The end of another opera season has arrived. In my house, there are mixed feelings. My mother, who is in the orchestra, is very happy that the season is over because for her, it has been a long year. I, on the other hand, am very sad that the season has come to an end. However, my being sad is a good thing because that means that this Metropolitan Opera season was so great, that I did not want it to end! Here were some of my highlights of the Met’s 2012-13 season, including my performances.
In my last season in the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus I performed in two operas: Turandot and Parsifal. If you’re asking yourself, “Well, why didn’t I see her on stage?”, that is a good question. I sang backstage in both operas.
Turandot includes offstage children’s chorus in all three acts, as we represent the voices floating around in Turandot’s mind. We sing directly off stage right, just barely missing sight of the audience and the red velvet of the Met’s seats. There were 11 scheduled performances of Turandot, but one performance was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy. All 10 performances were a blast, as my colleagues and I played multiple games of cards between the acts, and seeing the Zeffirelli Act II set of Turandot up close is something to behold. Just because it was backstage with no costumes did not mean that it was boring. Backstage operas can be the most fun!
Turandot was going on at the same time as Otello, so here is a photo of me pretending to be Desdemona on a rehearsal set of Act IV in the 5th Floor Studio at the Met, during one of the breaks…
I also had the honor of singing in Wagner’s Parsifal, in a new production with an HD telecast and an amazing cast. This opera also had a children’s chorus offstage, but in a different way. We did not sing off Stage-Right, we sang six floors above that in the “Domes” of the Met. We were so high up from the stage, that our voices sounded as if they were coming from the heavens. It was a life-changing, heavenly experience to be part of that Wagnerian masterpiece, along with a cast combination that may never be found again: Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape, Peter Mattei, and Katarina Dalayman.
During that time, I had the chance to meet Jonas Kaufmann, my favorite opera singer of today, during the Parsifal rehearsal and performance period. I also had the opportunity to talk to Katarina Dalayman, Peter Mattei, and other Wagnerian rock-stars involved in the production. Here are Jonas Kaufmann and me at a C-Level rehearsal of Parsifal in late January.
Parsifal was also my last opera of my career in the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus. It was a bitter-sweet goodbye with tears, but also hugs and support from my colleagues. It was an experience that I am thankful for having, and one that I will never forget. I am also thankful for my leaving the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus, because that is why I started my blog. By, getting my feelings out through writing and receiving encouragement, my sadness was cured.
Now, I did not just perform during the Metropolitan Opera’s 2012-13 Season, I also attended several performances. MetOpera Radio encouraged its fans to write in their votes for their “Three Favorites” of the Met’s season. The top three broadcasts that were voted for were: 1. Parsifal, 2. Maria Stuarda, and 3. Les Troyens. I got 2/3, as I voted La Clemenza di Tito in place of Les Troyens. Here is why these were my three favorites:
Parsifal was my #1 pick because everything about it was perfect. Jonas Kaufmann’s debut of his role as Parsifal was perfect. It was focused, clear, and his “Amfortas! Die Wunde!” was heart-wrenching. Katarina Dalayman’s high notes as Kundry were like bullets, so solid and clear. She handled so well the jumpiness of the role of Kundry. Above all: René Pape and Peter Mattei as Gurnemanz and Amfortas. Pape returned to the role better than ever, and Mattei did not leave a dry eye in the 4,000 seat theater in his portrayal as Amfortas. I even had some tears way up in the Domes when he uncovered the grail.
The production was also interesting, something new. It took place in a Post-Apocolyptic world, where there was much suffering including on the part of Amfortas and his men. The second act took place in the actual wound of Amfortas with blood everywhere. As scary, creepy, and disgusting as it sounds, it really worked! My favorite part ended up being the 1600 gallons of blood on the stage in Act II, with the flower maidens and Parsifal dancing around in it. It was dramatic and also intriguing.
My #2 pick was Maria Stuarda because of the incredible singing from Joyce DiDonato and Elza van den Heever. I attended the dress rehearsal of Maria Stuarda and I remember leaving Act I saying that it was like “Diva Demolition Derby”. The best scene in the opera was the confrontation between Queen Elizabeth and Maria Stuarda. Joyce rattling off “Vil Bastarda” was worth the price of admission. Joyce’s interpretation of “Deh! Tu di un emile preghiera” also brought tears to my eyes. She really made the audience feel sorry for her, and that Queen Elizabeth was being too harsh. The audience did not want Joyce to walk to the chopper because they wanted her to keep singing! Joyce DiDonato and the debut of Elza van den Heever made Maria Stuarda a season favorite.
La Clemenza di Tito
La Clemenza di Tito was my #3 pick because of Elīna Garanča, Kate Lindsey, and the debut of Lucy Crowe. The Mozart of the 2012-13 season at the Met seems so distant, because it was all done in the Fall: Clemenza, Nozze, and Don Giovanni. Garanča’s portrayal of Sesto was so moving, and her “Parto, parto” was the cherry on top. Kate Lindsey succeeded in yet another pants role, as the comrade of Sesto. Lucy Crowe’s debut as Servilla was marvelous. A lush voice with a bloom at the top, her duet with Lindsey in Act I gave me the chills. Of all the Verdi and Wagner this season, this Mozart opera came out at #3.
The 2012-13 Metropolitan Opera season was a success. I finished my career in the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus. It celebrated the 200th birthdays of Verdi and Wagner, while it also brought back regulars like Mozart, and also uncovered more rare operas like Maria Stuarda. The opera season will be missed, but the Met will open its 2013-14 season four months from now with a new production of Eugene Onegin.
Have a great Summer!