I returned from my travels* yesterday and I’ve already started what will likely be a daily routine of work for the Blier recital: warm-up, review my words, and spend an hour singing through my songs with EM, our “prep coach.” Blier gets here on Sunday, and then, from what I understand, all hell might break loose. The mantra around here seems to be “Just be comfortable with the music and be ready to be flexible.” It seems that Blier has a habit of turning everything on its head, taking things in directions you hadn’t thought about before. This is what makes his programs so brilliant, but I can imagine that it can be a daunting rehearsal process! I’m excited to see how it all works in practice…
As is often (always?) the case for Blier’s recitals, there are multiple singers, in this case, SMTB. (**Edited to explain: "SMTB" stands for soprano-mezzo-tenor-baritone. This isn't my shorthand for someone with four names...) We each have several solo pieces, a duet or trio or two, and then a few songs that we’ll all sing together. In each of the programs that I have seen (I’ve seen one recital here and several on Blier’s New York Festival of Song series), this creates a wonderful evening of theater, in which the singers work (and play!) together to create a world of music.
The theme of the recital is “Manhattan Diaries,” but I’ve also seen it listed as “Manhattan: The Agony and the Ecstasy.” So much has been written about this wonderful town, my new hometown. Steve will be reading quotes about the city throughout the program, and he has asked us each to write something as well, to try and capture our thoughts and feelings about living and working in New York. Regardless of whether he uses our words, it will be a great exercise. I was back in the city for just two days a couple of weeks ago, and as much as I love it here, I’m excited to go back…
My quarter of the recital includes these numbers, which will be interspersed with the rest of the group:
“The Lordly Hudson,” Ned Rorem
“What shall we remember,” Ricky Ian Gordon
“Slumming on Park Avenue,” from the movie On the Avenue, Irving Berlin, duet with SC
“Way out West,” from Babes in Arms, Rodgers & Hart
“Another Hundred People,” from Company, Stephen Sondheim
“I happen to like New York,” from The New Yorkers, Cole Porter; full ensemble
“Some other time,” from On the Town, music by Bernstein, lyrics by Comden & Green, full ensemble
One aspect of this program that differs from Blier’s others: everything is in English! Easy to memorize, fun to play with. And, I can keep the Foreign Language section of my brain open for Italian! After today’s coaching with EM, I’ll be spending several hours writing translations into my Figaro score; I’m finally ready to see the notes!
* There is still a cloud over me, most definitely. The past few days, despite some wonderful activities, have been kind of hazy, like I haven’t really been awake. (That might also have something to do with how poorly I’ve been sleeping…) But I realize now, more than ever, that I am living my Granddaddy’s dream of making music my life, my living. So, I’m living.