In this second of two episodes dedicated to opera, Philip talks about the business of opera and the role a Music Director plays in day-to-day financials, operations, planning and fund raising that drive an opera company. He uses his 17 years of experience with Minnesota Opera and conducting experience around the world as a tapestry for illustrating the collaboration between composers, stage directors, singers and instrumentalists in getting work from theory to closing curtain. Philip recalls his experiences commissioning and working with American composers including Conrad Susa and Dominick Argento. Later on, he dives into a brief history of bel canto arias, and we discuss why the musical Hamilton is unlikely to make an appearance at your local opera house. Philip also compares and contrasts the role of a music director in an opera company with that of a music director in a church setting. We end the discussion with Philip’s perspective on the future of opera around the world.
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If you’ve got questions for Philip about choral conducting or music in general, please send them to us: renaissancemanpodcast [at] gmail [dot] com.
Music excerpts in Episode 07 include (in order of appearance):
"Quartet Of Swedes - Swedish Born And Swedish Bred" by Benjamin Britten, performed by The Plymouth Music Series (now Vocal Essence) from Britten’s opera Paul Bunyan conducted by Philip Brunelle for Virgin Classics (1987)
"Deo Dicamus Gratias" sung by the Plymouth Congregational Church choir off the album Praise And Thanksgiving: Music And Spoken Word, conducted by Philip Brunelle (2006)
"Tocotta In F Major" for organ by Charles-Marie Widor, performed by Philip Brunelle off the album Make A Joyful Noise (1998)
“It Isn’t Very Often the Conservatives Are Wrong” by Benjamin Britten, performed by The Plymouth Music Series (now Vocal Essence) from Britten’s opera Paul Bunyan conducted by Philip Brunelle for Virgin Classics (1987)
“A Nation Of Cowslips: VII. In A Praise Of Apollo” from Dominick Argento: An American Romantic, performed by the Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers (Plymouth Music Series) conducted by Philip Brunelle, via Collins Records (1998)
“Sym In B Flat Major - Minuet & Trio” from the album Orchestral Music From The 18th Century, performed by the Orchestra of The Royal Swedish Opera, conducted by Philip Brunelle (1996)
Philip conducting unknown musicians for a promotional photo taken for an event featuring opera and food, circa 1980 (via the Star Tribune archives)