Monday, April 8, 2013

Houston, Denver and Beyond!

The last five months have just been packed with work and I am so glad for that, but I’ve hardly had a moment to just update…anything. 

Sasha Cook, Melody, and Marietta Simpson in Showboat.
Houston’s production of SHOWBOAT, was beyond fun and was probably the most enjoyable contract I’ve ever done. I loved my cast and, since my mother and sister live in Houston, I had time to actually visit and enjoy part of Christmas and New Year’s Eve with them. Patrick Summers provided such a steady hand and vibrant spirit. He was completely immersed in our telling of the stories of the Showboat Family. Francesca Zambello directed and was equally inspiring and inspired by the “Cotton Blossom” and its cargo. There were more laughs than directions and THAT is a rarity in our business.  I mean, I shared the stage with Sasha Cooke, Morris Robinson, Lara Teeter, Marietta Simpson and Joe Kaiser. There you have it!

I was lucky enough to have some time off between SHOWBOAT and DON GIOVANNI in Denver, Colorado and I used that time in San Francisco to prepare myself for the upcoming months. Did all my check- ups with docs, got massages, etc… 

Denver is NO JOKE when it comes to altitude and dryness. This is my first contract at altitude. I know a lot of other singers have done work in Santa Fe or Utah and experienced this first hand. I was warned…drink twice the water you think you need. That was an understatement. I have never felt so dehydrated and shrunken in my life. Alternately, if you get “accustomed” to these conditions and acclimate to them, apparently you go back to sea level some sort of Wagnerian singer. I’ll take it! I’m excited to see what sort of stamina I’ve developed here over this month. 

Our director, Kevin Newbury, was inspired by the “Mad Men”, “Pleasantville” theme of repressed sexuality and overtone and our “Don Giovanni” was set in the 50s/60s. Elvira, my character, was a carnivorous cougar, hell-bent on getting Giovanni back into her lair. Anna, played by Ellie Dehn, was somewhat swayed by his magnetism and even Zerlina (Maria Lindsey)had a battle when it came to resisting the “Don.” Chris Magiera was our amazingly talented Giovanni and we got lucky to secure the winning smile, voice and presence of Matthew Trevino as our Leporello. Our Commendatore, Richard Wiegold,  made his U.S. Debut to great success and our sweet Masetto was played by Christian Bowers. Ari Pelto conducted and, when I say conducted, I really mean it. This man is a genius and is so passionate and positive. His love of Mozart is infectious and his standard raises the bar for all of us. I would be so honored so sing under his baton again in the future.
Melody with the Opera Colorado "Don Giovanni" Chorus.

Melody as Donna Elvira
We closed our Don Giovanni last evening. I must say that the family I found here in Denver are the salt of the earth.  Ellie Caulkins, the woman for whom the entire opera theater is named, is a HOOT and so vibrant and encouraging. I witnessed her “conducting” and dancing to our music at almost every rehearsal.  The board members and donors treated us to a “closing night dinner” at the University Club and we had a wonderful time meeting and greeting. I’d be happy to return to Denver. Next time, I’ll come a week early and get used to the mile high city! 

Today, I fly home to San Francisco for one week. After this small respite, I am off to Philadelphia to sing portions of Rufus Wainwright’s opera “Prima Donna” at the Kimmel Center (Verizon Hall) with full orchestra. In the second half of Rufus’ concert, we will perform a duet together of the time-honored Judy Garland/Barbra Streisand “Come on, Get Happy/Happy Days.” 

Immediately following that concert, I fly to Bordeaux, France to sing Pamina in Mozart’s “Magic Flute” (in German). I’ll be ensconced in wine country for 2 months…poor me…..and will follow this contract with a trip to upstate New York to sing my first Wagner (Senta in “The Flying Dutchman”) with Glimmerglass Opera under the direction of Francesca Zambello again. Reunited!

I am intensely excited and a bit nervous about all of this back to back travel, but I am not one to shun work; especially work that helps me grow as an artist. 

I hope to be blogging from France and including pictures, if the schedule is not too harrowing.
Bon voyage!

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