Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yeah, Whatever. Butter.

Yeah, ok. So I posted the video from the Kennedy Center thing. I'm not into this musical theater hokeyness, but his voice is like butter. Or chocolate. Butter and chocolate melting together? Anyway, I'm not going to embed it so click on the link if you want to see it.
YouTube
MySpace

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Hours I'll Never Get Back

Just wasted two hours watching the Kennedy Center Awards to see approximately 2 minutes, possibly less, of the Gunnster singing for Barbara Streisand. Not to say that the people getting the awards didn't deserve them, but the program itself was your typical prime-time network event - just not my cup-o-tea. I will say that those Broadway singers have HUGE mouths, Beyonce was wearing HUGE earrings and Mr. Gunn is in HUGE need of a haircut. At least he was clean-shaven.

I have a friend (hopefully? Not so sure...) burning a DVD of it for me. If I can catch him before he does it I'll get him to do just the last 5 minutes so I can get the relevant stuff online for our viewing pleasure (?). The duet was very nice and he sounded great, especially with the microphone. I actually thought he sounded a little nervous at first, for like the first 5 seconds, but who knows. I was so exhausted by then after suffering through 117 minutes of the previous "we love you, honoree" business that my judgement was a bit skewed. However, the whole proceeding reminded me why I like opera.

On an unrelated note, one of my online friends, someone I "met" because I liked his MySpace profile picture, and where did I find it? On Mr. Gunn's friend list there - it was a squirrel with a superman costume on under his fur - I wrote him a note that I liked the picture and we instantly clicked. He lives in CA but was in NY this week on a musical project. We wanted to get together but he was too busy- he called me today. Husband answered the phone of course. "Yeah Susan it's one of your freaky MySpace friends..." Actually, he didn't say that. He knows who the friend is by name and was glad that it wasn't a telemarketer. It was fun to chat in person and be goofy in real time instead of via email. And we never would have known each other if it weren't for Mr. Gunn's Myspace page. Blah, blah, blah. Does make you wonder how many potential friends are out there who you'll never meet because your paths never cross. Ok, signing off before my philosophical waxing smears the computer screen.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's Not What You Think

Before I really begin this post I want to say that I'm not really as obsessed as my blog would lead you to believe. Seriously. It's more like... a habit. I'm very loyal. Like a dog. Woof.

Ok so first off I just want to remind everyone that the Gunnster will be on TV tomorrow night in the Kennedy Center Honors on CBS here in the States. For those of you who are unable to view it, no doubt it'll show up on YouTube and/or MySpace soon after, and possibly even here on the blog, providing all my connections are able to connect, so to speak.

The other fun news is, The Gunnster (yes, him again, but no, I'm not obsessed) is doing a FREE, yes you saw it here, FREE recital lecture thingee at Gaucher College in Baltimore, Maryland on March 1st. That's about a 3 hour drive from here. I got myself a pair of tickets and now just have to decide... to drive or not to drive? Of course the weather might make that decision for me.

So... anyone in the Phila/NJ/NYC area want to join me on a little opera adventure road trip to Maryland to see Nathan Gunn for FREE? Add a comment with your email - I won't approve it but I'll reply via email.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

One of the Team

I know that I can't be the only weirdo out there in this huge huge world. Today I came across this. Check out who they have carrying towels and first-aid stuff. Perfect, no?

Rugby and opera. Who knew?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why Why Why

Today's Saturday Afternoon Broadcast from the Met was the English family version of Mozart's Magic Flute. Ahh what memories. Only, the cast was of course totally different from the version I've seen about 500 times. And the dude who sang Papageno... What were they thinking? English is not his first language, which doesn't really matter, except that his diction was terrible. And his delivery.... Booooorrrriiiiinnnngggg!!!!!! Flat. No sense of timing, no expression in the voice, no, I don't know. Something was missing. Certainly there are plenty of baritones out there who can excel at Papageno. Our Favorite Baritone can't possibly be the only one. Why did the Met pick this guy? I don't know his name and I'm too lazy to look it up.

The Pamina was good, but they cut a huge chunk out of the only aria of hers they left in the production! They just chopped out the whole, "looook Tamino, I am weeping, but you turn and walk away...." part. The entire thing was like 2 minutes long. I think Pamina was Nicole Cabell, who was in Pearl Fishers in Chicago this season with those other guys I've been known to mention here on the blog. It's so not fair to take away most of Pamina's singing.

Tamino, too... don't know who it was but I wasn't thrilled. Perhaps he sounded better live. I could swear he was flat at one point.

Seriously, the only parts that sounded better than the version I know were the ones with the three spirit boys. The audience probably thought so too, since the boys got the loudest applause after each appearance.

I didn't catch Queen of the Night. Wish I did but we were out running errands and were in and out of the car.

So all in all I was not pleased with the performance for a variety of reasons.

Better luck with the casting next time, Met Opera!

*by the way, the title of this post is a also link to a video.

Friday, December 26, 2008

More Tongue

What I can I say, I like catching 'em with their tongues out:





Diego loves to settle down on Husband's back:




Next week will feature Violacat. I'll try to get her with her tongue out, just for consistency.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Traditions

Last year on Christmas Eve Alex asked to hear Just Before Sunrise. My brother-in-law broke out the scotch and we had a tasting. Who knew that JBS was perfect background music for scotch?

This year we're not seeing my BIL until tomorrow, so we had to do our own Nathan Gunn tasting at home. Wait that didn't come out right... ahem... what I meant was, well, you know what I mean. Instead of scotch this year, we had bourbon. It seems so hard core! Bourbon! Like my voice should suddenly go all scratchy or something.



So we started with select scenes from Camelot:



And moved on to Romeo:

Nathan Gunn as Mercutio in Romeo et Juliette: Mab


and then Pearl Fishers:
(and what's with the the Lyric taking the video down and just leaving us with the slide show???)



