Free Opera - NY Grand Opera 2010

The Rain God is hitting opera hard. Both outdoor summer performances of the NY Grand Opera unfortunately had to be postponed because of inclement weather.

Verdi's opera “Giovanna d'Arco” is rescheduled for October 21, 7:30pm at the CHURCH OF ST. PAUL AND ST. ANDREW, WEST 86TH STREET AT WEST END AVENUE. Free admission.

The NY Grand Opera performance of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” Wed. August 18 has also been postponed because of predicted inclement weather.

NY Grand Opera information: Maestro Vincent La Selva conducts. Full productions - soloists, chorus, full orchestra, staging. Get there early for a good seat. You might want to consider bringing a folding chair. The reserved seats in front are for the Guild (which of course you could join). Admission is FREE. Location: Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park (72 St. near 5th Ave).



Trovatore and Butterfly

The New York Grand Opera will perform the complete Verdi opera “Il Trovatore” on Wed. July 15 at 7:30 PM, at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park on 72 St. near 5th Ave. Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” will be performed on Wed. August 12 at 7:30 PM. Maestro Vincent La Selva conducts. This is the full production - soloists, chorus and full orchestra, with staging. I am the NYGO Chorus Master, and will be the Old Gypsy in Trovatore, plus the Drunk Uncle in Butterfly.

Get there early. You might want to consider bringing a folding chair - the reserved seats up front are for the Guild (which of course you could join).

Admission is free.

Details as usual are at:


Edit after the Trovatore performance.

We had beautiful weather and a good crowd for Trovatore. The curtain call is pasted above. Maestro La Selva is in the white tux jacket. I am far left / stage right. More:

The Old Gypsy:

NY Times review:

EDIT: The Madama Butterfly performance Wed 8/12/09 has unfortunately been CANCELED due to predicted rain. It will be rescheduled at some future date.

© 2009 Jan W. Dash. All rights reserved.

Mitchell Lurie, clarinetist

Mitchell Lurie was one of the premier clarinetists of the 20th century. His career is outlined in his obituaries in the Los Angeles Times and the Guardian. I took clarinet lessons from him long ago, and he played a pivotal role in my life. He suggested that I should apply to the Curtis Institute of Music, but then when I said that I was undecided between science and music, he advised me to go into science and play music on the side. So I followed his advice. He was demanding, while being so encouraging and inspirational as a teacher. He made you feel that you could play anything. Mitchell was honored at the ICA Clarinet Fest in Atlanta in 2006, but could not attend because of ill health. Afterwards I delayed calling him, and now it is too late. So I am writing this in memory. Rest in peace, Mitchell.



The opera Doctor Atomic

John Adams’ opera Doctor Atomic puts a human dimension on the origins of the atomic bomb, and refocuses attention on nuclear weapons, which still constitute a clear and present danger to humanity. The opera is very powerful. The libretto is largely taken from contemporary historical documents, some recently declassified, along with some poetry. Doctor Atomic is J. Robert Oppenheimer. The music is effective, although the score is difficult; I managed to get a full score on loan to study. The staging is riveting. I saw the original opera in San Francisco and again recently at the Metropolitan Opera in NY. An HD film of the opera has been made for showing at selected theatres. If the opera comes your way, it is an opportunity that should not be missed.

There is now an excellent DVD available, pictured at left.

A great new PBS “Independent Lens” documentary on the opera and the history has appeared. See


New York Grand Opera 2008, Update 2: Aida performance

The Aida performance was held on Aug 13th. The picture shows the scene when the messenger delivers news of the invasion of Egypt, led by Aida’s father, setting up the opera plot. I’m behind the messenger (priest furthest stage right), and did the backstage chorus conducting.

See you next year in Central Park for more opera by the New York Grand Opera.

For more information see:


New York Grand Opera update: Traviata and Aida for Summer 2008

The La Traviata performance was held on July 16th. The curtain call photo is above. Maestro La Selva is in the center (tux). I was the messenger (green costume) who brought the bad news to the tenor that the soprano was leaving him.

The NYGO will perform one more opera this summer, free admission, fully staged with soloists, orchestra, and chorus. Maestro Vincent La Selva conducts.

Giuseppe Verdi's Aida on Wed. Aug 13th, 7:30 PM

Location: Central Park NY, Naumburg Bandshell near 72nd St. & 5th Ave. You will need to get there early to get a good view. Bring folding chairs.

For further information see:


New York Grand Opera Update: Tosca, Pagliacci performances in 2006-07

The NYGO Tosca performance, originally scheduled in 2006 and cancelled due to a heat wave, was held in the summer of 2007. Lucianna La Monaco, Gustavo López Manzitti and Raemond Martin were Tosca, Cavaradossi and Scarpia (respectively); NYGO founder Vincent La Selva conducted. Pictures:

The Suor Angelica / Pagliacci performance was held as scheduled in the summer of 2006. Pictures:

See also:


Efficient Music Practice Techniques and the 'V.R. - Think Method'

For many years I have been involved with efficient practice techniques for playing musical instruments (I have played professionally). Since playing music is occasionally discussed on the Forum, I thought it might be of interest to post a paper I once wrote. It is called “The V.R. – Think Method”. “V” stands for “Visualization” and “R” stands for “Rhythmic”. The paper describes techniques known and used for efficient practicing by some of the finest professional classical musicians. Perhaps you or someone you know will find the VR-Think Method useful.

It also turns out that such efficient music practice techniques are related to efficient learning paradigms in other fields.


And Now For Something Completely Different

This is a performance by the New York Grand Opera of Verdi's Otello. When it was staged in the full production, I got to pretend to play the mandolin - actually something called a "guzla", sitting down. Emilia (Desdemona's maid) was standing right next to me and one false step on the crowded stage would have resulted in her falling on top of me. Just another opera story explaining why it's hard to watch the conductor. Those interested in the obscure guzla can consult the full Otello score, Dover, page 208.