It’s a big weekend for my hometown and my beloved University of Kentucky.
- The football team won and still has a chance to play for something big.
- Ditto for the basketball teams – male and female.
- Ditto for two singers from our nationally-ranked opera theatre program.
Please notice especially that last item.
The District Auditions for the Metropolitan Opera were held in Lexington this afternoon in a lovely room; the sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church.
I attended. Let me tell you about my day.
This lovely room is located in downtown Lexington, a few doors down from Henry Clay’s law office, a few blocks away from Mary Todd Lincoln’s home, and about two blocks away from Gratz Park (the heart of old Lexington) and the home of Thomas Hunt Morgan, Nobel Prize-winning brilliant Lexingtonian. The room is wood, and stained glass, and wood, and soaring ceilings, and wood, and memories of the funerals of personally-remembered brilliant Lexingtonians, and wood.
Today, it was all that filled with beautiful young singers singing humanity’s most beautiful songs beautifully all afternoon long…for free.
I watched and heard my friend Cynthia Lawrence, Metropolitan Opera star (I don’t believe anyone has sung with Luciano Pavarotti as often as Ms. Lawrence) lead a large audience in a seismic rendition of the National Anthem. Now we can all say we’ve sung at the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.
I watched and heard Jessica Bayne mesmerize the room with her Bellini number.
I watched and heard Taylor Comstock remind everyone of his recent stratospheric performance in LA TRAVIATA.
I watched and heard my friend Thabang Masango simultaneously charm and inspire the room with his Donizetti.
I watched and heard my friend Zachary Morris stir the room with his “New York Lights” from A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE.
I watched and heard Rebecca Farley force me to resist the urge to warn her of her fate if she believed the blandishments of the Duke in RIGOLETTO.
I watched and heard Mary Catherine Wright break the hearts of the male half of the room with her Handel piece.
Some of these singers were proclaimed “winners” by day’s end and will go on to compete in the Regional Auditions in Chicago in January, but the real winners were those of us in the wooden pews of the lovely room to watch and hear.
The ultimate winner is Lexington which, for a while, gets to be home for these remarkable young people as they mature before leaving to populate the planet with singers.