Our season often starts with our “death by aria” concert for the Wolf Trap Associates. (That’s not really the title. But you get the idea.) This is the first time it has ever happened this late in the summer. And it was a surprisingly atypical event. In early June, the performers don’t know one another well, and there’s always an element of jockeying for position, of worrying about whether you’re good enough. But after 2 operas, 2 concerts, and a stint in the woods, they’ve become great friends. And the relaxed atmosphere pervaded the whole afternoon. I got a chance to play the piano again (after a desperate get-my-chops-back-in-a-hurry series of practice sessions), and a good time was had by all.
The program: “Largo al factotum” (Il barbiere di Siviglia), “Amour, viens aider ma faiblesse” (Samson et Dalila), “Signore, ascolta” (Turandot), “Pronta io son » (Don Pasquale), “Wie schön ist doch die Musik (Die schweigsame Frau), “Heimliche Aufforderung” (Strauss), “Un soave non so che” (La cenerentola, of course), Magician’s Aria (The Consul), “Sonnet (1928)” (DeBlasio), “New York Lights” (A View from the Bridge), Black Max (Bolcom: Cabaret Songs), “Sweeter than Roses” (Purcell), “Dich, theure Halle” (Tannhäuser), JNNY (Sellars), and a surprise reunion of our certifiably crazy Instant Opera cast. This time, the adult version of opera improv. A brain surgeon and Brittany Spears, the latter of whom gave birth onstage. You had to be there.
By request, the Elizabeth Bishop sonnet set to music by Chris DeBlasio:
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.