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October 2019


Baritone Tour-de-Force: The Baron Scarpia By GLENN WINTERS


Thoughts on the arch-villain of Puccini’s Tosca: In Act 1, Baron Scarpia is creepy in his overt lust for Tosca. In terms of being a policeman, however, he’s not yet a villain. He’s a good detective, similar to the fictional ones on TV police procedurals. Like TV cops, he’s not above some trickery to fool Tosca into thinking her lover Cavaradossi has betrayed her with an affair -- not illegal then, not illegal now. Remember: Cavaradossi is actually guilty of the crime of aiding and abetting a fugitive. We might root for that fugitive and for Cavaradossi, but Scarpia is “doing the right thing” by pursuing them both. Throughout the opera, Puccini and his librettists attempt to cast Scarpia in the mold of Iago, the villain of Shakespeare’s Othello, and especially of Verdi’s opera Otello. In Act 1, Scarpia actually makes the comparison himself, just in case we don’t know Shakespeare well enough to make the connection ourselves. When the police chief finds a fan left by the Marchesa Attavanti, he muses on his plan to use it to arouse Tosca’s jealous nature: " Iago had a handkerchief, and I a fan " to drive a jealous lover to distraction! In Act 2, Scarpia offers a monologue in which he delineates his pagan philosophy of life: Continued on page 2

The Editor’s Notes


Letter from the Chair


Annual Meeting


Meet the Artist



Board of Directors and Officers


Head shot of “Scarpia”

At The Harrison


In Memoriam: Pam Hyatt


Board Bio


VOG Calendar


The Met Live in HD



Creating Tosca’s Villainous Suitor

The villain Scarpia

Stage makeup has to be transformative. While wigs help create the illusion of a particular time and place, it’s the face that speaks to the essence of a character. Everything comes together in a face. Lips, eyes, eyebrows, wrinkles, and facial muscles all work together to create and convey emotion, whether intentional or not. Theatrical makeup has come a long way since the ancient Greeks when actors wore masks, or since the Renaissance when actors used flour to paint their faces. Designing makeup for a character in an opera requires knowledge of facial anatomy and the effects of stage lighting on makeup. The makeup artist must also have good hand-eye coordination and the ability to draw akin to that of a painter. A skilled makeup artist can change the shape of a face through highlights and shadows, adding prominence to some Continued on page 4

October 2019


From the Cover " I crave, I pursue the craved thing, sate myself and cast it by, " and seek new bait. God made diverse beauties " as he made diverse wines, and of these " God-like works I mean to taste my full. Puccini’s musical setting of these words is clearly meant to resemble Iago’s “Credo” in Verdi’s opera, a similarly unapologetic rejection of conventional morality: " I believe in a cruel God " Who has created me in His image " And whom I call upon in hate. " I was born from some vile seed or base atom. " I am evil because I am a man, " And I feel primordial slime in me. In Act 2 Scarpia’s professionalism gives way to overstepping his duties with the violent torture of Cavaradossi, now under arrest. When Scarpia bargains with Tosca for sex in exchange for the release of her lover, he is actually committing a criminal act; his clear intent is to accept a bribe. The short solo during which he explains that he’s not after a bribe of money, but rather Tosca’s body, is the least-known aria of the opera, seldom sung in concert. Ironically, however, it may be regarded as the best-written aria. The trouble with arias is that they interrupt the plot and the flow of action for an often unrealistic “time-out” while the character does some navel gazing. The pause for applause does further damage to theatrical integrity. Glenn Winters What’s great about Scarpia’s “Già, mi dicon venal” is that it avoids these pitfalls. It advances the plot by revealing the cost of Cavaradossi’s release. Further, there is no moment when the action can be interrupted by applause: Tosca breaks in to exclaim in horror. The drama flows on.  All this economy and theatrical realism goes down the drain in Tosca’s ensuing iconic aria “Vissi d’arte.” Here, time stops while the soprano asks

God why she’s being punished in spite of her good acts. Poor Scarpia has to stand immobile throughout like a statue. Of course, the aria is so heart wrenchingly GORGEOUS that we don’t really care if plot and action are suspended. Finally, pay attention to the first ten seconds of the opera. Those imposing loud chords are Scarpia’s musical motif. Notice how often they recur; note especially how they echo in Act 3 even though he’s dead, as if his malevolent spirit is still controlling the events leading to the tragic finale. What a role! What an opera!