And finally Magic Flute:



I think I like Christmas Eve. And I just want to add that I have the best husband in the world! He sits and watches all these NG videos with me. I mean, come on. How many husbands would do that? He's a Good Man.

Happy Holidays Etc

Today I got the DVD of my company chorus. Remember, I said that it was casual... I said that some people sang sort of monotone... Here's a clip. The microphone is not yet in front of me but you can hear me. I'm the one who didn't get the memo about wearing a red shirt but luckily opted for green.

video

Yeah. Without insulting my very friendly coworkers, I must say that I'd like to move up to something a little more professional sounding. But it was fun nonetheless.

I'm sad that the wild, "Move down! Just push her over and move to the mic!" pantomime wasn't caught on camera, but I do have before and after shots:





I'll no doubt be posting again later, like, after we light the menorah. Meanwhile, I urge everyone to do a search here on the blog for "caption contest" and then submit one for each entry that comes up.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Line "Em Up

Got my ticket for Die Fledermaus today. Lined up all my tickets, just for fun, and also to give myself a panic attack at the amount of money I've spent on these unseen performances. Click on the photo to enlarge. Paranoid freak that I am, I blurred out the bar codes and ticket numbers with iPhoto.




So here's the lineup:

Fri, Feb 13- Die Fledermaus - Princeton, NJ
Wed, Mar 11 - La Sonnambula, NYC
Thurs, Mar 12 - Firebrand of Florence - NYC
Thurs, April 2 - Marriage of Figaro - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Fri, June 12 - Rape of Lucretia - Philadelphia, PA

Summer - Hopefully I'll be a super in one of the three productions my local opera company does over the summer, then I'll hit the dress rehearsals for the others.

Wow. What am I going to wear to all these? Hmm.

So. Anyone wanna buy a pair of earrings? $20 plus shipping. I'll post pictures.

The Melting Explosion

Despite appearances, I have not forgotten the music. Was listening to Arias for Rubini today. Ahhhh that voice. I'd still do anything Juan Diego Florez asked, if he'd sing his request. And I've been so focused on seeing the Gunnster in Firebrand of Florence in March that I have to keep reminding myself that I'm seeing Juan Diego and Natalie Dessay the day before. My brain is going to melt. Or explode. Or possibly both. Order is irrelevant. Explode, then melt. Melt, then explode. Either way. Then there's my whole "gotta get backstage" attitude. Not for the Met - but somehow, some way... I am not going to see Nathan Gunn perform without an in-person hello. Nope. And I'd really rather do it inside than out. And as you can guess, I'm working on that.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Something More -The Letter Y

When I wrote about last week's voice lesson, I knew there was something else about it that I wanted to mention, but for the life of me I couldn't remember. I was listening to the recording in the car this morning and was reminded, but that was this morning, so now, of course, I don't remember. But I think it had something to do with physics, and sound waves, and a word that sounded like one word and rhymed with another. Oh and something about how singing different vowels for the same notes requires a different technique, all related of course to that physics word that sounds like one word and rhymes with another. I do remember my teacher saying also that some of it depends upon whether or not the day of the week that you sing a particular song ends with the letter y. So if there's a reason this particular post about my lesson sounds so, well, sounds the way it sounds, it's probably because I'm writing it on a day that ends with the letter y.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Catchy-Uppy

Catch-up time.

Thursday - Voice lesson. Worked on the low stuff again, including Shall I Come, and also some great vocal exercises to help smooth out the cracks. Cracks-be-gone! We figured out that for the same notes, I crack on certain vowels only. I'm fine with the eeeee as in "be," but tend to crack on the more open sounds like "long," so we came up with some exercises for that. Chanted out the rhythm and started the melody for the Tipsy Waltz. And now, no lesson for three weeks!!!! My poor brain.

Ok. Fun stuff time, also known as Other People's Blogs.

I know in the past I have made fun of Mr. Gunn for his spelling and grammar. That's ok, we none of us lurve (yes, lurve) our favorite opera singers for their writing skills. But the past week or so his journal entries have vastly improved, pretty much when he started writing about singing at the Kennedy Center Honors shindig. It's pretty interesting because he tells about all the pomp and security surrounding any event that includes the president. I, of course, want more details about the food and the clothes, because I'm shallow like that. I have been all over the internet trying to find any of the photos he says they had to keep posing for, but the press have stuck to the uber-famous in their internet photo slide-shows.

Next on the agenda, John Osborn has launched a cool new website. Check it out - I especially like the photo pages. The pics are nice and the text is really entertaining - sort of a mini-journal. I think he should jump on the bandwagon and start blogging about his Adventures in Opera Land.

Cat pic Friday: You can see Diego roll over in the Rover Roll Over video I posted on Friday night. I have decided that that brief appearance counts for cat-pic Friday.

Husband today: Oh great, now I've got opera on the brain, thanks to you, as he whistled some Papageno bit.

Pause.

Me: Well, that's not a BAD thing, is it?

It's all part of my devious plan, muwaaa haa haa!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rover Roll Over!!!!

The most recent installment in our Beethoven's Wig video project:



Go, rate, comment, enjoy!

Not Forgotten

I haven't forgotten all my dear readers! All 25 of you. I have a voice lesson to write about, cat pics to post and other stuff to ramble on about. But for now I'm off to a par-tay like the wild party girl I am. Tomorrow I'll be out all day as well... so I may not post until Sunday, unless this party tonight wraps up early. Keep checking back!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Changing My Mind

When I started voice I was all about opera. I wanted to sing in Italian, in French, in German. Oh yeah and English too. And I still want to sing as much opera as I can handle. But then I found that old song and maybe it's the nostalgia about the song itself, but I really like it. Then Divavixxen posted a comment about having the right voice for that type of music. It made me realize that maybe I have the "right voice" because I really like to sing it. Not that I don't like to sing opera. This is hard to explain. I just feel comfortable singing that minor-key ye-olde-english stuff. There are a few in my book so after we go over the Tipsy Waltz (which I was supposed to IPA and I never did and probably won't because it doesn't seem to help me and does manage to frustrate the hell out of me) I'll look at the songs in the front of the book to see if anything stands out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Grammar Rant No. 3.14

Today's rant: Homonym trouble.

