21 February 2010

I got your snows of yesteryear, right here

I've started going through my playbills (yes, I have them all, except for maybe the five first shows I saw) to put together an opera life-list. I'm a little surprised at how well I remember everything so far, though maybe I will remember less as I get into years when I saw more and more stuff. I've come across a few discoveries as well: I remembered being taken with a high school class to hear Seiji Ozawa conduct the San Francisco Symphony in the Pastoral Symphony, but apparently I also heard the Brahms Piano Concerto No 2 with Peter Serkin, whom I always associate with Boston concert-going. That's the only symphony concert until Boston. And there are things that I probably did not fully appreciate at the time: I did not remember that I heard Harbison's Mirabai Songs at a Composers in Red Sneakers concert. And it appears the first time I heard Lorraine Hunt Lieberson was in Agrippina at Boston Lyric Opera; the cast list has Lorraine Hunt as Nero, and I barely remember seeing this. (Though perhaps I heard her earlier in some non-operatic musical performance, since I'm only skimming those programs as I proceed through the stack.)

My first opera was Porgy and Bess, my senior year in high school. Here's the list up to my first mainstream opera, which was Rigoletto, back when the Met used to tour up to Boston (Onegin was the night before Rigoletto, and I think it was considered sort of a rarity at the time, since all these years I've had it in mind that Rigoletto was the first "standard" opera I saw). The second Verdi opera I saw was Simon Boccanegra, so I didn't exactly insist on swimming in the mainstream after that.

I've excluded musicals and oratorios but included Gilbert and Sullivan. I made some arbitrary decisions about what to include, so that Philip Glass's The Photographer is there but not Robert Wilson's Civil Wars. These are alphabetical by composer:

Anon, Robin Hood, The Friends of Dr Burney 1985
Robert Ashley, Songs from Atalanta, MIT 1985
Gershwin, Porgy and Bess, Houston Grand Opera touring company 1977, Radio City Music Hall 1983, Metropolitan Center 1983
Gilbert & Sullivan, The Gondoliers, Harvard G&S Players 1983
Gilbert & Sullivan, Patience, Musical Theatre Co of Cambridge, 1983
Gilbert & Sullivan, Pirates of Penzance, Broadway 1981, Harvard G&S Players 1982
Gilbert & Sullivan, Ruddigore, MIT 1981
Glass, The Photographer 1984
Handel, Acis & Galatea, BSO 1985
Handel, Orlando, ART 1982
Haydn, House Afire! (Die Feuersbrunst), Boston Premiere Ensemble 1984
Maxwell Davies, The Lighthouse, Boston Shakespeare 1983
Rameau, Zoroastre, Banchetto Musicale 1983
Stravinsky, Renard & Persephone, Musical Theatre Co of Cambridge, 1983
Tchaikovsky, Eugene Onegin, Met Tour 1985
Weill, 3Penny Opera, ACT 1978, Charles Playhouse 1982
Weill & Bach, Soiree de Gala, Opera Co of Somerville (Peter Sellars) 1982

I had a basic love of music and theater, so clearly I would eventually be drawn to the union of the two. But what strikes me most here is that I came to opera from two directions: baroque/early music and contemporary/avant-garde music and theater (or combinations of the two: Orlando was the Peter Sellars production; The Lighthouse was also directed by Sellars). I wish more opera companies would realize that there are paths to opera that don't start with Boheme/Zauberflote, and that they should encourage those other travelers to stop in.


Shushu said...

Loved seeing this list and remembering all those things we saw together back then, like The Photographer.

I did a similar exercise when I moved many years ago, and I remember being surprised at how many wonderful actors I saw way back when, like F. Murray Abraham as a regular ART player.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Remember Tony Shalhoub as Angelo in Measure for Measure? Or Cherry Jones in a series of small roles, like the maid in Ghosts?

Remember The Photographer starting late, and that tape of riddles playing over and over and over? ("What starts with T, and ends with T, and has T in the middle? A teapot!")

The Photographer was the first CD I bought, along with Handel's Solomon. After that it's all a blur and I suddenly woke up surrounded by piles of stuff.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I am jealous, because your life list will be longer and more interesting than mine!

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Hey, I don't have Der Freischutz! (Did you go yesterday?)

Lisa Hirsch said...

No. Dammit.