- Terri VanValkinburgh, viola
Married, with Opera
Irene Radetzky and Eric Millstein having fun in the pit
Katie Brauer and Mark Brandfonbrener
Many, if not most, work places discourage 'fraternizing' among employees, which is understandable given the potentially awkward, productivity-decreasing situations that could/can/most likely/alright, almost definitely result. As far as the newsletter brain trust here can tell, Lyric Opera doesn't have a policy in this regard, but they really don't need one. As almost any opera plot line can readily show, hooking up with anyone, fellow employee or not, is a recipe for disaster. Otello? Kills his wife when a friend talks trash about her.
Tosca? Kills the guy holding her man Mario hostage, thinking she & Mario will be free to escape & live happily ever after, but yeah, that doesn't happen & she leaps to her demise after watching his execution. And let's not talk about Romeo & Juliet, ok? Or Wozzeck. Even in Rosenkavalier, the two young kids get together in the end (awww), but the Marschallin gets kicked to the curb in order for that to happen (#really-depressing-if-you're-female-&-over-40). And since this is a family newsletter, let's just keep Walkure between us, at least until the kids are grown & out of the house, 'cause that's the damn working definition of fraternizing...
Anyway, it being Valentine's Day, we looked around the orchestra & realized that in spite of all the unhappy couples on stage, we have quite a number of very happy couples in the pit. We asked them to tell us in a few words how they've stayed 'in harmony' at work & at home.
Irene Radetzky (violin) & Eric Millstein (percussion)
8 years of wedded bliss
"Planning vacations with family & friends, since we never actually have to get away in order to spend time together."
Kathleen Brauer (violin) & Mark Brandfonbrener (cello)
17 years of connubiality this April
"Opera stories are full of examples of unhappy couples, so we clearly take our inspiration from the ideals of good ensemble playing and not from opera libretti."
Diane Duraffourg-Robinson (violin) & John Robinson (violin)
20 years happy wedlock this June
"Rule of thumb: leave the house when the other one is practicing."
Laura Miller (violin) & Jon Boen (French horn)
25 years happy matrimony
"We both have a deep understanding and respect for what is expected of us as musicians, and we support each other when the pressure is on. Also, we both like to laugh and find the humor in almost every situation, which is a great stress reliever."
Melissa Trier Kirk (viola) & Lewis Kirk (bassoon)
27 years in the jovial wedded state
"We feel very lucky to be able to play in the same orchestra. Opera is a crazy art form requiring planning, sweat and passion, and so is marriage."
Ellen Hildner (violin) & David Hildner (violin)
34 years in happy alliance this summer
As Mark and Katie add, "To be a successful orchestra musician or to be in a happy marriage requires sensitive listening skills and finding the right balance between players. In marriage we don’t even have a conductor to settle differences. We are, however, accompanied by our three children who, unlike the three boys of Magic Flute, are not always singing softly in beautiful harmony. They do lead us through many trials, hopefully to some sort of wisdom."
Opera can create magic, but having so many long-married couples who also work together is a %#^^*!! miracle. Congratulations and much love to you all!
Melissa Trier Kirk and Lewis Kirk (l), Laura Miller and Jon Boen (r)