Apparently I’m forty-nine

Yesterday was a whirlwind of class and birthday celebration, with the added excitement/terror of the fundraiser on top of it, and it wasn’t until fairly late in the evening that I turned to my husband and said, “Oh, I just realized that I’m forty-nine.” So that happened.

So hey, I’m forty-nine, and though I’m sorry (relieved?) to report that I did not raise enough money to be forced to prepare a full recital for you all, I did raise $3,700.00 for my teen opera workshop‘s summer production. This means that I am on the hook to record FIVE (count ’em, FIVE) French art songs for public consumption, and and so that process begins! I’ve already started practicing, and I’ll be spending the time it takes to resurrect my rusty voice from retirement, improve my highly questionable French, and rehearse and record five songs for you. You can expect these to appear over the next year. Endless thanks to everyone who chipped in to make this happen and to support my teen opera program! I can’t possibly express the depth of my gratitude. I can make sure to let you know when recordings are available, and I pledge to do so. If you wanted to make a donation but lost track of time, it isn’t too late! We gratefully accept donations anytime!

Meanwhile, preparations continue for Dido and Aeneas! Because I can never leave well enough alone, our production will be original in its own way, with an expanded libretto intended to incorporate more of its source material, Book IV of Virgil’s The Aeneid, by putting the gods back into the story—Juno, Venus, and Mercury, specifically—and fleshing out the relationship between the title characters. To that end, we’re interpolating pieces of Purcell’s other work, adapted as necessary (though you’d be surprised how little adaptation is required in some cases). As you can see, we’re continuing to embody our unofficial workshop motto, “If they didn’t want us to mess with it, they shouldn’t have died.”

At my teens’ behest, we’re also working on ways to honor our other, perhaps slightly more official motto, “Make it as gay as possible,” by queering up the content as much as we can, so don’t count on us to be too faithful to Virgil. After all, If he didn’t want us to mess with it… well, you can see where this is going.

I suppose it’s time to wrap this up and get to work! Again, never-ending thanks to everyone who donated their hard-earned cash to help make my birthday fundraiser a success. I’d also like to thank everyone who shared my posts and cheered me on this past week. It means a lot to me that you’re out there listening and engaging with my ridiculous ideas. Thanks to my parents, who also happen to be my business partners, for working and worrying and coddling me through the day. Thanks to my husband, Paul, who kept me going through the evening by feeding me the most delicious food, filling our apartment with purple, and entertaining me as I waited anxiously for the results of my fundraiser.

And lastly, to my amazing teens: I know I said this yesterday in class, but I need to to know how lucky I feel that I get to work with you and be in some way adjacent to your brilliance and the amazing journey each of you is taking, day by day. You are incredible young people and you inspire me every day. Thanks for being present in my life and in my work. Now let’s get crackin’!

Melinda’s 49th Birthday Fundraiser

Friends, I’m pushing fifty. And by “pushing fifty” I mean that I’m about to turn 49 in just a few days, and from that point on, I’m really on my way. I’m also in the midst of raising money for my teen opera workshop‘s summer production of Dido and Aeneas, to be performed at Eastworks in August. The work I’m doing with Act Too Studio Opera Workshop is honestly the thing I’m most proud of in my (just short of) fifty years. I’ve dedicated my heart and soul to making opera relevant to a new generation, and when I say “heart and soul” I really mean everything that I am, my time, my mental and emotional capacity, and what passes for physical strength. The Whole Melinda is in this thing, so there’s nothing I’d want more for my birthday than the support of my friends in this endeavor.

To that end, I’d like to dedicate my forty-ninth birthday to a little fundraiser for the cause! Here’s how it works:

1. Go to my workshop’s page at Fractured Atlas between now and Sunday, May 6th.

2. Click “Donate Now” and choose a one-time donation or a monthly subscription. This can be any amount at all.

3. There is no third step. But wait! I’m offering incentives! And they include my personal humiliation! Who wants to miss that?

If there’s one thing I dread to hear more than anything, it’s pleas from old friends, colleagues, and family that I sing again. And though these urgings do, in fact, fill me with horror and dread, I am willing to do this thing if it can help get my teens’ opera production off the ground. I’m even willing to improve my French for this. And if you are familiar with how bad my French is, you’ll understand the gravity of this proposal. So here goes.

IF I RAISE $1000, I will record myself performing a French art song for public consumption.

IF I RAISE $2000, I will record myself performing THREE French art songs.

IF I RAISE $3000, I will record myself performing FIVE of these things. Count ’em, FIVE.

IF I RAISE $5000, I will do a live performance of French art songs, in public, sometime in 2019, at a location to be determined, but I promise to unlock the door and actually let people in if they are foolish enough to wish to attend. I will also let it be recorded for posterity, for better or worse.

Those of you who have repeatedly expressed your dismay at my having given up performance, this is your chance to put your money where your mouth is. And then I’ll put my mouth where your money… okay, forget that, it sounded better in my head. Whatever. I’m saying this is a one-time offer. Do with it what you will.


UPDATE May 2nd: As we pass the $500 mark, I’ll share what is literally the last thing I ever performed in French, “Fleurs,” the final section of Francis Poulenc’s song cycle Fiançailles pour rire, the whole of which I sang on my senior recital at Carnegie Mellon University in 1991, with LeAnn Overton on piano. I can’t help cringing at my yet-to-mature technique and awful French, but Fiançailles pour rire remains my favorite piece of that recital, and possibly my favorite of anything I’ve ever sung at all. I think my love for it shows in the interpretation. Will I be reprising this (and more) next year? Time will tell!

Click here for “Fleurs“.


UPDATE May 3rd: WE HAVE CROSSED THE $1000 mark! This means that I WILL be dusting off and improving my French and recording at least one art song for the benefit of my teens! Will there be more? Will I have to do the *gulp* recital?? Time will tell!


UPDATE May 5th: We just crossed the $2000 mark, which means I’m now on the hook for at least 3 songs! At $2175 we’re almost halfway to recital! Can we get there? Will I have to book a hall? Who knows?

In the meantime, I’ve been practicing…


UPDATE May 6th: We are heading into the last couple of hours of this fundraiser, and we’re so close to our goal! Meanwhile, I’m committed for FIVE songs (count ’em, FIVE). If we can just make it to the end, you can even hear these (and many more) performed live next year! Can we chip away at this thing and make it happen for my teens?