Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jill Krementz covers Richard Miller

Richard Miller photographed on April 2, 2013 on East 48th Street by Jill Krementz.
I bet you are thinking this is a portrait of a man wearing one hat.

Well you are SO wrong. Richard Miller wears this one when he's working on wills, trusts, and estates as a partner at Morris & McVeigh, one of the oldest law firms in New York State.

Miller's other hats in the air are those he wears as a performing tenor with the Blue Hill Troupe and as President of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
First of all: Rich Miller in his office at Morris & McVeigh on 48th and Third Avenue.

His desk was once a 19th-century parlour piano from upstate New York.
Another office: this one temporary and quite a bit north. It's his dressing room at El Teatro of El Museo del Barrio on 104th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Mr. Miller is going over the libretto for the Blue Hill Troupe's production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado," which ran from April 12-20. Miller sang the role of Nanki-Poo.

I went to the closing night performance as a guest of the Millers.
Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado, is disguised as a strolling second trombone who loves the beautiful Yum-Yum.

Mr. Miller is seen here singing the well-known solo — "A wand'ring minstrel I."
"A wand'ring minstrel I,
A thing of shreds and patches
Of ballads, songs and snatches
And dreamy lullaby."
"For where 'ere our country's banner
May be planted
All other local banners
are defied!"
Act I Finale: Nanki-Poo and his beautiful Yum-Yum. But then there's a looming problem off to the left of the stage. That would be the old harridan named Katisha.
Things start jumping in the second act. Nanki-Poo changes his red socks to blue, a brilliant strategy as you can see for wooing Ko-Ko. But Ha! it works.
True love has triumphed when the company takes their final stage bows. It's a definite happily-ever-after scenario.
Rich Miller backstage with The Mikado, Kenneth Harmon, and the conductor Zachary Schwartzman.
After the performance, Rich with his wife Carol and his son George.

George, 17, is a student at The Albany Academy for Boys. Their daughter Lauren could not be there as she's away at college. A sophomore at Williams (where her father went) Lauren is a classics major.
George loved watching his father "make out" (as he put it) on stage with Yum-Yum. All the proceeds from the evening, including these T-shirts, go to charity. This year's beneficiary is the GO Project, that helps shape the futures of low-income New York City public school children.
On Sunday evening the eighth annual "Opera News" Awards celebrated five great artists.
Rich Miller photographed by Jill Krementz on the evening of April 21, 2013 at the Plaza Hotel.

Rich Miller in his role as President of the Metropolitan Opera Guild was on hand to welcome guests, presenters, and award recipients to the Grand Ballroom. He had spent part of the afternoon at the hotel helping to set things up so the evening would run smoothly.
Rich Miller welcomes honoree Eric Owens. Mr. Owens greeted Rich as "Nanki-Poo" and told me he had caught the opening night of Miller's appearance in The Mikado.

"I thought he was adorable," said Owens. "He had a real winning charm on stage and his singing was wonderful."
Brian Kellow and F. Paul Driscoll. Mr. Kellow is the features editor of Opera News and Mr. Driscoll the editor in chief.

Kellow's biography of Pauline Kael is now out in paperback and he's working on another bio — this one about agent Sue Mengers who's now being depicted by Bette Midler on Broadway.
Honoree Simon Keenlyside with Win Rutherfurd, Chairman of the Met Opera Guild. Peter Lyden and Eric Owens. Mr. Lyden is head of philanthropy for The American Museum of Natural History. He was ABT's director of development for nine years.
Composer Elliot Goldenthal and his wife Julie Taymor.

Ms. Taymor was on hand to present an award to Eric Owens. She told me: "I'm working on Midsummer for the New Audience Theater. Elliot is doing the music. After 13 years Brooklyn is getting a new theater."

Ms. Taymor's Magic Flute is part of the Met repertoire and will be returning this year.
Nora London, the widow of the famed bass-baritone, is the head of the George London Foundation. Rich Miller with Robert White, an Irish tenor on the faculty of Juilliard, and Miller's voice teacher.

Mr. White was the Queen Mother's favorite singer.
Rick Meyer and his son Charlie, a movie critic. Mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon is singing the role of Cornelia in the Met's "Julius Caesar."
Carol and Rich Miller have been married for 23 years.
F. Paul Driscoll and Karon Cullen Meyer. Mrs. Meyer
is an Opera Guild board member.
Dr. Ellsworth Stanton OBE, a retired gerontologist, is a board member of the Met's Opera Guild.
Max and Sissy Strauss. Mrs. Strauss is the artistic liaison to the Met, which means she is like the den mother to all the artists — finding them apartments, entertaining them at her famous Saturday night goulash dinners, and generally keeping them out of trouble.
Above: Emily Rafferty is the President of the Metropolitan Museum.

Right: Isabel Leonard, recent recipient of the Richard Tucker award, is among the young stars at the Met.
The five winners of the 2013 Opera News Awards: Simon Keenlyside, Mirella Freni, Dawn Upshaw, David Daniels, and Eric Owens.
The awards from Tiffany & Co.
I'm not trying to go artsy on you. My camera suddenly (and inexplicably) switched from color to black and white.

John Adams and Dawn Upshaw.

Adams is a two-time Pulitzer winner whose works include "Dr. Atomic" and "Nixon in China."

Upshaw began her career at the Met in the young artist's program and went on to perform throughout the world. She currently heads the vocal program at Bard College and continues to perform as a concert artist and recitalist.
Midge Woolsey recently retired from WQXR — a huge loss for her listeners. Mercedes Bass, a co-chairman of the evening.
Daniel Billy, an editor of Bloomberg News, with Ellen and Richard Muglia.
Karen Kriendler Nelson, former director of The Richard Tucker Music Foundation, now heads KKN Enterprises, representing singers, conductors, and opera companies.

