A Collection of Opening Nights

by

Gregory Stapp

gs

Poetry, Prose & Essays

Dedicated to friends and colleagues,
whose talent, skill and devotion,
inspire, amaze and delight!

gs

Teddy’s Music Press

Copyright 1990–2015 by Gregory Stapp

All Rights Reserved

3427 Taraval Street, San Francisco, California 94116

www.teddysmusicpress.com

 

Singers

Singing is a gift from God that all can hope to share,

but those who choose to sing for life are sadly few and rare.

Faced with the myriad obstacles that nature and humanity can devise,

steadfastly they persevere, conquering maladies, foolishness and lies.

Torn from their families and homes, they suffer great grief,

infrequently finding any roadside support or relief.

Authorities seldom providing essential leadership or inspiration,

singers must cope in desperate circumstances with talent and imagination.

Denied the title of musician by instrumentalist’s self-righteous ire,

musicality is in fact but one required facet of the art to which they aspire.

Craftsman and virtuoso, scholar, actor, and linguist, as well as musician,

all of these a singer must be, an artist indeed in this humble opinion.

The sparkling joy of singing, still springs from within their hearts,

refusing to be dampened by the strenuous rigors of their art.

Fervently praise their brave and selfless choices

and gladly lend your ears to such bold heroic voices.

******

 

 

Colleagues

Brought together by fortune and fate,

yet doomed to leave and separate,

Our company glad and gay,

shall suffer no great dismay,

Secure that parting’s sorrow

signals greetings for the ’morrow.

Art and music, drama and dance,

fused into opera by design or by chance,

Can only remain but a shadow of life,

’til artists have shaped it through love and strife.

Tonight I salute you, colleagues and friends,

and send you best wishes from now ’til the end.

******

 

 

Theatre

Hidden in alleys, dark doorways beckon,

gates to adventure, mystery and magic.

Majestic winds and tides none can reckon,

spin tales of romance, happy and tragic.

Fatally enticing the unwary and bold,

creating new worlds, assigning your role.

Caution forgotten, one’s pulled past the threshold,

discovering no refuge, but food for the soul.

’Mid shadows and darkness sparkle myriad lights,

cacophony subsides to order its flight.

Thundering crowds prepare for delights,

as the theatre commences its mystical rite.

******

 

 

Abduction

The arena has been readied, prepare your final song,

girding yourself for battle, be wary and be strong.

Dreary years of study, arduous and long,

have but pointed toward this moment all along.

The monumental challenge lies directly ahead,

its path strewn with corpses and obstacles of dread.

No one has survived this perilous course unscathed,

many soon may perish, none shall remain unfazed.

Courage and talent cannot alone achieve success,

until joined by the renunciation of vanity and excess.

Submit in joyous ecstasy, inspired by his emotion,

revel while performing Mozart’s music with devotion.

******

 

 

Backstage

Behind the great curtain and under the stage,

high above on the rail and in the pit’s vast depths,

Through a maze of tunnels, in cramped and cavernous rooms,

an anonymous multitude prepares for the voyage tonight.

Far from tuxedoes and gowns, precious jewels and furs,

unable to partake in hors d’oevres and champagne,

Kept hidden away from society’s elegant charms,

unknown to the public, each attends to his task.

Craftsmen and technicians, designers and artists,

choreographer and director, managers and assistants,

Soloists and conductor, ballet, orchestra and chorus,

are all essential collaborators in opera’s exotic domain.

****** 

 

 

Der Ring des Nibelungen

Vast canyons carved by the wind’s and river’s awesome might,

painted deserts and precious minerals sparkling in the light,

Volcanoes and snow-capped peaks, forests petrified and green,

sheer cliffs and deep caves are but some of the sights to be seen.

Mesas, ravines and plateaus, sculpted arches, pinnacles and spires,

no less a setting could be deemed worthy of the composer’s desires.

Wagner’s magnum opus has truly discovered a natural place to rest

amid the grand wonders and delights of the American Southwest.

