Young Love….

With only two weeks left before we settle the 2010 Santa Fe Opera season, there are still a few surprises for audiences, and we veterans alike, to experience–namely the two Apprentice Scene Programs, the first of which was last night (Sunday, August 15), the next of which will be next Sunday (August 22).  These fully staged, fully costumed, operatic programs are put on entirely by the “apprentice staff” from the various departments which they have served for, and learned from, these past many weeks.  It was, in fact, a nice touch to have ALL of the singers, and varied department and stage personnel, take the stage together for one big final bow at the close of yesterday’s performance.  They certainly deserved our applause, admiration, and extended encouragement.

These are the nights when all the principal singers of the season (along with the public) take to the seats in the theater to watch and support the young ladies and gentlemen who have dutifully served as outstanding ensemble/chorus members and fine colleagues throughout the season.  We were treated to scenes from Little Women, The Tender Land, Il Pagliacci, Vanessa, Werther, and more.

As I entered the theater via the stage door with Stephen Lord (who I happened to run into in the parking lot), we spoke about how the event was a sell-out, and we hoped we could find seats.  We came across that familiar buzz of excitement that permeates the backstage area with an energy that simply cannot be described.  Only this time, we didn’t have to really share in any part of that angst-ridden enthusiasm; no, we just broke away from one another with the knowledge that tonight was our night off–a night to look, listen, and enjoy.  These nights are the moments that the apprentice artists truly get to shine–all on their own–and while I cannot speak for Maestro Lord, I for one can say that I was not disappointed.

I sat in my seat and watched the first half, went to the Opera Club and chatted with colleagues during intermission over drinks and decaf, returned to the auditorium for the second half, and went back-stage to congratulate these young professionals post-performance.  All dressed up they were, as they were getting ready to head to the party on the vast opera grounds that was, at long last, in their honor.  They were relieved, thrilled, giddy, and very appreciative that so many of “the principals” had come to see them.  I also stopped by the costume and make-up shop on my way out, to commend that workforce on their contribution to the evening’s success.  Dressed as if they too were going to a Hollywood premiere, with hair “up-do’s” and long (as well as some very short) dresses, they could hardly believe that someone had actually stopped to talk to them or better yet, that someone even recognized that they were part of the magic.

I walked quietly to my car, to head back to my Santa Fe home, and mused about how I should really tell these singers to expect difficult years ahead.  Years that will be filled with uncertainty, industry politics, vocal changes, vocal troughs, labor/management issues, and an ever changing classical landscape that will muddle their hopeful, but never guaranteed, triumphs.  Then I smiled, and thought “No; not now; not tonight, perhaps never”….

You see, these fresh, new, and wonderful singers are in the throes of ‘Young Love’.  The kind of Love that inspires them, entices them to dream, and pushes them onward, as they service the music they adore and foster the talent that God, or the Cosmos, or Destiny, has gifted unto them.  There is, unfortunately, plenty of time for all the other….”just let them be in love for a little while longer with no interruptions or complications”, I thought,–as I continued to drive quietly home on what had become a cold, damp, and windy Santa Fe night.

Young Love–there is nothing like it!!