Saturday, May 31, 2008
I hear many mistakes. Like, I mess up the timing on that part, and laugh, and then lose it in the high notes of the following measure. I know my mouth isn't open enough, my jaw not slack enough.
Not sure why I kept looking out the window. I think someone was outside catching my eye. Plus I was preoccupied a little, hoping I could finish the song before Husband and Child got home.
Not sure what I'm doing with my hands... except of course when I'm trying to count. Trying not to hunch into the emotion, which I felt myself doing a bit.
So I know this isn't the best I can do, but I wanted to share my Work In Progress. I'll gladly welcome any tips. (except, "this stinks," because I do that myself already.)
Friday, May 30, 2008
A sample line from that entry:
Thank the gods of beautiful almost-naked men for that! It was worth the cost of tickets solely for that one scene of Nathan Gunn half naked!This is not an opera blogger - just an account of someone's night at the opera. Click the link to find out which one. Or just read the tags here...
Fiddling with the Technorati widget. It suddenly was showing half sentences of the sites that linked here, over on the right side. I fiddled with the code and couldn't get rid of it without compromising the look of the buttons. Will keep trying as I kind of like it.
Finally, on a TOTALLY unrelated note, Husband informed me that several political bloggers participate in what they call, "Cat Pic Friday" where they post a picture of a cat on their blog on, you guessed it, Fridays. I'm frantically trying to think of a way to relate this to opera so I can bore everyone with pictures of my cats once a week. I'll keep working on it. Until then, here's Diego when he was still kittenish. WAIT!!! He's named after Juan Diego Florez. That makes it opera related, right?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
So I'll transcribe the comments here, by song.
Goodnight, My Someone
**all three commented on my breaking character before the piano ended. It seems so obvious to me now but at the time I had no idea. My teacher blamed herself for that, for not going over all the music and explaining about that. I still feel like I should have just known... but anyway...**
- Lovely, sweet sound
- Nice connection to the text and you're comfortable presenting the song.
- You're not afraid to connect to the character - that's great.
- Keep the breath energy smooth from note to note. [comment from me: nerves?]
- The energy is in the vowel.
- Your mouth shape is horizontal and there seems to be a lot of tension in your lips.
- Some good released sounds in there - notice how that feels.
Evaluator #3, aka my teacher:
- More lower breathing needed
- Good vertical space
- More legato and vowel connection needed [yeah, no kidding]
- Work on getting deep low breath.
- Stay connected into the body for a fuller, more complete sound.
- Your desire to sing and act needs to be grounded in a really firm technique.
- Feel your feet, think tall and deep (in vowels and tone)
- Think a "queenly" attitude - strong, dynamic, forceful physique! Regal!
- Good [This "good" was off to the side and underlined.]
- Get lower in your body.
- It takes time to build the necessary strength in the body.
- Find the core of the tone and maintain it.
- Good start.
- Good courage!
- Good emotion in the voice
- Don't fold into yourself and ruin your posture
- Improvement on vertical space
- Nerves impeded the embellishments
Today when we went over the suggestions she said the emotion was great. We went over the embellishments again and the truth is... I just didn't know them. Ok that's not entirely accurate. I knew the notes and how they fit together but was having trouble with the rhythm and making sure I fit them in all the two measures, so I didn't get them in the right parts of the measures. Sometimes I wonder if this would have been easier had I learned how to read music as a child. We had gone over it before but I had some sort of mental block. Today she described it another way, using math terms, and it was like something clicked in my brain and suddenly it all made sense. So nerves sort of impeded the embellishments, but not in the way she thought - it was nerves about not being sure, not general nerves about the event. At least that's what it seemed like, to me, at the time.
My teacher said that the evaluators liked the fact that I'm into opera because it helps me get emotion into my singing. That's not exactly how she put it but you get the idea. They also suggested a song for me - Ouvre ton coeur, by Bizet. Hey it's in French!
Next week is a studio class where each person will sing one song once or twice, people will offer suggestions and the teacher will give advice. I decided to practice Lasciatemi and do that for the class.
So how do I feel? I'm not shocked or surprised by any of the breath advice, about finding strength and getting lower and being connected to my body and breath. I definitely need to work on that.
