Anyone who has ever been around me while I'm getting ready for a concert knows that my least favorite part is doing my hair. Since my hair was naturally curly when I was in jr high and high school (don't ask me what happened; hormones are crazy things!), I never really played around with curling irons and blow dryers and product. Imagine my horror then, when my hair grew back straight after a drastic cut my freshman year in college! As it grew out, I realized that I knew nothing about how to make it look good. So I kept it short, grew it long and straight, or just left it to its own devices. Each look managed to work with my overall style at the time, but when I entered grad school and started my path to Divahood, I knew I was in trouble.
I mastered makeup thanks to very helpful women at the Clinique and Lancôme makeup counters. I slowly moved away from my black, vintage, and generally shapeless wardrobe and have embraced color, cut, and timeless styles (timeless, not dated!). But my hair has still been the thorn in my side. I've been known to style and re-style my hair four times before a concert, each time dissatisfied with the mess on my head.
So, imagine my joy when this appeared on the back of my head yesterday:
I know it doesn't look like much, but for me it is a huge step forward! It is a variation on a style that my Pamina wore in Flute, and it seemed to be way beyond my reach. But I did it!! Hopefully I'll be able to repeat the 'do, and my days of swearing at my hair are over.
If anybody has tried to join the mailing list on my website in the past few months, you may have noticed that it was broken. Well, it works now! New and improved, too. So, if you’d like to receive semi-regular updates about upcoming concerts and news, sign up now! Of course, there probably won’t be anything in the email that you wouldn’t have read here first…
Now to update/overhaul/redesign the rest of the website…
It is somehow easier to write about the good things here – the new gigs, the successful gigs, the fun stories. The past month has been, while not exactly bad, a bit harder than most. A persistent cold that has only just left me; a long trip to NYC where I had to muscle through the cold to give a concert and two auditions (thank god - or, rather, Phyllis! – for good technique); coming to terms with being overbooked, and, hence, having to bow out of a commitment; and the general malaise of springtime. All in all, not stuff I want to dwell on. But they are part of this life of performing, so they deserve a mention.
I think I’ve talked enough about being sick. I will say two things, though. First, I have become determined to get to the root of the causes of my frequent sickness. The mental, emotional and physiological causes; I suspect that all those aspects are playing a part. Stress management, a few holistic health professionals, and continued therapy should help me get that part of my life under control. (A word on therapy: Everyone should do it! I’m determined to help remove the stigma of being in therapy, to help people see it as a part of overall “health care” and not something for crazy people. Although, we’re all a bit crazy, aren’t we?) The other thing about this bout of sickness: my husband finally caught something from me. He gets sick maybe once every two years or so, but this one was too fierce to be ignored. The difference, though, was the he lost his voice! Scary. I have never – knock on wood – lost my voice like that. I know several other singer who did this season, and the idea is so scary. All the more reason to get my health in order.
I ended up giving two auditions while I was in New York; I had only been planning on the one. But while rehearsing with my pianist (a fairly connected NYC native whom we’ll call R), he mentioned that he was playing for another manager’s auditions that evening. He called their office and got me in. I was still coughing and had very little middle voice, but my line and high notes were there. So I did the audition. It went well enough for a last minute thing. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the company (he was late and a bit disorganized), but they haven’t called me, either! All in all it was just another opportunity to sing for someone in the business.
The second audition – and the one I was most concerned with – was the next day, and I was still feeling pretty crappy. My voice felt weak and my uppermost notes were just not there. But I decided to leave the “high note arias” on my rep list, trusting in the adrenaline factor to help out if need be. At the audition, R and I decided to change my starting aria from “O zittre nicht” (Magic Flute) to “Come, now a roundel” (Midsummer). (In most auditions, the singer selects the first aria, then the panel chooses from the remaining selections on the singer’s repertoire list.) I’d started all my auditions this winter with the Flute aria, and it was a great starter for me, but that day I knew I’d be too worried about the high F at the end to give a great performance. The Midsummer aria is slow and shows control, and also has a great high note, even though it’s “just” a C#. It went very well, and then, the heavens really smiled on me. Instead of asking for another opera aria, Mr. W asked for Bach!! I couldn’t believe my luck. Bach is like a balm, both for the voice and the soul. I nailed the aria (“Ich folge dir” from St. John), and afterward we talked about Tanglewood and my upcoming events. It was very pleasant conversation, not at all forced. All in all, a great audition, even with the stress of not having all my notes. Now, we wait.
This is a long entry, so I’ll write more in another post about being overbooked, and also about the drama at the airport on my way home from NYC!! Sheesh.
Often when I’m away for these medium-length trips (10 days, in this case), things at home pretty much stay the way they were when I left. This time, though, I have really felt out of the loop, as big changes and big opportunities are happening at home.
The first is that our stolen car was recovered! Not a scratch, nary a dent. Only covered in pine needles after sitting on a quiet street for a month. It was found near our old house, oddly enough, with and 1/8 of a tank of gas – 1/8 less than the 1/4 tank it had when they took it. The fuse panel is off, and the radio doesn’t work, which leads us to believe that they used the radio fuse to hotwire the car. But other than that, it is fine. Thank god I hadn’t settled with our insurance company yet! (That was just one of many things on my To Do list that got bumped by this trip.) So all is well in that department. I was not looking forward to going thrrough the classifieds or craigslist again, looking for another cheap car in great condition. Now I don’t have to!
