Monday, July 31, 2006

Grab Bag

Working at the Filene Center today, getting ready for Renee Fleming's concert with the NSO. I'm told the heat is going to break in a matter of hours. :) If it doesn't, Emil de Cou says he's going to trot out his Ta Chi conducting technique.

During her 2004 concert, Miss Fleming told the audience that she didn't think she'd have to wait quite this long for her Wolf Trap debut. See, she tried out for the Wolf Trap Opera Company years ago, but couldn't get in... At I can say is that it didn't happen on my watch!


YogaSing. Suzanne Spangler Jackson brought her brand of yoga and wellness technique designed specifically for singers. Pretty much enthusiastically received by our company. A few of them were skeptical, to say the least, but this is tremendously helpful stuff, even if you don't have natural tree-hugging inclinations.

Deja Vu. Actually sat down at the piano during Romeo rehearsals. Managed to screw up the schedule one Saturday afternoon and didn't have a pianist available for staging rehearsal. So I gamely plopped myself on the bench and managed not to mangle Act IV too badly. Fun playing the piano again for Stephen Lord. Only this time we both need reading glasses to see the score... Visit the Classical Conversations page of Viva La Voce and listen to James Bartels' interview with our Juliette, Ailyn Perez. She talks about preparing the role. Good stuff.

Go Eric! So very proud to see bass Eric Owens get so many kudos (from press, general public, and colleagues) for his portrayal of the title role in this summer's Grendel. A Wolf Trap Opera alum, terrific singer, brilliant musician, and all around terrific guy. He deserves all of this and more. The production also featured acclaimed performances by WTOC alums Denyce Graves and Richard Croft.

Oh... That's Why We Do This....

Have been spending far far too much time wrestling with spreadsheets, proposals, reports, and email glut. Spent some time in the Figaro rehearsal yesterday, for the first time since we began. Such a healthy thing to make a re-acquaintance with the fact that there actually is opera happening upstairs. Renews my enthusiasm for yet another go at the budget.

Act III Sextet. The new happy family (Bartolo, Figaro, Susanna & Marcellina) above at left. The disgruntled team of Curzio and Almaviva below.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Back in the Saddle

The adrenaline was pumping so hard during most of July that when last weekend was over I hit the ground hard. I'm now almost back to being a contributing member of society.

Adieu Ory

So happy with Comte Ory on so many different levels. The Flying Cow and his Act II storm scene friends are temporarily adorning the windowsills of my office, awaiting a more permanent installation.

Cast members have moved on to new projects, in the true ensemble spirit that is our company. A few of them are prepping their August 12 recital with Steve Blier. And others have leapt straight into Figaro - the Gouverneur is Figaro himself, Raimbaud has become Antonio, Ragonde is Marcellina, Ory has turned into Don Curzio, and Alice has morphed into Cherubino.

Such Sweet Sorrow

And a fond farewell to Romeo et Juliette. Again, some personal bests for our singers, and a night of beautiful music with the NSO. Juliette has moved on to Mozart's Countess, Romeo is Don Basilio, Paris has become the Count, and Friar Laurence is Bartolo. 19 singers in 57 assignments over 14 weeks. Either a casting director's dream, or a nightmare. (Almost always the former, by the way.)

Semi-staging is, as I said in last summer's blog, a "crazy-making thing." We've now had a few years’ experience with this format. It doesn’t make the process simpler, but it does make it easier to recognize the free-floating anxiety that inevitably accompanies its birth. And when it's done well, it's extremely satisfying. I would never want to forsake our full productions, for that synthesis of visual and musical arts is what opera is all about. But as a way to bring a concert alive, allow our artists to explore new roles, and bring the audience into the center of the music - well, semi-staging is a wonderful thing.

Unsolicited Advice

An odd series of interactions with well-meaning folks during last week's Carmina Burana. Three of our singers did brilliant work with the NSO as soloists, but during the course of the rehearsals, each one of them had a curious conversation with other people (unnamed and unidentified for the obvious reasons) who were involved in the rehearsals.

The oddest one came in the form of an offer of some vocal coaching before that night's performance so that the soloist in question wouldn't be embarrassed. Even though I support our artists unstintingly, I'm the first one to recognize when improvement is called for. But this particular criticism (much more lengthy than I just described) came out of left field.

Musicians (especially singers) tend to be hypercritical of themselves and of others, and the fact that this kind of disapproval exists is no surprise. What is odd, in my opinion, is that someone would so freely approach a soloist with this type of conversation. We mused about it for a while and determined that some of it may be related to the relative age of our artists (mid-late 20's). And I do believe that because we encourage a healthy, relaxed, anti-diva approach to our work, it doesn't erect the kind of barrier that some people are used to seeing around solo artists.

Well, whatever the cause, it was weird.

Further Adventures in Audience Interaction

I did my usual series of pre-show talks before the Barns operas - something that I used to obsess a lot about, but that lately I enjoy very much. There's always at least 5-10 minutes for audience questions, and over time I've found this period of gentle interrogation falling into 4 distinct patterns:

1) The vast majority of inquiries pick up on something I've alluded to in the talk but haven't fully described. Or, perhaps something that's an obvious puzzlement about the opera that I've conveniently side-stepped :)

2) General questions about the Wolf Trap Opera Company - how we find our singers, etc.

3) Comments thinly veiled as questions that are meant to expose something about which I'm not an expert, but the questioner clearly is. I used to live in fear of these moments, but in recent years I'm all too happy to declare my relative stupidity and allow the other person to briefly educate us.

and 4) The rather rare completely random question. And I got a bunch of these last week. Why doesn't the Washington National Opera do performances in the Eisenhower Theatre (mid-sized venue at the Kennedy Center) any more? What do I think about the current state of criticism at the Washington Post? Exactly how much did this production cost? How much do we pay our singers? Why don't the unions get out of the way and let us record and broadcast our operas? And on and on. Danger, Will Robinson.

I was looking forward to doing a pre-show talk for Romeo et Juliette over at the park last week, but we got rained out. (I actually got about 3 minutes into it because we were forced to run for cover.) Just so I don't feel as if my preparation was for naught, here's what we would've covered...

  • Quotes from Gounod's many letters to his wife while he was writing Romeo. Thoughts about how easy it was to concentrate in the countryside of Provence, and how difficult it is to do any real work in the hectic life back in the city. Comments about how working on this opera made him feel 20 years old again.
  • A discussion about our semi-staging, and why it's both frightening and rewarding. And how it's actually easier for Romeo to sing the balcony scene when he's not craning his neck constantly to see a Juliette who's 10 feet above him.
  • Great stories about this opera onstage. When a crazed patron stormed the stage in Chicago and Jean de Reszke drew his prop sword to protect Nellie Melba. When Adelina Patti (then the married Marquise de Caux) bestowed 29 very real kisses on tenor Ernesto Nicolini in Paris. (She became Mrs. Nicolini shortly afterward.)
  • And, a discussion about the cuts that brought our concert version in at around 2 hours in length. When you're making these cuts it feels blasphemous. But we all decided that this version is in many ways preferable. A surfeit of sentimentally romantic music can become cloying after 3 hours but manages to remain refreshing in a trimmed state.

Powerful People

Just in case you haven't seen Opera News' August list of the 25 Most Powerful People in opera, you'll be happy to know that two of the four conductors listed have histories at Wolf Trap. And one of those - Stephen Lord - was here conducting Romeo at the time the issue went to print! (I don't think it's online yet, but probably will be as of August 1: check The only other reaction I have to the list is that opera is still very much a man's game...

Moving On

Although we have one concert and one production to go, this week is all about 2007. First budget draft, audition application prep, and audition tour scheduling. Thank goodness I have the dragon to keep me company.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Guest Post!

While I collect my wits, enjoy this guest blog entry by tenor Jason Ferrante!

Lenox, MA
July 25, 2006

So here I am in the beautiful Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. Being a FileneYoung Artist at Wolf Trap has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I thought a blog entry from the singer’s side of the table could be interesting. I personally think it’s dangerous to ask a singer to talk about himself, but I’ll try to keep it pithy.

Last year, I received two offers for the Summer of 2006. One was my contract at Wolf Trap. The other was from Berkshire Opera, to sing Goro in a new production of Madama Butterfly. My projects at Wolf Trap were slated to end with the final performance of Le Comte Ory on Sunday the 23rd and my rehearsals for Butterfly were scheduled to commence in the AM of Monday the 24th. When it rains, it pours. (Those of you in Fairfax County certainly know this to be true if you were around in late June)

I am sharing my schedule with you, accompanied by my thoughts. It’s like watching a DVD of my life and doing the guest commentary track over the film. It’s no Pirates of the Caribbean, but it will have to do.

