Monday, October 20, 2008

Don Giovanni, Ave Verum, Poetry & Friends

This weekend was packed to the gills with music and poetry.
First on Saturday morning, with Edwin Taylor and his singers, and with other singers from St Mary’s, I rehearsed f the Rutter Gloria or two and half hours. This is Edwin’s the First Congregational Church (Ridgefield) “Concert Choir.” It’s a tough but beautiful and engaging composition with lots of time changes and spates of 5/8 just to drive us crazy. The concert which includes a brass and percussion ensemble, is Nov. 2.

Later that day, I saw the Hillhouse Opera Company’s first production – Mozart’s Don Giovanni with baritone Michael Trinik in the lead. He is a long-time student of tenor Perry Price, and at 36 years old, – and after years and years of hard work and study – this singer is really coming into his own. On the stage his voice just rolls out of him in a big grand fashion. He seems really in his element, really at home on stage, 100% engaged with his character. Another singer, really blooming in this production is soprano Victoria Gardener who’s high notes were lush and lovely. Besides sounding elegant, Ms. Gardener, all in red, tall and stately, looks like some legendary diva in training. She is also the person who made this show happen along with her parish, clergy, donors, and friends, especially Nicole Rodriquez and Regina Wagner and many others The church, St Mary’s in New Haven, is big, with its own natural reverb. There was a small orchestra under the direction of Mercy OBourke, and it was a pleasant surprise, being not only in tune but quite skilled — not a small feat for a volunteer, startup company production… I wonder if they tapped the Yale School of Music.
The score was uncut and the production was three hours. I enjoyed it all and had the company of fellow Shijin poet Eli Cleary to make the evening companionable as well.

The next morning back in the loft at that other St. Mary’s choir Mass, we sang Ave Verum and a choral version of Eye Hath Not Seen. Both seemed to go particularly well, so the experience was a good one, but I still terribly miss Rob Ayotte, our former Music Director who died in June.
Later that day there was poetry in two languages at a house warming party for Reggie and Marionela Medrano-Marra. What a lovely home, and lovely lively set of folks there to celebrate the occasion: poets, professors, artists, a college president, a radical intellect or two, not to mention the resident poet-therapists of this lovely new space. The vibes were good, the conversation lively and the food fresh, the wine, subtle, the company warm. Great day!