Related Behind the art AMOC’s open-endedness makes for an audacious, engaging residency As opening night neared, there wasn’t a moment to waste. The actors onstage went through their scenes. The stage director and lighting designers peered down from the control booth, ticking through every lighting transition in the production.“Is that comfortable?” asked Madeleine Snow ’20, the stage director. Arianna Paz ’19, the lead actress in her blue Cinderella dress, agreed it was. Then she stepped into an unlit spot. “Oh man, we need to light that,” Snow said. A lighting designer, with the click of a few buttons, adjusted the beam. They all continued doggedly like this until Snow declared a lunch break. Then shortly after everyone cleared the Agassiz Theatre, a pair of technical directors stepped onstage, paintbrushes in hand, taking advantage of the moment to work on the set.These are the meticulous preparations of the Harvard College Opera, the undergraduate-run company that has mounted a full-length show each February for more than 25 years. This year’s production is a six-show run of “Cendrillon,” French composer Jules Massenet’s 1899 adaptation of the classic Cinderella fairytale.With opening night this Friday, the students have worked long hours since returning early from winter break, putting together the set, landing key notes, and stepping in wherever needed, often coming in on days when no work was scheduled.,The massive work going into “Cendrillon” reflects much of what makes the company’s productions so special and unusual: undergraduate students drawn to the arts, regardless of their experience, coming together to feed their passion while working as a team to produce a high-quality opera.“Most of the time, opportunities for undergraduates to perform opera are really limited,” said Samuel Rosner ’20, one of the lead actors in the production. “Conservatory productions tend to focus on their graduate students. … It’s so nice to have this opportunity that’s so focused on undergraduates and how they can make music together.”Since the production is entirely student-run (undergraduate cast, production team, and orchestra), the students tackle all the creative and technical work. They select the opera the previous April, conceptualize every piece of it, budget it, cast it, and stage it. During the fall, they hammer out details like choreography or props. In January, they put the show together and run full rehearsals.The company has about 80 members. As in any well-organized production company, each of them holds specific roles based on experience and interest. These range from becoming cast members to designers to producers, such as Jessica Shand ’21, who coordinates public relations. Other producers oversee set production and finances, such as deciding ticket prices.Yet just because members hold specific titles doesn’t mean their roles stop there. One of the strengths of the opera company is its culture of teamwork, especially to solve problems.“We kind of just pick up work wherever it needs to get done,” said Shand, who also plays flute for the orchestra.That willingness to jump in and help each other is almost a trademark of the company, some members said. It’s why the stage director ran through the lighting cues with some of the cast, and why the musical director, Benjamin P. Wenzelberg ’21, didn’t hesitate to help when Paz needed to adjust the train of her glitter-covered dress. And it’s why cast members were happy to help build the set after finishing rehearsals, said assistant technical director Serena Chen ’22 as she and technical director Jonathan Castillo ’21 painted part of a 16-foot platform while the cast went for lunch.“It was wonderful to see everyone collectively join together,” Castillo added.The experience helps members of the company fully understand the production process and expand their skills while also connecting with their classmates.“Being here [in January], you really watch this show develop from its very beginnings in not that long of a time,” Rosner said. “It allows us to get to know each other in a very special way. I think being so involved in the process of putting the show up allows you to fill other roles in the organization.”Snow and Wenzelberg can attest to that, as they have filled multiple roles during their time with the company. They now hold the two most important staff positions in the production. Their rise shows the opportunity there for all company members, even those new to opera.Take Ruva Chigwedere ’21, who’s playing one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. The role is her first in an opera, and she feels she’s been fully supported and welcomed.,“It’s kind of wild,” Chigwedere said. “I didn’t imagine myself at the beginning of the year, when I was auditioning, doing an opera, and I knew nothing about Harvard College Opera at all. Now to be completely immersed in the environment, it’s crazy to me. But they really look for everybody to have a part — from the production side, from the creative team, from the cast and the [orchestra] — everybody.”The welcoming nature of the company upholds its focus on making opera more accessible to the greater Harvard community. Critics have praised the annual productions for their quality and inventiveness. The company also is known for hosting smaller events throughout the year, including screenings, recitals, and solo performances. The success has helped make the company a fixture on the Harvard arts scene since 1992.Few members are more passionate then Wenzelberg, the music director. The sophomore is young, but he’s a veteran. He was a soloist and chorister with the Metropolitan Opera for eight seasons, conducted at the Boston Pops, wrote an award-winning opera, and performed with notable companies such as the New York City Opera and at prestigious venues such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.Wenzelberg, who attended Juilliard Pre-College as a composition major, has been passionate about singing and writing music from early childhood, even bringing it into his elementary school.“My parents got a call from my first-grade teacher, who had a notebook that was supposed to be for writing and basic grammar. … [Mine] was filled with music notes,” he said. “It’s been something that I’ve always had been in my head. I’ve always loved performing. I’ve always loved writing.”For Wenzelberg, all that passion converges in opera because the field merges many of the musical elements that he loves most. Joy in the arts and opera is the driving attraction for him, as it is for many company members. Work on productions can stretch beyond allotted schedules, sometimes well past mealtimes or into the night. There are few serious complaints, however, Wenzelberg said. The reason is simple. The students enjoy what they’re doing.“The common thread that runs between us all is that we care so much,” Wenzelberg said. “We all put our all into it and really commit to it. It doesn’t feel like work, and that’s why I love it so much. It’s something that we are all willing to do and want to do. It’s a true joy for us.”The Harvard Opera Company will perform “Cendrillon” at the Agassiz Theatre on Feb. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10. Tickets are available. A whirlwind of opera Backstage with the Lowell House Opera at Harvard