Wednesday 7/19

-Make recording of arias at Wolf Trap-one of our perks this Summer was that the wonderful Bob Grimes offered to engineer a demo recording for each of us. None of this cost us a cent. The combination of Bob’s friendly demeanor and the staggering talent of my pianist, Jeremy Frank, made for a fun morning.

-Rehearse Romeo at Kennedy Center with NSO- Field Trip! What a great experience it was to sing with the NSO in the Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center. My colleagues are amazing and I think we truly inspire each other to do our best. Sounds corny, but it’s true. (Photo at left with Juliette)

Thursday 7/20

-travel to Baltimore to see tailor for tuxedo for Romeo- I have a friend in Maryland who sells formal wear. He hooked me up. I should have gotten smaller pants though. I have lost a waist size in the past year, and I nearly lost my pants when I died as Tybalt Saturday night. Special thanks to Museop Kim (Capulet) for grieving over my corpse AND making sure I didn’t flash the crowd.

-travel back to Virginia

-refresh/coach Butterfly-I wanted to fit in some review of the score. I have done the role a bunch in the past year but was recently humbled to see the several wrong notes I have so artfully worked into my rendition of this little marriage broker. Thank you Liora Mauer for knowing the score so well and for calling me out on it!

Friday 7/21

-Staging review/run thru of Romeo-This was to make sure the fight scene was fresh.

-Have dinner with manager – My agent is fun, beautiful, hardworking and a great dinner date.

-Ory #3 –GREAT show and audience. I won’t soon forget Madames Stober and McNeese and Mr. Abreu’s rendition of the Act II trio. Flawless. And three wickedly funny pals!

Saturday 7/22

-AM dress rehearsal/sound check with NSO for Romeo- This was a hard one. You have to get up early and get the voice working so any balance issues can be addressed accurately. Also, it’s just too early in the morning. A well respected colleague likes to say “There’s no art before noon”. Well, Maestro Lord proved that wrong. Great rehearsal.

-Afternoon begin to pack for road trip to Mass

-Romeo performance with NSO, Filene Center Such a beautiful night at Wolf Trap. While the earlier storms kept some folks off of the lawn, the air was cool, and it was very comfortable onstage. This show was one of those personal triumph moments where I got out there and sang some real tunes. Fun!

-Romeo post-show reception (schmooze and booze) Use your imagination…if you’re surfing the web and reading this blog, surely you have a vivid one.

Sunday 7/23

-AM load car for trip

-matinee, Ory #4, closing show Again a great show. At curtain calls, I was a little emotional inside. I was saying farewell to a long run at Wolf Trap. It’s been an artistic home and proving ground for me.

-post show party at my house, hosted by my Wolf Trap patrons Wendell and Karen Vanlare host a party each year (sometimes 2 or 3). The food was amazing. I have stayed with them for five years now, and they are like family. All thanks to Wolf Trap.

-drive to Baltimore, visit my better half and dogs for an hour

-leave for Berkshires at 3am. Hi, I am nuts.

Looking back at this week, I can’t believe we made it all happen and managed to stay healthy and sing well. But, when you think about it, the environment at Wolf Trap is almost spa-like for a young singer. (Aside from Kim: Uh, no, we are not a spa. Just for the record.) The amenities and facilities are outstanding. Our coaches, conductors and directors all brilliant. I love my colleagues. They are my family and they inspire me every time they open their mouths. Our boss is the most ego-free person I know in a position where someone else might be full of it. She empowers us as singers. The result is that the company and its product are empowered. (Photoabove: WTOC 2006 Four Tenors)

The WTOC has offered me such a range of work....I have played an expecting father, a greedy crow, a slimy Beadle, Oprah Winfrey, a drunken nun, a manic son of a “great man” who falls in love with a 6’7” drag queen, and one of literature’s most flawed cousins. A lot of people say that success in this career takes a lot of luck. I don’t know if I am a “success”, but I am damn lucky. Time to go to bed, I have to sell a Japanese girl in the morning.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Back Soon

Much to report, but the mental fatigue has just rendered me senseless. I promise I'll be back as soon as I can string a few words together.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July Debris

But first, this note to Romeo et Juliette ticket-holders: I've had quite a few questions about the pre-show talk for this Saturday's performance. It's part of the Pre-Performance Preview series at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. It begins at 7:15 pm - at the Park, not at the Center for Education. Ory pre-show talks continue this weekend at the CFE before the Friday and Sunday performances.