I am surprised by all the good feedback. Yeah I know... I can't help it. But now I know there is something in there, in me, some sort of potential, and if I keep working I'll get closer and closer to that sound, to that potential to produce music. That's pretty cool, dontcha think?
Now if I could only keep my eyes open. *yawn*
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
And then there's this, from La Cenerentola, which, now that I listen to after the Donizetti, doesn't sound that different. Rossini here, Donizetti there... A coworker of mine who Knows These Things told me that they competed in how quickly they could throw an opera together.
Here's a fun one from Barbiere, especially for those of you who like some girl-on-girl action:
Since they play catch with an orange in the above video, here's the orange's "revenge" as she sings Habanera from Carmen. I remember this from my childhood!
Now listen to this craziness. More Cenerentola. Lots of Cecelia Bartoli... her voice doesn't sound real...
This just swirls my brain. I love it! From Matilde di Shabran.
Finally, to calm us down after all that, here's something I sometimes listen to just before shutting down the computer. Yes, I know, I'm Jewish, but that doesn't mean I can't like Ave Maria, especially when Juan Diego is singing it.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Do you know if this summer's R&J will be broadcast on any airwaves? One with you, not that other guy. A couple people have asked... why they ask me, I don't know... (read my prior post on not knowing...) So do you happen to know?
So here's the test part: Post a comment but put something in it so I'll know it's you... like... ok I know... That night we hung out, what article of clothing did I find on my way out of the opera house, what color was it, and how did it travel from the opera house to the bar? I don't think I blogged about it, and I think Husband was the only one I told. And we all know he doesn't read the blog...
If you don't read the blog, well, then forget it.
Over and out.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Yep. Barbiere from the Lyric. John, Joyce, Nathan. The finale of Act 1 for my drive to Target.
I took my time in the store, and heard the very very end of the opera when I got back in the car. Like, after each person sang his or her little piece, and then the curtain calls.
So I called my mother. The first words out of her mouth: "Did you listen to the Saturday Afternoon Broadcast? Was that not wonderful? What talent! What a fabulous cast! I cried three times. THREE TIMES!" She went on and on about how great it was until I could cut her off to say that yes, I heard it, and Oh, BY THE WAY, MOM, I WAS THERE!! Not at that exact performance, but I saw the same cast a few weeks later. I was like, "Remember when I went to Chicago? That's what I saw! From the 14th row! It's even better live!! That tenor, the Almaviva you heard? He and I are friends... He invited me backstage... I met them all..." and she said, "We have a terrible connection, you're echoing, I can't stay on the phone it's too annoying."
Nice. Maybe she's trying to give me a hint...
What did I say in a previous post?
Always listen to your mother.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Nope. I don't.
I do, however, pile a king sized down comforter over on his side of the bed so I have something warm to cuddle up to.
Ok stop laughing now!
Some women watch chick flicks to while their husbands are away. I take advantage of his absence to rewatch operas that I have saved on the DVR without feeling embarrassed ("You're watching that AGAIN?") and on YouTube without worrying that Husband will glance over ("You're watching that AGAIN???"). Hey, I'm like a kid - I'll watch or listen to the same thing over and over if I really like it. I also often reread books I like. You notice different things each time. Of course with videos you do also start to notice every quirk and movement.
So anyway, Husband has returned from the UK with various bars of candy as well as some packets of disgusting flavored crisps: prawn, chicken and others. And some strange bacon things... and, of course, Jelly Babies. Yum.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Then... Camelot. I put up a few videos and suddenly I'm getting all these emails from people asking me the strangest questions - like stuff about Nathan Gunn's personal life - or where he'll be performing - Umm... I don't know? And... I don't know? His personal life is, uh, personal? To him? And his professional life, meaning, his performance schedule, is on his professional website? I know if he's going to be performing somewhere where I could potentially attend... but that's pretty much it...
So here are some excerpts and parts of my replies:
Hi Susan,I noticed you are one of the most distinguished fans of Nathan Gunn and opera in general. I am emailing you to ask if you know whether he is performing in New York in 2008. Apparently he is not in Met's 2008-2009 season.
I don't know what Nathan's future schedule is. It's on his website, and sometimes he mentions in his journal what he's working on before it gets into the schedule section. Sometimes people hear things and post it to the board.
