Beethoven in Colombia

A few years ago, I found myself in Colombia, where I was the mezzo-soprano soloist for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Among the notes I took while there: The orchestra management, mercifully, placed the soloists in the 5-star Hotel Intercontinental, whose atmosphere falls somewhere between a luxury hotel and a federal maximum-security prison. Armed guards everywhere. Doubtless, they are looking for rooms to rob, but nevertheless, they create some semblance of security. The reason we were placed at this hotel is that the entire orchestra was mass-mugged at the “other” hotel. Am trying to envision thieves making off with tympani, harps, and double basses…. The performances are held at the outdoor Velodrome, aka the Bellowdrome, as it seats 7,000. I have, of course, sung in outdoor theaters. The chief difference here is that bats are continuously flying to and fro. And here, too, heavily armed guards stalk about—several outside my prison cell of a dressing room, more backstage, even onstage. The personal guard assigned to my dressing room is a burly dude named Achilles—with the accent on “kill.” I glimpsed a whole armory under his jacket. All this makes me feel Real Important. Which is something, since the mezzo soloist in the Beethoven Ninth is Not Real Important (a “sandwich” voice, she sings only when the other three voices are blaring). Traditionally, she wears a red gown—or you won’t hear her. But for this particular performance, color was not as important as style: I needed something baggy around my middle in order to conceal my special undergarment that houses money/valuables (I am paid in US bills in a brown paper bag). Lots... read more

Learn More About Janice

Mezzo-soprano Janice Meyerson has triumphed in opera houses and concert halls on five continents, bringing her rich tone and dramatic characterizations to a wide-ranging repertoire. Since her professional debut as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein, she has appeared as soloist with many of the finest symphony orchestras.