What is UP with opera singers and their homonym trouble? If English is their second language, then fine, it's understandable. Otherwise, there must be something wrong with the educational system in this country.

Ok. I know we love them for their amazing talent for singing and acting the most beautiful music in the world. But still...

Here we go with grammar lesson number pi.

there/their/they're

there: pronoun for location. The stage is over there.
their: third person possessive pronoun. The men left their codpieces in the dressing room.
they're: contraction of 'they are.' They're on their way to the cast party.
Combo: They're shocked that their costumes were left over there.

your/you're

your: 2nd and 3rd person possessive. Is this your libretto? Your makeup is smeared.
you're: contraction of 'you are.' You're only in the chorus so stop singing along with the principals.
Combo: You're not going to believe this but your mother stopped by with your lunchbox.

its/it's

its: third person singular possessive. The opera singer set the chair on its side.
it's: contraction of 'it is.' It's difficult for opera singers to spell correctly.
The confusion is that for regular noun possessives we add 'apostrophe-s,' so people (such as opera singers) insert it in the third person possessive 'its' where, in truth, it doesn't belong.

And my new favorite homonym error, which I saw for the first time in my life today:

where/wear/ware

where: location. Where is the party tonight?
wear: Tonight's event is evening wear only. Did you bring your gown?
ware: something that is for sale, an article of merchandise, often used in the plural: The artist will be selling his wares at the craft show.

Learn it. Love it. Use it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reports on the Boys

I feel like it's been a while since I reported on what Our Favorite Opera Singers are up to.

John Osborn
, as we know, just put out those great CDs. He's currently singing I Puritani in Amsterdam. Can only imagine the number of frequent flier miles the man has.

Christian Van Horn
, the Tall Man with the Deep Voice, is currently in Munich getting ready to do Boheme. His blog is pretty interesting as he recounts the unusual rehearsal process. Apparently the theater does the same version of the opera every time, so a singer who has done it before doesn't need to show up for rehearsals until the very last minute. CVH is one of the newbies so he has been there all alone for private rehearsals, imagining his colleagues are there as he does his thing.

Nathan Gunn... I'm sorry what? I got distracted. Oh that's right... I, um, since he's not my friend on facebook I don't know! (I learn all I need to know from status updates, very handy, that.) He's not even ON facebook. (I hope my computer doesn't explode from that link...) And I thought EVERYONE was on facebook! Anyway, he just did a recital in New Hampshire followed by a master class the next day. Of course I know people who went because I'm like that. And of course it was, in their estimation, gloriously wonderful. My next Gunnster performance is in March, unless airfare to Ohio suddenly drops to $75 round trip between now and Valentines Day. The price of fuel is going down but I don't think it'll go down quite that far.

Before my March Gunn Encounter (because I will do my best to say hello in person, because I'm like that) I will be seeing Juan Diego and Natalie at the Met! And by before, I mean, the day before. I wonder if there's a prop bed somewhere in the Met, or anywhere in Lincoln Center for that matter, where I can spend the night? Like how the kids in that book slept in the beds at the museum? Jeez both Juan Diego and Nathan are probably sleeping in the city that night. Maybe I can crash on the couch in one of their apartments or hotel rooms. I don't take up much space, I don't snore and I promise I wouldn't blog about it! Just push two chairs together for me and I'm good to go. Yeah, I didn't think so.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Big Race

Had about 5 minutes to myself this evening so I quick ran and made this video.

As usual, Husband and child entered the house when there were about 10 seconds to go.

I know it's riddled with mistakes. I am a Work in Progress and I'm sharing with you. All I hear are mistakes.

I call this post "The Big Race" because the piano accompaniment is so fast that I feel like I'm running a race.

video

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mixing it Up

A few posts back I mentioned the sheet music I found from about a hundred years ago. Ok more like 17 years ago... anyway, go read that post if you haven't yet, and then listen to this.

video

It's low for me. Much of it is in that wishy-washy region of notes where my voice breaks. I crack in a few places, like "fain-ed," "thief" and "lover" and somewhere near the end when Husband and Alex started up the stairs (couldn't they have waited like 10 more seconds?!!) and probably at some other parts too. I tried to pull back a bit after cracking on "fained," can you tell? But despite all that I think I sound ok. I mean, I'm truly amazed at the difference between before and after I started studying voice. Now I'm working on erasing the obvious break in my voice. I can feel it and I can hear it at some parts. Any tips? For any of it? (but be nice!!!)

The Noive

My voice teacher was SICK and had the nerve to cancel my lesson rather then haul her sick self 45 minutes to sneeze in my general direction. Haaaaarrumph. Good thing, too, because I was supposed to do the IPA for the Tipsy Waltz and I didn't. I did manage to write it out and then translate it, and I left a line free for the IPA, so at least I did something. But not the part she told me to do, probably because I've been busy with this. And would you believe I posted this entry there first by mistake? Oops.

The challenge of today's Cat Pic Friday is to post pictures I haven't yet posted. Although I just went through all the Cat Pic Friday posts and did see a few duplicates. Oops again.

Today it's all about Viola.


How does she DO that?


Cat Camouflage

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Crack-Tastic Day

Today we had another choral concert at work. For some reason I just wasn't finding my voice. I couldn't find the high notes and I was cracking on those in-between notes.

