Sunday, October 30, 2016

Silent Night - Fall 2016

Dear Readers,

Two posts in one week!?!? Do you feel spoiled? While the dust settles from the shock wave of irony, I am happy to update you on Michigan Opera Theatre's production of Kevin Puts' Pulizer prize winning opera Silent Night. You'll also read in this post about my approaching performance of Ralph Vaughn-Williams' song cycle On Wenlock Edge with the Michigan Opera Theatre chamber ensemble at The Scarab Club, here in Detroit.

No sooner was the curtain drawn on thunderous applause for the cast and crew of Michigan Opera Theatre's 2016 performance of Carmen than the stage management were setting up for our first day of Silent Night rehearsal. I can't say that it's uncommon for singers to have less than 24 hours between different productions, but I also cannot - with reasonable honesty - say that it is standard practice. We (opera singers) are typically learning or preparing other productions while engaged in a current production, but starting at 10 AM the morning after a matinee (which was given the afternoon following an evening performance) is specifically rare.

From Kevin Puts' website, a blurb on Silent Night:
"Silent Night is an opera in two acts by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, based on the 2005 film Joyeux Noël... The opera is sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin...."
Specifically Silent Night is a piece of historical fiction, displaying a moment in the lives of soldiers during the Christmas armistice of 1914. 
Our production is off to the races, and by the end of week one we have staged the entire show. I am headed in tonight to work with the chorus. I am eager to see how the next three weeks plays out. Before I get too far along in commentary, here is the list of brilliant singers hired to bring this work to life:

Erin Wall (Anna Sorensen); Chad Johnson (Nikolaus Sprink); Phillip Addis (Lt. Audebert); Kristopher Irmiter (Lt. Horstmayer); Gabriel Preisser (Lt. Gordon); John Robert Lindsey (Johnathan Dale); Yours Truly JOSEPH MICHAEL BRENT as the Kronprinz; Jeff Byrnes (William Dale); Daniel Belcher (Father Palmer); Alexandre Sylvester (Ponchel); Ricardo Lugo (French General); Brent Michael Smith (British Major); Briana Hunter (Madeleine Audebert); the fantastic David Charles Abell is conducting and Mr. Eric Simonson directs.

What a tremendous group of people.

We had nice party last night, what Maestro Abell called the Silent Night Lonely Husbands Club. So far it seems to be two great casts in a row. It's turning out to be a special year.

More on Silent Night soon...

More importantly: Chamber Music at the Scarab Club - "Music From the Trenches" Nov. 4th and 6th

I am so excited to join the quintet for Chamber Music at the Scarab Club featuring: Mary Siciliano – piano, Velda Kelly – violin, Andrew Wu – violin, James Greer – viola, and  Nadine Deleury – cello

The event is called "Music From the Trenches." We will be performing Ralph Vaughn-Williams touching and powerful setting of A.E. Housman's poetry in a cycle entitled On Wenlock Edge. There will be music by Kevin Puts, Suite en Sol for string quartet by Jacques de la Presle, and others.

The program is meant to whet-the-whistle for the approaching performances of Silent Night.

I have to run to rehearsal.

More soon,
Thanks for reading

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Carmen Post-Mortem

Dear Readers,

I am sorry that I, again, have been so delinquent in writing to you. I realize that between hand-written letters to friends, facebook, and twitter that I neglect to update this blog. I apologize. There is a lot to share, buckle up!

I would like to tell you what a fantastic experience I had as El Remendado in Michigan Opera Theatre's of George Bizet's Carmen. The cast of Carmen was probably the most inclusive and amiable cast with whom I have worked in Michigan. While I am not a religious person, we must have been blessed to open the David DiChiera legacy season with such an affable and talented group: Ginger Costa-Jackson (Carmen); Sandy Eddy (Carmen); Marcelo Puente (Don Jose); Alok Kumar (Don Jose); Cecilia Violetta Lopez (Micaela); Luis Alejandro Orozco (Escamillo). Of course the MOT Studio was beautifully represented by Jeff Byrnes (Don Cairo); Brianna Hunter (Mercedes); Angela Theis (Frasquita); Brent Smith (Zuniga). I can't forget the fantastic Harry Greenleaf (Morales). You should remember Harry from MOT's production of Copland's The Tender Land. That boy is on fire! He will be back at MOT for two other production this year; we're lucky to have him.

I heard one reviewer write "an embarrassment of great talent." This could be said of our Carmen.

While this was my third production of Carmen, it was my first as El Remendado [If you are a long time reader of my blog then you'll remember my May 2015 posts, and my November 2013 posts in which I recounted my performances as Don Jose]. In addition to playing that Gypsy Smuggler, I gave a lecture at Macomb County Community College introducing a packed auditorium to the Opera. We even had to turn about 40 people away! It's nice to exercise my Doctorale muscle from time to time.

I am also happy to say that my program notes, and the synopsis that Chris Voss and I collaborated on were used by Michigan Opera Theatre on its website. Those notes are slowly becoming my only scholarly work of any real value. I am proud of them.

I'll try to find some photos.

If you were on of the lucky people to be able to hear or see the show, good on you. If not, consider this post as some consolation.

As ever,
truly yours,

PS More soon!