Thursday, December 06, 2007
One More Time
On Friday I will be singing the role of "The Mother" in the Christmas Opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors. For anyone counting, this will be the fourth time I get to sing high notes, steal gold, and try to sleep on a bench that mysteriously gets narrower with each successive production.
I sang my first Amahl when I was all of sixteen years old. My poor crippled son? My little brother. My recollection was that he was quite good, but in all honesty I cannot remember my performance at all. I suppose it was alright, in a very sixteen-year old kind of way. The three kings were all adults, and I was rather in awe of all of them. Still, I remember they were funny.
My second Amahl was a professional production with singers brought in from throughout the state. I was about 26 years old and sang much better than I did ten years earlier. Although the singers were hot-hot-hot (in a talented, not hubba-hubba kind of way), my recollection was that the orchestra was weak. And by weak, I mean awful. So it goes, though, because finding musicians at Christmastime is on par with finding a decent Mother's Day card to buy ... on Mother's Day. It just doesn't happen, and you are often stuck with whatever you can get.
My third Amahl was about four years ago. This time my little crippled son was sung by TeenTuna, who was TINY back then. I can remember going out to the woods to find tree parts to make a crutch. The artist formerly known as TinyTuna was nothing short of amazing, and memorized the entire opera in one week. And by memorized, I mean she knew all the parts, and wouldn't hesitate to correct you when you were wrong. Her biggest difficulty? Remembering to limp on the same foot. An hour worth of notes, no problem. Physical consistency? Another story.
My fourth Amahl is tomorrow. My crippled son is being sung by a wonderful sixth grade girl from Africa. She is tiny is size but has enormous heart and passion. I've watched her work so hard, and learn and grow and gain in confidence from day to day to day. Although I have to work a little harder to keep my role fresh and interesting and not sing the role on automatic pilot, it's been moving to watch her take her first major musical steps. This role involves A LOT of notes, and that's not an easy task for grownups, much less sixth graders. But the real amazement is watching her take on the character of Amahl, a character who possesses qualities of selflessness and bravery, and always sees the hope and joy in life, even when others would only see despair. This describes my Amahl perfectly. She is an amazing young lady, very brave and full of joy. I'm so very proud of her.
I can't wait for tomorrow.