Monday, March 28, 2011

Seasons at War & an Elephant

Morning. Staring blindly at the ceiling fan above the bed. "It's 9:30 already?" Roll over.


Ugh, it's 10:30! "What an unforgiving sleep."

Shower. Get dressed.  "I know I have some clean clothes somewhere." Struggle down the stairs.  Make coffee.  Sit.  Answer emails.  The coffee is ready.  Pour a cup.  Waddle down the hall.  Turn a cold door knob.  Drink a sip.  Press a frozen screen door handle.  And...

Whoosh! "Ha, ha", belted the froren, brumal tongue of the air.  My zombie state was lifting with every sip of my coffee.  My mind's eye awakening, a mental cataract curing to see a new day of ashen sky.  Now looking about from my back patio, the world is sunken, all life drooped in mourning from snow melt.  The grass, the drab apartments, the asphalt parking lot below seem to cry from defeat.  No bird calls, no kids playing soccer. Slam! "Here I am - my fury, my teeth - biting!", cried Winter. I hurry back inside, closing the doors behind me.

My coffee brings the only solace to a new reality.  The zealous hellion, Winter, invades.  A last stand perhaps, but a fight I cannot conquer and one that the weakest of the seasons cannot overcome.  And the saddest truth pervades - a frigid Spring Break has begun.

* * *

It seems like I have very little luck with Spring.  I finish a production, feeling like I have a phantom limb.  I want to be outside, have fun, golf, see the sun for once!!  Music keeps me inside all too often.  Thank you Winter for helping me appreciate the good days by giving me depressing ones.  And when that sunny day comes, I will likely be depressed knowing that I could never take full advantage of a perfect day.  Kansas is the rudest of places for Spring.  Summer arrives shortly after Winter.  I hope Spring doesn't pass me by.

* * *

As for the time being, it appears like I will be plenty busy.  I have added many new performance opportunities to my schedule.  I will be performing the role of "The Believer" in a production of Handel's Passion of the Christ.  I am particularly happy to be part of this because there are several incredibly talented singers in the group performing this.  And I will be performing the National Anthem and the UMKC Alma Mater at eight commencement ceremonies at UMKC!  I don't remember singing the National Anthem at so many events.  I am also singing it at a Kansas City Royals game, Sporting KC game, and at the US Department of Energy's Small Business Conference.  I feel very patriotic - but not so much that I would go crazy like Christina Aguilera.

In other news, I still haven't heard from the Lyric Opera of Kansas City regarding my audition.  I hope to hear at least something, sometime.  Waiting is by far the hardest part of my life...perhaps I drink too much coffee, but I am very pragmatic and like a small town boy who doesn't know any better, I think that my hard work will get me somewhere.  I am very proud of my work ethic, but I know the world is a very complicated place.    There is much more to gain than just a good work ethic.  One of the biggest compliments that I have ever received was, "you sang very intelligently".  As odd as that sounds, that means much more to me than most anything.  The person who said it is very, very intelligent as well, which was most meaningful to me.  I hope as listeners of music, we all can value intelligence just as much as most value hard work, talent, and having fun.

I saw the movie "Limitless" last night.  It is not very good, but it's about a guy who takes a pill that lets him access his whole mind.  This makes him virtually limitless.  He becomes very successful, but when he runs out of pills, the hangover begins to kill him - and he becomes incapable of doing anything.  Reminds me a lot about coffee...

I thought the movie would be good, but I was dead wrong.  I may also be wrong about this next new opera review, but I doubt it.  The opera is called Light and Power by Isaac Schankler and is premiering in Boston on May 17.  It is about Thomas Edison and Nicolas Tesla and the discovery and inventions involving electricity in their time.   The only saving grace is that at one point they fail to electrocute a prisoner in an electric chair and they somehow incorporated the experiment with Topsy the Elephant - you can watch below:  (please don't watch this if you are squeamish or love elephants.  You should also know that Topsy was a deranged elephant that killed three people and was deemed a threat to people at the time - 1903.)

