Photo by Carol Pratt
Opening night. But first I had to get through my pre-show talk. For several years now, I’ve been doing free pre-show “Inside Opera” talks for any ticket-holders who want to show up an hour early. In a perverse way, I love doing it. Maybe it’s because I was never an “insider” myself, having come to this business only in my late 20’s. (It seems that everyone I meet in the opera world started listening to the Met broadcasts when they were four…). Anyway, I enjoy telling audiences about what went into the show they’re about to see. Unfortunately, this week has been so difficult on many levels that I was sorely under-prepared. But thanks to my total immersion in this production, and to the amount of chutzpah I’ve learned to summon up in these instances, it went very well.
As did the show. When we travel across the country and hear these young (average mid-20’s) singers, it’s tempting to fantasize about perfect casts. But real life gets in the way, and although all of the singers we bring here are terrific, the casting puzzle doesn’t always fit together just perfectly. But somehow this time I think we lucked out. You could disagree, but it’s a fact that these folks exceeded expectation. It wasn’t an easy rehearsal period, and on top of that, there was the elephant in the room – the fact that we are operating here on the fringe of our repertoire, and anytime you do that, you take more risks than usual. But the first show was touching, witting, and terrifying, and a quantum leap from the rehearsals earlier in the week. The full house brought the remaining acoustical bugaboos into focus, and the resultant totally “unplugged” performance had a powerful visceral impact.