"Wozzeck" and Wichita---Back in "Oz"

I realize it’s been awhile since I updated this blog and I can’t believe how unbelievably hectic things have worked out as of late but I have no complaints (well, very few anyway). Since I last posted, we completed a wonderful run of “Parsifal” in Barcelona. In the middle of that run, I received a call from my agent who wanted to know how quickly I could get “Wozzeck” back into my voice (and brain) as the singer scheduled to sing the title role at The Metropolitan Opera had cancelled. Rehearsals were to begin on March 14 (I was to get home from Spain on the 13th). It had been over 5 years since I had sung the role and I was a bit concerned that this might be too much of an undertaking. However, I was shocked at how quickly this difficult role came back to me and it only took a few days to get things fairly solidified. So, since my arrival home from sunny Spain, I’ve been hard at work remounting this production in New York and enjoying every minute of the process.

There have been a couple of “time-outs” however in the rehearsal period. Just a few days after I got home, I had to have a tooth pulled (oh, joy!!!). That went better than I thought it would and all is fine on that front. This past weekend, however, I had one of those artistic highlights that will long live in my memory when I someday look back at my career. For over a year, I’ve had scheduled on my itinerary a concert in Wichita, Kansas. This was to be a “homecoming” concert to the city where I completed my Master’s Degree at Wichita State University. I was joining the incredible Sam Ramey and the incomparable Joyce DiDonato (who are also stellar alums of WSU) for this gala of opera arias and ensemble numbers. What an awesome evening it was. We were conducted by Maestro Stephen Mercurio with an orchestra and chorus and received by a VERY appreciative audience in this event sponsored by the Wichita Grand Opera as part of the 10th Anniversary Celebration. Music making at this level of energy and artisanship is exhausting but so fulfilling. I was on a real high yesterday as I flew back to the east coast. It was just great to be back in a town that means so much to me, singing selections that are favored (and a few that were new) and even clowning around on a wonderful medley of songs from “The Wizard of Oz”. It was also great to see our wonderful mentor, Dr. George Gibson, come to the concert as well from his home in Arizona. This was a special event and I know I’ll always cherish the memories.

Now, however, it’s back to The Met and “Wozzeck”. What an emotional roller-coaster this opera is. However, it’s different than a roller-coaster as well---a roller coaster goes up and down. This opera basically starts at a down location for my character and spirals even further down the slippery slope of sanity as the short evening progresses. It is an emotionally devastating evening. However, I have to say that I find this work to be nothing short of brilliant. It is so fulfilling as an artist to be allowed to create an interpretation that is full of color and analyzation. The director, Greg Keller, and I work very well together and we have an outstanding cast of artists in this production. My goal is to just stay healthy and hope for the same success we had with this production back in 2005 in New York. We are to be lead by Maestro James Levine. Along with the wonderful Met Orchestra and Chorus, this surely promises that, once again, we’ll be having evenings of incredible music theater in New York. Let’s get it on!