Opera in Mainstream American Culture

With our ASL Opera project picking up steam, I was curious to know just how the “High Art” of Opera has influenced mainstream American culture over the last 50 years or so, and I was surprised to learn, via ChatGPT-4 AI, just how deeply many of the most famous Opera melodies made their way into our shared childhoods and our culturally maintained totems of relevance!

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Learning Italian Lifetime Immersion Style

For the past 60 days, I have been intensively studying the Italian language. I want to learn Italian in order to better serve our ASL Opera project since 50% of the most popular operas were written in Italian (25% were written in German, and 15% were written in French). I understand modern Italian isn’t the same as “original opera Italian” — but learning something new only helps deepen the appreciation of the comprehension of the context of the original aesthetic. In this article, I will share with you some of the treasures, and techniques, I have been using to apply a greater understanding to my Italian learning.

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Will The Metropolitan Opera Allow the Deaf to Sing?

[UPDATE: September 12, 2023; our ASL Opera Project website is now live! Join us there for new videos, translation updates, and for consultation concerning the right interpretation of Opera in American Sign Language!]

[UPDATE: July 11, 2023.  Janna and I met with the Metropolitan Opera to discuss heightened ASL interpreting for their performances. The meeting was positive, forward-thinking, and hopeful! We will soon update with more information! Here’s the July 11 update!]

My delightful wife Janna Sweenie and I are big lovers of opera. Opera is the pinnacle of all the Performing Arts — Painting, Acting, Voice, Costumes, Lights and Sets — and when put together, in unison, in an exaggerated and elevated performance, the entire world glows and resonates! We have always been dismayed that opera is not often, if ever, interpreted in American Sign Language for the Deaf like all Broadway shows are interpreted. Janna and I are currently working on our “Opera Project” where she will present ASL renderings of famous opera arias. We will place those performances online as proof-of-concept. This is a challenging, but rewarding, and complex academic process of interpretation and adaptation, and implementation.

Here’s my Boles.tv live stream discussion of the Deaf singing at The Met:

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Albert Herring: Especially Bright and Pleasing

Years ago, after my stage debut in — The King and I at UNL — I was asked by Roger L. Stephens to pay the cameo role of Harry in the silly Benjamin Britten opera, Albert Herring.  Here’s a brief plot synopsis of the show:

Lady Billows is organizing the annual May Day festival and desperate to find girls for the coveted position of Queen of the May. However, it turns out none of the girls in the village are virgins – disqualifying them. Thus, Lady Billows and Superintendent Budd decide to select a May King instead of a May Queen. Albert Herring, a virgin, is the perfect candidate. Comedy ensues when after winning, Albert disappears. Everyone assumes he is dead when in fact Albert simply took the prize money and went to look for trouble!

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Television Matriarch Frances Reid Passes

On November 8, 1965, Frances Reid appeared as character Alice Horton for the first time on daytime drama, “Days of Our Lives.” For forty-two years, she continued to appear on the show until her health no longer permitted her to do so. It really touched me whenever she was able to make an appearance on the show in the later years because it reminded me of many happy years that I spent watching the show with my grandmother.

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Adriano Celentano Sings in My Dreams

Gordon Davidescu wrote this article.

It all started a few nights ago. It was sometime early in the morning, far earlier than I would ever consider waking up. I was in the middle of what seemed to be quite a bizarre dream. I was with my father at his house and we were listening to the music of Adriano Celentano – with good reason, I think.

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