30 April 2013

The Haushofmeister’s Diary, Part 12: Our Very Own Sitzprobe

Show time! The Ariadne cast, orchestra,
and Maestro Illick in Bass Hall.

It’s happened to me so many times. Teresa Stratas is singing in a small, beautiful theater, before an orchestral ensemble led by a distinguished conductor. When the time comes, I take my place beside her. We sing — sometimes from the classic repertoire, and sometimes an entirely new work that we improvise on the spot. We are magnificent. The audience cheers. Weeping with gratitude, I fall into Teresa’s arms —

— And then I wake up.

Guardian angel: The auditorium ceiling in Bass Hall.

The great curiosity, then, is that I did not wake up yesterday when I took my place at the center stage, looked down at the distinguished conductor Joe Illick and the massed forces of the Fort Worth Symphony, and joined a brilliant cast of singers in a performance of Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos with the Fort Worth Opera Festival.

This was real.

It’s the mark of a true diva to know at all times
when there’s a camera in the room.
Audrey Luna (Zerbinetta) casts a wary eye on a certain clumsy amateur photographer, while Marjorie Owens (Ariadne) looks on.

What follows is a selection of photos from among the 250 I took last night. (I’m not cheating you: most of the pictures were terrible.) This has been an astonishing adventure, and thus far it only gets better: tonight is our “piano dress,” with costumes but no wigs, makeup, or orchestra. Bis später!

Willkommen zu Hause, meine gnädige Damen und Herren!

Unofficially, this year’s Festival is the Season of Soldiers: there’s at least one in each production. David Miller (left) is Ariadne’s token soldier, Zerbinetta’s boyfriend; Michael Adams, who plays a Customs Officer in Bohème, sings the role of the Lackey — the Haushofmeister’s subordinate — in Ariadne.

Friends from other productions dropped by to listen. Left to right, David Blalock and Caroline Worra of Glory Denied shmooze with our Jeni Houser. Standing: Emily Urbanek (back to camera), stage manager Joe Gladstone.

General director Darren Woods has sung the Dance Master, in his day — which explains how he knows every lyric in this opera.
Ian McEuen picks up a pointer or two.

When life gives you pits, make music!
Maestro Joe Illick with the Fort Worth Symphony.

It seems that the score still holds a few surprises for tenor Corey Bix (Bacchus), but Marjorie Owens (foreground) is more than ready for her close-up.

Mezzo Cecelia Hall as the Composer.

Stephen Lusmann as the Music Master.

Ian McEuen as the Dance Master.

Aaron Sorensen, the world’s youngest Alcindoro, sings the Wigmaker in Ariadne.

Ganz nicht jämmerlich, unser Schauplatz!

Maestro Illick conducts an opera, the title of which escapes me.

Backstage: Through this doorway, I make my second entrance.

Backstage: The Café Momus and a villager’s cabin from Daughter of the Regiment.

Dream Girls: Amanda Robie, Corrie Donovan,
and Jeni Houser as the Nymphs.

Send in the clowns: Michael Porter (Brighella), Anthony Reed (Truffaldin), Zac Engle (Scaramuccio), and Steven Eddy (Harlekin).

Marjorie Owens: “Es gibt ein Reich.”

Zerbinetta (Audrey Luna) and her boys:
Michael Porter, Anthony Reed, Zac Engle, Steven Eddy.

“Großmächtige Prinzessin”: Audrey Luna sings Zerbinetta’s tour-de-force aria.

Through every kind of coloratura and notes only Jesus can hear, Audrey keeps going...

...and going...

...and going...

...and going! Seriously, she is beyond spectacular.

Soon, however, Marjorie and Corey will get their turn.

“Is your name Theseus? No? Well, I don’t mind.”

“Just don’t tell Circe about this!”

Corey Bix as Bacchus.

Getting the last word: Marjorie Owens and Corey Bix,
with Joe Illick in the pit.

Play on!

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26 April 2013

The Haushofmeister’s Diary, Part 11: Listening to ‘Glory Denied’

The cost of glory: Mayes and Worra (foreground), with the reflections of who they once were (Blalock and Mancasola, background).
All photos courtesy of Ellen Appel.

The newest work in this year’s Fort Worth Opera Festival, Glory Denied examines the relationship between Col. Floyd James Thompson, the longest-held prisoner of war in United States history, and his wife, Alyce. By the time she declares, “We both went through hell,” we’ve seen that she’s right.

For nine years, the Vietnamese imprisoned Jim Thompson, and for much of that time, Alyce didn’t know whether he was dead or alive. Struggling to rear four children, she had to make tough choices, and when she saw a way out of her own kind of solitary confinement, she took it. When Jim comes home, he has to contend with all kinds of change.

Nothing is what it was, and Cipullo dramatizes that reality by casting four singers to tell this story: the young couple and the older couple. In them we see innocence turned to anguish, and Dean Anthony’s staging coordinates almost every movement, until the singers are like mirror images, shadows, or ghosts of one another. Cipullo’s score, performed here in a reduced orchestration for ten players (including one very busy percussionist), finds surprising beauty in the pain, and even when he’s depicting torture, the music remains accessible — which is not to say easy to listen to.

Caroline Worra as Alyce.

Our sympathy for Alyce is earned in several ways, including the sublime little aria she sings, “After you hear me out,” when she’s reunited with her husband and tells him the truth. It’s suggested that Alyce herself had a difficult upbringing, and we can understand that she’s committed to making her own children’s lives less arduous. Moreover, the older Alyce is sung by Caroline Worra, who’s sung the role before and who is endowed not only with a radiant soprano voice but also with one of the most infectious smiles in Opera World: it’s almost impossible not to smile back at her. (In her presence I have sometimes felt like a grinning idiot.)

Most of the anguish then falls on the broad shoulders of native-Texan baritone Michael Mayes, whose older Thompson storms and keens through a haze of alcohol (and, in later scenes, the aftermath of a debilitating stroke). Even when he achieves an inner peace — in a beautiful speech to a church congregation, and in his attempt to show Alyce his forgiveness — the wounds of war refuse to heal.

Looking as pristine and wholesome as Tricia Nixon, soprano Sydney Mancasola (a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions just weeks ago) sings young Alyce, patiently waiting for her husband’s return and reading aloud her letters to him. They’re filled with the chattiest banalities, from reruns of The Wizard of Oz to the latest issue of Readers Digest — so bland that they can’t possibly contain the whole truth.

Caroline Worra and Sydney Mancasola as Alyce.

Though Sydney and Caroline look almost nothing like offstage, onstage they really do seem like one woman at two points in her life, and the sweetness of Sydney’s singing is reflected in Caroline’s voice, even as Caroline takes it to angrier, more troubled places. Likewise, it seems natural that the voice of tenor David Blalock (who up until recently was a baritone) might deepen over years of hardship to resemble Mayes’ baritone, and by sheer luck, Mayes seems to have inherited the famous Blalock Dimples. David is so callow, so eager and sweet in performance that Thompson’s fate seems especially harsh.

Throughout the opera, Dean Anthony reminds us of the morass of paper that consumes this couple’s lives: letters, the pages of a calendar, newspapers, and magazines are clutched, then scattered to the floor. Tellingly, the last page of Alyce’s calendar falls when she gives up on her marriage; Thompson uses the magazines to catalogue the changes in American society in his ranting aria, “Turn on, tune in, welcome home.”

Lives bound up in paper: Michael Mayes (foreground)
and David Blalock.

It’s a mystery to me how the singers manage to coordinate their movements so precisely, when as far as I can tell there’s not one moment when all of them can see one another — and it’s a greater mystery how conductor Tyson Deaton keeps the score together, since, in Richard Kagey’s set design, the orchestra is seated behind the acting area, and the cast have their backs to Tyson. Yet somehow he knits a tight ensemble that seems like the expression of a single consciousness, and seldom have I found greater occasion to marvel at the intuitive collaboration of musicians. Tyson is fearless in all this music’s many moods: I found especially tender and meaningful the delicate duet for piano and cello near the opera’s conclusion. And all the singers and players respect Cipullo’s immense gift for prosody. (It’s almost impossible now for me to imagine any other setting of the phrase “After you hear me out.”)

In talking with me on WRR-FM last weekend about the role that contemporary works play in his company, Fort Worth Opera general director Darren Keith Woods explained that it’s not enough for a piece to be new: he wants “to start conversations within the community,” as he’s done with works including last season’s Hydrogen Jukebox, for example, and perhaps most memorably with Angels in America in 2008, when Darren formed an ad hoc consortium of arts groups, educators, and medical professionals to discuss the impact of AIDS on American society.

