March comes in like a lion: Bard Opera and More, March 2016

Here's the scene: I write from the stage of the Sosnoff Theater - the sixty-piece orchestra of conservatory musicians is playing in the pit and my Vocal Arts Program colleagues are singing beside me as we rehearse the vibrantly colorful score of Higglety Pigglety Pop! by Oliver Knussen. I don't show up for another twenty-minutes (in my golden costume designed by Liene Dobraja), so I'm taking some time to write, share reflections from Winterreise earlier this month and think forward to revisiting Dust in the Bottomland.

Higglety Pigglety Pop! is paired with an abridged version of The Magic Flute in the Vocal Arts Program 2016 opera double bill onMarch 4 & 6. I'm singing the aforementioned lion (picture) in Higglety Pigglety and Sarastro in The Magic Flute. Both works are masterpieces, one contemporary and one classical full of colorful music and characters brought to life by my fantastic colleagues at Bard under the direction of Nic Muni and conducted by James Bagwell. Join us if you can, click here for ticket information.

We've poured our lives into these productions for the past month, and it hard to believe that Rami and my performance of Winterreise was less than three weeks ago. Thank you to all of you who joined us that afternoon or sent encouragement. Again, Winterreise can be said to be so many things, but most of all it is a direct link to Schubert, and the multi-hued humanity he wrote into his songs. Rami and I look forward to continuing our journey with the work and have a few performances lined up in the coming months.We will be presenting the second half as part of a recital in Woodstock on March 12. Check out information here.

Perhaps one role of these posts is to declare intentions and hold myself to them, so I'll share a thought I hope to make time to follow through on. Spending so much time with Winterreise in this most strange of winters - today another apocalyptically beautiful mid-winter spring day - has stirred up thoughts of a speculative essay on Winterreise's place in the public imagination in a world of diminishing winters. Look for a link to a draft in a future note.

LOOKING AHEAD (and remembering)
Looking a little further ahead, I am preparing for performances of Dust in the Bottomland by Nate May at Virginia Tech and Winthrop Universities over the spring break on March 22nd & 24th respectively. My close friend and collaborator, Nate May wrote Dust in the Bottomland as a solo chamber opera for me to sing while I was still working as a community organizer in West Virginia. The protagonist grapples with the effects of prescription drug addiction, mountaintop removal mining, and the changing fabric of rural Appalachian communities. Relearning the piece has been rich with memories, or the work itself and the place it came from. I'll dedicate a later post to share more about it. In the mean time, if you know appreciators of the arts, rural America, Appalachia, and good story telling, please pass on our facebook event.

Andrew MunnOperaComment