Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Voice Evaluation!! EEK!

I realized that with all the Juan Diego excitement I've neglected to write about my voice lessons.

We've put "Una Donna..." on the back burner, because in two weeks (TWO WEEKS!) I have a voice evaluation. I have a suspicion this is to evaluate my teacher too... so anyway I have to sing two songs for I think 3 or 4 people from the Conservatory (That's Westminster, for anyone who's asking) and then they tell me what's wrong OOPS I mean they'll give me suggestions. So my teacher and I discussed it and decided on 'Lasciatemi Morire' and 'Goodnight My Someone.' I think GMS is a sort of goofy song but it's good acting practice - how sincere can I sound?! It's also hard! It's sort of too low, but not really. It's in a range that coincides with a break in my voice so it's challenging. So in that sense it's not goofy at all. I've been practicing specific vocal exercises to help with the transitions, caressing the notes, and it's helping. They like being caressed. For LM, we realized that we never went over the ornamentation in the last two sections, so I've been practicing them. It's all about the timing - the piano accompaniment has some sections that are hard for me to maintain the correct rhythm, and then when the next parts come around I'm not always in sync with the music and I have to either stretch out or cut a note short. One day I'll try to record a video of me singing it. Until then, here's a similar version from about a hundred years ago. I don't sing it quite like this. I think she sounds like she's got a mouthful of marbles or something. We go a bit faster too. But hey, you can see the music, and that's kind of cool.

Eyes and Shoes

Had an eye doc appointment yesterday. The doc asked if I've noticed any changes in my vision, and I mentioned that I was at the opera in February and had a hard time reading the supratitles.While we were waiting for my pupils to dilate we chatted a little. Turns out he saw Romeo last summer. Called it the the Florsheim Opera. Sadly, I knew exactly what he was talking about. The costumes were beautiful, but the guys all wore modern shoes. I guess the audience noticed! Told him to look for me in La Traviata this summer - I'll be the silent one.

Check out the pupils! (yes, I can take a picture of myself with my iPhone while practically blind...)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sad to let go...

...but happy not to travel 90 minutes each way to NYC, get home after 1am, considering that I will be getting up at 7, taking Alex to music class at 9 and then heading to a birthday party over 2 hours away... And now I can apply the money toward seeing La Sonnambula next season without guilt.

US $150.00
Auction ended early with Buy It Now.

Oh, did I mention I listed the Fri night ticket on Ebay?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Apples and Oranges? I like them both!

It is time.

Juan Diego vs Nathan Gunn.

The categories are singing skill, acting, charisma, hawtness, friendliness and overall encounter experience.

Singing skill: Okay this isn't really fair since they sing different voice parts. But I think in spite of that, it's no contest. Juan Diego has the best singing voice of anyone, anywhere, male, female, tenor, bass, baritone and everything in between.

Acting: They're both pretty good, but I think Nathan is better.

Charisma, on stage: Now I thought about this carefully while watching Juan Diego perform on Saturday. He's good, but I think Nathan is better. I'm not talking about singing techniques, I'm talking about having that Certain Something that makes me feel a part of the action. That's not to say that Juan Diego doesn't have it, but Nathan has more. Juan Diego has that voice, but Nathan has the total package - a nice voice, a great body, he's totally cute and has this phenomenal stage presence.

Charisma, in person: Will address this under 'friendliness.'

Hawtness: Juan Diego who? No, really. He's cute and all, but I had my arm around each of them. There is no contest. Nathan wins in this as much as Juan Diego wins in the singing category. There was a point when Juan Diego was all sweaty on stage and I was like, "ew, he's kind of sweaty." When Nathan was all sweaty on stage I was like, "Aww Riiiiight, look at him! He's all sweaty!!!!" Juan Diego is a clean cuteness. Nathan can pull of clean, but he's mighty fine when he's in need of a shower. Well, from a scent-free distance at least. Nathan squeezered me into him. Juan Diego's arm was firmly around me but I was doing more squeezering than he was. Of course, I haven't seen Juan Diego with his clothes off, but having felt him through his jacket (*snort*) I don't need to. He's compact, that's for sure, but... anyway...

Friendliness: They're both friendly, but in different ways. The context was different so it's hard to tell. With Juan Diego, I was the youngest person there, the easiest on the eyes (no seriously you should have seen the motley crew I was mixed in there with) and I was the only one who treated him like a normal person. He was a normal person right back to me, really nice about the photo and all that. Nathan I met backstage and there was no one else there. I dropped a name of a mutual friend so there was something to talk about. There was that eye contact... precisely because there was no one else there. Well wait a minute he started that again at Zankel before I freaked out... Nathan is definitely more shy... except when he was squeezering me into him. He certainly wasn't shy about that.

Now hang on here, I've overlapped into Overall Experience. So to get back to friendliness, equal.

Overall experience: Now this is hard, because I'm still giggly from meeting Juan Diego, but the Nathan encounter was so much more personal and intense that he wins. Plus he replied to my email, always a good thing.

So the winner is... Nathan Gunn!

Now I'll have to award a prize... hmm... any ideas?


I bought this in the Met gift shop on Saturday. What a wonderful combination of three of my favorite things: Coffee, Opera and Scrabble!

Look, it' says "baritone," and there's one right there! Not the cat, silly, look on the other side of the mug.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm such a dork. I love it!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

No, I Didn't See Juan Diego Florez In His Underpants

Before I write up my account of my day yesterday, I just need to squeal for a second - It just dawned on me this morning - I MET JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ YESTERDAY!!!! And I didn't even make a fool of myself. At least I don't think so.

Ok, squeal over.

Disclaimer: As I've said before, if you want an official review of the opera, go to Opera Chic or the like. I will not be giving a play-by-play of every scene and musical note.

So we start, of course, with the train.

