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!!


Monday, November 30, 2009

More Firenze

Note: Sorry for the delay. Here are the last couple entries while in Italy. I'll recap afterward.

Nov 2nd

I always regret that I don’t make enough time to explore my surroundings when I visit a new city or town for work. But then again, your first priority has to be the job. Leisure comes second. Of course. But this is Firenze we’re talking about. It’s not everyday that you get to come to a city in Europe with so much history behind it. Santa Croce. The Uffizzi. Il Duomo di Firenze. Il Ponte Vecchio. I mean c’mon!

The tourist areas can be really packed with people. You’re constantly weaving through the crowds to get where you wanna go. So having said that, Lauren and I decided to try a different route today. This was our second day off in a row. Final rehearsals and dresses will be upon us starting tomorrow. We open in six days.

We walked up to the Duomo and then kept on walking. I guess it was sort of North. Towards the train station. We gazed into shop windows as we passed them. We happened past what seemed to be an exhibit for Leonardo Da Vinci. Perhaps we’ll find that one again and check it out. Then we saw advertisements for convicted killers in one window. The sign over the door said “Museo Criminale.” A dummy of Hannibal Lecter restrained in his stand-up rolling dolly from the Silence of the Lambs movie sat posed about eight feet back from the doorway. We were in search of lunch. At one point, as we approached an intersection, Lauren turned around and said, “Don’t even THINK about it. No!” She’d seen it before I had. McDonald’s. I said, “Let’s go, let’s go!!” She replied, “I won’t trust McDonald’s in every country.” Fair enough. She said she’d had Burger King in Switzerland, I think, and that the cheese tasted funny. I chuckled at that comment.

We ended up at a Self Service café where you pick out your own food and take it to your table, instead of being waited on. The language barrier still gives me grief, but I make due. We sat and had our lunch. I picked out bow tie pasta in a pesto sauce. Lauren had tortellini in tomato sauce. The pesto was a bit much. I ended up finishing Lauren’s leftovers and leaving mine. Wasn’t totally into the pesto how I thought I’d be.

Nov 14th

The rehearsal process was a bit more demanding than I thought it’d be. That’s the reason for the gap in postings. Most nights, coming home was for showering and sleep. Or sometimes just sleep as fatigue would require that a shower wait til morning. The remounting of this show took a lot out of me. Rehearsals proved a little on the tedious side at times. Then the maestro had the schedule re-worked so that the singers could have a bunch more time in music rehearsals with the orchestra. It was nice to have all that extra time with the instrumentalists, but I’m SURE that easily attributed to the extra loss of energy at the end of the day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Arrivo in Firenze!

October 21, 2009

First night in Firenze. Ugh…the traveling. Don’t think I’ll EVER enjoy that. Unless Marjorie were with me. I wonder what next spring, 2010, will be like. That will be a HAUL!! Six months straight, on the road. Albeit, the first and third gigs that will make up that stretch will include a higher level of familiarity than they would have otherwise. New York from mid February thru mid April. Then to London until the end of June. And from there, we go back to Bregenz, Austria for more Aida with the festival. And NOW, Mgmt is talking about more after THAT!! I wish United and American flew to all these different destinations so that I could cash in on all the accumulated miles!!

More coughing morons on planes. Goofy British woman spraying some sort of smelly aerosol around the cabin as we all emptied out onto the “ramp” to board buses to international terminal 5 at London Heathrow. Listening to her, she claimed she’d had whatever this aerosol was for the entire US trip and never got to use it. So she decides the coach cabin of our British Airways flight is the perfect place to release some random fragranced CFCs into the air. Morons. And everybody…EVERYBODY acts as though they’ll all die of some unknown virus that attacks people who DON’T charge off down the aisles once the plane pulls up to the gate. They flood the aisles as though there’s some instant millionaire drawing going on in the terminal, and they’ll miss it if they don’t haul ass off the plane that instant!!

Speaking of Terminal 5, why do we need to go through security…again?! I don’t get that. We’ve all gone through security in order to board our flights that brought us to Terminal 5. And then, they decide to run us through more hoops, like channeled cattle through the narrow gated alleyways at the stockyards. And I love the security personnel who wear their distaste for their jobs right out on their faces. Well SURE. Of COURSE I wanna be there NOW!! Pug-faced, squat little blonde woman with spikey hair and black gloves on. So demanding. No patience. I understand that they constantly encounter folks who have no clue about taking their shoes off, digging all their liquids out of their bags, and placing everything in the hard plastic bins to be run through the metal detectors, but for God’s sake, how about a smile, huh? Or at least SOME semblance of a positive attitude. Good GRIEF!!

Oct. 22nd

First rehearsal, late this morn. The language barrier isn’t proving to be TOO much of a burden on things. Made my way through a staging of the 2nd bar scene in the show, with Dennis Petersen, one of the familiar faces I was so happy to see last night on my arrival to Firenze. And then, after a pausa in rehearsal that would have made ANY other American opera company cringe, I continued staging. This time, the final scene of the opera. I was fed a bunch of Italian which I loosely followed. Rehearsal staff seems to be headed by Elisabetta, the cute little brunette who visited the production in Japan last year, I’m guessing, to observe and prepare herself for when she would have to be directly involved. We quickly walked through blocking just to help it resurface in the memory before adding music. Apparently there is a prompter as well. He chirped out cues for both rehearsals blocks this morning. The entire staging took maybe 15 minutes after which more instructions were given for the next day’s schedule and then I was released. That’s another thing that would cause American companies to swoon. None of us have as yet been supplied with schedules. Not even general overview-type things. I found out from Lauren last night over dinner what the schedule for today would be. And Dennis and Kevin filled in the afternoon part about the music rehearsal.

I don’t see this taking very long to put together. As long as the local singers and the children are all ready to go, I feel like this show could go up quite fast. We’ll see what happens. After this week, there are exactly three more before we’re done and gone!

Need to make arrangements for a hotel in Milano for a night. I’ll catch a train around the middle of the day or early afternoon out of Firenze the day after Vixen closes, and then relax that evening. The next day, I’ll check out of the hotel and make my way to La Scala for my scheduled coaching. I hope there’s no problem putting the schedule for the coaching together with my flight out of Milano. S’posed to bug out around 7pm-ish from Linate airport in Milano back to London. That’ll be nice. 2 hour flight back to the U.K. Then I’m actually in London for three nights before flying back to the East Coast. So at least no need to stomach all that traveling in one fell swoop as I did on the way over here!

That’s the main problem. Lots of traveling in one day is what kills. But from Firenze back to the US will be MUCH easier. 2 hour train ride and then about 24 hours to breathe. Then a 2 hour flight to the U.K. and then 3 days to breathe. The flight back to the East Coast could easily be 8 hours, but I’d’ve had a full night’s sleep before I needed to fly, so who knows; maybe I’d stay up for most of that flight, watching movies or something. Once on the East Coast, I’d have 2 hours to get through Customs and check in again at my Continental flight (assuming everything’d be on-time). From there, it’d be maybe an hour n change from Newark to Norfolk. By late afternoon, I’d be safe and sound in Virginia.

It’ll be good, too, in the spring, now that I think about it. Six months straight through won’t be so bad, partly because the traveling will be all spread out as well. The return, not so much. New York for two months time. Then six hours to London, and then London for another two months. And when that’s over, the flight to Bregenz (most likely back into Zürich again) will take an hour n change. The hour drive from there to Bregenz will go by quicker now that I’m slightly familiar. It’s the long travel days that really run me ragged. That and the international terminal at London Heathrow (but you’ve already heard me whine about that).

Now then…packing. I’ll admit, I didn’t pack the best for this trip. Chose the wrong shoes. Both pairs. Packed too many tops and not enough bottoms. Packing for next spring/summer will be fun. When I first go to New York, I need cold weather gear. But as the months pass, I won’t need all the warm clothes. Question is, what do I do? One option is to load the cold weather stuff in a box and mail it home. But then that could pose a whole new set of hassles in the packing scheme. Guess it doesn’t really matter. I’d’ve had to plan for all the cold weather stuff in my packing anyway. Grrrrrrrr. And if more work comes following Bregenz, that’ll just make for MORE fun. Ugh.

Oct. 23rd

Had most of the day off today. So I slept in. Got back at the jetlag for coming back to bite me on the ass like jetlag always does. It was nice to be able to sleep past noon. Lauren and I both woke up around 1pm apparently. She had rehearsal at 3pm, so she left earlier. Still need to meet with the lady from the housing mgmt company to get the other set of keys, sign the contract, and pay her. As long as she isn’t harping after me or Lauren, I’m not gonna worry. Too much. Soon as Lauren and I put together the balance of what we owe, I’ll make sure to meet with Kit and get everything finished.

Figured out my shoes issue. Just need to keep those damned boots tied tightly. It’s when they sit loosely on my feet that blisters begin to plague me. Funny how the laces undo themselves. Lil suckers. Loose shoes and the unruly streets and sidewalks of Firenze, not so good. At least for MY feet.

Oct. 24th

Halloween is a week away. Wow. Halloween’s a Saturday. And of COURSE I’m in no capacity to enjoy it how I want. Too many obligations while on a job to think of face-painting or costumes or trick-or-treaters. How festive the feeling must be back home in Chicago. I can see the trees’ leaves along the neighborhood streets turning colors. The street cleaners’ favorite time of year!! Lots of Halloween decorations in front yards and office and school windows.

Not so much here in Italy. Well…Firenze, anyway. I dunno. Maybe I just haven’t noticed.

