I am delighted to be appearing in the chorus for "Of Mice and Men" at Opera San José, from November 15th to 30th, 1997. This page provides a little information for your enjoyment, and hopefully will entice you to come see the show (and me)!
If you are already sold, head on over to Opera San José's "Of Mice and Men" page for more infomration.
If not, read on...
"Of Mice and Men" is an American opera by Carlisle Floyd based on a the famous novel by John Steinbeck. A colleague of mine said, "Mice and Men is a story that you read in half an hour, and think about for a lifetime". The tragedy, the raw emotion of this great story makes for wonderfully powerful opera.
|10. Me! I play a ranch hand in the famous dog-lynching scene. But also not to be overlooked are my voices off-stage in Acts II and III,i, featuring a finely-honed reading of that provocatively ambiguous line, "Fine".|
9. The dog. Since shooting a dog plays such a central part in the story, we could do no less than have a real live dog on stage. Her name is Jessie, and if you squint she looks a little old and male. And, despite all her training, it's still never clear whether she'll stay in her place during the scene, or head for the door. W.C. Fields griped about performing with dogs and children. He was right.
8. It's live opera. In a world full of mediocre movies with huge budgets and flawless recordings of top 40 classical repertory, it's great to see real flesh and blood performing just for you. Plus, it's your contribution towards making sure these performances continue for future generations.
7. Sets & Lights. The set is a beautifully painted and utterly convincing. See the eucalyptus trees and the rolling hills of our own back yard up on the Montgomery Theatre stage! See the stark, rich, subtle lighting. Excellent work by our crews.
6. Lillian Garrett-Groag's direction. As anyone who saw last year's production of Pagliacci can tell you, Lillian is a director who brings richly detailed and rewarding theatre to operas. Everyone, down to the last chorus member, has specific work to do each second to advance the story. No "park and bark" opera direction for her.
5. Carlisle Floyd's music. When I first started to study the score, I was baffled by unfamiliar disharmonies and mondo bizarre irregular rythms. Then I heard it played, and it it all made sense. The disharmonies don't grate, they reveal strife. They irregular rythms fit English words like a glove. It's not the (relatively) orderly garden of Mozart or Rossini, but it's a rich, craggy, beautiful, delightful landscape.
4. Splendid singers. Opera San Jose is a training company, and there is a rich crop of new talent making its debut in this production. There are two casts, each giving their own spin but both with voices and acting that I can unreservedly recommend. Come ready to applaud.
3. It's an opera of the here and now. Most opera is about times and places and stories far removed from us. This is a story set in the Salinas valley, by a modern northern Californian author, set to words in English by a living American composer. Characters like migrant farm workers are as current as today's headlines. It's very accessible, very immediate.
2. George & Lennie. The story is really about their reaching for, and failing to grasp, their dream. The characters are unforgettable.
1. Act II. In one act, you get Slim's aria, Ranch hands die. You get George's searingly passionate response, I 'mnot ready to settle for such a stingy life. You get the one really sunny moment into the opera as George, Lennie, and Slim hope: I believe we just might swing 'er! You get a marvelously petulant interruption by Curley's wife, leading to not one but two fights. And then you get an intermission. What more could you ask for in an opera?
"Of Mice and Men" , music and libretto by Carlisle
Presented by Opera San José at the Montgomery Theatre, San Carlos and Market Streets, in downtown San Jose, California. Tickets range from $30 to $48. Mastercard and Visa are welcome. For more information, call the Box Office at +1-408-437-4450.
See Opera San José's "Of Mice and Men" page for details of performance dates and prices.
Please check out the "Of Mice and Men" site, cultivated by yours truly. There is precious little information on "Of Mice and Men" out on the Web. I'm doing what I can to link to existing material, and assemble new material.
Recordings. There are no commercial recordings of the opera available (as of 11/97).
Other performances. The Glimmerglass Opera
had a production this summer. There are upcoming performances
by the San Diego Opera at least. The American Opera association
US and world productions. Operabase.com can list major
upcoming European performances.