Thus, aiming toward the goal of stimulating conversation, talkback sessions with the cast and conductor follow the performances of Glory Denied. (Lockheed-Martin, a local employer not disinterested in the effects of warfare on the community, sponsors these sessions.) Audiences are encouraged to ask questions about the Thompsons and about Cipullo’s score — but also to share their own memories and experiences of the Vietnam era and the American wars that have followed. The other evening we heard from members of the community who understood Glory Denied in the context of World War II — and Afghanistan and Iraq — as well as Vietnam.

Older Thompson (Michael Mayes) relives the captivity
of his younger self (David Blalock),
while the unwitting Younger Alyce (Sydney Mancasola)
remains at home.

As I say, most of us are unlikely to be held nine years in a P.O.W. camp — or even nine minutes — and we should feel grateful for that. But so long as our society makes war, then war must affect us, our loves and our lives, even when some of us (like me) may believe ourselves sheltered and safe. This reality ought to make us question all manner of assumptions.

What after all is the “glory” that is denied here? Military victory, a hero’s homecoming, or indeed any recognition of a man’s service to his country? Or is it instead the success of a marriage, a woman’s love for her husband, the steadfastness of character that’s required simply not to leave? All of the above? Until we discuss the questions, we can’t calculate the cost of glory and our shared pursuit of it.

Glory Denied by Tom Cipullo
For Worth Opera Festival 2013

At the McDavid Studio at Bass Hall
Through May 11

For tickets and more information, click here.

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22 April 2013

The Haushofmeister’s Diary, Part 10

On the radio, no one can see you smile. Too bad.
WVM with WRR’s Nancy Brunson.
Photo by Holland Sanders, FWO’s media, marketing and communications maven,
who somehow figured out how to focus my iPhone camera.

I forgot “Frontiers.”

Not only did I forget to mention “Frontiers,” Fort Worth Opera’s innovative new showcase for unpublished operatic scores — I forgot even to write down the word “Frontiers” on one of the 3 x 5 cards I kept before me during my guest co-hosting stint on WRR 101.1 FM radio Saturday evening.

This is embarrassing because I was a member of the jury for the 2013 Frontiers showcase, which will take up a big chunk of the week between our performances of Ariadne auf Naxos — and also because Kurt Howard, Fort Worth Opera’s director of productions and the curator of the Frontiers program, is the guy who suggested that I take the radio gig.

Fortunately, Kurt was too busy getting ready for opening night of the Festival, and the premiere of Puccini’s La Bohème, to sit around listening to the radio. So there’s a chance he’ll never find out about my egregious lapse.

WVM on WRR. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Of course I did keep a stack of 3 x 5 cards in front of me, because if I didn’t, then my late mentor Liz Dribben would come back just to announce that she’d never forgive me. But there are always things one means to say, and forgets to say, or says by accident, when one is speaking in public. Having spent most of my career helping other people, I’ve been sheltered — the microphone is in their hands, not mine — but I recognize the reality.

I had a terrific time with Nancy Brunson, the host of WRR’s popular “Midday Music” program. She’s a singer herself, who pursued a professional career in opera for several years, and she’s studied and lived in Europe — my kind of people. She generously let me ask lots of questions of “our” guests, the native-Texan stars of The Daughter of the Regiment, soprano Ava Pine and tenor David Portillo; the stage director of La Bohème, David Lefkowich; and Fort Worth Opera general director Darren Woods, already in full-throttle opening-night mode in a tuxedo.

They’re all fascinating people, and Ava and Darren and I have known each other for years. But we had limited time to shmooze, because our conversations were interspersed with musical segments much longer than I’d expected — and to my further surprise, absolutely none of those musical selections had anything whatever to do with the four operas in our Festival, or with the composers of our operas, or with any opera, or with any kind of singing at all. Only two selections were particularly festive. We didn’t even hear the Della Reese version of Musetta’s Waltz. I guess the WRR programmers know their audience better than I do, although of course I grew up listening to WRR and I’m a part of the audience when I’m in the area — and I was disappointed not to hear any opera. (But then, I never was very representative.)

