Autumn has been incredibly busy with school and travel. Here are some of the highlights:
It was off to Philadelphia to be present for Alek’s first foray into a bit heavier fach as Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata. It was an excellent production and I thought Alek did a great job. Having sung this role myself, I know about its difficulties vocally, dramatically, and emotionally. It was my first time in the Academy of Music theater, noted as the oldest opera house in the country. I thought the acoustics were fine, the ambience vintage, and the seats (at least mine) very uncomfortable!
The performances happened to coincide with my fall break at VSU, so I had the opportunity to rent a car and drive northwest from Philly and visit my home town of Berwick on the banks of the lovely Susquehanna. After having lunch and walking through the unpretentious downtown district, I visited the graves of my parents. I spent the rest of the time driving around town and snapping some photos of my former residences, all still standing, but some with major renovations. The last time I was in Berwick was twenty-two years ago for my Father’s funeral. I recalled after that visit how much smaller everything seemed since the days of my youth. I had that same feeling again, although the borough has definitely reached the 21st century. It was very nice to visit my old haunts. I’m not sure if I will get back there again.
While in Philadelphia I got to spend quality time with the new love of my life, our first granddaughter, Evangelina (Eva). In mid-October, Eva was just four months old and already a seasoned traveler having undertaken flights to Houston, Leipzig, Germany, Boston, Philadelphia, and then San Francisco! Of course, she is the most gorgeous child on the face of the planet and I couldn’t help trying to figure out a way to put her in my suitcase to bring home with me! Alas, it was not to be!
After some days at home, the next opera trek found us flying off to San Francisco for lots of family festivities! We saw Daniela as Rosina in Rossini’s Barbiere, which is a signature role for her. As expected, she was magnificient and garnered excellent reviews. It was a redo of the same production that she starred in with Alek in a previous season. We had seen photos, but being in the theater was magic!
In San Francisco, we stayed at The Inn at the Opera which was literally right across the street from the War Memorial Opera House. While there, we ran into old friend Maestro Stephen Lord, Music Director for Opera Theater of St. Louis and former colleague of ours back in the 79s at Oberlin. He was in town to conduct a concert and it was great to visit for a fleeting second in the hallway!
The apartment for Alek, Daniela, and Eva was also just a short walk with only one hill (!) and situated above the famous Philz coffee shop (My favorite: Turkish coffee with a mint sprig). Needless to say – lots of walking, but lovely weather. We had pre-ordered a delivery of all the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner and spent the day cooking and revelling. Of course, the center of attention was Eva who had grown by leaps and bounds since Philadelphia.
The next day, Alek made another career debut, this time in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, singing the lyric tenor role of the apprentice, David. I don’t think of Alek as a Wagnerite, but the role is very good for him. Vocally it is fine and the youthful and comic demands play to his strengths. He is the king of “Tweets” on the Twitter thing. He is developing quite a following as he tweets during his off time in rehearsals and performances. Since the performance we saw was on “Black Friday,” his tweet was particularly appropriate: San Francisco Opera Black Friday Sale – Six Hours of Opera for the Price of Three! (Priceless) And true! The curtain was at 6 pm and we left the theater just before midnight! Oh Richard … !
We spent our last day in SF hanging out entirely with Eva, giving Mom and Dad a date night – we were thrilled! They will all be coming to our home for eleven days at Christmas and we are ready and excited!
I’ll stop here because this seems to be turning into my next novel! I have more to relate, but I’ll wait a bit to post – hopefully not another month. Relative to the title of this edition, tomorrow is the last day of classes with voice juries and a final exam on Tuesday, then it’s Vacay time. The lights are up as is the tree! There’s more to do, but there’s a lot of joy on the way! I’ll probably speak to you before then, so enjoy the holiday season. Meanwhile, I’ll see you online! -JAS