Friday, December 24, 2010

Messiah: Nashville Symphony, Dec 2010

I hadn't sung MESSIAH in eight years!!

It was nice to get to do MESSIAH again. And the Nashville Symphony and Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero put on such a great show! I was more than happy to be a part of it! Sharing the production with soloists Terri Richter, Brian Asawa, and Bryan Griffin was a treat. And I had a great first visit to Nashville! Bought myself a big, bad, black cowboy hat.

This is also the first time I've done all the solos in the whole piece. Except the "But Who May Abide...Refiner's Fire" movement. This is, on occasion, given to the alto/countertenor. I was okay giving it up. Nashville was my first opportunity to sing "The Trumpet Shall Sound" for an audience, so that more than made up for it. I'm hoping I can get more Messiahs. I missing singing the piece.

Merry Christmas All!!!!

Doing some catch-up: San Francisco Opera, Fall 2010

Sorry for being so behind. It's now Christmas time. Christmas Eve, to be exact. And the Fall has come and gone. I've been bad. Sorry. Bad Quinn.

So...San Francisco Opera.

I had a great Fall in San Francisco. Great people. Great friends. Great company. I've been so thankful to have had the company bring me back the last two seasons, after making my last-minute debut in the Fall of 2008. To me, it's just one of those companies that treat their artists very well, and so everybody WANTS to go back and work there. And then the productions are all the better because of it.

Madama Butterfly came first, as far as my assignments were concerned. The production was Chicago's, from my first season at Lyric Opera. The whole thing consisted of a giant turn table with Butterfly's house on it. And as the opera progressed, the house would spin as different sides of the set were used for the different scenes. Very classy. Very poignant. And it's ALWAYS nice to be able to come back to a familiar production again. I enjoyed my cast. Sometimes the rehearsal period can seem to drag on and on when you're working, but Butterfly seemed to move along at a nice clip, and before you knew it, we were onstage and into dress rehearsals.

I enjoyed three quarters of the run, and then I had to back out so that I could begin rehearsals for my second show of the season.

Aida was nice to come back to. After enjoying a second consecutive summer of it at the Bregenz Festival in Austria, it really seemed like cake walk. Being so familiar with the opera helped, too, being that our cast had only five days to put everything together before our two dress rehearsals and then the re-opening. Again, great cast. Got to work with a great colleague and friend of mine, Christian Van Horn, who is enjoying a healthy international career after establishing himself strongly in Munich and elsewhere in Europe. He and I were in both Butterfly AND Aida. SF Opera was privileged to have his talent there, as were the rest of us onstage! I was just happy to sing with my friend. It surely makes going to work easier when you get to see familiar faces on the stage with you.

There were so many GREAT great friends at the Opera: in the Rehearsal Department, in Wigs and Make-up, in the Chorus, and even in the audience on certain nights. SF Opera has done so well, whether they know it or now, in nurturing such a cozy work environment. It really makes all the difference.

And in the end, it's always hard to leave. Partly because of all the time that had been spent in that wonderful town. Lots of good times.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bregenzerfestspiele 2010

Back to Austria again. And the season has JUST started.

First of all, it’s great to be back in Bregenz. Sad to leave London, but great to be back here. So much familiarity. So crazy to wake up in London one morning, and to be falling asleep in a bed in Austria, on Lake Constanz. Wild. London was a LOT more fun than I ever thought it would be.

Yeah; London was fun. Had a lot of fun. Fun to have a decent amount of time there while on the Pearl Fishers job with ENO. It gave me a huge chance to really strike out and explore some of the city on my own. The Tube was a snap as far as transportation was concerned. And then, once I moved from Holland Park to Westminster/Central London, there was never a shortage of sights and sounds.

I was truly floored by the drinking culture in London. In the U.K., pubs and bars function as a place where folks get together to chat and meet. It’s the place where the community really gets together. No one goes to get drunk and stupid. It’s where people find out about the day’s goings-on. People don’t drink to drink. And the etiquette is a lot more than I can say for a lot of pubs and bars in the US. It’s something I will remember about London.

~ ~ ~

I think everyone’s happy for Aida to be open and running. Enough rehearsals. Albeit, our director has done some nice things in tightening and retooling the production. I had three different people come up to me and all of them agreed that the show was different from the previous summer. They all seemed to feel that things made better sense than before; that the overall story seemed to be told clearer than it had before. It’s nice to know we’re doing something RIGHT.

It feels to me that the members of my cast are all moving as one in the production, in spite of some mild opposition or a bit of unwillingness to cooperate, shall we say, from one or two others. But overall, I think we have a wonderful opportunity to really pull off a great run for this production of Aida. And I think our director, Graham Vick, is generally happy with what we’re doing. We’ve had a handful of sessions for musical notes as well as staging corrections. It’s nice to have been given all this attention. Makes me feel like somebody gives a damn about what I’m doing and wanting to always be sure I’m putting my best foot forward.

