This site is a special place for my students, friends and colleagues. I will share thoughts, and I will also share musical examples on this site.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Finally decided to do it.  After 20 years, I am retiring from performing professionally.  No more.

Kinda freeing.  Actually, amazingly freeing.  I can still sing whenever I want, and just WHAT I want.

Looking forward to the future and concentrating on teaching and making a real living for a change!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What do we do to our own Art form?

“Stop apologising, stop trying to sell our music by dumbing it down. Sell opera on the basis that it is like nothing else on the planet, not on the basis that it’s superficially cool and hip – that is so phoney.”  Joyce DiDonato

She has a great point.  We spend so much time trying to make our art for "viable" for an audience, that we continue to make them dumber.  

Opera isn't really about sitting around and cooing about voices, its meant to be in your face, take a real, honest look at society.  But American directors, intendants, and even singers don't get that.  Do something silly, show off some pecs, do "Opera Acting" rather than finding a real, honest connection to the character, or find a Dramatic Soprano who looks like a young Cindy Crawford to draw in the audience.  Look superficially at the text, get pissy that somebody has an origional idea, or that the piece isn't "period." Or, Heaven forbid, that we do the work in English so that the audience is getting the message at the same time it's being delivered.

To "make them love us" is really NOT what this art form is about.  If you want that, go into Musical Theatre, because it's all about dumbing down the audience, or maybe "catering to" is a better term.  I don't care if my audience "loves me" or not.  I do care that they have been moved, that they have been involved, sometimes to the point of hissing me when I walk onto stage (If I were playing Enrico again).  
It's my job to move you.  Sometimes to offend you.  Sometimes to make you love me, other times, hate me. At least you'll be engaged and not fall asleep. And it will really make you think.

If you want entertainment, go to a Michael Buble concert.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Finally home

a twelve and a half hour drive home while memorizing "Allmächt'ger Vater" from Rienzi and "Come un bel di di maggio" from Andrea Chenier.  A lot of words.  A LOT.

I am preparing for my lesson on the 6th and, ultimately singing for two agents next month.  This also comes into the though of do I just want to give this up and find a job that actually pays me for the work I do? Ah, there's the rub.

The problem for me is that singing and acting are gifts/calling from God to me.  I cannot get past that, no matter how hard I try. For Pete's sake, I am fro bloody podunk Alabama.  Why am I where I am?  I guess I should just be white trash living in a trailer park or some Baptist minister.  But no.  I was given this charge....

And it means the world to me.  I can be myself, learn more about myself, yada yada.  It's like God, If I could quit Him, I would.  But I just can't.

One review called my tenor "Resplendent."  Well, if it is, it's due to Him...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Walküre #4

You know when you own something. I mean, it's yours and it's at a very high level.  That is my Siegmund now.

Hakan Hagegard told me that you will know when a role is yours.  He said it usually takes 25 performances, but you will know by it "being there" for you.  Very little warm up. He was spot on.  That's how Siegmund is to me now.  Money.

Who gives a fig what some schmuck critic might say?  They not have the balls nor the talent to stand up and do it.

Plus, after twenty years, I know when it's dang good.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

nice five day break

Needed that more than I thought.

I really wasn't in a good place on Saturday night.  Got into street clothes right after bows, headed to Cicero' s, had some Italian and two Woodchuck Granny Smith's.

One thing I have learned of American audiences:  they are dumber than cow dung.  If it doesn't sound like something off a CD, they don't know what to do. And if the acting isn't Disney-esque, its' too far above them.  If an artist actually performs the role the way it's meant, and doesn't sound manufactured or "like a tenor", they are at a loss. They have no clue, and don't know what to do.

Heaven forbid that the tenor sing a difficult HELDEN role easily and musically, look good and move well,  and use the language very well.  Heaven forbid that you be convincing and moving. 99% of Americans have zip of a clue.

Makes me thankful for the fella that wished I were singing for a German audience because "They would truly appreciate just what you have accomplished tonight."

My confidence is back, and I will sing and perform this character really well again tomorrow night and Saturday.

A lion doesn't lose sleep over the opinion of sheep

Saturday, August 17, 2013

opening night

I have been pretty nervous about opening night for a week and a half.  Never before have I had problems with G Nat,  but it has been bothersome since I git here.  Could sing it until I got to the theatre. Weird. The A Nat has not been a problem at all. AT ALL.  Maybe it's due to singing the role ten days in a row, then compounding it by singing it thru twice a day before each run...

But last night, I nailed it!!  Prayer works. I was calm, and just happy to be there, and I had fun!    I am finally willing to trust and even make an ugly sound. Pretty dang freeing.

Siegmund is an incredibly, deceptively hard role to sing.  Yes, it's the lowest of Wagner's Helden roles, but that's what makes it so difficult. When the role moves from lyric to dramatic in the "Siegmund heiss ich", , it pounds at the E Nat thru F# corridor.  Pavarotti was correct that the chords must stay fresh in this area, but he never sang this rep.  The intensity makes you work overtime to stay calm and and lyric through the passaggio.  If you don't, you are incredibly screwed.

