The two male vocalists sitting at our conference table are young, intense, and talented. They are bursting with information about what it’s like to represent with their resonant baritones the existential struggles of a young man, a boy really, transitioning to a mature woman.
I’m trying to focus as much as possible on the sense of what they’re saying, but the sensuousness of their trained voices short circuits, repeatedly, my hard- headed note taking.
I’m rescued, anchored by an anecdote related to me by vocal coach Jean Anderson Collier, sitting to my left. The co-librettist of this operetta/song cycle, she tells me, was, as a boy, a paper-boy who wore a blouse under his sweat-shirt as he was delivering the news to his neighborhood of all events current, as well as the “news” to him/herself of a coming sea-change.
We all need help becoming our true selves; sometimes it’s a matter of listening to what only we can hear, at other times of acting in concert with the selves we were, and are, in order to achieve the self we’re becoming.
As suddenly, it seems, as this intriguing anecdote is over, I’m watching and listening to baritones Scott Ballentine and Andrew Miller rehearsing with mezzo- soprano, Rebecca Krouner. Krouner’s voice, full- throated, searching, vulnerable, heralds a new woman emerging into new territory with antecedent male selves playing second fiddle, their voices, hushed, whispering, but resolute: allies for the long run and beyond (As One).
This was new territory for me, gender-wise, but I didn’t feel hauled out of my seat and up the roughest slopes of understanding; on the contrary, the challenges were step-wise, evocative, affecting. I found my intuition everywhere enlisted by the music, the story and the actions. And no wonder. Googling the makers of this chamber opera you find expert hands, hearts, minds. They’ve fashioned in an intense 75 minutes of string quartet and two voices a haunting tapestry of exploration: a journey for our times. The Boston Opera Collaborative is devoted to bringing talented young singers/instrumentalist and an open-minded public together. There will be rich post-performance talks by community groups and individuals. Hope to see you there.
(The Boston Opera Collaborative’s presentation of “As One” is scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday (January 25, 26 and 27) at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, January 28 at 3 p.m. at Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall, Longy School of Music of Bard College, 27 Garden St., Cambridge, Mass.; for more information, visit https://www.bostonoperacollaborative.org .)