“Just one more time.”You know those words likely in the same capacity as I do, that infamous phrase you or one of your friends has said right before doing something borderline stupid which, more often than not, ends in either total embarrassment, injury, or both.“Just one more time” is right up there with “Hey, watch this.”It never ends well.Let me tell you about the last time I said “Just one more time” to myself.It was the day after Ocoee Fest outside of Chattanooga, Tenn. I didn’t know anyone to paddle with, but I refused to leave without hopping in my boat and at least getting on the water for a little bit. My solution? Hell Hole.I’m by no means a playboater. I have a playboat, yes (a pretty yellow Dagger Jitsu that reminds me of a fat banana). I can sometimes, very occasionally, catch a wave and surf it for a second, but I’m no playboater.There’s a reason Hell Hole has its name. Steep, turbulent, and kinda wild, if you’re not getting worked by the hole itself, you’re likely getting trampled by the herd of commercial rafts charging downriver. Doesn’t sound very appealing to an amateur playboater, right? But with roadside access, good eddies, a (relatively) clean washout, and early Sunday hours on my side, I thought to myself, “What do I have to lose?”Surprisingly, or maybe not (as it was the Sunday after the festival), there were no kayakers parked at Hell Hole when I pulled in with the Jeep and Go. I thought I’d misunderstood the directions a boater had given me that morning, so I walked down to the river to check it out. Normally, Hell Hole is packed with kayakers sitting in both eddies, waiting their turn to surf. But today, with the exception of a few tourists and commercial photographers, the place was empty.I looked down at my watch. It was almost 11a.m.I told myself I’d surf until noon which would give me plenty of time to pack up and hit the road and (shockingly) be on time to meet my friends in Knoxville. I wasn’t feeling particularly excited to just park and play, but I wasn’t dreading it either. I know how my surf attempts usually go. I paddle into the feature, don’t make it the first few times, get really frustrated, charge hard, make it, surf for about a millisecond, get power-window-shaded, roll up with my helmet half off my face, and then sit in the eddy trying to re-orient myself.In all, I normally have a good time, even if I repeat that process for an hour.Which, is exactly what I did.I tried to plug my bow down a few times and throw a loop. That, of course, only increased my violent window shades. After the first few runs, water was pouring out of my nostrils like a broken faucet, but I was actually having fun getting worked. Finally, after nearly a half hour of being the sole source of entertainment for the crowds standing on the bank, a few paddlers floated downstream and stopped to play at the feature. Their surfs were a little longer than mine, but not much better, so I relaxed a little more, finding hilarity in our useless attempts to throw ends down in the churning hole.I pulled off to the side and got out onto the bank, emptying the water that had accumulated in my boat. I sat there for a minute on the rocks, watching the rafts come crashing through and cheering on the kayakers that stopped to surf. I looked down at my watch – it was already 11:45am.Just one more time, I told myself as I cranked on the back brace. After all, I was on the river left side of the river and my Jeep was parked on river right. The only logical way to get to my car would be to surf over there.Which I did.And then I swam.I don’t really remember how it happened. I do remember having a pretty decent surf, flipping, carping my roll once, twice, three times, then sliding upside down over the first ledge of the rapid behind Hell Hole. At that point, I’d run out of breath, lost my grip on my paddle, and was just done.I pulled my skirt and gargled for air as I surfaced, sandwiched in between my boat and paddle. I watched my Freewaters float downstream away from me, but I couldn’t have cared less. A kind boater in a red Jefe helped nudge my floating shit show into the eddy at the bottom, told me he’d set my flip flops on the side of the road if he saw them, then peeled back out to join his crew.I began my walk of shame up the bank, struggling to avoid the broken shards of beer bottles that littered the leaf-strewn ground. When I finally wiggled my way to the top, I hoisted my boat on my shoulder, took a deep breath in, and tried to shake it off.Everybody swims, I told myself.At least, that’s what everybody says every time I swim.I sucked in my pride and began walking back to the car, delicately placing each bare foot on the smoothest patch of gravel. I had floated quite a ways downstream, and as the sound of rushing whitewater and voices cheering returned, I increasingly became more self-conscious.Especially when I realized that I was on the wrong side of the river.A bridge crosses the river, right over Hell Hole and into Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) property. Once you cross that bridge, the entire left side of the river is bordered with a seven-foot barrier of chain link fencing. Of course, I walked up that side of the bank and found myself trapped inside the chain link fencing. No one was around to unlock the gate for me.I sighed. Could this get any more embarrassing?I launched my boat and paddle over the gate, too annoyed to care how much plastic the chain link fence scraped from the bottom. I climbed up and followed my gear, disregarding the incredulous stares I got from the tourists that lined the bank. My skirt snagged on the gate as I jumped down, sending me flying back into the chain link fence instead of landing gracefully on my feet like a cat.As if that wasn’t humiliating enough, a guy with a professional-grade camera and a beefy tripod came walking up the trail behind me.“Man, I caught every bit of that action! Front and center!”I don’t think I even humored him with a reply. I threw my boat on the Go, took off my skirt and PFD, and drove to Knoxville in sopping wet clothes and a soggy attitude to match.###Please, help me feel better about myself and share your “Just one more time” stories. I know you’ve been there, don’t be shy. We can revel in our embarrassment together. But maybe, per this awesome blog post I recently read on 7 Strange Questions That Will Help You Find Your Life Purpose, embarrassing yourself isn’t so bad after all.
