On Sept. 19 I had the honor of debuting the aria "The Lady's Lament" from Dr. Beverly P. Grigsby's new opera, "TESTIMONIES - The Retrial of Joan of Arc," at California State University, Northridge, where she is Distinguished Professor Emerita.
Paul Hurst accompanied me on piano. Beverly wrote this part for me, and it was a thrill to work with her and Paul. Working together we made the aria's melody even more beautiful and it was fun to work on originating this role.
The aria appears in a scene of the opera between two characters: one Joan of Arc, the other the Lady who Laments, pleading with Joan not to take her husband back to war. I performed both characters, but we didn't want to do it strictly concert-style. So Beverly staged the scene for me in rehearsal: a challenge to make the scene clear while at the same time maintaining the seriousness of the situation. But we worked it out and it went quite nicely. I enjoyed singing the aria and everyone was pleased with this exciting moment from the opera as the opening of the concert.
There was so much support online and off that it really was like a fun micro event. Thanks to everyone who was there and who chimed in on the Twitter and Facebook with their "shout outs" of support for the venture. This opera is looking like it's going to be very exciting!
I will have news about my album, "Valerie," soon. We are in the finishing stages of getting it online. -Valerie Miller