You can also look here: http://www.metmaniac.com
/future.htmlto see some of the unofficial future met schedule.
I just Nathan Gunn's performance at Live at Lincoln CenterAs if I'd give out his email address? Or anyone's for that matter? And to tell the truth, I felt weird giving the marital status/kids info, even though that's all over the press. Can anyone say, Google search?
in "Camelot". What a voice.
Do you know if he ever comes to Houston, Texas? I was wondering how old he is? Does he have an e-mail address because I would like to tell him how much I enjoyed his singing as Lancelot in "Camelot".
I would check his website - www.nathangunn.com. He has his schedule posted there, although it's not always up to date. But I do think he is going somewhere in Texas next year.
The best way to tell him how much you enjoyed Camelot would be to send him a MySpace message. He's in his mid 30's... 37 I think? Married, 5 kids.
I saw your upload of Nathan Gunn and Marin Mazzie in Camelot and was wondering if you had the complete recording of the performance. Please let me know.
I told both of these people that I'd see if I could make a copy of the DVD. Many other people have posted comments under some of the videos asking if I could upload the entire thing. Umm... I don't like it enough to do that. I'd try to post all of Magic Flute though, if someone would only ask ...
I LOVE your clip of Nathan Gunn singing "C'est Moi!" I watched the whole opera on TV and really want to see it again, but I didn't tape it. Do you have the entire thing? If so, is there a way you could send it to me?
I'd like to ask your vocal opinion about something Nathan Gunn is doing in "If Ever I Would Leave You." But I don't wish to make this a discussion at large as there are so many critics afoot.
I did exchange a few emails with that person about her concern, even though I don't feel qualified to have a vocal opinion on, well, anything. The "critic" reference was because one person was making nasty comments on that particular video, starting with "This sucks... are you people all unicorns?" Which made me laugh because who calls someone a unicorn as an insult? But the flurry of messages that followed was interesting.
And I saved my favorite one for last:
Since you know all about NG, I am wondering about his wife and family. I know she is a musician. Do you know anything about her? Also, I am wondering how it works with all those kids, him often on the road and often appearing with half dressed, voluptuous women, plus all his female groupies. I would think that would give a marriage lots of huge challenges.
There are very few men who could keep their feet on the ground in his situation.
Whoa. Now this is someone with whom I've exchanged a few messages on YouTube, and I must admit that this message surprised the heck out of me. My reply:
Ok, for the record:
Nathan's wife teaches at the University of Illinois. I met her once and she was very nice. I don't know what their personal life is like. I don't really think about it - everyone deserves their privacy, right? :)
I do not know what Nathan Gunn's personal life is like. I don't know how he arranges childcare with his wife. I have no idea if appearing with half-dressed voluptuous women affects his marriage or his kids. I have no idea if he has groupies and if they throw themselves at him. (No I didn't and wouldn't.) Not only do I not know, I don't really care. It's none of my business. I do know that he is married with 5 kids because it's been published and he's said so in interviews. I know he's in his mid-30s because MySpace lists ages on profiles, and I've probably read it somewhere. Is it true that there are very few men who could keep their feet on the ground in this situation? And what does on the ground mean? That he's down to earth? Or hasn't lifted his feet from the ground to some floozy's bed? I met the guy for 5 or 10 minutes on two occasions. He seemed pretty down to earth each time... but what does that mean? In those 15-20 minutes, split between two events, I did not detect a bloated ego or a lascivious temperament. He maintained eye contact and did not do the bewb-glance while I was looking. He did squeeze me very tightly for the photo and I was sort of squished into him... is that scandalous? I don't think so... Would his wife mind? I have no idea. Some women care about that kind of thing, others don't. I wouldn't care if Husband squished some chick into him for a pic, as long as he came home with me that night and not her...
I'm reluctant to once again bring Real Life to my blog, but... I do have my own personal life with Husband and Child and the truth is I'm too tired to pay attention to the personal lives of people I don't know.
I don't mean to come across as harsh to these information seekers. But just because I posted a few videos to YouTube does not mean that I have the inside scoop to what side of the bed he sleeps on, and if he sleeps diagonally when he's alone in the bed.
