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Verdi’s masterpiece returns to Seattle Opera May 2023. Initially this sumptuous, tuneful, utterly human tragedy sparked controversy, but it quickly became one of the world’s most beloved operas. Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean introduces La traviata, with musical examples from previous Seattle Opera productions including 1996 (conducted by Ge…
 
In the 1970s, a song about protesting truckers topped the music charts in multiple countries, and kicked off a pop culture craze for CB radios. In early 2022, that same song became an anthem for a new trucker-led protest movement in Canada and the US. How did C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” come to exist, and what had it been trying to say? For this episode…
 
A brand-new opera based on Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel, with music by Sheila Silver, libretto by Stephen Kitsakos, and directed by Roya Sadat, premieres at Seattle Opera in February 2023. In this podcast Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean introduces A Thousand Splendid Suns, with musical examples from a 2016 workshop performed by NOVUS …
 
Saint-Saëns’ grand French opera, not heard in Seattle since 1965, returns January 2023 in a concert production showcasing the breathtaking music of this powerful Old Testament epic. Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean introduces Samson et Dalila, with musical examples drawn from recordings conducted by Louis Fourestier, starring Hélène Bouvier an…
 
Wagner’s revolutionary masterpiece, often considered the most Romantic opera ever written, returns to Seattle Opera in October 2022. Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean introduces Tristan und Isolde, with musical examples from Seattle Opera’s 1998 (starring Jane Eaglen, Ben Heppner, and Michelle DeYoung, conducted by Armin Jordan) and 2010 (condu…
 
A smile full of sunshine comes to Seattle Opera with the return of Donizetti’s endearing comedy. The story of The Elixir of Love concerns the adventures of a bottle of Bordeaux; but the music is as sweet and gentle as the lightest possible tiramisù. Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean introduces The Elixir of Love, with musical examples from Seat…
 
In 2004, the indie flick Sideways was released in just four theaters, but it had a big impact, earning five Oscar nominations and $110 million worldwide. “I thought it was just going to be a nice little comedy,” filmmaker Alexander Payne tells us. Instead, the movie became known for something else so notable that it has a name: The Sideways Effect.…
 
When we think of method acting, we tend to think of actors going a little over the top for a role – like Jared Leto, who allegedly sent his colleagues dead rats when he was preparing to be The Joker, or Robert De Niro refusing to break character on the set of the movie Raging Bull. But that’s not how method acting began. On this episode of Decoder …
 
In the early 2000s, an arms race broke out in the world of men’s shaving. After decades with razors that had only one blade and then decades with razors that had only two, the number of blades rapidly spiraled up and up and up. It’s a skirmish sometimes referred to as The Razor Blade Wars, and it was a face-off about innovation, competition, capita…
 
In this ‘listener’s guide’ to one of opera’s favorite comedies, Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean investigates Mozart’s use of some eighteenth-century musical idioms in THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO. Musical examples from Seattle Opera Marriage of Figaro productions in 1997 (conducted by Antonello Allemandi, starring Mary Mills); 2009 (conducted by De…
 
General Director Christina Scheppelmann announces Seattle Opera's 2022/23 season, including the great singers who will be coming to Seattle and an exciting lineup of operas: Donizetti's Elixir of Love, Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah, Verdi's La traviata, and the world premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns by Sheila Silv…
 
This conversation (recorded live, December 16, 2021) featured ORPHEUS & EURYDICE stage director Chía Patiño, choreographer Donald Byrd, and conductor Stephen Stubbs. The inspiration for the earliest operas, as well as numerous retellings in each new generation, the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is a reflection on music’s power to express lov…
 
Stephen Stubbs, conductor of Seattle Opera’s upcoming ORFEO ED EURIDICE, by Gluck, joined us last year for an intermission chat when we rebroadcast Gluck’s IPHIGÉNIE EN TAURIDE. A native Seattleite, student (and professor) at University of Washington, Stubbs has been a leader in the world of early music for three decades. Among the hundreds of reco…
 
