It was cold in New York in February, 2008 when I flew into LaGuardia airport, but not too cold. After years of living in Lexington, KY, where I raised a son and worked on a Master’s in Vocal performance at the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, I always flew into the busiest airport of my hometown for opera auditions with the romantic head of a twenty-something professional virgin from the midwest—this, when I was anything but.
I was back in New York again on a mission: to audition for a position in the Extra Chorus and the available comprimario roles for bass-baritone in the Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Porgy and Bess
A few weeks after that New York audition, I got the call from Chicago’s Lyric. They offered me a contract. A truth, however, had already come to mind in the midst of my celebration: every voice lesson I ever had, every one of my mother’s worried heartbeats from my days in the fifth grade Glee Club on, every corner of the world in which I performed; none of it led to the moment I successfully auditioned for Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Earl as Speaker with tenor Vale Rideout as Tamino in Phoenix Opera's 2010 production of The Magic Flute
What they all led to was the moment I auditioned for the role of Jake in War Memorial Opera House, for the San Francisco Opera (SFO) production of Porgy
weeks earlier. Sometimes dreams give birth to us; my dream of actually singing on the SFO stage was buried deep in my subconscious while I pursued Chicago, where it could work its magic on me best. The mere pursuit of the dream made me a better singer; better enough for Chicago to take notice. That audition, however, began a real relationship with SFO that I could have never foreseen. Indeed, it would foreshadow an ongoing relationship with this great company surpassing all others and, with my then-fiancée Alexis [Alexis is also a extra chorus member in Show Boat
], the transformation of my life.
Earl & Alexis and the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco 2009
After my work in Chicago and touring through Western Europe, our new lives were slated to begin: Alexis Davis, dramatic Mezzo-soprano and Earl Hazell, Basso Cantante, became part of the SFO production of Porgy and Bess
in 2009 together. We were married less than a week after it triumphantly closed.
Earl as B.B. King and Alexis as Dinah Washington backstage in Arizona Opera's 2014 production of Don Pasquale
Being in SFO's production of Show Boat
(Pat Racette as Julie, and Morris Robinson as Joe) and our fifth wedding anniversary in July, we can’t help but reflect on how the marriage we gave birth to was truly conceived at San Francisco Opera in the summer of 2009, during Porgy and Bess--
where we first lived the dream together, discovered who we were, and fell ever so deeper in love. We cannot thank Maestro Ian Robertson and Jim Meyer enough for bringing us back for this incredible Show Boat
production, but when we think about our lives together, and what SFO has meant to it, we can’t help but think “it must be somethin’ that the angels done plan.”
Alexis as the Third Lady with Vale Rideout as Tamino in Phoenix Opera's 2010 The Magic Flute
Earl & Alexis with the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama in Tucson, 2012