Ok, perhaps they could stage that pretty creatively.  Maybe the elephant sings?  But in all seriousness, even I don't want to hear arias about AC and DC currents, a chorus number about transformers, or any opera where the climax of the libretto happens to be about mercury arc valve rectifier stations.  As for the rating, there is probably a great chance that I would laugh through the whole opera, but really, there is no hope for Light and Power.  This one receives the lowest score possible:

1 Susan Boyle
(Sometimes judging a book by its cover is commendable)

Finally, I would just like to admit to a new low in tenorism.  If you remember back on President's Day, I forgot that I didn't have school.  I sank to a new low.  I thought my spring break was last week - only to find out that I have spring break this week.  I did find out soon enough and went to class last week, but it was pretty embarrassing.  And so goes Bryan's adventures in tenordom.

  • The Believer in The Passion of the Christ by Handel - 10:45am St. John's United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO - 4/10
  • World Premiere - "Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day" by Betty Liang - 5pm, Grant Recital Hall, Kansas City, MO - 4/17
  • National Anthem - Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Indians - 4/18
  • Conservatory Finale  - Poulenc Gloria (probably on my top 10 favorite pieces ever) featuring the Conservatory Choirs and Orchestra - 4/23
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Nursing Commencement - 5pm 5/5
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Computer & Engineering - 10am 5/6
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Arts & Sciences - 1pm & 4pm 5/6
  • National Anthem - Bloch School of Business and Public Administration - 7pm 5/6
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Education - 10am 5/7
  • National Anthem - UMKC School of Pharmacy - 1pm 5/7
  • National Anthem - Kansas City School of Dentistry - 7pm 5/7
  • National Anthem - DOE Small Business Conference & Expo - Kansas City Convention Center - 5/10
  • Administrative Director of the 33rd Annual Summer Choral Institute - 6/5-11
  • National Anthem - Sporting KC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - 6/25
  • Sugar Creek Opera Festival (Chicago) - role: chorus/cover, opera: Daughter of the Regiment - 7/20-8/7
  • Kansas City Symphony Chorus Auditions - tba


  1. Stumbled upon your blog. Curious how you review an opera that hasn't been performed yet? The subject matter is definitely different, but, as a performer yourself, I'm surprised at the caustic remarks.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    I am sorry if my sarcasm was offensive. In the previous post, I explain that the new opera reviews are purely based on my excitement. They are intended to be a prejudiced, carnal review of what I expect for new operas. Since I cannot see the opera before it premiers (generally speaking) I can only use what little information is provided on the new opera and my own intuition on whether it will succeed in perpetuity.

    Even though I may not be excited, many who read this blog will be intrigued by the odd subject matter. I write about new productions only to give more attention to them. Even though it is completely biased, it is harmlessly acrimonious. Do not be surprised, that as a performer I have certain preferences in opera - just as I would for movies, food, clothes, etc. And just as you find apt notion to critique my critique, I welcome that and hope only that more people would entertain their mind and encourage themselves to be passionate, opinionated, expressive, and creative.

  3. Thanks for the reply. While I am not a musician myself (nor do I know much about opera), I've found that musicians are generally very supportive of one another's efforts. I suspect that opera struggles to maintain and generate a following these days. Hence, what you could have said is that, while the subject matter is unusual and I have my doubts, it will be intriguing to see how the composer and librettist handle the subject matter. There are tragic elements in this story. Perhaps that will be the hook, as opposed to a lesson in the history of science.

  4. BRYAN. Im so glad you put in something about coffee AND limitless. My thoughts exactly...although I would have said something like "I saw the movie Limitless last night with my bestie Leonard....he and I both though that it sucked. MAJORLY"

    Just thought I would throw that bit of editing in there. Also...I can't believe that someone other than Myself AND your family read your blog LOL! I kid...i KID.

  5. Oh my...thanks Jay (I think?). I'll make sure to be more blunt tomorrow and I'll try to include you more often...I expect that I'll be in a cranky mood because I'll have to wake up early. (I feel like I'm talking to my wife) I am still embarrassed that I picked such a bad movie to watch too. Let me know if you want to see another movie next weekend!


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