Monday, September 4, 2006


We've finished our first week in Union, and the festival continues to go well. One of my favorite parts of participating in music festivals as opposed to individual productions is the opportunity to go to lots of great concerts given by friends and colleagues. This particular festival has lots of creative programming, and this week I've heard pieces by Dominick Argento, John Cage, Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, Alan Hovahness, and Lee Hoiby, among others, along with lots of Copland. Among my favorites this week has been the performances of two 1-person chamber operas. The first, Lee Hoiby's Bon Appetit! is written for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra, and is taken almost verbatim from an episode of Julia Child's tv show, where she's making a chocolate cake. It's hilarious, and definitely a role I'd love to do someday. It may be at least a couple of years before I'd make a believable Julia Child, though. The second, Dominick Argento's A Waterbird Talk, is based on a story by Anton Chekhov, and is written for solo baritone and chamber orchestra. A man is giving a talk on waterbirds in his living room, and over the course of the talk we gain insights in to his life, specifically his relationship with his verbally abusive wife. Baritone Robert Orth has been here performing, and I've so enjoyed getting to know him and watching him onstage. His performance is hysterically funny and completely heart-wrenching at the same time. He's totally captivating onstage, and it's wonderful to get to watch someone like that in such an intimate setting (the hall seats about 80 people). I feel like I'm learning a lot everytime I see him. The festival kicked off with a vocal recital by the two opera artists, and he delivered the funniest rendition of Copland's I Bought Me a Cat that I've ever seen. In addition, he's kept us entertained at meals all week (a read of his dark bio will give you some insight in to his sense of humor).

We get a few days off now until next weekend's concerts start, so I'm headed home to relax -- lots has been happening this week, both at the festival and in the rest of life, and I'm exhausted. A visit home to see my husband and kitty will definitely do me good. :)


ACB said...

Sounds like you are having an amazing summer, MP!!! I'm so excited for you. Send me an email and dish on those new gigs!!

I'm in Independence, MO, about to get back on the road. Hope to make it to Nashville tonight.

Can't wait to see you in my new hometown!

Pattyoboe said...

I did Waterbird Talk with Orth a few years back. He's fantastic!

I envy you your festival!