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26th AMENDMENT SIGNING | MEMORIES

CV Honesty

I was an aspiring singer/conductor in my first (or, perhaps, second year) as a student at the University of Kentucky. Although I may have shown some positive possibilities for future success, I was very naive and inexperienced. Because I came from a rural area in South Central Kentucky, where there were virtually no performances except the High School Band, I had never heard nor attended a performance of an opera. I, of course, had heard specific arias, etc., but never had a complete operatic experience.

One day my voice teacher asked me if I would be interested in participating in a performance of La Boheme, by Puccini. The Metropolitan Opera Company was on tour and would be presenting this great masterpiece in the UK Memorial Coliseum - a 13,000 seat venue (at that time, it was used almost exclusively as a basketball space, but also occasionally as a performance hall for the Community Concert Series.)

Memorial Coliseum
University of Kentucky, Memorial Coliseum

I told my voice teacher that I didn't have any of La Boheme memorized and was quickly assured that it was not necessary for the job I was to fulfill - that of a Supernumerary. I had never heard the term and quickly inquired as to its meaning. I learned that it was "a person who no one cares about and is often overlooked," or more commonly, "a silent actor. Supers serve as extras to enhance scenes but are basically moving furniture."

I was extremely excited about appearing in my first opera on-stage with the Metropolitan Opera Company, performing before 13,000 enthusiastic audience members in one of the most beloved operas of all time. (I, much later, was a student of the great operatic coach, Luigi Ricci, in Rome, Italy, who was a close friend of Puccini and who premiered La Boheme and virtually every opera which Puccini composed.) I arrived at the Coliseum a couple of hours before the performance, was "fitted" in an appropriate costume (which didn't fit), and was introduced to the professional singer who was to be my "leader". I was told to always stay at his side and essentially do what he did.

The moment of the performance finally arrived and I was a member of the extraordinary cast of the finest operatic company in the world - the New York Metropolitan Opera Company. It was both an exhilarating and harrowing experience - exhilarating because of the outstanding musicians who were all around me, and harrowing in the fact that I did not want to do anything that might distract from the artistic event which was being shared with the music lovers of Kentucky.

To my knowledge, I fulfilled my role with my super supernumerary skills, and henceforth I guess I could always include the event on my curriculum vitae as having once been a member of the Met!

William Ramsey - a former member of the Metropolitan Opera Company.

Metropolital Opera
Metropolitan Opera House (To quote Bill Maher "My Old Job") NOT!

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