The ever-ebullient Karlos Moser, after serving 36 years as the UW-Madison's principal opera maven, will preside over a final production, Puccini's masterpiece about love and starving artists, La Bohème, before retiring. "This opera, which is a big work, is a fine vehicle for bringing a new audience into the house," he says, "at the same time as it provides an opportunity for the singers and orchestra to gain experience with a repertory mainstay."
Concerns for training performers and for building audience have been near the heart of Moser's efforts throughout his professional life. "I'm proud of our many successes, including the American premiere La Buona Figliola by Gluck's rival Nicolo Piccini, plus productions of great works by Stravinsky, Poulenc and Britten as well as better-known composers, but I'm also concerned that opera seems increasingly elitist, bringing fewer members of the public in contact with the enormous vitality of singing and acting."
Moser is hardly discouraged by such problems; he seems as full of energy and enthusiasm -- it's hard to believe he's 68 -- as when he first arrived in 1961. After a long career full of challenges and accomplishments, he's not about to hang it all up now. Karlos and Melinda Moser will continue to make their home in Madison while he works as the artistic director for a new opera called Esperanza by David Bishop (a UW-Madison graduate now living in New York), based on the 1950s film The Salt of the Earth. He hopes the new work will be ready for workshops as soon as next year. The labor-union interest is an outgrowth of one of Moser's most successful efforts at the UW, a musical collage called "Images of Labor," which toured the state to high acclaim.
It's not hard to see how the project might fit with his credo: "I love opera because the music means both everything and nothing; an opera's story is a chance to see the eternal verities through the music, and that's worth it all!"
Isthmus, March, 1998
Copyright 1998 Jess Anderson