Glenn Winters

The Editor’s Notes By POWERS PETERSON

Welcome fall; welcome the 45th Anniversary season of the Virginia Opera; and welcome the fifth year of Coloratura. “A Winters’ Tale” muses on similarities among opera and literary villains while acknowledging that Tosca’s adversary Scarpia is definitely one of the worst of the lot. “Meet the Artist” on p. 5 introduces you to the baritone who sings that role, Kyle Albertson. Then you’ll find an intriguing surprise in the other cover story, “Behind the Scenes.” The topic is theatrical makeup. After reading p.1, go to p.4 and proceed from there. Enough said. The Guild has already begun its year, having had its inaugural meeting and sponsored a hospitality tent at “Opera NEAR the Park.” We have a busy time ahead: sponsoring buffet dinners for the casts and crews, hosting Guild Nights, attending the annual Holiday Luncheon, and gearing up for our spectacular biennial rummage sale next April. Yes, the Merchants of Venice return to Harrison Opera House with an assortment of wares to entice. It’s the Guild’s premier fundraising effort to benefit our beloved opera. It’s work, but it’s fun! Consider joining us. Among the changes this year, the Guild welcomes its new chair, Amber Taylor Reeves. Read her bio on page 8. The Opera and the Guild remember a loyal and ardent supporter of both, Pam Hyatt. Much, though, will not change. Coloratura will continue to bring you updates on the Guild and the Opera, post the “Met in HD,” and celebrate our beloved Virginia Opera in its 45th season. Not to mention informative articles. And there will be more surprises, I promise. Reach me with your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions at Coloratura160@gmail.com.

Photo by DRA

October 2019


Letter from the Chair By AMBER TAYLOR REEVES Let me introduce myself. My name is Amber Taylor Reeves. I am the newly elected chair of the Virginia Opera Guild, replacing former Chair Mark Board. Fortunately for all of us, Mark will remain on the Guild Board and continue to give us the benefit of his experience. My pledge to Virginia Opera and to the Guild is to handle my position fairly and with transparency. I look forward to working with our other newly elected officers and directors and with the wonderful people at the Virginia Opera Association. As of early September Guild membership stands at 144. This is on pace with last season, but our goal is to substantially exceed that number this season. Joining the Guild is easy and costs $50 for a single or $75 for a dual membership. At our kickoff party “Sunset at the Ocean Front” on August 24th we added several new members. At the Guild Hospitality Tent at “Opera in the Park” on September 7th we also added additional members. Part of the Guild’s mission in supporting Virginia Opera is to encourage attendance through season subscriptions. We have a goal of having at least 75% of Guild members buy subscriptions. A season subscription starts as low as $75 for all four productions. If you are interested in a season subscription, visit

vaopera.org or call the Box Office at 866-673-7282. Speaking of subscriptions, Virginia Opera endeavors to have the youngest audience among US opera companies. The Guild works toward this goal by enabling students to experience opera firsthand. Working with the educators at Virginia Opera, we’ve created a Student Guild. Check Coloratura every issue to find out more. The Guild also supports Virginia Opera by hosting a buffet dinner for the cast and crew at every opera during technical rehearsals. The artists’ dinner committee can always use volunteers to cook, donate, and serve at these events. And the transportation committee meets and greets the artists at Norfolk International Airport. It’s a great way to welcome people to Virginia Opera and to Norfolk. If you’d like more information about these and the other committees, call me at 757-354-5658 or email me at amberlaru@gmail.com. Bring your neighbors, your friends and your family to The Harrison Opera House. This is going to be an exciting season that you don’t want to miss. Guild members are looking forward to seeing each and everyone of you at a performance of Tosca!


ANNUAL MEMBERS MEETING The Guild held its annual Members Meeting on May 18, 2019, at Harbor’s Edge in Norfolk. Friends, wine and hors d’oeuvres, music – a great time was had by all! Photos by DRA

Powers Peterson & Amber Reeves

The buffet spread

Linda & Ed Lilly

Joanne & Dick Rentner

Allan & Harriet Reynolds

Soprano Anna Feucht

October 2019


From the Cover structures (nose) and depth to others (cheeks, eye sockets). He or she can age a person, hint at a different ethnicity, create a clown or animal face, conceal a scar. Stage lighting determines what makeup to use for a particular skin tone. For

Pin curling hair

Hair is pin curled to flatten it and provide a secure base on which to attach the wig.

instance, a green lighting will gray all flesh tones whereas a green-blue lighting will wash out paler tones. Makeup has to compensate for this. The above does not do justice to the subject. Seeing the results of a transformation on stage doesn’t do justice to the makeup artist’s skills either.