In literature, the choice to become a vampire is a metaphor for transformative experiences. On this episode, we bring you a story from Slate's Hi-Phi Nation podcast, which explores problems in contemporary philosophy through story. From real-life blood suckers, to Lord Byron, to Twilight, vampires are a tool for philosophers to think about othernes…
 
When you think about the game, you lose the game. When you lose the game you must declare that you have lost the game, causing all others in your vicinity to also lose the game. That’s it, that’s the game. The game is mind game that trades on a quirk of human psychology, and is so intensely viral that it went from a college science fiction club in-…
 
Opera is a big team effort. Every opera production puts hundreds of creative people to work, singing, playing instruments, acting, dancing, crafting and maneuvering sets, costumes, props, and lights and everything else. Backstage at Seattle Opera’s recent LA BOHÈME, Dramaturg Jonathan Dean spoke with several veteran Seattle Opera artisans about the…
 
“Men die and governments change, but the songs of La bohème will live forever,” wrote Thomas Alva Edison to Giacomo Puccini. Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean introduces La bohème, with musical examples from Seattle Opera’s archival recordings of La bohème: from 2007, with Rosario La Spina (Rodolfo) and Nuccia Focile (Mimì), conducted by Vjekos…
 
Seattle Opera Scholar-in-Residence Naomi André and Dramaturg Jonathan Dean discuss the most controversial of all opera composers, Richard Wagner, whose DIE WALKÜRE the company will present, in concert (and abridged) at Fisher Pavilion on August 28. Wagner’s astonishing masterpieces continue to challenge and delight audiences, although his legacy is…
 
You know the Tootsie Shot. It’s that shot from the movies: a really busy midtown street, protagonist smack in the middle of it all, everyone going somewhere. It’s one of the most recognizable shots in film. It can be found in Working Girl, Midnight Cowboy, Wall Street, Heartburn, Elf, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Devil Wears Prada, The Wolf of Wall S…
 
In the year 2000, Dan Kois was a junior book agent working on selling a secretive book proposal called IT, a codename for what would eventually be revealed as the Segway personal scooter. This is the story of the invention and development of a potentially revolutionary device, how Dan may or may not have doomed it, how the hype got out of control, …
 
If you love the show and want to support us, consider joining Slate Plus. With Slate Plus you can binge the whole season of Decoder Ring right now, plus ad free podcasts, bonus episodes, and much more. On this episode, we explore the misunderstood history of Muzak, formerly the world’s foremost producers of elevator music. Out of the technological …
 
To say that hydration is an invention is only a slight exaggeration. Back in the 1970’s and ‘80s, no one carried bottled water with them, but by the ‘90s it was a genuine status object. How did bottled water transform itself from a small, European luxury item to the single largest beverage category in America? It took both technological innovation,…
 
Welcome to a brand new season of Decoder Ring! On this episode, we investigate the wild world of soap operas through the lens of one legendary, decades-long, ripped-from-the-headlines storyline. The rape of Marty Seabrook dared to combine the melodrama of soaps with a serious examination of sexual assault, and over time morphed from an award-winnin…
 
For KING FM’s re-broadcast of Seattle Opera’s 1976 OF MICE AND MEN, Dramaturg Jonathan Dean interviewed Melanie Ross about the early days of Seattle Opera and the work of her father, Seattle Opera founding General Director Glynn Ross. Melanie, who retired in 2017, worked behind the scenes at Seattle Opera for over four decades. We appreciate her sh…
 
Right now Decoder Ring is working on a full season of new episodes coming this June, but in the meantime we wanted to share this episode from our friends over at The Sporkful. Each week on The Sporkful Dan Pashman and his guests obsess about food to learn more about people. This episode is the first in a five-part series called Mission: ImPASTAble.…
 
Marketing Director Kristina Murti and Assistant Production Director Alicia Moriarty chatted during an intermission of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG when Seattle Opera re-broadcast its 2005 RING cycle on KING-FM in February. Listen to their stories about how the RING changed their lives, and what it does for the opera company that dares take it on.…
 
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