That’s all, folks!

I am writing this on my layover in the Trudeau airport in Montreal- surreal to think we closed the show yesterday and now I won’t be singing Helga or Iris again for the foreseeable future.

Favourite things from this experience: MAIDEN BRAIDS. Seriously, I loved my Helga hair sooo muchhhhh that I might just start wearing it around York in the fall. I think I’ve got the necessary swagger.

In all seriousness, this was a wonderful month which challenged me and brought me a lot of joy- meeting 60+ awesome people will do that to a person.

Thank you to to my family and friends for sending me here and all their support. (and pre-emptive thank you to my parentals for understanding the amount of luggage I am returning with…eek.)  Thank you to Nina, Marja, Jennifer, Steven, Bonnie, Tessa, all my wonderful colleagues, and everyone who helped make HSOW 2012 what it was- amazing!

Anndd I leave you with this link to a very appropriate song at the moment- thank you Andrew Pickett for reminding me of it!

Last Day… :(

This past week has really been intense! I have to start with my story about the Potluck at Andrew’s on Natal Day. That day, I decided I’d make what Rachel ingeniously called a “Marshmallow Salad”, so I had to go to the grocery store to get the ingredients. I had planned out to go with Milena, and then we would take the bus from Quinnpool Road to Andrew’s house. As we were waiting for the bus to come, a woman came up to us and informed us that the buses weren’t working on Natal Day. It kind of made sense, I guess. So we started walking, to find another bus stop, and hopefully, there was a bus working. We walked… and walked… and walked… and stopped for a few pictures at Chocolate Lake… And walked… And kept on walking till we got to Andrew’s house. I was soooo tired!!! As soon as we got there, I started working on my marshmallow salad, and then went outside to rest for a while. It had been almost an hour walking, which is pretty fine, except for all the hills… Then, at night, Milena and I had decided we would leave together as well. Melody had informed us that some buses WERE working, as she took one over to Andrew’s house. So we checked out the itinerary, and there would be a bus passing close to Andrew’s at 9:10. It was 9:00, so we basically ran to the bus stop, and got there at 9:08. A bus passed, but it wasn’t the one we were looking for. Another one passed, and it was the same one that had passed earlier, but in the other directions. 2 taxis passed. Then they passed again, full of people from the potluck. 9:45, and we decided to walk back to Andrew’s and call a taxi. What an eventful day, huh?


So Tuesday was opening night for the Starboard Cast, and all I had to do was change sets and carry Phil on stage with Collin, Mike and Nick. The show went really well. As I said before, I’m just so proud to be surrounded by so much talent, yet being supported by others as well. On Wednesday night, it was my last time performing. I was really sad, because, although there were obvious difficulties in learning these two roles (Zetes, Olaf), I’ve feel I’ve grown in them and they’ve grown in me. So I told myself I’d be the best Zetes and the best Olaf there ever was that night. And I must say, I’m pretty proud of myself. I even managed the awkward moment when my headpiece was tangled up in Meghan’s hairpin with grace. Then after the show, it was Cabaret Night at Menz Bar. Again, so much talent! I hadn’t heard a few singers, because I was absent at a few masterclasses, and I was really amazed at so much talent. And Bunny as a host… Funny and fabulous! The show ended at around 11:30 I think, and I decided to stay a little bit, but the truth is I was tired. I’m the kind of person that gets really tired after a show. So I headed out, and as I was walking outside, Melody asked if I was going to call for a cab, and we ended up cabbing together.


Thursday was an off day. Brunch at Smitty’s with Rachel, Phil, Meghan, Alyssa, Andrew Hernández and Max as a guest, then a walk around the city (Black Market, Comic Store, etc) then Mean Girls at Meghan’s apartment, dinner at Coburg and Dream. I hadn’t yet seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and let me tell you… Costumes and Make-up? Awesome! Voices? Awesome! Acting? Awesome! Hilariously funny! It was really a great show.