The wig cap

To hold the pin curls flat, a net cap is stretched tightly over the hair and pinned in place.

It’s the “before” and “after” that really tell the story. Using a volunteer from the Guild, Virginia Opera’s resident make-up magicians, Jim McGough and Elyse Messick, illustrate the “before,” “in process,” and “after.” Witness their skills as they create “Scarpia,” the treacherous Chief of Police in Tosca.

Applying foundation

The role of contour

The choice of foundation is based on the singer’s skin tone, either brown, fair, pink, or olive.

To create a more male-like bone structure, dark powder is applied to the sides of the nose and under the cheek bones.

The eyes and eyebrows

Midway through

Shading (creating a cleft chin)

Eyeliner for a male

Shadow is applied to deepen the eye sockets. Eyebrows are painted on.

After this, it’s time for more definition of the features.

The next touch is both highlighting (eyes) and shading (the chin).

Liquid eyeliner is applied. Only the lower lid is lined in male characters.

Almost there (after eyeliner)

Finished with the makeup

Facial makeup is complete.

Profile view of finished make-up.

Pinning on the wig

Wigs are pinned or glued on.

Meet “Scarpia”

The transformation is complete.

October 2019



Meet Virginia Opera’s Real Scarpia By POWERS PETERSON

Of Tosca, bass-baritone Kyle Albertson says, “If you’ve never seen an opera, Tosca is the way to go.” In his debut with Virginia Opera Kyle sings the role of the despicable Chief of Police, Scarpia. The role is a tour de force as opera villains go. How does Kyle approach bringing credibility to this role? First, he listens to the music and the words by the lyrical composer Puccini and lyricists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Kyle thinks that, for this

a different challenge. Why? Composer John Adams’ style of music is minimalist with repeating patterns and different times, although a steady pulse defines the music. Performing the role of Henry Kissinger, Kyle found himself “almost counting out loud in my head and constantly tapping my toe to try to stay in time with the conductor.” Kyle returns to the Metropolitan Opera stage this December in Tosca in the role of Angelotti, the escaped partisan. “It’s definitely an easier-toachieve characterization than Scarpia.” Following that, he will cover the role of the Dutchman in Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying

Kyle Albertson Photo by Rebecca Fey

particular villain, the musical and verbal combination comes across well in conveying the persona. That means the singer’s initial approach “is easier than some other roles.” When it comes to the acting component, Kyle says, “Scarpia is a tough one to portray. He’s a despicable man: he’s corrupt and abusive. That said, there’s always at least one thing you can latch onto in a character as a person. You want to create the core, the belief, and the motives of that character. With Scarpia, that key component is just lust. Not that that’s a great quality to portray on stage, but this man is driven by his rampant physical, emotional, and political desires.” As for the acting component, Kyle says, “It’s tough to relate to anything with Scarpia. His core belief system is so impure.” The modern opera Nixon in China (Long Beach Opera, 2010) presented

The parapet at Castel Sant’Angelo overlooking the Tiber River

Dutchman) in March 2020. For him, this represents a further move into Wagnerian territory. Wagner’s operas are “fantastic pieces” that Kyle’s voice lends itself to. Although it may not happen, he dreams of singing Wotan at Bayreuth in The Ring Cycle. In the years since he was a Metropolitan Opera National Council Semi-finalist, Kyle has worked with many well-known artists. Among them and of special importance are bass-baritone Greer Grimsley and mezzo-soprano Suzanne Mentzer. In Kyle’s words, Grimsley has “phenomenal artistry on stage.” Kyle is now taking on roles Grimsley has

Scene from Street Scene 2018 at Oper Köln

sung – such as Wotan -- and Grimsley has taken the time to answer Kyle’s questions and to give advice. Opera News labeled Suzanne Mentzer “the undiva” because of her generous attitude toward the opera business and to her fellow artists. One such young artist was Kyle – she was his voice teacher in graduate school and he considers her his “opera mom.” Kyle describes her as “an amazing person on stage and a better person off stage.” Kyle and his wife, mezzo-soprano Alissa Anderson, chose to live in Houston. Both study with a voice teacher at nearby Rice University and the city’s airports make traveling manageable, something essential for a career in opera. An opera singer creates a different world for the audience but does not choose that world or its style. It’s similar to immersing oneself in a work of fantasy. Life is not all opera. So, in his off-opera time Kyle re-reads A Song of Ice and Fire. He admires the writing style and the world created by author George R. R. Martin. He didn’t care, however, for the ending of the HBO series. He probably won’t care for Scarpia’s ending either.

