Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rick Pitcairn Recalls Lifetime Wealth Of Opera Experiences

Opera Under the Stars: The Santa Fe Opera's first theater
"On a starry desert night in August, I sat between my mother and daughter at the open-air Santa Fe Opera House in New Mexico. My mom has attended operas there since the early 1960s; that night, before the first note was struck, she regaled us with stories of operas past, about the time when the seats did not have a roof overhead, and how she and my dad had watched Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier in rain suits. A special glow came over me, for my 21-year-old daughter, her granddaughter, was to my right, probably the youngest aficionado there and rapidly developing her own particular brand of expertise. The orchestra began to swell with Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, as the lights of Los Alamos twinkled on a mountainside many miles away and we learned of lecherous old men and optimistic young lovers and the tensions between rich and poor, recounted in an opera written and originally staged in 1786. The story needed no updating; those issues are as relevant today as they were when the piece was written. My daughter leaned over and whispered that her good friend, the rising baritone Zach Nelson, 'really sounds great tonight, doesn't he?' The story of how my parents passed their love of opera to me and I, a young widower, in turn passed this gift to my daughter is really about legacy. In our household, that transmission of family essence happened
Conductor, and Founder of The Santa Fe Opera,
John Crosby (left) sits in rehearsal with
composer Igor Stravinsky
to a large part while we were at the opera. I still remember, so clearly, the first opera I attended as a seven-year-old boy. My family lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, at the time. The Metropolitan Opera toured in those days, and my mother and grandmother drove me three hours to see Georges Bizet's Carmen in San Antonio. South Texas then was about football and oil wells. That opera introduced me to sensations that were so totally different, I wasn't sure I liked it. But I sure knew my mother and grandmother did. Each summer in the early 1960s, my mother would move our whole family to Santa Fe, where in 1956 the late John Crosby had established a summer opera festival he hoped would rival the first-class European festivals of Salzburg and Glyndebourne." Read the entire fascinating article on Barron's by clicking here.

(Photo: Richard T. Nowitz)
Harold F. "Rick" Pitcairn II is the chief investment officer of Pitcairn, a multifamily office established in 1923 by John Pitcairn, co-founder of what is now PPG Industries.

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