However, if you ask nicely, I'll tell you if I do.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Husband is not allowed to go away for a week ever again.
Edited to add: He's much better now, no more wheezing !! He's still hoarse from all the coughing but hopefully will be back to singing his favorite arias soon. Oh and just to make this a bit more operatically themed, I let him watch TV while he does the breathing machine, and lately he has been asking to watch what he calls, "Figaro, when the cart comes out," which is "All'Idea di Quell Metallo" (I apologize for the spelling errors there...) and then after that "the part where they chase him," meaning, rewinding to when Count Almaviva tells the musicians to go and they run after him thanking him loudly so he'll give them more money to be quiet and leave, from the Met's Barbiere. I asked him why he likes All'idea - is it the cart or the music? And he said he likes the music at that point where the cart comes out. That's the "numero quindici" part of the duet. I like it too!
Friday, May 16, 2008
I keep going back and forth between, this was no big deal, it's a learning exercise, or, a growth exercise, as my teacher pointed out, and not some sort of judgment of me as a person. But then I think, that's what it comes down to doesn't it? I put my whole self into my singing, so if I don't like how I sound, then I don't like myself. That's not exactly accurate. It's more like, if I don't like how I sound, I'm embarrassed? That's not it either. But it's something like that.
I'm also annoyed with myself for my reactions. I'm so annoyed that I got nervous. I work hard, I do my homework, I look at the music when I get a chance. I practice every day. I can sing those songs (and many others) in my sleep. But all of a sudden, those pencils were scribbling, that piano was playing and it sounded different than the CD accompaniment or my teacher (who should not beat HERSELF up or apologize about her playing!!!) and lost whatever dredges of relaxation were left in my body. When I don't like how I sound I usually put my hand to my throat as if it were betraying me. I found myself doing that which further annoyed me. Bad habit, must break!
I think one of the most important things, as one commenter pointed out, is that now I've done it. It's over with, there are no more first times. Sounds simple, but it's true.
Ok time to stop putting so much energy into this. On to the funny things:
Out in the hallway afterwards my teacher kept smacking me in the arm telling me not to beat myself up. *smack* "Don't beat yourself up!" *smack* "I know how you feel!" *smack* "Don't do this to yourself" *smack* and so on...
Yeah ok, now I won't need to beat myself up... :) No doubt that's why I cried like a baby in the car before driving home...
The other funny thing also involves my teacher: In her comment on the previous post, she called me a "gutsy girl." Girl, heh heh. A 41 year old girl. Did I ever mention that I'm her only adult student, the rest are teenagers?
I'm solo-parenting this week so I may not have time to post as much as I'd like... I'll make up for it next week, I promise!
One last thing - when putting the labels in for the post, "insanity" was already on the list. Hah!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
It was so weird. I wasn't nervous until after I had begun singing. I was sort of looking over their heads. Then I glanced down at them and saw that they were furiously scribbling, and any shred of calmness and self-certainty that I had left went out the window. I cracked, I lost my vibrato on some notes and was generally shaky sounding.
I've never sung with an accompanist before. I've never sung in front of people I didn't know, and certainly not people who were judging me. It was so weird - there were little parts here and there where I knew I was off but couldn't control it. I never sang "Goodnight My Someone" with any music other than my voice teacher playing the chords. I didn't realize there were several measures of piano after I was done singing. I was like, isn't it over? Why is she still playing? Did I forget a section? Should I still be singing? I was confused and a bit freaked out that I was doing something wrong. My teacher told me later that I picked up my water bottle while the piano was still going. I don't even remember doing that. She said that was my only real "mistake." She said I incorporated the things we talked about last week about creating vertical space, and she knows that I was off on the ornamentation in Lasciatemi Morire because of nerves. She said that for my first evaluation, and my first time singing with a real live accompanist, that I did very well, that I've worked hard all these months and I should be happy.
So why do I just want to cry? Relief?
Lest I bring the reader of my otherwise lighthearted blog down, take a look at the certificate I got. How silly is this! Yup, it's official. I've been evaluated. It's a little wrinkled because I sort of shoved it in my bag... And what, no frame? Time for a trip to the dollar store!
