La, La, La

Okay, usually in music terminology, LA is a note to follow sol or a form of vocal exercise. For me, the next several months LA takes on an entirely different meaning. It means I’m in Los Angeles for quite awhile for another production of “Gotterdammerung”. This is the fourth (and final) of the Ring Operas by Wagner. The role of Gunther is perhaps the role that I’ve become identified with in some ways. I’ve sung it in NYC, Munich, London, San Francisco, Washington, Chicago, and probably other places that I’m forgetting. It’s a favorite even though it isn’t the largest role that I sing. I always enjoy coming back to him.

To be quite honest---THIS PRODUCTION LOOKS BIZARRE!!! I will write more on this as everything progresses. First impressions can be deceiving and after we’ve all had a crack at it, you never know what might come out. I’ll just start by saying I have the most bizarre costume I’ve ever had. Also, since I have to wear a special costume head, I won’t be needing make-up (YAHOO). I don’t feel at liberty, at this time, to post a picture since we’re just getting started--but I will publish one soon (you won’t believe it).

The rake of the stage is also absolutely incredible in this production. I believe someone told me today that it was at something like 21+ degrees. This is SO hard on the singers and other performers---let’s just say, I can’t say that I’m thrilled with it. I developed tendonitis in my right ankle during the Met “Hoffmann” and had to have a shot to relieve some of that pain just this past week. The rake at The Met was nothing like what we have here in L.A. I’m hoping to just come out of this production still able to walk. I wish things weren’t so difficult and that we had to deal with such obstacles when just trying to sing our best.

I arrived yesterday (more on that later) and was happy to see some very old friends who are also in this production. One of the great things about singing the Wagner/Strauss repertoire is that it is a smaller family amongst the larger opera community. We know each other, know each other’s families, and enjoy spending time together. I am happy, since this is a long engagement, that I’ll be with cherished colleagues in this endeavor.

Los Angeles, for me, always takes a bit of getting used to. It is simply another world from the east coast in many ways. My trips to L.A. have always been on the short side--this one will require me to get to know Southern California a bit better. (It’s even very different from the Northern California and San Francisco area.)Already, even though it rained today, I’ve been happy to attempt getting used to the warmer weather in SoCal than we’ve had on the east coast. City living, however, is far different than what I’m used to when I’m home. Tasks such as grocery shopping, getting to church, etc., become a little more interesting when on the road. I’ve had to adjust to these things for a long time in this business--and I know that will happen soon here in Los Angeles as well.

Getting here was a concern over the last few days as yet ANOTHER major snowstorm hit Bucks County, PA. Even though we received quite a bit of new snow, the biggest problem with this latest storm was the wind---wow!!! Fortunately, I was able to get to the airport just fine. Because so many flights were cancelled out of Philly yesterday, my flight had a clean and fast route to the runway and we took off on time. In fact, we landed 45-60 minutes early. After facing a bit of traffic coming in from the airport, I was able to settle into Los Angeles at a decent hour and got a good night’s sleep. A new bed also is always an adjustment---I’m miss my sleep number bed. However, once I get used to the sounds of the city, I’ll be sleeping even better soon.

Finally, tonight, my heart is saddened with the news coming out of Chile. In 1993, I spent nearly a month in Santiago and enjoyed my time in this fascinating city. The pictures showing the earthquake damage from their 8.8 earthquake are so disheartening. May God protect and comfort all those who are struggling through this horrible tragedy. May they not be far from our minds and our hearts.

Back to school (again)

I’ve once again returned to college. No, I haven’t lost my senses and decided to enroll once again. I’m at Cedarville University in Ohio where I taught a master class this evening and will work with students tomorrow. Of course, I’ve done a lot of these classes
over the years (and in the last few months at Yale and Millikin) but when you do one for the first time at a school, it’s always a bit of an adjustment. I really enjoyed the class tonight as the students were all underclassman. It allowed me to get back to basics once again. I always say that these classes help me as a singer as well--going back and going over these items only helps to reinforce the concepts in my own mind. We had an excellent Q and A session following the class.

Cedarville is a wonderful Christian University and I enjoyed being able to attend their daily chapel this morning as well. I look forward to hearing Dr. Brown, the President of Cedarville, speak again tomorrow.

Getting to Cedarville yesterday was a bit of an ordeal as I sat on a plane for 2 hours before having that flight cancelled. After much waiting around, I finally got to Cedarville about 6 hours late (it could have been worse). Sometimes, traveling in winter, is really a tough ordeal. I could have driven to the campus faster than it took to fly.

Today was also Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I enjoyed attending Mass in Springfield, Ohio this afternoon and receiving the ashes. May this Lent refresh and help us all grow in our spiritual journeys and may it lead us towards a most joyous and beautiful Easter.