Monday, December 31, 2007

Romeo Still Makes Me Cry

Here I am alone on New Year's Eve... well, not exactly. True, Jim is out overnight at a party that I'd rather not be at... but Alex is here after all... with a fever... and a cold... and what appears to be pinkeye. This leads to opera, I promise...

So he hasn't napped for over a year, but today he took a 90 minute nap, then he asked to go to bed early. He woke up about an hour later and was pretty wide awake, so I sat him on my lap in front of the computer while I played Scrabble on Facebook (it's my other addiction!) and we listened to the Met's live broadcast of Romeo. Alex finally went to bed and I listened to the rest on headphones.

So I've heard this opera dozens of times... yet I still cry at the end.

Tonight Matthew Polenzani was Romeo. I've heard him dozens of times since he's Tamino on that ever-famous English Magic Flute Alex used to watch every day. He was fabulous tonight. What a beautiful voice, like flowing water.

I listed through the curtain call. Most of the cast was gone by then- only 4 or 5 came out for curtain calls. That's odd - I thought they all always did. I guess I was wrong.

I didn't get to hear Nathan Gunn's first aria because the laptop wasn't cooperating... grrr.... Even though I have three different recordings of it, it's just different when you know it's live. It's like watching gymnastics in the Olympics - there's that tension that anything can happen.

My online friend who likes Anna Netrebko flew to NYC from Barcelona to see the performance tonight. I'm sure he had a great time. I'm envious!

If only I had unlimited funds, I'd go to the opera all the time.

Happy New Year to all. It's 11:15 and I'm going to bed.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nathan Gunn and Scotch, perfect together!

Tonight at my brother-in-law's house, Alex announced that he wanted to listen to Nathan Gunn. Ok, so I put on Just Before Sunrise. I then wandered into the study to find Jim and his brother smelling an an open bottle of scotch. My brother-in-law has speakers in there so we could hear the music. I stuck my nose in for a sniff and thought it smelled nice, so I asked to try it. After 1 sip I said, "You know, this is PERFECT music to listen to while drinking scotch." They agreed and then my brother-in-law opened a cabinet and pulled out three other
bottles, and suddenly I was having a scotch-tasting. They were still working on giant glasses of wine so it was just me. At one point I asked for a cigar just to pose with for a picture... and my
brother-in-law stuck a golf magazine in my hand... and all the while we're listening to the CD. Every now and then one of us would exclaim, "Wow, this really IS great music to drink scotch to!" And no I didn't smoke the cigar!

By the way, the title of this post is a spoof of some old New Jersey slogan: New Jersey and You - Perfect Together.


Did you ever do something that you thought was a nice thing, only to have someone get mad? That's what happened to me recently.

When I was a super in Romeo last summer, I took photographs and a few 30 second videos at rehearsals. I posted them to Photobucket and told my contact at the office for the opera company about them. Actually if I recall I was given the ok to take the photos. She posted the links to the opera blog.

I was poking around my computer last week and found a few more that I hadn't previously posted. I uploaded one to photobucket and sent a message to the guy who played Romeo, to let him know they were there and to see if he wanted his own copy.

I got the following message from him yesterday:

When I first found out that there were videos on the web taken at rehearsals of R&J, I was mortified. You obviously don't realize how detrimental those types of things are to a performer. Those of us who sing for a living in major houses are constantly under watch to see where we as young singers are going vocally. The role of Romeo is a VERY big role and is a very difficult sing. That is why I chose to try it out in <>. It's a small company, very little exporsure and it was a safe place to try it out. When a video of a rehearsal surfaces, it gives those that judge and hire us a sneak peek in and they make their judgements based on a rehearsal, a place that is supposed to be "safe" as opposed to an actual performance when the performer can feel comfortable that all risks had already been taken in rehearsals. In rehearsals we can screw up and have a bad singing day and noone cares. No so if they are being recorded and put on the internet without our knowlege.

If an opera company takes any video or pictues during a rehearsal, they have to notify the singers and get their ok. Otherwise, they have a big lawsuit on their hands.

In the future, PLEASE don't record other performers in rehearsal unless they know about it and are ok with it.

No hard feelings, just thought you needed to know.

All my best and have a great Christmas!


Ok no hard feelings but you know what? I cried after reading that. Maybe I'm too sensitive, maybe I'm premenstrual, but I felt terrible. I obviously don't realize how detrimental these things are... Is it possible to write that to someone without it being mean?

