I have been home in Philadelphia for the past six weeks. For some one who is on the road 8-9 months out of the year, this is an amazing treat. Usually the period between conducting engagements is a week or two here, or a day or two there; barely enough time to do your laundry. During this break I actually was able to unpack my toiletry bag, put my suitcases in storage and enjoy the great city of Philadelphia. But now it is time to get back to work and hit the road for the summer festival season — my favorite time of the year.
The artistic climate at summer festivals is more laid back. Everybody is obviously striving to achieve high artistic goals but there is a communal spirit that pervades a summer festival. At Kentucky Opera, our season is September to February, and we basically rehearse and perform one opera at a time. But at summer festivals there might be two or more operas in repertory as well as chamber music or symphonic performances all going during the same period. The festival becomes a family and the friendships that flourish off stage translate to ever performance.
There are festivals through out the US. Some internationally renown like Santa Fe Opera (where I spent four summers) and some regionally beloved like Opera Saratoga (where I spent 7 summers). There are a few festivals close to Louisville and are featuring artists that have been on the stage at the Brown Theater for Kentucky Opera productions: Opera Theatre of St. Louis (Elizabeth Futral and Troy Cook), Cincinnati Opera (Gabriel Preisser), Sugar Creek Festival (Michael Mayes), Ravinia Festival (Paul Corona), Des Moines Metro Opera (Patrick O’Halloran, Luis Orozco, Jason Slayden, Lillian Groag, Kristine McIntyre, and Lisa Hasson), and Opera in the Ozarks (David Roth and I both worked there many, many, many years ago).
My first destination this summer is Vermont’s Green Mountain Opera Festival for the month of June where I will be conducting Rossini’s La Cenerentola. After a week back at home I am then off to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s Pine Mountain Music Festival for July and August but, I am not to conducting. As a New Year’s resolution, I have made it a priority to “bringing back my fingers.” Over the past decade my conducting schedule has prevented me from sitting down and actually practicing the piano. I have missed the keyboard and look forward to more art song recitals and chamber magic concerts in the future. At Pine Mountain I will be collaborating with a fantastic tenor on a program of Jean Sibelius and Richard Strauss as well as an evening of G. F. Handel and Lee Hoiby with four incredible sopranos. NOTE: Most of my summer will be spent in the cooler portion of our country and I have no problem with that!
So if you have summer travel plans, check out your destination’s summer musical offerings and make it a priority to enjoy an opera or a concert.
June 3, 2014