Monday, August 30, 2010

Begone summer opera starvation!

And to go along with my most recent post, here is Meche Kroops's review of Opera Manattan's Eugene Onegin from this past Saturday night, August 28th.


Begone summer opera starvation! The Opera Manhattan Repertory Theatre has come to the rescue with a series of three summer concert presentations, just ended with a nourishing and tasty performance of Eugene Onegin.

Founded recently by opera bass Bryce Smith and musical theater singer Rebecca Greenstein, OMRT is meant to give opera singers the opportunity to take their careers into their own hands by learning new roles to appear on their resumes, thereby assisting them in getting performance opportunities of these same roles elsewhere.

The audience gets an opportunity to hear singers well worth hearing, who they might otherwise miss. Although future works will be done with sets and costumes (see for details), the summer series is done concert style with piano accompaniment. I was privileged to have enjoyed both Anna Bolena and Eugene Onegin. Truth be told, I never missed the sets, costumes, titles or orchestra.

The “unsung” heroine of the evening, Violetta Zabbi (on faculty at the New York Opera Studio), played a piano reduction of Tchaikovsky’s score with subtlety and panache. I heard things that I had missed when the opera was presented at the Met with, of course, full orchestra. I admit that my memories of the Robert Carsen production and Michael Levine’s sets and costumes were very much in my mind’s eye as I listened; but memories of Hvorostovsky and Mattila, of Fleming and Hampson, faded in my ear. What was lost in star power was definitely gained in immediacy and intimacy.

Tatyana was beautifully rendered by Maryann Mootos who seemed to put every ounce of herself into the portrayal. Her “letter scene” was a standout. Lensky was very well performed by now-tenor Adam Juran (whom you may recall as a baritone) and I was sorry to see him killed off so early in the work! Vaughn Lindquist was a fine Onegin and Elspeth Davis sang Olga better and better as the evening progressed, although I did not hear a profound contralto quality in her voice.

I did hear a nice contralto quality in the voice of Andrea Nwoke, which lent substance and authority to the role of Madame Larina, Tatyana’s mother. Angeliki Theoharis was fine as Filippyevna, the nurse. In Act I, the quartet of women’s voices blew me away with tender harmonies. As a matter of fact, I found all the ensemble work to be extremely well-balanced.

Bryce Smith himself was princely in both voice and stature as Gremin, and special notice must be given to tenor John Wasiniak who gave a most individual spin to the role of Monsieur Triquet who composes and sings adulatory verses at Tatyana’s name-day party, proving that there are indeed no small roles. James Siranovich served ably as Music Director and Conductor.

Now, don’t I have to find something to complain about? Not from me but from the native-born Russian sitting next to me, came the reply to my question about the adequacy of the singers’ Russian. “Everybody need Russian coach.” Fortunately for me I don’t know a dozen words in Russian so it didn’t bother me one bit.

We can hardly wait for the fall season!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eugene Onegin at Opera Manhattan

It's almost 11 pm and I've just come home and am about to sit down and devour some leftover pasta. I attended one of two performances of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin tonight by the Opera Manhattan Repertory Theater, one of the little gems in the opera world of this amazing city.

As any of you who read my blog know, I have formed a lovely friendship with a wonderful woman and fellow opera lover in New York, Meche Kroop. She attended the performance tonight as well and at the end we decided to put our thoughts side by side on this blog for our readers: she from the audience perspective, I from the viewpoint of a singer. We are grateful for your thoughtful comments about our respective ideas.


I have to say straight off the bat that, after a short night of fitful sleep, I was a bit worried that I might feel the tendency to nod off towards the end of the opera, as I shamelessly admit to having done on several occasions (take note, Wotan!) Not even a yawn was in sight tonight! Overall the singing was absolutely superb and even though the performance was not staged with no costumes, set, or props, you felt like you lost not a minute of the story and followed the emotional roller coaster of each character at every step. The roles were well cast, and it was obvious to me that every singer was just thrilled to bits to be up there singing. I suppose it may have helped that almost all of them were only singing this one performance... so they really gave it their all.

