Back to the High Seas

Okay, if I was a tenor, I’d say back to the High C’s. However, with tonight bringing the opening of “Der Fliegende Holländer” here in Munich, the seas are more of the nautical kind. It is so wonderful to return to this opera (which I’ve been away from for about 2.5 years) here at The Bavarian State Opera. I enjoyed this production when I last appeared in it in 2012 and look forward to this short run of performances with a truly fine cast, a great opera chorus, a wonderful orchestra that plays Wagner like none other, and a Maestro who so firmly has this score in hand. This could be exciting.

I’ve written before about how much this opera means to me. It’s long been a favorite. It’s also very intimidating for the bass-baritone. But, as I mature, I realize some of the things that used to scare me about this role need not pose so many difficulties. Staying calm and measured while relying on technic can help to pull you through. It’s a long evening, no doubt about it. But, it’s one that suits me well. Let’s hope that I feel as strong for the final proclamations at the end of Act 3 as I do during the great aria, “Die Frist its um”, which begins my night.

Since I last wrote, much has occurred. Primarily, these have been hectic and emotional days as our family relocates. We are in the final stages of having our house sold and are gearing up for our move to Wichita, KS. If you follow this journal, you’ll know that I will begin, in just a few weeks, to teach at Wichita State University. I have long looked forward to working with the students and being part of an academic setting. And, this will all coincide with my continued singing career. Some really exciting projects are ahead on stage. I also hope that we create excitement in the studio and classroom as well. It was great to have one of my new students here in Munich last week. Over some fine Wienerschnitzel, we were able to get acquainted and discuss the future of his singing and establish a nice relationship. I look forward to this being the case with all my students.

Educating students and furthering the following of this art form has long been a part of my life. It has been an honor to be front and center onstage as well at the front of the classroom and master class setting. The many times I’ve taught at Yale and elsewhere have been as fulfilling to me as I hope they’ve been to the student. I think it is important for artists to share their knowledge with future singers. I also think it is important for teachers of singing to be performers of singing. This only helps you as a teacher. I also strongly believe that teaching has made me a better singer. Taking the time to analyze what others do helps me to understand better what I do--what works, what doesn’t--how to fix problems and how to grow. The disciplines run hand in hand. May they both be a part of my artistry for some time.

These are troubled times for opera with funding issues, labor disputes, stylistic disagreements, and a heated controversy over just what opera should look and sound like. Opera is an art form, a thing of beauty and power, that has been caught up in the very things in society that one seeks to escape from when going to the theater. Some of this is very challenging. However, there is no escaping the issues and they must be directly dealt with. Only then will the artist be free to express their craft and have the audiences enriched as they deserve to be. It is my hope that those on both sides seek to negotiate these issues with respect, dignity, and class. Producers deserve that. The artists deserve that. The art form deserves it even more.