Back to the keyboard

Happy May Day!

I can’t believe it’s been nearly over 5 months since my last post. It’s time I got back to the keyboard.

My last post was from Frankfurt, Germany where I was active performing concerts and making a recording of “Der Freisch
ütz”. That recording won’t be released until later this year but I am excited to hear the results. The concerts went very well and were a lot of fun to complete.

The past several months have been busy on many fronts. As some of you know, I was named the Artistic Director at The Wichita Grand Opera this past January 2. This is a company with major financial issues but hopes of getting things back on the boards and moving towards the future. I have many plans for the company but the first item must be to get the house in order. More on that, hopefully soon.

The work at Wichita State University has been very time consuming but productive over the last few months. Academic work brings many challenges (many of them are unnecessary) but rewarding experiences as we see our students grow and become better singers and performers. I was so pleased with the presentation of our annual “Opera Scenes” program in February. And then, on a short amount of rehearsal, the students gave outstanding performances of our double bill, “L’enfant et les Sortil
èges/Gianni Schicchi”. Most of the roles were double cast. I was honored to serve as the director of these operas as well to have prepared the casts on their music.

I also performed one of my favorite works, the Beethoven 9th Symphony, with colleagues and the Wichita Symphony. This is the “home town band”. They played so well. It was a joy to serve as one of the four soloists along with two of my other faculty members at Wichita State and one of our students. Many of our other faculty members are members of this fine symphony orchestra. Singing this piece is always uplifting and a joy.

However, right now, I’m back out on the road as we are preparing “Tosca” with my favorite opera company, The Washington National Opera. I’ve written about my long relationship with this company (dating back to 1987) several times on my blog. My affection for this city is evident. My loyalty for the company has long been established. I basically began my career here and owe a great amount of gratitude to all those who have been so supportive to me (over so many administration changes).

Singing the role of Scarpia is always a great assignment (and a tough one). He is the ultimate bad guy...perhaps the most malevolent in all of opera. One has to learn that a flick of the eye brow can be just as intimidating as a large gesture of the hand. One has to learn to never try to “sound angry”...just let the colors of the music and what Puccini put on the page handle all of that. Sing technically even though the line may suggest getting off the voice. LISTEN!!! This is the most important tool for any opera singer...learn how to listen to your colleagues and to the story as it evolves. Don’t anticipate the story...let it unfold. And have a blast.

The coming months are going to be more hectic than I had planned. I had actually looked forward to an easy summer but things, as usual, have changed. I’ll be headed to Rome and Lucca, Italy, and then head to Miami, Florida and Sydney, Australia. I will also be planning and working on the operas for the coming season both on campus and in my own singing career. It seems that things just keep on rolling along...I have few complaints on that front. I don’t think I expected to still be singing after 33 years as a professional. But, I’m grateful that this is indeed the case. And on we go.