Special credit, I feel, must be given to tenor Adam Juran who sang the role of Lensky. I have peripherally known Adam for about seven months now, ever since I walked in on the end of his lesson with our teacher, Ron LaFond. What I heard tonight was nothing like what I heard seven months ago. Surely, he still has a few kinks to work out in the uppermost reaches of his register but there were moments of absolute glory, warmth, and stability in his voice. His aria, "Kuda, kuda" left me on the edge of my seat. I would encourage him not to shy away from making eye contact and holding his focus while he sings as this will help him vocally, I think, as well. I commend him on some phenomenal work and wish him the best as he forges ahead in this very difficult repertoire.

In the title role, Vaughn Lindquist was stoic and sang with a strong, round, and capable voice. He made up for any fogginess in the highest notes in the role with his utterly convincing portrayal of the tormented Onegin. His final duet with Tatyana, ably and beautifully presented by Maryann Mootos, was absolutely riveting, and his final note appropriately sent the audience shooting to its feet. Maryann carried the show, as Tatyana really must do in this opera. Her acting skills were spot on and you were absolutely convinced that she had translated, read, reread and internalized every word and emotion of the Russian text. Her voice blended easily with Lindquist's as well as with Elspeth Davis's rich-voiced Olga. Her high notes spun perfectly and the famous Letter Scene was absolutely stunning.

As Tatyana's younger sister, Davis warmed up after the initial quartet where she was slightly outsung by Mootos, but was fiery and strong in the ballroom scene opposite Lensky. Bass Bryce Smith - also coincidentally the founder of Opera Manhattan - was as noble as noble could be in the role of Prince Gremin, Tatyana's husband, and the low note at the end of his Act III aria surely resonated all the way down to the toes of every member of the audience, this writer included.

Andrea Nwoke was a proud though appropriately motherly Larina. Although her voice wobbled at times especially in the upper range, it blended well with the voices of the other three ladies and she completely inhabited the role, winning us over with her stage presence and her absolutely conviction as to who this character was. Angeliki Theoharis as Filipyevna, Jonathan Harris as Zaretsky and the very hilarious John Wasiniak rounded out the cast extremely well. In the words of Meche after his aria, "there are no small roles in opera."

My advice? RUN, don't walk, to see this production!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pasta and Puccini... the miniature poodle

Last night I finally managed to sit down with Meche Kroop and Daniel Hernandez for a long overdue chat over dinner. Meche donned her apron and rustled up the most delicious dish of pasta with strawberry-marinara sauce. Yep, you heard right! Here she is in full swing preparing the sumptuous dish.

Meche is a doctor, a psychiatrist to be precise. I didn't know this before last night. What I did know about her, however, ever since she joined The Opera Insider about a year ago, is that she is probably more knowledgeable about opera than most people who get paid to write about it. She has been a die-hard opera lover for about 15 years and goes to at least one if not two, three, or four opera performances a week, perhaps interspersing them with a recital here, a symphony concert or a ballet performance there. "Culture," she says, "is just simply an addiction for me."

Danny is an old friend from my days at The Boston Conservatory but we both admit we haven't really keep in touch until recently when I came across his new company, Opera Hispanica, and he came across TOI. He's done amazing things with the organization so far and I can't wait to see where it goes. I believe their first performance is coming up this fall in November, and I for one will definitely be there. Make sure to keep an eye out for the first Latino opera company in NYC!

Also present was Puccini, Meche's miniature poodle, of whom I sadly do not have a picture. He wagged and bounced and jumped and yipped all evening, evidently just as excited as we were finally to be getting together.

One of the refreshing things about Meche, and honestly about Danny too, is her complete lack of embarrassment in expressing her feelings and opinions candidly. Anyone who knows me at all should understand that is of great value indeed to me. Her interest in opera is such that she will give pretty much anything a try but if she doesn't like she'll tell you so. But rest assured it won't be a simple "I didn't like it because it wasn't good." It will be a critical assessment of every aspect: story, melody, orchestration, voices, costumes... you name it. To be sure, her "thing" is melody: the music in the opera has to be singable for her really to enjoy it, but she isn't the type of listener who will simply not attend because it's "modern" opera, or because she's not familiar with it.

Most of the New Yorkers reading this probably already know Meche and hopefully very soon you'll all know Danny as well. We'll all be at Opera Manhattan's concert version of Eugene Onegin this Saturday night so come along if you have the chance!

