Recital!

Hey, it's me!

So, about a month ago, I had my second Temple Square recital. It is the most wonderful space in which to sing. The acoustics are beautiful, the people that are the semi-MC’s are always kind and ever helpful and, pending you getting it approved, they will give you a recording of the recital, free of charge. Also, it is a beautiful venue.

Exhibits A, B & C*

the organ, up close...kinda

front of the organ from the front of the stage

fun shot of the trompettes

The lead up to this recital is the stuff of which movies are made: My original pianist’s father was having heart problems, and was on the list for a new heart. She had seen him about 2 weeks prior to the recital. The following week, she got a call saying that something had happened, so I was told to find someone who would be on standby, should things take a turn for the worse. Now 1.5 weeks before the recital, I got the dreaded text saying that she would not be there, as they (the family) signed a DNR for her father, and she would be leaving immediately. Now came the real fun part of trying to find an accompanist who would be able to handle the music I had programmed. I tried everyone that I had asked to be standby if they were willing, and no fruit came of that tree; I broadened my search to friends who knew other pianists, to no avail. Finally, I called my handler at Temple Square Performances to let her know of the situation. At this point, I was ready to call it off and had made my peace with that fact. She, however, was not ready to throw in the towel. She gave me names to contact, and still nothing was coming together. Lots of people were willing, but none were available, either for the performance or to rehearse, which was paramount for the music I had. Week of, on Wednesday night, I was really willing to cancel, as nothing was working, and I thought we were out of options. Thursday morning, I get a call, and she has found someone, I should call her and coordinate. So, I did, and it turns out she could do the performance, but only have 1 rehearsal, and on the day of, a couple of hours prior. Also, it was her anniversary. And she was slightly concerned with the repertoire. So, she was out. I get a call about an hour later, saying she had found someone else who will definitely work, and will be available that night AND Friday to rehearse. So, I call her, and it everything is hunky dory. This pianist, Shelley Astle, was wonderful and deserves a special place in heaven: she had less than 48 hours from receiving the music to the end of the performance. All in all, I would give my performance an 8/10, because, like most times, there are things I’d like to fix or do over again, but Shelley was definitely a 10/10 given the time constraints she was given.

When I arrived, they still had the choir risers set up from the prior night. Despite sometimes playing a big ol’ high maintenance singer, I am pretty low key. As such, this wasn’t a big deal to me, but my handlers were making this a much larger issue than it really needed to be, and because the risers were all behind the piano they were not effecting me in the slightest. So, they are all flustered and get someone to move everything (about an hour before the performance), and then they come talk to me again in the green room while I’m practicing, informing me that there was no one there to record my concert, despite all other parties being told otherwise. So, they call the person in charge of AV, and she didn’t even know that there was a concert that night (whoops). So, they go someone who was mostly aware of what to do in this venue, but, since they weren’t uber familiar with it, they would be unable to use the mics that were already there, and would have to use mics on stands. Again, doesn’t matter to me how it gets done-these kinds of details are largely unimportant to me (what a singer, right?) When I went upstairs to the stage, I was slightly alarmed to see a mic no more than 3 feet from my mouth. The tech assured me that it was turned down so it wouldn’t buzz and such. In addition to this mic, the piano got one, which made me feel much better about the outcome of this recital, so each mic could be adjusted separately in the final mix. Anyway, the recording turned out wonderful, and I’m happy with how I sound(most of the time), which, as a singer, doesn’t always happen. 🙂

Below are some pictures from other friends*:

Blah, blah, blah

Bowing at the end

more bowing

For those that are interested, the program was:

I hear an army, Op. 10, No. 3 – Samuel Barber

Misero! O sogno…Aura, che intorno spiri, K. 431 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Three Songs by Browning, Op. 44 – Amy Beach

  1. Ah, love, but a day!
  2. I send my heart up to thee
  3. The year’s at the spring

Comfort ye, my people…Ev’ry valley shall be exalted from Messiah, HWV 25 – Georg Friderich Händel

Comment, disaient-ils, S. 276 – Franz Liszt

Enfant, si j’étais roi, S. 283

Oh! quand je dors, S. 282

Dover Beach – Richard Faith

 

ENCORE: Blah, blah, blah – George Gershwin

For those of you that would like to listen, here is a link that will let you download the whole recital: http://www.4shared.com/dir/8TVWNyYi/Songs__Poems_of_Love__2_19_201.html

If you’d like notes/translations, just send me an email, and I’ll be happy to send you a copy. Hope you enjoy it!