When we all filed in I ended up a little past the mic. "Good," I thought, "Just as well." The women on either side of me have very nice voices, so I figured it didn't matter. But then the woman who directs us kept motioning me to move over to be in front of the mic. When I say motioning I mean urging me with her hands and mouthing to me to move. Where? We were packed together and the woman next to me who was in front of the mic is bigger than I am - it's not like I could nudge her down! Plus she has a really nice voice! But the director woman kept pantomiming and mouthing so finally I just pantomimed that she should move the mic over. That felt weird because it's not like I wanted it there, but I really wanted her to stop playing charades. Then the woman on the other side of me asked me what that was all about, and I whispered that they wanted me in front of the mic and she was like, "Well." This woman has a little solo part in Silent Night so I backed up to clear the mic for her but she didn't move. When I told her later she said that she doesn't need a mic for the high notes, just the low ones. Ha! I'd rather NOT be amplified for the low ones, what with my voice taking on a life of its own and cracking when the notes entered That Funky Range. I held back the energy the way I practiced in my lesson and it seemed to help. But of course that mic was plonked down in front of me just before one of the crackiest songs in the set. I was ok, probably better than I think, but I bet the recording would have been fine where the mic originally was. Hmm I wonder if it picked up the monotone "alto" voice of the person behind me? Not that it matters - this is a really nice group, anyone can join and it's a lot of fun. They videotaped it too so hopefully I can get my paws on a copy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cat Pic Friday, One Day Late, With Guest Cats

Yeah, I know, Cat Pic Friday was yesterday. Better late than never.

We have some Guest Cats today, courtesy of Hey Liz. Thanks Liz! Umm... can you please leave a comment with their names???







And now, here's Digeo, trying to hide from his Adoring Public.




His true fans will always know it's him, much to his annoyance.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Beethoven's Wig - Midnight Snack

Here's what we did today. Are we clever or what?

Keeping it Low and Light

I noticed during the holiday chorus concert thingee that many of the songs were low for me and I had to concentrate to keep them in head voice/mixed voice. Not a big deal.

Last week I came across a piece of music called, "Shall I Come Sweet Love to Thee." This just proves that I never throw anything away. This music was from a book of medieval songs for guitar. I bought it for a boyfriend in the early 90s, pre-Husband obviously. This boyfriend had a roommate who was into these live action role playing things - people from all walks of life would go camping for a weekend and pretend, all weekend, that they were residents of a medieval village. They'd have jousts and so on, there were points, there was game money... it was very complicated and involved. So my boyfriend and I went as non-playing characters (NPCs for those in the know) to be roaming minstrel types for a day. He played and I sang, and that was one of the songs.

So yesterday I brought the music to my voice lesson. It's low! I'm sure that I sang it all in throaty chest voice at the event all those years ago, the same sounds that I heard the chorus members singing around me yesterday for some of the lower-pitched songs.

We went over the melody and I sang it through a few times. It was so refreshing to do something new yet familiar, where I didn't need to also concentrate on pronouncing French like I have to do with Apres un Reve. It was fun, and I think I sound ok - certainly better than I did back then at the campsite. There was one part that I consistently cracked on - the same note in the same pattern in different lines. So we worked on keeping it in mixed voice and not drop down over that shelf, as I think of it. If I lighten up on the breath I can do it. Perhaps I'll make a recording if I get 10 minutes alone over the weekend.

Cat pics: Later.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Summer in Winter

Flashback to the summer! I was in this! Not this scene of course. But this is the very stage upon which I crawled on my hands and knees in front of a paying audience. But seriously, this is why it's so awesome to be a super. You are surrounded by talent! And if you get to crawl on your hands and knees onstage it's an added bonus. The camerawork is a little dizzying at first but it settles down until the end, when it looks like they dropped it.

The In-Between Times

I'm in between the chorus performance at work and my voice lesson. Yes, here I was yesterday thinking there was nothing to write about because I forgot all about today's performance.

It was fun. A bunch of us were in a conference room waiting for someone to come with a keyboard, I think, to warm up. I couldn't just sit there so I sort of started things going - had everyone stand up and stretch, showed some breathing techniques and gave suggestions on how not to shrug the shoulders up, as some people were doing. Then the keyboard came (I'm not sure but I think it was a toy) and we did some vocal warm-ups.

The performance was fun. I learned that I am not the only one who didn't know all the words, and in fact, I knew them a lot better than most of the people standing around me!

One thing I noticed - actually I couldn't NOT notice this - was that I was getting lightheaded. It's like all that deep belly breathing was similar to hyperventilating. What's up with that? In between songs, or when I didn't have to sing, I concentrated on normal breathing so I wouldn't pass out. I never felt faint, but the whirly-twilry head feeling was there. And of course, while I was singing and feeling this, I was wording a blog entry about it in another part of my brain. Multi-tasking! I'll ask my voice teacher about it tonight.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Not such a lull...

All that talk of inappropriate talk and then I come across this. Well someone pointed it out (thanks, facebook) but I won't say who. Um, might not want to watch this one at work, in front of the kids or, well, you get the idea. Pretty funny, don't ya think?

Lull.

Sure, there are things I could write about, but they'd bore you all to tears. I think that by now everyone gets it that people in Champaign/Urbana are googling the whole people mag sexy man guy and getting here. Um... I've posted about getting tickets.... Um... that same dude is singing at the Kennedy Center Honors this weekend and it'll be on television at the end of the month. I'll probably bat my eyelashes at my coworker who can burn dvds from his TIVO and will get the relevant portions up on YouTube and/or MySpace in early January. Really I just do it for the free drinks. Wait a sec - he's not one of the drink-buyers! Damn, everyone knows I put all the videos up in an effort to "earn" enough drinks to become a girl-drink drunk! <--- watch that, it's funny. Someone let him know, ok? Hahaha I'm just kidding. Sort of. It's just that ever since I had that pomegranate martini with the candied lime in Chicago I can't stop thinking about girltinis. Wow that sounds so inappropriate! I love it! Hey at least I entertain myself. Wait that sounds inappropriate too! Wow. I better stop before I get myself into even more imaginary trouble than I can handle. OH NO! Even THAT sounds inappropriate!! Help me!

