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Internationally known opera singer comes back home to perform in Muddy River production

For internationally known dramatic soprano Michele Crider, the most controversial aspect of performing in her hometown is making the cast wait for her to show up.

Crider flew into Quincy from her home in Zurich Thursday to rehearse the lead role for the Muddy River Opera Company's production of Puccini's "Madame Butterfly." She's been working with the cast daily in preparation for the Friday opening.

"They're all good people," she said of the local opera company, which has been hard at work on the production for the past three weeks. "We're enjoying each other."

Despite her inability to be at all the rehearsals, Crider knows the role of Cio-Cio San well. It was one of the first operas she performed.

"I'll make a wild guess," she said. "I think I've performed it about 100 times."

Crider, a daughter of Ruth Crider and the late Colonel Crider, has performed all over the world since she left the Quincy area to study at the University of Iowa. Competitions while she was a student opened doors at opera houses in Europe, Asia and North America.

A Quincy High School graduate and a graduate of Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., she tries to return home every summer. Normally she brings her husband, Hermann Resinger, and two daughters, ages 5 and 12, but the oldest is still in school, and Crider is uncertain whether the family will be back in Quincy this year.

From here, she'll be flying to Malaga, Spain, and performing with the Gibraltar Philharmonic. After that come summer music festivals.

Crider seldom performs locally "because I haven't been asked," she replies simply.

When she is asked, she tries to fit the requests into a busy schedule. She cites several instances where she's agreed to perform when asked at the last minute, despite having performed the day before. There have been mad dashes from the airport when her plane was delayed, requiring a police escort.

Crider works with both a vocal teacher and a coach so she can respond to any physical changes quickly.

She advises young singers to find a teacher they like and can trust, one who can help them find a new teacher when they've outgrown each other. She also advises singers to learn foreign languages to help them feel confident onstage that they're prepared for their role. They should also be aware of how visual opera has become and pay attention to their health so they always sing and look their best.

"Most of all," she said, "have fun."

In her performances around the world, Crider has seen the pain caused by global unrest and fighting. This past year, she was performing in Moscow shortly before Easter when the subway across from her hotel was bombed. She waited fearfully to find out if her interpreter was safe. The woman eventually showed up and fell into Crider's arms and cried. She said she would have been on the train had she not been running late that day.

Crider also finds herself performing frequently in Israel. She feels a lot of inner torment wondering if her appearances show support for one side over the other in the struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"My consolation for myself is that in those ... hours that I'm singing, that maybe there will be some peace in the world (and that) nothing will happen and that no one will die," she said. "That's all I can contribute at this point."

The casts and orchestras Crider has worked with represent so many people and nationalities from every walk of life, she said.

"What is more positive and joining to bring people together than music?" she asked. "One common ground. One common goal. It's a shame that it does not take place more."


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