*All of the pictures here were taken on cell phones, as everyone, including myself, forgot to bring a camera. Whoops!

Queen(s) of the Night

Author’s Note: This is the post that I wrote for Claire‘s blogoversary last week.

This music has nothing to do with the post, but it is some of the most sublime music and worth a listen. 8 minutes of pure bliss.

Hey there Horde®! It is an honor to be one of the writers celebrating Claire’s blogoversary. Most of you don’t know me, but, if the name looks familiar, I am the one on Twitter that sends Claire the crazy-ass youtube videos or the brain worms of websites (primarily this, this & this). As my Twitter® name (mitchthetenor) implies, I am a singer, mostly of opera/classical music, but I dabble in musical theatre & jazz periodically. Just so y’all are aware, my writing is very often punctuated with parenthetical tangents, references and/or clarifications. If that’s not your style, too bad. This is Claire’s deal, not yours. You will read this post AND be happy about it. So, enjoy (or else!).

Today’s post is about LGBT folk in the theatre, and is sponsored, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts & readers like you.

I am sure that most of you at least saw, if not read the “delightful” article in Newsweek at the end of April about gay folks being able to convincingly portray straight characters. To say that it is offensive is a rather large understatement.  While it is great that ally Kristin Chenoweth didn’t hold any punches in her response to the article and delightfully hunky out man, Cheyenne Jackson (of Broadway & 30 Rock fame) & Michael Urie (of Ugly Betty fame) took Ramin Setoodeh to task in their responses, what makes the article sting the most (to me, at least) was not the writing (although that does hurt), but the fact that the writer is gay. Who needs enemies when you’ve got friends like this, right?

In most realms of theatre (opera & broadway musicals/straight plays [heretofore referred to as MT for simplicity]), if you are a guy, you are gay until proven straight. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be the case, and people could just be people, but it is what it is. In the MT realm, being gay doesn’t appear [to me] to be an issue, as it is virtually a fact of life. For some reason, in the opera world, there is a “stigma”* about it, as people are surprised when a gay man can effectively play the romantic lead to a woman. Wonderful tenor Nick Phan talks about his experiences with this very situation here. As a tenor, I can certainly relate. For some reason, the lower voiced men who are gay have less of a problem with this, despite having to face slightly similar, but also different, problems as the non-romantic leads. Us tenors just get a bad rap, as fey, limp-wristed folks who wear frilly clothes, methinks. 😉

What is so entertaining about this whole situation is that people seem to forget that when they go to the theater, 99% of the time, there is a suspension of disbelief. Most often in opera, this suspension occurs when analyzing the differences between the character and performer, usually an age, physical or gender difference. While I do understand that gender and physical differences usually go hand in hand, what I am trying to differentiate is that, the physical attributes (read: height-weight ratio) between the two can be vastly different (ie: Luciano Pavarotti singing Nemorino [in a production, not concert] in Donizetti‘s Elixir of Love). While I am not as versed in MT repertoire (although the role of Gary Coleman in Avenue Q does come to mind), there are countless roles in operas that require this to occur. Not for men, but for women. And, for some reason, this is totally OK with people and they think nothing of it: in Mozart‘s Marriage of Figaro, the young man Cheribuno is played by a mezzo-soprano. In Puccini‘s Madama Butterfly, the soprano required to sing this monumental role rarely looks the part of the virginal teen, and is far from being one. In Puccini & Verdi‘s masterpieces, La bohème & La traviata, both soprano leads are suffering from TB, and usually don’t look like they are suffering from it. In fact, for the premiere of Travaiata, the soprano was so, ahem, large that the audience could not suspend their disbelief & laughed. In Bellini‘s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, the mezzo-soprano again plays a man, this time, the ill-fated Romeo. Throughout opera, the number of “pants roles” is quite large (with the linked article listing just a few of the most common roles) and people . Even in “dress roles”, where a man dresses up like a woman, such as the witch in Humperdink‘s Hansel and Gretel, audience members can suspend their disbelief without issue. WTF. Going back to the musical theatre realm for a minute, the suspension of disbelief occurs anytime someone sees any of the puppet shows (Lion King, Avenue Q, etc.) or The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, as the performers are clearly not in middle school.

