Well…back from a lovely evening. This…on the heels…of one of the hottest days in Seattle. Much hotter than it was in SLC today. Go figure. I managed to spend the day walking miles over the city including up and down Nob Hill, Queen Anne and into Pike Place Market. A good day.
I had dinner tonight tonight with and agent and a critic. You would think this was like swimming in shark infested waters. However, the agent I have known for nearly fifteen years (is this possible?) and the critic was new to me but we had a lovely meal, nonetheless. The lovely thing…and somehow we landed on this topic…we all basically said that we were working towards the same end: forwarding an art form. What a great base from which to begin a friendship!
I forgot to mention that I had the great privilege to be introduced to Ben Heppner. He is not only the reigning Wagner heroic tenor of our generation, he’s one heck of a nice guy! I had a lovely conversation with him during the intermission and…guess what? His daughter has just settled in none other than Salt Lake City. There may be something with which to work there!
Tonight was really fun. I’ve long believed that all opera lovers enjoy a good young artist competition. What’s not too love? You start with great operatic music and then add young singers who are passionate about the art form and are giving it their all to break into the business and become a star. What better recipe could one ask for? What makes this particular competition special is the fact that it combines these factors with the magnificence of the music of Richard Wagner. (Note: I think I’ve shared this but I am a devotee of the music of Wagner.)
It’s worth sharing that Seattle Opera has a penchant for Wagner operas. The former general director began a tradition that the current one has transformed into something quite special. Seattle Opera presents the Ring Cycle every four years and other Wagner works in between and has established a world wide reputation for the quality of these presentations. Their current General Director is also recognized as one of the leading figures in Wagnerian opera. Basically, next to Bayreuth and the Met you might as well go to Seattle to see Wagner done well. So…that’s why coming here for a Wagner singers competition is a worthwhile thing.
Here’s the other reason: the purpose of this competition is not to decide who is the best current singer of this particularly demanding repertoire. What this competition is about is finding the next generation of Wagner artists. Fun, yes? In fact, by rules of the competition, no applicant may have sung a significant major role in a Wagner opera. So what we heard tonight were young-ish artist who may have a significant career in this repertoire but quite honestly aren’t ready to take on such demands immediately. Trust me, singing an aria and singing a role are two entirely different things.
So we heard arias from Parsifal, Meistersinger, Tannhaüser and most of The Ring; all with orchestra and on the stage of the McCaw Opera House. What a wonderful night.
Tonights competitors were again an international lot representing Australia, Great Britain, Germany, South Africa, Sweden, Canada and the United States. As mentioned before, Speight and Maestro Asher Fisch heard semi finalists in Munich, London and New York before choosing eight finalists to come to Seattle.
I’m going to begin offering the opportunity to join me on such trips and I couldn’t think of a better one than this competition which should happen again in two years. I think you might really enjoy it.
When I hear who the winners were, I’ll be sure to post again…