The day I found Cecily Carver’s opera blog All Time Coloratura was a wonderful day. She hosts an extraordinary online resource, a treasure trove, mainly about the Toronto opera scene that offers much more to operagoers everywhere. She writes beautifully and insightfully. Her content is interesting and relevant no matter which opera venue or venues you frequent.
So, I was delighted to learn that the Canadian Opera Company (COC), the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America, scooped her up as their Social and Interactive Media Coordinator, and as a result introduced a new blog– “Parlando.”
The COC has an international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation. Tell us more about their blogging endeavors.
The COC actually has multiple blogs. Alexander Neef, the General Director, has been blogging enthusiastically about his activities and travels for well over a year now and has built up a robust readership. There have also been a few blogs with a very specific focus: for the beehives on top of the Four Seasons Centre (the COC’s opera house), the Ensemble Studio (the COC’s young artists program), and the book club for Maria Stuarda this spring – the latter two are no longer on the site, but may be revived when those groups become active again.
Before you became the new Social Media Coordinator for the COC, had they noticed “All-Time Coloratura”?
Starting an additional blog was one of the reasons the company created the position, but by no means the only one. The COC has been getting progressively more involved in social media over the last several years and needed someone to manage and co-ordinate things like twitter, Facebook, blogging and so on. Part of my work will be encouraging people who are involved with the COC either behind-the-scenes or as patrons to contribute material themselves and discuss the COC on their own platforms.
From what I understand, there were many applicants for the position, and having an existing opera blog certainly helped my case. But don’t believe they set out to hire “a blogger” per se.
Tell us a little about how often you’ll be publishing and what readers can expect in terms of content?
So far I’ve been publishing one item every weekday morning and I hope to maintain a pace of at least three entries per week depending on what’s happening with the company. Right now we’re preparing for our fall run which will include Aida and Death in Venice, as well as a recital with Ben Heppner and some supporting events like Opera 101. So it’s quite a busy time and there’s a lot to write about! I’ll be posting behind-the-scenes “sneak peeks” when possible but also background information, reviews, and so on. Most of the content will center on those events, but there will also be some posts about opera that are not specific to the COC.
Will you be attending most of the events?
The more events I attend, the more material I’ll have to write about (and tweet, and photograph, and so on)! I will be attending as many as possible, with smartphone in hand.
Is the blog primarily to increase numbers at your event or to increase your visibility in the international opera community?
Those goals are mutually reinforcing, so it’s not one or the other–ideally, it’s both! And the goal that contributes to both of those things is engaging with the community that already exists around the COC–getting to know our audience, getting their feedback, and getting them talking. And while international recognition is desirable, it’s our Canadian audience that’s most important.
Tell us more about Canadian opera.
The COC is actually in the top five largest opera companies in North America, and has very high subscription and attendance rates. The majority of our productions are either sold-out or come very close. And there’s a lot of openness here to less-familiar works: both last season’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables and War and Peace from the season before generated a huge amount of interest. I’ve been saying for a while that Toronto is an excellent place to be an opera lover – there are several smaller companies besides the COC doing excellent and interesting work here as well, like Opera Atelier, Queen of Puddings, Opera Erratica, and Tapestry New Opera.
If your blog surpasses expectations, what will the blog be like/look like in two years?
I think that depends very much on how the blog is received andwhat kind of content people enjoy reading the most, which is something we’ll get a feel for as the blog matures. One thing we’re hoping for is that over time there will be more entries written by people other than myself, both from inside and outside the company.
Did you get to choose the name yourself or was it a group decision?
A little bit of both, actually. I and two other people from the Communications department pulled up chairs in my office and bandied about a bunch of names. Some of the rejected names included “Blopera”, “Operog” “Cosi fan Blog”, and a couple of rather unseemly puns. We settled on the current name after consulting with an Italian-speaker who happened to be walking by at the time, and Parlando (another term for recitative) was born.
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Stop by Parlando and you can see costume sketches for Death in Venice, learn more about Sandra Sondra Radvanovsky, who will be sharing the title role in Aida with Michele Capalbo at the COC this fall, and noob rules for SRO crowds.