And then just two weeks more after that. Amazing how quickly time can fly, and on the other hand, how amazing that time can slow down as well. Now then, if only time would be more cooperative; slow down when you needed and whiz by all the other times. Funny how it’s the other way around.

Oct. 25th

No work today, Sunday. No work tomorrow either! Slept til about 9ish, which should’ve been 10ish but Daylight Saving has ended, so we gain back that hour. Interesting how Europe gets the hour back BEFORE the Americas do. I never knew that. The Americas get their hour back in a week, I’m told. So anyway. Woke up around 9 am. Lauren had gotten in the shower. She had to work today. Not very long, tho, judging by the time she returned. It was about 12:30ish. And then we ventured back out to look for some lunch.

Didn’t realize how close we were to the Palazzo Republiko, I think it’s called. It’s the one with the carousel. There’s a plaque up on the arch overlooking the palazzo that’s states that the area was the old center of town. We wandered in there and were immediately heckled by servers of the nearby open air restaurants. I dunno; I felt funny about being treated like a tourist. Because of the traveling I do for work, I don’t ever have TIME to be a tourist of sorts. Growing up in Hawaii, I sorta grew a distaste for tourism, partly because of how Hawaii relies so heavily on it as the main export of the state, and partly because of the generally insensitive reputation that tourists adopt. As we finally decided on a restaurant that still had the sun shining on its dining area on the palazzo, Lauren thought she picked up on a feeling that the servers didn’t care for our speaking Italian to them, what little it was.

Wandered around a bit of the tourist part of town – our ‘hood – and then Lauren opted to go back to the flat. I stayed out a bit longer, making my way to the Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo di Firenze before returning home. The Palazzo Vecchio has the tall bell tower with the steeple-like roof on it. And of course the Duomo was just magnificent. SO huge!! And it’s bell tower rang loud and strong just as I entered the square on that end of the Duomo.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bregenz and San Francisco

Hey gang. Sorry I've been slacking a bit here. Things have progressed pretty quick since the end of the summer in Bregenz and my arrival to San Francisco. I had about a day and a half between getting back to Chicago and turning around to fly out to the West Coast.

First of all - Bregenz. The remaining performances of the summer went quite well. Lots of sold out nights. It was exciting to hear that tickets were becoming harder to come by as the run continued on into August. I'm hoping I get to go back next summer and see if we can't have the same kind of turn-out on Lake Constanz. Bregenz was a charming town. Lovely folks. I would very much like to see them all again.

San Francisco - As I commented to a Bay Area publication, I consider it a HUGE honor and privilege to follow after such an opera super star as Dimitri Hvorostovsky in the role of Count Di Luna in Il Trovatore at the San Francisco Opera. I will sing the final two performances on October 4th and 6th. So far, the run has fared very well. Audiences have been treated to some world class opera since the opening on September 11th. My contract has required me to be on-call at the opera house for every show. This includes fight calls prior to curtain so that Hvorostovsky, the stunt men, and tenor Marco Berti could all brush up on the choreography for the moments in the opera that involve sword play and stage combat. And at every call, Dimitri has always been quite cordial, shaking my hand as we all leave the stage after the brush-up. He has class. He's a big kid during rehearsals. Sure, there were times when folks would've rather had the rehearsal pick up instead of the slower tempo it sometimes fell into because of his antics. But it's a GREAT attitude to have during the rehearsal process. MUCH better than some singers who are never happy with direction, either from the production desk or the pit. It's been fun to be around him and to see him work.

I look forward to my turn. This means requesting brush-up coachings so that all that music stays fresh in my mind. Obviously I don't have the luxury of going through the whole show in costume and make-up every few days.

Which brings me to the photo at the top of this posting. A wonderful colleague and avid blogger, Christian Van Horn, has commented in the past about how he wants to see visual aids in my postings, besides just reading the text. So this is for him. Please do check out his website. He spent all of last season in Munich at the Bayerische Staatsoper. The list of operas and roles he amassed at the end of this past spring was quite impressive. And now he's back there again, after a month off to visit family back here in the states.

Why margaritas?? Chevy's Fresh Mex was a favorite hang-out of mine 7 years ago during my stint as a member of the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco. Good food. Better drinks. And CLOSE to the opera house. Two words. Mango margarita!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


There's been a slight bit of buzz in San Francisco and online about my next engagement. And it was about time I posted again, so here it goes.

The call came in from SF Opera to inquire about me going to cover Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count Di Luna in Il Trovatore. He will not be singing the last two performances. And so, I get those last two shows, as well as the opportunity to cover one of the leading opera singers in the world today!! It's a HUGE honor and a privilege to get the call for this job. I can't begin to go into how excited I am to go to San Francisco in the next few weeks!! It's a wonderful town, and the company is a really great place to work. I'm really looking forward to it.

