It has been a very busy month of planning the coming seasons, finalizing contracts, playing in several recitals, and serving as repetiteur for the Bloomington Early Music Festival's production of the Monteverdi "L'Orfeo". This was all put into perspective today as I learned for the first time that Colin Graham passed away on the 6th of this month. I'm not sure how I missed this and I'm sad and embarrassed that I did. The man was a giant, and all we who aspire to produce opera in the new millennium owe his brilliance a great debt.
I was introduced to his work while an adolescent composer. I was visiting the home of John Corgliano and Mark Adamo, and John was still in the afterglow of the premier of "The Ghosts of Versailles" at the Met. I memorized this production, every aspect of it. It wasn't until years later, as I turned from creating music to creating productions, that I flipped the video cassette (remember those?) over and saw the name Colin Graham. This is sort of a back-door way to learn about the man who is responsible to the creation and proliferation of many of the 20th century's great operas.
I never met him personally and I will spare you the gush. His bio, more insightful than anything I could say, can be found here. One thing that struck me however was how this description ended with the words "He left no survivors". How could this be true when myself, and so many others, who never had the opportunity to meet or work with him, let alone those that did, are so touched by his work and moved by his passing? Regardless of how ephemeral, Mr. Graham left us, and by "us" I mean the largest sense of the word, something very great indeed. Artists around the world are his heirs.