The Grand Teton Music Festival was a fantastic and all too brief experience, and, as you might have guessed from the photo above, the music was not the only attraction. Jackson Hole is an extraordinary (and ridiculously photogenic) part of the world. We were fortunate enough to have two whole days to play with before rehearsals started, so we spent a good deal of them exploring the Grand Teton National Park. The scenery just never stops and it's impossible to resist snapping a photo every two or three seconds – all the while knowing you'll never do the place justice. The wildlife was pretty nifty too; we didn't spot any bears, alas, but we did see several moose (a couple at remarkably close range) and a whole herd of buffalo.
The music in question was pretty thrilling too of course. Donald Runnicles conducted Beethoven 8 and then a selection of excerpts from Die Walküre, featuring my tenor as Siegmund, Heidi Melton as Sieglinde and Brünnhilde, and Donnie Ray Albert as Wotan. So we basically had all of Act I minus the Hunding bits; Brünnhilde Hojotoho-ing; and Wotan's farewell. Not a bad way to hear Walküre, actually, if that's not a heretical thing to say. Although I did miss the Todesverkündigung.
Walk Festival Hall, where the concerts took place, is quite a special place to hear Wagner: it's very small (685 seats) and quite intimate, with the first row of seating at the same level as the stage and subsequent rows quite steeply raked. So not only do you hear everything clearly, you can see everything (and everybody) as well; a fascinating contrast to my last Walküre, in the dark, cavernous depths of the Met. Wagner is vast and magical enough to envelope you in almost any acoustic, but in a small space like this, it was especially intense. Nor did it hurt to have a master such as Runnicles on the podium, or the fabulous forces of the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra (most of them on summer break from other excellent American orchestras), or three such thrilling soloists.
We'd gladly have stayed longer than the week allotted. But the symphony orchestras of Australia were calling – so at 6am on the morning after the second concert, not yet having slept, we were off to Jackson Hole Airport, whence we flew home to Orlando for all of twenty-four hours before heading to Tasmania. I hope we have a chance to return to Jackson Hole one day. Mountains, moose and wonderful music: what more could a person want?