Of course I deleted the entire Romeo folder from Photobucket and the few I had put up on Youtube. (They were marked private so they weren't out there for all to see.) I sent him a reply:

Wow, sorry, I had no idea. They're not on youtube or anywhere where anyone can find them... but of course I'll take them off photobucket.

Glad you're feeling better.


and a few minutes later...

Hi again, I deleted all the contents of the folder from my photobucket account, and there's nothing on youtube. I also deleted my comment on your home page that mentions the videos.

Again, I am so sorry - I feel terrible. I had no idea. I'm just mortified that something I did with good intentions could potentially harm your (or anyone's) career... I'm so sorry... and of course I'll never do it again!

Have a nice holiday.


Then I told Husband about it and mentioned that the promotions person had posted the links to those videos in the Official Opera Blog. He said that in his opinion, her doing so was essentially giving me permission to post them. He also pointed out that when "Romeo" signed the contract it probably said that the opera company can use photos and images... But I wasn't about to write a 3rd email to him. Perhaps if he replies... Which I doubt I will.

So much for being an opera fan - I thought I was doing something nice and instead apparently I was potentially harming his career. I mean that sort of for real and sort of sarcastically. I don't believe I have the power to affect his or anyone's career. If he's got the talent, a 30 second video isn't going to change someone's mind about him.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Did I Mention that I Love the Internet?

Turns out one of my online opera friends has access to many many opera recordings... I now have Nathan Gunn as Figaro in San Francisco Opera's Babiere, The Met's Die Zauberflote with Nathan as Papageno and I'm in the process of obtaining one of 3 different dates of the Met's Barbiere with Juan Diego Florez!!! I also have the info to get a video of Billy Budd with Nathan as some other, smaller part, but I don't think I like the opera enough to take the time to download it.

Gracias a mi amigo que tiene la llave a todas las grabaciones!

Debo escribir en espanol de vez un cuando. Por que no? Si la gente que leen mi blog no entienden, no me importa. Yo se que hay mucha gente en el mundo que si, entienden espanol.
Pero como puedo poner acentos y tildes? No se parece en el keyboard y no se como ponerlos. Pero esto no tiene nada que ver con opera, por eso...

Maintenent, en francais. No... je ne raconte rien... il y a boucoup d'ans... and I'm sure I'm spelling it all wrong...

Ma, italiano? Io parlo? No, non parlo italiano. Mais je desire estudiarla. Ha ha una mezcla.

Ok all this talk of opera is keeping me up waaaay past my bedtime. So what else is new?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Advice Worked!

So after cancellations for various reasons, I had my first voice lesson today since December 1st. I kept that advice mind that Nathan Gunn talked about in his podcast, the advice from one of his teachers to "just sing" and not worry about how you sound or what anyone thinks... so I kept that in mind today and it really made a difference! It helped me to relax and I was able to get all the way to a high C during warm ups and you know what? I didn't sound bad! Now that I know I can do it, my next step is to be able to hit it for longer than just a second at the top of a vocal exercise.

On an unrelated note, my "opera source" hooked me up with recordings of Barbiere in San Francisco with Nathan as Figaro, and Die Zauberflote at the Met with him as Papageno. Hooray for the internet!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Right. Am I 14 or 40?

I seriously have a crush on an opera singer. What the heck?

Thank goodness for YouTube. It's like MTV On Demand!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Kindness of More Strangers

I love the internet.

A fan of Anna Netrebko read my review of her fabulous performance last Wednesday and commented on my blog. We began emailing back and forth. He has a subscription to Sirius Radio and has recordings of the 12/12 and 12/15 broadcasts. He uploaded them to a file sharing site and explained how to download them. So I know have the full operas from both days! Denise sure was surprised when I handed her a copy on CD the other day. I've offered to send him my copy of Opera News with Anna on the cover but haven't heard back.

I love the internet.

In the comments section of a Juan Diego Florez video on YouTube people were writing that they were going to see him in Fille Du Regiment at the Met. I chimed in and it turns out I'm going the same day as someone else who posted. We began corresponding and it turns out we have a LOT in common - it's sort of scary. First off, not only are we going to the same performance, we're sitting 10 seats away from each other in the same row. We both used to teach ESL and now do something else. She taught a TOEFL prep course and I work at ETS writing, reviewing and editing portions of the TOEFL. We have the same favorite authors, books and movies. She's a little younger than me. It's like we fit some demographic for the young opera fan.