At the station they have these electronic ticket machines. You type a code in for the station you're going to, slip your cash or credit card in and it spits out the tickets. The station was really crowded yesterday morning. One machine wasn't working. The remaining machines were taking forever to approve the transactions, plus many of the travelers had no clue as to how to use them. I got my ticket as the bell went off to signal the approaching train - WHEW!

It was your standard boring train ride, but luckily it was an express.

Got to Penn Station and it was nice out so I decided to hoof it up to the Met, a mere 30 blocks or so. Luckily my Zankel Hall Footwear Experience taught me a lesson, and I was wearing my hiking shoes. When I got warm I tied my purple raincoat around my waist. I was a real fashion icon, I'm sure. Popped into a Starbucks for iced coffee and a sandwich for my picnic lunch on the ledge on the side wall of the Met. Of course I took my sneaks off and let my feet air out during lunch, then slipped on the Fancy Shoes. Wandered around, bought a silly scrabble-themed mug at the opera shop with all opera words on it, bought an overpriced coffee and snack at Avery Fisher hall and finally went in.

Took a few pictures

then made my way to my seat. Denise came in a few minutes later. Then ...the guy on the other side of me starting making these... noises... you know... snorting... coughing... throat clearing noises. Denise thought it was me and asked if I had a cold. I said, "No, that wasn't ME," and then I turned to the guy and said with a very nice smiley tone, "You're not going to do that during the performance, right?" and he immediately popped a cough drop. No waaaay is some sniveling snorting allergic person going to ruin my Juan Diego Experience!

The opera was great! So funny, so cute. Natalie Dessay was great. Beautiful voice - great high notes, great sound and LOUD!!!! Even when she was facing upstage she was loud. She looked like a little bird, all tiny and fragile, and then That Sound came out of her! She ran all over the set, jumping onto backs and into Juan Diego's arms, collapsing on the floor and doing a lot of physical comedy. Juan Diego... when he first came out... in those leiderhosen and that sweater- he was adorable. Trust me, I've never used the words 'liederhosen' and 'adorable' in the same sentence before. And I was so excited to hear him sing I do believe I might have been trembling. Then, of course, Ah Mes Amis - If it wasn't funny I would have been crying. Seriously, my eyes got moist. That happens a lot to me at the opera. Moist Opera Eyes. Then the cheering and hooting and hollering. He stood there and finally took a little bow and said thank you and the crowd went WILD. WILD!! But no encore this time.

Then... intermission. Denise kept checking to see if I was ok that he didn't do an encore. What? Meh? Why would that bother me? I was truly confused. This was all on the way to the bathroom three levels down. Yes, there is a bathroom on the Balcony/Family Circle level. But the bathroom on I think the Parterre Level had no line! Well, a very short line, compared to upstairs. So she took a couple of pictures of me standing next to a railing:

What's funny about this shot is, I climbed up there under the railing, and didn't realize that I had stepped on my skirt and pulled it down a bit. When I got back in line for the bathroom I was like, what am I feeling? Are my pantyhose falling down? And then I realized... It was my skirt! How funny is that! It was halfway down my butt. Hey at least it didn't come off completely! I was laughing and no one noticed. But it looks like a long skirt in that picture.

After the pit stop we got champagne ($17 a glass!) and went back up to the Cheap Seats where they didn't even offer the same champagne at the bar.

On to Act 2: Just as funny, silly and glorious as act 1. Snuck a few pictures:

The quality stinks but you can get an idea of the view from the balcony. Binocs are a must.

Then... Wild Screaming Standing Ovations at the curtain calls. Everyone had huge grins. It was great.

On our way out Denise was funny - she was like, "You should go to Natalie Dessay's fan page and write that you have earrings for her, then she'll put you on the backstage list next time." I stared at her like she was insane. What? Meh? Huh? "Denise, Denise," I replied, "I have my own way of doing these things." She ignored this and went on, loudly, with her fantasy for me... I had to cut her off and explain that as a super with NJ Opera... at which point she cut ME off all excited and said, "That's IT! You can be a super here at the Met and then you'll meet her!" Ok who ever said I wanted to meet her? And... well... I won't even state the obvious about being a super at the Met lest I offend the intelligence of anyone who might be reading this. So I had to cut her off AGAIN and explain that the best way to meet anyone is to be introduced, and I'll be working with plenty of people this summer who could be my "connection" or whatever to meeting other people. She is very enthusiastic! And has the best intentions so it's hard to be annoyed. By then we had made our way down to the main lobby. She had to run but urged me to go to the stage door. I was unsure. I didn't know where it was. She dragged me over to an Official Looking Person to ask how one finds the stage door. The guy totally misunderstood. He said with an Obnoxious Laugh, "You have to be on the list to get backstage." Yeah no sh** sherlock. I said, "Not BACKSTAGE... I'm looking for the stage door where people wait for the singers to come out." He gave me these wacky directions: Down the stairs, through the glass doors, make a left, go through the opening, follow the signs down a narrow hallway that twists and turns and you'll find it there. And that was pretty accurate! The picture in my last post, of the sign duct-taped to the wall, was pretty much what the whole place was like. Construction equipment on the floor, pipes and wires, debris, a twisting and turning passageway with paper signs duct-taped to the wall. Husband joked that maybe they do it to lure the rich opera-goers to a secluded spot where they can then rob them! But no, it did eventually lead to the stage door. There were a few people waiting there, sort of lined up against the wall of the hall. The guy I was next to was kind of strange - sort of socially off... like someone who'd be next to you on an airplane for a loooong flight. He hadn't been at the opera - he listened on the radio and then came. He had this poster of Juan Diego as Almaviva that he got on sale, blah blah too many details, he showed me all his different colored sharpies. you get the idea. I told him that all I wanted was a picture. He said he would take the picture as long as I promised not to get mad if he didn't go a good job... and, he said, after he got his poster signed. Whatever... he was nice and all, but just... well... a strange egg.

