"Carmelites" Opens tonight

Greetings from Washington, D.C. How great to be back in one of my favorite cities (although I could do without all this cold and snow). This is approximately my 30th production in the D.C. area and my 25th or so with the Washington National Opera. It has been a home away from home for so many years--and the company that really supported my operatic career its’ beginnings. I am very grateful for each experience that I’ve gained with this company, whether it be one of the small roles in my early days, or the theater where I sang some of my bigger roles for the first time. The Kennedy Center has long been associated with my career--and my history--more of that later.
Tonight, we open a production of “Dialogues of the Carmelites”. This is the first time I’ve sung this opera. Some may wonder why I’m singing a smallish role here in Washington at this time. Well, two years ago, it looked like I would have a hole in my schedule. My agent and I talked to the folks here at the WNO and I said I’d be happy to sing the role of the Marquis in this production. That was before I knew about my teaching position at Wichita State. However, as time went on, I realized that this is really a great role to do at this time. This company, as I said, gave me my start. It’s nice to give back to it a bit as well. And, this role is very non-stressful for me--we need these kind of roles in our pocket to break up all the harder evenings. I’ve been able to do the rehearsals, enjoy the experience, stay in contact with my students, do some teaching here, sing for various events, etc. It’s the complete life of a singer. The role of the Marquis de la Force is not overly difficult and certainly not long--but it is important. I get to wear a great costume and wig and sing some interesting and challenging music. It’s great to spend time with a favored director, Francesca Zambello, and with so many of my cast mates who I’ve known over the years. Nice gig.

As I mentioned, my history with the Kennedy Center goes back a ways--all the way to 1972. The Kennedy Center opened in 1971. In June, 1972, I was a member (as a tuba player) of the Junior High School Band of America. We travelled from Illinois to the east coast where we played a concert at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. The next night, tickets were given to us to go to the Kennedy Center to see a performance of some piece (I forget the name of it). We were young kids--I was 13. I was exhausted from the tour and hadn’t been all that well for a great portion of the trip. All I can really remember of the performances is that I fell asleep on the soldier of the man next to me, a complete stranger. What is more interesting, however, is that very weekend, the building next door was being broken into and robbed--you may remember that little incident at The Watergate Hotel? Funny how lives and incidents are so intertwined. OH, and I swear I had nothing to do with the break-in. I had a good alibi.
This weather is atrocious for singers--and everyone else. Please make the snow and cold go away. Summer does have to come, doesn’t it.
Finally, we have entered into one of my favorite times of the year. This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and our Lenten journey continues. May yours be meaningful and blessed!