By Sean

CD – The Flatterer – Piano Music of Cécile Chaminade

“We’re not struggling to understand why she wrote what she wrote and why she titled it,” says pianist Joanne Polk. “It’s right there and it co-ordinates beautifully.” [Click here to see my full interview with Joanne Polk on] The cover image for the recording – Portrait du marquis d’Afflitto (1925) – sets the tone […]

“Please don’t talk about me when I’m gone”

When the studios needed a charismatic blonde to play a determined but desperate woman heading straight to the final curtain – Gladys George was the ideal choice. She is the doomed “Madame DuBarry” in MGM’s lavish Marie Antoinette (1939), the hard-boiled owner of a speakeasy in The Roaring Twenties (1932), the ultimately tragic heroine of […]

A Conversation with Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo

“Because I had hair on my arms and a low speaking voice,” said Anthony, “the opera people said that maybe I had gone through puberty and was a countertenor.” [Click here to see my complete interview with Anthony on HuffingtonPost]

Filmmaker Judy Irving – On ‘Pelican Dreams’

Six years ago, there was a brief story on local broadcast news about a pelican that had stopped traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. Turns out, she was a minor and starving…. (Click on the photo to see my complete interview with Judy Irving on HuffingtonPost)  

Bass-Baritone Philippe Sly on Handel’s “Partenope”

Partenope is a precursor to Cosi fan tutte, says Phil. “I’m kind-of her best friend, a sexually repressed individual that hasn’t come out of the closet.” [Click on the photo to see my complete interview with Philippe Sly on]      

Meeting Soprano Jeanette MacDonald in “San Francisco”

What’s the best film for getting acquainted with Hollywood soprano Jeanette MacDonald? Click on the photo to find my answer on YouTube.
 My first encounter with Jeanette MacDonald was through a local broadcast of MGM’s major box office hit from 1936, San Francisco. It’s been a long-term affair ever since – with both her and […]

‘A Masked Ball’ at San Francisco Opera – Time For an Unmasking

Verdi’s A Masked Ball, now at San Francisco Opera through October 22, is a scary enterprise. The production, last seen in 2006, is looking stale and funky and the stodgy staging by Jose Maria Condemi and silly bits of choreography by Lawrence Pech beyond rescue…. [Click here to read my complete review on] Click […]

Author Steve Wilson on “The Making of Gone with the Wind”

Just when I thought I could answer any trivia question on the 1939 production of Gone with the Wind, comes a treasure of new material in Steve Wilson’s book, The Making of Gone with the Wind. It is the companion piece to an exhibit now at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas […]

Bass-Baritone Christian Van Horn – A Busy Season at San Francisco Opera

“I won the Metropolitan Opera Competition in 2003. From the time I won it to the time I came back as a principal artist was ten years. This is rarely easy for anybody….” Click here to read the full interview on

“Veda Pierce” – Lounge Lizard or High Toned Viper?

Ann Blyth enters as the youngest in our series, Ladies of the Nightclubs. As Veda in the 1945 production of Mildred Pierce starring Joan Crawford, Ann was assigned a familiar rag from 1911, “Oceana Roll” – lyrics by Roger Lewis, music by Lucien Denni. By the time filming began at Warner Brothers Studios, the song […]