Sucharitkul’s Snow Dragon Premiere Attracts Fans To Operacon

Colleen Brooks and Luke Brotherhood perform in “The Snow Dragon.” Photo by Kevin Pauly.

Colleen Brooks and Luke Brotherhood perform in “The Snow Dragon.” Photo by Kevin Pauly.

Congratulations to Leah and Dick Smith who celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary at Operacon, an event synchronized with the world premiere of Somtow Sucharitkul’s “The Snow Dragon” last weekend in Milwaukee.

Quite a number of fans attended and Martin Morse Wooster has promised a conreport for File 770.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel gave the opera a fine review:

In the opening moments of “The Snow Dragon,”Skylight Music Theatre’s world premiere opera, firefighters rescue a frostbitten boy clinging to the steeple of an old church — in Florida, during a heat wave.

That boy, Billy Binder (Luke Brotherhood), is referred to a school counselor, Dora Marx (Colleen Brooks). Billy is frozen with rage at the physical abuse he regularly endures. Marx, on the other hand, feels burned out and talks often about the suffocating heat. Her sleeveless blouse does more than reinforce her struggle with the temperature. It also emphasizes her long, wiry arms, likening her visually to the wiry Billy. They appear destined to take a journey together…

Brotherhood’s voice is smaller and quieter than the opera professionals around him, but the experienced young actor nails his portrayal of Billy, skittish and traumatized but also defiant and angry after internalizing so much abuse. Brooks communicates beautifully in her singing. Her performance suggests that the heat her character feels comes from a failure, professional or personal, to love fully.

Local TV feature reporter Julie Collins has posted several short videos about the opera, including brief interviews with Sucharitkul and the lead singers.

To learn more about the opera and the relaxacon read these two progress reports, Flavor Forecast 1 and Flavor Forecast 2.

Operacon Celebrates Milwaukee Performance of New Work By Sucharitkul

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Somtow conducting orchestra in 2013.

Operacon, an unusual relaxacon, is scheduled to coincide with the performance of Somtow Sucharitkul’s new work “The Snow Dragon” in Milwaukee. Rendezvous for this cultural event at the Hilton Milwaukee Center the weekend of March 12-15, 2015.

“The Snow Dragon” is the Thai-American composer and author’s seventh opera, based on his 1982 short story, “The Fallen Country.”

The opera’s plot centers on young Billy Binder, who escapes from his painful life to a fantastic world of eternal snow, where he rides a dragon, fights monsters and rescues princesses. Yet the world is ruled by the evil and omnipresent Ringmaster. Defeating the Ringmaster in the fantasy kingdom is key to overcoming Billy’s real-world problems, but that’s easier said than done.

After its Milwaukee world premiere, the opera will head to Thailand for a special performance in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Memberships: $90 (includes opera ticket); $50 (without opera ticket); $25 supporting, until November 1, 2014.

The organizers are composer Somtow Sucharitkul, hotel liaison Dina Krause, and “everything else” Dick & Leah Smith.

Somtow says this will be his first con in 20 years.

[Thanks to Leah Smith for the story.]

Somtow To Conduct in LA, San Diego

ThaiOrch-750x497Somtow Sucharitkul will be conducting the Siam Sinfonietta in LA at Disney Hall on June 18 as part of the Los Angeles International Music Festival.

And he’ll be leading the orchestra at another performance in San Diego on June 22 at the Birch North Park Theatre. There, the audience is promised “a wild program of music including two U.S. premieres plus music by Rossini, Strauss, [and] Prokofiev.”

The San Diego concert is a benefit for Toys for Thailand.

Toys for Thailand, Inc. is a non-profit public benefit corporation in San Diego, California. Its international volunteers provide instructional, vocational, and agricultural resources to residential hill tribe schools in northern Thailand.

Many fans also know the conductor from his time in the U.S., when he wrote sf as S. P. Somtow.

Today’s Thought Experiment

The Official Royal Wedding website launched last week with promises to tell an eager world the latest developments in Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding plans.

I saw nothing on the website offering the faintest glimmer of hope that anyone from the sf community will attend the Royal Wedding on April 29. That’s just not right!

SF Crowsnest revealed last November that the bride-to-be is a Buffy fan. If that counts I volunteer Ben Yalow as our representative. He’s the biggest Buffy fan I know — and he does own a black tie. 

But I don’t think we should put all our eggs in one basket.

So I challenged myself: Who do I know who could get me invited to the Royal Wedding?

The most famous Englishman I know is Dave Langford. Dave is a literary lion. What’s more, Sir Terry Pratchett sends him news for Ansible and we know Sir Terry’s met the Queen at least once. Unfortunately, Dave answered that he didn’t think he could be much help:

[My] kind of extremely limited fame doesn’t translate into any kind of influence in the British establishment, but then I don’t suppose Terry’s encounter with the Queen helps either. (He’s not the only one in the UK sf community — Chris Priest has been to at least one Buckingham Palace garden party, I think as a reward for services to the Society of Authors, and I’d be surprised if Brian Aldiss hadn’t done the same at some stage.)

Probably best to blackmail a Tory of at least junior-minister rank, or a member of the Palace protocol staff. I assume that quickly marrying a close relative of bride or groom would be inconvenient since you’re already spoken for.

You’re quite right, Dave, that would be tough to arrange between now and April 29. 

I think my next inquiry will be to sf author and composer Somtow Sucharitkul, who is himself related to Thai royalty, as it says in his bio:

In 1999, he was commissioned to compose…  Madana, inspired by a fairytale-like play written by King Rama VI of Siam and dedicated to his wife, Queen Indrasaksachi, who was also the composer’s great-aunt.

If I hear back from him I’ll be surprised report further.