I saw a production of The Last Five Years in Wamego, KS last week. First of all, the cast did very well, and I love seeing a small company in Kansas do modern musical theater productions. In my humble opinion (and experience mind you - for those who want to fight with me in an email), many of the acclaimed new musical theater productions have much more interesting plots than the "golden oldies" of yesteryear. They are more real and involve real life emotional conflict, much less corny and melodramatic. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of awful musicals (Cats) that aren't ancient, but I am just generally speaking. This musical is no exception, it is incredibly depressing (in a good way). It tells of a newly married couple who separates after five years. The perspective of the husband (a writer) is sung starting from year 1 to year 5 and the wife's perspective (a singer) starts at year 5 and ends at year 1. The entire thing is a bunch of solos, with one duet at the convergence of their time lines. Above was my favorite part, a lighter moment, when the woman sings a song about what she is thinking when she auditions. It is completely true in many ways!
In a related comment, I golfed with the male lead of this show on Friday. He shot the worst 9 holes I have ever seen anyone shoot. He chipped-in for a 16 on the first hole, shot 108 for only 9 holes!
In opera news this week, congrats to Juan Diego Florez - one of the world's most famous tenors. He and his wife, had a baby only thirty minutes before he sang the leading role at the Metropolitan Opera's production of Le Comte Ory this past weekend. The production was broadcast live across the world in movie theaters. For opera singers, this is the biggest stage in the world - at the Met for the live broadcast - and to do it without three days sleep and just minutes after becoming a father is quite incredible.
Next week will be pretty busy for me, and I will be recording what I will be doing to turn into a video blog in a couple of weeks - and for internet newbies out there, that's called a vlog. I will be premiering a new piece of music from a composition student for their recital. New music is one of my "specialties". Education is REALLY important when it comes to most new music because of how difficult it is (nothing sounds familiar - instead it's kind of random). Then, I will be singing the National Anthem at a Royal's game and on Easter Eve I will be singing a one measure solo in the Conservatory Finale concert as we perform Poulenc's Gloria.
I finally heard from the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. They are going to let people know about their casting at the end of April. Hopefully I will hear something good, but really I try not to think about it. Just like the first video, it's pretty easy to go crazy if you think too much about things.
This week's new opera review will cover an opera by Michael Ching and will be premiering at Center City Opera in Philadelphia. It is called Slaying the Dragon. Based on the book Not by the Sword by Katheryn Watterson, it's a story about repenting, forgiving, and change. It's based on a true story of how Larry Trapp, the Grand Dragon of the Nebraska Ku Klux Klan in the early 1990s, transformed into a compassionate person, denouncing hate groups, and became a Jewish Rabbi.
The opera chronicles how he was abused as a child, lived in an orphanage, went from the KKK to Judaism, and how he reconciled his past by promoting tolerance before his death from diabetes. It is set in Lincoln, Nebraska, a place that I have been to many times. I feel like I understand this part of the country very well. The midwest is filled with incredibly loving and generous people, but there are small undercurrents of intolerance as well just like anywhere in the world. Some people who live in this part of the country turn a blind eye to it, but for many it effects how they live, interact, politicize, and worship.
Generally individuals tend to keep their thoughts to themselves out here, which makes the world a simple and polite place. This can be a problem for people who "break the mold" and are different. I was protected from these problems growing up until I came to college. In college, unaware of extreme thinkers, I was recruited by a Christian group that preached extreme prejudices and thought that tolerance was "of the devil". Their extremism was not like the KKK in any way, but it still scars me today - I feel like I have damaged the world somehow. I still feel completely ashamed.
When I left the group six years ago, I left many of my "friends" at the time and it was pretty traumatizing (but a relief as well). Since then, I have learned the importance of living genuinely and thoughtfully. I have learned how fragile my mind is, how easily it can be biased. It has challenged my thoughts on religion and what actually is virtuous in this world. And equally as important is that I have learned just how essential education is. (It is incredible that an opera that I have never seen would invoke so much pain and thought in my own life!)
As for the rating - on a scale of Two Pav Hankies to a Susan Boyle, this opera gets:
One Pav Hankie
(The content is awesome, but it will remind me of Nebraska - yuck!)
Last week's performance of Handel's Passion of the Christ went very well. I had several solos in it and sang with two of the best tenors that I know of in this part of the country. I will likely never forget it, maybe because of a certain optional high C sharp. If you give a mouse (tenor) a cookie (high c sharp)...
And on a final and completely unrelated note, I have an odd problem in that I am still getting taller. I am almost 26 and have an embarrassing problem in that most of my pants are becoming a little too short. I was 5'10" for quite a while, but now I have passed the 5'11" mark.
UPCOMING PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
- 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