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Good morning, January!

Like so many of you, I cannot believe it’s 2016 already.  This season has already flown by and my kitchen is littered with freshly printed off music straight from the composer, tea cups (some empty/some half full) and coloured pencils.  If you know anything about me, this means I’m in the thick of it.  Hence my poor updates here on the site.  Good intentions; New Year’s resolutions.  Well, fingers crossed.

I’m taking these few moments to say 2015 was a whirlwind of Los Angeles Opera’s Figaro Trilogy, conducted by its music director James Conlon, where I was Susanna in The Ghosts of Versailles (live Cd recording to be released in 2016) directed by the outrageously generous and talented Tony award winning Darko Tresnjak, Berta in Emilio Saggi’s inventive production of  The Barber of Seville, and Marcellina in the revival of Ian Judge’s terrific The Marriage of Figaro.  The last time I did that Figaro production in LA I was Cherubino – and it was my last one of my career.  Happy memories and new one’s now too.

Then I returned to Blighty and went straight into Opera Holland Park to do the London professional premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Flight, I sang Sandra or otherwise noted as Old Woman (ahem).  So proud of our team and the accolades we’ve garnered.  Stephen Barlow is an amazing director and beautiful human being, Brad Cohen, an exceptional musician and conductor – and frankly, we had the an incredible creative team and the best cast of singing actors who are friends and certainly my chosen family.  I have enormous admiration for James Clutton and Mike Volpe.  Long may they contribute to our artistic community!

So, my summer: well, I flew straight to Colorado and Central City Opera where last summer I was Baroness Schraeder in The Sound of Music – but this year, I had the chance to dig my teeth into my first Aldonza in The Man of La Mancha.  Paul Curran directed a clear and powerful production, and Adam Turner was a brick of security, elegance and support in the pit.  I was bruised and battered, and found the whole experience mind blowingly powerful.  I couldn’t have done it without Paul – and wouldn’t have wanted to do it without Robert Orth (Cervantes) and Keith Jameson (Sancho).  Two men who bring such class, integrity and laughter to a room.  God, I love ’em.

By mid-August I was a bit pooped, so Chris and I had a road trip to see friends in Telluride and Santa Fe en route to a family reunion in Arizona, and then we drove back to Chicago.  We can now claim to have driven all of Route 66 from Chicago to LA, and stayed in a majority of the famous motels along the way, including in the room where Clark Gable once slept!  The little joys, eh?

September brought my Royal Albert Hall debut at The Proms with the delicious John Wilson Orchestra!! Superlatives cannot describe the fun and the camaraderie I had and felt with John, Tom and the players.  And to sing the music of Leonard Bernstein, which takes me back to my roots of Tanglewood and his 70th Birthday Celebrations, singing with The New York Festival of Song at The Library of Congress when his manuscripts were given, recordings I’ve made and so many other occasions at The Dakota, made me feel as if all the facets of my life had come together.  After twenty years in England, this meant the world.  It felt…complete.

So September continued with teaching back at the RCM – 45 students this year.  God bless them all.  And then out of the blue, Richard John and Julian Woolford asked me to do the workshop premiere performance of their new musical Comrade Rockstar.  Wow!  yes, please – I played Ruth, the mother of Dean Reed, a singer/composer who found fame behind the Iron Curtain.  Fabulous!  Let’s hope this show gets legs because these two gentlemen are the bee’s knees.

(checking my diary – what happened next?)

Oh, yes, I remember now. (don’t put me away yet, please)

IB NOTEThe Dallas Opera and the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s new opera Becoming Santa Claus where I played IB, the head elf (see note).  Again, I was directed by Paul Curran – mazel tov! – and in the pit was Emmanuel Villaume, with whom I met on a production of Werther while I was still fest in Cologne.  The production was filmed for DVD – and Mark says he’s thrilled with the results! Lots of great re-connections in 2015.  Enormously talented cast, superb designs by Gary McCann.  And that means 2015 also came full circle because I started with Corigliano and ended with Adamo.

(l to r) Jonathan Blalock, Jennifer Rivera, Keith Jameson, Hila Plitmann, me, Kevin Burdette

(l to r) Jonathan Blalock, Jennifer Rivera, Keith Jameson, Hila Plitmann, me, Kevin Burdette

It’s all about the family we nurture, chose and create.

2016 brings at least 3 more world premieres:  CrossCurrents with BCMG at The University of Birmingham, a new song cycle for me based on the Berio Folk Songs with eleven composers including Judith Weir writing new works for the project; I’m portraying Chancellor Merkel in Angela’s Ring by Marie Incontrera and Kabir Sehgal based the European debt crisis – we record in April; Philip Venable’s new opera 4.48 Psychosis  based on the Sarah Kane play for The Royal Opera House.  In between these, I’m making my debut with Florentine Opera in Milwaukee as Madeline Mitchell in Jake Heggie and Gene Sheer’s Three Decembers based on the Terence McNally play Christmas Letters.

Off to put the kettle on – more soon with links, reviews and photos!