I corresponded a little with another YouTuber after reading her comments for a Nathan Gunn video. I've also corresponded a little bit with other Juan Diego Florez fans.

The internet has made the world smaller. I love it. Husband and I each just got an iPhone, which includes a cell phone, internet access, weather, email, YouTube, iTunes, traffic reports, maps, an iPod and many other features. My son will grow up in a completely different world than I did. It's like the people who grew up before TV... we can't imagine life without it, even when we don't have one in the house. He won't be able to imagine life without the internet.

One more tidbit. I have a tracker on my Myspace page. On Dec 12, the day I went to the Met, someone at the Metropolitan Opera viewed my Myspace page:
Location Access Organization

New York, US
12/12 10:22:26 AM
Metropolitan Opera Private Private

At first I didn't see that it was AM because it was on the next line, and I thought, holy ***! who at the Met looked at my MySpace page during INTERMISSION????? Then I saw it was the morning... so someone was probably at NG's page and clicked onto mine. Oh well, there goes that random thought that I won't even put here. Ok, so I'll concede... he probably didn't actually make eye contact with me during the curtain call, although he did scan the balcony.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Romeo AGAIN!

Off to the movies today to see the encore of yesterday's live HD transmission from the Met! Listened to most of it at Mark and Kara's house yesterday.

Quick story - Kara hired Ella's Music Together teacher to do a sample class during the party yesterday. It was nothing compared to Alex's class at Westminster Conservatory. Alex left after 10 minutes and went upstairs. I followed and was listening to the broadcast while Jim took Alex to the bathroom... then he told Jim that he doesn't want to go back downstairs, he wants to stay upstairs and listen to the opera. That's my boy!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ok, where was I? Men in tights... more

So let's talk about the costumes. The Capulets were all in red, the Montagues in some version of blue. Romeo, as I mentioned before, was in these skin-tight aqua pants with matching boots. Mercutio was in turquoise tights with some kind of skirty jacket thing. Juliet wore beautiful gowns of course.

More about Nathan's performance... if I didn't already write this before... He was totally into it, like he BECAME a teenager out for a rumble. With his flouncy shirt and his hair flopping in his face... well the word rakish comes to mind. The fight scene was awesome. Interestingly, all the other men came out for that scene with their shirts buttoned up, but his was halfway open and opened even more during the scene. Then after Mercutio was stabbed, it crossed my mind that I was in the same room as Nathan Gunn, and he was laying sweaty on the floor with his shirt half off. It was a very big room... but lest I digress into more behavior more fitting for a 16 year old than a 40 year old...

One more point before I go to bed.

During some of the interludes they projected an image onto the curtain with some Latin words on it. Well, Denise majored in Latin at Princeton (wow) and Stan has studied it. With his binoculars he was able to read it. The top part was something used as filler for when they want to use up space - sort of a nonsense phrase. The part around the bottom said something silly, which of course I don't recall right now because they were talking about it in the limo ride home and I was concentrating on not getting car sick (I failed). But it was obviously some sort of inside joke by whoever made the image. I'll find out what it said and will post it eventually.

Ok now off to bed. More to come in dribs and drabs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More on those Men in Tights...

Here we are at Part 2 of ? of my ramblings about last night.

Let's talk about the stage.

Did I mention the celestial theme? Ok so the stage had this raised circular dais and THAT had a circular inset that rotated and ramped in any direction. It was cool b/c at some points it would slowly rotate, or else it would ramp up, and they changed it for different scenes. Ok so on this they'd sometimes project a circular map of the stars, I'm sure it has a name, and it would slowly rotate. They also had that against the back wall at some points. Above the stage they had an orrery, which is a model that shows the planets in the solar system in their relative positions as they move. I couldn't really see it except when part of it dipped below the curtain swag thing, but you could see the shadows on the stage as the planets moved. The shadows included not just the planets but the bars attaching them to the device. They also had clockworks, I think near the end, in one corner, also in a circular piece.

Agh must go to bed... will continue... tomorrow.

Enchanted Evening, Men in Tights

*Sigh.* What a fabulous time I had yesterday! Where to begin, where to begin... I know anyone who's reading (and at least one person does b/c he or she posted a comment asking how it was) will want to know about the opera itself, but patience, reader(s), patience.

