Monday, February 28, 2005


Put me with some brightly patterned fabrics, add a ribbon to my hair, and all of a sudden I'm a Northern European Frida Kahlo. Who knew? Posted by Hello

A Very Merry Un-Birthday!

To me!! I'm celebrating my 7 1/4 birthday today, along with 29 years of life. Someone asked me if I went a year backwards on my unbirthday, as they do in Wonderland. I've only had 7 birthdays! If I went backwards, I'd never make it to the legal drinking age...

So raise a glass to un-birthdays today. Cheers!

New laptop and a pain in the neck

I’m writing this on my new laptop. Erik and I each got some money from the sale of our house to do whatever we wanted with, and I decided to get a laptop. (It was actually Erik’s idea, and it was such a good idea!) It is really nice not having to kick Erik off of our PC whenever I need or want to do something, like write a blog entry. Funny how computers, like cell phones, have gone from “nice to have” to “must have one in the house” to “everyone needs their own!” I will also use this when I travel. I’ve been using a PocketPC with a fabulous roll-up keyboard and my cell phone as a modem for email while on the road, but it is a bit cumbersome. Right now I’m in my dressing room at the theatre. I got tired of working on my crochet project on my downtime, and as Queen, I have lots of downtime!

It turns out that my fabulous costume is so heavy that it has sprained my neck. I’ve had a steady severe pain in my neck for about two days now. I thought maybe it was caused by our new car, which doesn’t have power steering. (Don’t laugh! My mom pulled a muscle driving a car with no power steering. We’re delicate little flowers!) But after having this dress back on, I can actually feel it pulling on my neck. It has a lot of material in the back, so I must be overcompensating forward, so as not to fall over. I’m in a lot of pain today, which makes me grumpy, which is actually great for my character! I’m looking forward to a quiet ride home, maybe some Ray Charles, but that’s it. No talking, no singing, no unnecessarily loud PA system calling people to stage ten minutes before they’re actually supposed to be there. See what I mean? Grumpy.

But, on the bright side, I look amazing. I have died my hair deep red; think Debra Messing. They originally wanted black hair, but I talked them into red. I’ve been looking for an excuse to dye my hair again. And besides, this time, it’s tax deductible! I start the show with simple tight curls, which then become frazzled and frizzed as my true colors come out. My makeup also starts out very plain and white, with just a little shading (not even any eyeliner or lashes); in Act II, we add severe shadows in purples. It looks hideous face to face, but under the lights on stage, I’m told the effect is very scary.

Mary, our hair & makeup lady (and impromptu costumer, as the official woman has been awol), just came in to check on me. When she asked “how are you doing?”, I just about cried. She’s the kind of person who really wants to know, so I felt no need to put on a brave face. I just said, “I’m in a lot of pain, and it’s making me grumpy!” She loosened my dress and rubbed my shoulders a bit, and repinned my headpiece. Bobby pins sticking into the scalp don’t do much for grumpiness, either. She encouraged me to get my husband to rub some Tiger Balm into my shoulders and neck tonight. That sounds good to me; I hope Erik is up for it...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

February Teaser

I have so much to write about, and no time to sit down and get my thoughts on paper. Rehearsals for Flute (That’s the third time today that I’ve almost typed “Glute” instead of “Flute.” Can you imagine?! The Magic Glute!! Love it!) are going very well. It’s going to be a wonderful show. I’m in the middle of a maelstrom of bookings for NOISE, the elementary school opera outreach group I’ve sung with for two years. This year my schedule was too busy to perform, so I took on the bookings. Now I’m beginning to realize that my schedule is too busy for this, as well!

I’m having to work hard on focusing, doing one thing at a time. When I have half a dozen tasks in my head, I’m always tempted (and often I give in to the temptation!) to try and multi-task. But all that ends of doing is streching all the tasks out longer than they would have taken if I had tackled them one at a time. Like just now I picked up my phone to make a call for NOISE, when what I really want and need to do is finish this post.

So, another teaser post for now. Here are the things I am wanting to write about, and I promise I will. Just as soon as I can breathe.
• Taxes! Self-employed folks, and artists of all ilk (ilks?), dread this time of year. What a headache.
• House-hunting, and Santa Fe housing.
• February as the Best Month of the Year. Yes, it has my birthday in it (un-birthday this year), but I also have had amazing gigs in February. And will have in February 2006 and 2007! Yep, I have an offer to do an opera in February of 2007. Like I said, teaser!
• A precious gift that was given to me by a retired singer at my Port Angeles Symphony concert.

