As one arrives in the little town of Indianola, Iowa, home to DMMO, one sees what is a stereotypical small Iowa town: corn fields that push right up against the city limits; a grain elevator just off of the center of town; beautiful old maples and oaks leaning over the roads; and a town square. Before I can begin reminiscing on my college days, I need to get checked into my hotel. Basically, when picking a hotel in Indianola one has a whopping TWO choices. I might add that this is one more choice than was available even as recent as ten years ago. The older hotel is the quaint little Apple Tree Inn, which when I was a student was a cute, if basic, motel run by a lovely local family. Just a comfortable place to sleep that offered the major amenities of a McDonalds on one side and Country Kitchen on the other. The other choice is the Super 8 motel which is a little more on the outskirts (but still within walking distance of the Country Kitchen).
I chose the Apple Tree Inn since my parents had enjoyed it when coming to see our performances and I had used it once before many years ago. However, the lovely local family had apparently retired and sold it to “outsiders” who had let the property go a bit and were clearly more interested in the bottom line than friendly service. That stated, at $66/night, I suppose I got what I paid for. Besides, there was always Country Kitchen for breakfast. I turned the room’s air conditioning on full blast and left to head to the campus to do what my father calls, “chasing ghosts.”
Now, six weeks ago when I made arrangements with my colleagues at DMMO, the plan had been to hear half of the apprentice artists the evening I arrived. However, between the time of making said arrangements and my arrival the schedule changed. I had been trumped that day by a master class being given by none other than Carol Vaness. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Carol Vaness, she was one of the world’s leading sopranos of her generation. She basically owned all the serious Mozart roles but also was a famous Tosca as well. Most recently, I saw her do the role of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier at Seattle Opera which was quite lovely. I decided to attend a part of her master class before taking advantage of the newly found time. I am happy to report that Carol is a WONDERFUL master class teacher. She clearly loves working with young artists and has an uncanny ability to set the singers with which she is working at complete ease and even help a singer with a technical issue without using purely technical language (For the non-singer reading this, singers are often a little touchy about someone other than his/her teacher addressing technical issues; strange but true.) which is a real gift. I immediately decided I will look into inviting her to come to Salt Lake City to work with our young artists. Having had this epiphany, I decided I deserved a treat from the nearly seventy-year-old Corner Sundry. Off to the town square.
To be continued…