• Rosina’s Entrance, or How a Recitative Cut Can Change Everything

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    As anyone who explores this site can tell, my random thoughts about opera can sometimes be very, very random. I’ve been having one of those thoughts again. With LA in the midst of Figaro Unbound (see my review of UCLA’s I Due Figaro) and Il Barbiere di Siviglia currently playing at the LA Opera, Read the rest of this entry »

  • “I Due Figaro” at Opera UCLA (February 20, 2015)

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    Count Almaviva: Arnold Geis

    Countess Almaviva: Joanna Lynn-Jacobs

    Inés: Annie Sherman Read the rest of this entry »

  • Vittorio Grigolo at the Broad Stage (February 11, 2015)

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    I have a confession to make: I don’t particularly like recitals. I only go to them when the singer is a world-class star whom I’ll probably never get another chance to see or hear live. As anyone who follows this blog probably knows, opera mainly appeals to me as a way of telling stories through music. When I do listen to opera music just for the music’s own sake, I prefer to hear it on my IPod or the radio as I walk through a park Read the rest of this entry »

  • Opera Videography: La Cenerentola

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    The following is a list of every filmed performance of La Cenerentola that I’ve ever seen on DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS, ranked from my highest recommendation to my lowest. Notice that I’m not saying “best to worst”: I don’t dislike any of them, nor do I actually have an all-time favorite. But I know which versions I’d recommend the most highly to people who’ve never seen Cenerentola before, and which ones I’d recommend the least. If these comments of mine help anyone with their opera-shopping, I’ll be overjoyed.
















    UNITEL film, 1981

    Frederica von Stade (Cenerentola), Francisco Araiza (Don Ramiro), Paolo Montarsolo (Don Magnifico), Claudio Desderi (Dandini), Paul Plishka (Alidoro), Margherita Guglielmi (Clorinda), Laura Zannini (Tisbe); Coro del Teatro alla Scala; Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, cond. Claudio Abbado; dir. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle Read the rest of this entry »

  • Libr 200: My Replies to Other People’s Blog Posts

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    Blog Post #1


    “Hi Basilio, I’m Jordan. I like your name – I’m an opera lover and it’s the name of a character in “The Barber of Seville” and “The Marriage of Figaro.” Libraries are like a second home to me too, and I’m also interested in academic librarianship, especially in the field of music. I wish you the very best of luck!”


    Blog Post #2


    “What a valuable study topic! Just by casually observing libraries, I can tell that older adults are one of the most prominent information communities, and one that needs particular assistance and guidance for various reasons, not least the fact that many seniors lack technological savvy. Kudos to you for giving them the attention they need!”


    Blog Post #3


    “Good job with your interview! I never knew much about what archivists do before. I’ll have to keep all this in mind in case I ever need to consult an archivist myself.”


    Blog Post #4


    “Excellent interview and reflections. In hindsight, I wish I had asked my interviewees the questions that you asked, in addition to my own.”


    Blog Post #5


    “I have yet to work in a library, but I’ll keep all you’ve written here in mind, especially since I live in LA, a city with a huge immigrant population. The balance between helping patrons as best we can and maintaining the necessary legal and ethical standpoint can be a difficult one. I’m glad we have the opportunity to discuss and analyze it and hopefully learn from each other.”


    Blog Post #6


    “Excellent post! Your views on stereotypes and dress will be worth remembering when I enter the library work force, and I love your meme. It perfectly captures the difference the sources of knowledge that TV promotes vs. better sources of knowledge that are often overlooked.”


    Blog Post #7


    “Nice observations. I own a smart phone, but I’m still just getting the hang of apps and sometimes feel like a dinosaur. My old-fashioned mind would never have thought to consider apps an information source in the same sense as libraries. But for better or worse, as you said, they are!”


