I am very proud to announce that today Troy and I have opened our new 2010-11 Opera Season together at the good old Baltimore Lyric Opera House!!!
Well, technically not quite so "old": the gorgeous building is being renovated and is now re-named into Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric and the company is now called Lyric Opera Baltimore (LOB).
Anyone who has been reading this blog for the last couple of years knows how devastated we were in Baltimore to have lost our lovely Baltimore Lyric due to bankruptcy. These two years have been the time of great struggle, when the company did everything possible and impossible to get back on its feet. And when I say great, I mean the great, beautiful, enormous, noble and restless initiative and effort to bring music back to people.
Guess what? They made it! We made it. Yes, my friends, Baltimore opera is back!
This morning a crowd of 60 or so ardent opera lovers came together to the lobby of the Lyric for a free 45-minute recital of arias and duets from popular operas, operettas and musicals. I recognized some people and they recognized me too. Same devoted volunteers with faces illuminated with joy and hope accommodated everyone in the lobby, gave out the brochures, offered punch and cookies and made sure that everyone was seated comfortably for the recital. It was impossible not to enjoy the atmosphere of happy energy and excitement. It was like a reunion of very good old friends brought together by the same passion.
There were 2 young performers: a soprano and a baritone. They sang Verdi, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Bizet, Lehar, and Gilbert and Sullivan standing on top of the famous marble staircase, which they used most effectively to help us envision the scenes they were singing.
Now, without further delay, I have to share that I was ( and still am) so proud of my son.
He was so excited to listen to real artists singing real opera and operetta right in front of him. He was fascinated, happy and very interested. He sat on my lap with a huge smile on his face, looking up at me every now and then and clapping after every piece.
It was interesting that when the baritone was performing The Prologue to Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, he came up to us, looked at Troy who was standing on my lap at that point, patted his head and sang right to him with his big, well-shaped voice: Signore!...
Troy was not in the least shy but he was fascinated.
When I was growing up, opera was distant and inaccessible. Somehow the stage separated the audience and the artists. Once the curtain dropped, we went on with our average lives, and artists - with their presumingly fancy and luxurious ones. Nowadays, opera is reaching out to people of all generations, actively trying to gain more popularity with every age group.
It's sort of coming down its pedestal, even if only a little, to be closer to people. Wasn't Troy born in the best of times?
Just imagine what it is for a little boy to see a real singer standing right in front of him and singing right to him? It must be magic!
Another funny thing was at the very end of the recital, when the artists were finishing their duet and sang a final C together, suddenly Troy (who was 100% quiet during the program) opened his mouth and joined them singing that same C. The funniest part of it was that he got the note right!
After the concert a couple of people came up to me to say how well-behaved Troy was and how great he acted. One lady said "People make such a mistake not to bring them [kids] to shows, because they are wonderful!"
The major good news is that LOB will start functioning as an opera company next fall, in the Season 2011-12 and will present 3 operas, fully costumed and staged: La Traviata in collaboration with Pittsburg Opera, Le Nozze di Figaro with sets and costumes from L'Opera de Montreal and Faust in collaboration with Indianapolis Opera. All the productions will be using our own Lyric Opera Baltimore chorus, which is another great news, because we do have a lovely chorus!
It was an incredible outing: the beginning of something new and exciting!