Among the many fine memories I have of my late brother (whose personage I rarely mention current day, since his untimely passing was over 30 year ago) was his love for a variety of music. I recall very clearly that Mac Davis was among his favorite singers in the popular/country genre. Actually, WIXY 1260 AM, was the preferred radio station for the younger generation in Cleveland, Ohio when I was growing up; and it played a potpourri of music that was popular with the growing student class, including Sammy Davis Jr. (The Candy Man), Wayne Newton (Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast), Alice Cooper (School’s Out), The Beatles (“anything”), The Who (Pinball Wizard), etc. etc., in addition to the aforementioned Mac Davis . Well, my brother was quite proud of his “The Best of Mac Davis” album, and in 1976 Mr. Davis, who is still performing to this day, had a hit song entitled Every Now and Then. I have never forgotten the lyrics to this song, or its message….in short: “Baby that’s what keeps me goin’, I find comfort just in knowin’, that it happens Every Now and Then”.
Last night (August 24) here in Santa Fe was just one of those nights that only happens “every now and then”. It was the penultimate performance of The Tales of Hoffmann, and most seemed as usual in the dressing room and backstage….greetings all around, visits from the conductor and management to check on everyone’s well-being, assistant stage managers in and out, our dressers laying out costume pieces, hair and make-up staff keeping to their schedules of preparing the artists for performance, and announcements from the stage manager’s desk that get piped into the dressing rooms. Just a normal night it seemed, until the downbeat at 8:00 p.m.
What ensued was an almost perfect performance where EVERY singer on stage had a great night vocally, thereby leaving no one out of the excitement. The orchestra was fabulous, our conductor (Stephen Lord) was all smiles in the pit, the chorus was relaxed and relieved (now that their opera scene showcases were over), and there was not one technical glitch. In other words, every “i” was dotted, and every “t” was crossed. The group hugs just before curtain calls in the wings of the stage, where we all routinely say “bravo…great show” to one another, were just a bit more meaningful because we all really knew that this was our best…ALL of our best, ALL at the same time, ALL on the same night…again, no one was left out of the party.
Erin Wall, who has been intelligently navigating the treacherous Offenbach score all season as the Four Heroines was virtually flawless, with coloratura to burn as Olympia, breadth of beautiful sound as Antonia, and unlimited high notes as Giulietta. This was a particular triumph for her, as these roles can be devastatingly unforgiving, and is why they are rarely tackled by one soprano alone.
All others, including ‘yours truly’, simply had it all at our disposal last night. Not sure why?! Maybe the cooler temperatures made it easier to breathe, maybe the 8:00 p.m. start time made us feel a bit more normal physically, maybe it was because we knew we were coming to the end of the run, maybe it was the wonderful audience, or the full moon; I simply do not know, nor will I ever. I will simply say that while most performances at this level of international repute are basically quite stable and consistent, there are still some truly special performances for everyone involved that only occur occasionally….and they are the ones we will never forget. So the best way to end this post is to simply quote Mac Davis one last time (and thank my dearly departed brother Dino for forcing me to listen to him!):
“Thank God It Happens Every Now and Then”