The run begins on September 11th. I will sing the last two performances on Oct. 4th and 6th.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth of July

Been sorta on holiday this whole week. Finally called to rehearsal Friday and today. Both rehearsals were quite short; not longer than an hour half. Maybe it’s because the rehearsal staff know that we know what we’re doing. Maybe it’s just timing or coincidence. It’s been a bit of a chore to find ways to keep myself occupied.

Anywhere else in the US, I feel like I’d have so many more options. So many more things to pique my interest. Bregenz is a cute little town. The wide paths that parallel the lakefront offer lots of peaceful strolling along the water’s edge. The cafés give you that European charm along the cobblestone streets that we don’t really have in the US. But some of the other customs and daily mundane things I really have to work to get used to. One must strike out in the morning or early in the afternoon at the latest to get the day’s shopping done. Most retailers close at 6pm. I love the idea of being able to rush out to the grocery store in Chicago or Honolulu after 10pm. God forbid you have a grocery store that keeps its doors open 24 hours! Or knowing you can count on 7-11 or Walgreens to be open all day, so that you can still get home after work and then head out to do your shopping from there.

I’m just terribly spoiled by these and other simple luxuries. Luxuries like owning a vehicle with which to get yourself to the store and back with all of your purchased items. Or the restaurants that deliver straight to your door. You enjoy the…um…luxury…of walking around in the house all day in pajamas and messy hair, and then you clean up JUST a bit (not too much) when the delivery guy shows up so as not to scare him out of his socks.

I want to drive my car. When colleagues say, “Let go shoot some pool,” I would GLADLY offer to drive. With the car, the pool hall would be a brisk five minute scoot down the main road in Bregenz that follows the train tracks. Instead, it’s a 30 minute walk…one I usually don’t TOTALLY look forward to after hours of standing up in the pool hall/bar. Or…it could just be that I’m THAT much of a lazy slob.

I could have spent another couple hours at the festspielhaus on the computer, surfing the web, watching a movie or show, or corresponding with friends, but then I leave when it’s dark out, and that can be a drag as well.

I’ve made a friend in one of the other baritones also singing Amonasro here at the festival. Iain Paterson is a tall chap with great barrel of a voice that is MORE than built for Verdi’s Ethiopian king. We hit it off rather quickly and have gotten along quite well. Iain lives outside of London, about 40 minutes I think he said. He packed up his motorcycle and rode all the way over to Bregenz. On his days off, Iain will often times hop on the bike, set the route on his GPS, or Sat Nav as it’s called in the U.K., and toddle off on a sightseeing tour of one of the region’s many scenic roads and highways. Now THIS is something I would LOVE to do, being that I enjoy driving so much. Alas; no wheels.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Quick Festspiele Link

Apparently, I have been added to some sort of flash interview spot on the Festspiele website. Enjoy!

View the video spot here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

the Bregenzerfestspiele

This particular posting will be one of many as the summer progresses.

First entry is from Monday evening, after arriving in Bregenz after almost 9 hours of flying and another 90 minutes of driving from Zurich to Bregenz.

- - -

Lots of traveling yesterday.

Lots of traffic on I-94 coming back to Chicago from Milwaukee.  I had a funny feeling in my gut that the traffic would be there when my manager and I had originally begun planning the whole day.  I’d been misled the first few times I traveled to and from Milwaukee.  The traffic was very minimal.  I arrived on Monday morning in Milwaukee for the start of rehearsals merely an hour & fifteen minutes from the start of my journey in Chicago.  And when I hopped in the car to drive back on Friday night and take advantage of the day off between shows to do some packing and run last minute errands at home, the traffic again proved not a problem at all.

Sunday was a different story altogether.  What had taken not even an hour and a half took almost TWO hours.  Marjorie joined me that morning to see the show.  She’d made plans to have a friend of ours check up on our two Dachshunds for the day as she would be back home by the early evening after dropping me at the airport.

We hit traffic a FEW times.  BOTH ways.  I knew we were in for unfortunate driving.  We started out smoothly, all the way out of Chicago on I-94.  All the way up through Skokie and Highland Park, traffic flowed evenly.  It was after we’d passed thru the first toll booth that things began to look discouraging.  Brake lights.  That was Marjorie, seeing cars’ brake lights far up ahead.  “Uh oh, honey.  Brake lights.”  And then, “Don’t you do it.  STOP BRAKING!!”  The trusty look-out.

What it came down to, I guess, was that there were just too many people on the road that day.  It WAS Sunday, after all.  I feel like I’ve lived in Illinois long enough to know that folks DO tend to drive outta town on the weekends, and return on Sunday afternoon/evening.  Too many people.  Not enough of them paying attention to traffic.  Speeding up too fast.  Then there are those who sit on the inside lane going too slowly.  Or those who drive too slowly in ANY lane for that matter.  Too many who act like they’re all alone on the road.  No one but them, so they’ll just drive as fast or as slow or as badly as they want.

