Ask Roger - Our Dramaturg Answers Your Opera Questions

Ask Roger - Your Opera Questions Answered

“Where can I find the best recording of La Bohème?”

“What is the Ryan Opera Center?”

“What makes opera different from a musical?”

Just Ask Roger!

Roger Pines — Lyric's dramaturg and resident opera answer man — is here to help. Submit your opera questions using our form, email, or tweet #LyricRoger!

Need inspiration? Check out some of the most recent questions and answers below.

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Your Opera Questions Answered

What opera songs give you goosebumps?

Hi Roger! I hear a lot about the transformative power of opera. The idea that certain songs in opera, even if you can't understand the language, can make you cry and give you chills. So my question is, can you suggest some amazing songs/arias that will make the goosebumps on my arms pop up?

What art is in the opera house?

I attended a dance performance in March. My seat was located in "BAL LC." There was really interesting art hanging in the hallway. I'd describe the art as androgynous and maybe a bit dark. The artist used a lot of black and red in his or her drawings. I believe the artist's signature said, "Parsifal." I've been searching for more of his or her work but can't find a single trace. Can you tell me the name of the artist?

Has a woman ever encored?

We have been seeing tenors encore at the Met recently, has woman ever encored... Anywhere?

Who is this opera singer?

I have a picture of a opera singer my father received many years ago but cannot make out the last name. The first name is Jose the last name (something like) Mrojiea??? This was in 1927.

When will Lyric Opera present Der Freischütz?

I have been a Lyric subscriber since 1968, Khovanshchina was the first opera I saw at Lyric. Der Freischütz is one of the most important German operas of the 19th century. It is often performed in Europe. I am still waiting to see it at Lyric. Is it going to happen when the Cubs win the World Series?

How do standbys and understudies work in opera?

I was just reading a story about an Italian tenor who was a standby at the Met making his debut after the tenor fell ill during a performance of Otello. That makes me wonder how standbys and understudies work in opera. Is this performer hired, flown in from Europe, put up in a hotel, etc. all just in case the lead tenor had a problem? I would have guessed that they would normally have someone more local for that purpose. Do all operas have standbys?

We're live with Roger Pines, dramaturg at Lyric Opera, answering #AskRoger questions!

Posted by Lyric Opera of Chicago on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

 On April 6, 2016, Roger answered some of your questions live on Facebook.

Meet Roger Pines

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Roger Pines Dramaturg Biography

Roger PinesLyric Opera Dramaturg

Roger Pines, dramaturg of Lyric Opera of Chicago, has been commentator for the Lyric broadcasts on WFMT98.7 since the 2009-10 season.  He joined Lyric in 1995, having previously held positions at San Diego Opera, The Dallas Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera.

At Lyric, Pines edits the house program while also writing extensively for other company publications. He is a presenter of pre-performance talks, both music producer and a co-host of Operathon (Lyric’s annual fundraiser on WFMT), and special lecturer and consultant for the Ryan Opera Center, the company’s young-artist program.

Pines frequently undertakes repertoire research projects for internationally celebrated artists. He has been a judge in more than 20 cities for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has judged many other prestigious competitions nationwide. 2015-16 was Pines’s tenth consecutive season as a panelist on the Met broadcasts’ “Opera Quiz.”   

A contributor of many articles and reviews for important American and European publications, Pines has written for Great Britain’s most distinguished newspaper — The Times (London) – as well as Opera News, Opera, International Record Review, The Opera Quarterly, and programs of leading opera companies, among them the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Cincinnati Opera. He has written program notes for CDs on seven major labels (including recent releases by Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, Anna Netrebko, and Jonas Kaufmann). Pines has lectured for major arts organizations in Chicago, Cleveland, and San Diego, as well as for the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.