No doubt Wagner considers Erda’s heroic labors no more than his due

since he challenges us all with such difficult tasks as we strive anew

to realize his enduring dream of fusing music and drama into cohesion

while relating epic myths of heroes and lovers, creation and oblivion.

Undaunted, from the fiery cauldrons of our disparate artistic aspirations,

together we have forged a new Ring, tempered by collegial admiration

And polished by individual gifts ’til its revered music again came to life

with tales of gods, giants, dwarves and men, eternal woes, grief and strife.

Sustained by mutual respect and our abiding friendship’s supporting hands,

we have been able to serve and honor the great master’s arduous commands.

Now let us all rejoice that we have been present and allowed to play a part

in the spectacular combination of Richard Wagner’s and Nature’s great art.

******

 

 

Opera

Once deemed too precious for the masses to behold,

opera was entombed and covered up with lies.

Guardians of taste, arrogant and cold,

hid it well away from the ones that they despise.

Unable to survive in such a stifling hold,

’twas seemingly doomed to an untimely demise.

But rescued from deceit by labors brave and bold,

opera once more can thrive before the public’s eyes.

Comedies and tragedies will dramatically unfold,

yielding laughter and delight, sorrow and sighs.

Stories will be cherished, beloved by young and old,

their vibrancy and power, a wonderful surprise.

Finally free again to let its tales be told,

the air itself resounds with music’s joyous cries.

Painting all the heavens with art’s gleaming gold,

on spreading wings of song, opera soars through the skies.

******

 

 

Figaro

Tonight we’ll tell a story of intrigue and romance,

wrought from social conflict but set as a comic dance.

No stale museum piece this, rather a tale for the ages,

quite relevant and applicable for novices or sages.

Our script was fashioned by adepts of les beaux arts,

incomparable genii, Beaumarchais, da Ponte and Mozart.

Sustained by each performer, traveling through many lands,

their fabulous masterpiece now rests within our hands.

Stewards of this trio’s radiant ethereal light,

it has now become our turn to entertain and delight

Ed al suon di lieta marcia, corriam tutti a festeggiar!

******

 

 

Aïda Colorado Springs

Legends and myths of distant lands

have crisscrossed the world, despite fathomless seas.

But shrouded by time’s mists and sands

they vanish from memory with alarming ease.

Opera alone has the power and might

to remove all the veils and restore our sight.

Recalling man-made wonders of pyramids and fountains

while we’re surrounded by the splendor of my native mountains.

******

 

 

Fidelio

Rising from beneath the proscenium’s grand arch,

stirring orchestral overtures and stentorian voices,

Rage against injustice and cry out for liberty

while glorifying love’s courageous choices.

An historical lesson and a timely reminder

to vigilantly guard our own freedom’s reign,

And to support those who bravely fight brutality

while daily struggling to survive tyranny’s pain.

******

 

 

Requiem

Grappling with the mysteries of death and life

locks philosophers, scientists and theologians in strife.

Music alone transcends their acrimonious debate,

vividly describing hopes and fears of an uncertain fate.

The horrible majesty of unbridled knowledge and power

arrives in thunderous judgement upon those who cower.

Yet the lamb’s appeal for mercy and a chance for grace

rises on wings of faithful song to plead humanity’s case.

Mozart, Verdi, and Brahms toiled to create musical keys

that comfort pain, raise spirits, bring understanding and peace.

******

 

 

Don Carlo

Opera is often home to stories of love and lust

as well as tales of intrigue and betrayals of trust,

But perhaps nowhere else so powerfully discussed

is their fate when ruled by the corrupt and unjust.

Lovers, nobles, and traitors are but pawns of a cruel fate,

caught up by the titanic struggle and dangled as bait,

Sacrificed to malice and deceit, martyrs to the debate,

on the separation of powers, and of church and state.

And so tonight it is our solemn duty to restore

Schiller’s vision of the Spanish court of yore,

While serving as Verdi’s messengers once more,

Ti guarda dal Grande Inquisitor!

******

 

 

Rheingold

Leading a lifestyle that may seem bizarre and hard to understand,

opera singers are nomads who wander far from their native land,

Searching for oases of culture with chances of brief employment

so they can entertain and inform, all for their patrons’ enjoyment.

