Interview with Host Nick Reveles
Nick Reveles is the Geisel Director of Education & Outreach for the San Diego Opera
San Diego OperaTalk! and San Diego Opera Spotlight have brought the joy of opera to televisions across the county for over ten years. We sat down with the host of these two great programs to find out more about their history and the upcoming season.
UCSD-TV: What sparked your love of opera?
Nick Reveles: I had to teach 19th century Romanticism when I was first assigned to the music faculty at USD in 1977. Although I loved certain operas at that time (especially 20th century operas), I had no real interest in the operas of the “golden age.” So the summer before I began teaching I went into isolation and spent quality time with Verdi, Puccini and Wagner. It didn’t take long to get the bug and I’ve been infected ever since!
UCSD-TV: What is your favorite opera?
NR: Hard to say! I could better give you my top five! Wozzeck by Alban Berg (one of those 20th century operas that I’ve loved since the age of 15!!), Otello by Verdi, Don Giovanni by Mozart, Turandot by Puccini and Wagner’s Ring.
UCSD-TV: How did you become involved with San Diego OperaTalk! and San Diego Opera Spotlight?
NR: Our General Director Ian Campbell suggested OperaTalk!. Spotlight already existed, and I simply took over the interview portion of the show without ever being on screen. But when Ian asked me to write and host my own show, I met with director John Menier and fashioned with him pretty much what we have today — a half hour show about the history and culture of the operas we produce, as well as a significant amount of time about the music which I still think is something of a mystery to our audiences.
UCSD-TV: Opera Spotlight takes the audience back stage to see what goes on behind-the-scenes. What kinds of things do they get to see? What do you find they are most surprised by?
NR: Well of course John Menier and his crew get terrific B-role of rehearsals in the studio as well as onstage footage from the full-dress rehearsals. That’s always exciting for our audiences to see. But I’m still fascinated by the various “takes” on their roles that the singers present to us. You never know what they’re going to say and their responses to our questions can sometimes be provocative.
UCSD-TV: What is the most challenging aspect of bringing opera to a television audience?
NR: I’d say that from day one the most challenging aspect has been to write the script of OperaTalk! so that I’m talking not only to seasoned opera lovers but to people who are completely new to it. I’m always gratified when someone stops me on the street or at the mall or in a restaurant (and it happens with great regularity!) and tells me that they’re not particularly opera fans but they love watching the show and that it sometimes results in their buying tickets. Gotta love that!
UCSD-TV: You’ve been a member of the UCSD-TV family for quite some time. Do you have any war stories from opera shoots over the years?
NR: Oh, there are so many! Every time we tried to shoot in Balboa Park (a lovely location) we’d end up struggling with lawn mowers, leaf blowers and dump trucks that were constantly interrupting the shoot. We’ve pretty much given up on the park as an outdoor location…lovely spot, but impossible to deal with. We had to actually quit an early morning shoot there for the show on Il trovatore because it got too noisy. I also remember the shoot at the Point Loma Light House for Simon Boccanegra. It was an especially sunny day in June or July and yet our beloved director John insisted on lighting me AND using a reflector! I had to wear sun glasses, could barely read the cues, and ended up with the worst sunburn I’ve ever had in my life!!
UCSD-TV: It has been said that the audience for opera is shrinking. How should the opera world respond to this? Can opera connect to new audiences?
NR: Shows like OperaTalk! and Opera Spotlight go in the right direction. We’re responding in the Education Department here in the company by producing videos and podcasts that live on our web site. As well, they’re being hosted by YouTube (OperaTalk! and the Artists’ Roundtables) and iTunes (OperaTalk! and the new San Diego Opera Podcast). More presence in new media will help and I think our entire industry is realizing that we have to be on the cutting edge in order to compete for audience.
UCSD-TV: Opera has such a long, rich history, which can be overwhelming to someone new to the scene. What operas do you suggest for best acquainting oneself with opera?
NR: This season, probably the best operas to begin with would be the double bill of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci and Verdi’s Aida. They have all of the best and most immediately apparent glories of opera at its best: passion, spectacle, great singing and gorgeous music. You can’t miss with any of them!
UCSD-TV: What can viewers expect from the 12th season of Opera Spotlight and the 10th season of OperaTalk!?
NR: In Spotlight you’ll probably see more of an emphasis on personal responses from singers, stage directors and conductors about the works we produce. More footage from our Artists’ Roundtables will probably be used — this is one of those great events that not everyone knows about but should definitely come to. It’s an opportunity for a live audience to spend about an hour with these folks and find out what makes the opera tick. They are informal discussions and are always great fun! In OperaTalk! I’m going to try to get deeper into the music of these great works. It’s always a challenge, especially with only about 28 minutes of content allowable, but I’m always trying to think of new ways to approach opera “education” so I think you can expect something different in every show.
Zandra Rhodes: Designing The Pearl Fishers
This excerpt from San Diego Opera Spotlight features British fashion icon Zandra Rhodes describing her process in designing sets and costumes for San Diego Opera’s premiere production of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.
San Diego Opera Roundtable: TannhauserUCSD-TV and San Diego Opera present a panel discussion about San Diego Opera’s production of Wagner’s Tannhauser featureing cast members Petra Lang, Camilla Nylund, and Robert Gambill; production designer James Mulder; conductor Gabor Otvos; and director Michael Hampe. Hosted by Dr. Nicolas Reveles.
An image from Tannhauser that faithfully depicts the famed Metropolitan Opera production by Gunther Schneider-Siemssen.Photo Copyright Marty Sohl
Director of Photography Matt Alioto, Producer/Director John Menier and Host Nick Reveles discuss the next shot of the day.
Photo Copyright Keturah Stickann
Host Nick Reveles shooting on location for San Diego OperaTalk!: Verdi’s Aida
A back stage look at the set of Wozzeck.
Photo Copyright Keturah Stickann
Richard Leech sings Turiddu and Jose Cura sings Canio in
Photo Copyright Sasha Gusov and Cory Weaver
Prepping for an OperaTalk! interview with Zandra Rhodes.
Photo Copyright Keturah Stickann
Angela Gilbert is Mary Stuart in Mary, Queen of Scots.
Photo Copyright Turtle Julian
Nick Reveles at the piano as the UCSD-TV crew sets up the shot.Photo © Keturah Stickann