This week for the very first time ever in my life, I worked at the CBC and began to learn what it takes to be part of a team that makes radio. I am the guest host for Bill Richardson on Saturday Afternoon at the Opera for July 31 and August 7th.
The producers taught me many things this week about radio and how to create really good radio.
It’s all about the story. Everything. Not just the opera, which has a story obviously. The interviews are all about story. The other features that I scripted are also about story. What’s your story?
Yeah. You. Reading this. What’s your story? Don’t get all wound up in your head analyzing, just tell me a story. All the meaning will unfold from a good story. Don’t believe me? Try it out. The next person you meet get them to tell you a story and see what happens.
Here is a story. You will know me better at the end of it.
I was living in New York City and developing my singing career. Or so I thought. But at the very least, I was living in New York. I had a passion for Wagner and the Metropolitan was offering Die Meistersinger. I had never seen it and I didn’t really know the plot, but off I went and sat way up, about as high as you can go, at the back of the Metropolitan Opera.
I read the synopsis in the program and physically blanched. The premise that the opera starts with is that someone in this opera is going to be a master singer by writing the prize-winning song. The best song ever. Talk about a set up for disappointment. I remember thinking “That Wagner! I mean, what is he thinking? He is going to write the best song ever? I can’t believe it”
First of all, the act two finale with Beckmesser serenading in the street with his out of tune lute and the noise in the street over top ruining the serenade and then the whole chorus in a street fight was one of the most amazing moments I have ever experienced. It struck me as if I had a present in my hands and as I unwrapped it there was another fabulous layer, and then another and then another. The Act 2 finale in Meistersinger was like the best Christmas present one could ever get. The musical finale was so cleverly conceived and executed that I was actually somewhat stunned at intermission and overwhelmed with the magic of it. Then the prize winning song comes. It was Ben Heppner I heard sing it in the early nineties and I have to say that I couldn’t believe how the song got more and more beautiful as it progressed. It was hypnotic. I knew at that moment I had never heard anything so beautiful in my whole life and I would never hear anything that beautiful again. By this point when they are competing for the prize as master singer even the realistic grass in the field on stage is filling me with wonder.
Ah, wonder. There isn’t enough of it in life. Moments when we feel small and insignificant. But only because the world has such incredible gifts in it. And that performance of that piece was one of them to me.