Free Father’s Day Performance in Quincy, MA

Free Father’s Day Performance in Quincy, MA

A Distant Love:
Songs of John and Abigail Adams

Robert Aaron Taylor as John Adams
Victoria Tralongo as Abigail Adams

Presented by:
Chelsea Opera and the Adams National Historical Park
June 21, 2015
Adams Carriage House – 135 Adams St., Quincy, MA
More Info at


This performance is FREE and open to the public.

Reservations not required, but seating is limited.

Doors will close at the start of the performance – plan accordingly.

Street parking available on Adams St.

Light refreshments and ‘meet the singers’ following the performance.

Coming up – “A Distant Love”

A Distant Love: Songs of John and Abigail Adams

At the historic Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Saturday evening, October 25th

(The Adams’ 250th wedding anniversary!)

Baritone – Robert Aaron Taylor

Soprano – Elizabeth Dabney


I’m very excited to be a part of this project! The piece has only had a few performances, but this one will take place on the 250th wedding anniversary of John and Abigail Adams!

I recently met with the composer, Gary Fagin, and sang through a short section of the music with him. It’s always exciting to work directly with the composer, and it’s a rare treat for someone who specializes in opera. The composition is modern, but very approachable. The vocal line has a shape and lyrical flow that reminds me of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

I’m looking forward to meeting with the librettist, Terry Quinn, this coming week to discuss the inner workings of the characters as he has envisioned them through his poetic setting of their letters. I suggest you read his notes on Channeling John and Abigail, but I’ll paste a few of my favorite phrases for those who don’t click the links (I hope he will forgive the hack-job I’ve done to condense his process):

…all sorts of minor details necessarily change in the process of adaptation … due to the exigencies of meter and euphony. However, what needs to survive at all costs is John and Abigail’s unshakable spirit…

…you begin with six to eight months of research. You read every available letter John sent to Abigail and vice versa, all the while annotating those you find particularly compelling…

While one has only to read a handful of the full letters to sense the depth of John and Abigail’s devotion to one another, the implied heat is seldom permitted to rise to the surface. In the realm of music theater writing, this is a distinct problem…

And so, at critical points in your libretto you write ballads. Where you can, you fold in snatches of direct quotes, but you go beyond them … You trust that you’ve lived long enough with these two astonishing personalities that you can now, in a sense, channel them.

I’ll also find out more about his plan for this particular production. They call it a “Dramatic Song Cycle.” My guess is that it will be semi-staged, possibly with period costume, but with the intimacy of a salon recital. At least I hope so… that sounds like fun!

The portion of A Distant Love titled “John Adams in Amsterdam: A Song for Abigail” was commissioned as a separate work, in 2004, by the John Adams Institute. It received its premiere performance at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw on April 13, 2005, with Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands in attendance.


The 1780s were breakthrough years for the string quartet. Thus, it seemed appropriate to accompany John Adams in Amsterdam with a string quartet.

The score is predominantly lyrical, almost romantic, befitting John Adams’ heartfelt affection for his Abigail, though at times the music is infused with an American folksiness reflecting his rustic and forthright nature.

As Abigail was struggling to survive in the midst of an active conflict, her life was more fraught with drama than was John’s life in Europe. Thus, for Abigail, the music has more contrast, ranging from militaristic rhythms to intensely personal lyricism.

San Diego Opera – Another Titan Falls

Too many thoughts, and yet, no words…

No, that’s not true. There are words:

“Sadness” – for my friends and colleagues, who have not only lost a major source of income, but a much-needed, high-quality artistic outlet; one that contributed greatly to the development of my talents as a performer.

“Anger” – toward the community and administration that allowed a nearly 50-year-old institution to fall into difficulty and, eventually, crisis.

“Fear” – that this is yet another symptom of an unhealthy support system that needs restructuring if the genre is to survive

“Hope” – that there are still many dedicated individuals who give their all on a daily basis to ensure that Art has a place in our often ungrateful society.

“Certainty” – that as long as there are Artists, there will be Art, whether or not there are institutions in place to produce it.

Test-drive the new

The new and improved is now live with its new host and format. Please take just a moment to pop in and check it out. If you’re already on WordPress, you can click the “Follow” button or you can subscribe to updates via e-mail. I’ll be adding content regularly – mostly commentary on topics relevant to being a professional performer.

By Michelle Kei Taylor

By Michelle Kei Taylor

I encourage you all to join the conversation. Leave a comment to start a dialog. I think we’re all going to have to get more involved in the business aspect of the Arts. I’m not just talking about artists! We need more audience participation, too!

The more people we have participating in the discussion, the better the chances that we can really make changes for the better. I’m not going to get preachy… alright, I’ll TRY not to get preachy, but if you’re passionate about something, occasionally that passion is going to show… and it SHOULD!!!

Let’s all get passionate about the Arts! Art should live! Art should breathe! Art should resonate with the observer – move them in a palpable way! We need to give up the tired, old museum-style of presenting opera, while still preserving the hallowed traditions of a centuries-old acoustic art form. Some companies are already finding ways to innovate, but they are the exception to the norm.

Advancements are made by taking risks, not by playing it safe. Let’s step outside of the box together. Our collective effort will have much better results than all of us working individually.