Tuesday, November 20, 2007
As you have all heard by now, November 10 was, as KK mentioned in an earlier post, a life-changing day. Both performances of The Refuge were amazing, and the coverage it received was phenomenal. We made the FRONT PAGE (above the fold!) of the Houston Chronicle, and the front page of the Arts section in the New York Times. Charles Ward with the Houston Chronicle gave a fabulous review of the performance, stating "Overall, the production was first-class..." The Houston Chronicle published an editorial, and the evening performance was broadcast LIVE on KUHF 88.7 FM.
As I said, the coverage was phenomenal. It was also seen or heard on the following: Radio Saigon, Saigon Houston, Chronicle Vietnamese community paper, Our Texas Russian press, South Plains Public Radio (Lubbock), The Star Telegram (Fort Worth), WOAI TV San Antonio, KXAN Austin, Fox TV Houston, KPFT Radio Houston, KSWO Wichita Falls, and Austin American Statesman.
If you missed The Refuge, or if you want to see it again, I hope you will join us in May, when HGO performs it at Miller Outdoor Theatre. In the meantime, I have included some beautiful pictures taken by Janice Rubin at the dress rehearsal for your enjoyment. Oh, I almost forgot! Here are a few video clips from the dress rehearsal as well. Enjoy!
Video Clip 1
Video Clip 2
Video Clip 3
Photos © 2006 Janice Rubin
Sunday, November 11, 2007
We did it yesterday, twice. I don't even know what or how to write about it yet, so I'll leave you here with a picture taken from stage left of HGO's dedicated, skilled, generous performers. Thanks, everybody, for a life-changing day.
Off to Indianapolis today to begin the Studio audition tour. I'll be posting from the road, and hopefully linking you to much more REFUGE photography and reviews.
Friday, November 9, 2007
- our amazing men, BG, LB, and RM, in the "Soviet" movement
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I was raised in the frozen north. Lake Wobegon, you betcha, Da Vikes and da cheeseheads, the whole nine yards. The colors and open expressions of Texas amaze me on a daily basis. It's a long-standing stereotype that warmer temperatures engender warmer emotions and more creative language is born under bluer skies. Evidence to support these ideas is all around us in Houston, never more so than at a Day of the Dead festival. We went to the Lawndale Art Center on Saturday to perform "Mexico" from THE REFUGE, and did so among an incredible display of local art. We were surrounded on all sides by gorgeous retablos - these are home altars made to venerate any one of the endless saints. This folk art form flourished in the nineteenth century but is still practiced in styles colorful, allegorical, whimsical, spiritual. Little altars everywhere, we set up to sing.
On the one hand, as I listened, I thought, excellent, it's powerful, he really got it. I mean, he wasn't happy about the experience, but he had a real experience, moved well beyond his zone of comfort. On the other hand, it was frustrating. Music supposed to make you feel better? But the classical industry has been telling people for a generation that we're like salve, therapy, chamomile tea. Relaxing music for your commute! Classics to soothe! Mozart to make you smarter! The upset gentleman had totally internalized the message that classical music was a protection and escape from the dangers and terrors of the world, and didn't want to hear those things expressed through classical music's language. Yikes. Dia de los muertos.
So back to Lawndale. We're with DH and ER, as usual, Studio soloist AS, and six terrific soloists from the University of Houston. There was no way we could schedule singers from the HGO chorus to do this performance (they're still involved in an opera or two), so we reached out to UH for a sextet to take over the very complex choral parts of this movement. Kudos to them all for their professionalism and hard work, and for an excellent performance.
In this movement, the solo soprano sings the words of an interviewee: "Sometimes I think it would be better to stay behind with your kids...you're not going to take away pain with money." It's a stark moment of contrast with the essentially joyous feeling of the choral sections, and it adds real pungency to have these words arguing against immigration, against that kind of risk, in the middle of a work that celebrates it. Another twist: these words are sung by AS, a young woman who is herself a transplant from another country, in Houston to hone her craft as a singer, to give herself a chance at a rare and fantastic life.
One story of risk that ends in failure, another of a success passage tinged with doubt over the real rewards of the risk involved, artists at crossroads, little altars everywhere. Upstairs at Lawndale, we look at Day of the Dead works by Houston highschoolers: Superman as a skeleton, a retablo venerating Jimi Hendrix, an altar to a dead father made of ramen noodle packets and his favorite CDs. Downstairs adults and children make sugar skulls. Brilliant colors and music and dance celebrate the dead, the living, the saints, all here in one room together...I would say it's just like at the opera house, but isn't that obvious?
DC and AS with their skulls, Drop dead gorgeous.