Ok, now that I’ve put all this out there, I’m obligated more than ever to get it all down in a post. Pester me until I do it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Two more things

I forgot to mention another case of discipline and dedication I encountered this past week. If you read the PI review, you might have noted that our music director, a lovely gentleman I’ve known for about two years now, played harpsichord and conducted with his right arm in a sling. The details weren’t known by the reviewer, and had they been known by the audience, he surely would have gotten the greatest ovation.

Wednesday (maybe it was Thursday) morning, when he went out to get the paper, Fred slipped on his icy front steps. He fell, breaking three toes and his collarbone and fracturing his eye socket in three places! He wore a patch over his right eye for two days, and the right side of his face was absolutely purple. But, he came to rehearsal that evening anyway, playing one-handed continuo and conducting as vigorously as he was able. We were all amazed! Then I learned that he did it all without any painkillers, because they made him too “cloudy” to conduct properly! Amazing. The show must, truly, go on. Fortunately, he had already scheduled six months off after the opera! If anyone deserves it, Fred does.

The other thing I have to share is rather embarrassing. It’s one thing to post a link to a review, it’s another to copy a flattering review into a post. Brazen! But I feel that I should, since, along with the strangers who I now know are reading, my friends and family stop by for news. This review didn’t make the online edition of the Seattle Times, so I copy the highlights here for your perusal…

“Guild steps to success with rich talent pool”
John Sutherland, special to the Seattle Times

[…] Even with the Purcell added, the entrire performance barely broke an hour and a half, a good thing for the short attentions spans of our age. [Come on, give us some credit!] The Purcell had other benefits: It brought some marvelous singers out of the blend of the chorus and into the spotlight as soloists, particularly alto Teresa Clark and the very impressive Bruce [really Brian] Cummings.
The extremely strong cast featured Amanda Jane Kelly as Venus and Glenn Guhr as Adonis, who both exchelled vocally and dramatically.
But no one shone brighter than Anne-Carolyn Bird, who played the trouser role of Cupid with such sprightly energy, she practically floated on stage. Not only is her mellifluous voice enough to lead the children out of Hamlin town, her vocal ornamentation is extremely tasteful, and her stage presence nothing short of magnetic.
Bird had excellent help from her “Little Cupids,” [yea!!] . . . These dancing roles were among the most impressive and elaborate children’s roles I’ve seen on stage, and it is to their credit, and the credit of choreographer Anna Mansbridge, that the parts were so dramatically effective. [. . .]

Like I said, embarrassing. Mamma and Granddaddy, that’s for you! I’m so glad my LC’s got a mention, too; they deserved it. The reviewer also looks forward to the EMG’s next opera, as do I.

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!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

On The Air

I’ll be featured tonight on KING FM, Seattle’s classical music radio station, in an interview that we taped last week. It’s mainly a PR spot for the Early Music Guild show this weekend. Gigi Yellen is the evening host, and she said it will air sometime after 8pm (that’s PST, remember). If you’re interested in listening but don’t live in Seattle, check out the live streaming audio on the webpage.

This was my first real publicity interview, and I liked it! I think I’m a pretty good interviewee; my mom would say it’s because I like to talk about myself (who doesn’t?!). Mostly I enjoyed being asked thoughtful questions that allowed me to expound on my work, in both general and specific terms. Gigi and I talked a bit about the connection between early music and new music, and why so many singers sing both. I also talk about getting to play a boy. A rather androgynous, Baroque-y, elegant boy named Cupid, but a boy, nonetheless!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

4 Shows in 2 Months

More on the reason I’m sick, other than the technical germy reasons. I spread myself a bit thin this spring, and I knew it months ago. I should have spent January resting up, quietly reading scores and listening to my study CDs on the couch. Instead we sold our house, found a new place to live, moved into that place, and put the rest of our stuff in storage; I also sang in a Tsunami Benefit and took a trip to New York. Ha! I just reread that post, and I said, “It’s a pretty low-stress move, since we don’t have to out of the house completely until February 10.” Hahahahahahahaha! There is no such thing as a low stress move!! I’ve moved at least 20 times in my 28 years; I should know that by now.