And it was the same coming back to Chicago.  Too many people.  Not enough of them paying attention.  A bunch who didn’t care.  I had a lady in a Jeep Cherokee, riding my rear bumper for a while.  Why do you have to drive so close?  If I have to brake suddenly, you’ll eat my rear bumper for dinner!  And I WAS rushing back, straight to the airport to make my flight to London.  As if I didn’t have ENOUGH stress on me already!

The hardest part was having to jump outta the car, leaving Marjorie behind, a quick kiss and a hug, and rushing to the British Airways counter at O’Hare’s international terminal to see if I was going to be able to make my flight.  I’d had Marjorie find the 800 number for the airline to call ahead and see if I’d be able to get on the plane depending upon when I made it to the airport.  The nice girl on the phone told Marjorie something to the effect that they’d accept passenger check-in at the counter up until 40 minutes before the flight.  There was a part of me that didn’t want to make it in time.  A part of me that wanted to get there, have the counter tell me I was too late, book me on a flight a few hours later, I’d’ve checked my bags, and then we’d’ve driven back home to relax for a couple hours.  The other thing was, they couldn’t totally guarantee my bags making it thru to Zurich with me.  THAT would have been a mess.  I wasn’t ending my travel in Zurich.  I was going to be driven from Zurich, over the border to Austria.  Who KNOWS what would have happened had my bags not made it.  I doubt the airline would have sent my bags all the way out to Bregenz; over the border into another country.

But the hardest part was having to leave Marjorie behind so hastily.  No time to sit and talk.  No time to lean in and share each other’s touch.  No time to do all those mushy little affectations that couples do.  No goofy little baby voices, or meowing and purring as we like to do.  Our Dachshunds make some of the BEST gestures and facial expressions.  We incorporate those bits of communication as well.  It’s just what we do.  But there was no time for ANY of that.  I rushed into the building with my luggage.  She drove away and pulled off somewhere to wait for me to let her know whether or not I’d made it on the flight.  I had.  I called her to let her know, and that was it.  That was goodbye for the summer.  Yeah…not a good way to leave.

Milwaukee Symphony - Mahler's 8th Symphony

Milwaukee Symphony Mahler 8 proved to be quite an enjoyable experience.  This production marked Maestro Andreas Delfs’ finale with the Milwaukee Symphony after which he would be stepping down as Music Director.  One could feel the familiar tugging of heart strings to see and hear the ardent response from those on and off the stage as Delfs took the podium.  It was all too apparent that he had made a lasting impression on the music community of Milwaukee as well as those who enjoyed the fruits of its labors.  And as the maestro brought the finale to a triumphant close at the end of both performances, all in the audience almost immediately rose to their feet, applauding fiercely.  I, for one, enjoyed the tickling sensation of victory washing over me in a calming wash of energy.

I enjoyed sharing the soloist duties with my fellow colleagues.  Each solo voice possessed a character and line that they inhabited fully.  When one reaches a specific level of professionalism, one cannot deny the feeling of accomplishment and excellence that comes with it.  To listen to each voice was to hear a technician work their craft as only one of sufficient stage experience could produce.

The adult and youth choirs offered a comfortable cushion for which both the soloists and the orchestra were able to build on to round out the wonderful, full sound that is required of this of Mahler’s great works.  When all the elements of the entire ensemble are engaged, the result is staggering.  I always wonder how individuals could conceive all that sound…all those different voices and instrumental parts all working as a unit.  Such gifted individuals as Mahler could NOT have possibly been human, for the works they have bestowed on the world surpass mortal abilities, in my humble opinion.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Preparing for the Summer

Gonna be gone all summer to Austria for a festival gig.  A handful of friends will be among my colleagues there.  But I have to say, I'm feeling some anxiety as the departure approaches.

Thing is, I've got a concert coming up before I leave for Europe.  The concert has nothing to do with it; the immediacy of my departure after the concert is what's bothering me.  It kinda makes me uncomfortable to have to rush to the airport right after the concert is over.  I would've preferred to have had a little more time to relax before such a long trip, as well as my departure from home for the whole summer.  Anxiety begins bubbling up, making me a little edgy about leaving home for so long.  I like traveling and seeing new places.  But I REALLY enjoy being a home body, too!!  I guess that's the thing.  I just wanna enjoy my summer at home.

I know, I'll be GORGEOUS on Lake Constance in Austria.  Aida is the show for the summer and I AM looking forward to my first big European production.  I guess it just seems like time is rolling by a little too fast and I don't wanna lose any of it before I leave.  Don't get me wrong; I'm MORE than appreciative for the opportunities I'm being given.  Just need to get used to this; still not totally comfortable with it all.  But this is just me complaining and whining.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grand Rapids...

