Entries tagged “The Life”


An acquired taste

Because I don’t teach voice lessons for a living, I can fantasize about being the kind of teacher who stands out from the crowd by posting dour German affirmations on social media: “Learn to stop struggling with yourself and start struggling with the world! Cast away Neurosis, the more fully to embrace Tragedy!”


Dying is easy

Lesson #1 learned (or at least reinforced) from doing Gallantry, which closed out its five-performance run at the Capital Fringe this evening: If you don’t keep up your energy during the non-funny bits, the funny bits fall flat. Lesson #2: Timing, concentration, and commitment to acting seriously within a silly universe require a lot of effort, even for just half an hour. As a rule it takes me forever to internalize any principle of the stage, so watching my castmates Emily Casey, Tad Czyzewski, and Rebecca Stugart cutting up in rehearsal as though they were born to it was as awe-inspiring as it was gratifying.

I’ve never been in such a copiously reviewed show before. I’m not immune to praise or censure (and we got some of each for Gallantry), but the most gratifying reviews, for me, are the ones in which the reviewer clearly got what the performers were trying to do.

Thanks to Jay and Gregg at OperAlterna for taking me on. And thanks to everyone who showed up! I love the opportunity, at Fringe, to mingle with audiences and even get to know some familiar faces year after year.

In other news, one event that’s not on the official list until I have received an official date is at the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage festival, over Labor Day weekend. Rachel and I will be among the five singers presenting excerpts of Andrew Earle Simpson’s work in progress, The Outcasts of Poker Flat, based on Bret Harte’s story.


Don't be boring

The first one-on-one conversation I had with John Lehmeyer took place during a rehearsal break for an opera he was directing at Peabody; I was a lowly undergrad in the chorus. Out of the blue he turned to me and asked: “Mr. Rogers [always on a last-name basis!], you’re a very intelligent person, aren’t you?” I stammered something modest and a bit defensive, trying to think where this line of questioning was about to go. “Yes,” he continued, “I noticed that about you.” End of conversation; time to go back to rehearsal.

That was vintage Mr. Lehmeyer: courteous, intimate, and disarming in the space of two sentences. In my mind’s eye I can see him calling out blockings at a rehearsal or overseeing costume fittings in a dusty back room at A. T. Jones & Sons like an unusually plainspoken oracle — a big man with a forceful, ungentle voice and startling, clear, intelligent eyes. He died eight years ago this month, but even now he’s stage-directed me — at Peabody and at the late lamented Summer Opera Theatre Company — in more productions than any one other director. (I took several opportunities, during those productions, to prove him wrong about my intelligence.)

The biggest impression he left on me was the conviction that music and opera ought not to be boring. The typical Lehmeyer production was a riot of color and action (usually featuring as much cleavage as the cast could show), all staged with a masterful visual imagination that I envied. But even his darker, moodier productions crackled with tension; they were never boring. This principle may seem obvious or oversimplified to you, but to a young guy with a tendency to overthink things, it was an important and a hard lesson to learn. “Don’t be boring”: it’s as simple, and difficult, as that.

This blog is where I mean to practice not being boring.