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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Doing Nothing

"Doing Nothing"

Completely, totally, impossible!

As my oldest son likes to point out, in a slight smartalecky way, that even when you're doing nothing, your body is still processing energy, distributing oxygen.

Yeah, yeah. Thanks.

So, I've been trying to do nothing recently. It's not going well. In fact, I'm driving everyone and myself a bit crazy. At the end of these days of doing nothing, I get all panicked because my summer is passing and I've got "so much to do"! (Usually said to my wife in an emphatic manner, especially if there's nothing on Netflix...)

Why the goal of "nothing"?!

Mostly because I decided to take the summer "away" from opera. As most of my regular readers know, I've just come off of an especially intense time of directing, conducting, coaching, or producing around 50 operas in the last 6 years. I thought it was time to take a summer off (the first one since 1984!) and kick back a bit, relax, work on side projects, and get my hernia repaired.

That last bit, the hernia, is really the reason I'm doing nothing right now. The surgery went well, thanks, and the recovery is going well, thanks, but it's taking much longer than I thought it would.

So for the past month I've either been waiting for the surgery, or recovering from the surgery. Not doing much else except the occasional BBQ with friends. I've watched all of "Foyle's War" (highly recommended, btw) and "Doc Martin" (very funny show), I've written two acts of a play (something that's been on my mind for four years now) and am coming close to seeing my way in how to finish it, and I've read a bit of Shakespeare. A bit.

But I haven't done one iota of what needs to be done for the start of the semester and I haven't read all of the Shakespeare plays I need to read, and I haven't even ordered my scores for the 13-14 season!

So, in a way, I've done nothing; I'm doing nothing. But not the nothing I wanted to not do!

The one thing that's gone well has been my meditation and my realization of how I want to change my opera program at McGill.  These two things are intermingled and the one has caused me to rethink the other.

Focus. Fantasy. Fun. Philosophy.

The 4 F's.  Okay, so the last one's not a real "F", but you get the point. Would it be more interesting if I wrote "Phocus. Phantasy. Phun. Filosophy. ?!

My students will, hopefully, gain quite an awful lot from the coming year. In addition to the themes of Focus, Fantasy, Fun, and Philosophy in operatic training, we will be tackling more shows than ever before. Three full-length operas each with orchestra and each with a connection to Shakespeare ("Giulio Cesare", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", I Capuleti e i Montecchi") one huge scenes program presenting both the original Shakespeare excerpt alongside the operatic treatment (think about how cool it'll be to see the tomb scene of Shakespeare's R&J followed directly by Gounod's treatment of same seen!), a new staged presentation called "Sonnets and Songs" featuring 16 soloists all singing songs based on Shakespeare texts culminating in Vaughan William's "Serenade To Music", and yet another "Death By Aria". The last two presentations both happen within the first three weeks of this fall semester.

Plus there's tons of guest directors, conductors, and even a choreographer this year. Lots of activity. More so than ever.

So I guess it's okay that I'm doing NOTHIN' right now.  

Trickier do so than to say so.

Best from Montreal Ouest!