Gathered from distant climes these individuals form a unique group,

which must quickly and carefully be shaped into a performing troop,

Magically binding strangers and old friends with its intimate ties,

demanding truth from its artists and tolerating no deception nor lies.

We met in this desert garden surrounded by rough majestic mountains,

toiling in rehearsal and playing in the courtyard’s pools and fountains,

While we forged a ring out of our mutual talent, respect and admiration,

that honours our sacrifice and devotion to Wagner’s magnificent creation.

******

 

  

Birth of a Company

Not content to idly fantasize and scheme,

makers are determined to realize their dream.

Building wonders from their labor and inspiration,

they change the world with their new creation.

Undaunted by the herculean task,

responsive to all that one could ask,

Volunteers, anonymous and known,

nourish and enrich the seeds already sown.

Basking briefly in today’s triumphant light,

new challenges await, promising many a merry fight.

But now’s the time to pause in joy and admiration,

and praise the heroic endeavor with a mighty ovation.

******

 

 

Garcia Requiem — American Premiere

Brasilia Chorus Carnegie Hall

Drawing us here from near and far,

music has pooled our resources and talents

For the sacred rites of praise and remembrance

now held in this grand old secular temple.

Proving yet again its incomparable power

to bridge differences and unify all people,

As the universal language’s soul lives on

in the sounds and faces of the joyous assembly.

******

 

 

Mark me Twain — World Premiere

Nevada Opera 25th Anniversary

Silver’s clarion bell rang out tonight,

distantly echoing its past power and might.

Majestically demanding homage and ovations

for twenty-five years of operatic celebrations.

Proudly it acknowledges the courage and fame

of heroes who somehow survive to bear its name,

Having conquered obstacles large and small,

in dedicated pursuit of its wild siren call.

Honoring past glories with a new creation,

silver’s gleaming story emerges in a fresh incarnation.

Singing its fabled songs with newfound voice,

its exotic allure entices us to come and rejoice.

An assemblage of orchestra, crew and cast,

gathers with patrons to cheer its past.

Marvelling anew at silver’s fabulous worth,

all are joined and renewed by its vibrant rebirth.

******

 

 

The Crucible

The devil laughs as ignorance, repression and self-righteous ire

boil once more in his witch’s cauldron,

fueled by intolerance’s fire.

Three centuries’ passing is of no moment to his eternal desire,

to have Salem’s madness

drag humanity into hell’s muck and mire.

The name-calling and political sloganeering that haunt daily life

are but new manifestations of the witch-hunts

that caused such grief and strife.

Whether sanctioned by church or state, the inquisitor’s bloody knife

severs precious bonds,

between friend and neighbor, man and wife.

Knowledge and faith are the treasured keys to salvation and grace,

which alone can pierce

the hypocrisy and veils shielding the devil’s face.

Let us reject the rude shouting and mass hysteria of talk-show hosts,

and respect all others

as we quest for the truth of the Lord of Hosts.

******

 

 

Bohème Sakai

What joy to return once more to the story of our lives,

the struggles and joys, the sorrows and tears,

No other work captures so poignantly and true,

the essence that sustains us in all we would do.

It is a special delight to be able to perform this work

in a land that is far from my home but dear to my heart.

No words of thanks can ever properly express how grateful I am

to all the wonderful and talented friends I’ve made in Japan.

Now let us go out to sing and dance, laugh and cry,

as we play ourselves in the tale of La Bohème.

******

 

 

The Partnership of Opera

Opera is the union of all dramatic art,

visual or performing, each plays a vital part.

Ruthlessly demanding complete cooperation,

forcefully it forges a unique collaboration.

Dissension and discussion, spirited and gay,

frustration and discordance, anger and dismay,

Brazenly will challenge one’s thoughtful preparation,

but frequently result in newfound inspiration.

Harmony and order eventually will reign,

gradually replacing each individual’s pain.

United in performance and joined in one desire,

success shall be achieved for all to admire.