So my particular challenge was to steer the conversations in order to cover everything I think is important. I can’t quite be objective, but I think we did okay. We managed to talk about three of the four leads in La Bohème but left out the tenor, Sean Panikkar (oops!). Ava, David Portillo, and Darren all talked about working with Joyce Castle in Daughter, and David Lefkowich and I talked about Marjorie Owens, our Ariadne. But we didn’t mention any of the other wonderful singers on the roster this season — not even Audrey Luna, our Zerbinetta, who’s the toast of Opera World since she sang Ariel in Adès’ The Tempest at the Met this season. Hey, we’ve got star power! — And I should have talked about it more.

Mercifully, Darren and I found time to talk about Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, the contemporary work having its regional premiere here this season (I’d seen the final dress rehearsal on Friday night), and to discuss why new music is important to Darren’s vision for the company. But I forgot Frontiers.

Darren Woods and Kurt Howard.
Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera.

At all times, I was conscious of the tremendous trust that Darren — and Kurt, and Holland Sanders, and everybody else — had placed in me. Here I was, in front of a live microphone, representing the company and yet completely unsupervised except by the WRR folks. I could have said anything!

But I do believe strongly in what this company is trying to do. I came here as a critic, but I recognized the fundamental value of the work — and the remarkable success the company has enjoyed as it brings all kinds of music to all kinds of people. The company has created a strong, engaged community: onstage, backstage, in the audience, and beyond. It’s a kind of community I didn’t think was possible, when I was growing up, just down the road from here.

“You sure did drink the Kool-Aid,” Darren said to me the other night, and I wanted to answer, “You’re the one who stuck the funnel in my mouth ten years ago and started pouring.” But what the hell. If appreciating good work — and wanting to talk about it and to write about it — is a fault, then so be it.

All kinds of community: For “Opera Shots,” the company sends singers to local bars, letting everybody see how much fun we have
with this supposedly dusty, dull art form. “Opera Shots” events reliably draw big, enthusiastic crowds.
Here, my wonderful Ariadne colleagues Amanda Robie, Ian McEuen, Steven Eddy, and Corrie Donovan sing the quartet from Rigoletto at the Flying Saucer in downtown Fort Worth.
Clearly, I have not learned to focus the camera on my iPhone.

NOTE: It’s possible that I was distracted by the hubbub in Bass Hall, which was decorated to evoke a kind of Sexy Paris. This turns out to be quite far from the city where Bohème takes place, no matter how attractive our cast is. Curiously costumed performers roamed among the red-carpet audience, along with an accordion player and a hula-hoop artiste. Slutty Marie-Antoinette was a favorite of the costumes — though of course I don’t mean to suggest anything about the character of the attractive young woman who wore it. The 19th-century pimp and his meal ticket were favorites, too, and yet again, I don’t mean to suggest anything, etc. etc. Among the lampposts was a street sign pointing to “Rue 69,” which does not exist anywhere except in somebody’s naughty imagination. Yeah, this wasn’t Puccini’s Paris, and it wasn’t mine. But people seemed to have fun.

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20 April 2013

The Haushofmeister’s Diary, Part 9

Soprano Mary Dunleavy as Mimì, tenor Sean Panikkar as Rodolfo,
in David Lefkowich’s staging of Puccini’s La Bohème,
opening the Fort Worth Opera Festival tonight.
Photo by Ellen Appel courtesy of Fort Worth Opera©

Yet again, my Fort Worth Opera adventure ties together the disparate strands of my past. This afternoon, Dallas’ Classical station, WRR-FM 101.1, will air “red carpet” coverage of opening night of the Fort Worth Opera Festival, live from Bass Hall in downtown Forth Worth, from 5:00 to 7:00 local time. And I’ll be your co-host.

As a former writer and producer for Dan Rather’s radio program at CBS News, I confess I’m a little nonplussed here. For most of my career, my goal has been not to be heard — to stay on the other side of the microphone. Now I’ll have to speak up, think of clever remarks, and remember not to say, “Umm,” too often. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me, you know what a challenge this will be.

At last I’ll find out what lies on the other side of the radio microphone.

Growing up in Dallas, I used to listen to WRR quite often, so there’s a particular satisfaction here. But mainly I’m excited to spread the word about the Festival. On Thursday night, I saw the final dress rehearsal for Puccini’s La Bohème, which opens the Festival tonight at Bass Hall; last night, I saw the final dress rehearsal for Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, a contemporary piece that will have its regional premiere tomorrow at the McDavid Studio, part of the Bass Hall complex.