Ok ok... new topic.

Didn't have a voice lesson last week due to Thanksgiving... Oh I know, that reminds me.

Elizabeth Caballero
has been putting up many more videos at YouTube. So click on that YouTube link to check them out, ok?

Um... what else... on Facebook there's a silly status game thing going on where you pick up the nearest book, open to a certain page and count a certain number of sentences in, then post that as your status. My nearest book was "Bringing Opera to Life," by Boris Goldovsky, published in 1968. It's next to the computer because I was checking to see if it was worth selling on half.com. So my status sentence is:

Whenever a performer is singing while in direct rapport with his partners, he must move to upstage (right or left) of them.

That's it for now. Voice lesson tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Filling My Dance Card

Just got me a ticket for Rape of Lucretia in Philadelphia.

Ready??

Row D, center. Yes, that's 4th row.

Oh and I'm not going alone. No, Husband isn't accompanying me. No no no. Instead I am going with a friend who is accustomed to backstage visits after seeing the Gunnster, as evidenced by the photos in that link. We're gonna have a blast!

Hmm... I wonder if we'll go backstage.

I hope they don't spit when they sing. Better bring a hankie, just in case. Plenty of time to plan since the opera's not until June. June!!! Six months from now. Wow.

My opera dance card is filling up for 2009.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trips and Travels - More Rumors and My Favorite Travel Destination!

I've been to Spain three times. It's a wonderful, wonderful place. I'd love to go back, although logistics would be hard as I don't think I'd want to take Alex along. See my profile picture over there? ---> That's from one of my trips to Spain - it was taken in Asturias, on the north coast. That's the Atlantic Ocean behind me, to the north. So why do I mention Spain all of a sudden? Well... there are opera houses there... and there are rumors... this one a copy-and-paste of a copy-and-paste...

"Next season, Nathan will sing in Barcelona and Madrid; he said he has always wanted to sing in Spain."

I have just scoured the internet but cannot find any info about next season for Teatro Real in Madrid or El Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Lucky me I have blog-friends from both places who read I'd Rather Be Sleeping... so I call out to P. of the Opera and Carlos of the Anna-Netrebko blog ... Any info on the 2009-2010 season? Querais acompanarme al teatro el ano que viene? And Parsi, you can meet us there!!! A blogger convention in Madrid! What do you all say?


Rumor Confirmed

We've all heard Anna, Diana, Natalie, Renee, Cecilia, and so on. Well there are tons of other very talented singers out there who aren't household names. Trying to come up with some sort of "opera house" pun here and failing...

Anyway, yesterday's rumor now has facts associated with it. Here is some more info. My sources tell me that Lynette Tapia will be singing the National Anthem at this event. I can't find this on the CSpan web site, however my source has advised that it will be on C-Span at 10:30am Eastern Time.

I'll set my DVR, however, I have no way of moving anything from the DVR to a DVD or computer so I won't be getting it onto YouTube.

*I have not read the articles on the links so I cannot say if I agree with the political nature of the event. On the surface it appears to be a good event about the support of global health and the fight against AIDS, however, if it's all rah-rah republicans than it's not for me. However, I consider singing to be non-partisan, and singing for any President is a great honor. Of course I can't tell you how strongly I wish this were an inauguration event for Obama rather than something honoring a man who I never voted for and who, in my opinion, LOST that election 8 years ago. So I'll record it just to hear the music.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's Presidential

Rumor time.

Rumor has it that Lynette Tapia, the wonderful soprano featured in many of my past few posts, has been chosen to sing at some sort of as-yet-to-be-named Presidential Event this coming week. If I get more details, you know I'll post them. Unless, you know, they're private.

Blog Tracker Strikes Again

Won't say where or when, but here's a recent hit on the tracker:


Referring URL http://www.google.co... Gunn and his family

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Search Words nathan gunn and his family


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Wow I'm obnoxious sometimes. Or insane. Both I guess. Hey at least they didn't send me a bizarre message asking for strange personal details. Because... umm... I don't know... and if I did... I'm not telling.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Is it Still Friday?

I was home alone all day today and spent most of the day recording myself singing. What better way to fill yourself with self-disgust and embarrassment than to watch video after video of yourself singing flat, singing sharp, cracking for no reason and doing all sorts of other embarrassing things. Luckily for all of us it's Cat Pic Friday.


Diego, King of All He Surveys




Viola Approaches the Table



Cats read Opera News too, especially when Nathan Gunn is on the cover

.

Take 2

Remember this? Here's a more recent version. As in, 20 minutes ago...

I laugh at the end when the cat walks past and her tail goes in front of the camera. But since it's also cat-pic Friday, I'm going with it. Plus it gets me out of singing that one tricky part. Yes I hear all the mistakes. Vertical space. Low breath. Bring the sound forward. I'm working on it. Also, I was working hard on standing still because I tend to move when I sing, and when I watched the first few videos that I made before this one, I thought it was distracting. So consider this another Work In Progress, and I do feel that, comparing it to the last one, that I have made a little progress. Like, a smidgen. A smudge. A dot. There's still all this wide open landscape of progress ahead of me... but the only way to get there is one step at a time, and I'm sharing these steps with you because it's more fun than going alone, don't you think?

I've been studying voice now for about 14 months and I can tell you that I never would have imagined I could sing anything like this before I began my lessons.

video

This is All You're Getting

I listened to the Tapia/Osborn CD again and picked two pieces for YouTube. That's it, it's all you're getting. Go buy it if you want to hear the rest.


Soprano Lynette Tapia and tenor John Osborn sing a duet from Donizetti's Don Pasquale, Tornami a dir che m'ami.






Soprano Lynette Tapia and tenor John Osborn sing the duet, Varrano a te sull'aure, from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.




