When I was writing this book, I had to think up a way to put my fictional opera company in jeopardy. What I came up with was making the soprano star so sick that she could not go on.
To my surprise, this happened in real life yesterday.
As I have mentioned before, I sing with the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida. In the morning at the rehearsal of Verdi’s Requiem, the soprano soloist was singing softly and remained seated instead of standing up. I chalked it up to her trying to conserve her voice for the performance.
That night, our conductor told us a different soprano would be singing. The first one was too ill to perform. In an enormous stroke of good fortune, the symphony located a soprano who had just sung in Naples, FL, right down the road. And she knew the Requiem and had sung it before. She stepped into the role with four hours notice and no orchestra rehearsal, and carried off this difficult music brilliantly.
Here is the curtain call. Sometimes life really does imitate art.
I have been interested in opera ever since I was a teenager. This is somewhat a mystery. While I come from a musical family, I don’t recall any opera being played at home.
In my early twenties, I was very briefly a part of the opera company led by Josephine McGrail in Pittsburgh. We rehearsed choruses from Carmen, Cavalleria Rusticana, and La Traviata. I still remember most of the lyrics. Life intervened, however, and I never got the chance to perform these on stage.
Years later in Florida, I was in the chorus of a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. You can read about that experience in my mini memoir I Guess I’ll Keep My Day Job. Not long after that, I was in a concert version of the second act of Die Fledermaus. I also included the story of that performance in my memoir, and I used many of those details in Making Time with the Maestro.
In the past few years, I have had the pleasure of singing various opera choruses as part of the Symphonic Chorale of SW Florida along with the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. In fact, I was sitting on the stage at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall before a concert when the idea of Maestro came to me.
Coming from a musical family, I have always sung in choruses and even done some musical theater. As a result, I have been privileged to meet some wonderful people and have some memorable experiencs. I put together I Guess I’ll Keep My Day Job: Memoirs of a Sometime Singer to capture those stories in essay form. They are available on Kindle for a nominal fee.
I never, ever miss the Tony Awards. Haven’t been to NYC in many years, but I still want to know what’s playing. This is one year when I particularly wish a trip was in my future. Follies is my favorits show of all time. And Jesus Christ Superstar is right up there too.
My favorite parts of the Tonys, of course, are the numbers from the nominated musicals. The singing is fabulous and the dancing even better. How wonderful it must be to have such talent.
The Symphonic Chorale is rehearsing two works in German and a third in Latin. Now, I took Latin 1, 2, and 4 in high school. (Our school didn’t have enough students for a separate third and fourth year so we were all lumped together. But I digress.) Now I find out that the pronunciation I’ve used in singing for thirty years or so is German Latin. My current conductor lived in Rome and demands Italian Latin. Still, the switch from doh-nah to don-nah is manageable enough.
The German is another story. Tim recites the words and we singers parrot them back as best we can. Every time we do this , I am reminded of the scene in Lilies of the Field where Sidney Poitier tries to teach the nuns to speak English. Hilarious.
Symphonic Chorale of SW FL concert in Naples on March 24 will be held at Moorings Presbyterian Church instead of Gulf Coast High School as planned. Collier County School District threw up so many road blocks that we had to go elsewhere. Not an easy feat to accomplish at nearly the last minute. Our Artistic Director Tim McDonnell must have done some fancy talking or maybe the church just felt sorry for us. Regardless, I am feeling calmer. Now back to my publicizing efforts.