Blog: Finding the Underworld in Minnesota

With Harry Bicket and David Daniels

So, I just finished a month in Minnesota (Minneapolis and St. Paul to be exact), and let me tell you: September is THE TIME to be in those cities. With forgiving temperatures, baseball games, delicious restaurants, and their own Oktoberfest, I was able to get out and really check out life in the Twin Cities. I was there to sing Euridice in Minnesota Opera’s Orfeo ed Euridice. Gluck’s masterpiece has no fat – no extraneous music – which makes for a short yet tremendously impactful opera.  Because of that, my part was only about 25 minutes long. Hello month of getting center myself a bit. Whew!

I arrived after an intense week of starting a Twickenham Fest in my hometown. That left me both loving chamber music and glad to be singing opera again. And imagine: I get to do this opera with David Daniels (one of the foremost countertenors in the world and a personal friend) and Harry Bicket (a superstar in baroque conducting and also a personal friend). All I could think about was the great music making that would happen, and the fun we’d have making it!

Lee Blakeley and Arthur Pita

We started off the first day with a lovely meet and greet. I sang The Fortunes of King Croesus with this opera company before, so it was familiar to me. However the creative team for this show (Lee Blakeley directing, Adrian Linford designing, and Arthur Pita choreographing) was entirely new to me. The Brits had landed, and we hit the ground running!

I can only say wonderful things about this production. Each decision (whether dress, dance, or directorial) was made with the storytelling in mind – always a good idea in opera. I found each scene to be effective, and I must say that it was exciting to be a part of this show.  Musically it was also a gratifying experience because Maestro Bicket was leading the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, a renowned orchestra in the country. Amidst a full season of other programs, they played the Orfeo score with delicacy and a full color palate. It was an honor to sing with them.

At the Twins game! They lost, but the stadium alone was a reason to go...

The character of Euridice was a fun one to explore. I was surprised to discover that her character only deepens every time I visit the score. I found myself experimenting with her facets, playing with her myriad of emotions well into the run of the shows. I couldn’t help trying a different approach each time, much to the chagrin of the conductor, I’m sure! Fascinating that such a short role could glean such great interest. I’ll be curious to revisit it in the future because I imagine that this is a part that will only deepen with time, like all of the great roles.

The show...

So all in all, operatically it was a remarkable experience; one that will stay with me for a very long time. I loved working with everyone who took part, and a bit sad to leave. That said, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years of starting this crazy life in opera, it’s that the musical world is tiny and that small world is filled with wonderful friends.  Hopefully I’ll see these people again sooner rather than later. And as for the Twin Cities, I’ll certainly be making a trip back up here soon – if only for the delicious La Grassa dinner and a Twins game :)

Now it’s off to the Big Apple for a night with my head on my very own pillow, and then month of crazy travelling. NYC, here I come!

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