We were away for six weeks in the fall and four in the spring, touring our opera in remote parts of Québec and Ontario. It may not have been France, but I have had some of the best moments in my professional life.
I'm just done with it. It's exhausting and gross. I've learned (unfortunately) that on the Venn diagram of people who are pro-opera and people who are creeps, there's serious overlap.
As far as I'm concerned, the more Shostakovich the better. The composer belongs to a group of masters – including Scriabin and Chopin – whose work reaches vocal music devotee's ears far less than it should. Lady Macbeth's explosive score teems with a pathos that lives up to its fascinating offstage history of censorship under Stalin.
I've written several columns for Schmopera, so I think I know this audience. While this competition would be tough to impossible for a "pure" opera singer, there are plenty of us that love to perform a huge variety of things.
Maybe this is how it is for everyone that has a niche interest. Indie film lovers, college sports fans, lovers of obscure graphic novels - maybe they all bristle at the ubiquitous fandom of big-budget Hollywood movies, the NFL, DC Comics.
The box seems to generate its own energy. Covered in sophisticated hues of copper and gray with a resplendent image of Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde, who had surely passed through hair and make-up before leaving Valhalla, it is of monolithic proportions.
Last week's National Opera Association conference in Salt Lake City was filled with informative sessions, vocal and scenes competitions, their biannual one act opera competition, and achievement awards for Harolyn Blackwell and Stephen Lord.
It becomes an important responsibility of artists to comment on the topics of the day, no matter how messy or fraught. It can no longer stand for us present a particular historic piece of theatre art "as-is" and to satisfy ourselves with platitudes about how "that's how it was written, it's just of its time".
With no lines or a prescribed opening time the Summer HD Festival has been a welcoming presence since its inception. Entering off Broadway, people first encounter a table with volunteers from the Metropolitan Opera Guild, providing information about the Guild's programs and benefits of membership as well as complementary issues of its publication, Opera News.
We each go through life with our own subjective experience of the world around us: a personal story as unique and beautiful as a fingerprint, but with implicit bias and limitation. Art allows us the opportunity to reach out to one another, to find connections and disparities, to compare notes on different ways of seeing the world.