Having just arrived a few days ago here in Santa Fe for their 2010 summer season; I am reminded of the last time that I was here…three summers ago. At that time, I was singing the same production of The Magic Flute that I am now covering for this summer. Opera company production scheduling can be a nightmare, and when Santa Fe asked me a few years ago to sing “The Four Servants” in their new Tales of Hoffmann production, it was clear that there would be precious little time to rehearse or perform any other of the early operas being presented–The Magic Flute being one of them. Therefore, it was a wise decision on the part of management to have me ‘cover’ the same role which I had performed three summers back–just in case they need me at the last second! That much I do have time for. The question we are often asked is “Why aren’t you singing it again; others are?”. The above helps to explain at least some of those reasons. It also has to do with the amount of time we are allowed to rehearse daily, especially if we have an evening performance. So in this case, it simply was not feasible to actually sing in both productions. The return singers to this cast are not involved with The Tales of Hoffmann, which we will begin to rehearse later in this third week of June.
While I am always eager to be on stage as often as possible, it is also a thrill for me at this point in my career to watch some of the new young talent hone their skills as they prepare for hopefully long and fruitful careers. It was my pleasure to meet Tim Oliver, a fine young man who will be singing the role of Monostatos in this summer’s remount of The Magic Flute as staged by Tim Albery. I will post more about The Tales of Hoffman, the cast, and director Chris Alden as we move forward with the summer. As ever, Santa Fe is beautiful this time of year; and it is always a pleasure to rehearse outdoors in the fresh air!!!!
The past months of April and May were spent in the wonderful city of Dallas, Texas, working with the Dallas Opera. The only thing that could have trumped the world premiere of Jake Heggy’s much touted (and rightfully so) Moby Dick, and the wonderful remount of Francesca Zambello’s Madame Butterfly was the actual continuation of the Dallas Opera season in the magnificent new Winspear Opera House. It may have taken 20 years to get it built, but Jonathan Pell has much to be proud of. He moved this company from an old 1970’s music hall theatre, to a state-of-the-art facility that makes an opera singer drool. With excellent acoustics for the audience, a sleek modern design–including giant glass lobby walls that retract allowing the lobby itself to become al fresco–along with many classic opera house touches, the city of Dallas is set for generations of great opera ahead.
The cast for the Butterfly with which I was thankful to work, was probably the finest overall in my many years of singing the role of Goro (Brandon Jovanovich, Adina Nitescu, James Westman, and Maria Zifchak, respectively rounded out the cast). Add to that, a fine student matinee performance cast that presented a stunning Yunah Lee as Cio Cio San. Never before have I seen such a fine internalized performance with the utmost of concentration that drew the audience to her, as opposed to delivering it to the audience. I recall in musical rehearsal as Graeme Jenkins drew strands of delicious taffy from the throat of this stunning young Korean talent with his magnificent quietly insistent conducting. I will never forget Jonathan Pell, who attended some of these same rehearsals, as he would occasionally close his eyes, lean his head back, and “mouth” with delight every word of Pinkerton’s and Butterfly’s Act I duet!!!!!
Neither will I forget the camaraderie which the entire cast shared. Weekend BBQ’s were a regular occurrence, dinners out, parties, etc. Not since the 2002 cast of Sweeney Todd at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, have I done so much with the same group of people with whom I spent my days (and nights) working. When I left Dallas, I was saddened (rare for me). Another boost was reacquainting with some old friends from college, some 25 years hence. Luckily for me, some of these same great folks are here now in Santa Fe doing (you guessed it) Madame Butterfly!!! My good friend and colleague Keith Jameson will sing the role of Goro, and I surely wish him well.