Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dear UAB Opera Students...

At long last, I can sit down and write my thanks to you for two beautiful productions. A week has passed, though it feels more like a month, but the clarity that comes from the passing of time allows me to tell you just how much these shows meant this year.
Every year is special with you. Each production has its joys and its challenges. With "Pirates," we had the added benefit (or liability, depending on how you looked at it) of dance and refining comic timing. Some of you were in that show: how far we've come together! In "Flute," we had the daunting task of performing one of the most beloved and well-known operas of all time. With "Semele," the challenge was some difficult coloratura singing. We also updated what could have been a staid show, with delightful results.
Then there was this year. In the Purcell, many of you were charged with being three different characters in the space of fifty minutes. All of you were required to find a different way of moving and communicating. Baroque gesture was new and difficult, and we only scratched the surface. These are new and varied tools that each of you will carry into future work, whether it is another Baroque opera (and they are more commonly produced now than they have been in centuries) or your own recital work. As stock as some of the gestures felt, each of you now has an expanded physical understanding. Thank you all for your willingness to try something new!
The Britten was challenging beyond measure. There were times you wondered if you could do it. There were times I wondered if I was asking too much of you. But I kept pushing you because I knew you could succeed--that was the reason I chose the piece in the first place--and you rose to the occasion. On top of learning wildly difficult music, you continued to refine gesture beyond what you had done in the Purcell, and found that very little was needed to crown Britten's genius. Was it perfect? No, but that isn't even the point in the end. You grew musically in ways that may become fully apparent only as the years pass. It will probably reveal itself to be a time in your education that will mark a turning point for many of you.
I couldn't be prouder of all of you, or happier about your progress. Doing this double bill was an enormous achievement. You are building the opera program into one that you might not recognize when you visit ten years from now. That, my darlings, is what it's all about. Building something bigger than yourself, doing better than you can imagine, is why we create art. UAB opera students years from now will be standing on your shoulders, figuratively speaking. That is a great gift and a huge responsibility, and you bore it well. Be sure to thank Dr. Mosteller and Les for the extra time they gave to help you prepare. We couldn't have done it without them.
No class this week. Thursday at 3:30 will be Dr. Darnell's presentation on The Changing Adolescent Voice in the Choral Room. We'll watch the DVDs next week during Tuesday and Thursday class time, and yes: you may have copies this year! You may also have photo DVDs too. I'll let you know when they're available.
Just in case I don't say it enough, I love y'all MADLY. And I'm very proud of you.
-Dr. Kris

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