October 2019



Board of Directors & Officers 2019-2020 Officers


Amber Taylor Reeves, Chair Powers Peterson, First Vice Chair Valerie Neff, Vice Chair Ruth Schepper, Vice Chair Kittie Whitaker, Secretary Adele Levesque, Treasurer Tom Horsch, Historian

Contact Information Are you intrigued about the Guild? Do you want to join us to support the Virginia Opera Association? Perhaps you would enjoy volunteering for a committee or for one of our activities. And don’t forget to check us out on the Virginia Opera website.

Directors Allen Anderson Mark Board Barbara Boslego Gwendolyn Brown Barbara Buchmann Cy Grandy Janita Burgess Hess Melanie Mitchell Marianne Nicholson Martha Lee Shaw Rick Shepard Elena Stevens Dora Lee Taylor Holly Tracy

Here’s how to contact us: Write us

Virginia Opera Guild P.O. Box 11572, Norfolk VA 23517

Call us

RSVP: 757-627-9545, ext. 3584

Email us


Like us

on Facebook: Virginia Opera Guild


Tosca Music by GIACOMO PUCCINI Libretto by

The Production

Luigi Illica & Giuseppe Giacosa

Conducted by Adam Turner Virginia Opera Orchestra Virginia Opera Chorus Director* * * Scenic Designer* * Costume Design* * Lighting Designer* * Chorus Master* *

* * * * *

Lillian Groag Michael Yeargan Andrew Marley/Heidi Zamora James Lawlor Brandon Eldridge

The Cast Floria Tosca* * Mario Cavaradossi** Baron Scarpia* * Cesare Angelotti* * A Sacristan* * Spoletta* * * Sciarrone** * A Jailer* * * A Shepherd boy* *

Soprano* * Tenor* * Baritone* * Bass* * Baritone* * Tenor* * Bass* * Bass* * Soprano* *

Chorus* * * *

Soldiers, police, altar boys, noblemen and women, townsfolk, artisans

* *

Ewa Plonka Matthew Vickers Kyle Albertson Andrew Simpson Joshua Arky Louis Alexander Riva Brett Bode Andrew Simpson Celeste Godin Original poster showing a scene from Act 2

October 2019


In Memoriam: Pamela Scott Hyatt Pam Hyatt was born in Norfolk and graduated from Maury High School. After college, she became a Virginia Opera subscriber “forever” and supported Virginia Opera as a chorus member, as a Guild member, and as a member of the Guild’s Board of Directors from 2017 until 2019. At the time of her death she was also the Guild Chair of the Communications Committee. A talented mezzo-soprano, Pam earned a B.A. in music education and a Master’s degree in vocal performance. She began singing in the chorus of VO productions in 1976, contributing her voice to numerous operas. She also sang with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus for over two decades and in the St. Andrews Episcopal Church Choir. Describing herself as “Puccini girl,” Pam sang Kate Pinkerton in the 1977 Virginia Opera production of Madame Butterfly. Pam recalls that opera had a most memorable rehearsal: a soprano-pitched scream suddenly interrupted the dress rehearsal. The sheer fabric overlay on a chorus member’s kimono got caught in one of the huge fans trying to keep the Center Theater cool and the singer was being pulled toward the fan! She also sang the role of Mary Fleming in the world premiere of Thea Musgrave’s Mary, Queen of Scots. Her most “far-flung” roles occurred in 1977

Dec. 11, 1949 - March 1, 2019 when she was both a nun and a gypsy in Il Trovatore. Music was only one part of Pam’s life. She was a regular at the Virginia Stage Company’s performances. She volunteered every week at Norfolk Animal Care, the city’s animal sheltering and adoption facility. She was an avid ODU football fan. Her love of travel took her throughout the US and to Japan, Russia, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, and the Caribbean. After music, cats were her passion. In fact, it was a picture of a

