Monday, June 7, 2010

Shared Experiences: Ken Walkky

From Speight Jenkins' mailbag: a beautiful thank-you letter from an attendee at opening night of Amelia. Captain Walkky was the first of a number of military and former military personnel who found the new opera deeply moving.

May 9, 2010

To Speight Jenkins, Daron Aric Hagen, Gardner McFall, Stephen Wadsworth, Gerard Schwartz, the cast, crew, and orchestra of Amelia.

I stopped Speight in the lobby of McCaw Hall on opening night just before the curtain to thank him for commissioning this opera of the Vietnam era. Now that I’ve seen the opera, I would like all of you to understand how profoundly affecting the performance was. I wept through much of the opera, at first too emotionally moved to appreciate the music. I previously regretted that no one had addressed this story appropriately but feel that Amelia not only overcame that omission but did it with a work of considerable stature."

Dawn at Yankee Station, 1971

"While the program suggested that the complexities of time and flashbacks might be difficult to convey, the words and voices of the singers and actors rose to the task. Maestro Schwarz magnificently conducted some truly stunning orchestral interludes. But the capping moment for me was Jane Eaglen’s rendering of the Navy Hymn.

I was a 23 year-old officer who sent fliers like Dodge catapulting off the deck of the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, not knowing if they would return, and many did not, something I will always feel responsible for. Nor did I know if they truly were aware of how the big ship shuddered each time they left it for the air."

Aboard the Kitty Hawk, 1971

"I had previously thought no one else understood how integral Amelia Earhart, “The Flier” in the opera Amelia, is to the spirit of Navy flight but now Gardner McFall, the librettist, and Daron Hagen, the composer, along with Seattle Opera, have presented this story to the world.

Thank you,
Kenneth J. Walkky, Captain
U. S. Navy (Retired)"

The Kitty Hawk in Subic Bay, 1972

All photos courtesy Ken Walkky