There were probably about 10 people bunched up by the stage door, and then a line of people down the wall. I, of course, was in the bunch. I was the youngest of the bunch too. One person in the production was a woman who spoke but didn't sing - she is/was a famous Broadway actress from the 1970s. About 6 of the10 there were there to see her. None of them were under 70. Then a few others in their 60s, then... me.

Every time the door opened, everyone looked and let out a breath. It was like a surprise party, waiting for the guest of honor and each time the door opened it was someone else. One short, dark-haired guy came out and immediately said, "I'm not him!" It was funny.

After about half an hour, the door opened and some nobody came out but someone said, "Oh, I see him on the stairs, he's on his way out. So of course my cool calm demeanor just vanished. Out the door. I had this adrenaline rush, my heart started pounding and my hands were shaking. That just wouldn't do - the iPhone needs a steady hand to take a clear picture! Juan Diego came out about 30 seconds later. I forced myself to be calm. The people right there shoved stuff in his face, "Will you sign this?" Some people were asking him to sign more than one thing. What's up with that? One guy said all dorkily, "Your music makes me happy." I decided then and there: No autograph. I'm introducing myself. In Spanish. So he signed a few autographs and then I Made My Move. I arranged my blouse (ahem), stepped forward (cutting off the weird guy) and said with a smile, "Hola Juan Diego, me llamo Susan" and he smiled said "Hola" and then my Spanish went out the window. I said, "I'm a really big fan... can we take a picture together?" and he said, "Of course," and several people offered to take it. So that weird guy took my iPhone and tried to take the picture. He said he thought it came out blurry. Juan Diego took it from him and said, "Let's see how it came out." He looked at it and it was blurry so we gave it someone else. I showed and explained how to take the picture. It's very easy. You just tap the picture of the camera. No squeezing, no pressing, just... tap. No one could get it. This batch of photos had his head cut in half. Then he was waving the phone in the air, "Does anyone here know how to use an iPhone?" And then I wrote about what ensued in my previous post.

But here's the fun stuff: THEN his WIFE came over and whined, "Juan Diegoooo, you made me RUSH and now what are you DoooOING?" And he was like, "Oh! I'm sorry" and he said he had to go back in but he'd come back out. I congratulated her on their wedding and she very sweetly said thank you. She is GORGEOUS in person, very glamorous. And it's clear who is in charge in that relationship! So anyway he went in and I left. I wasn't going to wait around for him to return - I got my set of blurry pictures.

While we were posing there, several people were taking pictures of us with their own cameras. I'm kicking myself now for running off without giving them my email address. Hopefully eventually one of them will come across my blog or myspace page and contact me. It's a small world, right?

And THAT is the whole story.

One of my friends pointed out that it's a good thing I already met Nathan and also John Osborn because that prepped me not to totally lose it when Juan Diego came out. She's right!

One thing I'm happy about is the fact that I introduced myself to him. Everyone else was just, "Would you sign this?" and shoving things at him. I think that was kind of rude. It's like people forget that a celebrity is a real person and treat them like an object.

I also must say that he's much cuter in person than he is in any photo or video I've ever seen of him. It's what I call the Derek Jeter syndrome, who is also much cuter in person. No, I never met Derek Jeter but we went to see him play with the Trenton Thunder several years ago when he was coming off the disabled list. So photos don't do him justice.

Ok so... the question on everyone's mind: Nathan Gunn or Juan Diego? I already know the answer but I'll save that for another post. It deserves its own post, don't you think?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Does Anyone Here Know How to Use an iPhone?"

asked Juan Diego, after one person took blurry pictures, and the next cut his head off. "I think you and I might be the only ones," I said, turning to him, "I'm happy to stand here with your arm around me for as long as it takes to get a good shot, but I don't want to hog you. Everyone here wants a piece of you." Yes, I actually said that. So here are the craptastic photos. Several people were taking pictures of us with their own cameras but I was too boneheaded to think to give them my email address. So if on the odd chance any of you read this, and you have pictures of me and the Florezberry, please post a comment!

Details on the rest of the evening to follow tomorrow. Tomorrow! OMG! Tomorrow is my birthday. Happy Birthday, me.

Here I am at Intermission: *Heh heh I stretched out the picture so I look taller and a little thinner. I like that feature of blogger!

Is this legitimate????

Blurry and cut off pictures of me and the Florezberry himself, Juan Diego Florez.

Friday, April 25, 2008

It's a Juan Diego Saturday!

It's true, I've been bitter. The Fishbone Incident colored my opinion of Senor Florez. However, I'm going to see him tomorrow!!! Live!!! At the Met!!!! At the production that's being broadcast all over the world!!!! Finally!!! Tomorrow!!!! I'm finally going to see him perform LIVE LIVE LIVE!!!!

Ok I'm trying to drum up some enthusiasm here, is it working? Sort of. I'm not as excited as all those capital letters would make it appear. Still basking in a bit of the Gunnglow perhaps. But I am very excited about going to the opera tomorrow. TOMORROW!!!!! Hooray!!!! :) :) :) :)

Now Back to Your Regularaly Scheduled Fantasy Life

Ok, my previous post was a brief dip into reality. We can now return to My Silly Ramblings.

Fille tomorrow. What to wear, what to wear. Really it's a shoe thing. Walking from Penn Station to the Met... chance of rain... wear sneakers and carry shoes in the very large pockets of my purple raincoat? Would also need a plastic bag for potentially wet sneaker storage once I enter the building. Not a bad idea, actually.

Will write about my last two voice lessons shortly.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Few Random Answers a few random questions that I've heard a few thousand times about the Husband.

