Vandalia-Con Recap!

This past weekend, we at Steam ~ or ~ The Specters of the Knox Mill took our show on the road to perform as the headlining act at Vandalia-Con Steampunk convention in Parkersburg, WV. Arriving shortly before 1 PM at the Blennerhasset Hotel, we set up our merch table in the Ballroom where we spoke to passersby about the project and ran a demo reel of footage from the music video.


The band was joined a few hours later by Director of Photography Edwin Huang and Production Designer Jess Bala who were helping with the Friday Night Pink Block Party Live Concert. We had sound check at 7:30.
We looked great and sounded well-balanced under the lighting and sound design of Professor Bubblemaker, a traveling Steampunk performer.

In between sound check and the performance, Jess applied some conceptual makeup to Liz, Sean, and Jordan, and we all grabbed a quick bite before getting into costume.

We took the stage at 11 pm, and Edwin and Jess streamed the whole thing on Facebook Live.

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The next day at 1 pm, Liz and the team delivered a panel entitled “Creating a Steampunk Opera”  examining the application of Steampunk within the context of the story and the statement that it makes about opera and the future.

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That evening, the Steam Team modeled their hand-made costumes in the “Vandalia’s Got Talent” pageant and explained the engineering considerations that were designed into the build.

We are grateful for this opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new friends in this amazing experience that benefits such a wonderful cause, and we are especially grateful to Shelly Dusic for inviting us!


Hard At Work!

The Steam Team is hard at work getting ready for Vandalia-Con, as well as starting design work for Episode 1 filming. Steam welcomes our new Production Designer/ art director, Jess Bala to the project. Jess’s visual talent was implemented previously as Liz’s Makeup Designer for “The Pitch” Music video shoot at Mr. Smalls Theater, and she is gung ho to carry that vision into the design of our Pittsburgh Industrial Revolution Steampunk world! FilmDesign
(Above: Film Design and Production Meeting with Liz Rishel, Scott Lewis, Jess Bala, and Edwin Huang.)

But in addition to that, the band is working out the last few kinks from their set that they have prepared for Vandalia-Con, by holding extra rehearsals. A sleepy, bleary-eyed Steam Team met to play through the set last weekend at 10 AM after a late rehearsal ended the night before. We had to make best use of William Strom, who had driven up from Syracuse just for the occasion.
(A disheveled band meets in the AM to run through the set: Liz Rishel, William Strom, Jordan Speranzo, and Sean Lenhart.)

Liz’s Keyboard just got a pro tune-up, and we are excited for the days ahead!

Steam Live at Vandalia-Con!

On Friday, May 26th, Steam will perform a live concert as musical guests at Vandalia-Con, as part of their Friday Night Pink Block Party entertainment. Vandalia-Con is a steampunk convention whose proceeds provide cancer screenings to women of West Virginia. Steam will be performing all original music, including some never-before-heard previews from their first episode, currently in pre-production.


On Saturday afternoon, Steam creators, Liz Rishel, Sean Lenhart, Jordan Speranzo, and William Strom will host a panel about the conceptualization of a steampunk opera, and how all the pieces fit together on a grand scale.

Stop by our merch booth to say hi, and learn about our upcoming filming plans. We can’t wait to see you there!

Meet Charlotte Monroe

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’d like to introduce you to the heroine of Steam ~ or ~ The Specters of the Knox Mill, Charlotte Monroe.

Photograph by Keith Leonard

Photograph by Keith Leonard

When Charlotte’s world was shaken by a steel mill accident that killed her husband, Nicholas, Charlotte would not be stopped. She bent her remarkable intelligence and creative thinking into designing a machine that would contact the souls of the departed. Charlotte worked fiercely to salvage as much as possible of the life that she once knew, ignoring her grief, and shutting out the world. When the opportunity arises to have her passion project funded by the very steel mill that took her husband’s life, Charlotte sees her goal growing clearer and closer than ever before. But can she face the demons she’s shut out, navigate the messy politics of the mill, and learn to cooperate with the most unlikely allies?

Check out Charlotte’s song, “The Pitch”.

A Rag-Tag Band

The CrewCast member and founder Liz Rishel talks about how Steam the Opera began:

The concept was compelling, but daunting. A rock opera, with REAL opera singers who play rock band instruments. Where in Pittsburgh was I going to find 3 other performers who could do that? It was time to dust off my ol’ steampunky Rolodex and dig. But where to start? I knew a lot of opera singers, but not a lot who play rock instruments… that I knew of.