Rants and Raves from the Front Row at Santa Fe Opera by Meche Kroop

New York City resident and opera fan Meche Kroop doesn't beat around the bush when she talks about opera. When it's good she'll tell you about it... when it isn't, she'll tell you about that, too. Santa Fe Opera is known to be among the best around, so we were particularly interested to hear her take on the summer season that just ended. Here's what she had to say about it!


The sky shows you everything from the most radiant sunsets to the darkest thunder clouds, but the air is always fragrant with juniper. Breezes blow across the stage, fluttering anything unattached. People flock here year after year to partake in the magic atmosphere of Santa Fe, and this year was no different for me.

Nestled between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Jemez Peaks, the opera house is a wonder in and of itself. This year I had the pleasure of seeing every opera the company was producing this season. First prize must be awarded to Madama Butterfly. British director Lee Blakely made his SFO debut and so effective was he that I never want to see this opera again, lest I impair the memory of this one. Blakely conceives the story just as I do, not as a love story but rather as a tale of a love-sick teenager and a jingoistic child abuser. The casting helped a great deal. Brandon Jovanovich, in excellent voice, towered over petite Kelly Kaduce, a thrilling soprano, thus further emphasizing her juvenile vulnerability and placing it in contrast to his powerful presence. The acting was totally convincing and therefore everything worked psychologically as well. Keith Jameson turned in his customary excellent performance as the slimy Goro. Prince Yamadoro was not portrayed as a clown, as it often is, but given quite some dignity by Matthew Hanscom, thereby underscoring Butterfly’s unrealistic devotion to Pinkerton. Butterfly’s suicide (accurately represented in this production by a totally realistic slashing of an artery in the neck — accurate at least according to Japanese tradition) was not merely a ritualistic honor suicide, but rather a psychologically valid act of anger at her faithless lover... prefaced by much chair-throwing! Little Trouble does not fly into the arms of his heretofore unseen father; rather he steps back in fear. Much of the audience was sobbing at the end, this writer included. The cast was further supported by mezzo Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki and James Westman as Sharpless, who both shined in their respective roles.

On the second night I was delightfully entertained by Christopher Alden’s production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman. My feelings about Alden’s “concepts” have varied from opera to opera. I greatly disliked his church basement AA meeting concept for Don Giovanni at New York City Opera but this time I think he got it right, setting the story in a German Bierhalle of appropriate vintage. The wine-soaked and dissipated Hoffman (a role to which Paul Groves gave his all, both vocally and dramatically) illustrated his tales on stages created by upturned Bierhalle benches. Characters in the stories were portrayed by denizens of the Bierhalle. Kate Lindsey gave a vocally lustrous and choreographically adept portrayal of his Muse and Wayne Tigges stepped in at a late date to inhabit Hoffmann’s nemeses. Erin Wall has done better work in the past than she did as Hoffman’s various loves but Jill Grove was certainly acceptable as Antonia’s mother. Not everyone “got” what Alden was after but I must say I was royally entertained… at least until the ending. I have always thought that the whole point of this story was that love comes and goes but that art endures. Art is continuous, unending, always faithful. After all, don't we still see Hoffman’s stories in today's world? So I have to ask why on earth Alden asked everyone to burn Hoffman’s manuscripts in a flaming punchbowl at the end of the opera? To me, that simply belittled and ruined the entire concept of the opera.

The third night was equally entertaining as the second. I allowed myself to be swept along by the delightful Britten comedy Albert Herring, ably directed by Paul Curran. The title role was charmingly sung by Alek Schrader, a young tenor who made a huge impression in the Met National Council Auditions back in 2007, and has gone on to make quite a name for himself. As the rather bumbling Albert, he showed true comic flair. Christine Brewer fully inhabited the role of Lady Billows, a role that made good use of her amply proportioned body as well as her amply proportioned voice. Kate Lindsey shone again as Nancy with Joshua Hopkins as her well-sung and well-acted boyfriend. Judith Christin as Albert’s mother and Jill Grove as Lady Billows’ housekeeper Florence were joined by a very primly humorous Celena Shafer as the schoolteacher. The role of the vicar was taken by a baritone apprentice from New York named Jonathan Michie who was astonishingly accomplished. I hope to hear more of him. All contributed beautifully to the success of this ensemble work, a very difficult opera to put together even with the best and most talented singing actors.

