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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