******

 

 

Critics

Those who toil and labor in the public’s crystal sphere,

inured to praise or complaint dispensed through the year,

Take no notice of what’s been uttered by those they distrust,

while unheeded potential benefits crumble unused into dust.

Informed, well-reasoned, and thought-provoking insight,

encourages improvement, which brings us all delight.

Sadly, constructive criticism now seems a lost art,

foreign to all the fawning and destruction taking part.

Failures and losers filled with envy and hate,

desperately attempt to avenge their fate.

Unable to succeed in their chosen domain,

they’re reduced to inflicting sadistic pain.

Flattery, insult and sarcasm, (their tools of trade),

spawn agony and despair in the cesspool they’ve made.

Lacking any talent, knowledge, taste or propriety,

their loud self-aggrandizement tarnishes society.

Arrogance and conceit rule in this ignorant dominion,

never considered or mentioned is another’s opinion.

Disagreements dismissed as defensive injured feelings,

reproaches are marked for future flayings and peelings.

Accurate reports are deemed no part of their mission,

the audience’s own reaction suffers consistent omission.

Contempt for the public joins disdain for the stage,

as they vainly loose aimless fusillades of rage.

Deliverance from useless critiques by the corrupt and unjust,

comes once we insist upon reviewers worthy of public trust.

Meanwhile disregard their tales of favor or dismay,

and pity these poor wretches, dwelling in hell, day after day.

******

 

 

Tannhäuser

Today’s minstrels might dispute or reject

any division betwixt spiritual and physical love,

Arguing instead that unabandoned sensuality

is an essential part of any true, ideal love.

Nonetheless, singers are still confronted

by Tannhäuser’s devils of distraction and betrayal

Which endeavor to wreak havoc and mayhem

upon their relationships, whether professional or personal.

And indeed there remains a companionable fellowship,

sharing meals while competing philosophies are discussed,

Forming the protective bastion of communal song

while guiding the continuing search for artistic truth.

******

 

 

Music From Bear Valley Silver Anniversary

For twenty-five years this mountain air

has rung with sounds foreign to bird or bear,

Yet nature has welcomed this aural intrusion,

gladly discovering the divine amid man’s confusion.

Celestial tones accompany panoramic sights

and sweetly embrace sparkling meteoric nights.

Hills and valleys echo in harmonious accord

as music soothes past wounds with a balm of chords.

Mozart’s genius tonight playfully frolics with bears,

pleasing and enlightening while removing all cares.

A most fitting choice for these past twenty-five years

of industry, devotion and love, that conquered all fears.

******

 

 

Bear Valley Music Festival, 1996

Nestled high in the Sierras is the valley of bears,

Where a community of artists

and connoisseurs has conspired

To establish and maintain a festival of musical delights,

Proving that the bohemian spirit is still alive and well.

The dedication of the multitude

of hard working volunteers

As well as the incredible generosity

of local businesses and residents,

Combine with the audience’s enthusiasm

and infuse the performers with joy and love.

Instilled with the community’s aspirations,

inspired performances reflect its scenic wonders.

No surprise that anyone who has ever experienced

the incredible camaraderie and artistic support

Of the Bear Valley Music Festival’s

unique and nurturing environment,

Hopes and strives to receive a return invitation

to this community of friends and artists,

Lovers of music, who are at one with nature

in this gorgeous valley, home of the bears.

******

 

 

Turandot Hawaii

Silhouetted by the crystalline firmament of a clear night,

the goddess soars over peaks and skims breakers’ frosty light,

Recalling these ridges were once ringed with torches and fire

to proclaim great celebrations and achievements of desire.

Tonight the island’s bright city lights herald Opera’s arrival

and announce her legendary tale of Turandot, love’s rival.

Join her celebrants who have gathered from far and wide,

partake in the nectar that not even Puccini’s death denied.

Embracing all who welcome her in their generous hearts,

Opera always adapts or creates new roles and parts

so that every philosophy, culture, race and creed

may recognize itself and others as from but one breed.

The special warmth and spirit of this island nation

infuses its lucky visitors with strong admiration

For recognizing that the natural world will only recover

when all can lovingly welcome strangers and each other.