At left, the pitiful scene in the corner of my office - my white Liberace piano covered with mid-season debris...

Left-over leis from an "Island Magic" moment in our donor concert in June.

Filene Center light plot drawings for the Romeo lighting designer.

Two-week-old New York Times. Unread.

Voldermort for President bumpersticker which appeared mysteriously on my chair last week.

Random black clothing to change into for performances.

Small red devil duck from stage management.

Band uniform-turned-British flagbearer costume for Wellington's Victory.

Elmo mini-golf. A gift. Not sure why.

The sad thing about this is that I'm a little bit of a neat freak. Not a clean freak, god knows. But I can't think with clutter in my environment. (Always figured there was so much clutter in my brain that I had met my quota.)

Hell Week

There's so much going on that I should be blogging, but there's so little time. Between now and Sunday, we have 15 singers in 4 performances of 3 different works. Carmina Burana on Thursday with the NSO, Ory on Friday, Romeo et Juliette with the NSO on Saturday, and the final Ory on Sunday. Add in a Figaro set load-in, a few rehearsals offsite at the Kennedy Center, a couple days of recording sessions*, and 3 pre-show talks, and you have some idea of what I mean.

(*We've offered our singers a chance to make demo CDs with piano accompanist to take away with them.)

Comte Ory opening weekend was terrific. Everyone talks about the comedy (and indeed, it is funny), but I'm stunned by the way our singers make this devilishly difficult music seem easy. They seem to relish its challenges, and perhaps they do.

Romeo rehearsals this week have been invigorating. It's essentially fully staged, and it's going to be terrific. And the heat is going to break by then!!

More later, I promise. Signing off with a few more photos from Instant Opera!, courtesy of Joe Bell.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Ory Dress Rehearsal Photos

All photos courtesy of Carol Pratt.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

No, I Will Not Whine


Because this is a complicated business, and that's a good thing.

Because it rarely helps.

Because I love to solve problems, and having more of them just keeps me out of trouble.

Because this blog isn't exactly anonymous.

Because what we do is so cool that if there weren't things to whine about, it would cause a severe cosmic imbalance.

Because It's Just Opera.*

Le Comte Ory in the Theatre

Tech week going better than it should, actually. Not without its particular challenges, but certainly within an acceptable range. It's always scary when we put a Rossini-sized orchestra into our tiny pit, and a cast of 8 principals and 16 choristers stretches our onstage and backstage capacity to the max. But with a lot of forethought, a little luck, and a whole pile of goodwill, we seem to be making opera.

Dress rehearsal tonight, then photos for the blog tomorrow! See you then.

*(I have an anesthesiologist friend who loves to volunteer for all things theatrical. He finds it tremendously freeing that if he makes a mistake in the theatre, no one really gets hurt. Next time you freak out about some crazy little thing that happens onstage, remember that. Safety issues aside, it's true. We care about what we do so deeply that sometimes we forget that It's Just Opera.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Singing as Fast as We Can

So much to report, but the week has flown by at such a dizzying clip that there's been no time to post. A blurry succession of 15-hour days. Not without their challenges. This is what I get for boasting that we were over the hump. Halfway through the summer calendar maybe, but, as I've been reminded, we have miles to go before we sleep.

Le Comte Ory is going marvelously. I have been largely absent from all rehearsals (not my typical pattern) due to various complications. But comedy beckons, and I can't wait to respond. Orchestra sounds terrific, and the singing just sparkles. The production is adorable. (I know, that's an odd choice of adjective, but once you see it, you'll know what I mean.)

Once upon a time...

... in a log cabin, George Washington and Bugs Bunny went hunting every day until Mozart came and caused a flood. We managed to work Beethoven into the plot. There would've been other composers but they were haydn. (Sorry. But it was part of the recitative...) The photo shows the cast's own take on crossing the Delaware - George Washington, Bugs Bunny, Mozart & Beethoven crossing Wolf Trap Creek. Improv opera for about 2,000 children and parents over the last four days.

