Podcast 78: Our Tenth Anniversary Podcast, with Noah Lethbridge

We celebrate 10 years of the Indie Opera Podcast, and welcome back IOP co-founder Noah Lethbridge. With Noah’s help we reflect on the last ten years in the opera world: what has changed, where we’re headed, and some of our favorite memories of past episodes and guests. Peter Szep takes us back to 2011 and the inspiration for starting the podcast in the first place, and how he met Noah.

Tonight the Indie Opera Podcast looks back on 10 years of shows, with clips from interviews with Douglas J. Cuomo, Tazewell Thompson, Laura Kaminsky, Nico Muhly, M. Lamar, and Afton Battle. Tons of guest greetings from Deborah Brevoortt, Huang Ruo, Evan Mack, Mark Adamo, Jonathan Blalock, Neal Goren, Mark Campbell, Daniel Reza Sabzghabaei, Robert Maril, Sarah Fraser and David Cote.

Or if you prefer an audio only version below.

  • Noah & Ashley Renee discuss the great joys of teaching via Zoom.
  • Early Mozart Operas
    • Hawaii Opera Theatre
      • Bastien und Bastienne, a digital production
    • Zaide
  • How Indie Opera Podcast came to exist
    • Peter met Noah
      • Vertical Player Repertory
        • The Tales of Hoffman 2008
    • Raylynmor Opera – Peterborough, NH
      • Peter, Brooke & Noah worked together in 2008
        • Our Town by Ned Rorem
          • Noah sang the role of George
  • Indie Opera Podcast Episode 1, March 2011
    • Peter & Noah ask people in Union Square Market “What is opera?”
      • Noah’s Students from a Bronx H.S. also approached
        • J.G.Wentworth’s opera commercial was the students main reference
    • The podcast was recorded on Skype for the first 4 years
      • Peter recorded in his closet
  • Carin Gilfry, singer and audio book artist
    • Daughter of Rod Gilfry
    • Accidentally locked herself in a hotel closet when recording a new book
      • This American Life – radio show
        • Ira Glass, host – heard about her experience
          • Commissioned Philip Glass to write a short opera titled “Help!”
  • How the podcast got it’s name
    • Royce Vavrek called Peter & Noah “The Indie Opera Boys”
      • He suggested who they should talk to about contemporary opera
  • Opera librettos by Royce Vavrek, mentioned works
    • Soldier Songs, composer – David T. Little
    • JFK, composer – David T. Little
    • Vinkensport, composer – David T. Little
      • Vox 2011 – City Opera
    • Breaking the Waves, composer – Missy Mazzoli
    • 27 (about Gertrude Stein) composer – Ricky Ian Gordon
    • Prairie Dogs, composer – Rachel Peters
      • Galapagos Arts Space, 2009
        • AOP & Opera on Tap
          • “Opera Grows In Booklyn”
  • Brooke Larimer joins the podcast as co-host near the end of 2011
  • Walker Lewis joins the podcast as co-host in 2013, Episode 20
    • Eliogabalo by Francesco Cavalli
      • The Box, a lower East Side new vaudeville space
        • Gotham Chamber Opera
          • James Marvel, director
  • The Co-hosts talk about nudity in opera and theater.
    • Greg talks about the first time he saw Salome and then his response to that production of Eliogabalo
    • Noah brings up Daniel Radcliffe in Equus
    • Chuck mentions Billy Crudup in America Dreaming, a musical
      • Tan Dun, composer
        • Vineyard Theatre, producer
    • Metropolitan Opera
      • Noah remembers Aida with Pavarotti at Met Opera
        • Moses und Aron, the Golden Calf scene
      • Brooke notes Anthony Roth Costanzo in Akhnaten
      • Brooke & Noah mention Ring Cycle graphic comics
    • Chuck brings up a NY City Opera’s highly sexualized production of Partenope
    • Ashley Renee calls out a production of Don Giovanni

Indie Opera Podcast reboots in September 2016

  • Chuck Sachs joins as Associate Producer
    • Podcast begins recording in OPERA America Studio
    • New Episodes are recorded every month 
  • Greg Moomjy joins as musicologist and critic November 2019
    • Peter asks Greg to write an article about the real Akhnaten and Opera
      • Greg relates how confused he was by the actual Philip Glass opera
  • Peter mentions Greg’s unpublished review of West Side Story revival
    • Review was not published as show was still in previews
    • Noah brings up Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark
      • Had such an over extended preview period, critics published their reviews before show opened as a jab to the producers
        • Chuck recalls The Legend of Julie Taymor: or the Musical That Killed Everybody!
          • NY Fringe show
            • featured song “Boy Falls From the Rafters”
      • Julie Taymor, director and creative vision
        • Oedipus Rex, opera broadcast on Great Performances
        • Titus, movie of Shakespeare play starring Anthony Hopkins
  • The co-hosts discuss their intention to focus more on women creative artists in opera
    • Opera Grants for Female Composers: Discovery Grants
      • OPERA America
  • Ashley Renee Watkins joins as a co-host in October 2020
    • Afton Battle, General Director
      • Fort Worth Opera

