Best time of the year

As many of you know, I’m a HUGE fan of hot weather and the dog days of summer. However, I have to admit that these days of late September and early October are also pretty incredible. The onset of Fall is such a special time of the year. Opera seasons are kicking off. College football is in full swing (Go Irish!). The NFL (Yeah, Bears) is gaining momentum. And, thankfully, in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals are once again Division Champs and heading to the post season. On top of that, the weather is incredible for much of North America at this time. It doesn’t get much better.

We’re down to just two more rehearsals before our opening night of “Peter Grimes” here in Toronto. It has been a real pleasure putting this show together. The cast has gelled nicely, the rehearsals have been stress free, and we’re ready to go. I believe the audiences of the Canadian Opera Company are going to love this show. I’ve never been in a production of “Grimes” that I haven’t loved. This one is a bit different--but still packs a punch. I can’t wait until opening night.

Next week, I’ll post a journal entry concerning performing these great Benjamin Britten operas. I’ve sung 4 of his operas in multiple productions. Let’s just say that I don’t think any composer set his native language better.

Enjoy Autumn in all its glory!

Getting ready to go

Welcome to the 2013-2014 season. I am SO ready to get this new year of opera up and running. What an exciting season this will be, full of new challenges and reunions with great opera characters.

I haven’t written much as of late as I stepped away from journaling during my month of vacation during August. These “down times” for a performer are necessary. I am quite sure that these breaks have helped to give me longevity in this business as well as time to consider the new roles and the pacing that the next season will require. I am happy, however, to finally be back in rehearsal and readying the opening night of the season. And, since I’ve spent so much time here in the past 18 months, I can think of few places I’d rather open the year than here in Toronto with The Canadian Opera Company. Our production of “Peter Grimes” is just 4 weeks from opening night. I LOVE THIS OPERA. I first sang the role of Balstrode in 1994 at The Metropolitan Opera. Since then, it has been a treat to revisit the character many times. It served as the vehicle of my La Scala debut in 2000. I’ve also sung the role of the sea captain in Vancouver, San Francisco, and Washington (where I last sang the role in 2009). “Grimes” is truly a masterpiece. I am always swept away by the music and the incredible way Benjamin Britten focused the text. I know of very few composers who have set language to music better--and, in utilizing the English language, nobody has done it better. BUT, the best part of being in “Grimes” is being a part of a true ensemble opera. Everything is so intertwined. The orchestra gives us great colors and the chorus is an integral character in the action. The soloists have to interact on so many levels. It is all so real. It also always leads to a wonderful camaraderie in the rehearsals and performances. Each run of “Grimes” is a treat despite the sometimes disturbing subject matter. Let’s just say, we have a lot of fun with the piece. And, I know it is special for the audience as well. I can remember audience members, in other locales, saying that they weren’t necessarily looking forward to the opera when they saw it on the schedule. However, after seeing it, they admitted that it was certainly the highlight of the season.

And I’m thrilled that this opera will be with me through much of the Fall. After this run in Toronto, I’ll be part of concerts of this opera with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in St. Louis and in New York at Carnegie Hall. So, bring on the waves, the salty air, and the incredible magic of the troubled fisherman and his suffocating borough.

There are a lot of other challenges on the docket for this season including two role debuts and reunions with some of my most favored roles. It’s going to be a heavy season, to be sure. But, happily, there are some nice breaks in the schedule as well. One of those breaks will bring a wonderful family event as we celebrate the marriage of one of our sons and his lovely fianc
é. There will be loads of other activities interspersed, too. Sometimes, I wonder how I’ll keep it all straight. But, that’s one good reason for the breaks that I take in the summer. My batteries are recharged and I’m ready to go.