The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Old and New

Yesterday Tulsa Opera closed Elmer Gantry. It was a great deal of fun. Lots of friends and memories made.

I have to be honest, at first I didn't love this opera. And frankly, I still don't love it. But, I appreciate it. I enjoy it's humor, it's stylization, and it's very approachable musical language and witty dialogue. It was a challenge. The opera was not written to be super easy, but are any of them?

My commuting buddy and new friend, Andrew!

American Opera is a fascinating animal. On one side people beg for it's ability to diversify our repertoire, on the other we criticize it for not having the same qualities that our La Boheme's posses (which I could not disagree with more.) The truth is that a great deal of our American works have not gone through the same aging process as our great European standards. They haven't had the years of tradition and molding that our standards have. I hope to god they will, because there are some fantastic works that deserve the same immortalized stature.

Another Christopher Reeves Impersonation.
Will I ever sing in Elmer Gantry again? You know, I would relish the opportunity to play such a character as Mr. Gantry himself. The opera does not shade him in a very pleasant light, and it would be interesting to see how much you could get away with on either side of the issue. To make him truly a bad guy, or as a truly well meaning man who is swayed along the way. I would also love to sing the revival singer just to see if I have the vocal chops to do so. Highest baritone part I've ever seen written. Written B flats. Just incredible. However, just like in many other shows, my mind will always be filled with the voices that sang the roles so well and feel mine pales in comparison. Keith Phares is Elmer Gantry in my mind, but I'll be curious to see who can give this role new life and passion. I'm very much looking forward to Craig Verm's rendition coming to Florentine Opera next season.

The Thing I will miss most about this show is the extremely personable, friendly, and talented cast. I'll be seeing all of the young artists in my next production at Tulsa, but the rest of the leads will be moving on to other cities, other projects and be continuing their lives. I learned a great deal from these performers both on and off stage. On stage I saw their commitment to character, their navigation of issues (Vocal or physical) and how they brought themselves into the process, and off stage I got to see humans with real lives, real hearts, real feelings about their business and the people they work with. This cast was especially chummy. I loved it. It's not everyday where principle artists will approach you and ask you about your day, your life, and show you support. They don't get paid to do that, that's just them being an exquisite colleague and a good human being. Positivity rang clear throughout the whole process, and it made me question why I felt it necessary to bring any negativity to it at all during the days I was "just not feeling it." Accountability by positivity.

Ol' Yeargain in a legit program!
However, with the end of old things comes the start of new ones. I have so much damn music to learn that it's absolutely insanity.

Firstly, I have to prepare Zuniga in Carmen for Tulsa Opera for performances on May 2nd and 4th. This takes precedence because it's proximity and it's importance. This will be my first "principle role" contract. I'm so nervous and excited. I'll be working with director Dean Anthony, who I've heard a great deal about and I've seen and loved his productions. 

Secondly, I'll be singing the first Act of The Rake's Progress by Igor Stravinsky as Nick Shadow for my friend Megan Barth's Masters coaching project. This is an extremely difficult piece, but an old passion of mine. I cannot wait to sing this music.

Thirdly, Des Moines Metro Opera and the summer is just around the corner. Although 1st Guard in Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie doesn't have a lot of music, but it's gotta be perfect. I'll potentially be getting reviews from Opera News, be seen and heard by lots of very important passing artistic and general directors of other opera companies, and I have so much respect for the piece, I just want it to be the absolute best it can. It's a small part, but (feel free to call me pretentious) in my eyes, 1st guard represents everything wrong with the prison industrial complex. I have the ability to make Joseph DeRocher's acts of cruelty diminish in peoples eyes when they see the mock and hate I spit in his face.

Also, I expect to be getting my scene assignments any week now from the Des Moines scenes program. I'm very curious to see what kind of challenges these scenes will provide and I'm excited to just get it started and get the tunes in my ear.

And, believe it or not, I'm sure things will pop up where I'll need to learn something else, which I will of course say "yes" to. I'm a workaholic, and when you're busy, you have to keep yourself busy and not get overwhelmed. Just because the opportunities are knocking at your door now doesn't mean you can stop doing the ground work, a month passes and all of a sudden you've got nothing on the calendar. True Story, Bro.

I'll keep filing you guys in about happenings in Ol' Yeargain's life, but until then, the shameless plug machine is out!

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