Monday, October 31, 2005

Look what came today!!

Now I don't want to go teach! I want to stay home, curl up before the fire and translate operas! This is all part of my goal to study Cosi fan tutte and Falstaff this year. (We'll see how that goes without any sort of deadline hanging over my head...)

Hooray for Nico's libretto books!! Now that I own some, I feel like a real, grown-up singer. =] Posted by Picasa

Golijov links

My father saw Ainadamar this summer, and, well, he didn’t love it. He certainly wasn’t alone; a piece like that is bound to get mixed reviews. I do not fault him in any way, but I think he was afraid to tell me he didn’t like it! It can be hard to tell someone that you’re just not that into something they love (and I do love this piece). But music is subjuctive, and I am comfortable with that.

It stands to reason, then, that he was nervous about La Pasion. He and Mom are planning to come to the London performance, using it as an excuse to finally get back to Germany (where we lived for three years and where they still have good friends). I know it is a father’s job to come to a child’s performances and clap and be proud, whether he likes it or not, but it is much more enjoyable for all involved when he does like it! So imagine his relief when he (finally) listened to the CD of La Pasion that I leant him this summer – and loved it! He liked the Latin musical influences, and appreciated the folk song elements. Here’s what he had to say about that: I found the use of folk themes appropriate, as I know JSB was influenced by German folk music - it's just that we have heard it played by 60-piece orchestras so long that we call it classical. How cool is that!! My dad, the musicologist. I love it.

(La Pasion segun San Marcos was commissioned by the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of Bach’s death. Four composers – Osvaldo, Tan Dun, Wolfgang Rihm, and Sofia Gubaidulina – were each commissioned to write a “passion,” a musical setting of the story of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion. I’ve only heard Osvaldo’s, but imagine it was a fascinating series of concerts, hearing the way these four people interpreted this ancient story.)

I’m heading off to Atlanta this weekend for three performances and a recording of Ainadamar, so I thought I’d collect a few “Osvaldo links” and post them here. If you don’t have plans to see any of the (many) performances of his works around the country, maybe this will inspire you. There is some great music being created. Dive in!


Alex Ross’s article and review of La Pasion, March 2001

A fun account of the West Coast premiere of La Pasion in 2002 from the perspective of one of the string players. I think this gives a bit of insight into what I can expect in February! “Both the Orquesta La Pasión and the Schola Cantorum de Caracas are fantastic, and the difference between them and the stuffy classical musicians (us) is really marked. I'm not saying that one is better than the othe: it's just interesting to watch.” And this: “I feel alive. I haven't felt such energy in a very long time.” How exciting…

Ionarts review of Ainadamar at Santa Fe (see the sidebar for more reviews, including articles from The New Yorker and the Washington Post.)

Review of Osvaldo’s newest (?) work, Ayre, performed in San Francisco by Dawn Upshaw and the Andalusian Dogs on October 23rd. I really want to sing this piece someday…

Interview with Osvaldo on The World radio program, focusing on Ayre.

And, of course, check out Osvaldo’s own site for articles and reviews of all these works.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Geek Alert

I want this. (Yes, it's true, I have Geek Tendencies... don't judge me!) But hey, I need something to keep me busy, 'cuz you know I'm just sitting here twiddling my thumbs.

If only...

Ah, for the days of thumb-twiddling... and geeking out on video games for hours on end...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A quick note about business

(I say this is a note about business, but on second reading, it applies just as easily to any relationship. Duly noted...)

Do not be afraid to admit it when you made a mistake. Don’t grovel or whine, just say “I’m sorry I dropped the ball on that one. Can we move forward?” Because you never know when a mistake can turn around into something good. Miscommunications, when repaired, often create greater understanding in the long run.

I’m speaking from personal experience, of course, but that’s all I can say for now! Hopefully this mistake-turned-good will continue to be good, and I can give details in a few weeks.

A few pictures

Beautiful Eugene! This was the view from my hotel room. I did enjoy my weekend there, and can see why many of you were envious. Nice people, nice weather, great arts scene. Not impressed with the shopping, tax-free though it may be. Guess I'd have to go to Portland for that...

This is the beautiful and acoustically delicious Beall Concert Hall at the University of Oregon. So lovely to sing in. I've only recently started to really be aware of the sound of a room (the way your voice comes back to you, or doesn't), and this one was prime. It shouldn't change the way you sing; it's more of a mental thing, I think. The hall for Sunday's final round was very dead (but gorgeous!), the total opposite of Beall. Another challenge to overcome, though, rather than something to get hung up about. I was very happy with my performance on Sunday; I'm really starting to feel like I "own" Nannetta. I'm starting to understand why so many of my teachers/coaches guided me towards it. It feels like a good pair of jeans! I ordered the Falstaff score yesterday, and I'm going to try and learn the role this year.

The rest of the winners (there were five total) were all women, and all highly deserving. I listened to the whole concert on the monitor in my dressing room and heard some lovely things. Four of the five winners have ties to Seattle, oddly enough. Something in the (rain)water... Another odd fact: of the 8 female finalists, five wore red! There were two in black, and I wore gold. I've been thinking about getting a good red/burgandy/merlot gown for my holiday concerts, but now I'm not so sure! We made sure to break up the reds when we lined up at the end; it was a fun puzzle.

I didn't get any good pictures of people at the concerts, but here are a couple of shots from my preparations on Friday. Even with the annoying flash, this is the best pic I got of my hair and jewelry:That is my new favorite hairstyle! So easy, so elegant. I didn't get a full length picture of the dress, but here is the top:The skirt is a simple a-line. (I'm almost to the point where I need to have the bodice taken out a bit, as my ribcage has expanded in the past few years. These days, when I inhale, I add almost three inches to the circumference of my torso! My costumer at Santa Fe just about fell over when he measured that.) I hope to wear this dress for many more concerts; I always get so many compliments, and I love telling the story of where it came from.

So, there you go! Sarah, if I were truly Joan or Melissa, I'd be commenting and dissing on the other ladies outfits! I try to avoid that, both on the blog and off. But I can always dish on my own fashion choices!

What will I do with my prize money, you ask? Well, pay off some of the expenses I racked up in Santa Fe this summer, of course. Take a voice lesson and coaching or two. And, most importantly, pay for my Nov-Dec audition trip to NYC. I'm subleasing an apartment this time, so it's going to be more expensive. But now it's covered! Thank you Belle Voci! And thanks to everyone "here" for cheering me on. It was fun knowing that you all were in my corner.

Onward and upward!

Monday, October 24, 2005

3rd place!

I have spoken to my lovely wife and she asked that I pass along that she placed 3rd in the finals! A good experience all around. She is headed home tonight and has promised to post more details tomorrow morning.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A day off

It has been a delightful day, and it’s only 3:00. I slept in (a good thing, too, since I didn’t “come down” from the post-competition high until about 1am), got a latte from the cart in the lobby, ate a makeshift breakfast from the groceries I bought on Thursday, and watched a bit of the Missouri-Nebraska game (sadly, once I stopped watching, the Huskers stopped playing…). After a short meeting with the finalists at the Hult Center, right across the street from my hotel, I was released into the unseasonably beautiful Oregon afternoon. Sunny and 65º, perfect weather for perusing the Saturday Market. I found some real treasures, giving me a head start on my Christmas shopping. This evening I think I'll grab some dinner and see a movie, then try to head to bed early. Nice to have a "day off!"

So, more about last night. I was first again, as they kept the same order from the morning. Not an ideal spot, what with 23 other singers to come after you and potentially erase any impression you might have left on the judges minds. But since they got to hear us twice in one day, a nice set-up, the effect of going first was negated a bit, I think. One bonus of being first is that I got a few minutes in the green room with the pianist, Daniel Lockhart. Turns out he’s played for the West Coast Opera Auditions for the past few years, and I told him my awkward tale of this year’s audition! Had a good laugh about that, once again. We also looked through the music for my aria, and I pointed out the things to watch out for, i.e., getting a little “Viennese” on the first few “Ha ha ha”’s. Getting to have this conversation in detail off stage was great, rather than tossing the music at him on stage and saying, “Watch me here, and try to meet up with me here, and …” while hurrying to my spot to sing. It gave us both a level of comfort that carried over into the performance. It really felt like we were a partnership performing and sharing, not two strangers trying to muddle through. And he’s playing again tomorrow!

I have to say I enjoy singing Adele in German more than in English. There are just more fun and naughty and flirty words to play with! Even if the audience doesn’t speak German or have titles, the text is easy to play up and give them the general idea. For the first time, I was truly comfortable with the coloratura at the end, taking my time to really breath and set up each different section as a different sort of “laugh.” It was fun! And finally, as if a culmination of all the work I’ve been doing these past few months, the high D at the end was everything I wanted it to be. It was if Nina was there with me, in one instant telling me all the things she’d helped me with this summer: open your throat, connect the high note to the lower note, let that note vibrate! It felt so good. Now if I can just get that feeling to connect on Eflat and E, I’ll be in like Flynn.

The judges for the semi-finals were Jonathon Field, Pamela South, and Erie Mills, a coloratura soprano of much renown. I actually thought at one point, while singing, “Ms. Mills surely has sung this role; I wonder what she thinks!” She will also be on the panel for the finals tomorrow, along with two new judges. A carry-over from the semis is a really good idea; she can contribute information about the full performance of the singer, not just the few minutes the other judges will have seen.

The other finalists are two mezzos, one baritone, one bass, and six sopranos! Most of the sopranos are lighter voices; rep for the finals includes “Caro nome,” Manon’s “Gavotte”, the Silver Aria, and Nannetta (me, big surprise!), with “Ain’t it a pretty night?” and Rosalinda’s Czardas (Fledermaus) being offered by the heavier lyrics. Oddly enough, no real “fireworks” pieces were chosen (the arias were chosen by the judges, and while we were allowed to give our opinions, very few people changed their assigned aria). I thought about asking to sing “Glitter and be Gay,” but then I thought that I should ride the wave of success that Nannetta seems to be bringing me!

Thanks for all your kind words. Hope you’re having great weekends, too!

I'm in!

Very tired, but just wanted to let you all know that I made the finals. In fact, all the semi-finalists from Seattle made the finals! I really am about to fall asleep, so I'll give a recap tomorrow. I am extrememly happy with my performance tonight, that much I can say. Details in the morning.

Sweet dreams!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Quick Update

Now that my hair is done in prep for tonight’s round (always the hardest part! I went with the double loop chignon.), I can sit and write a quick update.

This morning’s round went fine, very smooth, nothing eyebrow-raising either good or bad. The competition runs like clockwork, with each semi-finalist given a 4 minute spot (both for morning and evening). There are plenty of volunteers around, mostly chorus members of Eugene Opera, to guide us through the halls of the Univ of Oregon. I had half an hour in a warm-up room, then ten minutes in the green room while they got things started. There was a small audience this morning, and they were told about the strict time limits. I think they were also instructed not to mess with that time limit by adding applause time, ‘cuz when I was finished no one clapped! It was so weird. When it’s just an adjudication panel, you don’t expect applause; but when there is an audience of any size, we’ve come to expect that formality. It really threw me for a second! Once I realized they weren’t going to clap, I said my “Thank you!” and headed off. The pianist was very good; I think he’ll be playing tonight and Sunday, as well.

I was happy with how I sang. I got a bit distracted in the interlude and came in just a tad late for the next entrance. The pianist (David?) was right there with me, though, so no harm, no foul. I head the next four or five singers while waiting for the shuttle, and, boy, there are some great voices. A few colleaques from Seattle, and a couple of women that are friends of friends. Good company.

I’ve been asked to sing Adele’s Laughing Song tonight, which is one of the two I was hoping they’d choose. (The other was Glitter and Be Gay, which had its first outing last weekend at the BBOT fundraiser. It’s a great fit, and I’m think about making it my English aria. Have to gather opinions on whether it’s “opera” enough. Oh, and with the cut, it’s exactly 4 minutes!) I’m wearing my blue gown (I’ve written this post in fits and starts while getting ready, so I’m dressed now!), one of six dresses that my mother sent me in grad school. She went to Nordstrom Rack looking for recital gowns for me, and hit the mother lode (if you will). This one has served me so well. It fits perfectly, and is a timeless cut. For jewelry, I opted for a colorful but understated rhinestone necklace and earring set that my in-laws gave me for Christmas last year. I have to say, I look good!

I feel good, too. I’m wearing a good luck charm today for the first time, a little mushroom pin with a wonderful story. That will have to wait, though, because my chariot awaits! More soon.


**Unable to post this last night, due to less than perfect wifi. It's all still true, just late. Good morning!**

I love staying in hotels. Well, good hotels, at least! I was thinking as I was packing this morning, and it’s been a while since I’ve stayed in a hotel. (Ok, so the DT and I stayed in one on our way home from Santa Fe, but that was such a dump that it hardly counts!) The last time might have been in April, when Erik and I splurged for our 5th anniversary and spent a night at the Fairmont Olympic, which is at the opposite end of the hotel spectrum! So luxurious, so special, so fabulous. Sigh…

I’m not at a Fairmont this weekend, but I am at a Hilton, so there are no boot prints on my pillow. I have a nice room with a king-sized bed and wireless internet (not free, but better than nothing). My dinner in the restaurant was disappointing (won’t be going back), but I’ve filled out my room-service breakfast card because, honestly, who can mess up toast, coffee, and yogurt? I’ve splayed out my “lotions and potions” all over the bathroom and hung my dresses in the closet. I ran the shower for about ten minutes to get some moisture in the air, and after I finish this post I plan on curling up in bed with the five fluffy pillows and my book. All in all, I’m pretty well settled.

I did mange to forget my slippers and my black cashmere cardigan, two comforts of home that I usually don’t travel without. I think there was something about not getting on a plane that messed with my mental packing list. I know singers who have an actual packing list, something that they print out and check off to make sure they don’t forget anything. I’m surprised that I’ve never done that, seeing how I like to make lists and charts, but never forgetting anything means you never get to go shopping to buy a replacement!

Oops, did I really say that? Don’t worry, Erik, I’m not going to go buy another cashmere sweater. This isn’t like the three trips to New York when I forgot my audition shoes and had to buy new ones, or the trip to San Francisco when I forgot all my make-up and head to buy more. Really. It’s not. But, now that I think about it, there isn’t any sales tax in Oregon, so… Who knows! =]

I’m very impressed with the organization of Belle Voci. Three weeks ago I received a folder filled with information about the competition – schedules, competitors, etc. – and Eugene – directions, services, “things to do.” Very thoughtful and well-presented. When I arrived at the hotel (one of two in town that had a special rate for BV competitors), there was an envelope waiting for me with details about tomorrow. Again, so organized! I love it. This is only the second BV competition, so they obviously have someone involved who knows how to put together an event.

Tomorrow, I’ll be picked up at 10:00 and taken to the University, where I’ll have a warm-up room for about 20 minutes. This is so thoughtful, because getting a good warm-up in a hotel is next to impossible. I’ll do some humming and low scales in the shower, but in order to be fully warm, I’ll need a few minutes in a room with a piano. I’ve decided to start with Nannetta, even though this is a competition and I’m tempted to start flashier. But the semi-final round is in two parts – morning round, I pick my aria; evening round, judges pick – so I figure they can ask for flashy if they want to hear it. Just like an audition. I’m not going to start second guessing myself, especially when Nannetta has brought me such luck. What’s the saying, “Stick with the one that brought you?”

Time for bed! More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Off again

This morning I’m packing my suitcase again, headed this time for Eugene, OR, and the Belle Voci Competition. I have everything laid out on the bed – clothes, shoes, make-up, toiletries, etc. – now I just have to put it in the suitcase. KD is sticking close-by, hoping she gets to come along. She has her own trip planned this weekend, up to Orcas with the DT and folks. Last time she was there she ran around the property full-tilt for about 8 hours! I didn’t think it was possible to wear her out, but she slept the whole next day.

It’s a 5-hour drive to Eugene. I plan to split the listening between music and a book-on-CD. If I can get out of here within the hour, I should get to Eugene between 5 or 6, which should allow me to miss most of the nasty traffic. Wish me luck! The Eugene Hilton has wifi, so I should be able to easily update throughout the weekend.

In other news, I saw a familiar face on Brian Dickie’s blog this morning. Peter McGillivray, a Tanglewood buddy from 2004, is a Semi-Finalist in the Neue Stimmen Competition!! Go Peter!!! I’ll be wishing him luck tomorrow. He is a wonderful man with a beautiful voice, and he deserves all the success he is finding.

More tonight from Eugene!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

23rd & 5th

“I've always entertained myself in line at the store with speculations about people's lives based on their purchases.”

I’ve been tagged by Melissa to participate in the “23rd & 5th” meme, in which you dig back through your archives and discuss the 5th sentence of your 23rd post. An intriguing exercise.

I find in extremely interesting that my sentence has nothing to do with singing! It was written after a grocery shopping trip in Summer 2005, when I was living on my own in a small apartment near Tanglewood. (Read the rest of the post here.) I distinctly remember being conscious of the non-musical nature of this post, of trying my hand at observational writing, not unlike what my friend Chiara does so well, or what I read over at dooce. I enjoy that style of writing, and I think I’m not too bad at it, but I couldn’t imagine always having something insightful and truly unique to write about in an observational blog. So, I focus on my work.

This summer, I did have someone suggest to me that I might write a book someday, something that pulls most of its content from my blog entries. And maybe I will. But that sort of endeavor is so time- and energy-consuming that I don’t see it happening for many years! A good retirement project, maybe. I’ll admit, though, that I am a bit tempted by National Novel Writing Month, in which you have 30 days (November) to write 175 pages (50,000 words). With the idea of aiming for quantity over quality, NaNoWriMo is meant to encourage anyone who’s ever thought about writing a book to stop procrastinating and just do it! If I didn’t have tons of music to be learning and auditions to be scheduling and gigs to be singing, I’d totally do it. Hmmm…. I wonder how many words I’ve written on The Concert…

I’m not going to dissect the meaning of the above sentence; I think it gets explained pretty well in the post. I’ll only add that for as much as I am a performer, I’ve always been a voyeur, studying people and creating a life for them around the little glimpse of them I see in the cafe or the grocery store. I’ll never know if I’m right, of course, but it’s fun! Maybe that habit would come in handy if I did ever decide to write a novel. Again, not going to happen any time soon…

So there you have it! My 23rd & 5th. Let’s see… who’s next? … I think I’ll tag Tomness and The Dilettante Traveler (who doesn’t need NaNoWriMo to write a novel – she’s doing it right now!). You’re it!

Monday, October 17, 2005


The Manolo has announced the winners of his Super Fantastic (one word or two?) Essay Contest, and the Second Prize winner is a colleague of mine from grad school! Alicia DiDonato is an extraordinary flutist, prized by many young composers for her virtuosic skill and hotness in leather pants. We performed a Bach cantata together (no leather at the baroque concerts; that’s just for contemporary music, don’t you know!), and I really enjoyed working with her. I seem to recall that we had other shared interests (folks music, maybe), but the insanity of grad school never allowed us to really hang out. I’ll have to look her up next time I’m in Boston!