They’re both terrific productions, and while neither opera may speak precisely of the lives of the audience — one tells of death by tuberculosis, the other of the personal life of the longest-held prisoner of war in U.S. history — both operas have a lot to teach us. You may not ever experience either, but just the same, you may recognize the relationships in your own life.

Scheduled guests on the program will be Bohème’s stage director, David Lefkowich; soprano Ava Pine and tenor David Portillo, the leads in FWO’s production of Donizetti’s comedy The Daughter of the Regiment, which has its premiere next weekend; and Darren Keith Woods, general director of FWO, who’s returning to the stage as Hortensius, the valet, in Daughter of the Regiment. Our host is WRR’s Nancy Brunson, who helms the station’s popular Midday Music program.

If you’re not in the Dallas–Fort Worth area, you can listen to a livestream of the broadcast on the WRR website. This page has (scant) information about the program, as well as a “Listen Here” button. If you’re using a Portable Device, you may need to download an app — whatever that means.

But it’s well worth your figuring this out, because on May 4, WRR will broadcast the opening-night performance of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos — and you’ll want to hear my company debut. So get busy, and tell everyone you know. Thanks!

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19 April 2013

The Haushofmeister’s Diary, Part 8

Costume design for Doña Primera.

It was bound to happen. Our director, David Gately, staged the entirety of Ariadne auf Naxos so quickly that he’s already gotten bored. Our first performance in the 2013 Fort Worth Opera Festival isn’t until May 4 — two weeks from now — and poor David just couldn’t stand the thought of going over the same material, again and again and again.

So he’s come up with a completely new directorial concept. Inspired by our authentic Texan surroundings, and also by Wednesday’s barbecue lunch (celebrating Darren Woods’ birthday), David’s take on Strauss’ classic commedia seria is truly original. Now we’re all scurrying to learn the changes, the costume department is working overtime to build our new outfits, and conductor Joe Illick is reorchestrating the entire score, start to finish, with a special emphasis on steel guitars and maracas. Fortunately, we will be performing in English — more or less!

David has asked me to write the plot synopsis, which will be inserted into the Festival programs for the benefit of those audience members who are unfamiliar with this piece — which, this time, means everybody.

As a special service to my readers, I’m sharing that synopsis with you now. Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby present



Part I: Prologue
The scene is the patio at the ranch house of Big Tex, who recently made a fortune in the oil business. And as the sun slowly sets in the west, there’s a whoopin’ an’ a hollerin’ an’ all kinds of commotion goin’ on at the ranch.

An idealistic young Bandleader (Cecelia Hall, mezzo-soprano) has been hired to play a concert following Big Tex’s barbecue, and with tonight’s performance, he’s hoping to break new ground in conjunto music. His act will feature two top-name headliners from Laredo, Doña Primera de la Ariadne (Marjorie Owens, soprano) and Don Heroico del Ruidoso (Corey Bix, tenor). But the Bandleader is horrified when his Accordion Teacher (Steven Lusmann, baritone) breaks the news: Big Tex has hired a rodeo act to follow the concert.

Costume design for Etta Zerbin.

And so we meet the cowgirl queen Etta Zerbin (Audrey Luna, soprano), a specialist in rope tricks and bronco-busting, and her troupe of rodeo clowns (Steven Eddy, Zac Engle, Michael Porter, and Anthony Reed). They are a high-spirited bunch, and FWO Producing Director Kurt Howard (who is himself a former rodeo rider) has been working overtime to teach our cast a number of astonishing stunts.

Everybody is ready for the show when Big Tex’s butler, Rhett (William V. Madison), arrives. The barbecue dinner has run long, Rhett announces, and Big Tex is in a hurry to get to the fireworks display that’s scheduled for nine o’clock on the dot — so the conjunto concert and the rodeo must be performed simultaneously.*

Consternation ensues. A Field Hand on Big Tex’s ranch (Ian McEuen, tenor) gleefully insists that rope tricks are more fun than a mariachi band anyway, while the Bandleader tries to explain to Etta why conjunto music is so important to Texan culture (Aria: “Do y’all ’lectric guitar?”), and Etta in turn teaches him how to spit tobacco juice instead of swallowing.

At last, the Bandleader loses patience, smashes his guitar against the stage, and storms off. As you know, storms in Texas tend to get pretty big, so we need to have an intermission at this point.

Part II: The Opera
Etta and Doña Primera share a giant plate of nachos, but they refuse to give so much as a jalapeño to Doña Primera’s backup singers, Las Ninfas Supremas (Corrie Donovan, Jeni Houser, and Amanda Robie). The rodeo clowns offer to take the Ninfas to Joe T. Garcia’s, where the margaritas are better.

Doña Primera sings about the spread she’d like to own some day (Aria: “Es gibt ein Ranch”), and Etta complains about the quality of retro Western fashions (Aria: “Gross! Makin’ Trigger-print dresses!”) — for 11 minutes while riding a mechanical bull.

Just then, Don Heroico enters with a bottle of tequila, and he and Doña Primera drive off in a pickup truck. We can tell that the tequila is really, really strong, because just then, the fireworks start goin’ off.


Set design.

NOTE: Other characters in our production include the Texas Ranger who is Etta’s current boyfriend (David Miller); the Hairdresser who, as a Texan, believes in very Big Hair (Aaron Sorenson); and one of Big Tex’s most sophisticated servants, a state-of-the-art high-tech Robot (Michael Adams).

* This is where David’s concept stretches things a bit, I think. After all, we know perfectly well that no nouveau riche Texan would ever do anything quite so crass as this.

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18 April 2013

The Haushofmeister’s Diary, Part 7

The Fort Worth Opera Festival Family, 2013:
Darren’s surprise luncheon party,
at Angelo’s barbecue in Fort Worth.
Not pictured: WVM, because I was waiting to order my sandwich.

Somewhat to my disappointment, no one within my presence has yet described this rehearsal period as anything like summer camp. Really, I thought that would be the first thing anyone said. Here we all are, in our little cabins, going off to share group activities! And singing as we go!

In reality,the experience is a bit more like college. Our little motel is something like a dorm, we meet in a sort of dining hall for breakfast most mornings, and then we go our separate ways, to different classes. Also, unlike summer camp, there are no ’smores. Really. I’ve looked.

Still, it’s definitely a communal experience, and I was reminded of this yesterday, when we celebrated two very important birthdays: those of Darren Keith Woods, the general director of Fort Worth Opera who’s making his company debut as Hortensius in Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment; and of soprano Marjorie Owens, who’s singing the title role in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos.

In honor of the occasion — and because not one word of what I write should go unrecorded — I share with you the poems I wrote* for each of these lovely people.

Darren at an Ariadne rehearsal.
With Emily Urbanek at the piano, and Nate DePoint in the background.
Photo by WVM.


Our lives were stale, and flat, and barren,
Before we found the one called Darren.
Then suddenly all “coulds” and “shoulds”
Were answered with the one name WOODS.
Though soon for us he’ll sing Hortensius,
For many arts he has propensius:
For music, yes, but also love
(Which we are benefici’ries of),
For kindness, courage, strength, and mirth
He’s known worldwide — AND in Fort Worth.
Indeed we could not soon select a
More genial Gen’ral Directa.
He has the power — and best of all,
How many others can you count
Who for their birthday go and mount
Four operas in a Festival?
So raise your voice and join this toast
To darling Darren, whom we love most.

Marjorie, in rehearsal.


Come one, come all, come everybodny
And celebrate our Ariadne!
Put down your knitting, book, and archery
To marvel at our marv’lous Marjorie,
Whose wondrous singing, ever sweet,
Doth shame the birdies when they tweet,
And halts our sorrow ere it starts
Through magic of her lyric arts!
While some recall her Leonora,
I’m just discov’rin’ her repertor-a —
Yet now for years I’ll stop and linger
’Midst the joy she gives us as a singer.
Yes, I would travel miles by bike
To hear her sing “Es gibt ein Reich,”
Or hear her láment long-lost “Theseus”
In her most awesome and amaze-voice.
So now let’s join with all the rest in
Saying, “Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag, großmächtige Prinzessin!”

Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun’s portrait of Lady Hamilton,
in costume as Ariadne.
The resemblance to our Marjorie is remarkable.

*NOTE: As ever, my model as a poet is the peerless Julia A. Moore, “The Sweet Singer of Michigan.” One of these days I’ll write something about her, instead of merely writing like her.

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