Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Classical Singer

*UPDATE: "No can do" getting a copy of the May, 2008 issue; no one seems to carry it, except a full year's subscription, & the publisher is fresh out of copies. I think I'll have to try to get one on ebay in a few months. Any ideas?

For those of you who are musicians, artists of any kind, or opera fans, I just received a copy of part of Classical Singer magazine's May 2008 issue, which has Linda Watson on the cover. Inside is a fantastic, in-depth interview with her. (I fixed the link on the sidebar of my page, so you can go to her site and hear her sing by clicking the link there, or just click on her name above.) The magazine calls her "an international opera super star." (Tacky of me, I know, but I just had to include that.)

I was a fine art major in college. I am not gifted as a watercolor painter, which was the preferred medium where I studied, but I have always enjoyed messing about with color and texture, and design in general. I probably should have studied interior design (or writing, come to think of it). I love seeing the work of other artists, in galleries, shows, online, in theatre, music, etc. It energizes me, inspires me and, for some reason, gives me hope.

I think that I have told you that I first met Linda when she was an undergraduate, studying in the same conservatory as my brother (he was studying classical guitar, piano and composition, among other things). After graduation, she and I both ended up living in Boston, and it was there that I visited a church with her, where she was singing in the choir, and a soloist. I will always laugh when I recall getting into a choir robe before services; I had never even attended a church that HAD a choir! I sat next to her in the choir section, lip-synced to the music that was unfamiliar to me, and tried to hide behind her. Suddenly, I noticed that she was not sitting by me; she had taken her place, front and center, to sing a solo. I wondered if the congregation knew that I was not "one of them." Trying to become invisible kept me from paying much attention to the service, but I love the memory of being an "impostor" in the choir that day, so that I could hear her sing.

Hearing Linda sing onstage nowadays is a kind of mystical experience, for me. First of all, it is my friend up there; that is an intimate and powerful connection. (Whenever Maribeth would sing in church, I used to tear up, and sit there in wonder, too. I tell you, it's also a profound, spiritual experience, to see/hear an artist at work!) Linda has a beautiful voice, and the music that she specializes in singing is glorious, huge, dark, mythical and complex; so are the characters that Wagner deals with. Linda therefore has an enormous range of drama, emotion, beauty, eternal themes, tragedy and triumph with which to work.

It is always an education, for me, to attend an opera. It's not my favorite art form, and I find Wagner really challenging. He is a figure of revulsion for a lot of people (if you don't know what I mean, Google him), and Linda reminds me that, while he was a difficult human being, he was also a musical genius. She says that hundreds of books have been written about his music; it's that deep a subject. He works with age-old stories, plotlines and characters that sometimes get a bit convoluted for me to follow. I enjoy it much more if I do some research before I attend a performance, read the story of the opera, become familiar with the characters and listen to the music, especially since Wagner is (of course) all sung in German. The Seattle Opera will send you a CD with excerpts of the music and a story synopsis ahead of the performance; I think this is a great service. It really makes the opera a more enjoyable experience, and Parsifal, for example, takes about FIVE HOURS to perform. Imagine the stamina that requires!

In the magazine interview, Linda talks about what singing Wagner's music means to her. It's awesome to know an artist who is called to her art, appreciates its value, has the deepest integrity and joy in performing and creating, and is always trying to continue to learn and grow. It is unbelievably hard work, from what I know of her life, and huge sacrifices are made all the time.

I am ordering a copy of the entire issue as a keepsake. It's worth reading, if you can find it (it's not exactly a mainstream publication; Barnes & Noble doesn't even carry it). If you want to read about what an artist's life is like, this is a great opportunity to do it.*

Linda is coming to stay with us for a few days next week. HOORAY! I can hardly wait to see her.


Maggie said...

Linda as a beautiful voice, I'm ashamed to admit that listening to the clip you posted previously was the first time I've really listened to opera...sad I know.

karengberger said...

Maggie, I don't think it's sad or in any way shameful; I'm so glad you got to hear her here.
My grandmother took me to an opera or 2 when I was young, and apart from the costumes, I just didn't care for it.
Gregg and I like Italian composers' operas the most, so far, but we are kind of ignorant! We love Linda, and always want to hear her, if she is nearby. Most of the time, though, she is in Europe.
The interview clip was such fun, because her personality really comes through. Strong, intelligent and funny.

Smileygirl said...

I loved your description as a "choir interloper". Great visual.

And you know what?? YOU'RE strong, intelligent and funny. (just like you described Linda). It's no wonder you two are great friends.

painted maypole said...

i will have to listen

I'm an actress who sort of sings, and appeared in the chorus of my first opera (La Traviata) last fall. I have never been much of an opera person, but am gaining more and more of an appreciation of the art.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Just looking at the sidebar or yours nearly makes me weep, the beauty and the grace you carry during this hard time is lovely