My, oh my, what a busy fall this was...
After being away for almost a year, I arrived back in San Francisco for the first time as a guest artist. Not a young artist. This difference may seem negligible, but I can tell you, it was huge to me. No longer did my ID badge say “Adler Fellow.” No longer did I have to do Adler functions. I had one job...to cover the role of Aida. And, while I had covered many roles during my time as an Adler Fellow at San Francisco (Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, Venus in Tannhäuser, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra and Leonora in Il Trovatore), this felt oh so different. It was an honor and a pleasure, as well as a great technical stretch to work on this project. As the lovely Aida, Micaela Carosi was absent for the first week of rehearsals, it was a joy to stage and sing the role with arguably the greatest Amneris of our time, Dolora Zajick. What a stunning experience!
Shortly after the opening night, I had my first of three recital performances this fall. (Yes, I may be clinically insane for deciding to do three completely different recital programs in three months. Yikes!) This recital just so happened to be on my birthday, and it was a very memorable way to spend it. Not many ladies are lucky enough to spend their birthday with three incredibly romantic men...Wagner, Strauss and Berg! Hehehe. And, with the astounding John Parr at the piano, I just couldn’t have asked for more.
A short two weeks after the first recital, I left for Scotland to sing Act One of Die Walküre with the BBC Scottish Symphony and Maestro Donald Runnicles. I can honestly and without a doubt say that it was simply one of the best musical experiences of my life. Being able to sing my first Sieglinde alongside the menacing Hunding of Reinhard Hagen and the powerful Siegmund of Stuart Skelton was a dream. These two men were seasoned pros at their roles, and were so kind and understanding of my debut. It was an absolute honor. It was amazing to share the debut with the members of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, who were playing this masterwork for the first time. I wish that I could fully describe the feeling of the floorboards vibrating beneath my feet during the overture, or the sensation of the cello solo in my ribcage. The orchestra was breathtaking, and it was a pleasure to share the stage with them. I truly don’t have the words to express my gratitude and joy at having Maestro Runnicles at the helm. To have a Maestro that seems to know not only what you need as a singer, but what to do to make it even more musical and poignant is a gift beyond words. I am eternally grateful to have been able to sing this role under his baton, and I am counting the days until I am able to sing it in its entirety with him next summer. HOORAY!!
After Scotland, I had a short two weeks before I went to Texas for my first ever meeting with Signore Rossini! It was a real departure for me, and worth every moment. Granted, the Rossini in question was the Stabat Mater, but it was still out of my comfort zone! What an incredible piece of music. And, singing the famous “Inflammatus” with a full orchestra and chorus is a wonderfully powerful feeling. But, even more special than that, was that my beautiful, kind, sweet nieces were able to join me there for a few days, and I was able to share with them a little bit of what crazy Aunty Heidi does from day-to-day. My eldest niece even wanted to attend the dress rehearsal with me! She was quite amazing, sat by herself, was a participating audience member, and told me just how much she liked the music. I don’t think I could have done nearly as well when I was 7! She behaved beautifully, and even came up on stage during the pause to meet the orchestra and chorus and stand on the Maestro’s podium. I think that just may have been worthy of missing a day of school!
Upon my return to San Francisco, I had two recitals in two weeks. The first was with the insanely musical John Churchwell, and was a preview recital for our upcoming December 1st concert with San Francisco Performances. It took place at Michael Savage’s lovely venue, Jessica’s Barn, in Calistoga. It was a very special night. There was rain on the roof, and a glowing heat lamp and mulled wine to keep everyone warm. We performed Sibelius Songs and Korngold’s Lieder des Abschieds (which have become some of my most favorite pieces ever.) The second half we spent with a selection of torch songs. It was such a memorable night for me (it is not every program that you get to sing an entire song in chest voice). We presented a version of this program again under the auspices of San Francisco Performances on December 1st to a sold out crowd. Another unforgettable night! The second recital was with the absolutely brilliant Allen Perriello, sponsored by Noe Valley Chamber Music. Noe Valley Chamber Music asked us to perform some lesser-known pieces, and to make some of them modern. We did our best to appease them and offered Barber’s Hermit Songs, Debussy’s Chansons di Bilitis, Hoiby’s Songs for Leontyne and Strauss’ Gesänge des Orients. It was a very challenging program, but I was very proud of the work that Allen and I did together. (And, I will always be grateful to Allen for helping me through the insanity of it all...and putting up with me!!!)
December 5th, I departed my beloved San Francisco for a very quick run of Hänsel und Gretel at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. It was delightful being back at the Deutsche Oper, and this production was an absolute holiday treat. We had only two days of rehearsal, and then the show was up! It was a perfect experience: the finest colleagues, gorgeous music, and being in Berlin for the holiday season. The only downside was that I came down with a heck of a cold day two of rehearsal. So I had to put on my big girl pants, go to the corner Apotheke, and make it work. It was my first time singing while really sick, and I am happy to say I made it through without having to cancel! Huzzah! After I recouped, I was able to get together with many friends, and enjoy the festive Weihnachtsmarkts of Berlin. (I may have a new Christmastime addiction!)
And, that brings me to today – January 1, 2011. Happy New Year everyone! With every New Year comes reflections on the old. What a year it was. My first professional year as a singer. My flight-plan was: Berlin to Vienna to Berlin to Karlsruhe to Berlin to Vienna to Berlin to Philadelphia to Fort Hood to Spokane to Montreal to Spokane to Fort Hood to San Francisco to Glasgow to Edinburough to San Francisco to San Antonio to San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Berlin. PHEWF!
So Dear 2010, You’ve stretched me in ways that I cannot even begin to express. You have allowed me to share my music with many people, and even some of the nearest and dearest to my heart. You brought me back to my beginnings, and allowed me to regroup and regrow. You have been incredible. But, my new, shiny 2011 – I am so very excited for you. For 5 new leading roles. For new countries and hemispheres. For new people and new experiences. For music. Bring. It. On.
— Miss M