It’s been a whirlwind of travel and singing for this red-headed bass as of late. After a very successful run of Figaro in El Paso last weekend, I was home for a day before saddling my horse for the trek down to Baltimore to sing my first Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor March 23 and 25 with Baltimore Concert Opera.
It’s a truly amazing cast:
Lucia – Sharon Cheng
Edgardo – William Davenport
Enrico – Nicholas Pallesen
Raimondo – Matthew Curran
Normano – Peter Scott Drackley
Alisa – Heather Kniotek-DeSimone
Arturo – Tim Augustin
My good friend Brendan Cooke and his posse have done amazing things with the Baltimore Concert Opera since they started it 2009. Actually, our second and final performance, Sunday, March 25, will be their three-year anniversary. The performances are held in the breathtaking and historic Garrett-Jacobs Mansion.
Last night was the opening and it was nothing short of a major triumph. Sold out house and a top shelf cast, we brought it to the people and they got what they came to see! (Why do I like saying things like that so much?) It is a beautiful thing what is going on here, because not only are emerging talents being discovered and cultivated, but so is an audience. I’d say this post about last night on Facebook covers it pretty well, just how great a job this company is doing as presenters of good music and ambassadors for this great art form.
Brendan is not only a great guy, but truly a great leader and visionary for our art. He has done amazing things on a shoe-string budget over the years and success has come with both hard work and refreshingly outside-the-box thinking. One of their big hits is the open auditions held every year, where audience members hear the new talent just as the company does as it considers singers for future casting. It’s a winning situation for everyone. The company gets to see people in actual performance and how an audience reacts to them. The audience gets that coveted “behind the scenes” glimpse into the process of how singers are heard and a little bit of what it’s like from both sides of the fence. For the singers, it is a very welcome alternative to the typical and traditionally stuffy, uninspiring audition situation. I know that I, for one, hate auditioning and rarely show my best in those situations. How can you? Half the time, they’re not even looking at you as they are writing or doing god knows what else. I remember one guy ripping up papers while I was singing. The stories go on and on. But in this case, it’s a real performance, so in a sense, that audition pressure is off and it’s just fun. Taking it a step further, Brendan makes great videos for promotional efforts on the web.
In what was I think their first auditions, I sang Als Büblein klein, from Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor. In an effort to appeal to the beer and football types out there, the video of my audition was turned into this great promo titled, “Overcoming Objections.”
The company is at a critical point in its development from a dream out of someone’s home office, to a sustainable organization. They have just received an amazingly generous donation in the form of a $20,000 matching gift. So all funds raised will be matched up to the first $20,00. Think of it as a Groupon deal for $40,000 for the price of $20,000. Now we just need people to show the love and help make sure that the “deal is on!”
Show the love, people!
By the way, did I mention the second performance is also sold out? This company needs the resources to do bigger and better things, bringing it to more people.