Nothing is worse than being in an audience that is having fun when you are not so the fourth night of my opera week left me sitting in the front row just seething. Tim Albery’s adaptation of Mozart’s classic opera, The Magic Flute, is the same one that left me annoyed a few years ago but I’d decided to give it another chance to win me over. No go! In spite of any real life connection, onstage Charles Castronovo’s Tamino and Ekaterina Siurina’s Pamina had zero chemistry. The costumes were completely ridiculous: Pamina was dressed for a 1950s sock hop, the Three Ladies and the Queen of the Night were clothed in Elizabethan attire, the “police force” guarding Sarastro’s temple were dressed as Nazi SS Officers, the male chorus wore frock coats and powdered wigs from the 18th century while the female chorus looked like ante-bellum slaves, and Papageno wore cutoffs, a baseball cap and yellow Keds. To top it off, the Three Spirits were bald Buddhist monks! With all that distraction who could focus on the voices? The set was ugly and plain with plywood silhouettes of animals. The dialogue was spoken in English with each performer struggling to maintain cohesion through his or her own dialect or accent. Particularly grating on the ears were the strong Italian inflections of Andrea Silvestrelli (Sarastro) who, in this case, also tended to speak with his hands. Sadly his singing the night I was there was also incredibly unmusical. Searching for one kind thing to say, let me compliment the performance of Renee Tatum as one of the Three Ladies. She impressed me at her Lindemann Recital and impressed me again here.

Now, what about the last night which showcased Spratlin’s long-neglected opera, Life is a Dream? My 19th Century ears were wishing it had stayed neglected. Calderon de la Barca’s 16th century masterpiece La Vida es Sueño would have made a gorgeous zarzuela but instead it has been dragged kicking and screaming into 20th Century serialism: frantic jagged vocal lines that assault the ear and nothing melodic to hang onto. Under these circumstances I think it would be best to say nothing about the voices. I will say, however, that Kevin Newbury directed the action in a meaningful way so that the story was able to shine through. David Korins did a wonderful job as set designer, with the exception of some puzzling railroad crossing beams hanging from the ceiling and Jessica Jahn’s costumes were indeed stunning. As my ears closed to the so-called music, my eyes at least were delighted by watching the beauty of the production, thus ending the opera week on a not-so-disastrous note.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meeting new friends

I had the distinct pleasure on Saturday of meeting Clifford Bechtel and Bob Kingston, self-confessed opera fanatic, music historian and lecturer at Portland Opera, and also the author of a relatively new blog on opera called 'dramma per musica.'

Cliff and I have been in touch for well over a year now I think... probably having met first through Twitter or Facebook (who actually ever meets anyone the old-fashioned way anymore anyway?!) but we had never really found the time to meet in person. Bob and I really only "met" a few days prior through Cliff and also through various opera projects we were both interested in. He was also intimately involved in the production of "Cosi fan tutte - Some assembly required" that I attended and wrote about last week, and was in town to provide some back-up commentary and Tweeting on Friday and Sunday.

It is wonderful and exhilarating to spend time with two people so knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. Cliff is bubbly and energetic and one of the most dedicated singers you'll ever find. Forever posting clips on Facebook and recommending those old, wonderful recordings that are getting harder and harder to find, he's always eager to learn more, talk to new people, find new repertoire and broaden his horizons as a singer.

Bob has been studying music as a performer and then as a historian for two decades now, and loves his job at Portland Opera where he gives the "Pre-performance" lectures and also helps out with the relatively new Young Artist program, assisting them in selecting repertoire for their recitals and generally helping the company make sure it's as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.

We're familiar with that concept here!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cosi fan tutte - some assembly required

I often think that the reason people love dress rehearsals or masterclasses is twofold. One: because secretly they love to know that the perfection they see on stage at a full performance is exactly that: a performance, as in, not quite real and Two: they actually like to learn stuff. We find comfort in knowing that the people behind the costumes, down in the pit, or hanging from the ceiling are actually just regular old clutzes, like you and me. And we also like to leave somewhere feeling like we've actually engaged our brain a bit, widened our knowledge, challenged ourselves and come away with something new.

This was never more so the case than Wednesday night when I had the distinct pleasure of attending Operamission's "Cosi fan tutte - some assembly required" at the Gershwin Hotel in Manhattan. It was the second of four nights of this project, run by the incredibly capable conductor, coach, and pianist - and Operamission Founder - Jennifer Peterson (seen here peeking around from her perch on the conductor's stool to address the audience). Wednesday night finished up Act I, and Act II can be seen in two parts tonight (Friday) and Sunday evening beginning at 7 pm also at the Gershwin.

