Monday, April 12, 2010

Why the New York trip?

I'm in New York City right now for a whirlwind trip, having come up yesterday afternoon and returning to the District tomorrow morning.  It's always nice to see and visit my good friend Ian at his lovely apartment overlooking the historic Gramercy Park, but this trip also has another special purpose.

You see, tonight is the gala opening night performance of a brand new production at the Metropolitan Opera of Rossini's rarely performed opera, Armida.  International opera star Renee Fleming stars in the title role, and the production was mounted at her request.  This opera has a special meaning for me, since back in 1992, the North American premiere of the opera was the very first professional opera in which I sang.  To my knowledge, that production in Tulsa, along with its later co-production at Minnesota Opera, are the only two recent American productions of  the opera before tonight's opening. The last time we saw Armida in the United States before that was back in the 1950s, when Maria Callas requested and starred in the role.

Im excited.  A couple of months ago I was surprised and delighted to be able to acquire a couple of tickets to tonight's gala, and the tickets happen to be in the box immediately adjacent to the box of the Met's general director.

Armida is rarely performed because it is extremely difficult for the starring soprano, who has very demanding coloratura passages throughout the four-hour long opera. It is also an expensive production, since, in addition to what always ends up having to be a world-class soprano, the show requires not one, but six leading tenors. 

The storyline for Armida is based on a 16th century epic poem called Jerusalem Delivered, a tale about the Christian knights in the First Crusades who encounter a Muslim princess and sorceress, with magic, love, and later tragedy resulting.  The poem apparently sparked a lot of fancy in the 17th and 18th centuries, and then even into the 20th century, with well over a dozen major composers doing operas based on the story, including Lully, Saliere, Gluck (Armide), Handel (Rinaldo), Haydn, and even a 1904 composition by Dvorak.

From what I've seen of the pre-production publicity, the Met's version of the opera is going to be very different from the one I sang in Tulsa.  Tulsa's version was conceived and staged by Nicholas Muni, who was sort of the American bad boy of opera known for some of his radical updatings and controversial stagings of classic operas. (Muni is the one who did the infamous AIDS La Traviata at City Opera.)  We performed on a steeply raked stage and a huge projection screen upstage provided the means for projections of scenery, and, somewhat controversially, a recording of the opera's ballet, plus there were close-ups of Armida's face and views of her handling a large albino boa constrictor during some of the magic sequences.

In preparation for tonight's show, I had the chance back in February to view a concert version of the Gluck opera at the Kennedy Center in Washington.  I finally wrote my review of that show on the bus yesterday, and I'll post it here as soon as I get a chance to key it in.

More later!  It's time to start getting ready.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Over the rainbow of my friends decided to order DVDs of The Wizard of Oz for his kids....the package came yesterday....he just opened the box tonight....he's speechless....he ordered Oz by mistake.

Guess the Easter bunny won't be delivering that gift!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


We're going to the Kennedy Center tonight to hear Christoph Eschenbach conduct the Verdi Requiem. Anyone else going and want to get together afterwards for dinner in Georgetown?

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Who's going to win the Academy Award for Best Picture? The only movies I saw last year that got any nominations at all were Star Trek and Julie and Julia. Didn't see a single one of the Best Picture nominees. Were any of them any good?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Opera benefit

Yay! Scored a ticket to tonight's sold-out anniversary performance of Opera Lafayette. Fabulous seat, too! I'm in the first parterre box nearest the stage on the right. If anyone else is going, message me and let's meet for cocktails at intermission.

Ballet report

This past week I've been down at the Kennedy Center being a supernumerary for American Ballet Theater's production of Romeo and Juliet. A couple of years ago, I did a Romeo and Juliet for the Kirov Ballet (Mariinsky Theater) from Russia, and, even though they both use the same music (Prokofiev score), the choreography of the two productions is vastly different. I was kind of excited to be cast this time with ABT, because it's the first time I've ever been cast by an American ballet company. The Russian companies are used to having tall dancers (I've met several taller than me!), but American dancers typically are rather short, so they never have costumes to fit me.

Here are a few pictures from the production.

With Ryan and Cameron
Mike and IBetsy, my dancing partner
John and IWith our page boys
With ABT principal dancer David Hallberg

More cast members.

Trevor and GeorgeLitter bearers
Escalus' guards

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Dance audition tonight. Someone should talk some sense into me and make me stay home.....I'm too old and too fat to be doing this anymore! Probably won't get cast, though, cause this is an American company and I'm probably too tall for the costumes.