The Talk and the Titles

In case you’ve missed this, take a few minutes to read Holly Mulcahy’s article in the The Partial Observer: It’s Time for The Talk. “My teacher’s talk to me was an attempt to bring reality into my life without crushing my dreams…”

Adaptistration called it to our attention, and Butts in the Seats goes further with the theme in this post that includes some sobering statistics.

Every aspiring performing artist should spend at least a few minutes considering these realities. As the original article states, it’s not our desire to crush your dreams. But we in the opera business do a spookily good job of cheering people onward while failing to mention that there may be a serious disconnect between the journey and the goal. At best, we do it in the name of love for the art form, genuine respect and affection for the aspiring singers we know. At worst, we (administrators, teachers, mentors) do it to keep our organizations afloat and our mortgages paid.

Later the Same Evening

While on the road this fall, I missed the original series of the Maryland Opera Studio’s performances of the latest Musto/Campbell collaboration: Later the Same Evening. Last Sunday I dashed out of the Wolf Trap sing-along (missing my favorite part, the candle-lit ‘Silent’ Night’) to get to LTSE’s final performance at the National Gallery of Art.

I’m prejudiced just a tiny bit toward John & Mark’s work, so I had high expectations. The brilliant thing is that they were exceeded. John had sent me a working version of the score a few months back, and I had no time to spend with it during this hectic autumn. So I arrived at the opera like everyone else, with no knowledge of what I was about to hear.

Blogs being a written medium, there’s little I can do here to convey the wit and beauty of John’s score. I’m always discouraged with my attempts to translate music into words. I can, though, quote briefly from Mark’s libretto – one of my favorite moments of the evening as young Jimmy O’Keefe describes his first evening at the theatre in the big city:

“It’s just as I imagined,
Just as I imagined.
Stragglers rush in.
Programs are put away.
Purses snapped shut.
Talk ends mid-sentence.
The world stops.
And this roomful of strangers,
This roomful of strangers,
Is ready to laugh together,
And weep together,
Get bored together,
And sigh together…”

The National Gallery performance had no supertitles, and I didn’t miss them for a single moment. Don’t get me wrong – I am a fan of titles. I’ve run them, written them, and chanted their praises for over 20 years now. But the way that an opera in English in a small venue allows you to connect with the characters in real time without having to read… well, it’s simply superior to the alternative. Are there ensemble moments during which you don’t catch all of the text? Of course. Should you trust the composer, librettist, and performers to allow the audience to be guided toward which words should prevail at various moments? I believe so. And I know that you don’t all agree with me. But living and breathing with these characters, and allowing them complete control over the timing of their communication with us meant that we (and Jimmy O’Keefe) got a change to laugh together and sigh together.

Pre-Holiday Blog Plans

Check back later this week for the final round of post-audition tour statistics. I’m putting together some historical stats that might show some trends in the number and type of singer applicants that we’ve received over the last 10-15 years. And in response to Chris Foley’s cross-postings, I’ll list the audition arias sung by the singers to whom we’ve extended offers for next summer.

The blog will then be on vacation for 2 weeks, returning the first week of January.

A reminder about audition notifications: If you were a Filene Young Artist finalist (if you received a callback audition this year), you should hear from us by the end of this week if I haven’t been in touch with you already. If you were a Studio Artist finalist, you should hear from us by January 5. As always, if you have any doubt about your status, write to us at

Know Your Audience

There’s a 30-second survey link at the top of the right column – I’m trying to gather some basic data about the demographics of my readers and what types of posts interest them. Simple, quick, anonymous.

That Time of Year

And I’m off to play another Messiah sing-along. I do love you George Frideric, but I could use just a little more variety…


Timothy Nelson

Hi Kim! You know if you are looking for “Messiah” variety… :-)


Well, I was thinking more along the lines of Handel variety or general holiday season music variety, but I know where you’re headed with this:) Congratulations!!

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Blog