This past Sunday was the annual high school showcase. This year I had decided to focus primarily on my juniors and seniors and go with more of a cabaret format. I wound up including a few sophomores after all but we still kept the program at 20 people total, which allowed us to go with a more intimate format and not have to pad the program in order to include everyone in enough numbers to warrant their recital fee.
It went really, really well. I wasn’t overwhelmed the way I was last year but I don’t think it was because of the performances. It was because the rep I chose was good, solid music that was entertaining and pleasant. We didn’t have “The ballad of Sweeney Todd” or the final chorus of Dialogues of the Carmelites (aka “The dead nuns’ chorus”) or any soaring opera arias, because that wasn’t the kind of show we did this year. We did a show that focused on American composers and allowed the singers to just sing without worrying too much about staging. There was some staging because we had to have some pretty pictures up there, but it was very simple and specific and consequently, very effective.
On Wednesday night, I sang with the newly formed “Trio con Brio” at the Italian Community Center. We did a 2-1/2 hour program (!!!!) of arias and show tunes. The soprano was Wendelin Lockett, the mezzo was ME, and the bass was Tom Weis, with whom I worked in Cosi 10 years ago. We were supported by the amazing Amanda Carnahan on piano – a lovely young woman who is doing her masters in the collaborative piano program at UWM. (Collaborative piano is the preferred term these days instead of “accompanying,” which relegates the pianist to a subordinate position instead of being an equal partner – which is what the pianist should be.) I definitely want to work with Amanda more often – perhaps on future studio recitals when Ryan is not available?
The program was great – it was wonderful to sing with 3 fantastic people who were not only fun to work with (which I knew would be the case going in) but with whom I could make some really beautiful music. We all blended well with each other and we were able to stimulate each other to make wonderful interpretive choices. The audience was small but enthusiastic and stayed for the entire show (which did include a 20 minute intermission). We have another show tentatively scheduled for August 8 on the Delafield Summerstage program, and I got a name from a friend of a contact to call for a high-end retirement community.
As far my performance – I still have issues with using reading glasses for ensemble numbers, which we chose not to memorize, at least not for this initial performance. I find it very difficult to emote wearing glasses. I memorized my solos although “I can cook” tripped me up at rehearsal (who’d have thought that not having sung a song for 10+ years would result in my forgetting the words?). So I typed up the words in a big font so that I wouldn’t have to wear the reading glasses. I did the same thing for our closing number, “Together wherever we go,” since I didn’t really need the music for that number. I may do that for the future, at least for a few pieces. I think I might look into progressive contact lenses later this year – like my glasses, which allow me to read and drive and function without having to change glasses. I think the time has passed for me to do Lasik – because I would STILL need to use reading glasses (unless they’ve developed a Lasik format that corrects presbyopia). Aging doth suck.
I’m on a break post-recital – I feel inspired to return to teaching and performing next week – and to start learning some new rep for myself!