1. No, my Husband doesn't read the blog.
2. Yes, he knows what the general content is.
3. No, he doesn't mind.
4. No, I'd never hook up or run off with any of the crushes if the opportunity arose.
5. My Husband is cuter than Nathan Gunn, but he can't carry a tune to save his life.
6. Yes, he knows about this. All of it.
7. He also knows about this, this and this. Well, maybe not this one.
8. No, it doesn't bother me that he doesn't read my blog.
9. No, it doesn't bother him that I went alone to Chicago to "chase after opera singers." *snort*
10. There is no number 10 but how could I end the list at 9?

Prompt Me...

Saw this link on All About Opera today, about opera prompters. Didn't even know there'd be a Gunnquote. Check out this dude in the prompter's box!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Changed my mind and my post: It's my bloggy and I'll edit if I want to

Original content deleted due to the following comment I made about it:

Man am I premenstrual or what?

Reread this post and realized that yeah, I am premenstrual. Therefore I deleted it. Once again, perhaps there were a few readers who saw it before it vanished. I seem to do this periodically. I should match it to the calendar to see if there's a pattern...

Off to find some chocolate.

As an aside, if the font appears to be different sizes in different paragraphs, that wasn't intentional. No matter what I do with the formatting I can't seem to get it all the same. Deal with it. It adds a certain je ne sais quois, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Still Going...

See here. No changes, except that I'll soon be 41.

Hm, maybe I should have waited until Sunday to post this.

18 High Ones

Check out Opera Chic's review of La Fille at the Met last night. OC was kind enough to post during intermission to tell us that the Florezberry did an encore of "Ah Mes Amis." That's allota High Cs!

Hope he hasn't worn out that precious voice... of course I'm sure there's no way he'd cancel Saturday what with the HD thing... no matter how many fish bones or other irritating substances he may inadvertently swallow.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Consistency, pushiness, dorkiness and concealment

I recently went back through my blog and noticed that my 2nd entry documents when I crashed a post-performance reception to meet the super captain for the local opera comapny. I just went up on stage (where the reception was), found a guy I recognized as having been a super in the production and asked him to point the super captain out. Then I went over, inserted myself into his conversation and introduced myself. So it appears that my behavior has been pretty consistent regarding working the backstage opera scene.

Reading about all of it is like reading about someone else, because I consider myself to be shy. Shy but brave I guess? When I was a kid my mother told me to never be afraid to introduce myself because most people will be happy that you did. So even though I feel shy, I take a deep breath, push through that wall that tries to build itself and introduce myself It's not a brick wall, it's more like a wall of shaving cream. No, that's too messy. A beaded curtain perhaps? One fact that I didn't put in that party-crashing entry was that I distinctly recall taking my hair out of a braid before going in. Maybe I use my hair as a curtain to protect me? It gets me noticed, that and my, uh, low cut dresses (thank you pregnancy and nursing!). But seriously, although it seems that I often just jump right in and introduce myself to people, I have to take a deep breath first to get the courage, and then afterwards I go over what I said and wonder if I made a fool of myself.

Just thought I'd get that out there, if anyone has been reading my blog thinking, "I could never do that..." when I call out to Nathan Gunn down a hallway, weave through a crowd to introduce myself to John Osborn, crash a party to meet the super captain or do anything else that seems gutsy. Trust me, I feel like a complete dork the entire time, I'm just very good at concealing it... perhaps behind my hair?

So I challenge everyone to go ahead and try it. Do you have a singer or actor or someone you admire? Wait by the stage door or get yourself backstage, go up to them, stick out your hand and say, "Hi, my name is xxxx. I really enjoyed the performance." They'll be thrilled, I promise! If not, they're not worth your time.

Oooh Frisky

The NY Times had an article yesterday about Juan Diego and other frisky young tenors. Could tonight's opening of Fille have anything to do with the timing of that? Mreeeowwww!

Found the link to that at All About Opera. They also linked to the excellent Times review of the ZH thang. Notably absent are links to the snarky reviews from the Other Paper. Good to know that AAO is supportive of the moe-dairn. (I used that word again just for you, Amneris! :) )

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Defending and Explaining

Went back and forth about it and decided to post Nathan's latest journal entry in which he explains his philosophy behind the ZH recital and subtley digs at a snarky reviewer. (I admit I corrected a spelling error but I'm not telling where.)

April 20th, 2008


This has been an incredible week for me. I want to thank Andy and Sonia, David, Laura and Julie for bringing to life the Zankel recital. It was a project that I've been wanting to do for a long time and because the subject matter was so dear to me I'm grateful for their help and their talent. I also must thank Jeremy Geffen for allowing me to do such a program.
Because the performance of the music was most important at the time I decided not to give a pre-concert talk. I thought I'd use this journal entry to touch on a few things that may have confused some people. Though most of the audience that attended got what we were trying to do some did not. I think the opinions of those people were voiced in a review by Jay Nordinger from The Sun. In a nut shell some wondered why I would add dance, lighting and video if I was trying to eliminate distractions. That's a good question and I wish I'd addressed it in the program notes. I see now that by not commenting on it I was actually creating a distraction. Anyway, the answer is that I don't consider visual art a distraction. I see it as something that heightens a person's experience rather than lessen it. All of our senses are involved when attending a vocal recital. We see, hear, smell and taste all the time. I have found that some of those things that tradition has dictated in a recital that are supposed to support the musical and artistic experience do not. For example when one reads along in the program I find that one uses a different part of his or her intelligence to read and that this stifles communication. If the text is part of the art that is happening something changes. Sometimes not knowing when to clap and when not to clap makes an audience member nervous. The lighting and the video were meant to take a person out of Zankel Hall, out of Carnegie, out of New York, out of time and for an hour put you in a different place. That was the intention.
Another question asked was why a dancer and why solo piano music? I was moved by Merton's last line of In Silence, " I will try, like them, to be my own silence: and this is difficult. The whole world is secretly on fire. The stones Burn, even the stones they burn me. How can a man be still or listen to all things burning? How can he dare to sit with them when all their silence is on fire?" I wanted to subtly show that even when we think there is silence and that we are alone we are not. Sometimes there was movement, music from the piano, and voice. Sometimes only one of each. Sometimes none and a variety of combinations. That was my way of expressing the mystery of how we experience life.
So, I hope this helps. Thanks again to everyone involved. It meant a great deal to me.