    Book Review


    “This book sounds excellent. Increased user participation seems to be the direction that a lot of information sources are taking nowadays. I think I approve of that change, though I need to do more research on the subject. Increased user feedback and integration of the museum/library/etc into the community sounds good to me! I’m tempted to look for a copy of this book based on what you’ve written.”

  • Libr 200: What I’ve Learned About Music Librarianship

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    Until I took Libr 200, I never realized the scope and complexity of the world of music librarianship. I knew I was interested in it, but I didn’t realize how many things it encompasses. But now I know all the different types of music librarianship that exist: academic, performance, HIP, etc. I know the multitude of responsibilities that a music librarian has: preserving scores and recordings, distributing them to scholars and musicians, researching period music styles to ensure that performances are “accurate,” interacting with conductors, music publishers, etc, and staying abreast of the latest technology and the community’s ever-changing information needs. I know the legal and ethical issues librarians need to grapple with and the stereotypes they need to combat. I know the type of experience and education needed for a career in the field. And I know how technology and digitization are changing not only the nature of music librarianship, but the music industry as a whole.


    I realize now that if I want to be a music librarian, I’ll need much more education. As a non-musician, I’ll need to find the necessary training from people who do have instrument-playing experience. I’ll also need to decide which type of music library is the best environment for me, learn what openings are available in that category, and try to become more technologically savvy, so I can work effortlessly with the software and digital files that are becoming so important to the world of music. I’ll research courses that are specifically in music librarianship, to see where they’re offered and what the requirements are. I’ll follow all the most recent surveys of the music information-seeking community to make sure I fully understand their needs, both present and future. Music librarianship is a fascinating field, more so than I ever dreamed it would be, and I’m looking forward to exploring it more deeply.

  • Libr 200: Technology in a Performance Library

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    The importance of modern technology in academic music libraries is clear. The music recordings in their collection, which professors and students rely on, are increasingly being stored as digital reserves rather than records or CDs. But how does digital technology matter in performance libraries? Does it help those librarians serve their information-seeking community, too?


    The answer can be found in Patrick Lo’s 2014 article An Interview with Matthew Naughtin, Music Librarian at the San Francisco Ballet. This interview is effectively a follow-up to Lo’s earlier interview with the Metropolitan Opera’s chief librarian Robert Sutherland, despite being published in a different journal. It covers much the same ground as the Sutherland interview, describing a performance librarian’s responsibilities, though it outlines several factors unique to ballet librarianship and foreign to opera companies. But it also discusses a factor not emphasized by Sutherland, but which is probably universal to all performance libraries today: the benefits of digitization.


    One of a performance librarian’s main jobs is to preserve sheet music, proofread it, and edit it to make sure it’s completely error-free. This is obviously a difficult task to do by hand. But with the advent of music notation software, scores can now be computer-engraved into PDF files (Lo & Naughtin, 2014, p. 153). The editing work can now be done on computer, and multiple digital copies can be made of a single error-free score.


    Performance librarians also need to distribute sheet music to every musician in the company, as well as to fellow music librarians with whom they collaborate. Traditional mail is slow and not always reliable as a distribution method. Though Naughtin still uses it when he needs to, he prefers sending PDF files by e-mail (Lo & Naughtin, 2014, p. 146), and I’m sure that many other librarians agree with him. He also enthusiastically praises the San Francisco Ballet IT Department’s new website (Lo & Naughtin, 2014, p. 154), which will let musicians upload not only sheet music PDFs, but MP3 audio files onto their iPhones and iPads, so they can practice their music with both visual and audio guidance.


    It’s clear from this interview that digitization is bringing ease and innovation to every subset of music librarianship. I’m sure that within a few decades, or even years, few librarians will even remember a time when digital technology wasn’t essential to their work.



    Lo, P. & Naughtin, M. (2014). A conversation with Matthew Naughtin, music librarian at the San Francisco Ballet. Music Reference Services Quarterly, 17(3), 142-168. doi: 10.1080/10588167.2014.932677