After a lot of soul-searching we finally decided to return. This was an infinitely more difficult decision than the one that took us away more than thirteen years previously, especially given the impact it would have on our children, but we ultimately felt it was the right thing to do. We uprooted and came back to the United States.
Since then I’ve had several opportunities to perform, but not (yet) as many as I’d like. I’ve had the good fortune to teach voice for a year at Lehigh University and to be involved with some wonderful musicians in the productions I have done in New York, and it’s clear to me that things are moving in a positive direction. I look forward to bigger and better musical experiences.
My outlook has changed as I’ve undergone this journey. For so long I viewed my singing as a part of me separate from the rest, which was why for so long I felt as if I were straddling two different horses, or making compromises. Now, though, I finally realize it is just part of who I am: I can not deny this part of myself or remove it from the rest of what makes me who I am. As such, I truly believe that I can finally be an artist as well as a singer and performer. I am happy and love what I’m doing, and hope to always.”
At college I faced the choice for the first (but by no means last) time of committing myself fully to music. Eventually, I decided against pursuing a performance degree: “What does a twenty-year-old know?” I thought. Instead, I decided not to forgo other opportunities and continued my work toward an academic degree. Still, I managed to forge a compromise by majoring in music.
Following college I enrolled in law school. My thoughts ran along the line of: “This is something that can give me security, and I can always continue my singing;” and, in fact, this was true. I took private voice lessons during my final two years. Still, in my last year there I entered the Metropolitan Opera district auditions and was granted a callback, something that many of the Indiana University (Bloomington) opera students didn’t, and I even missed my graduation in order to take part in a music festival in San Antoni(secured through an audition on the Bloomington campus). It was clear to me that I still had to figure out how important music was to me, and how much time and energy I would devote to it.
I had my answer shortly thereafter. I followed my family to Connecticut and was accepted into the graduate music program at the Hartt School of Music. For the first time in my life singing was my primary focus, and I was happy. Opera apprenticeships at Chautauqua, Miami and Sarasota followed, and I felt that I was making headway in the operatic world.
Still, other responsibilities were never far away, and as newlyweds my wife, Pradichaya Gafaae, and I had to plan our future. For the one and only time, then, I practiced law in Stamford, Connecticut, thinking that this was a surer path to security, while at the same time rationalizing that such proximity to New York City would enable me also to keep singing. In this, though, I was mistaken, and the arrival of our first childmade opera even more difficult to pursue. his set of circumstances quickly led to our moving to Thailand, my wife’s native home.
At the time there were many good reasons to relocate, not the least of which was giving our family a sense of financial stability, and even though it meant putting my operatic career plans on the back burner I felt that being in Thailand would also enable me to find an alternative musical route that could satisfy me. At first, however, this was not the case, and for a few years I languished doing little or no singing. I did have an enjoyable job, though, as an international school teacher, which did give me great satisfaction for several years.
Eventually, of course, I found occasional venues and situations at which to perform. I met virtually all the classical musicians in Bangkok, and in addition to doing shows with them also did many recitals along with my wife. Our family was burgeoning- we had three more children- and I was content.
In 2000, though, things began to change. The Bangkok Opera was formed, and I became one of its regular principal artists, performing several leading roles over the next few years. I was bitten by the bug again and, coupled with what by then had become a slow but steady dissatisfaction at work, began thinking of moving back to pursue seriously this business called singing.