One Order of Fresh Perspective, Day 83
A sheep-shearer and an opera singer walk into a bar in Salt Lake City… no really, that actually happened today when I sat down between connecting flights for a California Pizza Kitchen pizza and a margarita. Richard from Glasgow had a thick Scottish accent, and I can safely say neither of us had ever met anyone else quite like the other. After hearing stories of his trips to Australia, New Zealand, and Italy to shear sheep, among some other colorful tales about parties and bars, Richard left me once again to wonder if perhaps I would enjoy traveling to perform more frequently.
Unquestionably, my trip to Tri-Cities, Washington brought with it some perks that I wouldn’t ordinarily receive on the road with strangers. Most notably, I had a ride to and from Spokane International Airport (the cheapest option but a couple of hours away) with the artistic director of the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, my friend Justin Raffa. Although I didn’t spend too much time hanging out with Justin this week as buddies, we did see each other often, we strengthened both our friendship and our working relationship, and of course he introduced me to not only the soloists and conductor but the community at large. I have certainly made some wonderful friends in the Tri-Cities region as a result.
Before I diverge too far away from the main event, first I must report that Saturday’s Verdi Requiem added a successful and memorable piece to the already unforgettable moments in my career. Standing on stage in my dark aquamarine gown gazing out amongst new friends and strangers, I felt a rare peace that comes with embracing the musical and theatrical aspects of such a stirring piece of music without fear or much nervousness. Thanks to a feeling of preparedness and the open and vulnerable spirits of the people I’d met in the choir, orchestra, and audience (I even finally met a longtime online friend who drove all the way from Tacoma!), my nerves rested at a comfortable all-time low. The opening notes of the “Liber Scriptus” poured out freely with dynamic and emotional intent but no reservation and set the stage for me to enjoy all of the stunning moments Verdi has so graciously granted the mezzo soprano soloist.
As the chorus sang their sections, I enjoyed their full and excited sound while recalling my own experience performing the Requiem in the Metropolitan Opera Chorus almost two years ago. I had the benefit of singing directly behind Olga Borodina to watch as she prepared her fantastically expansive breaths for her role as the mezzo soprano soloist. Between watching her and the inspiring rehearsals with James Levine that preceded our tribute to Luciano Pavarotti on the anniversary of his death, I definitely felt transformed by that experience in 2008 and hope never to forget it.
Similarly, my Verdi Requiem debut as a soloist with the Mid-Columbia Symphony taught me so much and really transformed my confidence and potentially my perception and the direction of my career. Without too much arrogance or ego, I can honestly say that I feel proud to have delivered the total package as a singer and actor and professional colleague this week from a joint recital at the Batelle Auditorium to the rotary presentation at the Columbia Center Rotary to a very successful Verdi Requiem performance. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the other soloists and orchestra and especially the incredibly talented choir and conductor Nicholas Wallin, and I surely can’t fathom never having had the chance to meet and work with these amazing people.
After enjoying the results of hard work and an open mind, I ride the Bolt Bus back to New York to return home to some of my city friends and a Yankees game. Still, I carry with me the people I’ve met and with whom I’ve created such great work in the Tri-Cities. With the hope of singing again sometime with the Mid-Columbia Symphony and potentially their local light opera company, I hope to return to the region soon to revisit them and learn more about an obviously wonderful community.
Surprisingly, their hospitality and my enjoyment of this trip definitely rearranged my opinions about my career at large. I consider myself so blessed to have a home like New York; on the other hand, perhaps traveling more often in my career would enhance my life and career more than I previously thought. I’ll always have a great city and family of friends to come home to, so why not open my options even more as a performer and as someone who loves meeting new people in new places? Tomorrow will bring a fresh perspective (and one of the final episodes of LOST), without a doubt. For today I say, “Go Yankees!”