Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 25, 2009, Speight Jenkins Day

Last night a beautiful tribute dinner in honor of Speight Jenkins's 25 years at the helm of Seattle Opera was held down at the Four Seasons Hotel near Pike Place Market. It looked to me as though there were some 200 people in attendance, decked out in their finest. Summoned to dinner by the brass of our orchestra playing (as they'll do during intermissions next summer) motifs from the Ring, we enjoyed a terrific meal as well as a program featuring mezzo Joyce Castle, who sang songs by Rodgers & Hart, Bernstein, Jake Heggie, and Donald Swann, plus (special bonus) the Seattle Opera Chorus hailing Speight with "Wach' auf" from Wagner's Meistersinger.

The lovely souvenir program book from the evening included the following Proclamation, from the Mayor's Office:

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle is fortunate to be the home of many talented artists and arts advocates whose creations and efforts enhance the lives of everyone in our community; and

WHEREAS, Speight Jenkins has devoted much of his life to the arts, serving as the General Director of Seattle Opera for 25 years and providing bold leadership; and

WHEREAS, under Speight's guidance, Seattle Opera's productions have captured national and international attention and significantly raised the city's profile as an arts destination; and

WHEREAS, an arts advocate, Speight championed a nationally-acclaimed education program that offered the opportunity for thousands of high school students to experience an opera performance and for elementary students to meet young opera artists; and

WHEREAS, Seattle has become internationally recognized as the "Wagner Capital of the United States," with the Seattle Opera's performances of all ten of Wagner's major operas, two productions of Wagner's "Ring" cycle and the International Wagner Competition; and

WHEREAS, on April 25, 2009, opera enthusiasts, friends, and admirers will gather to mark Speight's 25 years with Seattle Opera;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GREGORY J. NICKELS, Mayor of the City of Seattle, proclaim April 25, 2009 to be SPEIGHT JENKINS DAY and I hereby urge citizens to join me in commending this exceptional individual for his immeasurable contributions to the city's cultural arts and civic life.
As an employee of Speight's for the last fourteen years, I'm here today to say that there's nobody I'd rather call my boss.