Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Stephen Gould: Heldentenor


This is my baby brother. I have to say younger or baby instead of little as he is 6'5" tall and I am the shortest one in my family at 5'5". He is currently here visiting for a few weeks from Vienna where he lives now. He and my daughter are the "stars" of the family. The pictures above are from here at home on the left and a picture of him in "Tannehauser" on the right.

I had never heard an opera until we visited him in Linz, Austria in 2000. He was in Linz for three years as one of their fest tenors. Since then he has relocated to Vienna and is now singing as a free lance artist all over Europe. We saw "Fidelio" and "Rake's Progress" in Linz. In 2003, Nyssa and I went to Florence, Italy and stayed with him while he did "Othello". Most of the time he dies in the end, pretty predictable. It helps to know the story before you go. As a Heldentenor he sings the Wagner Operas and sang the title role in "Tannehauser" last summer at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany; a role he will repeat this summer as well. I don't know how they do it singing for three to four hours. We didn't get to hear "Peter Grimes" in Linz, and this was a shame as it was actually performed in English.

My parents are very proud of him. They heard him sing professionally when he toured with "Phantom of the Opera" but had never heard him in true opera. In January, he appeared with the Chicago Symphony in concert and we drove the trek from Virginia to Chicago to see him. I hope that their health will someday permit them to fly to Vienna and see him there.

He may be this big opera star, a favorite of Zubin Mehta, but I remember him as the baby brother who arrived weighing in at 10 lbs. 8 oz. and wearing 3-6 month sized clothes. He destroyed the hand-me-down crib in nine months and had lungs on him from the very beginning. He was a pest, nine years my junior. One of his favorite games was walking into a room where I was doing something and for no reason start yelling, "MOMMYYYYY, Sissy hit me!!!" At that point, I would get reprimanded or "stop hitting your brother" or grounded. Finally, I had enough. One day he came to the living room and sat in a big overstuffed chair. He did his, "MOMMYYYYY, Sissy hit me!!!" routine, but this time I walked calmly over to where he was sitting, balled up my fist, and hit him as hard as I could in the stomach. I looked him straight in the face and said, "If I am going to get the punishment, I am at least going to get the satisfaction." You know? He never pulled that again. I should have done it a lot sooner.

We finally became friends after I went to college. At that point, I guess he had no one to blame things on so he learned to appreciate me more. We get along fine now. He is a Type A+++++ personality and I am only an A- or B+ so I can sit back and laugh at his flustered rantings. Nyssa love her Uncle. He keeps everyone in stitches at the table, making it difficult to swallow without choking sometimes. This trip he will be here when she gets home from college so don't fret Nys, you will get to see him in two more weeks.
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