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.  www.operagr.com for production info.