3 February 2008

The past few weeks have been nothing short of extraordinary!

All opera roles are clearly not all created equal…

Salome is the role of lifetime for me. It is as if it was written for my particular set of talents and sensitivities. And I guess I have known that intuitively for quite some time, but it was nevertheless shocking to see it materialize inside of three weeks in a very snowy Milwaukee.

I was once again blessed with an amazing group of people to work with. Though I must confess that even compared to my great experiences of the past, this group was special. I have almost always felt a great affinity for the people with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work, but never before have I felt so protected and taken care of during both rehearsals and performances.

It was as if our rehearsal space was this sacred little space where I was afforded the opportunity to discover and make friends with “my” Salome — A girl with whom it is indeed necessary to make friends if you are to live with her for any length of time. She is demanding and draining, but also one of the most amazingly complex and special characters I could imagine. The amount of fearless abandon and vulnerability necessary to make her “work” is daunting to say the least. But my colleagues made me feel not only safe and protected, but also encouraged to continuously take it one step further.

I am also completely blown away by both my director and my choreographer. I had worked extensively on the dance already before arriving in Milwaukee, which was crucial, I think. It is hard to make that dance work even with wonderful choreography and plenty of rehearsals, but doing it inside of a very short rehearsal period would have been impossible. As it was, we were able to just plug our dance into the rest of the staging. Kathryn Posin helped me create a very appropriate dance for me — Making the most out of me both as a dancer and an actor. Every aspect of Salome, her strength, beauty, playfulness, seductiveness and audacity — as well as her fractured psyche — all of it came out in the dance.

As her worthy counterpart on the directorial side, I had the amazing fortune to be working with John Hoomes. He is the rare bird that actually watches, as well as listens and adjusts his direction to, the person with whom he is working… It was a revelation to work with him, and to experience what is possible when you feel completely understood and gently guided to go beyond your own limits. His sense of the absurd is spot on — And in combination with both his understanding of deep psychological terror and imbalance, as well as an amazing sense of the physical balance needed onstage, he just managed to paint an amazing picture of both the characters and their environment.

The overwhelming feeling by opening night was that I would follow him pretty much anywhere to get the opportunity to do this kind of work again. It was by far the most fulfilling artistic experience so far in my life.

Upon arriving back in New York after our very successful performances in Milwaukee, I met up with my teacher, Catherine Malfitano for a lesson. Salome of course, was one of her champion roles, and it has been an amazing resource to be able to work this repertoire with her. She is probably the most imaginative person I have ever met — with an intense relationship not only to the various possibilities of interpretation, but a deeply passionate, uncompromising and intimate sense of self inside the character.
It is always eye-opening to bring new repertoire to her. Each time I am bowled over by the infinite possibilities of expression.

I knew when the curtain came down on opening night that something bigger than me had taken place through me that night. The tears just pummeled me and it took me a good ten minutes to stop actual crying noises…. (I hate it when that happens…). But when I saw Catherine she said, “yes, of all the roles in my career, she (Salome) was probably the hardest to let go, to give up”…

That makes so much sense to me now. It’ll probably take me a whole career to explain and justify — But put simply, I am just completely in love with her and the music she brings with her!

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