Friday, July 24, 2015

Behind the Scenes at the Opera House: Found Files

Hello everyone! This is pretty exciting stuff. We were going through the archives and found this communique between Mistress Ford and Mistress Page (circa 1985) regarding a certain new guy in town...

We're going to keep looking through the files in the hopes of finding out what these ladies had in mind. But in the mean time, get ready to party like it's 1989 with the Merry Wives starting August 13!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Randy West on piano and Min Xiao-Fen on pipa at the 2006 Deer Isle Jazz Festival 

Next weekend, OHA will be celebrating the 15th Annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival with pianist and singer Geri Allen, and Evan Christopher's Clarinet Road - along with appearances by George Stevens Academy's J-A-Double Z Jazz Combo and Maine's own Novel Jazz septet. Don't miss a note - get your tickets today!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

In Defense of The Perfect Dress

Guest Blogger: Madame Arkadina
“Oh, dear! What to wear!” may be the refrain of many of you fine women on the rare, or perhaps not-so rare, occasions when having the perfect dress is absolutely everything. Darlings, I feel your pain! (Well, not really. But that’s another plate of sardines.)

On any given day, or night, I am required to dress. It’s 1895, after all. I host salons. I take tea. I am invited to the finest suppers. Yes, all of that. But I’m an actress (a famous one, don’t forget), and my clothes alone are enough to ruin me! Can you imagine what my world is like? Well, probably not, so let me explain.

Without dwelling too, too much on the details, let me pose this: How might a once pretty and precocious young girl from a landed, financially secure family, who’s mother and father died (perhaps before she reached the age of ten), get along in the world? Well, she was quite possibly sent off to a good school where she learned manners, and how to properly dress; where she learned a little about the world, about music, literature, and culture. And imagine then, she arrives at the lovely age of sixteen. For many pretty women of that tender age The Theater was a financial necessity, but not for this smart girl. The Theater was part calling, and part common sense. Why? Because darlings, she had her wardrobe in place!

Do you know that these days we actresses and actors must look our best at all times? All times! We simply cannot be seen otherwise. Darlings, it’s not about social standards, though we all know how terribly important those are! It’s about hire-ability. From any producer-director’s point-of-view (they’re one-and-the-same these days darlings, and they’re all men! ) the best wardrobe is de rigueur for those of us who wish to work, most especially in the leading roles!

I am left completely alone to choose and provide what dresses, hats, feathers, gloves, parasols, shoes, and bags I use while on stage— quite an advantage for my audiences, since I have such remarkable taste in clothes— but then, do you realize: no one else (simply no one!) pays for, provides, cleans, or transports my numerous wardrobe trunks for the many (oh, so many!) fabulous plays I star in? (Dear, gods! I pray that one day some sort of actor union will emerge to grant us parity; one which will negotiate equitable costume, housing, and transportation rules. But for now, there are none. It’s simply a scandal!)

The rest of this scene you can, I’m sure, conclude: Since my life requires me to look and act like ‘la crème de la’ at all times of the day and night, I set about ordering, on a seasonal (and sometimes monthly!) basis, my gown, parasol, and hat fabrics, feathers, and ribbons from Paris, (peacock feathers arrive directly from India), my shoes from England, lace from Ireland, and on, and on. And ladies, it’s simply not enough to have a lovely frock without all the matching accoutrements! Talent is marvelous darlings, but without the clothes, pardonnez-moi, you can freakin’ forget it!

Of course, after many years of being established, I now have the best dressmakers, milliners, and glove makers in Odessa. (I know the absolute best place for corsets! …Let’s talk!) Yes, I have the best and latest European fashions made right here in Russia. But it costs! You have no idea how much! Neither do the dear folks at home, I’m afraid. And darlings, if the empress has no clothes, she doesn’t get parts. And do you know what happens then? The farm goes to seed. The family doesn’t eat. Do you realize I pay the taxes and upkeep on my dear brother’s estate? And don’t get me started on the monies wasted because of the utter incompetence our estate manager — his way with most things (HORSES for example!) alludes me, but my brother is ill now (more bills!) and besides, he knows nothing about running a farm! And what do I know about it? What do I know about anything except The Theater. And of course, the ways of men. Oh yes, I know about them too. (But, well… that’s another spoon of caviar!)