Kentucky Opera‘s double bill of The King’s Man and Danse Russe came off like clockwork, or greased lightning, depending on your taste in metaphor. I could say more, but that covers it: Paul Moravec and I were completely happy with the results, and so, it appears, were the people who came to see and hear our second and third operas in Louisville. Good singing, good conducting, good staging, good design–good everything, in fact, all the way from top to bottom and back again. It’s not for me to say so, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the world hasn’t seen the last of these two pieces.
Incidentally, I said something about The King’s Man and Danse Russe in an interview that I think might be worth passing on:
Opera is theater. Sure, we call it opera because we use opera singers. But these are shows that we’ve done. One [Danse Russe] is like a musical, the other [The King’s Man] is maybe like a little movie. The more theatrical the opera creator can be today, the more that opera is going to come right across the footlights and land in your lap and excite you.
That’s the Moravec-Teachout operatic credo in a nutshell.
On Saturday my brother and sister-in-law drove out from Smalltown, U.S.A., to catch the matinee performance. It was the first time that I’d seen David and Kathy since Satchmo at the Waldorf opened at Shakespeare & Company fourteen months ago–far, far too long–and their presence made me even happier. I was able to regale them at brunch with the news of the first-serial publication of “Duke Ellington, King of Jazz,” an excerpt from Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington that ran in that morning’s Wall Street Journal, and in the evening we dined at a restaurant on the top floor of a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son-in-law, which was great fun.
I was way too busy throughout the rest of my stay to see much of Louisville, though I did eat my first Hot Brown at the Brown Hotel (where a friend of mine who came to the opening-night performance was staying). I also paid an eye-popping visit to the Leight House, a spectacular piece of midcentury-modern residential architecture whose nonagenarian owners, Leonard and Adele Leight, are not only patrons of Kentucky Opera but world-renowned collectors of studio art glass, a medium of which I previously knew nothing more than the name of Dale Chihuly but which I now mean to study in earnest (starting with Michael Taylor).
As for Duke, it’ll be officially published on Thursday, but my book-tour duties are already underway. By the time that most of you get around to reading these words, I’ll be en route via Orlando to Vero Beach, Florida, where I’m to speak about Duke tomorrow afternoon at an invitation-only luncheon meeting of the Indian River Literary Society.
On Wednesday I’ll return to New York to see the Broadway revival of Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy and chat with John Schaefer about Duke on WNYC’s Soundcheck. Come Friday I’ll take the train down to Washington to tape a Duke-related PBS NewsHour segment that is currently scheduled to air on October 21.
From then on, things will be a little hectic. As always, watch this space for details….
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A TV story about the Leight House and its owner-collectors: