Tuesday, February 15, 2005

EMG Wrap-up

The Early Music Guild opera is over, with a couple of great reviews in the Seattle papers. Here’s one, from the Post-Intelligencer. The audiences loved it, we had three full houses, and the EMG Board of Directors was happy. Happy enough that I think they’ll plan on another staged opera in two years. L’Incoronazione, maybe? I can dream…

I had several wonderful colleagues in the opera, four in particular. They were some of the most dedicated, disciplined, and focused performers I’ve worked with – and they’re all in elementary school! There were four children – Kyra, Madeleine, Emmy, and Carlin – who danced as Little Cupids. My little Army of Love, if you will. I was constantly impressed with their performance. They never missed a cue, were always the first ones in costume and makeup, and were extremely well-behaved and alert, even through the longest, most tedious rehearsals. At one point, the director (James Middleton) asked the chorus to take a step forward on the word “Weep” in the final chorus. There was some confusion as to whether or not he wanted us (the Little Cupids and me) to do the same. He didn’t, but the girls didn’t get the final note, so when the time came, all four of them took a step forward, in perfect time! Less than half of the chorus did the same. I had to stifle a laugh! All of us, the “mature grown-up professionals,” could really learn something from that kind of attention to detail.

I also had my first experience with (attempted) self-sabotage. I know a lot of singers struggle with this, the fear and feeling that you are going to fail, accompanied by actions that might ensure that failure. Mine was based on an actual event, but I think a lot feelings of self-sabotage come from what we imagine will happen. And the imagination is so strong! As I was recovering from my cold and cough, I had a moment in rehearsal on Wednesday where I started coughing in the middle of my scene. I was trying too hard to sing with my full voice, even though I hadn’t recovered it all yet. The pushing led to dryness and tension, which triggered the cough. We kept plowing through the scene, with Amanda (Venus) singing my part until I could recover! It wasn’t pretty. So, from that point on, I was terrified about it happening in performance. Even if I hadn’t coughed at all during the day, my throat would get tight and I would start coughing right before I had to go onstage. Nerves had never, up to this point, been a major problem for me; I’ve generally been able to channel the nervous energy into performance energy. But this was different. I was really scared! Fortunately, I made it through the performances without mishap, but it wasn’t until Sunday’s matinee that I realized how much of my fear was a self-imposed mental hurdle. Once I recognized it, I was able to put it aside, and I think I sang my best show on Sunday.

This is just another example of how large a part the mind plays in one’s success (or failure). You can be supremely talented, but if your mind is convinced that you are mediocre (or worse!), you’ll never survive. The mind must be conditioned for success along with the voice!

1 comment:

Clayton said...

It is nice to read about another classical singers life on the web. I was hoping you could give me some tips on getting my name out in the vocal world. I enjoy performing in operas but I would really like to just do solo and guest soloist work. Any tips would be appreciated. Im 20 years old and a bass-baritone by the way. I really have enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks again and God bless!

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