Tuesday, November 22, 2011

PAGLIACCI at Sacramento Opera. An Opera Company Re-born!

It's day two of being home from a glorious production of Pagliacci, announcing the revival of Sacramento Opera. Being part of such a strong cast was a real treat, but we all had the added energy and resolve of making a real impact with our work. This Pagliacci was the first staged production by this wonderful company since it had to suspend operations last year - another casualty of the depressed economy. The end result was a performance (overseen by Rod Gideons, shaped by stage director David Bartholomew and conductor Michael Morgan with the Sacramento Philharmonic) which was a truly vital, human, and engaging experience.

All this, with the curve-ball of losing our Canio (Roy Cornelius Smith, who is a consummate artist and a generous colleague) to a dream job doing the same role at Royal Danish Opera - while only a couple days into rehearsals. We wished Roy farewell, and had the good fortune of Eduardo Villa stepping in for him, and just enough time (9 days) to re-build the incredible bond that the cast had with Roy. Everyone: cast, chorus, crew, really pulled together like a tightly knit tribe. A clear indicator that our "tribe" has a deeper purpose. Seeing this happen around me, and being such an integral part of it was truly awe-inspiring. 

Among the rest of the cast was the singular Shana Blake Hill, as Nedda. It was such a joy to hear her sing, to act with her, watch her process, and to bond as cast mates and as dear friends. Side note: I have been so lucky to have such great leading lady counterparts, and have kept in touch and made true friends of all of them!    It was really comforting and invigorating to be in the company of colleagues that truly cared for their craft, and gave of themselves so completely to the work. Igor Vieira, our Tonio, was another shining example of that. His character gestures were so completely integrated (even in rehearsal!) that he would need to spend time stretching and doing physical therapy so the contortions wouldn't actually injure him. Then there was Daniel Ebbers, who was so definitive (and imparted great vocal beauty) in his Beppe that I really can't imagine anyone else doing that role. 

The audience was another triumph: people from many different ages and backgrounds, and many first time opera goers. This form of expression really does cross all boundaries, and can speak to everyone. 

So I, at once humbled and energized, now turn my thoughts to the next phase... Auditions and meetings in NYC, as part of the annual "audition season" AKA: singer's meat market... or slaughter house - depending on who you ask. Many exciting projects are in the works, which I'll let you all know about very soon!

Tre stelle: Eduardo Villa (Canio), Shana Blake Hill (Nedda), Zachary Gordin (Silvio). 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WORKING OUT! Fitness and the singer.

Thinking on the topics of physical fitness and opera singing, I find a lot of overlap between the two worlds. Singers need to have great stamina and must stay well in order to navigate the difficulties of a stage career. Mental focus is important in both athletics and singing: mentally preparing for a great workout or football game is as important as focusing before a performance or an audition. I'm finding that in order to do anything well, it takes a great deal of physical AND mental presence. 

The singers I talk to that have incorporated a serious fitness regime into their lives always remark on how it changes and focuses them. The physical changes are obvious, but it's the internal, mental shift that I'm really finding fascinating. The singers that can show up for themselves, by dedicating part of their time to their minds/bodies outside of singing, tend to have more drive, focus, and creative juice than those who don't. The mind/body connection is real, and singers are athletes at their physical and animal core. We work with our bodies to create something. That's a real incentive to keep the body healthy and happy. 

Mid-set, at Gold's Gym, Oakland, CA.

Determination, and focus are elements that drive our creative processes. These are the same elements I tap into when I'm trying to accomplish a set with the weights, or trying to find the best way to convey a phrase of Verdi. 

What are your thoughts? Who has a personal story to share? I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

iCadenza Future of Music Festival, Los Angeles, August 17-20, 2011.

I'm THRILLED to be performing with such a great roster of artists, at iCadenza's Future of Music Festival. I invite all of my Los Angeles area friends to come out and support this new and exciting event!

Featured on Friday, August 19th, will be a concert with me and the wonderful mezzo-soprano Cathleen Candia, joined by pianist Armen Guzelimian. Also featured on that concert will be pianists Rufus Choi and Max Levinson. 

On Saturday, August 20, from 3-5 PM, I will be presenting a master class at the Colburn School with collaborative pianist Catherine Miller Popovic and a team of exceptionally gifted singers from all over the West Coast. In this public master class, each singer will be performing an aria, and then working on their craft in front of an audience. These master classes are always full of energy, discovery, and great artistic moments - a treat for both opera student and fan. This event is free to audience members, and open to the public! Stay tuned for more details.

Tickets to the festival concerts will go on sale August 4th. More information: http://www.icadenza.com/festival-2011/

Monday, June 27, 2011

Photos from Dido and Aeneas - West Bay Opera!

Photos by Otak Jump.
with Cathleen Candia as Dido, and Shawnette Sulker as Belinda.

