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Posts Tagged ‘Georges Bizet’

My Trumpet Student Stars in Bizet’s “Carmen” at Seattle Opera

Posted by glennled on November 1, 2011

Anita Rachvelishvili (Carmen) with ensemble; © Elise Bakketun photo, courtesy of Seattle Opera, http://www.seattleopera.org.

My trumpet student, John (51), may cringe when he sees that headline, but that’s too bad—to me, he’s a Star! No, he doesn’t play in the orchestra. No, he doesn’t sing a major role in any opera. No, he doesn’t sing in the opera chorus. He’s simply a “super”—an “extra.”

In Carmen, just finished at the Seattle Opera House, he was a banderillero at the bullring in Seville, Spain. Wearing the traditional black and silver costume and carrying his bright yellow banderilla, he lead the parade of bullfighters into the ring. Banderillas are sharp,

Planting the banderillas

barbed sticks which are planted into the bull’s shoulders to weaken it for the kill.

On 4 October, he appeared in full costume on King 5 TV during a segment of the New Day Northwest show, promoting Carmen for the Seattle Opera (see http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/The-Seattle-Opera-Performs-131056473.html  toward the end of the segment). He was on stage only twice per performance in this opera.

John has been a faithful and competent extra in enough operas so that the opera company gave him a couple of complimentary tickets for the Friday night performance on 28 October. The seats were outstanding—right in the center section on the Orchestra Level (main floor) of McCall Hall . He kindly offered them to me and my wife, and we quickly and gratefully accepted. We usually attend one or two operas per season. We just saw Porgy and Bess last August (see my post of 15 August 2011).

Georges Bizet, 1838-1875

Carmen is now our favorite, supplanting La Boheme by Puccini. Both are consistently among the top 10 operas performed annually throughout the world. Carmen was first performed 136 years ago in Paris on 3 March 1875. It struggled to survive, and Georges Bizet, composer, died on 3 June just after its 30th performance. He could never have guessed its prominence today in operatic lore. In 1962, I was lucky enough to play second trumpet in a production in the old Meany Hall at the University of Washington. The Dean of the School of Music, Dr. Stanley Chapple, was the conductor.

John, originally from New York, commenced trumpet lessons with me almost two years ago (see my post of 7 January 2010). Carmen is John’s fourth opera, all in Seattle. In 2008, he was a soldier in the grand processional march in Verdi’s Aida. In 2009, he was a lackey/servant in Verdi’s La Traviata.  In 2010, he was a Normano guard/soldier in

Poster, American Production, 1896

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. He did it the first time because it sounded like so much fun. It was, so two of his good friends decided to do it also. He says he keeps doing it because he loves opera—the acting, singing, orchestral music, and (sometimes) dancing. “Being on stage with some of this incandescent talent is a very special experience [and that gives him] “the best seats in the house! Someone asked me what I get paid to do it, and I told them that when I interviewed for the role, I asked if I had to pay.”

When Carmen ended Saturday night, another “super” (a Microsoft corporate Vice President) hosted an after-hours party at Ten Mercer in Lower Queen Anne, about a block from Seattle Center. John contributed some wine. “Just about everyone showed up, including all the principals,” he says, and “we didn’t get outta there until 2:30 a.m.”

Somehow, I think that if he could, Georges Bizet would have been there, too, happy and proud.

Posted in Professional Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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