My job is pretty cool in a lot of ways, not the least of which is getting to travel all over the country (sometimes the world) seeing new places. Thus the long silence. I've been off leaf-peeping in Virginia singing with Opera on the James in Lynchburg, VA. We drove from Texas with my French mother-in-law in tow --- her first big cross-country trip! She did great and she loved it. We took a little time to sightsee, and see things we did. Like this bit of kitsch outside of Hillsboro, TX:
Looks like Captain Kirk was jonsing for a Big Mac.
And this bit outside of Glasgow, VA:
It's a CAVEWOMAN RIDING A BRONTOSAURUS WITH A WREATH ON ITS NECK, randomly located in a field, with no explanation. You're welcome.
In Memphis, I highly recommend eating at Corky's and visiting Mud Island (you get to ride the monorail, which is cool enough by itself but also, it's where they filmed Tom Cruise in The Firm) and the Mississippi River Museum.
The museum is really well done, and the park itself, sitting right on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, is beautiful. There's a trail there and we would have liked to walk it, but we had to get on the road. We had lunch at the Log Cabin Restaurant (exit 43 off I-40). Trust me, it doesn't look like much, but the food is very good. And we had to pry my mother-in-law away from the pie case. She was extremely excited about the pie. With good reason. Go for the buttermilk.
Our other fantastic tourist stop was the Natural Bridge, not far from Lynchburg. This is a spot worth spending some time.
There is a trail here, too, and it's well worth the time. There's a beautiful little waterfall at the end of it AND I SAW AN OTTER. I'm still excited about the otter.
It was my first time to sing with Opera on the James; my 5th production of Puccini's masterpiece Gianni Schicchi and the 4th of Suor Angelica --- both of which I've also directed. Every production is quite different, which keeps it interesting. Here's a little retrospective of the various Zitas I've done:
New Orleans Opera, 2007, with Bryan Hymel as Rinuccio
El Paso Opera, 2008
Princeton Festival, 2012 (makeup by Martha Ruskai)
And last but not least, the most recent:
Opera on the James, 2013. L-R starting with the front row: Patrick Miller (Rinuccio), moi (Zita), Ursula Kuhar (La Ciesca); Karin White (Nella), Chase Taylor (Gherardo), Brandon Coleman (Marco); Andrew Potter (Betto), Keith whose last name I don't remember - sorry Keith! - (Simone). Wigs and makeup by Sondra Nottingham!
You may have noticed from the photos that Zita isn't really a nice person. ;) Villains are always more fun to play.
Speaking of which, here is my retrospective of the Zia Principessa from Suor Angelica:
San Antonio Opera, 2010
Wig and makeup by Melanie Steele
And the latest ...
Opera on the James, 2013. With Lina Tetriani as Suor Angelica.
Wig and makeup by Sondra Nottingham.
I'd never spent much time in Virginia before, and fall in Lynchburg was a gorgeous time to be there! Whenever we weren't rehearsing, I spent a lot of time hiking on the Blackwater Creek trail, which was serene and beautiful.
And just in time for the show, my husband flew back in, and we spent one gloriously beautiful Saturday afternoon driving around on the Blue Ridge Parkway, hiking along Otter Creek, visiting a winery (Virginia is chock full of 'em, who knew?), and having a fabulous dinner in Charlottesville. The BRP is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in my life.
View of Otter Lake from the little dam.
Fall color on the trail.
So that was pretty much my October. Now I am home in Austin, running my little opera company and getting ready for auditions and my next gig, Messiah with the Boise Philharmonic.
I have a lot of topics kicking around my head that I'd like to write about, so stay tuned. :)