honor it is to be celebrating 100 tickets as a mark of our shared commitment to creating accessibility for the art form!