L'Amour et L'Anatomy
Thursday night we had our dress rehearsal for our Saturday night French concert, L'Amour et Autre Choses. Every studio artist is in the concert, and we all sing one song each. The songs are grouped into sets by composer, so we start with some Berlioz and Gounod, then move to a Bizet set, then a Faure set, then to a Debussy set before breaking for intermission. After intermission, there's a Massenet set, a Poulenc set, and then we finish with Reynaldo Hahn. We also start and end the concert with group songs: an interesting choral version of Faure's "Aprés un Reve" to start, and then a Hahn piece for choir and tenor solo as the finale. The tenor solo was split into three parts, of which I am the last. My solo piece is part of the Debussy set, where I'm singing "Voici, Que Le Printemps". During the rehearsal, I wanted to get a recording of me singing, but I ended up getting a recording of the entire first half of the concert instead. There were two performances from other studio artists that I really fell in love with, so I decided to take that opportunity to showcase a couple of the other people in my program on the blog. After asking them both for permission, to the side is a recording of Nicole Leung, sophomore at New England Conservatory, singing "Adieux de l'Hotesse Arabe" by Bizet, and a recording of Mishael Eusebio, sophomore at Juilliard, singing "Mandoline" by Faure.
Friday was quite a day - we were treated to an amazing concert by the Stern Fellows at noon, who are all young artists and professional students who were given full tuition and room and board scholarships to attend. All five of them were extremely talented, my personal favorite being mezzo-soprano Kelsey Lauritano who sang a really incredible set of Benjamin Britten lullabies. I'd love to be part of that group one day. Friday afternoon, my studio artist group had a masterclass with Karen Holvik that actually had a bit of a newer/musical theater theme to it. One of the other students sang "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, and I sang a song called "Favorite Places" from Ordinary Days by a very new composer named Adam Gwon. The entire class was riveting, and a whole lot of fun. Breakthroughs were had, tears were shed, laughs abounded, and there was actually a SongFest photographer there to capture it all.
Friday night, Natalie Sheppard and I went to LA opera again! This time, the performance wasn't at the LA Opera auditorium, it was actually a small opera performed in the studio theater of the Walt Disney Concert Hall - and it was a world premier. The show was called "Anatomy Theater", and as the composer described it, it was Gilbert and Sullivan meets Kurt Weill meets Purcell meets a historically accurate lesson in 16th century human dissection. Yeah, it was really weird. It was very short, contained absolutely no plot, absolutely no drama, and the message of the entire opera was simply "Evil doesn't live anywhere in the body, it lives in the soul", which I guess makes sense considering that in the 16th century people thought that evil was like an infection that physically inhabited an organ. But even so, does that make it okay to present an opera that's literally just pulling out organs one by one and being like "Nope, no evil here" until they figure out that it's not anywhere? Because that and the words "I shall present" and "presently" were quite literally the entire show. I honestly expected a second half to the show where they actually took the plot somewhere, but it never came. Throw in that the entire show was done using full digital amplification and that the singers weren't actually that good at all, and I left the theater with a very bad taste in my mouth. However, Natalie and I talked with the composer, David Lang (who has apparently won Pulitzer prizes and Grammy awards) afterward, and that was actually pretty cool. I asked him if he made any decisions about the production based on what he thinks the direction of opera is for the future, and his answer can be summed up as "Not at all, I just did what I want." And he added that opera can sometimes get to be too narrowly defined to young singers - our entire world is Puccini, Verdi, Mozart, Bel Canto, and Baroque, and that doesn't leave very much room for those who love opera, but don't feel like they're a part of that world. I found that to be very profound. But don't get me wrong, I still didn't like the show.
Saturday was our French concert, and it went extremely well for all 20 or so people in the audience. In a way, the attendance of the concert was doomed from the start. The Colburn Cafe closes at 6 on Saturday, which is the only place that we can have food for free, and since this concert started at 5 and many other classes ended at 5, much of the program had to make the decision between listening to studio artists sing French and having dinner. Besides that, this concert wasn't even in the master program for the month, unlike almost every other concert, so anyone who didn't check their email within the last day probably had no idea that it was happening. But still, it was a great show, and I will eventually post videos of it since we got some official recordings from the program, but haven't received them yet. To the side is a picture of Natalie and I right after the concert representing CCM.