Had a light snack of, yes, leftover pizza. I could say I was inspired, or something, by this person, but truthfully it was all we had in the house. Talk about comparing apples and oranges... She's a professional and I'm a, well, I'm not. She sang a leading role in an opera that people paid to come see, I'm singing two songs for people I pay tuition to. She also gets paid. Again, I pay for the privilege...
And I will say that my pizza was not greasy or cheesy (as the oil seeps out my pores) because it was a Brooklyn, (except square, not round) from Vito's, with a super-thin crust, blobs of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and crushed tomatoes. Yum!
I feel pretty confident about tonight. (ask me again later...) It's not an audition, it's just an evaluation - someone other than my own voice teacher having a listen and giving advice. However, that doesn't mean that I'm not wearing my polka dot underwear. I absolutely am. You see, when I first started my lessons, I always wore my little grey and pink Vicky S undies with the musical notes on them on lesson days. Then one week they were in the laundry, so I randomly wore polka-dot undies, and wouldn't you know, I had a great lesson and sang really well. So of course ever since then I've worn the polka dots to my lessons. I have a few different polka dot pairs and any of them will do. So today it's a Hanes white bikini with multi-colored dots.
It's all about the underwear.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
So for Goodnight My Someone - Still working on the damn legato. I stitch the words together and it still sounds choppy. I know I can do it, but why won't it just happen? I know, I know... relax. Dumb jaw. Let it just come. Be Marian the Librarian, looking for that special someone who must be out there just waiting to fall in love with her. Thanks to my teenage mindset I can lapse into that longing-for-a-boyfriend feeling pretty easily. I have found that I have more legato if I sing it quietly, so maybe I have to tone it down a bit, use a little less energy. Maybe it's a muscular control thing, and when I sing it quietly I have more control than when I let 'er rip.
Main point here: Relax, Relax Relax!
Monday, May 12, 2008
I still prefer the opera. This is just a bit too sappy for me. But like I said, it was by request, and who am I to refuse to share something Gunnish with a new fan? But go to YouTube and see the opera videos, OK??????
Edited to add:
Ooh crippy quality from YouTube. Ok ok I'll upload it.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
"Always listen to your mother."
Friday, May 9, 2008
So out she went, and who was standing there but tenor Matthew Polenzani. He was surrounded, she said, by, "a bunch of old ladies..." Hmm sound familiar? So she said she remembered what I told her about meeting the singers. Instead of being all gushy and star-struck, she introduced herself, told him that she teaches at Westminster and knows people he's studied with and they had a nice chat, including a "Say hello to so-and-so for me."
She was all shocked: "He's just a regular person." Well duh, we all are. If you treat someone like a "regular person" they will respond in kind.
Then, of course, we talked about what a wonderful voice he has, and I "reminisced" about New Years Eve, when I listened to him sing Romeo while I held a very feverish child on my lap. Ah those were the days. Wait that was like, 5 months ago...
The king was good - the whining ended once Lancelot came along, go figure. The queen was great - what a beautiful voice! And did anyone else notice just how big her mouth is? She must be a dentist's dream - they can probably stick their entire head in her mouth for the exam. Anyway... Christopher Lloyd was awesome. He was typecast of course, as the flighty spacey old guy, but he plays it so well.
I imagine there’s going to be a surge of new members at the fan site. He really should have someone check his MySpace page – how many pending friend requests must be out there. *Raising arm wildly like a know-it-all school kid* I’ll do it Nathan, just send me your MySpace password! I promise not to reply to messages or post any comments – I’d just approve friends and moderate the comments people make. Oh wait he doesn’t read my blog, never mind.
Meanwhile, if you go to the NY Times Review you can see a little video of the gala dinner, including Nathan giving Fran Drescher a big hug before he runs off for his beauty sleep.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Like, I like shiny things. For example, shiny shirts paired with leather pants. And people who wear things like that are A-Ok in my book. And no you may not borrow my book. It's mine and I'm not sharing. But as usual, I digress... where was I?
Yes... initial impressions...
What's-her-name, Fran the whiner, should stick to The Nanny and stay off live stage. She looks good in the dress but could she please just keep her mouth shut?