Full winners list and superfantastic prizes here.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Down for the count

So I was unsuccessful in completely avoiding the cold that is going around. It’s impossible to pinpoint where I caught it, as it is truly everywhere: LF, upstairs, had it two weeks ago; CT had it last week; I spent 10 hours on airplanes this weekend, surrounded by germs and recycled air; my sister-in-law went down with the flu the day after I left their apartment; and my good friend SA, with whom I spent time this weekend, sent me a text message the day I got home saying that he had a sore throat. His message was sweet, and such a “singer” thing, in that the news was accompanied by instructions to “do whatever I do” to take care not to get sick, myself. Ah, well. Guess it was unavoidable.

I’ve cancelled my appointments for the day (a workshop with BBOT and a few makeup piano lessons) and will be curled up on the couch while the rest of the household heads to Bainbridge Island for an apple pressing party (the result of the pressing being lots of apple cider). I’m sending along an unusual cheesecake, made yesterday when I was feeling less like a blob.

I have to sing a few numbers on a BBOT fundraiser concert tomorrow, which should be fine. My throat isn’t sore anymore. That was yesterday; today it’s in my nose and head, making me feel like I have a pumpkin head. Cute. With plenty of sleep and liquids (and food! “Feed a cold, starve the flu.”), I should be fine tomorrow. My high notes won’t sound right in my head, but that’s when technique comes in to play! I have to trust that the sound coming out is being properly produced, and, therefore, sounds good. Trust… a skill that is often late in developing in singers…

Time for another nap…

Current Listening: Iron & Wine Radio on Pandora; new (to me) artists: Jose Gonzalez, Sexsmith & Kerr

Thursday, October 13, 2005

CCO Wrap-up

The Finals concert on Sunday was LONG. But there was lots of great singing and some new repertoire that I’m curious to know more about. Operas like The Mines of Sulphur (being staged at NYCO in a couple of weeks) and Cold Sassy Tree (I love this book so much that I’m almost nervous to see the opera, just in case it doesn’t measure up…) and songs by Tom Cipullo and Xavier Montsalvatge. Next year, I’m planning on programming more adventurous rep for myself; I might even try to excerpt something from Ainadamar. The majority of voices in the finals were big, including one soprano who gave new meaning to the idea of a sound blowing your hair back! It was a huge voice! And beautiful, too, so it was extra exciting. My friend AC (great initials, baby!) sang fabulously (some of the best mezzo coloratura I’d heard in a while), but didn’t place. Boo!

I sat with another coloratura semi-finalist, and when we noted that the three sopranos in the finals were full lyrics, it drove home the point that this business is subjective. At this level, it’s not always about how well you sing, but more about what the folks on the other side of the table are attracted to. Please don’t get me wrong: everyone in the finals deserved to be there! No sour grapes here. I just felt a little better about not being on that stage when I realized that I just might not have been what they were looking for.

After the concert, it was time for dinner and drinks with some Santa Fe folks. We were on the upper west side, walking distance from Toast, the bar that makes the perfect martini and, for some reason, a regular hangout for many musicians. I watched the bartender make my martini there in April (it makes an appearance in this old post), and it was perfect: stirred, not shaken, in glass, not metal, three fabulous olives. The size has been adjusted, thank god, so I was able to have two and still walk out the door. My dinner companions were three wonderful baritones: TH, DG, and SA, who has also been mentioned here before. After dinner, we headed down to the Village to meet up with our favorite blue-eyed opera insider, MP. We only had a few minutes with him, though, as he and DG were headed to a cabaret concert/party that promised to have them up until dawn. Ah, New York!! The rest of us relocated to a bar just up the street, where we met up with AC. Over cosmopolitans, we discovered that AC and SA have a very good friend in common and that they will both be in Sarasota this winter. I was so happy to introduce two of my dear friends and have them become friends, too.

