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March 20, 2009

Baritone comes clean: Wobbly pose in Opera Vivente's 'Poppea' was his idea

My review of Opera Vivente's recent production of Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea contained a slap at the sight of baritone Ryan de Ryke assuming a silly, wobbly, FTD-florist sort of pose when he appeared as the god Mercury, an action that generated titters at an inappropriate moment in the drama. I blamed the director for the idea, since directors typically decide how cast members come and go onstage. Well, de Ryke has set the record straight in an emailed message:

Friend that he is to singers, director John Bowen clearly told me to keep both feet on the ground (literally and figuratively) in rehearsal, but on opening night, I thought I could manage what turned out to be a most unfortunate tableau-tremblant. The same pose with both feet on the ground and a reasonable sense of balance, surprisingly enough, produced no chortles at all from future audiences!

My apologies to John Bowen.

Posted by Tim Smith at 1:14 PM | | Comments (2)


Apology accepted. And thanks, Ryan, for setting the record straight.

I've only seen de Ryke in performance twice, the second time being closing night of this Poppea run. He has great physical poise, and he really looked like a god when he followed Bowen's directions on the proper way to appear to us mere mortals.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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