29 and still joyfully counting

When we exchanged wedding rings 29 years ago today in Decatur, Illinois (I was only 13 at the time), the only words we said to each other were, “You are my beloved and my friend”. And indeed, that is still the case. Happy Anniversary to my wonderful and beautiful bride. I thank God that He knew what He was doing---even if we didn’t.

And, today, she can fit into her wedding dress a lot better than I can fit into my tux.

Lazy Days

Well, actually, they haven’t been that lazy. I have had 3 of the last 4 days off from “Salome” rehearsals but that hasn’t kept me from being active working on a future role. I’ve spent a lot of time preparing “Tosca” (Scarpia). However, the days off have allowed me to have some beautiful walks here in Baden-Baden. I sat on a bench in a park working on the Puccini today. I hope I didn’t scare any of the residents of this quiet town when a few phrases might have come out a bit too loud. They may have wondered what kind of mad man had come into their midst (well, Scarpia is pretty evil, to say the least).

Rehearsals are going well. In just 3 days, I was fully staged and will now be running my part over and over. This is always sort of typical for the role of John the Baptist. He has a great deal of singing to do while under the stage and then an extended scene onstage before heading back to the cistern for more prophesying. For various reasons, the scene onstage is always staged rather quickly--thankfully, it stages itself for the most part. I have been working with the understudy soprano as the soprano who will be singing the role in the performances only arrived today. I’ll begin work with her tomorrow (We’ve worked together several times in the past.).

Until then, more and more time can be spent learning my new role that hits the stage this fall in Washington--and more time can be spent enjoying the beautiful scenery of Baden. This scene just jumped out at me when I was on a walk over the weekend---such a nice vista. I just had to click away once again with my iphone. In a place like this, you never want your camera far from your side. Enjoy!

Back in the "Vaterland"

After a few weeks off (not really, as there was much to do), I’m back on the road. This time, the schedule brings me for the first time to Baden-Baden, Germany. Ancestral research has let it be known that the “Held Family” can be traced back to Baden-Baden. I guess you could say I’ve come home. To be quite clear, it is GORGEOUS here. As I write this, a bird is gently singing outside my window. The trees are in abundance (as is the pollen) and I think I have found one of the most peaceful locales on earth. I truly can’t understand why my ancestors would want to leave such an area.

I flew from Newark on Sunday evening in order to arrive yesterday and begin rehearsals on yet another production of “Salome”. We’ll open the show next month. I’m working with a director I’ve worked with many times and with colleagues who I’ve also shared the stage with quite often. It’s nice to be able to have that familiarity when putting together a new interpretation. I’ve always enjoyed singing the role of John the Baptist. This is the third production of “Salome” I’ve been involved with since this past August. It’s like putting on an old pair shoes (or is that sandals--actually, I’ll be bare foot for this production) and walking well known streets once again. It looks like this production may also be recorded for a DVD that would be released in the future.

Since last writing, I had my yearly excursion to Yale University to work with the opera students. What a talented bunch of young singers. I expect to hear several of them on major opera stages in the future (and I’d love to be in their shows as well).

I also buzzed out to Ohio to pick my our oldest son who completed his sophomore year of college. Wow, has this been a fast two years. It was nice to have the family all together for a few days before I had to leave for Europe.

Finally, this past Saturday brought my daughter’s First Holy Communion at our Church in Pennsylvania. It was a very beautiful and moving experience followed by a party at our home. It was hard to keep the tears from flowing during the service. I will cherish each moment during her journey through life--but I think she’s growing a bit too fast for my taste. Can’t we keep them young just a while longer?