Thursday, December 31, 2009

The gifts I have been given

The gifts I have in this world are amazing.  My wife, our home and our two cats, our friends, the musicians and music I come into contact with every day.  It's hard not to wax sentimental about it all.

And cooking.  Cooking is cheap therapy for me.  I've made the best mac'n cheese I've ever done (probably 12 kinds of cheese, champagne, sour cream, yogurt, bowtie pasta and a drizzle of black truffle infused olive oil).  There's a new chicken dish in the oven already (fennel, apples, stock).  The TWO 5-lb. briskets (root vegetables and lots of dill) are ready to go in when we go to bed.  Karen has made a beautiful vegetable quiche, chocolate sourdough bread pudding (her own invention), and plans a mixed rice dish with mushrooms and a vegetable stock she's been working on for two days, and I'll do okra with tomatoes and black-eyed peas.  And we haven't killed each other in the kitchen!

I hope MANY guests show up tomorrow, because otherwise, we'll have food for a month!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Anna Bolena - no small task

While I wanted my first post to be about the year-long project, I can't neglect the current one: dell'Arte Opera Ensemble's upcoming production of Donizetti's Anna Bolena.  Most of the time when I program a piece, it's because I already love it.  With this project, though, the love has come from the work.  I have to admit, I didn't really know the story or the music very well at all when it got programmed.  It hasn't hurt that we're all learning this incredible piece together....For everyone in the cast it's a new piece.

If you're interested in full cast information, or a libretto or synopsis, visit the dell'Arte website at but suffice to say, everyone is wonderful. It's unfair to single out one person, but I think everyone will be truly 'wowed' by the wonderful Jill Dewsnup in the title role.

Today is props day.  Stage Director Nathaniel Merchant (whom we congratulate on the birth of baby Penelope a couple of weeks ago!) visits storage to pick out everything we need.  At the moment, rehearsals are suspended while cast members visit with family and friends for the holidays, and I'm neck deep in preparing the orchestra parts for printing.  The new orchestration (7 winds, double bass and piano) is designed specifically for the theater and has been a particular obsession since September.  Thankfully, I feel like I was able to retain most of Donizetti's colors.

Performances are Friday, January 29 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 31 at 3 p.m.  Tickets, if you're interested are available at

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just finished watching Julie and Julia and after lots of thinking and talking about starting a blog, and a bit of prodding from my lovely wife, here goes...

The movie, if you don't know it already, follows Julia Child through the years as she is inspired by her love of eating (definitely something we have in common) to learning how to cook (something I love to do) to becoming the author of one of the most important cookbooks ever. The parallel life is follows is of a young woman, Julia, who decides to cook all 500+ recipes in Child's cookbook in the space of a year and blog about them. 365 days....

That's the inspiration for the first post: 365 days. It has been my dream for a long time to produce Humperdinck's "other" opera (besides Hansel and Gretel, for any non-opera person to wander along), otherwise known as Konigskinder, or The Royal children. It was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera right here in New York City, 99 years ago last night, and it hasn't been repeated here in the city in almost that long, though I learned about the piece from working on a beautiful and touching production at Sarasota Opera in 1997.

The other impetus for the blog comes from my resolution for the new year: "Ask for help." So here's the other direct address to anyone reading. Please learn about this amazing work and if you are as moved by it as I was and still am), think about how you'd like to help bring about the 100th anniversary production. Sure, cash donations to dell'Arte Opera Ensemble would be lovely and necessary ( but more meaningful to me would be thinking about how you might bring yourself to the project. Maybe you're a fantastic bassoonist and would like to volunteer to play in the orchestra. Perhaps you're a wonderful seamstress (or that that word?) and want to help stich costumes. Do you know how to make stage snow? Do you speak German and are you great with a powerpoint projector? Someone needs to create a wonderful packet of materials for schools, because I want LOTS of children to see this piece. After all, the piece is about how children provide the greatest resource possible: truth.

I can't wait to share more about Konigskinder, about dell'Arte Opera Ensemble and our other upcoming projects, about my private coaching studio, and once in awhile, maybe just a little bit about cooking. Thanks Julie and Julia.