******

 

 

Pirates — Nevada Opera

The Sergeant of Police’s verse for A Modern Major-General

The first time that I came to town was for Puccini’s La Bohème,

back when there was an Onslow, Harold’s, Riverside and M.G.M.

I even found that I could make a little money gambling

but soon had grown addicted to the games that I was sampling.

Yet even more enticing than seductive halls of wagering,

rehearsals that were filled with love and fun instead of badgering,

A gathering of talents that included Miss America,

and lots of other friends who still are singing ’round America.

I’ve since returned for Pirates, Barber, Mark me Twain, and Figaro,

and Joan of Arc, and Carlo without need for any rigamarole,

In short, the lure of blackjack, jangling slot machines and keno

are not very pressing reasons to keep coming back to Reno.

******

 

 

Samson et Dalila

Throughout history, countless tragedies might have been averted,

had the joys of sex not been condemned by authorities as perverted.

Yet the hypocrisy and tyranny of the dogmatic fanatics still reign

as we continue to doom each other to personal and cataclysmic pain.

Unless we can learn to educate ourselves to the totality of love’s truth,

we shall never be free of the confusion and bondage corrupting our youth.

For no matter how loud the shouts for rigid rules and family values

most still secretly lust for the sensual abandon of Delilah’s palace.

Samson’s error will forever haunt us until repression’s inhibiting extremes

are eternally replaced in every heart and mind by love’s sweet dreams.

******

 

 

Calaf

Honeyed tones of silver and gold

softly caress romantic poems.

Clarion cries, stentorian and bold,

easily sail o’er horns and trombones.

Lyrical phrases, subtle and strong,

elegantly shaped, dramatically resound.

Attentively shading words in the song,

forcing admission: this tenor’s profound!

Destined for greatness he’s travelled far,

the journey now beckons, requiring a choice:

Easy success, pleasures and life of a star,

or light for the world from the soul of his voice.

******

 

 

Nevada Opera

Stumbling along fortune’s rocky path,

too many of us forget how to laugh.

Hardship and cynicism yield weary disbelief

yet an oasis of hope does exist for relief.

Built with endless energy, dedication and love,

this company stands as a sign from above.

Envy and spite have no place in this or any life,

properly nourished talent will conquer all strife.

With great joy and happiness I have been able to return

to a place that guides and cherishes, as I’ve come to learn.

******

 

 

Opera’s Plea

Singers I beg you, come to my aid

rescue me swiftly, for I am afraid.

You are my messengers, my wings of song,

without you I’ll surely die before long.

Reclaim your throne and assert your rights

lest I vanish in the mist of endless nights.

Defend me proudly from foe or false friend

and I’ll nourish you always in health ’til the end.

******

 

 

Bel Canto

Rarely privileged to find much delight

in rehearsals that recur night after night,

One marvels in awe at the extraordinary sight

of artists who thrill and enchant, with nary a fight.

Spectacular acrobatics breed neither envy nor spite,

but elicit cheers of wonder with their sensitive flight.

This marvelous singing, possessed with a magical might,

generates new hope, feeding the flame of the eternal light.

******

 

 

Maestro

How delightful to observe such cordial and effective communication

as this insightful talent’s industry and preparation bear musical fruit.

No ego interferes with the instructions and desires of the composer

but rather the heart and soul of the interpreter gladly serve the author.

Empathic to the challenges and difficulties facing the gathered forces,

compassionate leadership suggests and teaches solutions for one and all.

A joy indeed to find such a rare exquisite jewel in the starry firmament,

a conductor who is truly worthy to be acclaimed as Il Maestro.

******

 

 

Disagreements

Servants of the lyrical muse

fervently advance opposing views,

Determined to realize a cherished ideal,

they’re blind to the passion others feel.

Arrogance and ignorance cast an offensive pall,

threatening to dash the hopes of all.

Lest all is lost in a bloody toll,

each must recall their common goal.

Seething cauldrons of ideas then overflow,

spilling together with a fierce golden glow.

