Looking Both Ways Before You Cross The Street

As we finish up 2011 and head into 2012, I’m reminded that we are to look both ways before crossing the street. We need to look left to see where we’ve been and right towards where we are going. Sometimes, we spend far too much time looking in one direction at the expense of the other. Today, however, I hope to find a balance.

As I write this, the sun is already nearly set in Munich, Germany and it’s only just after 4:00 p.m. New Year’s Eve is upon us here in Bavaria where I am preparing for opening night of “Der Fliegende Holländer” at The Bavarian State Opera. I’ve not sung this piece since 2008 and so I’m placing a lot of extra thought into the performances. I’ve also had a very nice last several weeks off and enjoyed being home with my family for Christmas. However, the day after brought me back to one of my favorite cities. I’m looking forward to boarding the ship just after the new year begins.

I always like to look back on what were my favorite performances of the year. This year brought a LOT of travel and many challenging engagements. I can remember so many of them very clearly. It was great to be in Barcelona for “Parsifal”, Baden-Baden for “Salome” (a DVD is being released soon from this run), Munich for “Tristan und Isolde” and “Rusalka”, Washington for “Tosca”, and Bilbao, Spain for “Tristan” again. I also enjoyed giving a concert in Wichita, KS along with Joyce DiDonato and Sam Ramey. Teaching at Yale on two separate trips was also greatly enjoyed. However, as much as these were enjoyed, I’d have to say that the run of “Wozzeck” in New York at The Metropolitan Opera were my favorite performances of the year. Yes, the show is emotional and shattering. The challenges of re-learning the piece so quickly (I only had 2 weeks notice before rehearsals began) and performing with such an outstanding conductor and cast were significant. The impact on us all was overwhelming. Judging from the audience response, I’d have to say it was a moving experience for them as well. And I was thrilled to just this week hear that the run is still being talked about. Paul Pelkonen, who writes the blog, “Superconductor”, and is also a Special Contributor to “The New York Daily News”, listed my performance as one of the “best of 2011”. You can read about that here (just click on the link):

I’m very honored and grateful to receive this recognition. But, that’s all in the past. A new year awaits with many new challenges and opportunities. These performances of “Dutchman” in Munich are just the start. I’ll be headed to London at the end of January to return to the production of “Rusalka” that we performed in Salzburg back in 2008 (A CD of one of the Salzburg performances was released this year.). This is the first time the Royal Opera House has performed this wonderful opera. It’ll be interesting to hear their reaction to a rather controversial production. I have a HUGE assignment on my plate for Toronto this spring as I’ll be singing the leading roles in both Zemlinsky’s “A Florentine Tragedy” and Puccini’s comic masterpiece, “Gianni Schicchi”. This is a double-bill and will require a lot of concentration to pull them off together each night during the run. I have the Zemlinsky score about 6 inches from elbow as I type this--it won’t be far from my reach for a few months. I’ll return to San Francisco (FINALLY) for concerts of “Bluebeard’s Castle” with the San Francisco Symphony. And I’ll be coming back to Chicago in the fall for an opera that I can’t name yet since Lyric Opera hasn’t released the information at this time. That should happen in the next few weeks.

It’ll be a busy year, once again. However, fortunately, I have a bit more time off at home this year than I’ve had in 2011. That alone brings feelings of hope and joy. Our oldest son is now a junior in college and I’ll want to spend a lot of time with him in his last summer before he heads out on hopeful full time employment. Our next oldest son will be headed to college in the fall as well. What an exciting journey he will encounter in the coming months. My third son heads to high school this fall which is of course a monumental change for him. And our little girl will continue to find wonderment in the many different facets of her life. To have the joy and company of my wonderful wife, who will mark 30 years of marriage with me in May, is a blessing for which I am beyond grateful.

God has greatly blessed us this year and we pray that these blessings will continue to abound in 2012. May that be the case for you as well as the light continues to fade on 2011 and the earth spins toward another wonderful year. As far as crossing the street, do remember to look both ways. And I must take special heed to this advice when I’m in London in the coming months since those Brits keep driving on the wrong side of the road.