I know you’ve been waiting with expectancy for the wrap up of my latest fall tour. Well…here it goes.
It was an interesting end. Last Wednesday, was the opening night of Trilogy at Juilliard. It was a short evening of rarely performed one-act operas by Modest Mussorgsky, Ernst Krenek, and Benjamin Fleischmann. Honestly, I had never seen anything composed by the latter two composers. In his notes, James Conlon (this project was his brainchild), who conducted the evenining wrote about the importance of re-investigating short works that had either short or no history performance. All in all, the three one-act operas performed back to back without intermission lasted a little over ninety minutes. I don’t think any of these works (the Krenek piece was literally a little over twenty minutes in length) could stand on its own but combined created a lovely evening. Beyond this, it gave the Juilliard orchestra an opportunity to shine under one of current day’s finest conductors, James Conlon, and a most interesting experience to the school’s singers. The standout being a Chinese bass-baritone named Sheng Yang. I happened to be there on opening night and it was a veritable “who’s who” evening within the industry. I have a hunch this production will be seen elesewhere.
The next morning, I took the subway to Penn Station and boarded a train to Philadelphia. I arrived a full 25 minutes before my first appointment due to delays. Here’s the neat thing. Philadelphia is one of those cities where it’s possible to get just about anywhere downtown within minutes. The train station (unlike the airport) is adjacent to downtown so I hopped a cab to my hotel, threw my bags in the room and traveled to my appointment a pied and arrived just in time. My appointment, was to hear three hours of auditions at the Academy of Vocal Arts (see last post). What an interesting place. I hadn’t been before so was surprised that one this country’s most honored opera training programs takes place in an old brownstone house in the middle of the city. No high tech, modern University structure, but a remodeled house(!). It’s even complete with one the world’s smallest theater stages. The whole space for the theater (including stage, orchestra area and seating) is smaller than a high school gym. Fantastic! Here young artists are carefully handled over three to four years and allowed to have wonderful operatic performance experiences without feeling the need to make themselves heard in a large hall. Very healthy. The result was that all of the singers had healthy techniques, above average language skills and were — on the whole — good communicators of text and drama. We actually have one of them coming to perform in March. Her name is Nina Yoshida Nelsen and she’ll be performing the role of Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro.
That evening, I saw Italian Girl in Algiers and there is a high likelihood that you will see that same production here in Salt Lake City soon! One of the stars was Daniel Belcher as Taddeo whom you have seen recently as Dandini in Cinderella and in the title role of The Barber of Seville. Yes…he’s already contracted for this as well!
The next day I moved on to Pittsburgh…more on that later…
“Music makes better people.” Plato