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Chairman’s Blog Spring 2014

“This is why we do this,” I said to my friend after the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions.

This year, my first as Northwest Regional Chairman, we set a goal to dramatically change our scope and visibility. I enlisted the help of a good friend who has had vast experience with non-profit organizations, to help us start a MONC NW “Opera Weekend”. Even though her exposure to opera and MONC were limited at best, she said she would help. Having coffee after a very long and arduous planning session, I explained how much still needed to be done and how frustrated and frantic I was becoming: she turned to me and asked “Why are you doing this”

After seeing the excitement of our young singers as they stepped onto the stage at Benaroya for the first time to get a feel for the hall; watching and listening to what was a magical afternoon of arias; realizing how much it meant to these aspiring artists to be able to perform for a large, appreciative audience on the same stage with Angela Meade, in a great concert hall, I said to her, “This is why we do this”!

After Martin Bemheimer’s presentation, “Critics, Who Needs Them”, people expressed amazement that they had never before listened that closely to a singer and were excited to get back into the opera house armed with their new enlightenment. “This is why we do this”.

Our panel discussion, “The State of Opera Today” (perhaps the first of its kind, at least in Seattle) attracted a large and concerned audience. Many interesting discussions followed and the overwhelming consensus was that this was an event that needed to be repeated. “This is why we do this”.

Listening to Elizabeth Hynes elicit amazing results from five young sopranos in her master class was incredibly beneficial to the singers on the stage and in the audience. And for many in attendance, it was their first opportunity to hear how important technique, study, perseverance, and experience are in making a career in opera. It ended our weekend with an enlightening and exhilarating look ahead. “This is why we do this”.

I am convinced, now, more than ever, that MONC has an important role to play in the future of opera in America today. We are raising funds to discover and nourish the careers of opera’s future stars. And if you need proof that what we do works, just ask Renee Fleming, Lawrence Brownlee, Thomas Hampson, Susan Graham, Michael Fabiano, Anthony Kalil, Nadine Sierra, Cyndia Sieden and Alek Shrader. Alek was a Met National Council winner in 2007 along with Angela Meade, and will make his Seattle Opera debut next February as Jupiter in Handel’s “Semele”. I loved hearing people reminisce about Angela Meade’s first audition here in Seattle. They also expressed satisfaction that they were able to offer financial assistance to Michael Fabiano, who recently sang Alfred in the Met’s broadcast of “Die-Fledermaus

Many of you have supported us in the past; we thank you and hope you will continue your interest and generosity. For those of you who attended any or all of our events for the first time this year, we hope we have inspired you and that we will see you again. There is much more we are able to do, not only for aspiring artists, but also for the future of opera itself. How much we accomplish depends on you.

“This is why we do this” and I invite and encourage you to join us in this exciting, enriching and important endeavor

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