The Merry Widow’s Renee Fleming & Susan Stroman on Bringing B’way Flair to the Met

first_imgBroadway’s headed uptown! Well, up a few blocks, at least. Five-time Tony-winning director Susan Stroman is currently making her Metropolitan Opera debut with an effervescent mounting of Franz Lehár’s comic operetta The Merry Widow. The English adaptation, which opened on New Year’s Eve, stars Grammy-winning and Broadway-bound opera superstar Renée Fleming in the title role of Hanna. Joining her are fellow opera favorite Nathan Gunn and Great White Way darling Kelli O’Hara. Stroman and Fleming recently chatted with about bridging the gap between opera and musical theater, cross-genre dream productions and the showbiz sisterhood.Q: Susan, The Merry Widow marks your opera debut, and Renée, this is your first operetta. What was the biggest challenge while exploring this genre together?FLEMING: Well first, the dancing. Oh, those wonderful waltzing lessons from Susan. We’re highly rehearsed, which I needed. And secondly, dialogue at the Met. It’s an enormous challenge in a house that size to manage that much dialogue.STROMAN: It’s a huge space to conquer. Being in the opera world, the vocal and the music are the most important, so it’s making sure everyone is able to sing their high notes and that the staging is designed to support all the vocals.Q: Can you tell me more about the musical theater influences that you found in this piece?STROMAN: It’s very bubbly. Each of the three acts is infused with dance. For being 100 years old, it was really the beginning of a spark of musical comedy—of bringing different dance forms to opera.FLEMING: Opera tends to live in broad strokes and major themes: “I love you, I hate you, I’m going to kill you.” This has more of a Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn feel to it.Q: Renée, what was it like working with Susan, compared to traditional opera directors?FLEMING: She’s so organized! An operetta is very quick moving; there’s not the languor that one has with the more romantic operas. The precision required for those of us who also don’t naturally have these skills needed her ability to see what had to get done and make sure we had enough time.Q: Susan, does it come naturally to you to work with artists who might not be traditionally trained in theater?STROMAN: I often come across folks who are more versed into one talent than the other, so I’m very used to trying to recognize someone’s talents and then help to develop the others. But I’m very ready to change and adapt, because I’m always inspired by the performers standing in front of me.Q: I imagine you had a similar process with ballet dancers in Little Dancer. Will we be seeing it in New York after L.A.?STROMAN: Yes, hopefully for next season! Fingers crossed.FLEMING: I want to see it!Q: Renée, what’s going through your head as you prepare to make your Broadway debut in Living on Love?FLEMING: Performing the play in the summer [in Williamstown] gave me a flavor for what it would be like. It was fantastic to have that sense of the audience. We don’t have that luxury on a huge opera stage. Of course, the cast might not be the same, and the play will be rewritten to some degree.Q: Have you been getting advice from Broadway alums about what it’s like?FLEMING: I saw Patrick Stewart, Sigourney Weaver, and David Hyde Pierce on opening night of Merry Widow and asked them to tell me what it’s like to be in a [Broadway] run. It sounds like a form of hermitism. [In opera], we can’t really sing more than two, three times max, a week. We have to have that downtime because it’s so vocally athletic. I can’t imagine what Kelli [O’Hara] does. It’s mind-boggling to me to be in a musical for eight shows a week.Q: After Living on Love, what show would we have to produce to get you to stay on Broadway in a musical?FLEMING: I honestly can’t imagine singing on Broadway. I wouldn’t know how to change my voice to put it into a place that would allow me to sing every day. I couldn’t imagine trying to do the physical taxing piece of it. And then to talk to Kelli, and have her say the same thing about opera! We’re just trained in different ways.STROMAN: I think Renée would be great as Desiree in A Little Night Music. Oh, she would be incredible.Q: Susan, if Renée stays downtown and you stay uptown, are there any other operas on your to-do list to direct?STROMAN: It’d be lovely to do a La Traviata or Carmen, but a brand new opera would be the most exciting. I’d love to take a contemporary composer like Rachel Portman or Alexandre Desplat and work with them.Q: Renée, between working with Susan and Kathleen Marshall, and Susan, directing Renée and Kelli, how does it feel to collaborate with such prolific female artists?FLEMING: First of all, there aren’t enough women directing in opera. I think women bring a particularly collaborative approach.STROMAN: Whenever I do a show in the theater, I try to have female assistants and observers; it’s very important to me to open their eyes to what it’s like to mount these big productions. To be in a room with Renée and Kelli and exploring art, opera and theater—I think it is a kind of sisterhood.Catch Fleming in The Merry Widow through January 31. Stroman’s production returns in April with a new cast. View Commentslast_img read more

Eric Dungey surges forward in this week’s stock watch

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ No. 22 Syracuse (6-2, 3-2 Atlantic Coast) beat then-No. 22 North Carolina State (5-2, 2-2), 51-41, on Saturday to secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013.The win catapulted SU into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2001, with Syracuse coming in at No. 22 — the Orange is No. 24 in the Coaches Poll.Here’s whose stock is up, or down, after the win.Stock up Eric DungeyAdvertisementThis is placeholder text A week after being benched, Dungey exploded for 411 passing yards and three touchdowns while completing 71 percent of his passes. The senior ran 15 times for 32 more yards and a score.From the outset, Dungey dueled with his counterpart, NC State’s Ryan Finley, delivering inch-perfect deep passes all over the field to his wideouts.Dungey took no chances — he reminded everyone why he was the starter in the first place. Ifeatu Melifonwu Melifonwu, a week after filling in for an injured Christopher Fredrick with four passes broken up and a tackle for loss, again looked confident in coverage this weekend.The redshirt freshman finished the game with six tackles and two pass breakups and consistently used his size and athleticism to hug tight with Wolfpack wide receivers.The blemish for Melifonwu, and the rest of the secondary, was deep balls. Finley beat SU deep repeatedly and only ceased when the corners, Melifonwu included, started playing off receivers at the line of scrimmage.Regardless, Melifonwu’s late emergence bolstered a now deep, albeit banged up, cornerback group. Sean Riley Riley, despite being kept out of the end zone, dominated. He led all SU receivers with 10 receptions and 164 yards.Playing mainly out of the slot, Riley was the top target for Dungey, snatching passes anywhere from the flat to the intermediate middle to down the sideline.Even in traffic over the middle, Riley snagged a handful of first downs. It seems any given week can be a breakout game for any SU receiver, and this week was Riley’s turn. Stock down Secondary Syracuse’s defense surrendered passing touchdowns of 74 and 67 yards on Saturday. If not for a big offensive day from SU, Finley’s 473 yards, a career high, might seem more significant.Both times the Orange got beat deep, a cornerback was nowhere to be found in the middle of the field. On the second touchdown, to Kelvin Harmon, Scoop Bradshaw was nearly five yards away.Big plays have plagued SU for weeks now. The offense has carried the load, scoring 40 and now 51 in the last two games, but giving up constant big plays will need to be diagnosed and fixed eventually. QB controversy Tommy DeVito or Dungey?Dino Babers said last week after the game that Dungey would start against NC State and he did. Considering the balance of the week, it seems like Dungey was the guy from the get-go, and Babers stuck with that.With the chance, Dungey did not disappoint. A week removed from potentially losing the starting job he stumbled into when Terrel Hunt fell with a torn Achilles tendon in 2015, Dungey absolutely dominated.With Dungey’s showing, the past week’s quarterback talk will get put to rest, at least for the time being. Published on October 29, 2018 at 8:06 am Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Grahamcenter_img Commentslast_img read more