I just read about soprano Kristine Opolais’ extraordinary double debut this past weekend at the Metropolitan Opera. On Friday night she made her (planned) debut at the Met singing the lead role in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. On Saturday afternoon, for the big Saturday matinee HD telecast, without benefit of rehearsal, she sang the lead role of Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème as a replacement for soprano Anita Hartig, who had the flu. She had last sung a Mimi over a year ago. And she had gone to bed following her successful debut as Butterfly the previous night at 5 am!
This just blows my mind. What a feat of musical and vocal prowess! What nerve! What extraordinary energy and endurance! What a memory! Opolais is 34, from Latvia. To quote from “When Harry Met Sally”, I’ll have what she’s having.
Montpelier’s Onion River Chorus also had a busy weekend of singing with a dress rehearsal Friday night followed by concerts Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. I was expecting a tired crew for the regular Monday evening rehearsal last night (a rehearsal whose importance had been elevated by the unexpected cancellation of two previous rehearsals), but instead found remarkable enthusiasm and concentration.
Of course, the best choirs are the ones who sing the most frequently. An English cathedral choir like King’s College, Cambridge sings together – and sings in public – six days a week. It would be easy to tire the amateur voices in the Onion River Chorus if they had to sing too much, but the hour-or-so of singing they did through the weekend served them well last night, where they both sounded great and learned some new music remarkably quickly.
Onion River Chorus’s accomplishment last night may not be in the same league with what Opolais pulled off, but it was a pleasure to be a part of nonetheless.