How has opera changed in the past ten years

  • Is it still this very old European Art form?
  • Agents of Change and Community Engagement
    • Prototype Festival
    • Opera Philadelphia
    • Opera Omaha
  • When was opera in America a solvent art form?
    • The 1950’s? 1960’s?
    • Pavarotti and the Three Tenors
    • Before Maria Callas?
    • After the premiere of Turandot?
  • How has opera become institutionalized, and why
    • Noah talks about the early opera, Daphne and how the technical language of opera has become more complicated in every style
      • Mozart to Bel Canto
      • Berg’s Wozzeck
      • St. Francis of Assissi

How has Jazz become institutionalized, a parallel discussion

  • The art form has become more specialized and technical as it developed
    • Ornette Coleman
    • Anthony Braxton
  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller Album
  • How has Hip-Hop developed and yet remained open to more varied artists?
  • Who are some of the new voices breaking open opera?
    • Terence Blanchard
    • Du Yun
    • David T. Little

Opera versus Musical Theater

  • Are they different and why or why not?
  • How is the singing style different?
    • How are opera singers being trained?
      • Can they handle multiple styles?
        • Trained singers who have flexibility
          • Pavarotti
          • Audra McDonald
          • Kelly O’Hara
          • Kristen Chenoweth
  • Is Hamilton and opera?
    • Les Miserables
    • Phantom of the Opera
    • Sondheim musicals
    • Greg talks about Glimmerglass Festival productions
      • Noah’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten
      • The Odyssey by Ben Moore & Kelley Rourke
  • Brooke talks about the opera industry and how it is funded
    • Why Opera Boston collapsed
  • Peter talks about the path and prevalence of new operas in the USA
    • The Met Opera versus everyone else
      • Met Opera 2021-22 Season includes three NYC premieres
        • Fire Shut Up In My Bones by Terence Blanchard & Kasi Lemmons
        • Eurydice by Matthew Aucoin & Sarah Ruhl
        • Hamlet by Brett Dean & Matthew Jocelyn
    • Met Opera is developing new operas with:
      • David T. Little
      • Jeanine Tesori
        • were developing a Two Act version on her opera with Tony Kushner about Eugene and Carlotta O’Neil
      • Missy Mazzoli
        • had to cancel a BAM co-production of Breaking the Waves due to Covid closures

Favorite Moments/Guests – Indie Opera Podcast’s past ten years

  • Walker – Noah’s “Culture Bits” and his Lohengrin Death Match
  • Peter – Noah’s review of a 6 hour long Matthew Barney film
  • Noah – Mohammed Fairouz, episode 34
  • Peter – M. Lamar, episode 33
  • Brooke – Douglas Cuomo producing an opera in Nepal, episode 54
  • Brooke – Jeanine Tesori & Tazewell Thompson, episode 60
    • Blue, their new opera
  • Ashley Renee – On Site Opera
    • New 2021 production – The Road We Came
      • Kenneth Overton, baritone
  • Greg – Victoria Bond, episode 64
    • Clara, an opera about Clara Schumann
    • Mrs. President, an opera about Victoria Woodhull 
  • Walker – M. Lamar 
    • Stewart Copeland, episode 31
    • Laura Kaminsky, episode 51
      • Her primary collaborators are Mark Campbell & Kimberly Reed
  • Chuck – Mark Campbell, episode 59 and OperaFix 9/25/17
    • Joseph Keckler – baritone, OperaFixes 1/9/19 and 9/17/19

Brooke – Nico Muhly, episode 61

Noah’s Current Music Playlist:

Favorite Opera Recordings:

1. Erich Leinsdorf’s recording of Strauss’ “Salome” (Monserrat Caballe in the title role).

2. Jon Vickers as “Peter Grimes.”

3. Josef Krips’ recording of Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio” with Rothenberger, Popp and Gedda.

4. Robert Ashley’s TV Opera “Perfect Lives.”

6. Solti’s Ring Cycle (even with the horrible electronic hammers.)

Current Listening:

1. Unsuk Chin’s Violin Concerto recording with Kent Nagano conducting.

2. Complete piano works of Gyorgy Ligeti (Frederik Ullen playing).

3. Tanglewood Numbers by Silver Jews.

Favorite Other:

1. Death Grips.

2. Thelonius Monk.

3. John Maus (especially the album Love Is Real.)

Noah Lethbridge Bio

Noah Lethbridge teaches elementary music PS 142 Amalia Castro. He holds a BM in Music Education from The Eastman School of Music and an MA in Musicology from CCNY. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

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