So I went to see Jane Eaglen at her signing at Tower Records,
not only because I wanted to get an autographed photo for a
friend whose birthday is this week, but also because I think
she and Debbie are the greatest Wagnerian voices of my humbly
I also took Eaglen's photo with a digicam, and she looks
really pretty! When I showed it to Stephanie von Buchau that
same evening (during that ghastly Cycle III Siegfried), she
said it was one of the best photos she's ever seen of Jane.
(don't want to send attachments to the list, so e-mail me
privately if you'd like a copy)
I told Jane I had seen her unscheduled 1994 Seattle debut as
Norma (the time when Carol Vaness hurt her back while
exercising), her Brunnhildes in Costa Mesa and SF in 1995, her
Donna Anna in LA, and her SF Opera Ring this summer. One of
those jolly and talky Brits, Jane has a wonderful personality,
extremely articulate and intelligent. Entertaining and
friendly, she is never condescending or dismissive to even the
most babbling diva-struck fan. She spoke unhurriedly to a
crowd of about fifteen to twenty people, mostly males, I
noticed. There were also a couple Valkyries amidst the group.
Things Eaglen said in response to assorted questions:
* Brunnhilde is her favorite role. Besides the magnificent
music she gets to sing, Jane loves how Brunnhilde develops
in the course of the three operas, in what she learns and
feels, and the ultimate understanding that propels her
sacrifice. She is not interested in singing Sieglinde; the
character isn't as appealing to her.
* She wasn't very much aware of opera until she got to
college, when she was directed towards Wagner's music.
Until age 17, she was being trained as a pianist. Her family
wasn't particularly knowledgeable about opera, and Jane's
mom is still incredulous, trying to figure out what happened
to her girl.
* She feels awful about cancelling. She's only done it twice
before (once when she caught the Milanese flu).
* When innocently asked if whether singing in Bayreuth was one
of her goals in life, Jane patiently explained that though she
is curious and might enjoy singing there, this is not in her
immediate plans, nor will she feel unfulfilled if she never
gets to sing there. To sing in Bayreuth requires the singer to
be there for some ungodly stretch of time, and she couldn't see
herself spending that much time in Germany.
* Traveling is grueling, but going first class makes a big
difference. Also, she only flies British Airways, because most
of the American airlines keep the air too dry in their planes.
Pilots, she learned, have the discretion of allowing however
much fresh air into the cabin as they wish, but because
keeping the air dry will prolong the life of an airplane,
pilots for American carriers have been told to dehydrate the
air their passengers breathe.
* Though they're still good friends, Jane doesn't need to
stay with Rod & Dale when she sings in Seattle anymore. Eaglen
and her boyfriend have acquired a home in Seattle, and are now
residents of Washington state. I asked her if she had a green
card, but apparently not yet. She's only got a worker's permit,
just like the grape-pickers in California's wine country.
* She has an upcoming Ariadne in Minnesota.
That's as much as can I remember.
Cheers, il cinese
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