Spent last week in Southeastern Kansas participating in a humanities program based at Coffeyville Community College. Opera is great fun, but its collaborative nature is both a blessing and a curse. Performing songs--some of which you wrote--by yourself with your own gear, although a bit of a pain, is very much a chance to succeed or fail on your own merits. Miss a note? Lose the audience's attention? Nobody to blame but yourself. Get'em singing along or wishing you'd come back--take all the credit and enjoy it.
Some of the highlights of the seventeen performances for a high school, the community college, and a bunch of retirement homes:
* lady in a special care unit who shouted "That's me--I don't get around much anymore," after I played that Ellington tune.
* Staffer who said "That's my husband" when I did one of my own about guys obsessed with power tools.
* 99 year old man who said he played the Hawaiian Steel Guitar.
* Teens who responded to a writing exercise based on by Guthrie's "Ain't gonna be treated this way" and wrote "School lunch is too healthy and too small," or "I'm tired of dealing with haterz everyday."
* Folks who couldn't talk anymore, but you could still tell were enjoying it by the look in their eyes.
* Man at my last gig who came up with tears in his eyes, game me a hug, and insisted on giving me a tip.
And now back to TOSCA and THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE.