Catching up on last week’s newspapers… got more than a little testy after reading this in the Post. Responsible as I am for mounting productions in a 380-seat house, paragraphs like this one left me cheering:
Chamber opera, like chamber music, exists (among other reasons) to remind big-time makers of big opera what the core meaning of the form is. In the case of opera, chamber opera reminds us of the importance of drama, character and interaction. Done well, it is an antidote to the blustery, stand-and-sing opera style into which so many large companies inevitably devolve. It is a purifying, refreshing form, like reading poetry after a Dickens novel. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
But then Mr. Kennicott also said of last week’s Terrace Theatre performance of Turn of the Screw:
The importance of this production is how it highlights the crying need for the addition of more chamber opera to the city’s diet.
Well, it’s not exactly a starvation diet… A few years ago Mr. Kennicott himself wrote of “some of the best, most innovative and theatrically experimental opera in the area – in small, loving shows of interesting repertoire presented at the tiny Barns of Wolf Trap”. A mere 15 miles from the Potomac.
I’ve been following the Grendel excitement in Los Angeles. It’s not Schadenfreude, honestly it isn’t. Wouldn’t wish this much trouble on anyone. But it’s hard to relate, since the budget of this single production is higher than our entire last two seasons. Anyway, my favorite player in this saga (in which the true drama, as so often is the case, is backstage…) is Los Angeles Opera COO Edgar Baitzel. He was quoted in Saturday’s NY Times: Grendel’s technical problems are “so out of control” that “you would need to have God as a general director” to have avoided the cancellation.
Machines of all sorts conspire against us, too. At least we don’t have computer-driven turntables…
Xerox machines can smell fear. Or at least urgency. We need to make some funky-sized copies of the orchestra books for Orpheus, and the copier will have nothing of it.
And my car quit yesterday. While I was spending Memorial Day waiting for a tow truck (is that better than spending it in the office, where I was supposed to be?), I had a flashback to my first summer at Wolf Trap. A hot summer day 21 years ago, also a holiday (July 4, 1985), and my beloved Volkswagon bug gave it up. I was freaked out about not getting to rehearsal on time, and I was stranded on the shoulder of the Beltway in 95-degree heat. And I was 2 months pregnant – just didn’t know it yet. But in retrospect, it explains why I sat there and cried for a very long time. In comparison, yesterday was merely irritating.
I confess, I’m writing this in rehearsal. Eurydice is being killed by the snake. Repeatedly.
I can’t tell if our artists are curious or anxious about the blog. Three of them came up to me in the last half hour to ask if I was blogging. (You know who you are:) I’m sure some of you will take me up on my offer to step in as guest bloggers this summer!)