Speaking of Beethoven

Gangbuster weekend of National Symphony performances at the Filene Center. About 16,000 people in 3 days. Some of the best July weather we've had in years. Itzhak Perlman (conducting and playing) on Thursday, a spectacular multi-media Holst Planets on Friday (with Hubble telescope images from NASA and narration by Spock himself), and Beethoven last night.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Penguin and the Troll

Tough to do improv opera with only animals and mythical creatures! Large number of very wee folk in the woods today, and they seemed to love that we relied heavily on physical humor:)

Once upon a time in a cave, a penguin and a troll danced every day until a dragon came along and breathed fire on them.

The tenor penguin sang high B's, a soprano dancing teacher cajoled a grumpy troll into doing a time step, and the mezzo dragon was missing her fire until the prescribed happy ending.

Unfinished Portrait

This, in Opera News online, on the loss of bass-baritone Robert Samels, who would've been with us this summer. Cited here:

The most haunting of the likenesses we have of Mozart is the portrait of the composer done by his brother-in-law, Joseph Lange, whose wife, Aloysia, was the elder sister of Mozart’s bride, Constanze Weber. Lange’s relationship with Mozart must have been a complicated one — before their marriages, Aloysia Weber Lange and the composer had been briefly and feverishly “involved,” to use a modern euphemism — but Lange painted his brother-in-law almost tenderly, with the young Mozart’s eyes communicating an extraordinary depth of expression. As the painting is incomplete, the bottom of its canvas left blank, it is not only a picture of the man but a metaphor for his cruelly shortened life. Mozart, whose 250th birthday year we celebrate in 2006, was only thirty-five when he died, in early December 1791. The world’s admiration for Mozart is tinged with melancholy; one cannot help wondering what glories the composer might have achieved had he lived longer.

Wolf Trap Opera is one of the many American summer festivals celebrating the Mozart anniversary year, but the opening night of its Le Nozze di Figaro, on August 18, will have a special poignance. Robert Samels, the twenty-four-year-old bass-baritone originally cast as Wolf Trap’s Bartolo this summer, was one of five young Indiana University students killed on April 20, when the small plane carrying them home from a community concert rehearsal crashed as it approached the Monroe County airport. Samels, who had created the role of Dr. Gibbs in IU’s world premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town in February of this year, was just beginning a career of great promise, as were the friends and colleagues who died with him: baritone Chris Carducci, twenty-seven, scheduled to cover the role of Don Giovanni at Central City Opera this summer; tenor Garth Eppley, twenty-five, whose roles at IU included Lysander in Colin Graham’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; twenty-four-year-old soprano Georgina Joshi, a Royal College of Music graduate who was Despina in IU’s Così Fan Tutte this past September; and Zachary Novak, also twenty-five, who was due to graduate from IU in early May with a master of music degree in choral conducting.

The deaths of these five artists represent an incalculable loss to their families, friends and fellow students, and it is natural to mourn them and the music that they would have made in the future. But it is a powerful testament to the impact and integrity of these five brief lives that so many have chosen to celebrate them through music. On Sunday, April 23, Eppley and Joshi had been scheduled to join 300 other chorus members in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at IU. That concert was dedicated to them and to Carducci, Novak and Samels, as were several other events this spring on the IU campus and beyond, in the many other communities that the lives of these brilliant young people had touched. Their music continues.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Yes / And

Words to live by. If you've studied improvisation, you will recognize this basic building block. Just accept whatever is thrown at you - by your stage partner, your family, your job, the gods - then say "Yes. And..."

For some people the challenge is "Yes." As someone who never learned to say "No", I find the first part of this equation excruciatingly simple. I say "Yes" with no provocation. A serious character flaw. For me, the revelation is "And"... the power to write the next chapter myself. What a gift!

I digress. We're getting ready to make up operas in the woods for hundreds of children. The toughest audience of all. But the most important. A couple of days ago I received an unsolicited letter from a parent who attended last year's Instant Opera! performances with her son. It was one of the most important messages I've ever received from a patron.

Exactly What Is Instant Opera!?

If you come to the Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods this week, you'll see. If you don't live near Wolf Trap, and you're curious about how this works, read on.

PART ONE: Background

Each one of our four singers introduces her/himself, gives examples of the kinds of characters s/he plays in operas, then offers up two contrasting aria excerpts (about 20 seconds each, in original language). The kids get to vote for which one of the two arias (the "happy" one, the "mad" one, the "sad" one, etc.) they want to hear in their opera.