What Nick talks about in the second part of his post is something that transcends the stage, as it should be for all things in life: Does it [being gay] matter? NO! An artist should only be judged on their art. (Well, and maybe some politics. But mostly art. And only politics if they’re being dumb [both right & left can be, so I’m an equal opportunity ‘think-you’re-stupid’-er]).

I agree with him whole heartedly:

“…many people argue that it is important for performers to be open and come out because of their profile, so that they can set positive examples for the rest of the world.”

In closing I leave you with this thought: Wouldn’t it be great if performers(of any genre) be judged on the merit of their acting, singing, or whatever instead of who they are attracted to? To that end, wouldn’t it be great if people were judged on their own merits? While I am gay, that is only one small aspect of me. Yes, it is important, but it doesn’t define my entire being. And yes, I do prance around on stage with limp wrists in lots of frills, but PLEASE judge me on my prancing skills, not because I am gay.

I want to thank Claire for the opportunity to write for yous kids (and congrats on another year in the blogosphere, darling!) and Nick Phan for his wonderful and touching post on being out & proud in the opera world. Also, if you are an ally, there is no greater praise that could be given to you. Your job as an ally is one of the highest importance. As this next generation (God that makes me feel old…) becomes older, they are coming into a society that is more open, but they don’t know of the trials that have happened before them. Tell them about Matthew Shepherd. Teach them about HIV/AIDS. Sarah Jessica Parker made a good point about this:

“There seems to be, of concern to me, young men that are now sick again, or are HIV positive, and I think that because they were too young to see what happened 20 years ago, to know the devastation and the absolute heartbreak that accompanied that time.” video here

The young LGBT kids these days need (not just one, but many) allies, mentors & friends. For more on that, see this.

Peace out, horde.

Mitch

* I say stigma, but there is no strong discrimination against the gays, but people can view you differently when casting and all that jazz.

Clip of the Day – Wagner’s Ring

So, some of you may know of my love of Wagner‘s music. Well, most of it. As Mark Twain once said, “…he [Wagner] has great moments and dreadful half hours…” Anywho. This is a preview of what is to come in The MET‘s new Ring Cycle, starting this fall, but to be spaced out over 2 years (2 shows each year, with full cycles beginning in 2012). *happy dance* Robert Lepage has wonderful productions that are visual spectacles, but not just so, as the spectacle enhances the art, and transcends it to a new level. His production (and here) of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust for The MET, Opéra National de Paris & the  Saito Kinen Festival in Japan. This new production should be AMAZING! I can’t wait.

NOTE: I know that not all of you are opera folks, but check out the clips in both articles. It is amazing what he has done, and if nothing else, it’s something pretty to look at for a few minutes. That, and Susan Graham is totes hot and sounds even better. (So does John Relyea)

[Props to The Omniscient Mussel for posting this]

Clips of the Day – Laaaadyyyy Gaaaaaagaaaaaaaaa!

Today’s post title should be read in the style of Oprah. You all know what I’m talking about, don’t act like you don’t. We all know.

The first clips are of classical musicians doing Lady Gaga covers. Quite wonderfully, if you ask me. The last one is of members of the Royal New Zealand Ballet dancing to Bad Romance. Enjoy!

Help!

I am in the planning stages of starting a new [classical music] concert series here in Salt Lake. Unfortunately, I cannot come up with a name for said series that I am really in love with, which is why I have asked you here…

Details:

  1. Location: Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA)
  2. Day/Time: Sunday afternoons (not every one though)
  3. Usual performers: advanced students/groups at the University of Utah, former students beginning a career, or other professionals/groups in the area
  4. Usual programming: heavily classical, but also, possibly 1 jazz concert a season

Ideally, this name would incorporate the fact that the series is at an art museum and that it is a classical music/jazz series.

Thanks,

Mitch