We were delighted to welcome our first group of artists to Wolf Trap Opera this weekend. It wasn’t a moment too soon!
Our winter and spring workflows are robust, but it’s quiet work. We have many colleagues and patrons who ask what we do outside the summer season, whether we’re employed year-round, and how we occupy our time. Since last fall, we’ve been contracting singers and artistic staff, interviewing for seasonal positions and apprentices, vetting schedules, writing copy, and advancing the season’s productions. (Keep in mind that most other opera companies have a year or several to advance their seasons: we only get about five months, so our “off” season is very much “on”!) When the artists arrive, we finally we get to see firsthand that all of that writing and wrestling serves a purpose.
On Saturday we welcomed pianist Joseph Li and three singers (in search of a tenor: ours will arrive today) as they start preparing for Steven Blier‘s 25th Anniversary performance. The repertoire they’re rehearsing is a wide-ranging group made up of Steve’s favorites from his significant residencies with Wolf Trap Opera. From the serious to the silly, the sad to the sublime; it’s an elegantly irreverent collection, not unlike Steve himself.
The arrival of the first group of artists heralds not just the unofficial start of summer, but a kind of rebirth. Wolf Trap Opera has existed since 1971, but each summer of Wolf Trap Opera feels a little different, due to the repertoire, the artists, the socio-political climate, the atmosphere. (Well, on a practical level that last one isn’t so variable: the humidity is always a constant! But on an artistic level it definitely holds.) Each season is a magical juxtaposition of artistry, personality and time, and this season feels special in a new way. Thomas Merton may have said it best when he wrote “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
I hope to find you at The Barns in early June, ready to lose yourselves to the beauty, laughter and wonder that Steve and company will share.