Today is a red-letter day at HGO, one that comes every year and yet is newly special and thrilling each time. Today, the semifinalists of the McCollum competition arrive, the singers we chose on our long audition tour last November (remember that multi-week blogging hiatus?). In the coming week, they'll compete for prize money, and some will be asked to join us in our Studio next season. The competition is exciting, of course - all that energy, daring, and skill brought to bear - but there's a deeper process at work as we try to discern who will be a good addition to our company. Is this the voice we want, is this person hungry to learn? The singers are trying to discern this as well: are we the community they wish to join for several years, are we the teachers, the colleagues? Do they respond to our process? Could Houston be home for a while? We don't simply hand out checks at the end of the week, but we ask a few people to change their lives in order to join us.
In and around this week, so much more is happening, and all of it feels emotonally and artistically large. We will close our fine ABDUCTION tomorrow and say goodbye to a cast of beautiful singers; what pleasure they have brought to us! FLUTE will continue throughout the week, simple and profound, with another lovely cast featuring our current Studio so auspiciously. For me, these performances turn bittersweet as I realize how soon we will say goodbye to some of these artists who are truly a part of the HGO family. And on Monday, we begin to rehearse the world premiere of Jake Heggie's LAST ACTS, creating a brand new opera on our stage.
The moment is big, so many things new, so many things beginning, all of it tinged with a taste of farewell. And I know I'm not alone in feeling grateful, grateful for these people, grateful for a life in which we have the opportunity (the responsibility!) to create, to communicate, to use the words and music of Mozart or Heggie to tell stories about human life.
The picture accompanying this entry is Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's; her voice also accompanies the writing of this entry. The above musings led me to play the recording of her solo Bach cantatas this morning. If you don't already own this, improve your life and get it! She was one of the most direct, honest, raw communicators I ever had the pleasure to know and hear. She left us too soon and left so much beauty behind. The picture is taken from her Metropolitan Opera performances of Didon in Berlioz' LES TROYENS, on which I assisted. I will never forget her in those performances, always immediate, new, and real.
What a gift, to be part of a community of performers and listeners who together make this work.