How I Spent My Summer Vacation, or En Route to the Lighthouse

Some stroke of luck landed me in an incredible project this summer: Zesses Seglias’s new opera based on Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse at the Bregenzer Festspiele.

Lucky stars: consider yourselves thanked! There’s so much I could say about this experience. I could gush about the incredible colleagues on the ground with me, whose professionalism in rehearsal and onstage could only be matched by their humor and warmth offstage. I could praise Zesses for his music, which takes what Virginia Woolf did with words and reflects it with music that could almost be described as literary in its detail and sensitivity. I could certainly continue to wow at the fact that I even had this opportunity in the first place: to sing in one of the most prestigious summer festivals in Europe, taking part in this massive artistic endeavor on the Austrian shores of the Lake of Constance.

Anyone who knows me understands why this work is truly special to me. My love of all things literary combined with my career as a singer has always led me to push the boundaries between text and music and explore how works of literature become audible, and music translates into words and written ideas. Zesses is very similar, I think. The challenge that he took on, to create an evening-length piece of musical theater from such a deeply introspective novel, thrilled me as an artist, and continues to thrill me.

Yet my gratitude and continued excitement is mixed with some sadness (the project is over!) and slight anxiety. This last feeling is because of the question that we all know so well: what’s next? I was happy that I could travel with family for a week after the final performance, and then immediately start work this week with composer Anthony R. Green on a new piece for NOISE-BRIDGE. I have projects planned for this season that will take me to Florida, Belgium and Austria, not to mention many important projects in Stuttgart. My work for the Hampsong Foundation continues to energize me. And who knows what else will pop up on the radar?

But, I am still loathe to part from this experience. The (almost) two weeks since our last performance have been busy, and life will remain so, but is it the right kind of busy? How can I get more of this “Lighthouse” kind of art and artistic experience into my life? Pursuing the answers to these questions make artistic life so unsettling, and so exhilarating. These questions keep us going.

Now, as I settle into my normal working life again in Stuttgart, I continue to glance over my shoulder to acknowledge the Lighthouse beam, “like my own eyes meeting my own eyes, searching…” The Lighthouse is always there, in the distance, and we will always be journeying towards it.

So, row on, dear Heart, and breathe in every minute of the wild ride.