A great opening

I usually don’t like opening nights very much---too many frayed nerves and way too much anxiety. Last night’s first performance of our new production of “Fidelio” here in Paris was truly outstanding. Everything just “clicked”. The audience fell into that wonderful Parisian rhythmic clapping during the curtain calls which put a stamp onto the night that pleased us all.

I am very happy with the characterization that we’ve come up for this portrayal of Pizarro. Yes, I’ve done the role many times but each time we try to add a few new things. This time, we’ve added a lot of new items and he seems far more demented than usual. It’s always fun to play the bad guy but never more so than in this run.

The cast that was put together for this production is full of fine singers who are also excellent actors. To me, that’s the melding of talents that any opera company should want. On top of this, the cast gets along very well and we’ve had a lot of fun. This has been fostered by the excellent production staff. When all this comes together so well, you can’t help but have a success.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving back in the States. This is one of my favorite holidays and I will truly miss not being with the family. A few of my friends here in France may join me in the non-traditional Thanksgiving crepe. It won’t be the same thing as a turkey dinner with all the trimmings---but one doesn’t need to have that in order to be most thankful for all of the incredible blessings that are poured upon our lives---I am truly greatly blessed most of all with Salvation but also with a strong faith, a wonderful family, and great friends. May your Thanksgiving be absolutely that. A time of Praise, Joy, and giving Thanks!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Heads up

It’s a day off here in Paris and I’m taking the much appreciated down time to catch up on some things. We had a tough week of rehearsals but a very rewarding time as well. The show is in absolutely great shape and we still have another week or so of rehearsals. The opening night is not until the 25th.

This is a picture I took directly below the chandelier in the center of the auditorium. I will soon post additional pictures but wanted you to be able to see the contrast between the fixture and the gorgeous mural by Marc Chagall. It is simply spectacular. The Garnier opened in 1875 but the mural was not painted until 1964. Of course, the work by Chagall was controversial due to the “modern” style being so different than what had been seen before. Also, the mural was applied directly over the old mural which destroyed the former work of art. I read today as well that the combined weight of the two canvasses has caused the adhesives to fail over time. I just hope it holds up through “Fidelio”.

Speaking of things falling, we all know about the Phantom and the falling chandelier. When you see the size of this thing, you can really get nervous thinking about what it would be like if it ever fell. I don’t anticipate that happening but maybe I shouldn’t take pictures from directly underneath anymore.

My entrance in the 2nd act is from way above the stage. I have to go quite a ways up into the fly space to cross over and then descend upon a central staircase in the middle of the set that is part of this production. It’s a nice effect but a bit scary. I’ve spent some time exploring up there as well and once again am awed by the legends of this old house. They don’t build ‘em like they used to.

I have always been one who has spent a lot of time exploring in opera houses--I’m a bit of a “theater rat”. One could easily get lost in The Garnier but I’m starting to know my way around. I love the old wood floors in the hallways and dressing rooms. The character of the place is like no other opera house I’ve ever worked in. Just to see the ballet studio which is behind the main stage is also an incredible experience. All that is really left for me do is to get down to the catacombs and the river that flows underneath the house. That may happen this week if I can find somebody brave enough to go with me.

First rehearsal at the Garnier

Today was our first rehearsal in the spectacular old opera house here in Paris, The Garnier. In my previous operatic performances (“Hoffmann”, “Don Giovanni”, and “Cardillac”) here in Paris, I’ve performed at the Bastille, the newer gigantic opera house which opened in 1989. What an incredible experience to now be in this extraordinary and historic theater---I nearly had goose bumps walking onto the stage. I will try and post some pictures in future posts from the inside of the auditorium. I’m not sure I can do it justice. It is simply gorgeous and the Chagall mural on the ceiling is spectacular. I look at the incredible chandelier and of course think of “Phantom of the Opera” and wonder if he’s lurking somewhere in the house.

The dressing rooms are those of a very old theater but I love the charm. There are not many opera houses with this much character and history still giving performances. What a treat to get a chance to perform here.

Rehearsals have gone extremely well and we are in very good shape. What a nice cast to work with and the atmosphere in this rehearsal period with the director, conductor, orchestra, chorus, and all others involved has been very rewarding. Sometimes, it just all comes together and I only hope we can maintain this spirit through the entire run of the show.

The opera world is going through one of its biggest periods of crisis. Financial concerns are great in many companies and it has certainly affected some of my future plans. However, I know I’ve been given a voice to sing and for now, that’s just what I’m going to do.

Back in Paris

After a very quick few days at home, I’m back in Paris and all is well. I’m a bit tired but that’s to be expected after crossing the ocean twice within 4 days. It was worth it, however. Any time that I can get with my family is always worth it.

Rehearsals get going again tomorrow for me. We’ll have a music rehearsal on Act 2. Being that we had our first musical on Act 1 about three weeks ago, it’s about time.

Over the last few days, I truly enjoyed just being with my wife and children. We made it to a football game, had play practice for a theater show one of my sons is in, had Tae kwon Do practice, attended a Halloween party, mowed part of the lawn, worshiped together at church, saw friends, and just enjoyed being together. It’s these great days that help make the lonely days on the road a bit more tolerable. And one always has to remember that there are indeed reasons why one must share his gifts and talents. That’s what we’re called to do.

Hopefully the jet lag won’t be too bad and I’ll be able to get a real full night’s sleep!!!