I'm glad he posted this, to explain that it's virutually impossible to shut out our senses because the world is constantly humming around us, and that's what he was trying to do. I was one of the confused at first but I did sort of settle into it, as I posted, and became emotional during one of the pieces. The snarky reviewer didn't do a review of the content, he simply criticized the format probably because he didn't get it, felt stupid and then got mad for feeling stupid. I think I'm a traditionalist in that I would have preferred a straightforward recital, especially since it was my first time seeing him in recital, but I'm not sorry I went. Well, my feet were sorry, but that was my own fault for walking to and from Penn Station in those shoes.

And on a mostly unrelated note, remember how I posted that I found $2 on my walk back to Penn Station? Well today I was out for a run and I found $1, a crisp new $1 bill. This is opera related in that once I get back down to my tiny former self and can fit into my size 6s again, I'll have new Fashion Options for my various backstage adventures, especially if I keep finding money every time I'm out moving at a brisk pace. Hopefully I'll upgrade to $20s soon...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Somehow I've Forgotten...

...that I'm going to be seeing Juan Diego Florez LIVE LIVE LIVE at the Met in LESS THAN ONE WEEK!!!! HELLO BRAIN WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?????

But seriously, I'm so excited! I feel like such a teenager!! I think the last time I was like this, well, besides before Romeo, Barbiere and Zankel, was when I was like 16 and going to see Adam Ant. Ok, stop laughing!!!!!!!! Oh Duran Duran too - I saw them at Madison Square Garden when I was 16 or 17 and it was the best night of my life... until of course Nathan was squeezering me into him. Look it up, squeezer is a word. Ok, no it's not, I just made it up. But isn't it great?

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Comment on a Comment

So Lindsey left an interesting and insightful comment on my post about Zankel Hall, and I'd like to discuss it here. First, here is her comment:

Lindsey said...

Man, modern classical music is so touch-and-go. I had a feeling the concert would be something like this. Most recent works really are an acquired taste that even the artists have to work at achieving. I know that as a genre, I'm not a huge fan of 20th-21st century vocal rep. Sometimes artists forget that the public hasn't had weeks or months to study and fall in love with the pieces like they have. All the audience has is those three or four minutes that it takes to sing the piece, and most of the time, unless you listen to that sort of genre a lot, that's not enough time to "get" it. I'm not saying that the audience is stupid (far from it), it's just that I don't think that modern classical music is not easy to connect with. So much of it is so dissonant and odd to our ears, that listening to more than a few of those sort of pieces at a time becomes very trying. But anyways, I could go on and on and on, modern classical music (or really any form of modern art in general) is one of my "soapbox" issues (Ha! Understatement much?). Though, I definitely still envy you for getting to go! Yay for having him remember you!

I wonder if historically the public has always reacted this way to new music. I mean, think about what Mozart was doing. It was revolutionary - no one had heard anything like it. They didn't know what to make of it, and many people didn't care for it. I don't know that much about music history, but I imagine that he wasn't alone in puzzling the audience. If my aunt were still alive this is something I'd definitely discuss with her. So I ask the readers to share any historical musical knowledge you all have regarding audience reaction to different composers who tried out different things.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Awkward Moments in Zankel Hall

Curtain Call - Photo courtesy of Bradley via Opera Chic

Before I start this post I want to remind the readers that my review of a recital or opera is not a professional-style review like Opera Chic has done; rather it’s my impressions of the evening, from my point of view.

Next I'd like to apologize for taking so long to get this done. Husband is away, if you recall, so I have been alone with an almost-4-year-old all day. He's now asleep and this is the first 5 minutes in a row I've had to myself, so... Cut me a break! (P. this means you, lol!)

So my review starts at home – had to hit myself with a pretty stick before I left the house, and as I was running out the door I saw a tear in my blouse! Oh the horror!! It’s a double layer gauzy thing and the tear was in the top layer, near the left sleeve. Tried to pin it; tried to tape it; ended up wearing the little cardigan, which turned out fine and prevented the scoop neck from getting too scoopy, if you catch my drift. Then when I was getting out of the car, my rhinestone bling bracelet caught on my hose and made a run! Not a good start…

Fashion emergencies aside… The train ride was loooong – I caught a local. Remind me never to do that again. Arrived at Penn Station at 5:30 – the heart of rush hour. WOW there were LOTS of people coming into the Penn Station when I was trying to get out. And if you’ve ever seen film or video footage of a sidewalk with a sea of people… that’s what it was like out on the street. I clop clop clopped my way up 7th Ave from 34th to 57th and there it was, Zankel Hall.

I trolled about a bit, taking pictures, finding the stage door and just hanging. Finally went into a café across the street from the stage door. As I sat in the window with my smoked salmon sandwich, I looked up to see Nathan and Julie walking down the street and into the stage door. While it vaguely crossed my mind to pop out the door, the words "stalker freak" floated in front of my eyes and I stayed put.

Zankel is beautiful inside - all wooden, very clean and warm. And small! First thing they had a team of security guards checking bags. That was purely for show as they patted the side of my purse - what were they looking for? Guns? (Hey just reread this and realized what a bad pun it is! It wasn't intentional, I swear!) Then I had to go two flights down a narrow escalator. When I got to the bottom, the house wasn't open yet so I wandered around the lobby. I asked the usher about the backstage list. She talked to another usher who went back and talked to the backstage guy. He came back and said that the Artist is the only person who can put people on the list, and they don't have the list yet to check it to see if I'm on it. Okaaayyyy. I had my doubts but I figured I'd check anyway.

Ok, onto the show itself.

Strange. Awkward. Odd. Slightly... boring. People around me fell asleep. First, before it started, the guy behind me said to his companion, "They have a DANCER? A DANCER??? And a LIGHTING SPECIALIST?? What is this, like, some sort of multi-media presentation?" Oy vey.

Ok so the three of them walk out - Nathan, Julie and the dancer whose name escapes me. They're all dressed in black. He's got his hair slicked back and believe it or not I didn't recognize him at first. He looked like a mafioso. He also looked tired and appeared to have rings under his eyes. So they take their positions and there are words and images projected onto the wall, Julie starts playing something tres moe-dairn and the dancer does what I can only describe as break-dancing. Nathan stood there looking sort of morose while the dancer did her strange thing. Finally, finally he began to sing. His voice was the saving grace of the evening - replete with those wonderful warm chocolate tones that I just love. The poetry was ok, much of it from the single digit or tens- centuries, written by monks, with nature and religious themes, which was fine, but the music was dissonant, modern and just not to my taste. The program asked that people hold their applause to the end so there were these strange silent moments in between pieces. When the dancer wasn't dancing she sat on the floor or on a chair upstage. Sometimes she danced when there was no music. She was very graceful but the choreography was just weird - lots of arm gyrations and creeping along the floor. Nathan sang beautifully. At some points the lights glinted off his slicked-back hair, making it flash almost grey for a moment here and there, and he would suddenly, momentarily, look old. It was like getting a flash into the future. The poetry was interesting at times. I especially liked one piece about Mary nursing baby Jesus, (yes, I'm Jewish, and yes, it felt odd to type that, but those were the words) and what that was like, probably because I recently (ok, 5 months ago) stopped nursing Alex. The words must have released some maternal hormones or something because I actually got a bit weepy. Well my eyes got moist. Wouldn't want to do anything to make the mascara run, heh heh. Much of the time though it was just awkward with these dissonant, I don't want to call them melodies, but... sections of music, and then silence, and then the dancer would wiggle her arms around while Nathan watched with this sort of doleful look on his face... I'm sure I wasn't alone as I sat there with my brow furrowed wondering what the hell was going on. There was one piano section during which Nathan sat on the chair and the dancer was on the floor somewhere. Julie was fun to watch - she really gets into playing and wow can she play fast!

So for much of the time I was reminded of some of the pretentious performance art pieces people do in college... Other times my mind just wandered into the strangest of places, places I won't even begin to describe here for a variety of reasons.

As everyone left the auditorium, someone called my name - it was John, the guy who started and runs the Yahoo group. I also saw another woman from the group waving wildly at me from the balcony. Unfortunately I didn't get to meet her in person. Oh but the evening was interesting also because many people, mostly younger people, looked at me, did a double-take and then smiled almost like they knew me... perhaps they visited the Yahoo group and saw my picture with Nathan on the main page there. It was almost like being famous... ok not really but it was interesting.

So afterwards I went to the stage door and you guessed it... I wasn't on the list. There wasn't much of a list - I saw it. The guy said that they were coming out in 5 minutes anyway.

The theater is surround by lobby on three sides. The main lobby is behind, with a bar and some tables, but there is a narrower hallway on either side. The stage door was to the front of one of these narrower sections. Most of the people who were waiting were in the main part, but I stayed in the hallway part closer to the door. When Nathan and Julie came out, the other people in that area all seemed to know them, there were hugs and kisses, etc. And then me. I was closer to Julie so I waited for a break in her conversation with some guy and introduced myself, told her how much I liked her performance, and that I met Nathan in Chicago. She asked if I was from there... I told her I knew John O. Sort of misleading as to why I went out there but it was too complicated to explain ... She asked if I was a singer... I was like, "Uh... not exactly... but I'm a super with xxxx Opera." She said a lot of their students were with said opera company. Yes, I know... I worked with them... I gave her the earrings. Then she went back to the guy she was chatting with and I sidled over to where Nathan was chatting with some older, long-haired, grey-haired dude. That conversation wrapped up and I immediately inserted myself. He was totally like, "Hey!!! Hi! How are you!!" and it was obvious that he just didn't remember my name. D'oh. I didn't remind him either, heh heh. I pulled out the CD from Alex and said, "My son sent you a gift!" and explained what it was, although I left out the part where Alex first said that we should give Nathan a new pair of pants that we decorate ourselves... don't recall if I reported that before... anyway... I also gave him some more live recordings. It was all in a little bag and he said, "Is this all for me?" Yup, here, take the damn bag it's been weighing my purse down all evening. Ok I didn't say that... We also talked about the performance a little. He said, "It's not like Barber, is it?" and I said that I had a hard time getting into it at first but then I sort of got into the flow. He said they were really excited to be doing something different, and to be trying out different things. Well, it certainly was different. (I didn't say that out loud...) Then he was looking with that eye contact again and I had a mini-internal freak out and said, "Well, I better run, I have to get back to New Jersey," and I put my hand out and we shook hands. Didn't have the nerve to reach out and hug him. Sounds dumb since I have the nerve to cut into conversations and call to him down hallways (in Chicago). It was kind of dorky to shake hands but whatever... meanwhile there were a bunch of people wanting a piece of him out in the main lobby and I didn't want to "hog" him so I gave my NJ excuse and skeddalded myself outta there.

Then I made the mistake of walking back to Penn Station in those shoes... ouch my aching feet. However, I did find $2 on the street. Does that make up for the blisters? Uh... no way.

I'm writing on a laptop right now so I'll edit this later to stick pictures in.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Video, take, oh... whatever

Finally obtained the technology to cut clips from DVDs. More to follow, but here's what I've done so far:


So I deleted the short, poor-quality clips... sorry to anyone who tried to watch them a few posts back...

So go to YouTube, rate and comment!

Ushering in Zankel

Tomorrow's recital should be interesting. A few people from Nathan's Yahoo Fan group are going to be there. I wonder if they'll find me? They have my picture...

As far as getting backstage... well... one avenue fell through... and the man himself never replied to my email... so I'm down to the usher. The Unknown Usher.

Alex had me make a gift for Nathan and I know he (Alex) will be disappointed if I don't give it to him. That's enough reason for me to get myself backstage.

This is fun - puzzling out how to get behind Closed Doors. I just might make a hobby of it.

On an unrelated note, I made myself a pair of earrings to go with the outfit.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fashion, Take 2

Found a skirt **on sale** to go with the "my eyes are up here" blouse. It's lavender with a black pattern. It's the same gauzy material as the top. Will wear off-black hose and black pumps. Will blouse the top up so it's not stretched out over the hip. Probably won't wear the green necklace either... or the almost 4 year old...

By the way... after seeing the state of my hips in these photos... the diet starts in earnest this very moment.

So Much for Self-Esteem

Voice lesson on Thursday... my teacher very carefully said the following after I sang the Despina aria:

"Well, there has been improvement." (Note her use of the passive tense)
"Maybe I shouldn't have chosen this particular aria - it is very difficult."
"Perhaps I should have chosen something easier."

And so on. She might have said positive things too... all I remember is the above. Like, the moment I left the room, it started echoing in my head in a loop. Maybe it's time for prescription happy-drugs...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Free Fille But Not For Me

How much does that stink? Although it certainly would be ironic to end up with free tickets after all the ticketry hijinks of late.

  • Ok so first I bought the single orchestra ticket for May 2, $115.
  • Then I bought the HD Movie tickets, $25ish each.
  • Then I bought the April 26 ticket, $75
  • Luckily I have a buyer for the movie tickets, $30 each. (hey, why not?)
  • Today I learned how to get free tickets for the dress rehearsal!! And of course I went ahead and ordered them. Orchestra Prime, Row R, Seats 18 and 20. But unfortunately, or I guess I should say luckily, I can't go because it's next Friday morning and Husband will be on his way home from Boston. Unless I bring Alex... umm... nooo....
Damn. Just looked at the seating chart. Those are goooood seats.


Ok it has come up that perhaps Zankel has an area where people can wait for the performers to come out, and that's what the woman on the phone was talking about. So let me clarify.

I asked her if I needed a press pass or needed to know someone to get on the guest list to go backstage. Not wait at the stage door.... go backstage.

She said to talk to an usher before the performance and they would take care of it. Not, ask the usher afterwards where the stage door was. Talk to them before.

Of course that's no guarantee of anything. However, lest my previous post seem ambiguous due to a lack of precise details of the conversation... there was no talk of a place to wait for people to come out. It was all about going in.

Of course it will probably be a madhouse back there and I'll just stand against the wall lookin' purty. But I have a feeling I'll get another 2 minutes. Ok maybe a minute and a half, but who's counting?

All Ya Gotta Do Is Caaaallllll

Thanks for the idea, Opera Chic!

I just called Carnegie Hall and said, "I'm coming to a performance at Zankel Hall next week. Can you tell me your backstage policy, like if I wanted to go backstage to meet one of the performers?"

"Oh, sure. Just talk to one of the ushers before the performance and they'll take care of it for you."

Easy peasy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fashion Advice Please!

What to wear to Zankel Hall next week?

I think the "My Eyes Are Up Here" shirt is a go. So the flowery purple skirt and black pumps, or the slightly longer, slightly more flowy black skirt with black knee-high boots? The boots have a chunky heel.

Sorry, shoes are not pictured. Use your imagination and Hey! Stop looking at my unmade bed and frizzed-out hair.

I have a preference for which outfit but I'm interested to hear what You, The Reader, think.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What's all the Fuss About? Oh Yeah I Remember!

I can finally share a bit of my Romeo experience at the Met. Sort of. In a low-quality, fuzzy buzzy kind of way.

A coworker burned a DVD of Romeo for me. Of course my computer at work, which has the video snag program that lets me cut bits out, won't read the dvd. My computer at home won't even run the "grab" program while the DVD player is running! So... back to old fashioned aiming the hand-held at the screen for 30 second shots here and there.

Like here:

And here:

and here:

And here:

Diagnosis: WhyCan'tIBeAMezzoItis

Remember a few thousand posts ago I wrote about sending Dunque Io Son to my voice teacher? Well she replied... well actually she tried to reply but it kept bouncing back so she printed out her email and handed it to me. So much for a paperless world... but anyway... she's so funny! She said many sopranos suffer from wanting that mezzo sound. Then without my knowledge she did a test while we were warming up. She increased the speed as the notes got higher and she also brought it down lower than usual. I kept up with her and was so busy keeping up that I didn't think about anything else. I kept up with all the vowel changes and there was no discernible break! Afterwards she said she was testing me to see if I could potentially handle coloratura (or as we fondly call it here and elsewhere, cluckuratura)

Making progress on my "project." More on that later.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Phase 3 in Progress

Preparing for next week's trip to Zankel Hall.

Phase 1: Obtain ticket. Check.
Phase 2: Obtain childcare. Check.
Phase 3: Obtain backstage pass. In progress. Will report back if/when there's anything to report.

Over and out.


That's over Fille-ed, actually.

Someone at work is selling 2 tickets to the 4/26 matinee, balcony row B, seats 13 & 15, $75 each. Denise and I were going to see it in the movies that day, but decided that being there, in the balcony, was infinitely better than having the wonderful view the movies give you. So now I have two movie tickets for sale, and if anyone pops up and is interested in my orchestra seat for Fri, May 2, I'll sell that too.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oh Yeeesss I'm an artiste!

Went to an art opening today of a long-time friend from college. She introduced me around to people as an opera singer! Uh... no... I kept telling her not to, and kept having to tell the person not to believe a word my friend was saying... Then one woman started talking to me about being a super and what do I need to do to prepare for an opera? Um... show up? Hello? I said like 3 times that it's a non-speaking, non-singing role. Then she asked why I'm not in the chorus. Um... because I'd have to audition? And I'm not in a position to do that? THEN she told me about some person she knows who was in the chorus with the Met opera, but, she said disdainfully, "She never made it out of the chorus." Well well well. Meanwhile, I'm thrilled to volunteer as a super with lil' ole <>. Being in the chorus - how cool would that be? So anyway I imagine it gave my friend more cred with her fellow artists to have a friend who was an opera singer than just... a friend.

Then I met this woman who said I looked really familiar. We couldn't figure out how... but it turns out that her sister is an opera singer and sends her links to blogs and other funny opera stuff. She might have read my blog, or maybe saw my comment on someone else's... But it's more likely that we met at some prior other art event of our mutual friend.

Ok it's not true that all I have to do as a super is show up. For Romeo I did have to put pin curls in my hair to pin the monk robe to my head, and a bun to hide the rest of it. As far as auditioning, they asked for a performance resume. That was funny... I was like... ok... I'll put one together... um... what I have I done... oh I know, I was a baton twirler from age 5-18... (no that's not me in that picture although I have twirled fire baton... did I put that on the resume? Don't remember!) um... Livingston Top Hats competitive baton twirling group, I marched in parades, I was in all my school plays... community theater... the school chorus that anyone can sign up for... the school audition-only special performing chorus... marching band ... um... oh yeah and the radio comedy troupe just after college, Hub City Spoke Repair. So I copied my "real" resume for the format and put all that stuff on it. It worked - I got the part. Female monk. Monkette. Monkee? Oh I guess I did stretch a little before lifting dead Juliette on her pallet. She was a dancer and all, but she was still kinda heavy... for me. But I didn't complain.

Ouch I think I need a massage now.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Drinking and Singing

They don't mix! Went out with a couple of girlfriends tonight, had a few beverages, probably shouldn't be blogging, but hey, at least I'm not shopping online!!! So my one girlfriend who was driving said, "Ok, let's hear it. Sing." So I sang Una donna a 15 anni. Ouch. It was pretty good, mostly, but I can do better... I swear!! I'll have to sing again for her sober and hydrated.

Ok, off I go to shop, ha ha. No, to bed... After watching That Video just one more time.

Oh that reminds me... Nathan was in my dream last night!! Nothing scandalous... it was a sleeping dream, not a daydream... oh but I digress... I dreamed that he was directing La Traviata this summer so I sent him a message asking him if he could tell me what the supers would be doing in it so I could prepare. Then he came to rehearsal and it was really really crowded and he was leading everyone in stretching exercises. It was weird the way dreams are.

I'll probably read this tomorrow, sober and possibly hungover, and then delete the whole post, so whoever reads it before then, consider yourself lucky. (Yes Carlos I know you'll probably read it, but I think you'll be the only one... ;) )

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Best Work Yet

That's relative, of course. Like, on a scale of bad to worse... Fun with slideshows.

Ah Leve-toi, soleil

The Met's Romeo was (actually, is, but I'm recording it) on Great Performances on PBS today. I watched the first half. Decided to save the floating bed and so on until tomorrow. I got weepy during Ah leve-toi, soleil of all things. Why? It's opera, that's why. Sometimes the music just triggers something and the next thing I know everything is blurry because there are tears in my eyes. Roberto Alanga is a great Romeo. He is Romeo. Don't know how he's able to convince me that he's a 13 or 14 year old boy, but somehow he pulls it off.

I posted a message to my moms' group that everyone should watch. One person replied and made fun of me. I know she's just teasing, but most of them think my love of opera is just strange.

They have no idea what they're missing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Largo Video

By the time I put this one together I was an old pro, ha ha.

Video Video, Yes We Have A Video!

Three so far! Just for fun I put Juan Diego Florez' name in the tags, although I didn't mention him in the description. It's not about him... for a change. Gee I hope he didn't feel a twinge in his throat when I typed that last sentence...

Anyway... We have this:

And this:

And finally, how could I NOT do this:

AAAHHH I can't post it because YouTube is undergoing site maintenance. Oh well you'll all have to wait and wonder.

A Project

My next project is to figure out how to take a piece of music, add a pic or slide show to it and save it as a video for YouTube. I sent John O an email asking if it'd be ok and not Conflict Professionally if I posted a video I made up of him singing. Yes I was making fun of a certain someone who sent me a "you're ruining my career with your videos" email... not that John would know... but anyway... the lesson there is, always be nice to the super who happens to be an opera blogger. Hehheh. Anyway he was all for it so now I have to give it a try. Anyone know how to do it?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Placido Domingo Sings a Duet... With Himself

This is cute.

Back on Track

Voice lesson coming up this Thursday. In the airport and on the plane on the way to Chicago I read through the music, tapped out the beat, matched the words to the beat and sang it in my head to get the tune. It's cool because I'm really learning to read music. Then last week Alex was playing with Husband's electric guitar tuner. Guess what? It has an audio input mic and a little screen with a frequency meter, and lights that come up for sharp and flat- it's awesome! So now I'm testing myself for pitch. I'll think, ok, let's sing a B. And I'll try to hear it in my head, and then sing it. The meter tells me if I'm close. It's great! I'm getting better with practice.

I clipped out a few arias, duets and ensembles from the recent Barbiere. I can't stop listening to Dunque Io Son. I think I have a girl crush on Joyce... or at least on her voice! It's soooooo beautiful. So I emailed the song to my voice teacher with a message saying that THIS is what I want to sound like... can we do it? I was kidding of course. But a girl can dream, no?