Last night we had the dress rehearsal for HGO’s new production of Rigoletto, opening night is Friday 4/17. Scott Hendricks sings Rigoletto, Albina Shagimuratova is Gilda and Eric Cutler plays the Duke. Amazing singers all three of them, I’m always blown away by what it takes to do what they can do. Just being able to sing over a seventy-piece orchestra with no amplification, talk about breath-control and technique!
Tonight we’re having the rehearsal for the Mozart Requiem, so I’ll drag out my $160 Chinese alto trombone. Mike Warney plays tenor and Rick Reeves basstrombone, the HGO trombone section.
If you want to hear great jazz, come to River Oaks Baptist Church Sunday night 4/19 at 6 pm. New Orleans native and piano-great Matt Lemmler has put together a program about the history of jazz, with a kicking band doing the playing. Gary Welden on trumpet, Warren Sneed sax and clarinet, yours truly on trombone together with a swinging rhythm section. Should be loads of fun!
We had our third orchestra reading for Verdi’s Rigoletto today with the HGO orchestra, Patrick Summers conducting. Tomorrow night we’re having the sitz-probe, which means we get to meet and hear the singers for the first time. It’s one of the all-time great operas. I especially like the opening, it’s me and the trumpet, HGO Principal trumpet Jim Vassallo. The rest of the brass joins us in the second bar with low, dark chords, setting the stage for the dramatic story. Opening night is Friday April 17, 2009.
Title: Brief Encounter – Previn – Wold Premiere Location: Houston Grand Opera Link out: Click here Description: Houston Grand Opera presents the world premiere of André Previn’s Brief Encounter, based on David Lean’s classic film adaptation of a play by Noël Coward. An honest and compassionate look at emotional infidelity, Brief Encounter stars Elizabeth Futral and Nathan Gunn as Laura and Alec, the couple torn between love and loyalty, and Kim Josephson as Laura’s bewildered husband; Patrick Summers conducts. Start Date: 2009-05-01 End Date: 2009-05-09
Title: May 15-16: Rigoletto Location: Miller Outdoor Theater Link out: Click here Description: A bitter court jester pits himself against his master in a hopeless effort to protect his daughter’s virtue. Three shining young artists—Studio alums Scott Hendricks and Albina Shagimuratova, along with Eric Cutler—star as the hunchback Rigoletto, his adored daughter Gilda and the lecherous, remorseless Duke of Mantua. Patrick Summers conducts Verdi’s distinguished tragedy. Start Date: 2009-05-15 End Date: 2009-05-16
A little update on what’s going on in my musical life.
We finished Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” with the Houston Grand Opera early February. It was a blast playing it, with a great cast and a really fine conductor, Steven Sloan. It was a little unnerving though with all the exposed soft playing for the trombones!
In early November nine of us from the HGO orchestra went down to Mazatlan in Mexico to play the Sleeping Beauty, Tjaikovskij’s ballet. It was for the Festival Cultural Mazatlan, and the orchestra consisted of both musicians from Mexico and the US.
We had a great time, and it got even better after I got over the food poisoning!
It’s time for an update of my musical activities in the fall of 2007. The main thing in the fall has been playing principal trombone with the Houston Grand Opera, and sharing the principal spot at the Houston Ballet with John McCroskey, formerly of the Houston Symphony.
We started the season with the ballet The Merry Widow, Franz Lehar’s classic operetta, and this time without the singers. It was a fun show, lots of playing; my big solo was to depict the drunken Count for two bars!
The opera season started with The Masked Ball by Verdi. This was especially interesting for me since the story was based on an actual event in Sweden. King Gustav III was shot at a masked ball at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm March 16, 1792. He survived, but finally died thirteen days later at the age of forty six. By the way, Sweden under King Gustav III was the first country in Europe after Great Britain to acknowledge the United States of America as a sovereign nation in April of 1783. Enough history for now!
In April and May I played principal trombone for the Houston Grand Opera productions of Verdi’s Aida and the Cunning Little Vixen by Leos Janaçek. We had a total of 27 brasses in Aida, counting herald trumpets, off-stage brass and the pit brass section. Check out the pictures. How the singers can be heard, with no mikes, over all that noise is a total mystery to me! The Cunning Little Vixen has a very intricate score, lots of tempo- and meter changes. There are some absolutely beautiful sections, and the HGO Orchestra sounded great under the direction of maestro Patrick Summers.
I also played a couple of family concerts with the Houston Symphony, and recorded a demo of Ned Battista’s ballet “Kansas City” with the American Pops under the direction of the composer.