Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dog Days

Gosh, these have been a few busy, exciting, and challenging months! Where to start...

There have been several huge moments in my life, all in a row, and I know I should have stopped and written about each one as they happened, but I hardly had time to process one before the next rolled in. So here is a short recap.

First, I had to leave my family home when they realized that I have different religious views from them. In short, I believe that sexual orientations and gender identities outside cis heterosexual are acceptable and undeniable. We are each born as we are, and we are who we are, and that is sometimes outside the "majority" of cis heterosexual. So I had to rebuild my life and prepare for my road trip to Illinois for the world premiere of Sweets by Kate.  

Griffin Candey's Sweets by Kate was an experience unlike any I've had before. Adjusting to living in the Midwest was quite an adventure. All I could think was, We're not in New York City anymore, Toto! I always forget how much of a city slicker I really am. Then I go outside the urban area and I'm violently reminded. Can't say I could complain about the lower gas prices, though.

Sweets is the story of Elizabeth, a lesbian woman living in 1950s America, who is returning to her home town after being forced out 12 years earlier by its homophobic residents. Elizabeth returns with her partner, Kate, and they take over her deceased father's sweets shop. Despite the heavy subject matter, it's a fun, comedic show involving magic and the devil.

I had the express privilege of creating the character of Elizabeth and living her life for three weeks. It was emotionally draining at times, and the music was challenging, but overall it was only an extremely rewarding experience. My colleagues were some of the best I have ever worked with and the entire Midwest Institute of Opera festival was really fantastic. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to make a world premiere and to make it with such a meaningful and beautiful work of art.  

Sweets by Kate, Midwest Institute of Opera, seen with soprano Kathryn Frady, Photo credit Alexandra Plattos

Only one day after returning from my trip to Illinois, I started rehearsals for my own project: OperaRox Presents Figaro. In this, I was managing everything. I produced the show, scheduled rehearsals, worked out venues, and played Cherubino. Once again, I had an awesome cast to work with. There wasn't one cast member who wasn't hilariously funny onstage and a consummate musical artist. The rehearsals were fun and the show turned out better than I could have expected. We had a full house for both shows and the laughter that filled the hall at Opera America just made all the hard work worth it. (You can check out a review of our opera here.)

Le Nozze di Figaro, OperaRox Presents, seen with sopranos Devony Smith and Jaimie Appleton, Photo credit Nikhil Saboo
To say the very least, it's been a whirlwind of a summer. In just four days, I start my second year at Bard College in the Vocal Arts Program. I couldn't be happier to finally return after my medical leave. 

I feel so lucky to be singing opera and studying again. It was a thrill to sing lead roles in both Sweets and Figaro. It was like returning to a long-lost place and running my fingers over all the familiar furniture. My fingers felt different, having changed with the time and with everything that life has thrown at me, but the place felt the same and that was a comfort.