Monday, October 17, 2011

Review La Triviata, An Opera Even Amateur Opera Fans Can Enjoy

La Traviata
Presented by the Pittsburgh Opera
October 15, 18, 21, 23, 2011                                          
JoAnn R. Forrester, Positively Pittsburgh Live, reviewer

First I have to confess that I am not an experienced opera “goer”.  In my lifetime I have seen about 5 operas and have gone because friends “encouraged” me.   So I write from the view of someone who is just learning and does not know all the technical details….but I can tell you how I responded and felt.

Violetta toasts: Among a group of admirers, Violetta (Anna Samuil) toasts
her guests in the Act I party scene of Pittsburgh Opera’s La traviata
First of all, just from the point of getting dressed up and going to the opera it is delicious fun.  So many places we go today people are casually dressed and have forgotten the niceties of “Dress Up” and how it makes you feel.  The majority of the audience was elegant and men and women, young and old were dressed up and it was fun to be part of “the scene”.  Just for that I want to go again.

Second, Opera lovers are friendly and love to share with you their opinion and want to hear yours.  I confessed I did not know the “technical stuff” and more than one person was thrilled to share with me.  
Third, I read the reviews from both major papers in town and it was fascinating to see what I the pros had to say…some of it I agreed and some I definitely did not.  

La Traviata was written by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Based on La dame aux Camellias in 1852, a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils.  This opera was based on the life of a famous courtesan in France who found love and then died tragically at a young age. Verdi was one of her admirers.  

The role of the beautiful courtesan Violetta Valery, played by Anna Samuil captured me with her voice and style.   The casting in this case was perfect.  The opening scene is in her Paris apartment where she is hosting a grand party with her admirers is proclaiming all the joys of what today we would call the “Jet Set” Lifestyle.  An admirer Alfredo Germont is introduced and he has loved her from afar for a year.   Amidst the merry making Violetta shows sign of an illness which she quickly dismisses. But Alfredo watches and hovers and instinctively wants to take care and protect her.  Anna impressed me with her range and passion and Alfredo seemed like an unlikely match.  But love often makes strange matches.  Fire and passion often is attracted to quiet and nice….for a while and then??  First Act ends with Violetta agreeing to meet Alfredo the next day after the Camellia withers. 

In Pittsburgh Opera’s La traviata, Violetta and Alfredo break up,
 but then meet at this party, where partygoers are dressed as gypsies
(Attack Theatre dancer Liz Chang at left, in orange dress)
and matadors. Photo by David Bachman.
Now, the second act, First Scene, Violetta and Aflredo are blissfully living in her country house near Paris.  Life is good…but expensive.  I must mention for a minute that the scenery in the second act is breathtakingly beautiful and transports you to a country home in Paris true to the era.   Alfredo finds out that Violetta is selling her possessions to support their luxurious lifestyle.  He vows to rectify that and off to Paris he goes.  As soon as he leaves Alfredo father, Giorgio Germont, played excellently by Stephen Powell arrives and confronts Violetta.  He implores her to leave his son; their relationship is ruining the family’s good name and will destroy his daughter opportunity to marry well.

These two, Violetta and Giorgi, are powerful together.  The father wanting to protect his family and the woman to protect herself from losing the love of her life!  They soar in their songs and are mesmerizing to watch.  Violetta finally agrees to sacrifice herself and let Alfredo go.  She does this fully knowing that she will shortly succumb to tuberculosis.  The father leaves and Alfredo comes back and is sent away.grieving, jealous and angry.