After this photo, my camera started behaving itself again.
Richard Johnson and his wife Sunny Hayward, and fellow Blue Hill Troupers, were at the Miller's table. Also seated at the Miller's table: Barbara Cook.

The legendary singer is appearing at the Broadway nightclub 54 Below through May 3rd.
Preservationist Arete Warren and former investment banker Peter Huang.

Mrs. Warren is the widow of Rich Miller's former law partner, William B. Warren. She heads the Adams Foundation, which recently donated $1 million to the Met. The donation went to underwrite the new "Giulio Cesare" production in honor of her late husband.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a huge opera fan, was on hand to present the award to Mirella Freni.

I asked him what his hunch was on the recent Boston bombings, and he said he thought it was the act of a Chechnyan terror attack.
Win Rutherfurd, Chairman of the Opera Guild, with his wife Mary (left) and his sister-in-law, Emily Rafferty (right). Mary and Emily are sisters.

Mr. Rutherfurd is also a member of the Blue Hill Troupe singing the role of The Mikado in the Troupe's recent G&S production. A rich baritone, Win has appeared in 36 roles with the Troupe since joining in 1969. He and Rich Miller were in alternate casts for NYC's Mikado but will be united when they hit Newport on June 15th for a charity performance benefitting the Tennis Hall of Fame.

Ms. Rafferty's daughter Sara is part of the production staff of the Troupe. This is where it gets very six degrees.
Julie Taymor introducing Eric Owens.

"Elliot Goldenthal and I had the great fortune of having Eric play the lead role in our original opera, "Grendel," performed at the LA Opera and the Lincoln Center Festival in 2006."
The first time I saw Eric Owens was in "Das Rheingold" at the Met in 2010. He sang the role of Alberich.
Eric Owens is the consummate musician. In addition to all his performances he is looking toward a career conducting. His beautiful bass-baritone is the voice- over in all the Met commercials.

"I still get the biggest kick out of walking through the doors of the Met Opera house," he said in accepting his award.
Counter-tenor David Daniels gave a special thanks to his agent "who took a chance on a man who sang like a woman."

"When I was nine years old I listened to the LP of "La Boheme" over and over again. But I never got to sing Rudolfo's plaintiff cry — "Mimi ... Mimi ... I was always the dead woman in the bed."

Daniels is currently appearing in the Met's production of "Giulio Cesare" as Cesare.
Simon Keenlyside receiving his award from Isabel Leonard.

Keenlyside starred earlier this year as Prospero in the Met's new production of "The Tempest" by composer Thomas Adés.
Dawn Upshaw receives her award from composer-conductor John Adams.
Soprano Patricia Racette was the host of the awards evening.

Ms. Racette will be appearing in the Met's production of "Dialogues des Carmélites" in the role of Mme. Lidoine.
Backstage, Mayor Giuliani gets ready to present the evening's final award to Mirella Freni.

Ms. Racette is also waiting backstage as she will close the evening's festivities.
Giuliani describes how Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti grew up in the same town — Modena — in Italy. They evidently shared the same nursemaid who would later report: "Luciano got all the milk."
Mayor Giuliani giving a big hug to Mirella Freni prior to handing over her award.
Barbara Cook, Rich Miller, and Isabel Leonard applaud as Ms. Freni approaches the stage.
"I am very happy to receive this award which will remind me of the many beautiful times I have sung at the Met for 40 years.

"I want to say thank you to Opera News and to the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

"Also, a special thank you to Mayor Giuliani for being here. Years ago when he gave me the Key to the City, I told my little grandson that I could now open every door in New York. And, since I was standing next to Mr. Giuliani, my grandson believed me.

"The American public, especially in New York, is the one that I always carry in my heart.

"Grazie mille and arrivederci!"
Another cheering section for Freni as she leaves the stage: Susan Braddock, Vittorio Grigolo, Mercedes Bass, and Rick Braddock.
Ted Rogers and Thayer Tolles. Mr. Rogers is a partner at Sullivan and Cromwell; Ms. Tolles is a curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Met Museum and is working on an upcoming exhibition, "The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925," which will be on view at the Met from Dec. 17, 2013-April 13, 2014.

Thayer Tolles and Rich Miller both went to Williams College where they were a year apart ... "Rich is the class of '86 and I'm '87."
Ellen and Jim Marcus. Mr. Marcus is a long-time board member of the Opera Guild. John Berry, the head of the English National Opera, with Mercedes Bass in her "Oscar."
Isabel Leonard and Elliot Goldenthal. Paul Gruber, the evening's executive producer, with Keith Champagne, his partner of 33 years. Mr. Champagne is the Senior VP at Chelsea Piers.
Simon Keenlyside and Louis Miano, a board member of the Met Opera Guild.
Christine Anderson with Eric Owens. She was Eric's voice teacher when he was starting out. Alex von Perfall and Catia Chapin. Catia is the widow of the late Schuyler Chapin who once headed the Metropolitan Opera. She was one of the evening's co-chairs.
Carol Miller, Alex von Perfall and his wife Ashley, and Rich Miller after the evening's festivities.

Mr. von Perfall and Mr. Miller are both members of the Knickerbocker Club, where according to von Perfall, Mr. Miller will not hesitate to break into song, usually an Italia aria, after a few drinks.
Obviously, everything's coming up roses for Rich Miller and his wife Carol at the end of a great evening.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.