Welcome to my Blog

This blog is a combination of new material and previously published archives... Mostly about singing, music, opera and the life of an artist. Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 17 February 2013

From Amahl to the Met: my Mum, Me and Opera (Or, Thank Goodness for the Met HD Broadcasts)

Recently, I had the unusual experience of watching the Metropolitan Opera HD Cinema broadcast...from the Green Room backstage at the Met itself.

Covers at the Met are required to be in the theater during simulcast performances, and since the television monitors backstage show exactly what audiences around the world are seeing in the cinema, we were all in the Green Room that day, enjoying the show. You may think that singers working at the Met would be too cool and cosmopolitan to behave like over-excited children whilst watching people we know appear on TV. You would be wrong.

The afternoon of the HD broadcast was also the day I would later fly to Atlanta, GA to visit my family. My mum no longer enjoys travel, so her only way of sharing this production with me is to attend the broadcast at her local movie theater. This was the closest we would get to actually seeing the opera 'together.'

We have a long history, my mum and I, regarding opera and singing. An excellent amateur singer, she was the leading soprano and soloist in our church choir when I was growing up, and it was through her that I found my first voice teacher. Mum had started taking formal voice lessons at the local university, and her teacher was tasked with forming a local chorus for a touring production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. We both went along to the auditions, and after accepting both of us into the chorus, the teacher suggested that I should also be getting some formal voice training. Still in high school at the time, I started lessons and went on to study music at university. I feel quite blessed that both my parents always supported my choice of a career in music...especially when I met fellow students for whom that was not the case.

Several years, and two academic degrees later, when I was a finalist in the Luciano Pavarotti competition, Mum confided to me that she had always wondered what it would have been like to sing a role on the stage. (In her youth she had known several aspiring opera singers, but had never pursued a professional singing career herself.) She attended the rounds of the competition in New York and in Philadelphia and was thrilled when, as I was singing Sempre Libera from La Traviata, Maestro Pavarotti himself sang along as the off-stage Alfredo.

After I emigrated to the United Kingdom, it obviously became more challenging for Mum to attend performances I was involved with. She did make the journey to New York and Pittsburgh when I came back across the pond to perform in some contemporary opera premieres, and the advent of social networking via the Internet allows me to share recorded performances and photos with her almost instantly.

And so technology helped us to share another musical experience, in real time, and a few hours later we were able to rehash the whole performance in person. We had a lovely time sharing comments from both sides of the stage, and by the time I headed back to New York she was well-armed with gossipy inside information to share with her opera-going friends and mahjong buddies.

From Amahl chorus to the Metropolitan Opera, my mother has been there with me in one way or another, as inspiration, teacher, fellow chorus member, biggest fan, patron and supporter. So, thank you Metropolitan Opera of New York, for your HD cinema broadcast series, and allowing my mother and me to share this part of our journey. And thank you Mum. For everything.