Alan's Blog...It's all Gesamtkunstwerk to me!

Thoughts from nearly 40 years on the professional stage

February 2015

Dialogues of the Snowplows

So, it was a bizarre night at the opera. Two of the more emotional performances I've ever been part of occurred in this same theater (Opera House) at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The first one was on 9-12-2001...I don't need to go into much detail as to why that was emotional--being in D.C. during that time period was an experience that I'll never forget. At the end of the night, it was clear that we helped the audience during difficult times--and they helped us as well. Tonight was a different story. "Dialogues of the Carmelites" is always an extremely emotional experience for the cast and audience alike. However, today, a pretty significant storm hit the D.C. area. Now this storm wasn't nearly as bad as what I've been through before or in line with what Boston has been receiving. But, this is D.C. It's basically a Southern city and things are a mess. There is not the snow removal equipment here that there is in northern cities. It was announced earlier today that opening night would go on--and so, it did. But, just before curtain, I looked at one of the monitors that we have backstage that gives a clear view of the audience. It didn't look like anyone was in the house! Very disconcerting. However, our wonderful director (and the Artistic Director for the Washington National Opera), Francesca Zambello, went out to the audience and invited everyone to come down to the orchestra level and move together towards the center since so many were not able to make it into the theater for the performance due to the storm. Out of 1,800 tickets sold for tonight's performance, only 636 people were able to make it (including two of our favorite Supreme Court Justices who never seem to miss an outing at the opera). 25% of the chorus was missing at the beginning of the show and one trombone player as well. The people gathered in the center of the hall and sat enraptured through the next three hours of incredible music drama. The reception at the end of the night, after the last strike of the guillotine, was very moving. This is a powerful piece, one that speaks incredibly to the present situations in the world. It is a piece with overwhelming grace, sincerity, and reality. It is a piece that I am thrilled to have been a part of tonight. And, I'm grateful for every single one of those audience members who came to the performance. For those who couldn't make it, I understand your tickets will be warranted for another performance. Don't miss it!