That Lucia clip is just part of one of the tracks. The entire thing was too long for YouTube. And someone already made a very nice comment, look:
(9 hours ago)
one of the best portions of any opera, this bit can bring up the head one one determined to jump off the Golden gate bridge- good post for the post-thanksgiving blahs blues etc.- Thnx-


Ok, so that's a bit dramatic, but appropriate considering that the clip is from Lucia. So click over to YouTube to rate, comment, favorite, give the thumbs up and enjoy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for beautiful voices that fill me with happiness, melancholy, mirth and so on. You get the idea.

Cuban soprano, Elizabeth Caballero sings Ore dolci e divine in a live production of Puccini's opera La rondine:



Cuban soprano Elizabeth Caballero sings Ch'il bel sogno in a live production of Puccini's opera La rondine:



While I was getting all the links and descriptions for this, Alex came in and demanded that we watch both videos in full-screen mode. And I wish I had my camera rolling on him - he had That Smile, That Look on his face. I asked him if he liked it and he said all dreamily, "Yeah." Almost made me cry. Then he asked me what the opera is about.... Uh... time to do some research.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just a Couple of High Voices

I love getting packages! Who doesn't, right? Today I got one from CD Baby, my order of one of John Osborn's new CDs. Actually it's Johnny and his gorgeous wife, Lynette Tapia, and their gorgeous voices! Oh. My. God. The CD is called La coppia degli acuti (The couple of the high notes). And wow. They can hit them. Click on the link to hear tracks. I'll probably get one or two onto YouTube just cuz I can, and because everyone needs to hear them sing.

Here's a peek at the insert:







And here's Alex, (who recently told me that he no longer wishes to be an opera singer when he grows up) conducting and pretending to sing along.

video video

There a few pieces from Lucia on the CD. When Alex heard the first one he recognized it! I was shocked. Not the particular song but the opera itself. He said, "Oh, this is the one with the ghost, when the ghost talks to her at the fountain." That aria isn't on it (I don't think... I honestly don't remember what everything is called!) but he wasn't referring to it. He was referring to (part of) the story of the opera. He truly amazes me.

So go to CD baby and buy this CD.

I imagine that eventually I'll get their other one. One at a time.

Hey John linked to some of my YouTube videos from his webpage. Heehee. I like that. Thanks John. Now change those colors - my eyes are wigging out!

One more thing before I sign off... I try and try to get the pictures to line up nicely, two to a line, and it looks great in the preview, but when I publish it... all hell breaks loose and they're all over the page. I tried to make it look nice, I swear!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Whiff of a Rumor

I can swear that as I scroll the page down past that scratch-and-sniff picture, a sort of musky-seksy man-smell wafts off my screen.

No wait - the cat just yawned a puff of cat-food breath into the room. Never mind.

Here's a rumor I'd like not to believe. The rumor part is near the end of the post. But read the whole thing if you have the time - it's quite entertaining. And don't forget to read the comments.

Thanks to I.E. in Washington state for bringing that to my attention. I think.

Back to Business

Ok, enough nonsense about scratchy and sniffy. Well, at least until the next absurd event comes along that I can somehow twist into being related to opera.

I had been working and working on Vedrai Carino, and then when I started in with the French songs I stopped. Yesterday I realized it had been a while, so I figured I'd quietly give it a sing. Now, mind you, this was very informal, considering I was at the park with Alex. Luckily we were alone there because we were the only ones silly enough to go to the park in frigid weather. So I didn't sing out, but I just gave it a whirl, and wouldn't you know, all those little bits and baubles that I was having trouble with before, they just came out. There is something to be said for letting the music just simmer on its own in the back of the mind. Then, of course, I started thinking about those same bits and baubles, and of course... there went some of the legato. But how can you tell yourself to NOT think about something? Isn't that the surest way to make it fill your brain to the exclusion of everything else? I tried reminding myself to caress the notes, which sort of helped, but... maybe I need to bury it for a few more weeks.

So maybe I'm getting the feel of when to practice something, when to leave it and when to come back to it. It's all part of that three-dimensional thing I wrote about before. Hmm. Here's a question. Does the addition of time to the mix make it four-dimensional?

(see, I don't think only about the People on the People list. I also think about physics and mathematics.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Do Ya Think? Do Ya Think I Smell?

That Rod Stewart song keeps going through my head. Wow. Don't even click on that. Seriously. It's bad. So bad that it's good, but then you realize that no, it's beyond good and back to bad.

So here are a few of People Magazine's picks for the sexiest men alive. I don't know who most of them are. But wait.... who is that in that one tiny picture there in the top center? *squinting* Can't...quite... tell...




Maybe a closer look...




Oh! What DO you know. I have met, shaken hands with and been squeezered by one of the Sexiest Men Alive. Well, two, if you count Husband, and of course I do.

You'd think they'd have at least used a shirtless picture. Maybe they couldn't find one.

*****
I HAD to edit this post to add this, just to help put this whole thing into context.

Here is one of the many features this magazine boasts about some of its Sexy Man choices:






This is so absurd that I don't even have a witty remark about it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ooh La La

Ok can't stop laughing. *snort* The official People wesbite has only the well-known people pictured, which means I'll probably go out and buy this week's People Magazine. I better find a disguise first because you know I'll run into people who I haven't seen, etc, at the store.

Edited to add:

My new status updates at MySpace and Facebook:

Susan doesn't know if she should be proud or embarrassed to have met one of People Magazine's "Sexiest Men Alive."

But you guys all know I'm secretly proud. Ok it's not that much of a secret, haha. But I'll still write it in this tiny font. I'll upload the relevant pages once I procure the magazine.


Friday, November 21, 2008

*Yawn* I'm Boring. I Mean, I'm Bored.

I have been told by a good friend, someone with whom I never discuss opera because she's not into it, that,

"... incessant chatter about one subject, i.e. opera, can get pretty darn boring."



This telling took place on that Social Networking Site everyone belongs to, the one where you can add comments to everything anyone does. It was a comment on my own status:

"Susan has updated her blog. Boring stuff. Now go read it.
"

One other friend and regular blog reader commented, "You're NEVER boring," (thanks!) and then this anti-opera friend came along with her "incessant chatter" comment. There are now 13 lucky comments.

Now, those of you who read my blog, all 25 of you, know that I do not chatter about opera incessantly, because, obviously, that'd be boring. Oh and also I'm not qualified. I have pretty much shared all I know about opera, which isn't much. This blog isn't about opera per se, but about me. Gee that sounds familiar. Me going to the opera, me listening to operas, me being an extra in operas, me learning to sing opera. Me me me. So if there's any incessant chatter going on here, it's not about opera - it's about, you guessed it - me. *yawn* Boooorrrriiinnggg.

Then this very same friend went and commented on another status of mine. I think she did it first, before the incessant chatter comment.

Before I leave for my voice lesson I often write that I'm "off to my psychotherapy session, OOPS I mean, my voice lesson." Like, each week, pretty much.

Her comment? "Maybe you could use some psychotherapy & less opera"

What is UP with that? I am seriously stumped. But it's obvious that A. She doesn't read the blog or she'd know what the incessant chatter was about, and B. She's never taken a lesson of the sort that requires to you know yourself in order to do well. And C. She's being sort of mean, no? I mean, does anyone else sense some sort of hostility here?

Not to leave on a What the Heck mood, here are today's cat photos, taken by Husband with his brand-spanking new camera.


Here I am with Viola as she comes for her daily petting.




Here she is with That Look on her face.



Here's Diego with That Other Look on his face.



Here I am in my natural habitat. No, I'm not picking my nose. Wait, am I? How embarrassing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No Lazy Lips!

Voice lesson today. I didn't feel like I was in as good a voice as I was last week, but we worked on technique and I was able to get that sound. Went over Apres Un Reve again, this time with the accompaniment. Some of that French pronunciation is driving me nutso. Really just the "u" sound in "tu, nu, vu" and so on. You have to say an EEEE sound while forming an OOOO with your mouth. What was it my teacher kept saying... oh yeah, "French is not a lazy-lipped language." I'm practicing, I'll get it.

The more I learn this song, the prettier I think it is. At first I wasn't in love with it, but now I can really throw myself into it. Although there's one part that's so hokey dramatic that it makes me laugh. The translation is something like, "you call my name, I leave the earth to flee with you into the light" and it makes me think of the movie Poltergeist when the little old lady medium chick is like, "Go into the liggghhttt.... DON'T go into the liiiiggghhttt......" Wow just fried my brain looking for those clips. Must stop now.

Oh wait one more thing. I printed out my entries about the spheres from last week and gave them to my teacher at the end of the lesson. I wonder what she'll say. No doubt she'll make fun of me. Actually I'm kind of counting on it.

Oh wait one more more thing. Just bought one of John Osborn's new CDs, this one. Actually I bought two so I could give one to my mother. They had some deal, one was $20 but you could get two for $24 so I figured, why not?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Uh Oh...

I've written before about the chorus thingee at work. We're performing a bunch of holiday themed songs in the two big cafeterias on campus. Last week we had to send our height to the person in charge so that she could set up how we're going to stand to perform. Yeah, I know. Front row. I'm 5 feet and 1/2 inches tall. I'm always in the front row. Anyway, today at rehearsal (our final rehearsal), the Woman In Charge pulled me off to the side and showed me the chart. "I wanted us to stand together," she said, "But I also want us to each be in front of a microphone, so I had to separate us." Okkkaaayyy, I thought, what? Stand together? This was the longest conversation I've ever had with her.

"Oh! Um... why?" I dumbly ask.

So she starts hedging. "Well, the mic pics up everything in front of it, every sound, any wrong notes...(she paused) OK, it's because I've heard you sing, and I want YOUR voice to be the one the mic pics up."

Wow!! I was surprised and flattered. That was seriously my first independent compliment. I mean, yeah, husband, friends and intoxicated people have told me I sound ok, but this was just out of the blue, from a sober person who doesn't know me. Of course I thanked her and all that. But wow.

So why the title of this post? Because... I'll admit it... for some of the songs... I just. don't. know. all. the. words.

We're singing songs in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Yiddish and Chinese. And English. Come ON! No one remembers all the words. I mean, we do have the music and can follow along, but the words are so tiny and the verses are squished together on the page and some of the music is so fast that it's just impossible (for me) to sing them all. And they do record the performances and put them on a CD for us. So if I'm directly in front of this microphone that picks up the sound from directly in front of it... La la la blah blah blah won't cut it... I better go learn those lyrics... Oops.

Ok, here are the songs, in no order, linked to whatever video I could find:

Il est nee, le divin enfant

Fum Fum Fum
Gong Xi
Stille Nacht

Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle (if you click just one, choose this.)
Oh Hanukkah Or try this cuz it's just so hokey. But we sing it in Yiddish. Oy.
... and many others. But you get the idea.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rethinking the Sphere

After I published yesterday's entry, something was nagging at me. It was that whole sphere thing. It seemed so right, so... "Aha!" at the time... but I was thinking of it as too small. Plus I was typing "sphere" but seeing more of an egg (a chocolate egg!) in my mind, and it was too compact. These puzzle pieces that all fit together, they leave some open space on purpose, because that's part of the puzzle. So if it is indeed a sphere, it's very large, with lots of free space around the pieces so they can morph and change to whatever shape they need to be in order to complete it. "It" being not just this imaginary sphere of technique, but the sound I want to achieve at that particular moment. These components still have to be manipulated to fit together, but sometimes leaving some empty space between them is key. Next step: How much empty space?

Right. I'll shut up now.

Look! I wish I had found this one last month!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Losing My Legato

It's that layer business. As I incorporate more and more layers of a song I'm learning, in this case, Apres un Reve, something gets shoved aside, and it's usually my legato. Bye-bye legato, hello choppy choppy. 

Sometimes I think layer is the wrong word, because I don't envision each technique on top of another. Instead it's much more three dimensional, holding all this in my head at the same time in balance, and trying to keep it all there without one popping out. It occupies more space than just a stack. Think of a solid sphere (of chocolate, if you like) cut into puzzle piece chunks. They can all fit together, or some can be sticking out or can get squeezed out. And these chunks, you can't just shove one in after another to make the sphere. They have to be held at certain angles at the same time to all fit together or it just won't work. I actually hadn't thought of them as a puzzle sphere before this... I was thinking of a three dimensional space where each element was in its own place, and I had to remember and keep them there. But maybe the sphere puzzle is what I should be thinking of - to fit it all together without pushing any out, because otherwise the pieces won't fit.

Ok so to any readers out there who are singers - does any of this make sense?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cat - Hat. In French, Chat - Chapeau.

Had a little cocktail party today. Started talking in Italian to a friend who speaks it. Well, I spoke enough to tell him that I only speak opera Italian. Somehow we moved on to French opera (in English) and he really and truly thought that Carmen was the only French opera out there. He's a smart guy, but he actually asked, "So is Carmen the only one? Are there any others in French?" I was really casual, like, "Oh yeah, there are tons, like..." and I named a few. He had never heard of them. I guess I keep forgetting that most people just don't know. All my friends at work are opera people, and many of my friends outside of work are opera people and/or singers, so sometimes I forget that the Rest of the World has that stereotypical view of opera. Well, now he knows. Carmen is not the only French opera.

Cat time.


Diego relaxes inside the Boppy.


Viola relaxes on top of the Boppy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Coming Along

Voice lesson tonight. Was pretty good. Did some new vocal exercises and will work on them. I think the recorder was running at the time... I'm getting better at keeping the voice in the upper register as the notes get lower, when really I want to jump off that shelf into a heavier sound. It feels like a shelf to me, inside. It feels like it's in my throat, but perhaps it's in my head. Or it's in both. Argh it's hard to explain.

Went over the IPA and pronunciation of Apres un Reve, then the rhythm of the words, and then fit the singing in. Have not even thought about trying it with the pre-recorded accompaniment. There is one bit in the middle where I get muddled. I get unsure of the pronunciation, which in turn throws me off the rhythm. And truthfully, the IPA doesn't help that much because it's like another language I have to learn. So I end up making up my own phonetic spellings of the words that mix me up. But as I said before, I'm learning it all faster than I did when I first started studying voice a year ago, all these layers. Pronunciation, rhythm, notes, legato, vibrato, crescendos and decrescendos, meaning and emotion, open mouth, relaxed everything. Little by little, layer by layer.

Here's a version I found on YouTube, I think it's different from the last one I posted. Different singer, same pitch as what I'm doing. The previous one was higher by a step I think. Truthfully I don't remember. This one does go down kind of low, now that I listen again. Well here it is anyway.

What Are They Looking For?

I have to say that the blog tracker is sometimes very entertaining!

Today someone got here by doing a google search "the nurse made me take all my clothes off."

Other recent searches that brought people here include:

  • baritone leather pants
  • luindriel nathan
  • going to the opera alone
  • misery opera
  • myspace nathan gunn
  • star vicino high listen
  • youtube ,opera tenors and baritone videos
  • tiny rubber chicken
It amuses me that searches on both "baritone leather pants" and "tiny rubber chicken" lead here.

Voice lesson tonight. I feel like I'm in good voice but that might change - it's like a reflex - I walk through the door and my voice gets congested. Maybe I'm allergic. It's possible - I'm Jewish and the lesson is in a Catholic school. OK OK before anyone gets all up in arms and offended, I'm JOKING!! I'm not allergic Catholic school. On the other hand, many of my friends (including Husband!) went to Catholic school and if you asked, they'd probably say that they are now allergic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to Treat a Cranky Mood

One of my (non-opera) friends was in a cranky mood today. I know this because we are both members of that social networking site that pretty much everyone we know is on. One feature of the site is that people can write about their moods, or what they're doing, or whatever, and then you can add comments. I think I posted a conversation from one of those comment strings a few months ago, when a college friend mentioned that I used to sing all the time... so anyway I recommended that she watch a certain video on YouTube to help cheer her up. You know. Music can do that. Her comment:


didn't know they could get racy in an opera!
he should sing with his shirt off all the time. :-)

Obviously she has no idea.

If you don't know what video and/or singer we're talking about, too bad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sucking it in with Diana Damrau

Use the lower abs. Pull those muscles into the spine. It's the only way to get that full sound and of course to hit the high notes. So I've poked around YouTube watching abdomens. Here, take a look:




Ok, I started out looking for abs, but I got caught up in the costumes:

She's downright scary here. I guess that's the point. Singing doesn't start until about 3 minutes in:




You do see some good ab work in this one... if you can get past the celery. Broccoli. Lettuce. Whatever:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Moving it Down and Looking Far Forward

Literally - I am posting to move the Madonna post down and eventually off the page. What was I thinking?

So let's see. Just some gossip for now.

According to Elizabeth Caballero's MySpace page, she's singing in Carmen at the Met next season! I'm so there. SO there. And that's like, an entire year from now. Love planning my future opera purchases. Better start hoarding my pennies now.

Other possible future opera adventures for next year, based loosely, and I do mean loosely, on this page, include Magic Flute at the Met with what's-his-name, and then for the following year, and we're talking 2010-2011, Cosi at the Met with that same dude. Of course that same page does list Lizzy C . on the Carmen cast for next year, so...

I've heard that my friend who teaches that opera class, the one that culminates with a trip to the opera, the trip I "crash," might be doing Barbiere next year. I'm feeling wishy-washy about it now, but we all know I'll go.

So it's rice and beans for me for the next several months. Maybe it's time to bring my earrings back to work to boost my opera fund.