Runnicles in the Park
One thing that I unfortunately didn't have room to include in today's exit interview with Donald Runnicles was his stated fondness for the company's Opera in the Park concert. For those not familiar with this institution, it's a free annual event that takes place outdoors in Golden Gate Park, on the Sunday afternoon following the opera or operas of the opening weekend. Basically, whichever singers are in town for the first two or three productions of the season offer a mixed lineup of arias, duets and ensembles, massively amplified, while people picnic on the grass and the sun beats down and the breezes threaten to blow the music off of the players' stands.
I probably shouldn't say this, since my employer is the event's main sponsor, but Opera in the Park has never done much for me. I appreciate it in theory — sunshine, fresh air, picnic baskets, music — but for anyone with a strong connection to the art form, it's so completely not the way you want to hear opera. And I would have bet any amount of money that the artists, more than anyone, would regard this as just one of those onerous obligations that come with the job.
So imagine my surprise when Runnicles said this:
A highlight for me, year in and year out, was the park concert. In the first years, I took so much trouble with the lineup, planning what to put in and how. And then over the years — I won't say we winged it but it took less and less work. I loved that concert. What a unique event! If there are 50 people hearing their first Winterstürme or Turandot, you may have sown a seed.
I don't know when I've felt so small or cynical.