This primordial soup slowly cools,

no longer to be stirred by callous fools.

Greater now than any had envisioned,

roaring to life, ’tis no longer imprisoned.

The overture begins and the curtains rise,

for strife has created a wondrous surprise.

******

 

 

Diva’s Injury

The theatre is a perilous place,

filled with risks that one must face.

Illness and accident continually threaten,

while Murphy’s Law is a constant presence.

Yet one’s caution is derided and ignored,

while common sense is truly abhorred.

Placed once again in an untenable state

by the vagaries of caprice and fate,

We’ve been given a theme to improvise upon,

so we can rescue the show that must go on.

******

 

 

Bluebeard’s Castle

Tales about faeries and spirits, gods and demons, heroes and villains

blend fact, fiction, politics and religion

into simple fables and epic myths.

Whether intended to instill fear or calm it,

comfort sorrow or nurture hope,

they attempt to explain the natural phenomena and mysteries of creation.

Time and changed perspectives

may transform our perception of this lore,

inspiring fresh treatments and modern interpretations

which enhance their original truth and validity.

Opera has borrowed liberally from this cornucopia of legendary chronicles,

being especially drawn to romances ripe with intrigue, deception and horror.

Seemingly unmindful of dear old Mother Goose,

Offenbach, Dukas and Bartok

freely modified Bluebeard’s story

to suit their peculiar concepts,

but preserved the essential primeval conflicts that faced Bluebeard’s bride:

trust vs. secrecy,

communication vs. silence,

joy vs. sorrow,

and life vs. death.

Temptation, masquerading in its favorite disguise as Curiosity,

lures Judith to the error, betrayal and inevitable doom

of Pandora and Eve.

Let us return to these themes

as we forego the trappings of the operatic stage

and enable an enchanted audience

to design its own resplendent sets and costumes.

Let us relate the old tale once more,

enriched by Bartok’s glorious music,

so that all may absorb Bluebeard’s lessons

while pondering the fate of their own dark castles.

******

 

 

Man of la Mancha

Stolen from her mother at the moment of birth,

her innate talents were confined to frolics and mirth.

Unaware of her heritage, so noble and grand,

she stumbled unaided, but soon mastered the band.

Tiring of limits imposed by secret webs of lies,

she tests newfound wings and suddenly flies.

Soaring she gladly explores the heights of comedy,

then eagerly dives to plumb the depths of tragedy.

Freed of her chains she examines her past,

and discovers her glorious nature at last.

Quickly she leaps into her mother’s welcoming embrace,

while the forced estrangement’s pain vanishes without a trace.

Acknowledged and hailed by royalty’s majestic throne,

Music Theatre is now at ease in Opera’s palatial home.

******

 

 

Turandot — Colorado Springs

Assembled at the foot and in the shadow of the giant peak,

we have gathered to support our friend and colleague,

And applaud her astounding displays of pyrotechnics

as she dramatically leaps among pinnacles and spires.

Never before had beauty been found on these treacherous slopes,

indeed most believed that there was none to be discovered here at all.

But our courageous and generous lady has proved all nay-sayers wrong

and revealed a warm blooded ruby-heart within the sharp diamond face.

Finally here before us is a princess who truly enchants one and all,

no one could ever resist this beautiful, majestic and enticing siren call.

For nearly a century the world sank in despair as it searched in vain

but now recognizes and cheers the angelic voiced Turandot of Martile.

******

 

 

Rigoletto

Stunned by the powerful truths that had spilled over the footlights,

the shaken bureaucrats stumbled back to their cold towers of arrogant deceit,

Fearful that the fiery passions erupting from Hugo’s fertile cauldron

might ignite the people’s rage against their own abuses of power and trust.

In worried consultations they swiftly determined to eliminate this threat

and justified their censoring ban under the guise of protecting the royal name.

Robbed from the stage, Le Roi s’amuse struggled for life in literary form,

until transformed by Piave into Rigoletto, and enhanced by Verdi’s music.

Yet while admiring the eventual triumph of playwright, librettist and composer,

our vigil against their ancient foes must continue with the force of our applause.