What made this event remarkable? What didn't, really. The setting is ideal really, just the right size so that it maintains intimacy but without feeling like you're sitting on top of the person next to you. The music wasn't perfect, nor were the acoustics. But you didn't expect perfection and really, you didn't even want it... and it was more humorous than annoying to hear the violins screech to a halt or the horns come in a couple bars late. Most importantly, you just didn't care because the point wasn't to present perfection. The point was to present process.

From old opera connoisseurs hovering over full orchestra scores using the light of their cell phones to follow the action to a couple people who had never in their lives seen or heard opera before, the crowd was enthusiastic, entertained and in every possible way supportive. They laughed and cheered all night long! Sadly I missed the first hour, but that still left me with almost two and a half hours to watch this thing come together.

The evening was hosted by Ned Canty, Cori Ellison and Marco Nistico (pictured in a very bad photo here) who also gave wonderful and insightful commentary. They, as well as several audience members, were encouraged to tweet the action during the evening, letting their followers know what was going on at that moment.

And as for the singing. Well, let me just say that I was absolutely blown away. I gathered that the cast(s) had been rehearsing for the better part of a week, so their cohesion as a group seemed completely natural. Still considering this was the first time they had gotten together with the orchestra and were now also faced with an audience, I was truly impressed.

The star of the evening, for my money, was soprano Jennifer Aylmer as Despina (pictured below). Despina is always the character who seems really to carry this opera. If she's not 'on,' then it just really doesn't work. In this case, there was no doubt about who was in charge! Here you see her in her first aria "In uomini, in soldati," one of the best renditions of this aria I have ever heard.

Someone whispered to me halfway through the aria that she had never done the role before. I find that impossible to believe. She inhabited it better than any Despina I have ever seen or heard, her Italian diction was impeccable, and she missed not one step the entire evening.

Also of special note was soprano Kerri Marcinko who sang the role of Fiordiligi. Apparently Mozart isn't her forte so she wanted to give it a go. Apart from a few lost notes in her lower range (and let's face it, who can blame a soprano for not hitting every low A in this score!) she shone throughout the night. A rich, though perfectly centered and easy voice that filled the room with warmth and charisma. Jennifer Berkebile as Dorabella was adorable and well cast, and the two friends Ferrando (sung by Asitha Tennekoon) and Guglielmo (James Bobick) could not have looked more different, but yet their voices and personalities both blended together as if they had been singing together since childhood. In the role of Don Alfonso Dennis Blackwell was hilarious, and any slight lightness of voice was made up by his dedication and absolute inhabiting of his role.

I wish I could see the rest of the production but sadly I have other commitments. I cannot possibly recommend this highly enough, however. Whether you know the opera and love it, know it and don't love it, or have never before listened to it, let this phenomenal group of people (all doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, by the way, not for the money or the fame) offer you one of the most enjoyable evenings this summer.

The orchestra from the woodwind section.

The cast gets ready for the Act I Finale

Monday, August 16, 2010

Some days are just filled with it!

I had one of the most exciting opera-infused days yesterday. Did I go see one? Nope. Did I even listen to one? Nope. So why so good?

Well, add Stage Director James Marvel to any situation and you're likely to increase the enjoyment quotient by at least a few percentage points. Get him at his best and there's no way you can't have a blast.

This man is really one of a kind. He's toured the world directing operas and theater pieces from the smallest projects with inner city kids to the major stages of the country, working with some of the biggest names in opera today. I have coached with him before, but it's been a couple of years. I contacted him a few weeks ago for coaching because I felt I was having trouble coming to terms with how to embody all these new characters and roles I was now starting to learn as a soprano (Mimi, Liu, Pamina, Rusalka, Blanche, Marguerite...). We started off slow just sort of talking through some general ideas, then got specific... then got really specific.

