Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Retirement

Last night's performance of L'Italiana was great fun, with our Mustafa closer to healthy and very able to sing. The audience last night was especially appreciative and relaxed, and they seemed to greatly enjoy the show's inane silliness and zany antics with hearty laughs and applause.

Looking ahead to next weekend, in which I will sing my final performances of Lindoro here (I leave before the last performance to do the Marlboro Tour – a very talented young tenor from the Opera Studio here will take over for me for that final show of the run), I feel a bit mixed. While I am looking forward to the prospect of going home and reuniting with Marlboro friends, I feel a little wistful about saying goodbye to Lindoro.

As this project as approached since it was proposed since last year, I have given a lot of thought my future with Lindoro and how well are matched. Seven years ago, a very influential manager advised me to take a look at Lindoro's first aria, Languir per una bella, and suggested that it might be a good aria to add to my audition list and an important role for me to consider. Being the eager singer, I went and dug the aria (which is the very first music sung by Lindoro in the entire evening, lasts about 6 and half minutes, and contains more than 20 high b-flats, at least 3 high C's, and pages of fioratura) out of the HGO library and promptly took it to the practice room. So began my very fraught relationship with Lindoro, the single-most difficult role in my entire operatic repertoire.

Seven years later, next weekend will mark my 20th and 21st performances of Lindoro, making him the role that I have performed the most to date in my career. This is a bit of a pleasant paradox, as I have countless times struggled in the practice room, in coachings and in lessons, questioning whether he was a good role for me. Because of the struggles I have had in learning how to sing this music, some of these performances have been the most rewarding ones I can think of. Every single time I have stepped into his shoes, I am able to count some step forward, some knowledge gained that feels victorious as I have ascended another level, no matter how small, on this musical mountain that has been the greatest vocal challenge I have ever encountered.

What has always hovered in the back of my mind is the fact that since his music is the most difficult in my operatic repertoire, that also means that he is also on the edge of my operatic repertoire. Being on the edge, I always have known that he would either become more comfortable as my voice grew towards him or he would begin to become more difficult as my voice grew towards other things. As I have prepared over the past 6 or 7 months for this, reviewing his music and slowly breaking down his most challenging passages, I have discovered that the latter has happened. While other things have become easier, like singing Bach, Handel, Mozart, and roles like Fenton, Lindoro has grown more challenging and taxing. And while I feel these performances are among some of the best I have ever given of his music, I can sense that it is time for us to part ways. I've had a lot of debate about this with my teacher and coaches as well as my own inner debate, and, like any break-up, this has not been an easy decision to reach. But it is time, and after our 21st time on stage together, we will bid each other farewell.

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