For the self-appointed arbiters of appropriate decorum, behaviour and thought,

still abhor open discussion of life’s fierce passions, no matter the forum’s shape.

******

 

 

Die Zauberflöte

Fanciful characters parade across the colorfully decorated stage

as is expected in a færie tale with dragons, amazons, bird-people and lions.

Our heroic prince is imperiled (and faints!), the lovely princess abducted

and it seems doubtful that Papageno will ever earn his own Papagena.

Still in this farcical vaudeville of heroic epics and stirring romances

where a grieving queen-mother is but a spiteful, evil sorceress

While the supposed villainous magician turns out to be a font of wisdom,

nothing is as it first appears to be, thanks to the author and composer.

Schikaneder and Mozart continually entertain and surprise us,

whether sparkling in the starry heights or plumbing the profound depths

As both sexes engage in a titanic struggle for eternal domination,

their lyrics and music merrily play silver bells and magic flutes.

******

 

 

Music From Bear Valley

Camaraderie and fellowship form the backbone of this enterprise,

a festival whose excellence is now recognized far and wide.

A gathering of residents and visitors who share a common desire

have fostered and nurtured its growth so music could enhance their lives.

The hospitality and affection that is showered upon the musical artists

genuinely reflects the loving spirits of the festival’s ardent supporters.

No wonder all the performers fervently aspire and hopefully yearn

to be invited back to the beautiful mountain valley where the bears still return.

******

 

 

Escape from Mars

(Abduction from the Seraglio)

What exciting challenges we face

in this transformed setting of Halper and Field,

Voyaging off-planet through time and space,

discovering new twists in the text we now wield. 

To transport and juxtapose future, present and past,

titanic forces were unleashed to realize their vision.

Director and maestri prepared orchestra, chorus and cast

as staff and crews executed exotic designs with precision. 

Neither green skin, antennae nor futuristic fashions

masked  our serious devotion to this amazing endeavor

As we patiently wove our unique talents and passions

into a collegial camaraderie that distance and time shan’t sever. 

True, such an adventure may elicit both cheers and wails

now that our story has jumped from Turkey to Mars,

But none can doubt that Mozart’s roulades and scales

have long since found their own home in the stars.

Thus, tonight it’s off to Mars that we sail,

conveyed by spaceships rather than boats.

Assured that no matter the locale of our tale,

we’ve just the right number of musical notes.

******

 

Gregory Stapp

Featured as Sarastro on the PBS Great Performances: LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER telecast of New York City Opera’s Die Zauberflöte, bass Gregory Stapp has performed with scores of opera companies, symphonic orchestras and music festivals in America, as well as in Europe, Mexico and Japan. Many of his 30 roles under the auspices of San Francisco Opera have been heard on NPR.

He was Ashby on RAI’s Italian telecast of the Spoleto Festival’s La fanciulla del West, and was showcased on Spoleto’s Concerti di Mezzogiorno series by festival-founder Gian Carlo Menotti. Later, Maestro Menotti invited Stapp to make his debut at the Edinburgh Festival as Mr. Kofner in The Consul, directed by the composer.

He was Charlemagne for the AVA Opera Theatre’s American premiere of Schubert’s Fierrabras and he created the role of John Mackay in the world premiere of Bern Herbolsheimer’s Mark Me Twain for Nevada Opera’s Silver Anniversary. His Emperor Altoum in Connecticut Grand Opera’s American stage premiere of Busoni’s Turandot and Fasolt in François Rochaix’s production of Wagner’s Der Ring Nibelungen for Seattle Opera also drew wide attention to the American bass.

Stapp performed Ramfis in Aïda for Guadalajara, Mexico, and has sung in Die Zauberflöte, Rigoletto, La Bohème and Don Giovanni as well as in various concerts for Japan’s Sakai City Opera. He has also appeared in concert with the Osaka Philharmoniker, San Francisco Symphony, and Philadelphia Orchestra.

The poetry, prose and essays included herein are drawn from opening night cards Stapp has written in appreciation to his colleagues over the years.

gs