Friday, March 18, 2011


The Wiz is probably my favorite Movie Musical of ALL times.  With the powerhouse combination of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, and the reinforcement of FAITH... it was and still is a HUGE inspiration to me.  So much so that I directed, produced, choreographed, designed, and starred in my Elementary School's All-Student production of it!   One of my favorite moments is when the wicked witch, Evilene, is destroyed and those who were once bound to her are released.  Resounding and rejoicing they perform...


Everybody look around 'cause there's a reason to rejoice you see
Everybody come out and let's commence to singing  joyfully
Everybody look up and feel the hope that we've been waiting for
Everybody's glad because our silent fear and dread is gone
Freedom, you see, has got our hearts singing so joyfully
Just look about; you owe it to yourself  to check it out!
Can't you feel a brand new day?

Everybody be glad because the sun is shining  just for us
Everybody wake up into the morning  into  happiness
Hello world!  It's like a different way of  living now
And thank you world!  We always knew that we'd be free somehow
In harmony and show the world that we've got liberty
It's such a change for us to live so independently
Freedom, you see, has got our hearts singing so joyfully
Just look about; you owe it to yourself  to check it out!
Can't you feel a brand new day?

The Year 2011 has been INTENSE.  Yes, already.  Death, destruction, chaos, confusion, sickness, and distress.  But, you know what???  One's chosen ATTITUDE determines one's OUTCOME.  So, I CHOOSE LIFE, LOVE, JOY, PEACE, RIGHTEOUSNESS, HOPE, & HEALTH!!!  I walk in an attitude of newness as I currently prepare to star as Mimi in the stunning *NEW* Gale Edwards production of La Boheme with Opera Australia.  Every thing, every one, every sight, every smell, every sensation is NEW to me again; and I welcome it ALL.  I open my eyes to this "Whole New World" with joyous expectancy.  Join me???

In celebration, I have posted my NEW headshot and a NEW interview just released in The Australian.  

Please ENJOY and continue to be ABUNDANTLY blessed...


Force of destiny

The Australian | March 19, 20111  12:00AM

Takeshe Meshe Kizart brings megawatts of glamour to the Australian opera stage.

Force of destiny: Takesha Meshe Kizart was born to sing, as Shirley Apthorp reports ahead of the glamorous soprano's next Australian performances.