Friday and Saturday was a really relax day for me. I decided I’d start washing clothes and packing. I guess I kind of need some alone time to think a few things out, besides coordinating my enrollment with the administration of the Conservatory via email.


And now, the last day of HSOW. A month has gone by so fast, it’s ridiculous! On Tuesday, I’ll be heading back to PR, and as soon as I get there, I’ll be heading to the Conservatory to wrap up my matriculation and taking my first class. Yes, classes start tomorrow. At least I don’t have classes on Mondays. Anyway, I was saying that this past month has gone by really fast. Too fast, I’d say. I’ve learned so many things, not only musically, but personally as well. I’ve met really fabulous people here, especially the stage managers, directors, music directors, and especially, my colleagues. Everybody here has been so nice to me. Even though I may seem a little quiet and shy, I’m not. All this time, I’ve been analyzing myself, and comparing backgrounds, and it has been really nice to see so many different backgrounds to mine. Everybody has such different experiences, and I just wanted to listen to everybody’s opinion. Also, there is the fact that, since I’m the “new guy” from Puerto Rico, I’ve been speaking Spanish for the past 18 years of my life, which means that sometimes, or should I say most times, I find myself organizing my thoughts in Spanish, then translating them into English, just because I don’t want to make mistakes when I’m speaking English. It’d be kind of awkward if an English teacher made mistakes. Anyway, I’ve really learned a lot this past month. A few things I’ve learned:


  1. In Halifax, always carry an umbrella.
  2. In Halifax, you can cross the road, and people will actually stop.
  3. Music directors here are actually nice and VERY helpful.
  4. The difference between a stage manager and a stage director.
  5. Bridesmaids is a really funny movie!
  6. Egyptian rat screw (I think that’s the name…) with the boys at the dressing room.
  7. I’ve practically memorized the girls’ chorus parts from Riders to the sea.
  8. I love coffee! And I don’t love tea.
  9. I don’t like Sushi. This one I already knew, but I just confirmed it. J


I think that pretty much sums up what I’ve learned here. I know, most things actually don’t have to do with singing or acting, but then again, I think we all learned a lot about that, and don’t want to bore you.


So, if you have not guessed so by now, this is officially my last post. This is the post where I say goodbye to you, the readers, and goodbye to the wonderful people I’ve met here. It has truly been a great experience for me being here. Hopefully, I’ll come back one day, and I’ll see the people once again. Thank you all for letting me part of such a wonderful workshop, and believe me, I appreciate and will miss all of you.


Truly yours,

Pedro Arroyo

The Puerto-Rican Tenor

Operation: Opera by Moira Donovan of The Coast

This weekend at the Sir James Dunn Theatre, experience the big sounds of opera classics, without all of the stereotypes

These days, while the rest of campus is shrouded in mid-summer silence, the theatres and subterranean corridors of the Dalhousie Arts Centre are a hive of activity.

In mid-July, 70 young musicians and directors from across Canada descended on Halifax for the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop, a four-week program that culminates in a week-and-a-half of performances ending August 12: Carmen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and four one-act operas. For Dr. Anthony Radford, director of the workshop’s production of Carmen—which debuted in 1875 as a flop, yet went on the become one of the most frequently performed examples of the genre—the workshop is a window onto the art form, showcasing some of its best-beloved pieces while hinting at its future.

“For the audience, they get to see what’s going on in the world of opera today” Radford says. “That’s kind of a cool thing—that you don’t need to go to the big cities to see that.”

The workshop cultivates an accessible approach, providing an opportunity for seasoned devotees and neophytes alike to experience opera in an intimate setting. Nina Scott-Stoddart, program director, believes that the scaled-down quality of the workshop is more than a function of its relatively small size; it’s also a particular way to engage with the art form. “I think there’s something about it when you strip all of the big opera stereotypes away—big people in front of big sets, the orchestra—it’s so much more immediate” she says. “You get right to the emotional heart of the piece.”

