The King of Scotland Came to Dinner!



who plays Umberto - the disguised King of Scotland - in Rossini's LA DONNA DEL LAGO  at the Santa Fe Opera this summer. And, CHASING was invited and it was a memorable evening of food, vibrant conversation, and a private performance by the magnificent Lawrence Brownlee.
The DINNER was a  fundraiser for  the ARIZONAOPERA  held at the Santa Fe home of Debbie & Jim Quirk - residents of  both Santa FE and Tucson.  The Arizona Opera League in Tucson has been doing these 
Opera Feasts for the past several years - always themed and presented 2-3 weeks prior to each of the five operas performed that season.

(lft to rt)  
 Mark Saville, Associate Dir. of  Development , Arizona Opera, 
Carol Anderson, Music Staff Santa Fe Opera & Principle Coach - Utah Opera, Lawrence Brownlee, and Ryan Taylor, General Director, Arizona Opera. 

When Ryan Taylor, the newly-appointed General Director of the ARIZONA OPERA, realized that a group of Arizona opera enthusiasts were heading to Santa Fe to attend the opera, he got the idea to bring the FEAST here. The Quirks offered their gorgeous home; Taylor asked his long-time friend Lawrence Brownlee to be guest of honor; and past president of the Arizona Opera League, Jean Cooper - who has been doing these fundraising dinners for the past several years - flew in and took over the Quirk's kitchen preparing the fabulous  five-course feast.

When I arrived Jean was in the kitchen making a dinner party
 for fourteen look like a piece of cake.  

 Everything was prepped and she was putting the finishing
 touches on the appetizers.

Hmmm ....diminutive cactus in  terracotta pots...no,
duck rillettes w/cornichons 

Divine figs and bleu cheese wrapped in Prosciutto. 

The filet mignons and fresh asparagus in truffle oil were waiting to
 be popped in the oven... 

The tables were set beautifully.

Bouquets of flowers everywhere.

 The views were spectacular...

And, the  guests arrived...

And, after champagne and  hors'doeuvres  in the garden, everyone gathered in the living room to hear Lawrence perform.  A rare moment to experience this extraordinary voice in such an intimate setting.

 A perfect prelude to an amazing five-course
 dinner that began with Lump Crab Avocado Towers with Roasted Herbed Tomato Vinaigrette...

and ended with a memorable cheese course.

Yes, there was dessert!

A Neapolitan Trio of gelatto napped with chocolate sauce infused with single malt scotch (a nod to the KING OF SCOTLAND) and fresh raspberries that followed was fabulous. Alas, I was so busy eating I forgot to take a picture! 

Was the evening a hit?

Yes, says Debbie Quirk! "The hills of Tesuque came alive tonight with the beautiful voice of Larry Brownlee. It struck me that our Tesuque landscape is as romantic as the Scottish highlands familiar to the King. It's my hope that each summer we can bring the Arizona Opera and Santa Fe Opera together for Opera Feast." 


Two performances remaining - August 14 & 19th

Edmund St. Austell on Lawrence Brownlee
Great Opera Singers Blog

Into this new operatic world came Lawrence Brownlee!  His is a genuinely American story. Born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1972, he came up through the American university system, largely Indiana University at Bloomington.  From there it was on to young artists’ programs at Seattle and Wolf Trap, and, in 2002, his professional debut in the Barber of Seville at the Virginia Opera.  His rise, in a heavily bel canto repertoire, was fairly quick, and by 2007 he had made a Metropolitan Opera debut in a then-new production of the Barber. 

Brownlee’s voice is so spectacularly good (and high!) that he soon found himself singing around the world, from Madrid to Tokyo to Milan!  From the famous Barber which launched him at the Met, he soon addedL’italiana in Algeri, La fille du régiment, and others.  Brownlee is a currently popular and performing artist, and we need not say much here of his life, other than to say that outside opera he is a prolific concertizer. 

Lawrence Brownlee’s is one of those voices that speaks for itself.  He is as good as any leggiero tenor in the world, and better than most.  Here is a superb “A te, o cara”

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