Greetings.  Sorry I've been a little behind.  These last couple weeks have seen some pretty interesting last minute schedule changes.

Carmina Burana - Honolulu Symphony
This was a nice little surprise.  Got the call from the folks at the Honolulu Symphony that they needed someone to fill in on the baritone solos.  My manager got in touch with them as well as the folks at Opera Grand Rapids to release me for a day as the symphony concert was going to force me to cut into their schedule just a bit.  They were nice enough to let me go, and it turns out the opera schedule ended up getting pushed back a week ANYWAY, so that put me in the clear.

Carmina Burana was a great show.  The house at the Blaisdell Concert Hall was nicely full.  I know that ALL of us onstage were more than happy to see that!!  And they were also quite appreciative on both nights.

Shared the stage with the international soprano Sumi Jo, tenor Brian Stucki, and maestro Jean-Marie Zeitouni, as well as the Honolulu Symphony (of course), the symphony chorus, members of the University of Hawaii Chamber Singers, and the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus.  It was a huge honor and privilege for me to come home and sing for so many who've supported and encouraged me over the years.  The entire ensemble really brought Carl Orff's score to life with an energy and fullness that I knew I could count on once the opening "O Fortuna" roared in.  This is definitely some of the most fun I've had singing at home to date.

Drove from Chicago late in the day on Sunday to Grand Rapids, Michigan to start rehearsals for Opera Grand Rapid's production of Gounod's FAUST.  It's my first time actually performing Valentin.  Before now, I'd only covered the role and sung a handful of rehearsals.  But that was almost 6 years ago in Chicago as a young artist.  I must say, my continued vocal maturity has only made this role more easily accessible since I last sang it.  I'm hoping for great things with this production.  We've got some good folks on this show.  We had a Sing-Thru this afternoon and then did a bunch of stage on into the evening.

Pamela Armstrong is our Marguerite.  Great voice.  She sings like she really knows where the role goes and how it works.  Nice, rounded tones.  I can't wait to hear her onstage.

Bryan Griffin sings Dr. Faust.  He's a colleague of mine from our days at the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists in Chicago.  Bryan is always his harshest critic.  He'll downplay how well he's doing.  He's just humble that way.  ALWAYS nice to catch up to a gig with a friend.

Kirk Eichelberger portrays Mephistofeles in this production.  His is a booming voice with much dexterity and a good feel for the evil that is the devil, himself.

Our Siebel is Marguerite Krull.  She's perfect for this part.  She's very much a woman, but can make you feel like she's a giddy young lad full-on into puberty.  Very much wanting to be a part of the crowd.  TOTALLY crushing for Marguerite, but also as much of one of the guys as possible.

What can I say about Robert Lyall?  Director AND conductor at the same time??!?  Yes he is.  And I've never known anyone like him.  At the very least, you need to be overflowing with energy to be able to keep everyone's attention as WELL as to keep the rehearsal going, both on the stage and in the pit.  And gracious, too.  Very flexible about what you wanna do in your role.  The tempos start out a certain way, and then he's right with you.  I figure it's give and take in opera with the conductor.  And how comforting to find someone who will actually ask YOU what you want.

Looking forward to the show.  I'm sure we'll all want to do more performances just as soon as we're all done.  I know I will. for production info.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Das Rheingold

For those of you who don't know, I'm in New York covering Donner in Wagner's Das Rheingold.  There are only two performances in this run.  But the scheduling of it is sorta funny.  The first show is sorta by itself.  And then the second one is part of the first Ring Cycle.  From then on, there will be two additional cycles of the entire Ring, but I'm not a part of any of those.  Besides that, I won't be in town for them as I have other work.  But it was just weird to me to get a contract like that.  I cover the single performance that's sorta off by itself.  And then the other performance which is actually the first performance of the first cycle of the Ring.  I guess I'd figured it'd be All or Nothing.  Not complaining at all for having the work, period.  I was just a little confused about the schedule of it all once I really began looking at the time period.

Rehearsals are progressing well.  On the whole, the voices are top notch.  I'm excited to be a part of it.  I'm looking forward to the opening and seeing everyone in costume.  The Giants have been rehearsing these last two days onstage with the platform boots that are part of their costumes.  This IS the Met, so productions boast wonderful costumes and amazing sets!!  I walked into rehearsal today as the Nibelheim scene was finishing.  I watched as the whole thing sank down into the stage and the final scene was prepped.

If anyone is reading this and thinking about coming to check it out, I suggest you DO!  It'll look GREAT and it'll sound even BETTER.  My only regret is that I don't actually get to sing.

PBS Hawaii interview

Yeah...this is on the late side.  For those of you in Hawaii who caught it, GREAT.  I believe they'll repeat it again on PBS on the 22nd.  So catch it then if you missed it last night.