Save the Date! Event



Guild Night

Nov. 5, 2019

Harrison Opera House

Holiday Luncheon

Dec. 14, 2019

Norfolk Yacht & Country Club

Merchant of Venice Rummage Sale

April 4, 2020

Harrison Opera House

cat on Match.com that led her to her partner Jim Graham. Diagnosed with a life-threatening illness several years ago, Pam faced it with all the verve and courage one associated with ebullient Pam. She underwent a successful stem-cell transplant but later succumbed to recurrent disease. Not once did she complain, and she lived her life fully -attending The Elixir of Love two weeks before her death. Pam, your Guild friends and your colleagues at Virginia Opera continue to miss you. We always will. We’re grateful that we experienced your zest for life, your optimism, and your kindnesses – always accompanied by a genuine smile.

Who is “Scarpia?” Did you recognize the woman Jim McGough and Elyse Merrick literally made up as the malevolent Scarpia? Pants roles, such as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, are male roles intended for and sung by a mezzo-soprano who masquerades as a male. Scarpia is never a pants role and is sung by a baritone. There are no pants roles in Tosca. But, to show how a male face can be created on female anatomy, Jim and Elyse transformed Coloratura’s editor into the arch-villain in Tosca.

October 2019



The Chair, Amber Taylor Reeves My family hails from Oklahoma. We are Yavapai-Apache, and some of my relatives still live on the reservation there. My Southern accent, though, comes from Louisiana, where I was first raised. My Native American heritage with its traditions of community is what has made the concept of community service a significant part in my life. That’s one reason I joined the Virginia Opera Guild and its Board of Directors. I am thrilled to further serve as the Chair of the Guild. Two other organizations that I’ve been active in for some time are the Girl Scouts and the Chesapeake Food Pantry. My involvement with the Girl Scouts began when my then 5-year old daughter asked me to be the Daisy (K-1st grade) troop leader. Recently, to introduce these Scouts to opera, I took her Ambassador (grades 11-12) troop to a Virginia Opera performance. Although one of the girls promptly fell asleep, the others had a great time. Exposing young minds to different cultural activities is so important. The other organization I’m dedicated to is the Chesapeake Food Pantry. Every Friday morning I pick up donated food from Target and take it to St. Thomas Church. From there the food is delivered to Harvest Care Network pantry. We feed 500 people a week in Chesapeake alone. In addition to helping people, I am involved in cat rescue all year round. My favorite operas are Sweeney Todd (2014) and Street Scene (2018) because they’re different. I appreciate that Virginia Opera doesn’t stick with the tried and true and lets its audience experience “something odd” occasionally. Because my father was contracted to work for the Royal Saudi government, I lived there for three years during high school. When the Riyadh Public Library decided to modernize their library system by updating their filing system to bar codes, I was the first non-Saudi female allowed to work (unpaid) there. I spoke some Arabic, but barcoding in Arabic is not for the faint of heart. In addition to the three years in Saudi Arabia, I’ve lived in England and visited Germany, France, and Italy. I went to prep school in Salzburg and continued violin studies there. “I wanted to be around Mozart’s atmosphere while I was playing.” Now, thanks to Virginia Opera, I’m around fabulous music year-round

The Met Live in HD

Virginia Opera Guild Calendar Date



Sep 28

5:00 p.m.

Artists’ Dinner for Tosca - HOH

Oct 2

9:30 11:00 a.m.

Board Meeting - HOH

Oct 4

8:00 p.m.


Oct 6

2:30 p.m.


Oct 8

7:30 p.m.


Nov 3

5:00 p.m.

Artists’ Dinner for Il Postino HOH

Nov 5

6:00 p.m.

Guild Night, HOH


Time Opera / Composer

Conductor / Singers

Oct 12

12:55 p.m.

Turandot / Puccini

Nézet-Séguin / Goerke, Buratto, Aronica, Morris

Oct 26

12:55 p.m.

Manon / Massenet

Benini / Oropesa, Fabiano, Bosi, Rucinski, Polegato, Youn

Nov 9

12:55 p.m.

Madama Butterfly / Puccini

Morandi / He, DeShong, Caré, Domingo

Nov 23

12:55 p.m.

Akhnaten / Philip Glass

Kemensek / Lárusdóttir, Bridges, Costanzo, Blake, Liverman, Bernstein, James

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October 2019 Coloratura  

October 2019 Coloratura