Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Well that was quick

I am constantly amazed at how quickly auditions are over. I spend so much time before hand – thinking about rep, printing up bios and resumes, getting dressed, warming up (ideally), getting “in the zone” – only to have it all over and done with in about ten minutes. It feels like even more of a let down when one has traveled several hours and walked around in high heels for hours simply for said audition. Even when it goes well, it’s still over in a snap. Sigh.

And it did go well, all things being equal. I had very little time to take in the room before I started singing (and by room I mean the hall; auditions were on the stage of the Academy of Music), so I was delighted to discover, as the (excellent) pianist started with the twinkling opening bars of Nannetta’s aria, that it was beautiful. Enchantingly so, which made it fun to sing about fairies and flowers and sparkling silver and gold. They asked for Glitter and Be Gay next; I suspected they might, because when I rattled of my list they exchanged a look when I said that one. I thought they were just laughing at the fact that I also mentioned that I would sing one verse, and that with the cut it’s a nice four minutes! It’s true, you know. Anyway, Glitter it was, and glitter it did, until that damned e-flat at the end. The sustained one. It wasn’t sustained for very long, and I think it was pretty tight (not much vibrato, if any). And with that, I felt my satisfaction level with the audition plummet. I know that it’s only one note, but it’s a big one and it’s nearly the last one they heard. Who knows if my floaty legato or sparkling coloratura stayed in their minds after that. Hopefully it did, and all I can do at this point is hope. I sang the audition, and now my job is done.

The travel went smoothly enough; I even slept a bit on the plane, which hardly ever happens. Took a cab to the hotel to find that there was no way I was going to get into my room. So I left my suitcase in storage in the lobby and toted myself and my laptop to Starbucks (which is beginning to feel like a home away from home). That killed an hour and left me with about one and a half. Back to the hotel, where they let me into the Fitness Center to change for my audition. It was quite a nice facility, a well-appointed locker room with good lighting and fresh fruits and veggies for the snacking. But it wasn’t my own room, and so I didn’t feel comfortable doing even low warm-ups. I just did some humming and lip-buzzing. I got the opera house with a full half-hour before my audition, but I wasn’t take to my warm-up room until 15 minutes before my time. So, needless to say, I really didn’t get a good warm-up. I don’t want to make excuses, but I think that e-flat might have been a little better if I’d just found a way to warm-up fully. A lesson learned, at any rate.

Maybe I got spoiled in Atlanta, but I’ve found most of the hotel staff (and all of the guests) to be a bit stand-offish. This is a very nice hotel, but more to the point, it is a private club. Hanging out in “The Lounges” after my audition (room still not ready, grrr), I was extremely uncomfortable. I overheard conversations about owning racehorses and 4000 shares of something; lots of talk about money and strategies and a whole part of life that I know nothing about. The Union League was founded as a “patriotic society” to support Lincoln during the Civil War, and I don’t think it’s been redecorated since. Very old guard, bordering on stuffy. I’m all about classic elegance, but I’m also into comfort and true relaxation. Everyone calls me “Ms. Bird,” which I’m starting to get used to, but here it has a real sense of deference to it, rather than common etiquette. Now that I’m writing that, I’m wondering what the difference is. I can’t define it, but it’s palpable. There is a sense of power here, of the divide between the Have’s and Have-not’s, and I’m not sure I like being automatically lumped in with the Have’s. This is the last time I will stay at a private hotel.

I tend to keep this blog on the topic of singing as much as possible, but sometimes my career gets me thinking about other things in a way that makes it hard to separate them. Opera is a “Have” art, is it not? It is a “private club,” if you will. A lot of the people involved in the classical arts, whether as patrons or artists, are most comfortable in that world, in that club. Gonzalo and I talked about this idea this past week, as he and I both need to get out of The Club from time to time and go be a part of the rabble. We both love “popular” musics – jazz, salsa, folk, even true pop – in a way that has occasionally brought us grief from our colleagues. But, I’d wager that his cello-playing benefits in some mysterious way from his nights in salsa clubs around the world, and I hope that my opera voice benefits from love of Ella Fitzgerald and Modest Mouse and Christina Aguilera. Hey, doesn’t Jane Eaglen warm-up to a mix-tape that includes songs by Meatloaf? (Yes, she does! Scroll down to the Oct. 24th entry for a perfect example of someone who is a Member of The Club but loves and lives in the world outside.)

Wow, deep thoughts. Time for bed now, and a long day of traveling tomorrow. But traveling home is always easier!


Dave said...

Hey!! Good to see you in Atlanta! Such a small world, isn't it? Great to hear that your career is off to such a successful start... am looking forward to seeing you again in Feb for La Pasion!

Jim Online said...

I think auditions are really like that. You prepare so much for them and then when you're there, it's over in about 15 minutes. Once when I auditioned for a symphony, they made me play only two songs fo three minutes each, and then it was over before I knew it. I'm glad your audition went well. Good luck with your career!

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