Second Act, second scene, Violetta has returned to her former lifestyle and is at a party with Baron Douphol, a former lover, when Alfredo shows up.   The emotions run wild with accusations, histrionics and bad treatment of Violetta by Alfredo.  He is acting like he is a member of the today’s reality soap opera Jersey Shore and there you finally see the passion of Alfredo.  He also challenges the Baron to a duel and his behavior is condemned by all including his father, Giorgio.  The stage has been set for Violetta tragic death.
Although they have been apart for months, Violetta (Anna Samuil)
and Alfredo (Giuseppe Varano) are reunited briefly
before Violetta dies of consumption. Pittsburgh Opera’s La traviata
runs October 15, 18, 21, and 23 at The Benedum Center. Photo by David Bachman
Third Act, Violetta is dying only her loyal maid and Dr. Grenvil are with her.  Ah...the loneliness and despair because she does not have Alfredo with her.  But wait good news!  Alfredo has been told by his father of Violetta sacrifice and he and father are rushing to her side to revive her, bring her back to life. 

Powerful emotion comes from all and hope against hope she will live.but no the lovers are separated by her passing.  A stark ending and no dry eyes in the audience.

I liked La Traviata.  I was absorbed by the tragedy unfolding with the emotions being so strongly expressed in song.   If you can go…is it an absorbing power drama that takes you back in time and yet can be related to today…but in a much classier more elegant manner than much of our entertainment today.
Go, dress up, learn and enjoy.  I think I have found a new love...the opera.

JoAnn R Forrester, Empress of Biz
JoAnn R. Forrester "Empress of Biz" TalkCast Host                                           Point is..
S. I. Business Associates Price it Perfect
Celebrate & Share Women of Achievement
2010 YWCA Tribute to Women Honoree
SBA PA Woman Business Champion 2000/1989 
Office: 412-440-6969
Cell:     412-670-4322

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: "Blast" was a Blast!

Blast was A BLAST!!
  Positively Pittsburgh Live went to see BLAST at the Saturday matinee at the Heinz Hall.  There was some grumbling internally  "like it is so beautiful outside why am I going inside?"  The sun is shining, temps are warm and the sky is that wonderful October blue.  grumble grumble.  But happily for me it was a BLAST! and definitely worth going inside and being entertained by this innovative, raucous celebration of brass and percussion instruments and precision dance. 

Many ways it was like a hyped up choreographed college band doing its best to entertain you, to wow you and have you bouncing in your seats to their beat.  Which I was!  The drum battles and the brass punctuated the hall and the energy and enthusiasm of the cast as they performed their synchronized moves and exhilarating to watch.  Good time had by all and when we left the sun was shining, my feet were still tapping and I skipped off to enjoy the day.

And Hey Brass fans....there was  special offer in the program book for our own river city Brass Band who will be offering Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from November 3 to the 16 at various locations around the area.     Just mention BLAST TO receive $5.00 off your ticket.  
Joann R. Forrester
Guest Reviewer PPL Magi

JoAnn R. Forrester 
"Empress of Biz" TalkCast Host Point is..
JoAnn Forrester
Empress of Biz                                 
S. I. Business Associates 
Price it Perfect
Celebrate & Share Women of Achievement
2010 YWCA Tribute to Women Honoree
SBA PA Woman Business Champion 2000/1989 
Office: 412-440-6969
Cell:     412-670-4322

Saturday, October 8, 2011

PositivelyPittsburghLive, 5th Annual NAWBO Day Preview

Positively Pittsburgh Live! 8-22-11
5th Annual NAWBO Day Preview
Please note this event has been rescheduled to 11-4-11, Guests have been added
and Becky Auer's presentation on direct response marketing has been rescheduled for Januay, 2012..  Please check for additional information

5th Annual NAWBO Day, "Think Ginormous, We Have an App for that!
Hear Speakers Becky Auer (formerly Gomes) Glazer Kennedy trained marketer and former owner of Nakama Japanes Restaurant and Sushi and Cassandra Brown, Co-founder of Jireh Mobile: Cassandras drive and determination has helped Jireh Mobile become a leader in interactive mobile campaigns and database management. Meet 2011-2013 NAWBO Greater Pittsburgh Chapter Presdient Meenakshi Kapoor owner of Symphony Enterprises, LLC and , Jo Ann Forrester, NAWBO Greater Pitt Public Policy Director who will enlighten listeners on NAWBO National Public Policy.

