Sunday, April 15, 2012

All Hail Anthony Bourdain!

Weekly, I join the blogosphere with a somewhat small-minded, blunt, and hopefully insightful perspective on my life through music.  Of course, I have moments of success and failure and I have shared that, unabashedly, with the world.  But over time, I have wondered why I have a fascination to do so (or why I torture myself through so much rejection).  I love to travel and I love to eat and I love music - it's an uncontrollable passion.  My passion takes me all over the place and I have had many incredible experiences.   Unfortunately, this habit has given me much criticism (especially among Susan Boyle fans) but I hope that my passion in "cultivated music" has sparked some passion in others.

Over the past couple of years, I have slowly and ego-maniacally wanted myself to become a smaller-than-life music version of Anthony Bourdain.  Tony, if you don't already know, has a show "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel.  He is a very blunt, funny, and well renown chef.  His fame rose years ago with a book "Kitchen Confidential" where he exposed the nastiness of the culinary world.  Of course he made enemies, but he is very well respected and IMMENSELY entertaining.  Every Monday, his show features a different location in the world, showing its beauty, history, and brusquely describes his like/hatred for its food and culture.

This Monday, Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" will be showcasing my home of Kansas City!  He filmed last December, and by all accounts, he is on a BBQ rampage through the city with the Black Keys among others.  He also goes to the Chiefs/Packers game and tailgates with his hilariously drunk Russian pal Zamir.  I was so excited to hear about this - whether he has great or horrible things to say about KC, he is bound to have a good time since Zamir came along.  Plus, Kansas City is undergoing a renaissance; whatever you think you know about it, this is the Golden Age for our town - of course the jazz era was great, but the city is alive and new and exciting.

I have the greatest respect for Tony, and I hope to one day get his opinion on opera - and not just any opera, but an excruciatingly long Wagner opera.  I bet it's not as bad as he thinks; as long as they have a wet bar during intermission, he's sure to love the loud music - he's a 70s hard rock fan, so Wagner isn't too far away if you consider that the Helden tenors will essentially be yelling for 4 hours straight.

I hope you take the time to watch my best-friend-I've-never-met, Anthony Bourdain, visit KC this Monday night on the Travel Channel.

Anthony Bourdain with the Black Keys in KC

This week, I had two amazing experiences.  First, I was a soloist in a production of The Little Match Girl Passion.  It really was one of the most amazing experiences because it was held in the cold and modern surroundings of the Modern Art galleries of the Nelson Atkins Museum.

The piece was brilliantly stark and beautiful.  A modern piece, that was post-minimalist with little dynamic contrast, caused several people to bawl at the conclusion.  The piece mourns the loss of a girl who tries to keep herself warm by striking matches until she freezes to death.  It is really amazing to me; a piece no one in the audience had any prior connection to, a piece that was so different than anything they've heard before, caused so much grief that people cried by its conclusion.

I must correct the reviewer however.  The tenors, were not singing in falsetto, but in sotto voce - an airy/thin version of the real voice.  It was certainly one of the most technically difficult pieces I have ever undertaken.  I hope to have a recording sometime to share with you all, but until then, here's another recording on youtube.

Then on Friday, I sang two Bach cantatas for the monthly "Bach's Lunch" concert at the Conservatory where a packed house of musicians can bring their lunch and eat while they listen to a live performance of a Bach cantata.  I had a particularly difficult aria and I nailed it!  I really don't allow myself to be proud of what I do too often (publicly that is) - but this was one of the times that I truly was proud, whether anyone else knew that or not.  It also was immensely difficult because it is very high and virtuosic; much of the tenor line in the preceding chorale was so high that it could be an alto part, so I was way up there.  If anything, these Bach performances are giving me the spark to jump into the professional Bach world.

Next year, I will be singing the tenor soloist for the Bach B Minor Mass at the Kauffman Center on April 28, 2013 (my birthday) with the Village Choir, Te Deum Chamber Choir, and Kansas City Baroque Consortium, and I will be singing the Evangelist for Bach's St. John Passion.  Both are huge opportunities for me and I am so excited to be a part of it.  Bach is a new world for me and it completely fills my musical soul.  

Mozart, on the other hand, is my enemy at the moment.  I feel trapped singing in the classical style in that it inhibits my emotions and musicality - the baroque is completely free of that for me, and I feel free to be myself with Bach.  Mozart, it's not you, it's me...we need some time away from each other - I need to try new things, and not be tied down right now with perfection.

Also new this week, I was asked to be the tenor soloist for Washburn University's production of Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass.  It will be held at 7:30 on Friday May, 4 at White Recital Hall in Topeka, KS.  I was very honored to be asked - it was out of the blue - and it should be a wonderful experience.

And, I was asked to make a recording with the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers at the end of May.  I am very excited and honored to sing with them.  Simon Carrington is one of the world's most respected and renown conductors.


The World Premiere Opera Review for this week is:

Waiting for Miss Monroe
by Robin De Raaff

OK, so Robin De Raaff isn't the most beautiful person in the world.

But that doesn't mean he can't make a beautiful composition about a beautiful person, right?  As you may have guessed, Waiting for Miss Monroe is about the lost memoirs of Marilyn Monroe.  It is being premiered in the Netherlands, but it is one of the most shocking opera librettos I've read of in a long time.  Essentially it is Marilyn Monroe's own words set to describe her secret inner turmoil leading to her suicide.


As if the warning didn't already put them into your mind, these are quotes from the libretto - Marilyn saying all of the following:
"I stood naked in front of my full length mirrors for a long time yesterday. I was all made up with my hair done. What did I see? My breasts are beginning to sag a bit. ... My waist isn't bad. My ass is what it should be, the best there is. Legs, knees and ankles still shapely. And my feet are not too big. OK, Marilyn, you have it all there. It is decision time."
OK, not too bad yet...
"Mae says her enemas and orgasms will keep her young until she is 100. I hope she makes it."
WOAH!  Essentially, it appears as if it will be a conspiracy theory invoking show in that Marilyn tells her therapist that she dumped all her pills down the toilet in the days before her death, leaving the possibility open for a possible murder.  But within her therapy sessions, she discusses all kinds of issues including her sexual affairs with, believe it or not, Joan Crawford - also included are JFK, and as to RFK she says:
"Well when he starts having sex with the body all men want, his Catholic morality has to find a way to justify cheating on his wife."
Since the libretto (plot and text) of an opera is arguably the most important part, and with a story as complex and, for lack of a better word, as juicy as this, I have to give this opera a good rating.

One Pav

I can't imagine how awkward it would be to perform one of these arias at an audition, but as long as you look the part (and not like the composer) you'd certainly get someone's attention.


Pay attention to this blog as we begin our Annual KCVI Celebrity Auction on Ebay this week!

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