It was soon time for heading home, at which time I was, once again, grateful for the ease of the NYC subway system! There was more Santa Fe’ing the next day, then Monday Night Football with my brother before falling into bed. My flight home was uneventful, getting me to Seattle by noon. I had plenty of time to take a two hour nap before getting my voice woken up again for a rehearsal at 6:00! Ah, the glamourous life…

It barrels on for the next couple of weeks. Hold on tight!

Current listening: Beck Radio on Pandora; new (to me) artists: Jesse Malin, Mark Geary

Saturday, October 08, 2005


No finals for me. Ah well. I know by now that not making the finals is not the end of the world, nor is it really "losing." Today I sang for ten new people, and there is no telling what that could lead to someday. My oldest and dearest "opera friend" made the finals, though! So tomorrow I will be there to cheer her on.

The finals concert is at 3pm tomorrow at the Jewish Theological Society, across from Manhattan School of Music. Tickets are $20 at the door, $5 for students with ID. There will be some great singing, so if you feel like braving the rain, come on out.

And now I can have a martini!

CCO Competition Semi-Finals

Despite it being a nasty NYC rainy day and not getting to warm up at the apartment, my semi-final round went well. I met with JD yesterday to go over my repertoire (and to decide if one rehearsal was really enough to put the Harbison piece together; turns out it wasn’t), and we met at her apartment again this morning to touch on a few things before heading to the 92nd Street Y (not YMCA, but YM&WH(ebrew)A! thanks for the tip!) for the competition. We got there with plenty of time to change into our auditionwear (wrinkle-proof dresses rolled up in our bags) and fix our windblown hair. The competition was running a bit ahead of schedule, a rarity, due to several cancellations and generous time slots (12 minutes each), but we still had plenty of time to catch our breath and center a bit.

We had been under the impression that the panel would select all three of our selections, one from each category (standard aria, post-1950 aria, and 20th/21st C. art song), but we learned that we could choose the first number. What to start with? We decided to be brave and come out with guns slinging: the 12-tone, angry Dallapiccola (text: “Lord, you have already torn from me the one thing I wanted most…” not happy!). JD plays the killer piano part with serious attitude, and we both nailed it. They asked, as I suspected they would, for Nannetta next. Talk about a contrast! After that, I was expecting them to ask for a contemporary aria, but instead one man (Ron Land, I believe) said, “Would you like to sing the Rorem? I’d really like to hear that.” Another art song! No problem. High and floaty, really a gorgeous piece.

When that was over, I expected the usual “Thank you,” as I had sung three pieces. I think I even started to turn to the door when someone said, “We really should hear one of her contemporary arias, don’t you think? We need to hear one from each category.” There was some bantering at this point about “bonus tracks” and “maybe they’d just hear my whole program!”, but in the end they asked for the Britten. Since JD was one of the rehearsal pianists for Midsummer at Tanglewood, this aria was a walk in the park. We really have fun with it! When I finished singing and looked back at the panel (there were about ten judges), one older gentleman had his chin in his hands and a twinkle in his eye, and he said, “You sing like a bird!” Jocelyn and I just about fell over laughing when we left the room! It was great.

All in all, we’re very pleased. I’ll find out tonight around 7:30 if I made the finals. There were 18 semi-finalists; there will be 7 finalists, three prizewinners. I’ll let you know!


Check out this amazing tool: Pandora. It is the manifestation of the Music Geneome Project, an ambitious undertaking started five years ago by musicians and “music-loving technologists.” The goal of MGP is to “capture the essence” of music by analyzing individual songs element (or “gene”) by element. They created a genome of music by defining hundreds of "genes;" genes for “melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony.” Fascinating!

