It’s cold and we’re up to our eyeballs (well, not quite) with snow here in Minneapolis. A big storm came in yesterday and today the remnants are blowing all over the place. But, it’s winter. This is to be expected in Minnesota at this time of year. But, what a winter it has been for most of the country. I’m looking forward to Spring (as are most of you) and hoping for warmer days ahead.

Two big dreams occurring---

1. Here in Minnesota, we continue rehearsing “The Dream of Valentino”. This has been a tough rehearsal period of a very complexed and difficult opera. It’s starting to come together and I look forward to opening night. To be honest, I don’t think that many of out cast knew much about Rudi Valentino before beginning work on this opera. This opera by Dominick Argento paints a very fine picture of another time period and another lifestyle. How far we have come in film production since the days of Valentino. And, what a tragic life Rudi lived. It’s been very interesting to unfold all this. And, once again, I enjoy playing the “villain”. I look forward to the opening night of the show on March first.

2. I haven’t talked much about the DREAM season that my Wichita State Shockers are having. They are currently 28-0. You regular readers will remember how I discussed the team during last Spring’s Final Four run. I didn’t think that excitement would come our way any time too soon. And, to be honest, it might be tough to get that far again this year. But, to put together a season like we’re having is simply beyond any of our dreams. It makes no difference what conference you play in or what your competition is. 28-0 in any sport, at any time, is a huge accomplishment. The team deservedly made the cover of “Sports Illustrated” this week. And, the vaunted “S.I. Jinx” did not come to fruition. The Shockers defeated their first opponent following the release of the magazine. So, the dream continues...at least for now.

Brrrr!!!...but it's great to be back

As I write this, my body has witnessed a temperature change of about 75 degrees in just a few days. That’s a bit hard to take--but all is fine. Most of the last two weeks I spent in San Antonio with an exciting new opera company, “Opera San Antonio”, singing one of the most beautiful of all operas, “Rusalka”. It was such a joy to be in this city for the first time--so picturesque. We were up to 78 degrees on Saturday as well. I flew home for Super Bowl Sunday and was hit with a major snowstorm yesterday. After much shoveling and travel consternation, I was able to fly last night to Minneapolis where I’m now settled in. We’re experiencing bone chilling cold here. However, it is great to be back in this city that holds so many memories for us.

In 1990, my wife and I arrived in Minneapolis straight from an engagement at Lyric Opera of Chicago (“Rigoletto”). We came here a few weeks before rehearsal were supposed to begin as Nancy was 8.5 months pregnant with our first child and weren’t really allowed to fly home. In addition, we just decided to have the baby “on the road” and be together during these first incredible months of our son’s life. We thought we’d have a few weeks to settle in before rehearsals began and before the baby arrived. Well, that plan didn’t work out. Andrew arrived early and rocked our world. He was born less than half a week after our arrival in the middle of a blizzard (the taxis wouldn’t even take us to the hospital--we travelled by ambulance). As I’d commute between our apartment and the hospital over 5 days, I’d about freeze. Nancy couldn’t believe the color of my skin when I’d pop into her room. But, I’d do it all over again.

The opera I was rehearsing and performing was Dominick Argento’s “The Aspern Papers”. How strange and circuitous is life. I haven’t sung any of Dominick’s music since but, for this return to Minneapolis, my first visit to the company since then, I’m here to sing his “The Dream of Valentino”. And, as far as baby Andy, just before coming here, we, of course, celebrated his wedding. Wow, how similar the situations are---cold, Argento, Andy...life is sort of like that. The more things change, the more they stay the same.