For the rest of you NOT in Hawaii, sorry.  I don't think there's an online way to view any of the programs.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We thank Kristin Cowdin, a spunky young native of Louisiana, for coaxing us out of the house Monday night for LUNDI Gras, instead of Mardi Gras.  We were all in agreement that it would be most advantageous to have our cajun experience the night BEFORE the festivities so that we wouldn't get lost in the crowds.  Real intelligence working here, people!

Oddfellow's Rest, from the outside, looks like your regular bar n grill type joint.  Right off the PATH train line in Hoboken, NJ.  I watched folks passing the front windows on their way home from work in Manhattan for about an hour.  Kristin insisted that this was the place to come for authentic cajun cuisine!  And she was right.  LOTS of spices and rice and seafood.  We made Happy Hour and so a number of Hurricane cocktails were served.  I think Marjorie and I took down four each!  Hearty entrees.  Tons of spices in the jambalaya and the gumbo.  Lots of collard greens and mac n cheese.  A good helping of cornbread and butter, too.  And Kristin even had a traditional King Cake shipped straight to New York for us!  I've never had the pleasure of a real Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and if Oddfellows Rest is anything like the real thing, I'm all for it!!
Went to dinner on Friday night at one of chef Bobby Flay's joints.  He's all over the Food Network and is well-known for his flare and a strong sense of personal style.  Marjorie's brother and his girlfriend, Leo and Inessa, flew in to do the tourist thing in the city.  Our good friend (through Marjorie), Matthew Moore, arrived earlier that day.  He'll be spending a week with us before flying cross-country to Los Angeles for a contract with LA Opera.  It was a nice evening with good folks.

Stupid me, I didn't take my camera so I couldn't document any of the food.  I know I know.  Dumb.  I know of at least one good friend of mine (you know who you are) who will shake his head at my elementary blog practices...he himself being one whom I consider fairly well-versed in the ways of the blog.  Whatever.  Flog me with a wet noodle.  Visit Bar Americain's website to view pictures of the dining area as well as a selection of dishes.  

Cocktails and wine began the evening as well as a range of appetizers.  I chose a tasting of the three types of shellfish cocktail offered on the menu.  Very nice!  Coconut n crab with tiny chunks of mango.  Two jumbo shrimps with a tomatillo salsa (that tasted a little too much like what I smell after I've mowed through the weeds and grass in my folks' yard in Hawaii).  And finally, lobster with avocado and what tasted like baby arugula.  It was really great, and all the better with my dirty martini.  Even flavors.  No one thing overpowered the other.  Someone was really thinking when they put the ingredients together.  

Dinner was equally appetizing.  It all looked good on paper.  I hadn't really eaten all day in order to save up.  There was a juicy ribeye and a handful of different sides to share.  Marjorie's cauliflower n goat cheese gratin stood out.

At the end of the meal, dessert was had.  Didn't wanna miss anything.  There was red velvet cake and there was an apple tart.  Marjorie made a bee line for the bourbon praline profiteroles with buttermilk ice cream.

The farther along this blog goes, the more you'll understand (if you don't already know me) that I enjoy good dining.  Being that Marjorie and I spent our first two years together in Chicago, we were able to enjoy a lot of good food in the city and some of the surrounding areas.  We began zeroing in on the restaurants we really enjoyed.  Good food.  Wonderful service.  Fun times.  And that's what we look for when we hunt for new places to eat.  Most of the time, we pay a little more than normal, but usually with a higher prices comes the quality.

More to come.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

After the recital...and back in NYC

So the recital, I felt, fared very well.  The overall experience was very enjoyable.  I'll admit, there were some nerves involved.  But all turned out for the good.  I have to say, I looked forward mostly to the final set in the program: the Mussorgsky Songs and Dances of Death.  It is such a powerful set of songs.  They all follow a generally morbid tone, of course, but each has Death tailored in quite intelligently.  Please write me if you'd like to know more about that.  Otherwise, please consult my website - - for reviews from San Francisco.  They can be found on the Press page.  Fun times.

Back in New York City now.  Catching random auditions here and there.  Marjorie was commenting to a friend on the phone earlier in the day about how nice it is to be in town, instead of having to hop a plane and fly into New York for a one or two or three days.  It IS really nice to just be here for when things like auditions pop up.  Makes the plane ticket and all the months we're spending here so worth it.  Such a good investment.

Currently, I'm preparing for rehearsals of Wagner's Das Rheingold to begin.  I'll be on-contract to cover the role of Donner for the only two performances of that opera this season.  I thought there would be more shows, but apparently that's all they've got on the schedule.  It'll be a nice, short contract.  Two weeks of rehearsals and then the two performances will take place in the third week.  And I'm sure it'll breeze by quicker than I think.  It's one thing to actually perform; it's quite another to just sit and cover.

