It always seems like a miracle when the cast arrives in Orient for our annual NYFOS@North Fork project. They zoom in by bus, by car, by ferry, and suddenly my quiet, sedentary life becomes a densely packed rehearsal period. This morning I am preparing to go from “Sleep” mode to “Full Blast.” I’ve done this before, I tell myself every three minutes, and I’ll do it again.
Every group has a different vibe, and at our traditional Sunday night supper I try to get a feel for the quartet’s emotional and psychic pH. This year we have a boyfriend-girlfriend couple (Thomas West and Olivia Cosío), as well as a soprano colleague (Elaine Daiber) who is a close friend of theirs. They’ve shared musical experiences together and exude a kind of comfortable intimacy.
The tenor is Jesse Darden, whom none of knew very well. If I had to choose one voice type to be the outlier, it wouldn’t have been the tenor. As a breed, tenors can be somewhat high-maintenance. But Jesse is a very refined guy and he seemed to slip into the gentle camaraderie the others were enjoying. Unlike other years, the two ladies are animated and gregarious, while the two men are warm, observant, and quiet. Thomas was my student at Juilliard for four years, and we have a lot of things in common, a backlog of friendship and artistic collaboration. But Jesse—essentially a stranger—has a gift for looking at you as if you already knew each other well, as if to say “We can just take up where we left off, can’t we?”
I’ll have more to say about those two live-wire women, but they are bright and outgoing and game for this crazy concert we’re doing, with eight languages and everything from Rimsky-Korsakov to Paul McCartney.
Pictured: Jesse and Elaine shuck corn on the porch, with the aid of Sauvignon blanc. The four singers watch my husband Jim (not pictured) as he shows them a wall map of Orient to, as it were, orient them.