Munich "Salome"

Tonight is the opening night of “Salome” here in Munich. It is only a three performance run but we were given more rehearsal than sometimes is the case when remounting an existing production. I, of course, have sung this opera many times (including this production back in the summer of 2008) but always enjoy coming back to this incredible piece. There are quite a few in tonight’s cast who have not sung in this production--thus, the extra rehearsal time. I think our Herod is singing his role for the first time, too! How scary. Everything seems to be coming together just fine and I look forward to once again singing the wonderful words of John the Baptist.

We’ve had quite a bit of snow in Munich this past week--it looks gorgeous. I arrived here on Monday, January 25. We’d had a few warmer days at home so coming to Bavaria was a real return to winter. However, during the last few days, it has been colder at home than here. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to getting to Los Angeles at the end of February where I won’t have to think too much about snow for awhile. I’m not much of a winter person.

Jet lag was a real problem for me this past week and I’m not sure why. My last several trips overseas have brought little of that. It’s not something that I like to go through but now, since all the morning rehearsals are past, I should be able to just sleep in. Of course, I’ll be home in just 8 days or so--I’ll be able to enjoy the lag going the other way (which I prefer).

Götterdämmerung rehearsals

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks but all is well in Los Angeles. The rehearsals continue for “Gotterdammerung” which opens on April 3. We are all more than ready to get this production running.

Rehearsals have been tedious at times to say the least. As is my normal custom, I won’t post any photos of this show until after opening night but let’s just say that it isn’t “normal”. I have felt somewhat confined in my acting due to the concept and costuming. We’ll do all we can. At least we have a cast and conductor who are friends and the camaraderie is excellent. Sometimes shows really come together in the final week. I know it is a unique experience being able to go a bit “over the top” in my acting behind the mask and know that what comes across the footlights may be a bit different.

I can’t say that I’ve minded the gorgeous weather in Los Angeles. I’ve been able to get out and see the area (I really enjoyed Pasadena) during my free time. After the winter that hit the east coast, any days of sunshine are greatly appreciated. I have also found the people of Southern California to be very friendly and inviting.

This past Wednesday brought the PBS broadcast of “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” from our recently performed run at The Met. This is the same show that was broadcast in HD to the movie theaters. It’s been nice to hear from so many who saw the broadcast. In some areas of the country, the show isn’t being broadcast until tomorrow. It is also being re-broadcast at various times throughout the country. Enjoy (or not).

Philip Langridge

Added on March 6---these links will take you to a wonderful recording of Philip singing “Comfort Ye/Every Valley” from Messiah and then something a bit sillier from 2008. It gives me great comfort today to hear this sung so wonderfully by such an incredible man and singer.

I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and colleague, Philip Langridge this evening. I had only this week found out about him not being well.

Philip was truly one of the finest colleagues I’ve ever had in this business--and one of the most talented. We worked together often at The Met and also in London, Munich, and Milan. I am honored to still have hanging on my wall the copy of the La Scala poster of “Peter Grimes” from 2000 when I made my debut. Philip played the title role and I was Balstrode. How wonderful to get to perform this opera with him and sing that wonderful Act 1 duet together. I also remember that the production was great to be in but a disaster to rehearse (as often is the case in Italy). We commiserated one night over some wonderful Chinese food and Chinese beer---and yes, that’s a strange thought---two English speaking guys eating Chinese food in Milan, Italy.

Philip was a great singer and a wonderful actor--a singer’s singer. More important, he was a wise man of class and elegance. We enjoyed discussing our faith when we’d be together as well as how much fun it was to mow the lawn on tractor lawn mowers.

I last saw Philip in December in NY when he was there to once again play the Witch in “Hansel and Gretel”---we were in the show together in 2007-2008 (I’m so glad I can watch the video and see Philip’s hilarious portrayal whenever I wish). I was there for “Hoffmann” and, as always, so happy to run into him. He was with his lovely wife, Ann Murray (another outstanding singer). They were a lovely couple. Their son is an accomplished director which means Philip’s legacy will last for a long time in this business--and we are all the better for it.

May you rest in peace, my friend. Know how you were loved by so many--and respected beyond words.