All good things have an ending, but all endings have a new beginning. This phrase has been hovering in my mind. My name is Melanie Spector, and I am a seven year veteran of the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus. I have been in eleven operas, cast nineteen different times, and have performed in 160 performances on the Met stage. These operas include Cavalleria Rusticana, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Carmen, La Gioconda, La Damnation de Faust, Turandot, Hansel and Gretel, Attila, La Bohème, Boris Godunov, and finally, Parsifal.
Parsifal is a special, sentimental opera to me. My father introduced me to Wagner’s music when I was only in kindergarten, and I have been in love with it since. When I was eight years old, he took me to see the dress rehearsal of it at the Met, with René Pape as Gurnemanz, Ben Heppner as Parsifal, Thomas Hampson as Amfortas, and Waltraud Meier as Kundry. A few days later, on May 12, 2006, we attended the premiere, where my father’s friend whispered to my father, referring to me, after the two-hour first act, “She didn’t move.” I was hooked by this Wagnerian masterpiece, and understood the deep holiness that many adults even struggle to understand.
There is one more reason why I treasure and will treasure this opera in the future. I will be singing in Parsifal in the Met’s new production of it, opening this Friday night, February 15.
This Friday night, my father will be in the audience, my mother will be playing second oboe in the Met orchestra, and I will be singing from the dome of the Met. The dome is a room all the way at the top of the Met, on the sixth floor, above the orchestra pit. It is used to make voices and instruments seem like they are coming from the heavens, or from some mysterious place above. It is so high up, that the children’s chorus is parallel with the motors that hoist up the chandeliers each performance.
Parsifal will be my last run of performances as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus. This opera will not only remain as a sentimental memory of seeing it with my father seven years ago, but also as a bitter-sweet memory of singing from the heights of the domes and participating in Wagner’s Bühnenweihfestspiel. I hope that this ending will start a new beginning, involving prospering vocal studies and returning to the Met for future performances, to watch and/or sing in. It has been an incredible experience, and one that I will never forget.
Photo: Original sketches for the first 1882 Bayreuth production of Parsifal