Happy 99th Birthday, Ned Rorem!
(And doing a bit of catching up)
I am a couple of days late with this birthday wish – but I was having a problem with WordPress yesterday.
When I was in undergrad, I had to write a paper for theory that linked a composer with an artist in a different field. I chose Ned Rorem for the composer, and playwright Tennessee Williams. i was working on a piece of Rorem’s for my junior recital, and Williams is my favorite playwright.
It made it easier because Rorem is also a writer, and I was able to draw upon his own words from his New York Diary and his Paris Diary, both of which I found in the library (the Milwaukee Public Library or the Alverno Library? I don’t recall). I remember finding the diaries fascinating, and rather scandalous, because he was very open about his sexuality – as was Tennessee Williams. Did I compare them only because they were gay (and that was exotic to me at the time because no one was out) or because there were some artistic similarities? I don’t recall. I do remember my teacher, Jim Pease, asking me that and my saying, “Of course not!”
If I had waited another 15 years for his Nantucket Diary, I could’ve justified my choice by this quote alone:
“I have been in bed with four Time covers: Lenny Bernstein, Tennessee Williams, Noel Coward, and John Cheever.”
I wish I still had the paper – I have some of my college papers and am pleasantly surprised at how well written they were, but not this one. And now I want to delve more deeply into both of their works and write a more thorough analysis. Perhaps another day. Maybe in time for his 100th birthday, next year.
Rorem wrote over 500 songs – Susan Graham recorded 32 of them. Here’s a playlist of all of them – which do you like? I love Lordly Hudson (which received an award for the Best Published Song of 1948 – when he was not even 25), Early in the Morning, and I love singing his Psalm 140 (not on this recording) for church gigs/auditions. But there are so many.
I meant to write about World Opera Day yesterday as well (BTW, Rorem wrote only two full-length operas, Miss Julie in 1965 and Our Town in 2006), but, again, WordPress issues. Plus Canva seemed to have had a hiccup and lost all my graphics (temporarily). So I wrote about that on instagram and my studio FB page, along with a list of the 92 productions I’ve been in (sorted by companies, not chronologically) and 20 pictures. There are more. Maybe next year.
I am doing an opera with WNO that opens this week – Elektra. Backstage chorus, one word, repeated 13x. I call that kind of gig “burps.” It’s actually harder than you think – yes, I “burp” 13 times, but each one is different. Some are short, some are long. And even though we’re backstage, we’re still off book.
We had a chapter meeting for MDDC NATS this past Sunday, and I wrote a report for it on the NATS Conference in Chicago this past July. I had intended to post takeaways from that experience here, but since the biggest takeaway I had to deal with when I got home was COVID, I didn’t quite get to it. But the report has given me some structure from which to expand, so hopefully I will get back on my blogging schedule. I’m particularly excited to share my takeaways from the Laban session.
My biggest priority right now is…. I’m writing a book!
The topic is one that’s dear to my heart, and something I’ve talked about doing for awhile. Right now I’m compiling the info, creating an outline, and jotting down notes. I’m trying to decide if it should be an e-book or a physical book (or both), and if I should self-publish or find a publisher. More information when I feel ready to share it. My hope is to have it finished before my April/May vacation (which we’re also still planning).
With this in in mind, I probably am going to wait till the new year to decide on where the studio is going in terms of recruitment. My hand is better, although I still can’t fully bend my thumb, and my vocal stamina is coming back. (Very glad for the light load in Elektra!) I anticipate another 6-8 weeks of physical therapy, and I’m swearing by my VocalMist™ nebulizer that I purchased a few weeks ago. Perhaps I need this time to regroup and change direction. Plus I’m very involved with programming for MDDC NATS, and I have a few exciting announcements about that as well.
I’m also considering a name change to this blog, which I will debut in December.
Till… hopefully … next Tuesday.