I took the train from Hamilton at 3:11. Denise, Stan and Kevin got on at New Brunswick at about 3:30 and I wandered through the cars looking for them. Not too fond of going in between the cars while the train is moving! But I found them and it was fun to all sit together for the ride. At Penn Station, Kevin and I decided to walk while Denise and Stan were going to take a cab. It was cold but I'm so glad I walked! I experienced sensory overload within 10 minutes. So many people, so many lights, constant noise, it was amazing! It'd been a long time since I'd been to NYC but it doesn't seem to have changed much!

When we got to Lincoln Center we found Denise et al in the Met Lobby. They got there about 10 minutes before we did. We went to the shop and fiddled about until dinner.

Dinner was at the Grand Tier, the restaurant at the Met. Very fu-fu (or is that, fru-fru?) and very yummy. And, of course, very expensive, but well worth it. I had the duck breast with some kind of fancy delicious sauce, parsnip gratin, huckleberrys and mashed butternut squash. Denise and I shared a dessert of a mixed cookie plate - simply divine.

Our seats were in the balcony and I had to do a mad dash up two flights of stairs after using the bathroom on the grand tier level, where the 5 minute warning bell went off while I was still on line! But I made it...

Ok, ok, on to the opera itself!

It. Was. Fabulous.

The music, the costumes, the stage, oh and did I mention the singing?

Anna Netrebko was absolutely stunning. When she first began to sing it brought tears to my eyes and I realized what it must have been like for my grandfather back in Kiev over 100 years ago when he snuck into the opera house there. She was perfect. At times I thought I was listening to a recording, then I had to remind myself that no, she's right there, doing this right now, live. She was the perfect Juliette, one I believe will be used as an example for anyone else who plays the role. Roberto Alagna was Romeo. I thought he'd be too old but he must be a good actor - he convinced me that he was a teenager in love! They were great together.

Nathan Gunn was great, as usual, although sometimes a bit too quiet. In my opinion the audience did not cheer enough after Mercutio's aria, but I think they were saving all their energies for Alagna and Netrebko. The fight scene was awesome! I couldn't decide if I should use the binoculars or watch the whole thing. I went with the binocs and had a great view of all the perfectly choreographed moves. I was hoping for fake blood but I guess that would be too messy.

After the intermission, which I spent on line for the ladies room, the scene opened to the famous floating bed. There was much more of Alagna than I ever wanted to see, and believe me I had already seen enough with those sea-green skin-tight disco pants he wore - they left nothing to the imagination, and I didn't want to imagine in the first place... but here we are in the bedroom, they're crawling all over each other half-dressed on this elevated bed and singing at the same time! It was amazing. It felt vaguely peeping-tomish to use the binoculars!

I still need to talk about the stage, the costumes, the lighting, the rest of the opera, the curtain call... all in due time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Romeo Tomorrow!

Well it seemed like it would never get here, and now, tomorrow is Romeo at the Met. I have my outfit figured out (except for the earrings, go figure) and the travel and dinner arrangements are made. The ticket is in my wallet and my purse is planned and put together with what I'll need. So now, ironically, given the name of my blog, I'm wondering how I'm going to manage to stay awake! I'm too tired to be excited. Hopefully tomorrow the opposite will be true.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Less than a week...

...until Romeo at the Met! I will, of course, post my impressions of the evening, no doubt starting with the train ride into the city! We have reservations at the swank restaurant at the Met, The Grand Tier, at 6, and the opera starts at 8. Denise hired a limo to take us all directly to our homes afterwards. It's going to be an expensive night but well worth it! There are 6 or 7 of us total. I only know 2 of them so it should be interesting!

Voice lessons are going along swimmingly. I'm working on mastering the ornamentation in Star Vicino. I can actually listen to the recordings of the lessons without cringing! Still waiting for the vestiges of this sore throat to go away before I make another embarrassing web cam recording to post here. Just listened to the one I put in my previous post... Argh how screechy. But I'm leaving it there because as far as I know, pretty much no one reads this but me, and if anyone does see it, well, who cares?

I was listening to the podcasts on Nathan Gunn's website the other day. It's him talking about Just Before Sunrise and also about his own history with music. He mentioned something that one of his teachers told him - you just gotta let go and sing and not worry about what anyone else is thinking. I do that with so many other aspects of my life, so I'm going to try to apply that to singing. I already do that when I sing alone in the car... don't we all?