I love this opera, and this role. I hope it's one I get to do often. Thanks to my outstanding colleagues at West Bay Opera for making this opera happen in such a memorable way.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Latest news, Opening Night at West Bay Opera, Taminophile interview, and more...

I have a lot of links to share with you!

Here's one that looks ahead.

Oakland East Bay Symphony 2011-2012 Season announcement in the San Jose Mercury:

Opening night at West Bay Opera was a miracle. Not only did the cast, chorus, orchestra, crew, and everyone else really pull it together (this production wasn't going to happen...), we actually put on a good show, despite some coordination issues with some of the substitute players in the pit. Thrown into the mix was my physical condition. What I thought was a bad case of allergies, turned out to be a throat infection. I stayed away from my cast mates, and warned everyone what might be going on. It was just plain scary to sing a performance with basically no voice. Add to that the staging, acting, choreography, heavy monster's head on a spear, etc... and you're begging for a disaster. The disaster never came. We all got through with some kind of dignity, and my stellar technique (thank you Olivia Stapp, Carol Vaness, Sheri Greenawald, et al...) made possible a mediocre performance which could have been a hot mess. We got a couple less than kind reviews on SFCV and Opera Tattler, which have been receiving an interesting little backlash from the community. The Sunday performance was saved, courtesy Dr. Scheibel and Nurse Marbley (congrats on the graduation!!). Endless thanks! Antibiotics work wonders, and I was operating at 90% after one day of treatment. 

Here's a review: 

I hope more critics come to the final weekend (this weekend - get your tickets!) and write about it. Watching Cathleen do these two roles in rapid succession is worth AT LEAST the price of the ticket. I have wonderful colleagues in this production. Very proud.

OK... More pics from this production soon!! 

Next on the agenda...

Taminophile is an online opera magazine, which approached me to do an interview. I had some great questions to answer. If you have several minutes, give it a look. Here it is: http://www.taminophile.com/2011/05/singer-profile-zachary-gordin-baritone.html

Barihunks has also sent around a couple recent postings involving me. 

As always, feel free to re-post, re-blog, email to your friends, etc. Thanks!

More soon!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

STREET SCENE: Kurt Weill in Concert with Oakland East Bay Symphony!

I'm going to be performing the role of Mr. Jones in this concert version of Street Scene. He doesn't say much, but I love working with my city's symphony whenever I can. Please come out to support OEBS, and look ahead to January 27, 2012, when I'll be performing with OEBS in the (seemingly endless) role of baritone soloist in Carl Orff's epic work CARMINA BURANA. More info and tickets at www.oebs.org

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dido and Aeneas hits West Bay Opera!

Photo: Cathleen Candia as Dido and Zachary Gordin as Aeneas

I'm gearing up for a great double-bill! The baroque masterpiece Dido and Aeneas (FINALLY as Aeneas, after having sung both Dido and the Sorceress back in my countertenor days...), and La vida breve, which is a sadly neglected opera, full of passion and incredible music. Conducted by Jose Luis Moscovich, and stage direction by Ragnar Conde, with an incredible cast.

I'm really excited to be doing another production among friends. West Bay Opera (Palo Alto, CA) is a company that is very dear to me, and one that deserves an outpouring of support from the community for its outstanding productions. I performed Germont in my first production of La traviata with them last season, and was shocked by the magic that this company makes happen, on a modest budget, and with the help of a small army of volunteers. Truly world-class opera, presented in a wonderful small theater, and accessible to all. 

I'm starting the rehearsal process tomorrow, and look forward to meeting new cast mates, and seeing old friends. I'll keep you all posted, here, with updates on how it all shapes up.

Please help get the word out, and get your tickets ASAP.  Go to West Bay Opera and click on the "Tickets" button. 

Thanks! Drop me a line if you are coming, and I hope to see you there! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Begin at the Beginning...

Let's start off where I begin with myself each time I sing, or whenever I start working with a new singer, at the beginning.


It really matters. Really. It's the material a singer makes art on, like canvas for a painter. Yet, somehow, it often gets neglected as its own entity in the "singer's machine". To a great singer, air has mass, weight, texture. You breathe it in, and it is part of you, and then you give it back to the world carrying your song.

In pursuing the study of singing, and the training of the voice as an instrument, the focus is often drawn to the outside - the end result of what is done with the breath. Students often miss the point here, listening to feedback and trying too hard to alter the path or form of breath that has already escaped their control. Muscular response follows, tricking them into thinking that force or effort is involved in control. I offer that we start the study of singing, and indeed our own awareness of our voices, from the inside. How do you embody air in the process of singing? Do you fear it? Do you hesitate it? Do you ignore it completely? Can you feel it? Can you own it? Can you share it freely, without shame? Think about it.

This is the beginning.