The second, and more far-reaching, is that our landlords have decided to sell the duplex we live in. They live in the downstairs unit, and we’re upstairs; she has also been our realtor while looking for our new house. You may recal that about a month ago we decided to look for a duplex or triplex to share with S&L, Erik’s sister and her girlfriend. After a heartbreaking losing bid on a great duplex, we were ready to put aside the house hunt until the fall, when (hopefully) the market will be a bit calmer and I’ll be home from Santa Fe. Well, that’s all changed! I think our landlords would be very happy to sell the duplex to us, and we would certainly be happy to buy it. We will all save money this way, as we will avoid the 6% realtor commission, and they will be happy knowing that their home of 25+ years will be in good hands.
I’ve missed out this week on the talks with the girls and Erik, though, about what we like and don’t like about the house/location/yard and about all the things we would need or want to change about it. I’ve been sad to be away from that. It’s so fun to sit around and dream out loud, to say “what if we …” and have everybody say “ooh, that would be fun!” I know those talks have only just started, and I will get to be involved in my share, but the first few are the most exciting.
This is the part of a life “on the road” that I don’t like. I know it’s inevitable; life goes on whether I’m at home or not! And thank god it does. We have phones and emails and blogs to maintain connection, to try and share the ups and downs of life on my end or theirs. But there is no substitution for a knowing look, an impish glance, a warm hug, or daydreams over a simple meal. At least I know that those things, too – and more – will be waiting for me when I get home.
I haven’t posted in the past couple of weeks because I’ve had too many things to write about and not enough time to write about them. So I’m afraid it’s time for another bullet points entry. Some topics may reappear in future posts with more details, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Life has a way of moving forward, not stopping and looking back… So here’s what I’ve been up to:
• After my trip to Boulder, I had five days at home to get ready for my trip to New York. In those five days I attended a rehearsal for Orpheus in the Underworld at UW; had a crucial, grounding breakfast with a good friend; hid in a closet and yelled “surprise!” at the appropriate time; came down with a cold, right on schedule; crammed more atonal melodies into my head; and celebrated my 5th Wedding Anniversary.
• The celebration included an exquisite – and exquisitely presented – dinner at The Georgian (ironic in that our wedding reception was at The Georgian - in Athens, GA) and a pampered night at the Fairmont Olympic in downtown Seattle. We have decided to occasionally give ourselves glimpses of the luxurious life we ultimately want for ourselves, and what better time than a milestone like our 5th. Like our wedding, big nights out on the town can serve as public statements of our intent – we are Together and in this for the Long Haul!
• I arrived at JFK on the JetBlue redeye and got a ride to Brooklyn with a very, umm, colorful driver. I stayed in my brother’s apartment last week while he was in Amsterdam and E and S were visiting E’s family in Wisconsin. It was very strange being in the apartment without them, but I had a friendly and affectionate cat to keep me company. I nursed my cold by eating in, drinking tea, and not calling any friends! I continued to cram.
• Rehearsals started on Tuesday for Thursday night’s A.R. Thomas Profile Concert at Miller. I was a guest artist with Alarm Will Sound, a new music ensemble that formed when most of the members were students at Eastman. Since they have known each other and worked together for almost 8 years, they have an easy rapport and rehearsals are efficiently run. Talented individual performers coming together to form a top-notch ensemble dedicated to giving new music a voice in the concert hall.
• The concert itself went fairly well. I missed a couple entrances – and no telling how many notes! – but the desired affect was achieved. A friend of mine said that when the piece was over, she and her friends said that they wanted to hear it again right away. That’s a good sign! I know that Augusta was pleased; she thanked me for learning her piece “so well,” so my little slips must have been little indeed. She asked for my contact info so that she could put other organizations in touch with me when they wanted to program In My Sky at Twlight. Read a review of the concert here.
• After a very large martini (too large, honestly, if there is such a thing) Thursday after the concert, I slept in on Friday. In the afternoon I walked around the neighborhood, practicing fiscal discipline by not purchasing the beautiful, brightly colored dresses in the shop windows, and eating a decadent chocolate croissant with my afternoon coffee.
• A mini-Tanglewood 2004 reunion occurred on Saturday. Two of the Fellows, both tenors, were singing in the finals concert of the Oratorio Society Competition at Weill Hall, and one of the Piano Fellows was playing. It was an exciting concert, in general, with a couple voices that thrilled me so I almost jumped out of my seat and yelped. There was a baritone who sang rapid-fire Handel coloratura while looking so relaxed he could have been yawning and a gentle young mezzo who walked on the stage looking scared to death, but as soon as she started to sing transformed into a young Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. It was wonderful. Neither of our friends placed in the top three, which was a travesty, in my mind. But I won’t go into that here.
• The NYC Bird family got home on Sunday, and we’ve been hanging out and catching up. Syliva is darling as ever, and the next little Baby Bird is present in the slightly wider hugs to E. I’m still nursing the cold, and hope to have all my high notes back by Wednesday when I audition for the folks at Dispeker. I’ll let you know how it goes…