Friday, April 15, 2016

Struggle and Perspective (and a little about Macbeth, too)

Dear Readers,

We're on the eve of Macbeth's prima rappresentatione. Tomorrow night will be a first for many; I will sing my first Malcolm (the sun of Duncan and usurper of Macbeth), and MOT will present it's first production - in it's 30 year history - of Verdi's Macbeth. Furthermore, I will not be the only singer making his/her debut in Macbeth: the fantastic Stephen Powell will be playing the title role.

This will be a fantastic offering, one that shouldn't be missing (if you're in the Detroit area). The cast includes the dedicated and able MOT Chorus; supporting, the above mentioned, Stephen Powel as the tragic murderous King, Susanna Branchini as Lady Macbeth, Leonard Capalbo  as Macduff and bass Burak Bilgili  as Banco/Banquo. The amiable powerhouse Michael Chioldi and the elegant Jill Gardner sing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, respectively, on April 24). My fellow MOT Studio Artists join the cast for comprimario roles: Raehann Bryce Davis as the Lady in Waiting, Jeff Byrnes as the First Apparition, Angela Theis as the Second Apparition, Brent Michael Smith as the Doctor. We are lead by Maestro Stephen Lord at the podium, with direction by Bernard Uzan.

Since my last post we've presented a concert at the Detroit Institute of Art, highlighting the Verdi-Shakespeare and Shakespeare-Music connection. It seems appropriate during the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. We also brought our formidable opera quintet to the Detroit Yacht Club, on Belle Isle. Both were beautiful venues in which to sing.

As for the arcane title of this post: "Struggle and Perspective"
As I am sure those of you faithful readers have noticed from both the content and infrequency of my posts that, vaguely put, something is going on. Recall the Thanksgiving post, and it's respective spring time counter-part? Those odd, emotionally driven, stream of consciousness posts?

I have hesitated writing in great detail about my internal and circumstantial struggle. My hesitation comes from two sources; the first: I believe that this blog is not my personal online journal, and as a result, not the venue for readers - like yourselves - to read the most intimate and/or inchoate thoughts. It is a digital convenience to share, with those interested in my career (what a strange thing to say/think - still learning to deal with that), an engaging and unintrusive means to stay uptodate. The second: this is a public forum, and as a result, my posts could be potentially incriminating, professionally corrosive, and just down right inappropriate.

I've been having a difficult time here in Detroit (if it hasn't been obvious). I seek a greater perspective, and comfort amid my internal turmoil. While I have trepidation about writing in detail, there is some mental motivator convincing me to share this with you. Yes, lots of good things! I could not thank MOT enough for the opportunity to practice (like a Doctor Practices his/her craft) my craft. The stage is, in my opinion, the best playground for singers and actors to enhance and perfect his/her skills. It may seem obvious, but one does not experience a singer or actors full ability in a small class room or studio in the same way that one WILL from the audience in an opera house with an orchestra. This is, and continues to be, a great opportunity - for which I am grateful.

I cannot find the courage to be any more specific... I am sorry. I am taking and making all reasonable efforts to pull myself out of the despondent and painful circumstance I am in. Searching for a helpful hand or a mentor, as well as personal strength. I feel impotent, helpless, and bitingly resentful of those feeling while experiencing them - and trying to do my job simultaneously. I am trying to move forward, but every time I that I've found "ground to stand on" it no sooner turns to "quicksand" or some "non-Newtonian fluid."

Yes, the grass is always greener - and I refuse to spiral into the thoughts of "if only..." Telling myself that "In time things will be better" or "this is temporary." I fear that permanent damage is being done, if not physically - emotionally, and mentally. I cannot find my way out of this maudlin 19th-century Werther-inspired condition, yet I condemn it and desire a more pragmatic objectivity - rather a 20th-century empiricism. I feel in constant meta-struggle with my ontological and epistemological thoughts - neither of which are rooted in and firm understanding or experience in those fields.

It's 20 min to 9am, I have to be at the theatre by 10 to warm up - makeup - and get into costume for our 11 am prova generale (final orchestra dress rehearsal).

Thank you for your own dedication to reading through my messy posts...

On ward!!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Post Tender Land - into Macbeth

Dear Readers,

2 weeks and 4 shows since the last post, we find out protagonist hard at work in new endeavors... let's take a look*:

A few days ago a gentleman in the opera house stopped me. He asked "Shouldn't we be saying 'The Scottish Opera'?" Of course my response was: "But which Scottish opera would one assume? I'd think Lucia ... or maybe Donizetti's Scottish opera:  Maria Stuarda..." The list goes on and on with other composers, but really - what would you think? It's important to keep in mind that the opera world doesn't maintain the theatrical superstition surrounding "Macbeth." In fact, I don't know any opera superstitions - we're a practical bunch, aren't we [he says, cheekily]?

O.K. not the best story to start this post - but its an effective way to transition from Aaron Copland's The Tender Land to Verdi's Macbeth. Between productions I found myself again at Detroit's Assumption Grotto Church, this time for Easter services singing the tenor solos in Schubert's  Mass in Bb and Mozart's Regina Coeli.

Tomorrow will be a full day. The Michigan Opera Theatre Studio will sing a Shakespeare in Music concert at the Detroit Institue of Art. Shakespeare concert sounds familiar, doesn't it? My final recital as a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia was a Michelangelo and Shakespeare concert - those in attendance might remember. I'll be adding both a duet from Romeo et Juliet, and MacDuff's aria from Macbeth to my Shakespeare and vocal repertoire.

Here are some more photos from the Copland:

*I thought that was a cute way to start the post...