So, what does it do? You give Pandora the name of a band or song that you like, and they build a “station” around songs that have genes in common with it. They even explain why each song is included in the playlist, opening in a little window listing the elements that are similar.

My first “station” was Radiohead Radio, which introduced me to three bands I’d never heard of - Mellow, Statistcs, and Bright Eyes - all of whom (which?) I liked. Pandora makes it easy to get more of the music you like, as they have linked each title with Amazon or iTunes for easy purchase. Dangerous! My only concern is that all the music may be too similar. When I started a Ben Folds station, the first six songs were medium-tempo, piano-based, and had a male vocalist. We’ll see how much variety there is in the long run; it would be nice to find not only artists but styles that are similar to your favorites.

Enjoy! Up next: a competition update, I promise.

Update, 10/13: Having much better luck with Beck Radio. Ah, Beck...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Packing, yet again

My first trip of the fall is upon me. I'm packing to go to NYC for the weekend, ostensibly for the Center for Contemporary Opera competition on Saturday and Sunday. But I have so many lunches and drinks and coffees planned with friends, that it almost feels more like a social visit! And, maybe the thing I'm most excited about: I get to meet my nephew, James. I even finished his gift (a crocheted blanket) in time to take it along. My niece Sylvia didn't get her present until she was almost nine months old, so I'm doing better on this one.

Ok, more from the big city this weekend.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Back to normal

Having friends from The Summer here in my home was at once delightful and a little bizarre. I saw immediately that the dynamic at which I lived life this summer doesn’t really fit into the everyday. It’s too big, too loud, too “opera!” It became normal this summer, but when taken out of context, it doesn’t quite fit. Don’t get me wrong; I had a wonderful time, and I love my friends (even though they tease me mercilessly!). But I was made even more aware of the lines and boundaries that exist in my life, separtating my Work from my Home. Introducing my Home friends to my Work friends was fun, and brought out the zanier side in my Home friends, I think. But everyone agreed that it was exhausting! We ate great food, both at home and on the town, drank lots of good wine (and port and Kona coffee at C&I’s after the concert), smoked fantastic cigars (courtesy of SH), and laughed A LOT. And we sang a great concert. Work and Home intermingling…

If you are not a performer, here’s a way to think about how my Work is different: imagine that everyone in your office or company is relocated to another town, where you only have each other to socialize with. No family, except for short visits, and no weekends. You may have one day a week, or so, where you don’t have to be with the group, but most days you are in one location with your coworkers for about ten hours. It gets, how can I say… intense. Every interaction is heightened, exaggerated. I can’t say why, but it’s true. You genuinely like everyone, some you even come to love, but it’s not Home. When I thought, at age 18, that I wanted to be a sociologist, I wanted to study the dynamics of theatre communities. I think now my subject would be summer opera festivals. They are such strange little worlds…

Anyway. The concert! We sang the opening scenes from Don Giovanni, up to Donna Anna and Don Ottavio’s duet. Yeah, that would be ME singing Donna Anna!! It was fun, kind of like playing dress-up. I got to put on my “big girl” voice and sing some fun music in concert that I’ll never get hired to sing in a production. SH was a dashing Giovanni - a role he also thinks isn’t quite right, although he’ll be a fantastic Leoporello – and RA sang Ottavio, a perfect fit. We added my good friend MP to round out the quartet for the Requiem, and it was beautiful.
It was a great feeling to be on the stage with three good friends, doing what we love to do and sounding good doing it! I can’t wait to hear the recording. (And I won another battle in the ongoing war with my hair!)

In other news: my Met audition is set! December 1st is also SSR’s birthday, so I take that to be a good omen. I’ll be subletting an aprtment in Inwood for about ten days after Thanksgiving, hoping to do as many auditions as possible. But obtaining house auditions is harder than YAP auditions, as there is no application or other pre-established way to get your foot in the door. The process is made easier by having a manger set them up for you, but I’m still working on that element. Hopefully I’ll have something to report in a few weeks…
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