Since resigning my post as the organist and choirmaster for an Episcopal church, I’ve been singing for mere pleasure. But lately (maybe because I have more time for self-reflection) I’m noticing a couple of troubling things about my voice. After practices lasting more than two hours, I sound half an octave higher when I speak. That can’t be good. I must be tense.
The other issue is my ability to sustain a phrase. I run out of breath too quickly.
I’m solid with soul, swing, folk, funk, country, cajun, bop, bluegrass, reggae, r & b, dixieland, doo-wop and so on. But a while back I figured I could expand my tastes a bit more so I made an effort to try to appreciate classical music – beyond Copland and Philip Glass (if he even counts). Opera seemed like an even bigger leap but Renee Fleming keeps tapping me on the shoulder. Maybe it’s the idea that once you stop looking for something, you find it.
This morning’s Democrat and Chronicle reported that Sweden’s King Gustaf has awarded the 2008 Polar Music Prize to Rochester native Renée Fleming. You have the opportunity to see and hear Renée on the Big Screen in the very first Metropolitan Opera Live in HD theatre presentation on Monday September 22, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday I went to see the Met at the Movies, a live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera projected in high-definition in an Upstate New York movie theater. It was my first time watching opera in my jeans and sneakers, and I was extremely curious to see Franco Zeffirelli’s famous production of Puccini’s La Boheme.
Earlier in the week, when I’d gotten two tickets, I couldn’t find a date. Everyone was busy, and the one dyed-in-the-wool opera fan in my family, my dad, had to work. I tried to convince one of my kids to go.
“You mean,” echoed my nine-year old son in faint disbelief, “they sing the WHOLE TIME?!”
On another operatic note, Bryant Manning, a music stringer at the Chicago Sun-Times and Time Out Chicago sent an e-mail to the NEA Fellows I met in New York last month. He writes:
“Yesterday I interviewed the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and
he voluntarily brought up Renee Fleming. When we were in NY, Ms.
Fleming was lambasted by some as a terrible and overrated singer. So
for entertainment purposes, I thought *some* of you might be surprised
he said this: