A week has passed since opening night, and it seems like it was ages ago already. But I promised you a love note, and Thanksgiving seems the perfect day to write it.
We have to start with those who made it possible. Ed designed another masterpiece and lit it brilliantly, not that we'd ever be surprised by that. As I post more photos, you'll see just what I mean. Our beloved Les was your captain through occasionally rocky waters, and his musicianship and kind spirit kept all of us calm. Dr. Steele was our rock through everything, and was absolutely unflappable even through the longest of rehearsals. Laura and Amanda did more for you behind the scenes than you can imagine, and were absolute professionals in every way. Ella and Katie handled well the occasionally stressful task of supertitles, and I am thankful to them as well.
But you, darlings, you were the backbone of the piece. You should be so very proud of your work. Who would have thought we'd take on a Mozart opera in the original Italian? But with you, it seemed the logical choice. Young singers with the amount of drive that you have deserved a challenge such as this, and you rose to it admirably.
The recitative was, of course, the hardest part. A few weeks ago, I confessed that my backup plan was to change it all into English dialogue if necessary. I didn't tell you this ahead of time because you deserved the opportunity to give it an honest attempt, and I was delighted when you made the backup plan completely unnecessary. When Reed Woodhouse arrived to polish your work, the most gratifying words he spoke were, "You are so well prepared." Indeed you were.
Performing the opera entirely in the original Italian was also an enormous feat. Most of you have not taken diction, which means the extent of your experience with the language has been a few Italian songs studied in your voice lessons. Your pronunciation and inflection improved considerably over our ten weeks together. Will it continue to grow? Of course it will: you have only scratched the surface. But you should be very pleased with your progress.
Lastly, you all grew as singing actors. What a joy it was to watch you take chances onstage, and to truly commit to telling the story. At times I asked you to do outrageous things. Many times I told you, "I don't believe you." It was delightful to watch you take the initiative to solve problems yourselves. Taking the responsibility to inhabit the characters both musically and dramatically is a skill that you will take with you to every show in the future.
This was a first for all of you: it was your first full opera in Italian with recitative. For some of you, it was your first opera role ever. Given that, the work you did is even more astonishing. I am deeply proud of each and every one of you and how far you came in one short semester. It's incredible to think that, in ten weeks, you went from knowing only one aria in the opera to mastering an entire role! You should feel such a sense of accomplishment. Some years from now, you may look back and say to yourself, "Wow, I sang an entire opera role in Italian when I was only 20. How did I do that?"
Are you finished growing? You know the answer to that. We all learn and develop as artists throughout our lives, and undergraduate work is only the beginning. More than anything, I hope you have discovered the deep joy that comes from difficult and painstaking work. There are things we do in this life that are enjoyable because they are merely fun or even effortless. But the fulfillment that comes from making progress on something that is a lifelong pursuit is different and wholly more satisfying. Hard work at something you truly love produces a more enduring happiness, don't you think?
On this day of Thanksgiving, I am deeply thankful to all of you. You inspire me. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach you, and through you, I am also taught. May your day of Thanksgiving be filled with gratitude, time with loved ones, and some well-deserved rest.
And know that I love y'all madly.