Met Auditions Winners
It must have been a strong field at this year’s Wisconsin District Metropolitan Opera Auditions. Judges Cynthia Lawrence, Kyle Marrero and Robin Thompson awarded six singers $2,000 each in prize money and advanced them to the regional auditions in Minneapolis. Winners there go on to the finals in New York, a great career launch pad.
The winners are Andrew Stenson, Colleen Brooks, Emily Fons (also winner of the $250 People’s Choice award and the Skylight Opera Main Stage Award), Megan Dewald (also winner of the Madison Opera Main Stage award), Jesse Enderle (also winner of the Florentine Opera Main Stage award) and Priscilla Jane Smith. (The Main Stage awards mean that the respective companies intend to cast the singer in a role next season.)
Mark Clements, a stage director with international credits, will be the next artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
The Rep issued a press release announcing the board of trustees’ decision late Wednesday morning. Clements will succeed Joseph Hanreddy, who will retire from the company after leading it for 17 seasons.
Clements has worked at more than 100 major theaters in the U.S. and Europe. He was A.D. of the Derby Playhouse in the U.K. Clements’ long list of credits includes many musicals. He is currently directing Oliver! in Philadelphia, and he co-wrote and directed Soul Train for London’s West End.
Clements will move to Milwaukee after the Oliver! run.
The Rep has posted a brief video interview with Clements on Facebook. I will interview Mr. Clements on Monday, and likely post the story that afternoon (Oct. 12).
This year’s Wisconsin District Metropolitan Opera auditions begin at 10 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 10) at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center, in Brookfield. Since the Met eliminated geographic limits a few years ago, singers can compete in any district. A total of more than $13,000 in prizes makes Wisconsin an attractive destination.
Worst-kept secrets on the Milwaukee theater scene: Joe Hanreddy, who will retire as artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, is close to joining the UWM theater faculty as the first occupant of an endowed chair in directing. Also, The Rep is planning to announce its new artistic director — the name is still a secret — on Oct. 12. The Rep isn’t even revealing the site of the announcement, except to say that it will be downtown. Colleague Brian Jacobson, noting all the hush-hush, speculates that they might announce the new A.D. at The Safe House. Whoops! They beat us all to it and announced Wednesday! See the new lead story, above.
I’ve seen the prototype of the ThirdCoast Digest‘s new arts events calendar. I think this will be the comprehensive, interactive guide that arts marketing people have dreamed of for years. We’re still a few weeks away from implementation, and we expect a brief debugging period. But this could be a game-changer for the arts scene here. Also under construction: A new TCD Culture Desk page that will give us more slots and a more specific destination for culture fans. We’ll dig into that in earnest after the calendar is up and running, but we’re already at the mock-up stage.
Skylight Opera Theatre news: Kristin Godfrey, who had the bad luck to be the marketing and public relations manager during the company’s summer meltdown, is out. Laura Russart, marketing project manager, and Diane Bacha, former assistant manager for features/entertainment at the Journal Sentinel, former publisher of the JS’ MKE weekly and former executive director of the Milwaukee Film Festival is the Skylight’s interim communications director. They will take over Godfrey’s duties.
More Skylight: Many Skylight alums participated in “The Sky Is Not Falling,” a fundraiser show for the Skylight in New York Monday night (Oct. 5). Apparently, a sentimental time was had by all. You can read a first-person account on the blog of Tony Clements, a key organizer of the event. Tony e-mailed to share the news that the event grossed $8,600.
Cello mania in Milwaukee: Yo-Yo Ma played with the MSO on Sept. 30; Joseph Johnson, the orchestra’s brilliant principal cellist, joined Ma in a duet by way of encore. On Oct. 2-3, Johnson was featured with concertmaster Frank Almond in Brahms’ Double Concerto with the MSO. Almond and Johnson were at it again on Oct. 5, joined by no less than legendary cellist Lynn Harrell, on Almond’s Frankly Music series opener at Wisconsin Lutheran College.
Can you name the mystery Fourth Cellist who came to Milwaukee during this period? OK, OK, I’ll tell you.
It was Luis Bravo, creator, director and producer of Forever Tango, which played at Marcus Center Uihlein Hall Oct. 1. Before his dance company entered, Bravo spoke passionately about Ma’s MSO concert, which he witnessed the night before, and how proud he was to stand on the same stage. I had no idea that the cello, as much as the tango, is Bravo’s passion. Bravo then took a seat in the ace Forever Tango eight-piece orchesta and played the whole show — very well.
I had always assumed that Bravo was a dancer-choreographer. What a wonderful surprise.