Tim Willson, a vocal soloist and member of the New Mexico Bach Chorale, commented on the musical side of the “Fireside Opera Chat”:

We were elated after the dress rehearsal. It helped make a major change in our attitudes, as we had been feeling as if we had not accomplished enough of our chores during the day. But that lost all importance after being transformed into the world of highest singing art.

Such grace, ease, expression, elegance, artistry … well, you know. That type of lyric singing with no lack of excitement, no lack of power. No wonder the career was so big. I wish I would hear that more often. I heard the greats of the past say ‘you should sing on the interest, not the capital.’ Here is proof. Most of us don’t do that, we give it too much. It is hard to hold back.

And the Stage deportment. I was learning new lessons on how to be with the orchestra, how to handle the lid of the piano, how to be relaxed but still deeply involved.

On Sunday evening, September 11, 2016, NMPAS presented a “Fireside Opera Chat.”  The chat provided a behind-the-scenes look at life in the opera world. The event was hosted by Valerie and Bud Hamilton in their beautiful home. This was a truly joyful occasion!

The presenters – dramatic soprano Sue Patchell and opera conductor Franz Vote – are two musicians who have worked in the profession for over  40 years. Their friendship began in the early 1980s, when they worked together at the Theater im Revier in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Since then, Sue has sung in every major European opera house and at the Metropolitan Opera. Franz moved from Gelsenkirchen to the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Theater des Westens in Berlin, and the Bayreuth Wagner Festival. From there, he was invited by James Levine to join the conducting staff of the Metropolitan Opera. He conducted at the MET for 11 years. Sue’s debut at the MET in the late 1990s brought them together again after many years of pursuing separate paths.

The “Fireside Opera Chat” consisted of a dialogue with the audience, as well as a series of stories about their experiences in various opera houses, the people they have known, and the relationships they have enjoyed throughout their careers. Sue sang a selection of arias from her major roles in operas by Mozart, Puccini, Wagner, and Verdi, concluding with the “Liebestod” from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde.” She made her debut at the MET in the role of Isolde. Franz will always remember the roar that arose from the crowd as she took her bows. Maestro Levine refused the traditional bow and waived Sue back on stage instead. The orchestra remained in the pit to applaud her, which happens quite rarely with an orchestra that plays the repertoire so often.

Here are four photos taken at this evening’s event. The photographer is Esther Moses Bergh, an NMPAS board member and a soprano in the New Mexico Bach Chorale. NMPAS Music Director Franz Vote is seated at the piano. Executive director Linda Marianiello is seated by him as page turner. Sue Patchell is performing in several of the photos. Sue’s husband, baritone Brett Hamilton, is also pictured in the last photo.

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