THE previous time I saw Takesha Meshe Kizart she was standing amid the carnage of the French Revolution, pleading for her condemned husband's life.
Now she's sitting amid the chaos of Berlin's Tegel airport, contemplating her imminent demise from consumption in La boheme. "Oh, I love dying!" she exclaims. "I mean, hello? That's why people love opera. Drama! I love it!"
Between performances of Respighi's obscure opera Marie Victoire and a gala concert in Dusseldorf, Kizart has found time for a cup of hot water, and an interview about her second Australian visit, at the endearingly seedy Red Baron Restaurant. "Did you like [Marie Victoire]?" she asks, with take-no-prisoners directness. I wonder how to answer, but as I open my mouth to do so, she cuts in. "No, I didn't think so. Never mind!" And she dissolves into peals of laughter.
Respighi's bizarre forgotten opus was odd enough to start with, like Dialogue of the Carmelites crossed with Manon Lescaut, but the Deutsche Oper Berlin's muddled production added silliness to the general confusion. When all lay in rubble at the end, the enduring memory left was of Kizart in the title role, implausibly convincing as a French aristocrat tormented by guilt and remorse.
What does she do when she has to sing in a production she doesn't like? "For me it's not just about the production," she replies. "It's more about the portrayal of the character. There's a certain discipline in what we do, and that's the exciting thing because it also has freedom of expression and inspiration. It's about communication. If I am not communicating a soul to you, then I might as well just sit down somewhere. Really."
That would sound like standard singer rhetoric if I hadn't seen Kizart do exactly that, rising above mediocre surroundings with a passion of conviction that gripped everyone present. At the time of her first Respighi performance in Berlin, almost two years ago now, Kizart was a complete newcomer to the European opera circuit, just one year in the business. Few in the audience knew her name, even fewer knew of her august lineage. Tina Turner is the sister of Kizart's great-uncle by marriage and her maternal great-uncle was American blues figure Muddy Waters.
Even she didn't know about Turner until it came up in conversation with her grandmother, admits Kizart. At first she is evasive on the subject of both. "I don't mind talking about them," she says when I press, "but I never knew them. It's not like I have a personal relationship with them."
But isn't she proud of them? "Of course I'm proud! I'm proud of everyone in my family," she says. "Honestly. I think it makes me who I am."
Her mother was one of seven children, she explains, and all her aunts had girls as first-born children. By family tradition, all the girls were given names beginning with T and M. It was her seven-year-old cousin who dreamed up Takesha Meshe. "She loved the way it sounded. But what's so amazing is that Takesha turns out to mean highly favoured, Meshe means messiah or saviour, and Kizart means miraculous." Kizart looks pleased. "I truly believe in the force of destiny -- La Forza del Destino!" she lapses into Verdi for an instant. "All of us have a specific calling in our lives and it's up to us to figure out what it is and follow it."
It was a very specific call that summoned Kizart to her Australian debut 14 months ago on her mobile phone. She was busy at the time in Mississippi. "I was actually in a Christmas parade. On a float. Dressed as an angel," she remembers. "They said, 'How soon can you get here?' And I was, like, 'I can leave tomorrow! Australia for Christmas? I mean, really, it's the middle of summer. I can do that.' "
Kizart had been required urgently to perform, in the title role, in Opera Australia's new production of Tosca, originally directed by Christopher Alden for Opera North in Leeds with Kizart. Australian soprano Cheryl Barker had been scheduled to sing but found the production not to her taste and OA agreed to release her. Fortunately Kizart was available and less than a week after getting the call was rehearsing in Sydney. Her performances at the Sydney Opera House were a triumph. Audiences didn't much like the updated production but they sure loved Kizart, and OA was quick to lock her in for more appearances, including the Mimi she will sing in La boheme in Melbourne and Sydney soon. The company is also talking to her about projects in 2012 and 2013, artistic director Lyndon Terracini says. "She is an extremely special talent," he says. "She has a unique ability to be able to sing every performance differently; every time she does something that surprises you. It's so fabulous to see. She is literally being in the moment."
Chicago-born Kizart was singing gospel songs at age two and never looked back. A school choir teacher spotted her talent and by the time she was 14 she had sung solos in a performance of Handel's Messiah. Studies at Philadelphia's prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts were crowned with competition wins and by 2008 Kizart was well on her way, with every sign of knowing just where she was going. But a reference in a recent American article to her "European strategy" sends Kizart into further guffaws.
"I don't have a European strategy! I have roles that I sing. And there are people who hire me to sing those roles. I would love to sing in America more often, but unfortunately, for the repertoire that I sing, they usually use older artists over there." She'll get older, I observe drily, perhaps a knee-jerk reaction to Kizart's impossibly burnished, supermodel looks and her effortless sense of style. "I hope to God I get older," she says with a laugh, "because if I don't, I'll be dead!" She likes dying, but not that much.
But for all her disclaimers about strategy, Kizart does have a firm sense of direction and frequently turns down offers of roles she feels are not right for her. She is well aware of the risk of fizzle. "People don't have time. We're flying all over, from here to there. I make it a point to always try to arrive where I'm going very early. I request as much rehearsal as I can and really become immersed in the role. That's my goal. Nobody else will care. It's my responsibility to care. That's why I make a point of spreading out my schedule in a certain way. You have to make sure there's a balance."
After Dusseldorf, Kizart was to return to Berlin for just a little more French Revolution before catching a plane to Australia for her Melbourne debut as Puccini's consumptive Mimi. Careful though she is, the travelling has become normal. When Kizart last left the US she packed for two years. I boggle. Not home once? In two years? "I'm not kidding! At all! So it was very difficult figuring out what to pack."
Kizart wears a lot of black and dresses in layers. "I have a couple of gowns in there," she says, patting a dense black suitcase, "and a couple of pairs of shoes. Accessories and things like that. If I get tired of wearing something for a while, it's time to throw it away. It's so interesting because we actually require very little. And when you're put into a position where that is brought into focus, your entire life just makes more sense.
"It's like, you know, I don't need that. I don't need this. And I really don't feel like carrying that. I love not paying rent somewhere. Can I just say that? Because it would really annoy me to never see the place and still be paying money."
Kizart swears by her laptop and iPhone. She has downloaded a Bible app on to the latter and says she does most of her reading online. She uses the internet to keep up with friends and family, and feels at home wherever she can make music and access a wireless connection. "What's interesting about this career is that everywhere I go feels like home, even though I don't have a home. For me home has taken on a whole new meaning. It's more about the people and less about the things that we have."
She loved Sydney ("the New Year's was truly the best I've ever seen") and is sure she'll love Melbourne. Berlin feels like home now and Gale Edwards's production of La boheme will be set in 1930s Berlin, so it will be home away from home. "I have to tell you, I'm pretty excited about this boheme. There are supposed to be flame-throwers and all sorts of things. I've already seen my wig and I can't wait to see the costumes."
Edwards will work with the same production team that made Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a fact that strikes a chord with Kizart. Though she loved Alden's gritty Tosca, she hankers for glamour. "The next production I do with him is Norma. And I told him already, 'Christopher, I have to be beautiful! I mean, please.' "
So who will her Melbourne Mimi be? A consumptive in sequins?
"You know, you'll have to ask me later. Because she is going to be based upon not only what we have been given by Puccini and the librettist but how we choose to portray her in this particular production. We bring a certain amount of inspiration when we perform, but everything has to be within a certain frame. If it's not in that frame, everything falls apart.
"You have a hundred people trying to do this thing together. And that's the great part. Because those people out in the audience might only focus on the one or two people who are singing, but without everything else it won't happen."
Does she get tired of particular roles? "No, actually, because there's always more to learn." She likes to keep her score with her throughout rehearsals, which she says often makes production teams nervous, as they mistakenly assume she doesn't know her part by heart.
"We should all use our scores. We have to constantly remind ourselves what's being said, what was written. Especially with Puccini, if you sing it the way it's written in the score, even if you try to be simple with your interpretation of the character, the music is overwhelming. It's the epitome of melodrama. It's so over the top. You could just stand there and it would still be drama."
Kizart learns quickly. She picks up languages easily, was a "human jukebox" as a child and learned the knotty contemporary part of the Duchess of Argyll (of "go to bed early and often" fame) in Thomas Ades's Powder Her Face in a record four days.
"It's a blessing. But for me it's not just learning a piece. It's making sure that the piece becomes part of your musculature, part of your psyche, part of your whole being. We don't just sing music. No matter what the genre, there's a character related to that. There's storytelling. It's the most profound kind of storytelling there could be. We have to pass along that tradition, and it has to make sense."
Kizart cites her mother, an interior designer with no previous interest in opera, as an example of the fact anyone who is willing to make the effort of a little background reading can enjoy opera. The art form is for everyone, she insists, and ought to be a part of basic school education.
"I come from a very musical family," she says, with endearing understatement, "and I believe that this world is a better place because of music."
La boheme, Melbourne, April 12-May 13 (Takesha Meshe Kizart sings the role of Mimi until April 21); Sydney, July 12-October 24 (Kizart appears until August 9).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.