Anyway, January was far from restful, and then everyone around me started coughing. Not a good combination. I couldn’t just go to bed, though, and tough it out, because, as the title of this post implies, I’m working on four shows in February and March. Two operas, each with three performances, and two concerts. A full singer’s schedule, which is something I’m not used to!

The first was this past Saturday, a concert of arias with the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra. My cold hit hard on Friday, but with a visit to the doctor on Saturday I was able to make it through. Fortunately I didn’t lose my voice until Sunday! The folks at PASO were outstanding. Very generous with their time, and flexible with the program. I asked to cut one number and be moved from after intermission to before. I sang five arias (The one I cut? Olympia’s aria from Les Contes d’Hoffmann. I didn’t have the energy needed for that kind of vocal precision.) for a wonderful audience, with a wonderful amateur orchestra, and a very sympathetic conductor. It was a great night. But, boy, was I glad to make it home and sleep in my own place.

No rest for the wicked, however. This Friday is opening night of an opera with the Seattle Early Music Guild, in which I am one of three leads. Thank god for early music being low! The piece isn’t taxing, since it’s all on the staff, and is actually quite fun. I get to be a boy (Cupid, without the diaper), which won’t happen too often in my career, so I’m enjoying playing with that energy. Mostly I love being in an actual theatre again. The dressing rooms, green room, stage manager, makeup, costumes, lights, all of it. It’s where I love to be.

Then March has the Magic Flute (rehearsals start in earnest next week) and the St. John Passion! Busy, busy. I will do my best to stay healthy. That might need to entail getting a massage every two weeks… darn.

Monday, February 07, 2005

When a singer gets sick

This is what happens when I try to do too much. Serious illness! Well, not serious in the big-picture-sense, but enough to relieve me of my voice for a few days. A cold that started as a tickle turned into a full-blown chest and head cold. Thanks to Zicam (and many other wonderful drugs), it is moving quickly, and I feel much better today than I did yesterday. Yesterday I was phonating around C below middle C! Cool for an effect, but not practical.

I need to get back to bed. I'll get back when I can and tell you about all the things on my plate that have gotten me to this point! All good, all fun, all taxing in their way. As my good friend and fellow musician said, "I'll tell you, kiddo, we're just gluttons and we keep doing it because we love it, no? But when the log jam comes, we sometimes wonder..." Don't I know it.
 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

As if to prove her point

Mother Nature provided me with this amazing sunset at the end of a crazy day. Somehow, going to this rehearsal tonight just got easier. Posted by Hello

A Room of One’s Own

In our new apartment, I have an office. Techinically, it’s an alcove off the living room, but it’s big enough for the piano, my desk, and two bookcases. There is also a closet, which has a rod high enough to hold my gowns. (I had been storing them “off-site” at a friend’s house, because our tiny house didn’t have room to dedicate four feet of closet rod space to gowns. Now they’re back, and I can gaze at them any time I want!)

I’ve been amazed at how having this space has increased the efficiency of my practice. I used to have all my books in one room and the piano in another, so when I would leave the piano to get some music, I would inevitably get distracted and not make it back. Practice became a chore, so I did it less and less. Now, with music, dictionaries, reference books, piano, et al, in one space, I’m getting much more done. As I work through warm-ups and a specific song or aria comes to mind, I can find it and sing it. That piece may lead to another, also at the ready. Now, I have to force myself to stop and take breaks, or else I’ll spend all day at the piano!

Part of this new practice habit may stem from a big gig I’ve been hired for next season. (Details will be forthcoming…) It is being organized by a very large management company and has potential for some great exposure. So I’m starting to think about getting my “house” in order! I want to be ready for anything that may come out of it – other concert or even opera gigs, interest from other management firms, etc. – and that means being on top of my game. I have roles that I want to finish learning and have performance-ready to add to my rep list. (It is very lean in the standard repertoire department…) And I need to keep checking in with the technique, making sure every facet of it is ready to come to my aid when needed.

The room also has a window with a beautiful view of the Olympic Mountains, the brilliant sunsets, and the amazing cloud cover we have here in Seattle. Never a dull moment in this sky, and I am grateful to have such an inspiring scene in view everyday. Phyllis Curtin encouraged me to always “sing to the universe,” counsel easily heeded in this room of my own.
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