During the introductions, the singers introduce the audience to some basic opera concepts - bravo/brava/bravi, an aria is the same as a song, and opera often isn't sung in English (but that's OK!). We even place a fast food order using recitative.

PART TWO: Set-up

Using a Mad Libs format, the cast takes story ideas from the audience.

The formula:
Once upon a time in a _______ (location), there was a ________ (character) and ________ (another character). Every day they would __________ (action), until _________ (a new character) came along and _________ (action).

The audience then votes on a "happy" or "sad" ending, and the cast gets 3 minutes offstage to come up with a game plan. During their deliberations, I take the stage to get suggestions for a title for the opera, play two overture samples for the audience to choose from, and lead a silly audience participation game involving violins, trumpets, and timpani.


After the abbreviated chosen overture, we launch into recitative. The cast makes up the story and delivers it via recitative. I accompany them on the piano, and we try to stay in the same key as we wander through the circle of fifths. Whenever I sense an aria coming on, I launch into the introduction. With any luck, I've guessed correctly.

The aria excerpts (about a minute each) are sung in original language, and are used as placeholders and magnifiers for emotions and situations. The arias are sung in original language, and the actual text doesn't usually apply to our new opera. But it's a great exercise in plumbing the infinite spectrum of expression available in a single aria, and the kids respond directly to the emotional content of the music.

Somehow, in about 20 minutes, we get to the end of the prescribed Mad Lib story, each one of the four singers has worked in his/her aria, and we top it all off with a finale ("happy" = Traviata brindisi: "sad" = Butterfly Humming Chorus.)

I have no idea how this actually works, but it does.

Today's invited dress rehearsal resulted in:

Mickey's Missing Tooth: Once upon a time in a dungeon, Jessica Simpson and Mickey Mouse brushed their teeth every day until the tooth fairy came along to pull a tooth."
Little Miss Oprah: Once upon a time in a spaceship, Oprah and Superman ate ice cream every day until a spider came along and scared them."

Happy Independence Day. Look for a report from the woods on Wednesday!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Talk To Us

Tell us what you think. Wolf Trap Opera Company's 2006 patron survey is now online. Our administrative intern developed the questionnaire, and she'll be compiling results and filing a report as part of an internship project for her Music and Public Policy major.

Click here to open the survey. Your comments may find your way back to us via email (, fax (703-255-1896) or snail mail (WTOC - Opera Survey, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna VA 22182).

Over The Hump!

Tomorrow is Hump Day! Seven weeks down, seven to go...

The Independence Day weekend is always tough. Maybe it's because we're at our busiest part of the summer - four projects in various stages of rehearsal at once. Or maybe we're just cranky because it seems everyone else is having cookouts at the beach. I think our low point was in 2003 when we resigned ourself to the fact that the orchestra music for Dardanus was simply not going to materialize in time, and literally started manufacturing all of the parts ourselves.

Care and Feeding of the Professional Voice

Otolaryngologist Jack Williams and voice therapist Susan Miller visited us on Thursday to offer an informative, fascinating, entertaining, occasionally sobering seminar on taking care of the singer's most precious possession. I learned quite a few things, and I've been working with singers for decades. With Jack and Susan's permission we made a video of the presentation, and the plan is to make portions of it available on the internet. Exactly how and when is still TBD, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's autumn before we have time to deal with it. But stay tuned.


When soliciting aria choices for last weekend's donor concert, I sent out an email to all of our singers. I received four replies almost immediately. And they were all from tenors. Prompt, responsive, thoughtful… TENORS! Who knew? (One of the mezzos reminded me that they were probably just all racing one another to claim their favorite arias.)

A few weeks ago I planned an early-Monday-morning run to an unnamed big-box warehouse store to pick up food for a company picnic. Our Orpheus stage managers volunteered to accompany me. (Shopping!! Woo-hoo!!) But, as luck would have it, we learned late the night before that the chorus had to be notified early on Monday about additional costume fittings. We walked into the store, and they immediately opened their cell phones and pulled out their clipboards. Only stage managers.... As I was capturing the moment, a large intimidating store manager threatened to confiscate my camera, for (who knew??) taking photos is verboten in his store. Maybe I looked like a spy for Sam's Club...

Ariel and Sponge Bob in the Library...

Rehearsals in full swing for Instant Opera! Performances this week at Wolf Trap's Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods. Field trip last night to the Comedy Spot in Arlington. Much more in my next post.