What I find to be one of the most appealing things James brings to the table is his unbelievable ability to pull from all parts of life - literature, anecdotes, rock music, personal experiences, poetry, you name it - and relate them to exactly what you're talking about. You might not know it at first... wonder where the heck he's going with this thought, but when he gets to the end of it, it just becomes perfectly clear. How in the world could you possibly imagine that the movie "As good as it gets," a quotation by an atheist on his deathbed, and the lyrics to a rock song would help you understand Mimi's most vulnerable moment? But they do. All these little, wonderful tidbits of life, art, experience, pain... they all relate, and his special gift is being able to absorb all these things and then use them to create the germ of an idea in your mind or, if it's already there, help you flush out the rest into some coherent emotional truth.

After two hours of some of the most intense, but yet so thoroughly enjoyable, character exploration I have ever done, I rushed downtown to 'Ino on Bedford Street to meet one of TOI's newest and most supportive members, Owen Reidy. He's 29, a lawyer in New York, single, and adorable (I hope he doesn't mind me saying this but he is). He's also new to opera, wants to learn more about it, but still doesn't quite know where to start. His enthusiasm for learning about the art form, for trying to get in touch with other people who want to learn (or teach) him about it, and his exuberance about the ideas behind The Opera Insider were just infectious.

It's hard sometimes when you're in the thick of things to see clearly, to see beyond what is right in front of your face at that given moment, to see past the obstacles to the end of whatever you're working on. I admit that sometimes these feelings overwhelm me when I think about the development of The Opera Insider over these last months. But then these shining moments come along, forcing me to reevaluate what I've already done and what I'm about to do, give me a chance to talk about the ideas and concepts behind it ... and then I just can't help but get so excited. What you'll see when we launch will be good, it will be excellent, and it will be something the opera world needs. And we just can't wait to bring it to you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Getting back on my feet

It's been a while folks, and I'm sorry I haven't had the chance to spend much time with TOI over the last few weeks. It has, however, been a time of immense rejuvenation and vocal growth for me personally (well, except for the laryngitis I have been carrying around with me!), and I feel that the last two weeks were really life-changing in many ways. As singers we need those moments when we re-realize why we do what we do. The business is tough, rejections outnumber acceptances, what, 1,053 to 1 so we need confirmation that we're on the right track, that what we're doing really IS worthwhile, and that it does matter to the larger world order. This was just that kind of time for me.

There is always for me certain openness and intensity of life I experience every time I go to a new place. I feel like my eyes open wider, the colors are brighter, laughter is more infectious, and I am the very best of myself. Being an outsider or a foreigner makes me evaluate myself and where I have come from in the most wonderful of ways. I am eager to question of others and to answer the questions of others. In this case, Sweden of course does not feel like a completely different world, especially to someone who spent the formative years of her life in northern Europe. But still: it was a new country to me, a new - and so very beautiful - language, a different pace of life.

I went to spend four days of intense vocal study with my teacher and four of his other students (three Swedes and a German) and then I was able to stay on in Goteborg for two more days to continue studying with him. Here you see the lovely opera house:

Here's a picture of the season's offerings at Göteborgs Operan as well as the necessary Jussi Björlingsplats.

The location for our masterclass was absolutely idyllic!

The four other wonderful singers: Meta, Erik, Olof, and Kati, were incredibly supportive, and we all learned from each other in the most intimate and uncluttered way. All our lessons were "open-format" so all could come and listen in and learn from each other then on the last day we held a Masterclass where all of us sang an aria and were helped and critiqued by our voice teacher.

It really is amazing to me how much we work for the smallest things. It makes me think of the scientist locked up in a lab trying again and again to find just the right amount of one substance which, when mixed with just the right amount of another substance, will create the cure for cancer. Sometimes I wish I could bring some of my non-singer friends into a lesson and just have them observe as I spend half an hour trying to get the balance between the focus and the depth just right. Would they hear the difference? I'm guessing not. But it would still give me some sort of (almost sordid) pleasure watching them see what it is we do all day long in attempt to present with the world with a well-rounded and beautiful voice.

Well, we weren't all perfect, far from it in fact, but we worked hard... harder than I think I have seen singers work in a long time. Perhaps it's because we were all a little bit older or because some of us had already had a career or a sort of career singing under the guise of another voice (either another fach or a voice in the same fach that was so utterly unbalanced as to be almost entirely another voice), but the work we did was hard, inspired, and inspiring.

Thanks to everyone who made this such an unbelievably memorable experience, most especially to Ron LaFond, without whose expertise, light-heartedness and soulfulness none of this could have come to fruition. I will treasure these days always.