Reflections from Opening Day and Night

We opened “Peter Grimes” at the Washington National Opera on Saturday night to excellent critical acclaim. It was a very special night. I have loved this opera for a very long time and have always found singing the role of Captain Balstrode to be a treat. First of all, it’s nice to sing in your native language once in awhile. Second, the evenings are shorter than a typical Wagner evening. Third, the story is so dramatic and the opera is fast paced. Fourth, this is an ensemble show and it is always great to work so closely with colleagues, especially when they are as talented as the cast, chorus, director, conductor and orchestra assembled here in Washington. No wonder the opera is being so well received.

It was great to have one of my sons along for the opening night and the dinner that followed at The British Embassy. I have tried, over the years, to involve our children in as many opportunities as possible. One son joined me for opening night here in Washington in 2001 (three days before September 11th) as we opened “Les Contes d’Hoffmann”. I’ve had the children travel with me on various occasions so they can see just what Dad does, especially as he has to spend so many hours away from them. My son truly enjoyed opening night--the opera and the dinner. He is very interested in the arts and I’m sure these experiences are a great education for him.

As my role in this opera is not my most demanding, we were able to do a little touring on Saturday. We went to the National Archives and were greatly moved by so much of what we saw there. I have toured there before but it was special to have my son along as we viewed the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of The United States. We also saw one of the original editions of the Magna Carta. These incredible documents were displayed alongside so many other historical artifacts. We saw the original Homestead Application filled out by Charles Ingalls displayed just feet away from one of Shaquille O’Neal’s sneakers---that’s one big shoe! It truly was a great day.

Allergy season has hit D.C. with the trees blossoming everywhere. It’ll only get worse in the coming weeks as the Cherry blossoms burst forth. So many of us are feeling the discomfort that this time of year brings. However, a singer has to muddle through and sing as well as possible. I hope things don’t get tougher in the weeks ahead---and we could really use some rain here to fill the streams and clean the air. It’s long overdue.