Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rest, Relaxtion, Restoration ... ah, Alaskaaaaaah

Thank you

I had the extreme pleasure of singing on board the US AMSTERDAM recently on a 7-day cruise of Alaska for the Metropolitan Opera Guild. The brilliant Jake Heggie was my collaborative pianist, the dashing Michael Snider the organizer, and a number of enthusiastic opera lovers our audience and travel companions! The week could not have been more memorable, more relaxing, more breathtaking, or more restorative. I was ready for a great week, but wasn't quite ready for the astonishment that was Alaska. The sights, the sounds (mostly of silence!), the fish, the friendship, the music making. It did this soul such good!

Perhaps my greatest memory was standing next to Jake as we were whale watching (which turned into whale astonishment over and over!), as he scoured the quiet, still waters waiting for that puff of mist to signal they were coming to the surface. You see, Jake is in the middle of writing his next opera, Moby Dick, which is set to open this spring in Dallas. As we set sail, he has just finished the piano vocal score of the piece and had workshopped it in San Francisco, giving him the opportunity to identify the parts of the opera that needed tweaking, and to know what was already working quite well. Upon our return, he would have to start the actual orchestration. So to stand on board next to him as he took in the SILENCE, the expanse, and the MAJESTY of these creatures as they would come to the surface was an experience I'll never forget. I could see the sounds beginning to formulate in his ear, and I just knew then and there that he would write a masterpiece.

We spoke one day of how nimble and agile these creatures were for their enormous size. "They're just HUGE", I said. And then Jake would take a look around us, 360*, at the entire world encapsulating us, and he said, "Actually, they're not THAT big, all things considered." That was Alaska - giving us the chance to remember where we fit into the scheme of things, and what real life is actually about.

And then of course, we got to play together!!

As with all things "Cruise ship", one never knows exactly what to expect. For example, for our first concert, they didn't have an actual piano available. So they brought down and actual "SLAM GRAND" which was an approximation of an electric keyboard housed in the casing that was made to look, almost, like a grand piano. We couldn't stop laughing about it - thinking it probably was the only time in our careers we had faced something QUITE like that before. Yeah, the piano was completely hollow:

Truly, it was the trip of a lifetime, wish such great sights, smells, tastes, and just that perfect silence that came with the majesty that was Alaska. It made me realize how important silence is in my life. It makes the sound that follows all that more meaningful.

(More pictures are posted on my FLICKR page, if you're curious!)


Irishrover said...

I just love the pic where you're head over heels with the piano ^^

"It made me realize how important silence is in my life. It makes the sound that follows all that more meaningful."

Beautifully said.

An Englishwoman abroad said...

Gorgeous photos! The silence and majesty comes through in a lot of them.

But oh, OH, the temptations afforded during a recital by a hollow piano - I don't think I would have been able to resist something utterly cheesy!

Lovely post, thank you.

Ann said...

I agree, the picture of you "in" the piano is priceless.

Sounds like you were in Alaska recently - I'm in Anchorage. Don't tell me we nearly missed each other! LOL.

Isn't alaska beautiful?

Chris said...

Delivery of my pre-release ordered DVD of the Barcelona La Cenerentola promised by November 2nd at the latest. Can't wait to see and hear the whole thing. Will be the definitive performance, without doubt.

steve49w said...

As someone who grew up in Alaska, it's the beauty of the place that calls me back. I could never earn a living there. Yesterday across the street from where my Mom now lives there were a mother and calk moose eating the halloween jack-o-lanterns.

I must have thousands of pictures of the Chugach, Alaska and Talkeetna mountains floating around. And that's just around Anchorage.

I am so glad that you loved it. What's not to love?

[Lilith] said...

*Sigh* Now I'm regretting Norway even more! But I'm so glad you had fun :D

Today I tried to order your CD in the FNAC but it is still not available... Ach. I'll have to wait until the 2nd!

All my love,


PS: I've been "inside" a piano too. But there were strings in mine xD It's one of the greatest things to do if someone is playing.

Nicole said...

I'm cracking up at the piano picture, while the pianist in me is cringing! You truly never know what you're going to get :) Beautiful Alaska pics, also!

Raisa said...

Dear Joyce:
It was such a pleasure to meet you at the Morgan last night.
It was an incredible recital! I absolutely loved Obradors' canciones. As for Rossini, I only wish he could hear you! You truly own it, Joyce!
Thank you for sharing so much beauty through your voice, your photography and your personality.

Susan said...

Ha ha I came to write how awesome that photo is of you in the piano, and it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks so! I'm sorry I won't be able to make it to Barbiere this season, but I did get myself a ticket to the AVA gala in March!!