Vipers vs Verdi
After my weekend immersion in Verdi with LA TRAVIATA, it might be good to “cleanse my palate” with some pure cultural junk.
I’m thinkin’ the 1976 made-for-TV-when-made-for-TV-was-NOT-a-recommendation “piéce de reptilian”; RATTLERS might be just the ticket.
We’re talkin’ ludicrously poor child acting getting killed by the critics and the chemically-altered snakes in the first scene. This flick’s got nowhere to go but up from here. I can’t wait.
But first, a last few thoughts about LA TRAVIATA…
It was a beautiful production – beautiful to look at and beautiful to hear. It featured evenings of high C’s, crashing curtains (intentional), flying cutlery (intentional), and sexy flamenco dancing (damned intentional).
I have a serious quibble with the second scene.
Yer tellin’ me, Mr. Verdi, that Violetta is gonna give up her bucolic “piéd a terrific” with her lover (with servants, no less) and return to the city to be exploited sexually and subsequently die because her lover’s daddy TELLS her to? This old hippie (look it up if you don’t know the term) is thinkin’ “that dog will NEVER hunt.”
…if there were chemically-altered snakes in the country…
…but even then, I don’t know.
Verdi and an Unexpected Question
Sometimes I find myself in the middle of something wonderful and BAM! It suddenly dawns on me I’m in the middle of something wonderful.
This can often happen in a theatre rehearsal, occasionally several times in one evening.
It’s always jarring, sometimes scary, and always to sought again and again.
One day, it happened at lunch
I attended a preview luncheon for UKOT’s production of Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA.
- Portofino’s served a fine meal – check.
- I got to chat with one of the best actors in the area; Tom Phillips – check.
- The room was packed – check.
- Everett McCorvey gave an update on UKOT’s activities;
- LA TRAVIATA opening next week.
- BOUNCE the basketball opera opening with a world premiere in Lexington in November (opera/basketball/Lexington – talk about the “best of all possible worlds”).
- SHOWBOAT in the spring.
- The opera outreach program has booked two shows (schoolchildren K-8) in over 50 venues throughout the state.
- Singers being recruited to Lexington from all over the planet and accomplished singers and citizens being exported all over the planet. We are infesting the planet with remarkable young people.
- Check, check, check, check, and CHECK!
Then three of those young performers blew the luncheon-ers and the walls of the room away with excerpts from LA TRAVIATA. Thabang Masongo was confident and polished. Jessica Bayne was passionate and vulnerable. Michael Preacely was gigantic and……Michael Preacely!
And the music of Verdi is sublime and emotional and important.
All of these delights and miracles were expected.
What was unexpected was a question from one of my tablemates, a first-time attendee of these luncheons; “Obviously, these singers come to UK with a gift. What does the opera program do to enhance that gift?”
Everett answered with an impressive description of the instruction and coaching that each student receives. Michael spoke of being taught to apply the facts of instruction to the acts of performance. Jessica spoke of the variety of instructors and the nurturing ambiance of the UK opera community.
I thought of two things I have watched Everett instill in students for 26 years.
- “Participation” means more than signing the guest book. It means coming to class/rehearsal/performance having practiced and being prepared to share that practice/improvement immediately and eagerly.
- Our students believe they belong in every room and have a contribution to make in every room. The room may or may not be about them, but they are prepared and confident and competent to make any room better.
And I’m living in the middle of it in my home town.