Thursday, May 19, 2011

Auditions these days

From today’s status on Facebook: “I have got to stop psyching myself out about auditions. I’ve been getting SO nervous these days and yet they always - knock knock - go well. I’ve got to trust more...”

I had an audition today for a company that was hearing rep for the next four years out. Lots of rep, and lots of “opera’s greatest hits,” which naturally includes many roles I am dying to get under my belt: Gilda, Lucia, Violetta, et al. Yesterday I sang through a couple of my arias, and things were going beautifully. I felt like I was singing lightly, without pushing or trying to make my voice sound bigger than it is, and yet the richness that has come into my voice over the past few years was there. High notes were feeling great. Even Henry seemed to like it. (There is nothing better than singing “Caro nome” with Henry in my arms, him laughing at each coloratura passage...)

But then this morning? I was a nervous wreck. I almost felt sick to my stomach in the cab on the way to the audition. What happened to the blasé auditioner I used to be??

A friend asked if I felt like motherhood had anything to do with these relatively new feelings, and I’ve been pondering that all day. I think the easy answer is yes, if only because the list of things I need to do in order to get ready and BE ready for an audition is so much longer these days. It’s not just about putting on a dress and praying for a good hair day anymore!

It’s harder to warm up well, since we can’t sing while Henry is sleeping. (I was just sure I would have a baby who could sleep through it, but alas!) I had to worry about the timing of feeding and naps and my departure. I got too busy with other stuff and forgot to feed myself, and so my blood sugar made me shaky and irritable. I was running out of time trying to warm up and review my arias, and the later it got, the more nervous I became and the tighter my voice got. All the confidence I had yesterday fell away with each vibrato-less high D or inflexible and imprecise run.

And yet how did it end? With me walking out of the audition room with my head high, feeling like I had not only sung the best I could sing today given the circumstances, but feeling like I was singing my best ever! What is this disconnect?

True, before the audition I had some time to collect myself and eat a Clif bar, as they were running late. I took one difficult aria off my list, freeing me up a little. I put on my kickass red lipstick. I chatted with colleagues and generally relaxed a bit before heading in.

But mostly? In the audition room I did what I just can’t do at home: I performed. I got my head out of the way and just sang and loved it. The high notes were there, and I remembered all my words. It was a great audition.

And it almost always happens this way! Why can’t I remember this in the hour beforehand, when I am freaking out and making myself - and my family - miserable? I never have these feelings for performances, only auditions. Is it something I’ve come to depend on, this dance of fear and doubt and the conquering thereof? Or is it just that I feel that the stakes are higher now, that I have more to gain and lose? I need the work, after all. Baby needs new shoes!

Who knows. I’m grateful that today turned out the way it did, and thankful to have such a supportive husband and smiley baby. We each, the three of us, have obstacles to overcome everyday, and we do our best to help each other out. It could be a hell of a lot worse...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Let’s try this again

Hi, remember me?

Not sure I have any readers left, but I’ve been starting to feel like writing again. Rather than starting yet another new blog to “help me focus” my project, I just decided to just come back to the place where I’ve written successfully off and on for almost seven years now. I’m going to take a page from Tom’s blog book and just post when I have something to say.

Sometimes it will be about singing, sometimes motherhood, sometimes both, and maybe even sometimes neither. I don’t think I’ll do too much back-tracking, although the past year and half has plenty of material from which to draw. But there is plenty more ahead - not the least of which is our upcoming trip with the Metropolitan Opera tour to Japan!

Yes, we’re all going - Matt, Henry, and I - and yes, of course I’m nervous. We’ve had plenty of reassurances that we will be safe and that there is safe food and water aplenty. We have the blessings of our pediatrician and our families, and I am really starting to get excited. But I recently saw the list of company members on our chartered flight, and there are only a handful of guests coming, and only two babies. I was told that a lot of people bring family on this kind of tour, so I was really surprised - and a little concerned. Did we make the right choice?

Then I had to stop and think again. I am not bringing Henry and Matt to Japan so that we can have a working vacation, even though there are elements of that in this trip. They are coming along because I have a job in Japan and Henry is 9-months-old and can’t be separated from me for three weeks! Maybe there are moms who could be away from their babies that long; I know there are. I’m just not one of them. We are still breastfeeding and hope to do so until Henry is at least a year old; I don’t want to jeopardize that. Obviously I could have cancelled; I think the company would have understood my reasons. We would have taken a hit financially, but if I didn’t feel that we would be safe on tour, we would have found a way to work around the money. Once we got the information we needed to feel safe going, it just seemed like the best option for us all to go together.

If it sounds like I’m explaining myself, I kind of am - to myself. Every day I have to make choices about life as a working mother, and none of them are easy. Whether it’s taking my family to Japan or taking an hour at yoga to clear my head and focus my body, every decision carries consequences. Sometimes those consequences are immediately visible, some I won’t know for years to come. But I am learning to trust my instincts and to trust Henry’s resiliency - and Matt’s support! We are making our way as a family and I think we’re all doing a bang-up job.

Besides, other members of the tour may be bringing their families over for shorter periods of time, rather than from Day One like we are. There are many other flights to Tokyo and Nagoya in June! So, just because there aren’t many guests on this flight doesn’t mean they won’t be there. Right??

Breathe in, breath out; day in, day out... This is our life, and I love it.
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