The first one was easy. I already knew because the character in Steam had been written for him. In the summer of 2010, Bonnie Bogovich and I sat behind an audition table listening to singers to cast for our first show, Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera. One of the roles we needed to cast was that of my 19-year-old brother, a character in a cut scene that we needed to film. But to our surprise, in walks 14-year-old Jordan Speranzo, a perfect fit with the right kind of voice and the right kind of attitude. He sJordan Speranzoang well, had a good read, and left. Despite his young age, he got the part. Working with Jordan was so much fun because he was anything but shy and fully willing to invest in the scene as many times as required to get the right shot. I remember thinking that I wanted to get him for a bigger project while he still had this amount of energy and commitment. I already knew that Jordan played guitar because I had seen him perform with his band, Lightning Box, at a Zombie Opera fundraiser. He knew I was working on a concept for a little while, and when I came to him and told him it was ready for work shopping, he was instantly on board. Jordan’s main strength comes from the amazing lines he writes, particularly for chorus, and guitar solos have made me cheer. He shares my passion for hiding little references to other Steam pieces inside new themes.

Saturday Light Brigade interviews Steam!

For those of you who missed our live interview on the The Saturday Light Brigade radio program, the recording is now available online! Listen for free at the link below!:

The Future of Steam

steam-leonandwilliamHello everyone!

First, I want to thank all who followed our Kickstarter progress. While we didn’t make our goal, we are going to continue with pre-production and continue pushing for an adapted version of Episode 1. You’ll like it– there’s a few changes, but it still holds its integrity.

We had a few people approach us over the course of our campaign unsure as to whether or not this was being performed live. Rest assured, this is an internet movie project told through the style of opera. This means that everyone will be able to enjoy it equally, regardless of where you live in the world. Photos and video of “live performance” are of us performing songs as a band set, but through the video, you’ll get to see the complete project and the action that accompanies those songs.

Stay tuned for more information about the characters, as this is a character-driven piece. We do hope that you’ll like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @SteamOpera, and if you would like to sign up for our mailing list, shoot us an email SteamTheOpera at gmail dot com. We will use these methods to communicate when we are looking for extras for crowd scenes, holding benefits or fundraisers and things of that type.

Thanks for staying with us!  It’s been a busy time for Steam and we appreciate everyone’s support!

Steam is Stylin’!!

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A huge Thank You to Point Park University (Alma Mater of Steam’s Drummer/Baritone, Sean Lenhart) for gifting out project with 19 Men’s jackets in Tux and Frock style and several women’s gowns…. and one tiny hat. ^_^

Period costumes are expensive and rare, and we are so overjoyed to have a compliment of costumes available for our project that will make our actors look snazzy! Some of these will remain the same, and some may get some Steampunk treatments, but either way, it is huge leap ahead for us, and an amazing cost-saver.

Thank you Point Park, our theater angels!

Last Three Days of our Kickstarter

It’s been a long month of fundraising for this project on Kickstarter, and now we are down to our last three days. Some of you joined us for the dance party at Cattivo, celebrating our launch, hosted by the Awesome DJ Kelly A, some were listening to our short segment on the Saturday Light Brigade, some saw our beautiful full-spread ad designed by the talented Marjorie Rishel in the program for Undercroft Opera’s Don Giovanni, and some of you tuned in to our Twitch live stream last Saturday, featuring the endlessly entertaining Bonnie Bogovich and her cache of chickens. Many of you heard about us through friends, and many from one of us directly. To everyone who has been following us and especially to our Kickstarter backers, we want to express our most sincere gratitude.

This project is so much more than a film to us, it is a mission, a revival, and a different way forward for an art that is so affecting and has so much to offer. We hope that others will continue striving to revitalize opera through modern storytelling and film.

Going into our last three days, I am filled with peace, because even though we are still far from our goal, every single person who has pledged to this project has strengthened my resolve that this is a worthwhile endeavor. We toured some locations yesterday, and have decided to continue with pre-production, and even if it involves scaling the original vision, we will never compromise the original intention.

We hope that you will join us in making our last three days memorable.

With great affection,

Liz Rishel

Saturday Light Brigade Interview

Did you catch Liz Rishel on the Saturday Light Brigade this past saturday? Steam was granted an interview live on the radio, and you can check it out here!