A very good friend and colleague, Christian Van Horn, has suggested I throw some other things up on this blog.  He wants me to comment on things like the restaurants I frequent.  I wonder if he knows me that well...that I enjoy good dining.  His website is - - and I MORE than urge you to check on him.  He is currently living in Munich, Germany with his wife, mezzo-soprano Kellie Van Horn, and in the middle of a fest contract there.  HIS blog is NOTHING like mine; quite a thing of genius for the way he takes you along with his daily activities both on the stage and in Munich.  He takes some wonderful pictures.  I'm so excited for him at this point in his career.  I'm sure you'll enjoy following along on his blog as much as I have.

As always, I welcome any and all comments, questions, rants, complaints.  Whatever.  More pictures to come.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Schwabacher Debut Recital

Been in San Francisco for a couple days now.  I've got a Schwabacher Debut Recital on Sunday, February 15th, at 5:30pm at Temple Emanu-EL on Lake and Arguello.  Tickets are $20 (a little stiff, I think, but that's just the struggling artist coming out).

Rehearsed with my accompanist, Peter Grunberg, in the hall at the temple today.  It's got great sound.  Peter thinks it's a little on the live side.  I agree, but it'll work.  We ran through the entire program in decent time, being that we'd never done any of the music together before.  I think we fared pretty well.  But Peter is one of those.  The kind of professional who just picks it up and runs with it.  DAMN good to sing that music again.  Especially the Russian.  The program is as follows:

1) Händel
 - Honor and Arms
 - Vouchsafe, oh Lord
 - I rage, I melt, I burn...O ruddier than the cherry.

2) Finzi - Let Us Garlands Bring
 - Come Away, Death
 - Fear No More the Heat o' the Sun
 - It Was a Lover and His Lass

3) Mahler - Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen

4) Mussorgsky - Songs and Dances of Death

I'm hoping to get a recording from the recital and will be sure to post my favorite(s) on the audio page of my website - - once the tracks are available.

Until then, I'm enjoying just being back in San Francisco again.  ALWAYS a pleasure to be here.  I LOVE this town.  One of my favorites since I first visited in 2002 as a member of the Merola Program.  Hoping you are well and that spring comes quickly for those of you who are done with the cold.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

the New York trip

So Marjorie and I are in New York.

We've been in Manhattan now for a couple weeks.  The inauguration was sort of a welcome to the city in a way.  We flew in the Sunday before, and watched it on TV on Tuesday.

Marjorie has cover contracts here at the Met that span the entire stretch of our stay here.  She's on contract right now as the 2nd cover to Leonora in Il Trovatore.  Her next contract overlaps with Trovatore where she'll be the Gerhilde cover in Die Walküre for the Met's Ring Cycle.  I, on the other hand, have been on a sort of vacation since we showed up.  It's been nice to sit back and relax for a bit.

I'm off to San Francisco in a couple weeks to give a recital through the Schwabacher Debut Recital series.  Information for that can be found on the link on my website, on the Schedule page.

And then I'm actually on contract at the Met for three weeks in March, covering the only two performances of Das Rheingold on the schedule this season, as Donner.

In April, I'll be in Grand Rapids Michigan for my first FAUST as Marguerite's military brother, Valentin.

Til then, though, it's nice to be able to enjoy Manhattan at a slower pace.  And I can spend time with my sister, Blythe, and her husband, Kazumi, who live in New Jersey, outside of Princeton.

Next up, I'll be backtracking somewhat to pick up where I left off with the updates I used to send out.  So check back within the coming week.

Aloha for now.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Just playing around with this whole blogging thing.  These are some images that represent me, my work, and who I am.

Here goes...

Aloha to you all!

Quinn here.  This is the beginning of what I hope will be a wonderful tool for you the readers to check in with my goings-on, leave comments, ask questions, share stories, and otherwise keep up with me on my travels and singing in the big wide world.  Colleagues of mine have done this in the past or ARE continuing to do it on a semi regular basis.  I just figure it's easier for folks to navigate to this site instead of me trying to remember every email address I need to include, and then worry that I may miss someone in the mix.

So I welcome you all to follow along.  Share this blog site with your friends or anyone who would benefit from reading the subsequent entries.  I plan to jump back in time to start where I left off from the "updates" I'd sent out on email before.  Catch everybody up-to-date and then go from there.

Thank you all for your support of me and my endeavors.  A lot of my work I do for all those who've believed in me and/or helped me along the way.  I never could have imagined that I would reach this level in my career so quickly!  And forgive me for singling some of you out from time to time.  But I feel it's important to give recognition where it is due to those whom I am in debt for making my career possible.  I promise not to embarrass you.  I give MUCH thanks to a number of people who have seen me through my education, my development in classical music/opera, and my overall growth as a human being.

Me ke aloha pumehana...