Now it can be said that I have played all three major houses at Lincoln Center. Tonight, I made my Metropolitan Opera debut in the chorus of Kristin Chenoweth's one-woman show at the Opera House. Ms. Chenoweth took the night off from her current Broadway hit The Apple Tree and sold out the MET, offering the audience a smattering of Broadway, operetta, and pop songs, which delighted everyone in the house, especially those of us sharing the stage with her.
If truth be told, Kristin was not technically on the stage of the MET: she played on the space atop the covered orchestra pit. She will step on the actual stage on March, 2010, when she will make her official Metropolitan Opera debut as Samira in John Corigliano's opera The Ghosts of Versailles. The chorus, The Juilliard Choral Union, under the direction of Judith Clurman, was placed on a narrow riser just behind the MET's gold curtain.
Backed up by an eleven-piece band, conducted by the dynamic Andrew Lippa, Ms. Chenoweth took the stage by storm offering an Act I which included songs by Irving Berlin ("You're Easy to Deal With"), Jules Styne ("If You Hadn't but You Did"), and Stephen Schwartz ("Popular"). The entire evening was directed by the talented Kathleen Marshall, last season's Tony Award winner for choreography for The Pajama Game.
I sang in the second part of the program, offering backup vocals on Kristin's rendition of Victor Herbert's "Italian Street Song," and Dennis DeYoung's "Show Me the Way," a song made popular by the heavy metal band Styx. The women of the chorus sang with Kristin in a delicious rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Poor Wandering One" from The Pirates of Penzance.
What makes these kind of events exciting is the anticipation of going on stage, together with the sheer delight of being a part of an event. Hanging out backstage at the MET, and looking at the world from the other side of the footlights was also a one-of-a-kind experience, not to mention standing a few feet from Peter Gelb, and leaving the MET via the stage entrance, elbowing my way through the crowd of adoring fans waiting outside in the cold for Kristin's autograph.
It was truly a magical night.