Thursday, February 28, 2008

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Voice lesson tonight. I sort of jumped the gun and tried to learn the entire aria in one week, tune, words and all. My teacher sent me home with instructions to sound it out on the piano, lip trill the melody, say the words to the beat while streeeetching out the vowels (legato, legato, legato) and above all not to rush to learn everything at once. I guess I knew this would happen. I want to know it all at once and be perfect and I'm too impatient to learn it the proper way. But I know that I have to follow her advice. Hey at least my pronunciation is good, when my Spanish doesn't interfere...

Also worked on vibrato. I think I was holding back because I was embarrassed, of all things. More psychology... but anyway I can do it. And then when I did the exercises and heard how it sounded I would start laughing. I ended up doing it with my back to the piano because otherwise I'd look at my teacher and laugh.

Told her how I sang Lasciatemi Morire while crawling around in the snow... I think she thought that was kind of weird... but hey it worked at the time!

So was it a voice lesson or a therapy session? .... Yes ...


Got an email from the super captain for the opera company, that they need 4 women for La Traviata this summer. Sent my reply and photo pretty much instantly. I think he knows by now that I'm interested... Now I just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Deeper into Minus Land

Oooh I was so excited when I logged into MySpace and saw that I had new messages. Turns out it was for two comments that needed my approval... or not. Both from Juan Diego Florez. How odd, I thought that he would comment twice. What in the world could he possibly have said, in a comment on my MySpace page? My skepticism paid off... it was an ad for his CD. Yes, two identical comments of an advertisement:

Juan Diego Florez has posted a new comment about you on MySpace!

According to your privacy settings, all comments must be approved by you before they appear on your profile.

Juan Diego Florez's Comment:


Click Here to Order: Juan Diego Flórez – Voce D'Italia: Arias For Rubini"

Please click the link below to approve or deny this comment.

This obviously confirms to me that some underpaid or more likely unpaid intern is doing his MySpace page. How tacky! And how rude to spam an advertisement to your "Friends" which in this case would be your FANS. Go ahead, look at some of his friends' pages for the ad. I poked about a bit - it's not on everyone's page, but it is on many. Tacky tacky tacky. So even though it's more than likely that the Florezberry himself has no knowledge of this, it still reflects poorly on him, pushing him even deeper into Minus Land as far as I'm concerned. I guess I couldn't really be mad at the man for swallowing a fishbone, so at least now here's something. I sent a reply that I wasn't so sure about posting an ad as a comment... hasn't been read yet. I guess the lackey had to go make more espresso.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

On My Way to Full Ownership

Last voice lesson I was overwhelmed with the idea of singing a Mozart aria. My teacher would sing a line and I would think, "Man, I can never sound like that. Why waste our time?" But I plodded through it. Well I've had a complete change of attitude. I listened to a live recording of Cosi (From the Lyric, with Nathan Gunn...) and read the music along with the aria, then sang along, and now I remember almost all the words and have almost all the music down too. And I don't sound half bad. I understand all the words and I have my ideas about how to sing it. I think I can really have fun with it. It's cool to actually be confident about singing it! Of course that may change... One problem with my voice lesson is that we start at like 7:30 PM. It's just too late at night near the end of the work week for me. There, I couldn't hit the high notes. Ok, when I did try I ended up sharp, so... but to me that's not hitting them if I'm singing the wrong note, even if it's higher. But at home... I should have a recorder running at all times! I called my mom the other day and sang it for her - she was blown away. She asked if I was going to audition for the opera chorus. And for some reason her praise really made me feel good. Like I was a little kid and my mother is proud of me.

Singing and psychiatry, who knew?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And You Gave Me No Replyyyyyy

Well at least someone read it. That's more than I expected.
  • Score 1 for Nathan Gunn for replying to the message I sent him last summer.
  • Score 0 for the Florezberry for eating fish, getting an infection, canceling an entire run and not replying with even a "Thanks, hope to see you there," which is basically what NG wrote. That puts JDF's score in minusland.
Final score:

The Gunnster: 4
JDF: -4

Message Received?

Just checked my MySpace account. Someone is logged into Juan Diego Florez' MySpace page right now, and the message I sent is marked "read." So I wonder, who logs in, and do they really read the messages?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

One Month To Go

What in the world am I going to write about after my trip???? I've been researching the city via your standard web searches, asking everyone I know and trolling through other people's blogs. That turned out to be very fruitful. I learned of a restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel called Eno that has wine, cheese and chocolate tastings. Yum. Kind of lame to go alone but it sure sounds too good to pass up. I'll take notes so I can post all about it. Plus that'll give me something to do when I'm sitting there all alone.

So now we have a drink at the Signature Lounge at the Hancock Building which I must admit sounds so much nicer than going to the top with tourists and children. Just to clarify, I love children, I love to get on the floor and play and pretend and be silly, but this vacation is about ME ME ME.

I'm so not into art museums but so many people have recommended it that I might think about going.

And of course there's my plan to hit some fancy boutiques try on dresses that I have no itention of buying. Unless there's a sale. A really good sale on something I really love and have a practical use for. So you can see, I won't be buying any.

Oh yeah, and the opera.

Off I go to browse Rachel Ray's travel site.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Number 101!

I just signed in to add some more links to the sidebar and noticed that I have 100 posts! So this is number 101. I need to get a life.

Been watching Bathroom Divas. It was on all day yesterday so I recorded it. I'm learning a lot! I think any amateur singer (like me!!) would learn a lot from it. They have vocal coaches, opera directors, orchestra conductors and other music specialists all providing feedback and guidance to each singer. It's great! One of the vocal coaches says and does some of the exact same things to the singers as my teacher says to me. It's kind of creepy... but not really.

Traipsed all over my office this morning looking for a working photocopy machine to copy my music. Now I need an Italian-English dictionary to do my word-for-word translation. I also need to learn more about Despina. I will become her for this aria I'm about to learn. I know what Cosi is about, but I need to study the character in depth. I'm looking forward to learning a new aria, something longer than what I've sung before.

Last week during warmups I hit a C sharp. And to think I sang tenor in high school chorus because there weren't enough boys.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

From One Tenor to Another

Got a comment on one of my earlier posts which I'll paste here:


I just returned home from opening night of Il Barbiere Di Siviglia at the Lyric Opera Chicago and John Osborn was amazing. I have seen Juan live before and this guy named John Osborn blew me away. I don't like to put one against the other, but i will say i was very impressed with Johns voice. A bit richer than jdf's voice and his voices is equally good. In some parts of the opera i actually like johns voice better. Totally caught me of guard. And yes he did sing "o cessa di pui resitere. It is a ten minute aria that is usually left out of the opera. John made it look easy. It was amazing. To all you opera fans you must seek this guy out. Completely amazing tenor voice. Joel Bjoerling,tenor p.s. Please put up a music page on myspace or some venue so we can hear more.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"You'll Never Sing On Stage At The Met..."

"... if you only sing the vowels." Or so said my voice teacher today. I told her she should chop off the last half of that sentence to be truthful. I pointed out that perhaps one day I'll be onstage as a super... but let's be realistic. She said that when I was singing just the vowels of "Goodnight My Someone" to practice making it more legato. I'm reluctantly learning some songs in English just to have them on my list, in case I ever audition somewhere... one day...

Today she gave me a book of arias, I forget the name... to copy one of Despina's, from Cosi. Which one? Don't remember at the moment! I'm at the very beginning stages of learning it - my homework is to translate it word for word and do the IPA for the entire thing. You know I'll sit down at the piano and try to pick some of it out.

Listened to the podcast of an interview Nathan Gunn did with the Lyric. He described the scenario of Figaro's first aria and now I'm sort of annoyed with myself for listening. On the other hand, my memory is so bad that by tomorrow I probably won't remember, so I won't type it here.

Still have straight hair. I guess eventually I'll have to wash it...
Scroll to Feb 9, "How To Work It," to see how it usually looks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wow wow wow!

Voice lesson tonight- WOW! I incorporated stuff from watching Bathroom Divas, as nutty as that sounds, and it was great! I was RELAXED and I just threw myself into the character and the singing took care of itself! It was great fun too.

Fashion note: Had my hair blown out straight:

It's weird, so smooth. I think I prefer my curls but we'll keep it straight for a few days.

Got those shoes - they're going back tomorrow! First of all they were DIRTY! Ewwww. These shoes were not new. Oh yeah and I couldn't walk in them -the heel was way too high!

In the realm of, it doesn't hurt to ask, I sent a note to the Florezberry on MySpace... it's unlikely that he checks it himself, and he probably gets tons of mail, but I wished him well, told him I'm going to Chicago but it won't be the same without him, yadda yadda, I have a ticket for Fille at the Met and would love to say hello, I'll be at the stage door, etc and so on. I should have asked to be put on the list but I didn't have the nerve. I'm confident that I will not get a response. In fact, even though he logs on every few days, I'm confident that the two weeks will pass and the message will be deleted from my sent mailbox before it's even read. On the other hand, Nathan Gunn, who from now on will be called The Gunnster, did write back, so who knows. Oh wait he had 6 friends and JDF has over 400...

Optimist, pessimist... both at once!

"My good opinion, once lost, is gone forever."

Thank you, Mr. Darcy.

It's not true though. Scott R emailed me back with a whole list of things to do in Chicago, suggestions of where to eat, where the backstage door is, an assurance that John O will be good and a great suggestion about the Hancock Tower - instead of paying to get to the observatory, he recommended just going to the restaurant one level down and using that same money on a drink - the view is essentially the same. Works for me! He also said that if he were there he'd show me around the opera house.

So while I still think his email from a few months ago was out of line, as I posted since then, I don't think he meant it to be mean. I think he just sent it without thinking about how it would look to the person at the other end - me.

So anyway I wrote back to thank him and told him about my meeting with J.O.

It's all good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Just exchanged a couple of emails with the opera company super captain to remind him of my existence. He said that it looks like they'll need supers for La Traviata and The Merry Widow. Of course I wanted to be in La Cenerentola... go figure. But I'd be in all three if I could! So anyway there's a good chance that I'll be back on stage, silently, with the opera company this summer!

Shoe Dilemma

Not sure if these shoes go with the new dress. Thinking of trying these. Anyone have a comment or opinion? HELP!

Ahh what the heck... it's free overnight and free return shipping if they don't fit.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wall o' Juan

Well. I knew there was a "Wall o' Nathan" out there. Just came across a "Wall o' Juan." Wait does he look like he's choking on a bone in that one shot...

One Minor Annoyance

I do wish I had contacted Mike P about being a super in Rigoletto. I foolishly assumed he would email me if needed. And then all the way from my seat in the balcony I recognized Cathy all dressed up on stage. She didn't come to the reception, but I met the other woman (whose name escapes me...Kelly maybe) who was in the production. Now I know to contact him this coming April or May about the summer.

More on the party - I saw Erika, my "dead Juliette," from R&J. She's so sweet. Also saw some of the guys from the summer, guys who I was never introduced to, but when I went over to them and mentioned that, one of them was like, "Oh you're Susan. Of course I know who you are." So I had to ask him his name. His name is Jim. I had him mixed up with someone else - all these young cute opera singers look alike! Heh heh. He said he read my blog, but not recently. Well thank goodness for that. I write on the assumption that no one reads it but me. Obviously someone is reading it as I am NOT the one posting the anonymous comments. Anyway, I told him that I ended up taking all the videos down, and told him about Scott's mean-ish email to me about how I was potentially ruining his career by posting 30 second videos from dress rehearsals. He didn't seem surprised. Interesting, no?

Sucked Into Reality

I'll admit it: I've never seen American Idol. Or Survivor. Or most of the others. I did watch a couple episodes of Temptation Island way back when the chick with the long red hair was on... c'mon, y'all know who I'm talking about. So anyway, the point is, I'm not a reality show junkie.

Until now.

Flipping through the channels and come across "Bathroom Diva." They're at... get this... OPERA BOOT CAMP!!! A bunch of adults who have never sung opera are thrown together into a dorm where they get extensive training in all things operatic. Then each week one of them is voted off by the judges. It was really cool to watch - like a master class, only not as drawn out and boring because it was edited for the television audience. Check out the intro with the quirky note-following with Der Holle Rache, stopping to make words that start with p or b depending on the note.

I have found my niche in the reality show obsession. Or maybe it's more accurate to say, they have found me?

Wait a sec!

Duh. I have a copy of Barbiere live from SF Opera from 2006 with Nathan Gunn as Figaro and John O as Almaviva. Like, on my iPhone. The same iPhone I used to take the picture.

It's a small world after all, it's a small word after all....

There, I hope that's stuck in you head now. It's stuck in mine. Damn.

More Evidence that "It's Gonna Be OK"

This review of John Osborn as Tonio in Fille, from

Tonio is a part that has everyone wondering before the performance if the tenor can manage the 9 high Cs of “Pour mon âme” without sounding like an agonal event. Tenor John Osborn didn’t hit 9 high Cs, he gave us 11 or 12 and threw in a high D as a bonus. All this while climbing up and down a ladder and balancing on a barrel. His tone is pure light lyric with a brilliant full and focused top. His is the perfect voice for all the tenor roles from Mozart through to Donizetti (Norma excepted). He has everything needed to be a great tenor. He’s short, pudgy, balding, and has scintillating high notes. “Pour me rapprocher de Marie” showed he can also maintain a long line and sing with tenderness and beauty. Where has this guy been since winning Placido Domingo’s Operalia in 1996? I know where he’s been, but why isn’t he at the top?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Record

2/12/07...Editing this post. Lucky you if you saw it before I deleted the content.

I am such a dork. :) ---> [This line is related to the original content.]

By the way, today is the record for the most blog entries in one day.

My favorite line from someone else's blog

I love reading Opera Chic's blog. Here's my favorite line from one of her recent entries:

Anyway, Flórez (every time you say his name it just makes him more powerful)

Yes, Opera Chic, I understand.

Article about John Osborn

I know there might be one or two Juan Diego fans out there who glance at my ramblings from time to time. I also know that there are mixed feelings about the whole Chicago thing, from the comments I've read at Opera Chic , Parterre and other places. So to supplement my previous review of JDF's replacement (well, can ANYONE really replace him??) I will paste and link here an article from the U.S. One, that free paper I mentioned before that had this article about about John Osborn, the man who has the difficult task of reminding everyone of their disappointment. But like I said before, I don't think he or any of the ticket-holders have anything to worry about. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to seeing him again.

Opera Fashion

Well now that there's a good chance I'll be going backstage in Chicago, I realized I have to get something totally awesome to wear. Not for anyone specific - just for myself.

From what I've seen, opera fashion seems to be all about rhinestones and the little black dress. Inspired by the blog of an old acquaintance from high school, I went out and found a fabulous dress in petite, no less, in the perfect turquoise for my coloring. On sale too!

Of course, I'll lose 5 pounds, get a tan, tone up my arms and grow 6 inches between now and then.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

How to Work It

Yesterday I went alone to see a local production of Rigoletto. Here I am on my way out the door.

I couldn't get a comp anything so, luckily, since I'm a grown-up person with a job, I plunked down the cash. I bought the ticket the afternoon of the show and was in the 2nd to last row in the balcony! Not a big deal - it's a small theater.

The opera was fantastic. It was semi-staged - the orchestra was on the stage behind a smoky screen, and all the action took place downstage. The woman who sang Gilda was FABULOUS!!!! But that's not why you're reading this...

John Osborn was great. His voice is not as light as JDF's but it's close. It was almost too light for the role here. He can hit the high notes NO PROBLEM. So already during the opera I realized that I wouldn't be disappointed in Chicago. I felt like he was holding back strings of coloratura that weren't appropriate for Verdi, but WHOAH I can't wait to hear him sing Almaviva!

Afterwards I went to the reception. It was weird to be there alone but a bunch of people I knew from last summer eventually wandered in - some of the chorus, some dancers, etc. So once the cast was there, the director of the opera company made a toast and introduced each person, thanked everyone, blah blah blah. That's when I made my Move.

I made my way through the crowd until I was near John. He was trapped in conversation by some elderly Patron of the Arts blah blah blah. The talk turned to traveling to see operas...seemed like an appropriate moment so I shoved my way in, stuck out my hand and introduced myself. (excerpts follow as I don't remember exactly, you know how that is)

Me: Excuse me, John? Hi, my name is Susan. I'm going to Chicago next month to see Barbiere.

Him: That's great!

Me: Actually... I was going to see Juan Diego Florez...

Him: Ohhhhh you're one of THOSE people!! (with a laugh)

Me: It's ok, I don't think I'll be disappointed.

Him: I know, I can sing. (said laughingly and nice, not snotty)

I asked him if he was going to sing Cessa because from what I heard he can, and he was like, "I sure am!" And dorkingly enough I actually gave him a thumbs up and was like, "Alll riiight, now I can go and report back to all the opera blogs I read. People want to know."

I mentioned that I have my own silly blog, and he said, "No, they're not silly, they're all great!" or something like that. He seemed thrilled that I was going to give him a good review with the blog audience.

I also told him that I was going specifically to see JDF and Nathan Gunn together and he went off on how wonderful NG is, and Joyce D, and the entire cast, and if I come for one of the first three performances I'll see an all american cast, which is unusual for an opera... I told him I'm coming on the 19th, and he said, "Oh, that's the 2nd to last performance."

And then he said: What's your last name? How do you spell it? Will you come back to say hello? I'll put you on the list.

Me, totally stupid: How do I do that?

Him: You just come to the stage door and give them your name.

Me: Oh! (I think I thanked him but I can't remember!)

I wrote my name, email and blog url on a napkin and said, "Now don't sneeze in this," as I handed it to him. Meanwhile he had begun an animated conversation in Italian with someone he addressed as Maestro - but it wasn't the conductor of this particular show. So I interrupted one last time and had Mr. Italian Maestro take our picture "for the blog." ;)

He said he'd put my info into his blackberry so he remembers to put me on the list that day.

He was really nice and jokey-friendly. Very easy to talk to.

And then I giggled all the way home.

So... the question is... will he remember?

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Familiar Theme: Alone to the Opera

Couldn't get a comp into the reception tonight so I went ahead and bought a ticket to both the opera and the post-performance reception. I'm wearing the same outfit I wore to the Met except with gorgeous new pumps I got on, my new favorite shoe shopping site. Have an agenda. Will report again tomorrow.

Have been enjoying immensely the Opera Chic blog, especially the entries and comments on the fishbone situation.

Time to go pretty myself up for tonight.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Half a degree of separation

I wrote this email to a friend (yet another YouTuber-turned-friend) and realized it can double as a blog posting:

Can things get any stranger? NJ Opera is doing Rigoletto this weekend. Today I picked up the local free entertainment newspaper for the daily listings of stuff to do. I looked at the table of contents to see what page the daily listings started. For some reason I glanced down at the list of articles, which I never ever do. There was an article about a "Nice Tenor Playing the Cad," so I went to the page. The name of the guy sure sounded familiar... sure enough, it's the guy who's replacing JDF. Now, I might be able to score a free ticket for the concert. There's a reception afterwards that you have to pay for, but I went last year on a free ticket and was able to crash. (shhh, heh heh). So if I get a ticket, my plan is to crash the reception and then pass this guy some fish. No really I'll try to chat with him if I can because he's another potential contact for meeting Nathan Gunn. So we'll see...First, let's see if that ticket materializes. :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Fishbone?

Who gets a throat infection from swallowing a fishbone????????????

Lasciatemi Morire - The Stages of Grief

Warning: Overly dramatic post follows.

I cried myself to sleep last night after hearing that Juan Diego has cancelled his run at the Lyric. At first I couldn't believe it. I was in denial. Then the floodgates opened.

I cannot express in words how much I was looking forward to seeing him as Almaviva, and seeing him and Nathan Gunn in the same opera, and possibly meeting him afterwards.

I am crushed. Devastated. I am on the verge of tears. I realize this means I have invested too much emotion in this opera, in this trip, in this man.

I am moving through the stages of grief and am kind of angry at him. How dare he go and cancel. Does he have any idea that people save their money to go and see him perform, and then to have him do something stupid like eat fish with bones? And is he being overly cautious by cancelling the entire run??? Why not do the last two performances, which would include the one I'm going to?

Bargaining: I'm sort of hoping that maybe he will be well enough and will step in for the last two. Is that bargaining? I don't think so - I'm not offering anything in return except my gratitude and releif if he does. Which I know he won't.

Depression: Well that's been there from the start.

Acceptance: At least I'll get away on my own and of course I can't forget that Nathan Gunn will be there, and hopefully I'll be able to meet him at the stage door afterwards.

This sucks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Star Tenor Sidelined by Fishbone
The Associated Press, 31 January 2007

Star tenor Juan Diego Florez has been forced to cancel all performances in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" because of a throat infection caused by a swallowed fishbone, the company said Thursday.

Doctors in Parma, Italy, have advised the 35-year-old singer that he not perform through mid-March at the earliest, the company said.

American tenor John Osborn, 35, will replace Florez in the role of Count Almaviva for the 12 scheduled performances of the comic opera through March 22.

"We were dismayed to learn of Juan Diego's medical difficulty, especially knowing how much he was looking forward to returning to Lyric, and send all best wishes for his recovery," Lyric's general director William Mason said in a statement. "Fortunately, John Osborn, a major interpreter of the bel canto repertoire, is available on short notice."

After Chicago, Florez's next scheduled appearance is March 31 in his native Peru, where he is to sing the role of the Duke in Verdi's "Rigoletto." He is scheduled to portray Tonio in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment" starting April 21.