God, Cheryl. How do you do it? Where do you find the strength?
I don't mean strength. Do I? Strength sounds boring. Strength sounds like brute force. Cheryl Force is more elegant and more inspired than just workmanlike strength. Five times I've felt the force of her Emilia Marty. That's not a mistake, by the way. I do mean five times. The Emilia she mimed might have been less than conventional, but she packed a punch just the same. Five times, though, and one more to come. People think I'm brave, or mad, or both, facing this opera six times. Please, that's easy. Singing it? Inhabiting it with all that gorgeous ferocity? That's what takes courage, and genius and, yes, staggering strength.
Beholding the culmination of those gifts is a piece of cake. Nothing is more magnificently easy than being a part of Cheryl Barker's appreciative audience. I can't tell you how magical she is to see and to hear, to experience in full flight. I will, of course, keep trying. Can't help but try: she is not conducive to dead silence. Speechlessness, yes, but that only lasts so long before all my amazement comes tumbling out. Though I'm saving up the real paean till after closing night. This, if you can believe it, is just a snippet.
One moment of tonight stands above all the rest. A moment of total self-indulgence on my part. Having spent Acts I and II in Row A, I strategically moved myself for the final act. Nerdishness in action. I knew exactly where I wanted to be when she sang her "Pater hemon! Pater hemon! Elina Makropulos!" and fainted. I was preposterously close to her. Only Dr Kolenaty was closer. It felt almost intrusive, but mostly it was just inspiring: the fire and focus in her eyes, her expression, her whole body and, of course, in that sensational voice were a wonder to behold.