Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tenor Idols

As I get ready to head back home to Houston, I find myself very excited about this upcoming season at Houston Grand Opera. I am particularly excited about this season because it has some of the most incredible operatic works, like Madame Butterfly, Peter Grimes, Lucia di Lammermoor, Ariadne auf Naxos, The Marriage of Figaro, and a relatively new work, but an incredible piece, Dead Man Walking. This season gives the audience a taste of a wide range of styles and musical periods, but each opera is the quintessential example of their respective periods and styles.

I also have to say on a personal, and rather selfish note, the singers that are going to be seen on the stage this season are the world’s best of the best. The tenors alone, are all idols of mine. There is only one tenor that I have personally seen perform live. As for the rest of the tenors... I have all of their albums, and watch them on youtube all the time. Anthony Dean Griffey, who will perform the role of Peter Grimes, was in the first professional production of an opera I had ever seen. It was my junior year in college at University of Houston, and Joseph Evans, a faculty member at UH, came up to me and told me that a tenor, who he was in a cast with at HGO in a production of Floyd’s Of Mice and Men, reminded him of me. This was completely interesting to me, because I felt like I hadn’t found another tenor who sounded like me. I thought maybe if I saw him in action and he was similar to me vocally then surely I could learn a lot about my self and my development as an artist.

I had been a part of the HGO Chorus in productions before going to see this production, but oddly enough, I had never actually been to see a production at HGO. The only view I had of the Brown Theater was from the stage into the house. I got a ticket and experienced something I had never even thought to imagine! Everything about the production, the orchestra, the singers, the acting… EVERYTHING was amazing. It was my first show, and it is still my all time favorite opera, so far. There are tons of operas I love, but Of Mice and Men, found a place deep inside of me that no show since has reached. It’s a lot like having a favorite movie that all of your friends dislike, but somehow amidst the dissing of that movie you hold tight to the truth of the places it took you while you watched it.

Anthony Dean Griffey was a large part of the impact that production and the opera had on me. It was actually the defining moment, if I had to pick a particular point in time, that I decided I wanted to be on that stage, doing what he did. He embodied the character of Lennie in such a real and truthful way, and I remember, after the curtain descended on the final cutoff, looking down at my hands and some how they were different, I was different. It was a realization that in that single experience I was changed, and I saw everything in a new and exciting way. It was a moment, considered to be late in life by a most, that I had been introduced to the audience view of an opera. Of Mice and Men was my very first opera to see. It was in the dark velvet chamber of the Brown Theater that I discovered my calling, and my purpose, and my love. I’m learning the role Peter Grimes, and I’m so excited that I will get to sit in the audience to see another Anthony Dean Griffey performance.

P.S. – I saw my first musical here at Wolf Trap this year (CATS), and I have yet to attend a (pop) concert, but hoping to change that soon.

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