Friday, April 8, 2011


its been a long time since my last post and, reading it, things could not be more different today. from the depths of what seemed like an incredibly long winter has arisen the most magnificent spring. there are few places as beautiful at this time of year as amsterdam. the sky is blue, the canals reflect the sunlight, leaves are appearing, and tulips are in everyone's windows. its hard not to find a certain bounce to life on days like this.

"la voix humaine" is over. its always strange when projects that consume so much of your life end, and especially one like this that only has two performances. it was a real experiment for me, and in the end i was extremely proud of it. it was not perfect, but it was deeply honest - one of those moments when you feel "yes, that is exactly what i would want to see, that has what i want all my work to have". of course i was incredibly blessed to have the young kristina bistenc as my "elle". she is a true force of nature and i look forward to continuing to work with her (she will sing blanche in my "dialogues of the carmelites" this summer, and then max in "where the wild things are" next fall. we ended up throwing out the phone entirely. we treated the entire work as a piece of absurdist theater, and using "the myth of sisyphus" as our guide, traced that moment in a person's life when all of reality zooms out, when we realize how small and how alone we are, when we flicker between hope and suicide and decide to live on without illusion. i hope i can put some pictures up - i think it was very beautiful and meaningful. i also hope that it is a work a can continue living with for many years.

in the meantime the journey continues. we've been in oddly disjunct rehearsals for "dido and aeneas" for the operagaden rotterdam. again i'm blessed to have a great musical team with scherzi musical and nicolas achten, and the fantastic dutch mezzo-soprano rosanne van sandwijk in the lead role (she was my sesto in "giulio cesare" last summer and stole the show). connecting with that idea of living with a piece for year...."dido" is that piece for me. it was the first opera i ever directed and have done several times over the last 8 years. it is in many ways my favorite production, but what i really love, what exemplifies the long-view of opera, is that i get to chance to work and mend and rework and remend over years, over a lifetime. this production will be the most "produced" to date, with great detail in the quartet, and with a more evocative setting. the performances aren't until may, but i'm very excited by my wonderful team of artists and designers (especially lighting designer marc heinz and costume designer michelle cantwell).

at the same time preparing for a big summer....aureliano in palimira in martina franca (such a beautiful and inspiring town in the south of italy - i was there for meetings last month and it is stunning), then "dialogues des carmelites" and "don giovanni" for the academy in milan (a great way to learn and try out ideas on new piece, but also to focus on the integrity of the performances, with no reliance on gimmicks of sets and props and costumes), and then "riders to the sea" for the granchtenfestival in a new production that will combine it with britten's third (and last) string quartet, and rigoletto in sardinia. i've also begun work on "where the wild things are" and "l'enfant et les sortileges" which isn't until next year, but it is a touring production that needs careful planning well in advance. i've had the most exciting concept for that double-bill, simple and original, that i'm dying to share, but i guess i should hold on a bit.

the house is full of scores, full of music, just the way i like it. life is good and the sun is shining.

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