One idea which I shall continually keep in my mind is that of constantly reinventing one’s character onstage. Not fully, but a resetting of the emotions of the character every single night, as though each night were the premiere. Otherwise, one leaves him or herself open to the possibility for an eroding of all the work that’s been done to hone and shape the character into a finished product. The director gave me this. He instilled in me the idea of how important it is to always remember to keep things fresh in the mind. Always fresh. For as minute a change as it could be, not doing so would take away the edge that is needed to completely interpret such a pivotal role as Amonasro in Aida, for example.

It's been nice to come back to such a unique environment as the Bregenz Festival and NOT have to work so much. Of course, the new singers were given a lot of attention in the beginning. And then, once the casts had been decided, rehearsals could really begin to come together to where we would just churn out full run-thrus of the show.

Good people all around. Great production. Please come and check it out if you're reading this and will be nearby at all. I think you're in for a treat.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

BBC Radio 3: ENO Pearl Fishers interview

So here's the link. It's a two hour program. Fast forward to about 9:53 where our actual interview begins. The program plays a recording of the tenor/baritone duet (not our production) at the beginning of our section. The interview ends at about 26:22. From then on, there's another recording of a Pearl Fishers in French of the finale of the entire opera. Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New York City Opera

These last couple months have been fun in New York. Always nice to come back to the Big Apple for good work. And City Opera's Butterfly was definitely that.

Gigs are always fun to look forward to. Each job will always be different, no matter if you go back to a company you know. Debuts are always special. First time at a new place. New faces. In the case of Butterfly, it was nice to know I'd get to work with friends. Always takes the edge off when you actually KNOW somebody on your first day at school.

I'd always heard all kinds of talk about City Opera. No, the fees aren't as plentiful as other companies. Yeah...the acoustics had a reputation for being less-than-adequate. And now with new management, who KNEW how things would go. I wasn't about to make any assumptions. Wouldn't have done me any good.

And d'you know...I think we might have a decent company on our hands, folks. Good people working behind the scenes, both offstage in the wings as well as in the offices and various workshops. Good people working onstage. Solid musicians, this production had. Just an overall positive vibe going on that you don't always get. Throughout the progression of rehearsals and music, there was a definite uplifting sort of attitude that made one look forward to going in to work...even on those days when one would have awoken to gray, drippy weather out and had wished to pull up the covers and sleep in with warm puppies under the covers, then spend the later bits of morning clad in sweats, clicking away at a game controller, in heated battle over the internet with like-minded buddies.

There was a professionalism that actually helped the day pass by quicker. Rehearsals would end earlier because everyone was on the same wavelength, it seemed, and so the well-oiled machine performed (no pun intended) with a smooth efficiency that yielded shorter work days and happy bosses. And then Happy almost always infected more and more people to where opening night arrived like glistening shore break on a black pebbly beach. So crisp. So fresh. But with power behind it, too.

I can't wait to come back!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our Wedding

That's right, folks. After a busy few weeks, I've finally returned here to let everyone know that Marjorie and I were happily married in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 9th, 2010. We had a beautiful ceremony at Central Union Church at 3pm. We had a nice group of family and friends in attendance. It was so nice to see such a big group of Marjorie's family in Honolulu for the wedding...not that they WOULDN'T have come, but nice because it was quite a trip for all of them!

Here's a small peek at our wedding day. I seriously doubt it will ever be topped!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fall Recap

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

It's been a long Fall. So nice that the transition into Winter has been so much easier. Forgive me for not posting sooner; getting back to the US after this last Europe trip left me a little frayed at the edges, per se.

Italy was an eye-opener. Great experiences. Learned a lot. Good to have finally worked there at all. And I was so grateful that the show was something my cast and I were familiar with. Made things a whole lot easier, though remounting a production can NEVER be a walk in the park.

Had a session onstage at La Scala following the Firenze gig. Again, another learning experience. It was great to be invited to the stage to be heard by the company folks as well as Maestro Barenboim. And the fact that he actually had feedback for me was quite nice. No doubt a very formidable presence in the opera world, and an honor that I was able to sing for him.

Then there was the Covent Garden audition. Didn't actually get to sing onstage for that one (even though that's what it was supposed to have been...a STAGE audition). But funny thing IS, I guess the audition was well-received for the conversations they've been having with my agent. So I guess it goes to show that sometimes you come out a winner in the end...even if it doesn't seem that way in the process.

It was great to get back to the states. Had a nice few relaxing days in NYC while Marjorie did a stage audition for the Met (very excited about that for her) as well as an invitation to be a part of the Richard Tucker Gala at Avery Fisher Hall. It was nice to be the proud spectator for a change. From there, we were whisked home to Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with the Owenses. So nice to have the time off in such a cozy setting. The kitchen always smelled of SOMEthing cooking. And the den could put you right to sleep. was THAT comfy. The reclining couch sections, I'm sure, had something to do with it.

Now is for Christmas and New Year's with my family in Honolulu. So great to see my folks, my sister, and my brother-in-law. There's nothing like being at home. 2o1o will be upon us sooner than we think, and with it another roller coaster ride. But more on that later. Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!