It has been quite a year for anyone associated with opera and our “Opera Family”. Last year in Santa Fe we received the news of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s all too early departure from us; we’ve lost 2 iconic figures in Beverly Sills and Regine Crespin; we’ve been hit with the news of 2 legends having to fight off the unthinkable opponent in pancreatic cancer; and now we’ve tragically said goodbye to Jerry Hadley, a story so fragile and heartbreaking, it has surely stopped every singer in their tracks to ponder the fragility of their lives.
As a family, it seems impossible to think of going forward without these great people among us, these immense presences in our lives. It almost seems perverse that we should still be able to hear and observe them in song after they’ve gone, but thank God we can. It makes me all the more grateful they gave so freely and willingly of their art so that we may have an eternal glimpse of their spirit here among us. And yet, it also amplifies for me how little we ever know about any artist that stands before us. How fragile, indeed.
I finished my season on Monday night by singing Rossini’s Stabat Mater for the first time with the incredible Tony Pappano at the helm. In a way I wish the audience could have a tiny window into the thoughts that run through a performer’s mind during any given night of music making, for my mind rushed with so many thoughts of my parents and where they might be now and could they hear the noise down here, of my “opera family” and it’s search for the delicate balance between sanity and insanity, of life and death, of the glory of making music with such esteemed colleagues, of what must be racing through each audience member’s mind as they are taken their individual journey, and more – and yet the only vehicle for expressing all of this are the preordained notes and ancient text which have been (divinely?) scribbled down by an old man over a century before. How ridiculous it seems on the one hand, and yet how rapturously sublime.
*Photo: from the San Augustino Church in Siena before the Concert