Becky Auer
Today’s Guests
Becky Auer, No BS Marketing
Cassandra Brown, Jireh Mobile
Meenakshi Kapoor, Symphony Enterprises
Jo Ann Forrester, NAWBO Greater Pitt Public Policy Director

Becky Auer, No BS Marketing
·         Glazer Kennedy trained Marketer,  an independent restaurant from $0 to $6.5 Million in less than 4 years and built their customer list to over 63,000.
·         Teaches ambitious entrepreneurs and serious salespeople how to use Direct Emotional Response Marketing to grow their list, business, and profits through her No BS Marketing Meetings, VIP & Masterminds Groups, and the Profit Catapult Business School.
·         Why you should avoid EVERYTHING that traditional advertising reps tell you
·         How to use direct response marketing versus traditional advertising and why you should
·         Why ROI is more important than cost or even response rate
·         What are the most important parts of any ad you create?
·         Once you get them coming in the door, how to never let them leave
If you want real life examples go to:  and get a $1 trial for 30 days!  There are over 147 different marketing templates and examples inside of direct response marketing that you can use immediately that will get customers to respond!
Contact Info: Becky Auer, No BS Marketing Meeting (, Profit Catapult Business School (, PO Box 111, Ingomar PA 15127, phone: 412-369-9994

Cassandra Brown, Jireh Mobile
·         SMS marketing Overall
·         Text messaging stats - 39 is the average age of texters, 7.9 billion text messages sent in the first 6 months of 2011
·         How our clients are using text messaging
o   Savoy
o   AWC
o   Allegheny County Public Works
·         Direction of mobile marketing
·         What will mobile marketing look like for the holidays?

Meet 2011-2013 NAWBO Greater Pittsburgh Chapter
Meenakshi Kapoor, Symphony Enterprises,President NAWBO Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 2011-2013
Jo Ann Forrester, SI Businsess Associates, Blue Ribbon Profiles, Public Policy Director NAWBO Greater Pittsburgh
Mary Pam Kilgore, Program Director NAWBO Greater Pittsburgh, President Elect 2012-2015

Mary Pam Kilgore
President Elect, 2011-2013
In 1975, a group of a dozen like-minded businesswomen in the D.C. area gathered to share information and create an atmosphere of professional community to further and strengthen their entrepreneurial interests. That group quickly grew to become what is now known as the National Association of Women Business Owners. Since then, NAWBO has risen to become the strong and unified voice of more than 10 million women-owned businesses across the country.
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) propels women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide by:
·         Strengthening the wealth creating capacity of our members and promoting economic development within the entrepreneurial community
·         Creating innovative and effective change in the business culture
·         Building strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations
·         Transforming public policy and influencing opinion makers
Diversity Statement:
In principle and in practice, NAWBO values and seeks a diverse and inclusive membership.  NAWBO seeks full participation in the organization by all business owners who support our mission to empower women entrepreneurs, regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.  NAWBO’s goal is to effectively represent the full diversity of the women business owner community and to expand access to leadership opportunities across the full spectrum of our membership.

Helen Han
NAWBO, Washington, DC

Laura Yamanaka
TeamCFO, Inc.
Los Angeles, CA

Evelyn Strange
Advanced Electrical
Systems, Inc.
Louisville, KY

·         NAWBO Members' Optimism Rebounding
·         NAWBO Positions
·         Advocacy Partners
NAWBO is a member of the Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage. The Coalition supports and advocates for “market-oriented approaches and tax incentives or other subsidies to promote affordable health coverage for all, including the uninsured.” Tax parity for the treatment of health expenses for individuals and the self-employed is also a focus of the Coalition.

To hear this episode of Positively Pittsburgh Live in its entirety go to:

Delana Flowers is a multi-talented creative. She is a Positively Pittsburgh Live reporter, a dynamic vocalist, an amazing Actress, and an independent writer. Delana is owner of Ingenuity by Delana Flowers ©, writing effective copy so you don’t have to. Services include copywriting for newsletters, blogs, ad copy, marketing pieces, articles, reviews, invitations, postcards, flyers and more.