Don't think because this role is low that it's easy...that will show what an uninformed, uneducated idiot you really are.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dress 1

I sang thru the role three times today. One just happened to be the dress rehearsal, even after I said I would mark....go figure.

I have come to love this role for many reasons, but foremost it allows me to be just who I am as an artist. I look the role, I sound the role, I have no problem cutting/carrying, but now I have gotten to the point that I am not afraid to make an ugly sound and I act the scrap out of the text and character.

If I never perform this role again, at least I will have the above

first dress tonight!

Don't really know just how much I will sing, but the Winterstürme and the Siegmund heiss ich will be done.  Voice feels good. Can't wait!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

tech take 2

We teched Ackt II,was pretty solid except for one brainfart. Just one of those moments where I totally forgot where we were.  I got back on track quickly.

The space available on the sides is a  Lot more compact than that of the rehearsal room, so that made for an evening of thinking rather than doing.  Glad I got that out of the way.

The set looks like something you would see in a German theatre, but the projections really put it on a different level.  We are then allowed to tell the story, not some "conzept" going on.  Just acting and really expressing the text. No room for American made Italian opera here.

Finally seem to have gotten over the reflux.  I just have to remember that the g nats have to be so bright, and sound so spread to my ear that it makes me want to vomit.  The danger of this role, vocally, is its tessitura.  The tendency for me is to revert to baritone. Can't do it. It will rip you a new one and make you like it.  Makes you sound weak to yourself, but it's easy, and I really ring and thrust into the house.  Plus, the Helden sound is there. I don't need to press that. Just relax and do what I do.  Del Monaco is a great teacher...

This is a first rate cast, and is an authentic WAGNERIAN cast. Everyone is spot on for their role. SPOT ON. You won't hear it like this, even in Seattle. And definitely not at the MET.

Friday, August 9, 2013

tech rehearsal 1

Pretty solid night tonight. We ran Act 1, which my portion is about 42 minutes (uncut is an hour fifteen).only had stops in my last aria/monologue "Siegmund gross rich" due to lighting cues and my placement. The problem is I am running up and down a sixteen foot, narrow stairway.  Other problem is that the lower stairs are on rollers and they do move.

Started very well tonight vocally.  I thrust out into the hall really well.  Only problem is this cursed reflux that I cannot seem to shake, no matter what I try.  No matter the work I did before coming here, everything has totally changed, and I can really feel the mucous when I get to f#. I literally fight to find my tessitura and voice every day. It just feels so hard.

Still, I had to sing the highest portion of the role, "So blühenden, Wälsungen blut" six times. It is the only A thatthat Siegmund sings. First time massive phlegm, afterwards, money.  It is so bad I get depressed about singing a role I was singing th poo out of before I got here.  And nothing I do helps it get better.

Oh well, it will be what it will be, and I perform the pee out of this role. Just have fun, give it to God, and perform.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Die Walkure day 8

Been here a week and I have to say that this is the most physical role I have ever done. Bar none. I  carry around a pretty heavy broadsword while singing dramatic music that sits in my passaggio, rolling around on the floor with Sieglinde, then a screamfest with Brunnhilde,  then a big fight with Binding, then a pretty emotional death. This also includes a pretty intense love thingy with Sieglinde that has to read past the orchestra.

I get a rest day to get my strength back.  Those that have worked with me in the past will understand my energy/intensity level. But it also means I have to work triple hard to not get tight in my neck and push the voice.

One really has to understand that you sing Wagner like it's Schubert, or Mozart...but on steroids.  You sing it lyrically and the rest will take care of itsself

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Die Walkure day 2

Spent my day staging Act 1 of Walkure.  Really didn't move around that much, but the intensity level is sky high.  Those that know me know that I am a very intense actor, but geese, this at another level.  Verdi and Puccini Don't even come into the same galaxy.

This is looking to be the best thing I have ever done, and that is saying something.  And it's the best cast, all around I have ever worked with.  Again, that speaks volumes. Some amazing singing going on.

Never have I felt this good or this right about a role. Glad I found it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Walkure Day 1

Today I sang Siegmund all the way the way thru (with the cuts) with other singers.....God it was fantastic!!

The cast is very fine.  And the voices are right!  Absolutely RIGHT.  my head was ringing like mad when we finished.

Amber Smoke, my Sieglinde, is going thru the same type of Fach switch I am.  But she sounds beautiful.  Truly a smoky, rich color and very vibrant.  Just like Alexandra Lopiccolo' s, our Brunnhilde.  A real pack of dynamite.

Our Hagen, Nathan Whitson from Kansas City is an imposing bass with a beautiful top. Reminds me of Kevin Bell.  The last scene, our fight, is pretty exciting.

Tim Bruno is our Wotan, and I love hearing him. There is a great color and snarl that truly works for Wotan.

Gonna be a great run!!

Die Walkure take 1

First musical rehearsal begins in 50 minutes.  I have butterflies, but I am so excited.  I have never been this prepared nor felt this good vocally.  I am very thankful for that.

Here's to a good musical run!