Here are some questions that I am frequently asked:
Question 1: How often do you get to a live performance?
There is nothing better than the thrill of a live performance! I wish I could attend more, but I’m making a concentrated effort to see as many productions as possible now that live performance is back. I especially like to support performances by our local and regional theatre companies and music organizations here in Lancaster. I’m very interested in seeing all four candidates for the new Music Director position of the Lancaster Symphony.
Phyllis and I love to go to the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is always a treat!
As for opera, that takes a little more planning. I hope to go to the Metropolitan Opera at least once this season and to some of the regional opera productions nearby. While I am so happy for the convenience and accessibility of the Met HD performances, there is nothing like being in the theatre for a live performance. Like many of you, I’m waiting to see how pandemic numbers proceed. I’m encouraged for everyone, our audiences included, to see the numbers going in the right direction.
Question 2: What is your favorite opera?
I don’t have one opera that is my absolute favorite. I love so many genres of opera. The variety of styles in opera is why it is such a viable art form. Opera is like Rock and Roll. Having grown up in the greatest era of Rock and Roll, the 60’s, there were so many different kinds to choose from.
I love Mozart’s operas. They just sparkle for me. Bel Canto gets my attention with its unbelievably beautiful lines and vocal pyrotechnics. Last time, I mentioned that the first opera I ever saw was Lucia di Lammermoor with Beverly Sills.
I love the operas of Verdi and love to see how he grew as a composer. Verismo operas are fascinating to me. The characters are so relatable in all their flaws. I can’t get through Puccini’s La Boheme without crying. I’ve had the privilege of conducting several operas in this style.
The 20th and 21st centuries have seen some absolute masterpieces. I was profoundly moved by a performance of the 21st century opera Silent Night and the late 20th century opera Dead Man Walking. Both are on my bucket list to produce.
Final Question: Who is your favorite singer?
I have many favorite singers. Beverly Sills, obviously, and Leontyne Price, who I saw in concert at the Kennedy Center when I was in graduate school are my early favorites. I have never seen an audience go crazy for performers as those. More contemporary favorites are the phenomenal tenor Javier Camerera and Joyce DiDonato who is a wonderful mezzo soprano.
I subscribe to a Facebook group called Forgotten Opera Singers. It is a fascinating group that posts biographies and links to recordings of some very famous singers of the past going back to the roots of recording in the early 20th century. I thoroughly enjoy not only listening to how they sang but how performance practices have changed over the years. I highly recommend this group. You can spend way too much time listening but it’s great fun.
Let’s keep opera alive and thriving. It is truly one of the most exciting art forms there is.
Till next time.