Can it really be 2017 already? One of my habitual resolutions is to communicate more regularly with my family and friends who are scattered across the western hemisphere. On January 6th, I am happy to report: so far, so good!
We have decided that January is an ideal month to start a semi-regular Haymarket blog so that those who are interested can get an idea of some of what goes on behind the scenes and in between events. I do hope you enjoy hearing from some of the extraordinary staff, artists, and board members who make HOC what it is. Please feel free to leave comments in the space provided.
Our office at the Athenaeum Theatre is a bustling, compact environment (two chairs, one desk, one ouroboros*) and it brings me great joy to show up each day to “make the donuts” with my friend and colleague, General Manager Dave Moss. We do a few hours of focused work in the morning and then walk to the nearby Heritage Bicycle shop for excellent coffee. We just finished a successful fundraising campaign and we are now entering into “grant season” when we make proposals to foundations which support the arts. Many people dread writing grants, but I actually look forward to the activity because it gives me a chance to look back on what we have done and to set goals for the future. I also get to spend quality time with my great friend and writing partner Jeri-Lou Zike. Grant writing truly taxes one’s brain, but the thrill we get from successful applications is worth it. An extra benefit is that I get to see Iron Man Jeri-Lou indulge in things normal, non-triathlete people eat, like tortilla chips.
Since the end of “Messiah season,” I have had the great pleasure of returning to Alessandro Stradella’s San Giovanni Battista, in preparation for HOC’s European festival debut in Valletta, Malta on January 23rd. The beauty and drama of this masterpiece continually move and astound me. Stradella’s gifts for melodic invention, rhythmic novelty, and harmonic surprise give each of the biblical characters in the drama music that fleshes them out into real people. The music and text reveal St. John’s deep faith in his creator. He has spent his life in nature, drawing profound strength from the quiet of the woods. His peaceful arias, accompanied simply by continuo and violin obbligato never fail to bring tears to my eyes. I look forward to hearing countertenor Reggie Mobley’s elegant approach to this powerful role. Sensational soprano Sarah Gartshore reprises her role as Herodiade (aka Salome), singing twisted virtuosic lines as she contrives to have St. John beheaded. It has been five years since Benjamin LeClair portrayed the giant Polifemo in HOC’s debut production of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo. What a treat it will be to hear his King Herod and to perform to a sold-out crowd in St. John’s Oratory, where Caravaggio’s “Beheading of St. John the Baptist” hangs on the wall.
Since most of you will not be joining us in Malta, we’ll give you a taste of the event through photos and blog posts. I hope to see you in the flesh for Agar et Ismaele on March 3 and 4.
A presto! (See you soon!)
*If you saw our production of Cavalli’s La Calista last May you might know that an ouroboros
is a serpent eating its own tail.