Heading home for a very short break

Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving Paris bright and early for a short trip home. I have some days off and so what better way to spend four days than flying, spending 72 hours at home, and then heading back to Paris. I can’t wait to see my family and to worship with my church family as well. I may even catch a high school football game on Friday night.

The only bad part of the trip is that Pennsylvania is, at this time, under attack. I’m a bit of a political junky--but I have to say, I’m not really looking forward to the constant barrage of television adds that will be on in the next few days for all of the candidates. We have been declared a “battle ground state” once again. Fortunately, I voted absentee a few weeks ago and so I can basically ignore the adds. As not much of a television watcher, I should be able to avoid most of it as well. I will hate seeing all of the signs all over the landscape--to me, it’s basically pollution and steps should be made to lessen the amount of signs put up during each election. Why in the world do we need 10 signs in about one block for the same candidate---I guess it is in case we forget who is running from one corner to the next.

Rehearsals have gone VERY well here in Paris. We are quite solid on act one--I truly like the production. We’ll start act two next week once the tenor arrives. He doesn’t appear in the first act and so we’ve concentrated on this act while he finishes up a show in Chicago. Actually, we probably have, once again, too much rehearsal time. We’ll need to pace ourselves as the rehearsal period progresses so as to not “peak” too soon.

All until next week when, Lord willing, I’ll be back in Paris once again.

Metropolitan Opera's 125th Birthday

Today is the 125th anniversary of the first performance at the original Metropolitan Opera House (Faust). A very big Happy Birthday to one of my favorite opera companies. In my 20 years of being associated with the company, there has never been a day where I haven’t felt honored just walking through the stage door. I remember seeing my first opera at The Met (Manon Lescaut in 1981) with my girlfriend (later my wife) and her parents. This was of course at the new house which opened in Lincoln Center in 1966. I was mesmerized by the theater, the chandeliers, the production, the musicians, and the entire experience. I remember thinking that night that it would be an incredible dream to one day be able just sing on that stage once. Now, after nearly 200 performances of my own on that stage, I am still in awe of the place.

I remember the 100th anniversary very well. I had just finished my master’s degree and was performing in my first production of “Don Giovanni” at my alma mater. I watched the afternoon gala from The Met on PBS before my show and then the end of the evening gala after my performance. It was an amazing day of opera from New York and a pretty incredible day of opera in Wichita, Kansas as well. That production of “Don Giovanni” remains one of the finest theatrical productions of the opera I’ve ever been involved with and it was the first run of an opera that I’ve gone on to sing just about more than any other. It was also that production which really lit my fire and caused me to really pursue singing much more seriously. I had of course already been doing quite a bit of singing, but this show solidified my desire to be a professional opera singer. To think that this happened 25 years ago astounds me. And to think it has now been 25 years to the day since the Met celebrated 100 years, well, I just can’t believe how time flies. I am grateful for music in my life and I’m grateful for The Met. And it is not only the incredible experience of The Met that I’m grateful for---it’s also my many wonderful friends and colleagues who I’ve worked with for years that I cherish---singers, orchestra and chorus members, wardrobe and make-up staff, stagehands, administrators, secretaries--you name it. They are all part of my music family and I wish us all Happy 125th Birthday. One more thing--thank you to all the many incredible singers who graced the stage before my time on the boards. You helped make this company what it is today.

Slow day in Paris

Actually, this should be entitled as “slow week in Paris”. I arrived here last Wednesday and have only had 7 hours of rehearsal in the first week. I’m used to far more intense rehearsal periods than this. Sometimes, it can get a little boring.

I was reflecting earlier today about how much easier it is to pass the time these days than it was earlier in my career. The advent of the laptop computer has made a tremendous difference. In addition, the Slingbox may be the most cherished possession for those of us who do so much traveling as it allows us to be in tune with our home television systems so much easier. Yes, I still do a lot of reading as in the old days as well as studying roles. But now, one has far more options when it comes to watching English speaking television than just CNN International.

The picture is of the column in the Place de la Bastille which is just outside the opera house. I wish the weather would have been as nice today as what you see in the picture. It was rainy and gloomy today. It was nice, however, to have the air cleaned a bit.

Finally, I’m called back to rehearse tomorrow. I’ve been off since Saturday afternoon.

Greetings from Paris

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged and you may notice that the old entries have all disappeared (at least for now). I had some technical difficulties due to an updating of a system. Much had to be redone. The blog entries, for now, will just have to continue to float around in cyberspace.

I arrived in Paris last week and have already had a few rehearsals. Much of the time has just been spent getting over the jet lag. As always, I’ve been doing a lot of walking and just enjoying the beautiful sights. I took this picture of Notre Dame this evening during one of my strolls.

I’m in the city for my 1,893,455th production of “Fidelio”. Okay, it hasn’t been quite that many but sometimes it feels like it. I remember in 2002-2003 doing the same opera for seven months in a row. I’m not complaining--I love this work. It is always so different each time I take on the role of Pizarro (what a bad guy). This time it is even more so since we are not using any of the traditional dialogue. I’ve had to wrap my mind and tongue around some pretty interesting poetry. So far, I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

It’s nice to have a very good friend in town as well who is singing Tristan in “Tristan und Isolde”. I’ve been in this business so long that you end up being in some nice places with friends more often. Clifton Forbis is indeed one of the good guys in the business. It’s good to be with him.

Since I last wrote while in Los Angeles, I have sung two recitals. One was close to our home in Pennsylvania and the other was at my graduate school alma mater, Wichita State University. I also gave a master class in Wichita and also taught my yearly round of lessons at Yale. What outstanding talent abounds there.

My family is all doing very well. College hunting is getting wrapped up for our eldest. We can’t believe we are at that point already. Life is such a wonderful journey.