I’ve been doing some angsting out loud over questions of sustainability and the viability of the Opera Workshop in the community, which is sort of the inevitable result of the dust clearing on a financially difficult year. When the excitement over the summer’s artistic successes begins to pass, what I’m left with is the practical realities in front of me, which never seem to get any easier and which were especially rough this year, on all fronts. But before I let myself do a really deep dive into those unavoidable realities, I want to take a long moment to express my gratitude to everyone who made Dido and Aeneas such an incredible experience and probably my favorite opera we’ve done to date. Because no matter how much hand-wringing and hair-pulling I’m doing over the practical, business-y aspects of this thing, that gratitude is REAL.
First, I need to thank some people whose extraordinary generosity made all those practical, business-y things significantly less horrifying than they would have been. This includes all of our generous donors over the course of the year, without whom we’d have been completely lost, but also I need to name a few people whose extraordinary contributions of their time and resources saved us at crucial moments, specifically Steve and Katie McEntee, Tricia and Paul Stallman, Teresa N Fischer, David and Sue King, Jay Winter, and Eric Somers. Without these people, we’d have been performing in a bare, unlit room, accompanied by electric piano for an audience who had no idea who was onstage or what they were doing there. Without April Fredette Judicki and Carmela Gravante, some of that audience would also have been standing up. Thanks, too, to all the parents who consented to let their children spend six weeks singing opera all day, every day instead of going on family vacations, making money at summer jobs, or mowing the lawn, without whom all those sad, standing audiences would have been watching an electric piano recital.
Next, I need to thank the incredible artists whose talent, skill, and enormous generosity of spirit not only made this opera beautiful to listen to, but also an absolute pleasure to produce. This was my fifth production working with Lemuel Gurtowsky as musical director, whose ability to bring the best out of these young singers, year-after-year, is frankly astonishing. I can’t fathom doing any of this without him, and I sincerely hope I will not have to anytime soon. This was my *first* production working with Shayne Lebron-Acevedo and Wallie Evyon Lewis, and I’m already despairing over their departure, so that’s something that needs to be rectified however possible. The addition of them to this project, and the experience we were able to have with this year’s orchestra was wonderful beyond my wildest dreams, not just for me, but for everyone involved. Much credit for this also goes to my long-time collaborator James David Jacobs, whose idea it was to bring them here in the first place. And Alexa King, whose beautiful lighting design (and lightning design) transformed our piece from the sweet little musical production we’d created at All Saints’ Episcopal Church into the gorgeous work of art that graced the event room at Eastworks—there’s a reason I obsess over hiring Workshop alumni, and Alexa is a prime example of that. Her understanding of the project combined with her growing skill and professionalism created literal magic onstage. I’m so grateful she was able to return to us this year!
Then we’ve come to my students… my glorious, amazing students. These are the kind of teenagers who would choose to spend six weeks of their summer singing Purcell while sweating buckets in an excruciatingly hot rehearsal room instead of hanging out at the beach, and I feel so incredibly lucky to know them. Julia Jemsek, Sarah Fischer, Sarah Van Horn, Samantha Van Horn, Ayla Connor, Eliza Carson, Carina Gravante-Gunnells, Angela Oldham Barca, Brayden Stallman, Milena Gravante-Gunnells, Angelys Martinez, Greyson Lynch, Craig Judicki, Shaina Rose Omalley, Andrea Tuthill, Aislinn Bail, you are my heroes, always and forever. Thank you for your hard work, your talent, and your strength of character. Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives and taking this chaotic journey with me. Thanks, too, to concert singers Syl Simmons and Liam Shannon for singing along with us and helping is round out our sound, and to teen violinist heroes Manar Hashmi and Joel Gonzalez whose amazingness we all fell in love with this summer and who became such an important part of our group. They will always have a home in this Workshop, and I hope they know that. Thanks to Yoshi Sanders for answering a call for help at the last minute! And Isaac, so many thanks for angsting with me over set (im)possibilities!
Lastly, I must thank my husband, Paul Beasi, whose gorgeous photographs and posters make us look and feel like the freaking Met, and whose video experiments I’m so excited about, and my parents and business partners, Bob and Janet Klump, whose willingness to let me continue with this crazy project, through thick and thin, is the only reason it is able to exist. I hope they know how much I appreciate them and the sacrifices they’ve made to make this possible for however long it continues to go on.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten to thank someone important. Just please know that my gratitude is large and unending. Thank you, ALL of you, for an unforgettable summer. I love you all.