It means he must now trust his present squad to haul themselves out of the hole they have dug for themselves with so many tepid performances this term, particularly on home soil. And, in his programme notes ahead of Tuesday’s encounter with Cardiff, Moyes has made it perfectly clear what should be driving United on. “I do believe now that we are playing for the Manchester United jersey and for pride in where we are,” Moyes told United Review. “There is still a long way to go this season and by the end of it we have to have shown we are much better than many people are making us out to be. “On the training ground and in the dressing room I see determined and committed players who are desperate to put things right.” Moyes revealed he had been made aware when he succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson last summer changes would be required, even if the scale of the task has caught many observers by surprise given United romped to the Premier League title by 11 points last term. Moyes added: “When I joined the club, I joined knowing I was taking over a great squad who had just finished the season as champions, but I was also made very much aware that there would have to be changes made. “Namely… a long-term plan and also looking within our own academy to introduce young players to the first team as often as we feel they warrant selection.” Press Association Manchester United manager David Moyes has challenged his players to prove their critics wrong. Moyes started his Old Trafford rebuilding job by smashing United’s transfer record to bring Juan Mata to the club from Chelsea. That £37.1million outlay is destined to be the last bit of significant business Moyes does in the current transfer window unless the Scot is given some unexpected encouragement with any of his other targets.
Duro IkhazuagbeTwo second half goals by Fulham forward, Aleksandar Mitrovic, gave Serbia 2-0 victory over Super Eagles last night in London. It is Nigeriaâ€™s second warm up game ahead of the World Cup 2018 in Russia.The defeat is the second for Nigeriaâ€™s Franco-German coach, Gernot Rohr, out of the 14 games played by the three-time African champions under his watch. The under-strength Eagles, without the commanding influence of John Mikel Obi and dependable central defender, Leon Balogun, were simply poor on the night.The match which the handlers were hoping to use to sample the playing style of Nigeriaâ€™s second Group D game against Croatia at the World Cup in summer, largely exposed the inadequacy of the defenders and midfielders.Serbiaâ€™s much experienced players with class act proved too much to be handled by the backline that featured Bryan Idowu, Chidozie Awaziem who stood in for injured Leon Balogun, William Ekong, and Tyronne Ebuehi also starting at right back instead of Abdullahi Shehu. They left upcoming Francis Uzoho largely at the mercy of the sharp Serbian forward line.Wilfred Ndidi and Ogenyi Onazi were perhaps Nigeriaâ€™s outstanding players of the night, as they were involved severally and in all sectors on the turf at The Hive, giving as much as they got.Uzoho made the first save on eight minutes as he palmed away Mitrovicâ€™s shot close to the edge of the box.The barrage of attack continued against Eagles with a few attempts by Victor Moses and the Nigerian forward line to even up upfront.On resumption for the second half, Odion Ighalo replaced Moses but the substitution appeared ineffective as it did not add any bite to the potency of the Nigerian attack force. Eagles lost the playmaking steam from the left of the channel, though the China-based forward was bright in the middle.Former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic had a good chance to put Serbia ahead on 60 minutes after he was left unmarked from a corner only to see his strike end up in the hands of Uzoho.But Mitrovic found space in the box to score two goals. to condemn Nigeria to defeat. The lively Mitrovic stabbed home the opening goal on the 68th minutes after good attack move from the left. He got his second on 81st minutes to take the game beyond the Eagles.TV replays showed Serbiaâ€™s 13th minute ball scramble inside Eagles box actually crossed the goalline before Uzoho retrieved it but centre referee Craig Pawson waved play on.After the 1-0 victory over Poland last Friday and this defeat to Serbia, Eagles next game in the pre-FIFA World Cup build-up is the send forth match against Democratic Republic of Congo in Nigeria on Monday, 28th May, to be followed by a prestige game against Englandâ€™s Three Lions at Wembley five days later.EAGLES STARTING XI (4-3-3) â€“ Francis Uzoho â€“ Tyronne Ebuehi, Brian Idowu (Ola Aina 85), Chidozie Awaziem, William Troost-Ekong â€“ Wilfred Ndidi, Ogenyi Onazi (John Ogu 77), Joel Obi (Moses Simon 77) â€“ Alex Iwobi (Junior Ajayi 88), Victor Moses (Odion Ighalo 46), Ahmed MusaShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram