Well hello there! Long time no… read? Admittedly, I've been quite absent from the blogosphere (that's a thing, right?) lately and will do my best to rectify the situation over the course of the Summer. To be honest, though, I imagine only about five of you have really noticed, so no harm no foul in the grand scheme of things. Chronologically, posts are going to move a bit circuitously until I catch up with the backlog from these past couple of months so hang in there with me if you haven't completely let go already.
Many of you may remember I spent the Summer of 2010 and 2011 touring with the Blue Lake International Youth Symphony Orchestra and Choir singing solos in Mendelssohn's Elijah and Brahms's Requiem, respectively. This year they are embarking on their European tour performing Verdi's Requiem and, while I was very grateful for the invitation to be a soloist, it is not a role that I am exactly capable of singing. Fear not, Blue Lake lovers, because it happily worked out that I am back at BLFAC singing in their production of Puccini's La Boheme! As opposed to going on a tour, we will put on two shows each session, amassing to eight performances over two months for a total of 5,000+ attendees over the duration of the Summer.
During the second year of my master's degree at the University of Michigan (this would be pre-blog, for those of you who are wondering why I've never posted about it before) I was lucky enough to perform the role of Schaunard in the same opera. It remains one of my favorite times on stage because there really was a synchronicity in the production: from our fabulous director, Kay Walker Castaldo; the undeniable genius of Martin Katz leading from the pit (as well as Clinton Smith assisting and even conducting one of our performances); hair and make-up by Erin Kennedy-Lunsford; and a roster of singers who seemed to be nothing but appropriately cast in their respective roles. I think out of the whole of the operatic canon, Schaunard is the closest to my actual personality—I know him, I love him, and I could play him for the rest of my life… but what would be the fun in that?! (In fact, I'm not playing him in the production this Summer, which threw me for a bit of a loop when first learning it again).
But enough silly words… you came here for pictures, right? Following are a sampling of photos from our production. Enjoy!
Obvs we did an updated version… don't think they had electric guitars back in the day!
Roomies: Andrew Harris (Colline), Steven Tompkins (Rodolfo), Wes Mason (Marcello)
Rhea Olivacce (Mimi) / Amanda Ramos (Musetta)
We were all fortunate enough to be joined on stage by the ridiculously talented George Shirley (in the role of Alcindoro and Benoit), a professor of voice at U of M who can count among his litany of accolades as being a Grammy award winner, the first African-American tenor to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, and all around bad-ass performer. To have shared the stage with him is an honor I will carry with me through the rest of my career.
Professor Shirley, giving his absolute BEST Karl Lagerfeld!
Additionally, I was thrilled to have a whole cadre of Texans in the audience for the show! My parents, brother and sister-in-law, uncle Sid and cousin Hannah, and close close friend from Baylor made the trek up to Michigan to see the performances. I'm still so grateful for each and every one of them!
Steven, Dad, Matt, Joanie, Me, Mom, Drew!
Stay tuned… more to come!!
Artist: Charles Aznavour / Album: Greatest Hits