Last Sunday’s performance of Bastien und Bastienne went well! Baritone Boy sang in an earlier performance at the same venue, and so of course he stayed for the concert. Several of my friends from work also came out to cheer for me, and I loved having them there. My NYU family has been enthusiastic about my singing (they managed to find some YouTube videos of me), and their support has truly been humbling and encouraging.
I had a fantastic time singing with Grant Mech (Colas) and Nils Neubert (Bastien). Both gentlemen were very talented, and I’d say our group had excellent chemistry. Grant’s “Diggi, daggi” was a blast, and Nils and I had such fun during our duet. One of my favorite musical moments is the mini-figuette in the second half of the trio (at 40:44); ten regal, stately, grown-up, glorious seconds that really pop out from the rest of the opera.
What made it such a fun performance was that the three of us were doing more than just singing what was on the page. We were reflecting, thinking, feeling, emoting – all the things that turn a dry, correct performance into an entertaining one. Then there were a few times when I would be in the middle of doing just that, and suddenly a corner of my brain said, “Hold up, what words come next and when’s your entrance?” and my eyes would have to find my place on the page. For this concert performance we weren’t required to be off-book, a detail which, initially, is a relief since memorizing can be a pain/stressful. And while I knew my music well enough to not be buried in my score, I still found myself relying on the music a little more than I would have liked. If I have the opportunity to do something like this again, I think I’ll work to be at least 75% memorized even if it’s not a requirement.
Pei-wen Chen, our conductor and pianist, was fantastic to work with as well. She made several observations about phrasing, vowels, and articulation that I will be keeping in mind moving forward. Collaborating with her was a great experience. She was working with multiple casts, and I saw how she made suggestions based on each individual singers’ voice, personality, and preferences. I had added a small sprinkling of embellishments at cadence points that I hoped to get away with, and after my interest in Handel came up in conversation, Pei-wen then gave me a bunch more to spice things up while keeping it Mozartian and tasteful. The extra notes probably weren’t obvious as extra notes to those without a score, but having those little flourishes throughout was like finding secret bonuses in a video game.
This Bastienne was a great experience, and it has me fired up to do more Mozart. Pei-wen pointed out similarities between Bastienne and Susanna… so maybe there’s my answer to what Mozart role I should look at next!