Although popular conception often understands opera as an archaic medium, participants emphasize that it’s important not to underestimate the energy and creativity that youth can bring, especially in a program where most of the performers are under 25.

For Haligonian Andrew Pickett, who plays Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opera is ultimately about art itself, and can be transformative. “We think of opera on a social level, that belongs to the elite and that’s not what it actually is” he says. “Opera is the marriage of music and drama and that’s what’s really important—the magic that happens on stage. It’s made me a believer.”

Grab your opera glasses, Halifax, and prepare to be converted.

via Operation: Opera.

Fine cast, outstanding voices, great music opera workshop – Chronicle Herald Review

Chelsea Mahan, during dress rehearsal last week, plays Helena in the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Sir James Dunn Theatre.  (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)

The operative word with the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop production of Midsummer Night’s Dream is magic.

I might be tempted to say “half-magic” but I don’t think magic is divisible.

The “half” is because a workshop production, even one as good as the one I saw in the Dunn Theatre Friday night, with piano accompaniment instead of orchestra, can’t and doesn’t aspire to present the full experience.

But what it does, with the help of a simple, uncluttered and extremely playable set, is hone your interest and drives you straight to iTunes, or wherever your recorded delights are kept, to get the full monty.

Pianist Greg Myra works the keyboard like an illusionist, spinning out of it webs of intricate musical figures in all registers, energizing the large cast of 19 to create four levels of beings, mischievously mingled in erotic fancies played out in a forest outside of Athens on a sweet midsummer’s night.

Dukes, courtiers, the mercurial Puck, the fairy kingdom of Oberon and Titania and the inimitable rustics all work the simple set with its six pillars. The off-centre platform enables the flow of the stage action.

The story is Shakespeare’s, condensed into two acts and the words his as well, which makes the side-titles projected on a screen useful and necessary.

But the diction of the cast is so good, you hardly need that aid, which is lucky because it can distract you.

There are two casts with two performances each between now and Sunday. Friday night’s cast will perform again on Thursday, while an alternate cast performed Saturday night and will again on Aug. 11.

All the voices were clear and well cast on opening night. But the most outstanding singer was Quebec soprano Frederique Drolet as Titania, with a fiery stage presence and a voice of pure crystal.

Counter-tenor Albert Montanez sang Oberon. He commanded the stage with a regal stride and could come on strong with an unpredictable scariness, though he seldom entered that counter-tenor nastiness that strips ions from metal. He certainly had it, but the part allowed him to let it out only once.

Steven Bourque as Puck, with a slim and diminutive athletic physique, was perhaps not as menacing as he could have been. He allowed Oberon to intimidate him.

Patrick MacDevitt and Nicole Stellino (Lysander and Hermia), Neil Reimer and Chelsea Mahan (Demetrius and Helena) played off each other well as they suffered the mood-changing fragrance of Puck’s love potion.

But, in this marvellous opera, Benjamin Britten gave full play to the rustics — Bottom, Quince, Flute, Snug, Snout and Starveling — as they rehearse and stage the farcical romantic tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe.

Jeremy Hirsch, as Nick Bottom the weaver, takes charge of the whole show, bosses everyone around and suggests himself for all the roles before he is squelched.

Later on we know he’s heading for trouble and don’t feel a bit sorry.

Hirsch is really too young and too dapper for this comic character, but he overcame those limitations to impose his own stage authority.

During the performance, Flute (Max Zander) as Thisbe, who collapsed in stage fright during rehearsals, suddenly took fire in performance before the Duke of Theseus. He buzzed dangerously around the set in a long white gown with funnels for voluptuous breasts.

In the end, with a chorus of eight fairies including Cobweb, Mustardseed, Peasebottom and Moth, Britten wrote some of the most exquisitely delicate, fresh and sweet music to bring the opera to a close.