And... if we play 6 degrees of separation... Nathan Gunn has now worked with Christopher Lloyd who worked with Danny Devito and also Michael J. Fox. Danny Devito has worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger (sp?) and also Bette Middler, who has worked with Barry Manilow... Nathan Gunn is that close to Barry Manilow in this game? Ok I'm stopping now before this truly gets out of hand.
A vaguely more serious post about the performance will follow tomorrow or Saturday. And by serious, of course, I mean, mostly silly.
I'll get home around 30 minutes after Camelot begins. I've decided to watch it from there and "catch up" on the first half hour afterwards.
There was, however, one thrilling exception to the rule, as anyone watching the delayed broadcast of this performance tonight on PBS, or sitting in the audience for the remaining four performances, will undoubtedly attest.
He's the One
When baritone Nathan Gunn launched into Lancelot's preening ``C'est Moi,'' nostalgia for Robert Goulet's career-defining delivery of the song melts away. Even lovelier is Act Two's ``If Ever I Would Leave You,'' which comes across here not as a tired old chestnut but as fresh an expression of devotion as ever sung by knight to queen. Checkmate.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
When I first started my lessons I couldn't bear to listen to myself on the tapes. I probably still couldn't bear to listen to those early tapes. In fact I should probably destroy them. If I weren't anti-litter I'd toss them out the car window while driving on the highway.
So where was I?
Right. I have a voice eval in one week. My teacher has been pleased with my improvement over the past few lessons. My last lesson before the eval is tomorrow, and... I haven't listened to last week's tape yet. Granted, Alex's breathing problem filled up most of my brain power over the weekend, but still...
I guess I'll have to listen on the way there tomorrow...
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Here he is in the pediatrician's office doing the breathing treatment.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
"That music we were listening to on the way here."
Right. Alex wanted to listen to... La Fille du Regiment.
"The loud part."
"Rataplan?" (this is what the soldiers sing when they're all drunk)
The CD was already set to the trio in act 2, so we listened to that, then I put the other disc in. The entire act is one track so I had to fast forward, so we also listened to the patriotic song Marie sings for Tonio and the regiment, and then the love duet.
That's my opera-lovin' boy.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Still planning on La Sonnambula next season. Mentioned it to my voice teacher and she'd like to go too. So I might not be going alone!
Listened to an interview with JDF and Natalie Dessay. He mentioned that he'll be doing Pearl Fishers in the future. Hmm another potential pairing with the Gunnster as he often does the bari part. I wonder where... (checking my frequent flyer miles...)
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I'm especially lovin' that she uses the nickname I came up with!
Big hands, what about that huge chin? What's up with that?
You can see the whole slide-show here.
Too bad tickets are outrageously expensive - from $120 in the 3rd tier, to $250 on the main floor! That's more expensive than opera! Talk about excluding the masses...
Hooray for live broadcasts!
When I went to Romeo, I had no thoughts of waiting by the stage door to meet Nathan. Of course I was excited to see him perform live. But the whole experience of that evening was what it was all about - I had no thoughts of trying to meet anyone. Here's yet another post about the music.
When I bought my ticket to Chicago, it was to see Nathan Gunn and Juan Diego Florez perform together, not to meet them. I vacillated about waiting at the stage door or not for them, and was leaning towards not... and then the Fishbone happened, and I went to the NJ Opera party and met John. He invited me backstage in Chicago and, well, Nathan and Joyce were there. I'm happy that they were, it was a great experience, but it's not why I went there.
Then getting that picture with Juan Diego last week ... I had no plans of going to the stage door until Denise kept urging me. Then I realized that I had no plans to do, well, anything... I was in no rush to get back on a train... so I figured, sure, why not go? And it sure was an interesting experience, to see the crowd that gathered, and it was great fun to get the picture.
Ever since I was a teenager I felt that if I ever heard a musician whose music had touched me in some way, that I would like to meet them to thank them. I did just that. I think it makes them feel like their hard work is worth it when someone does that.
So again, I don't plan on going far out of my way to meet the performers that I like, but if it's easy to do, like at the Met or with NJ Opera, or if it falls into my lap, like in Chicago, I'm not going to say no. And then, of course, I'll take pictures, write all about it and compare the experiences, because how fun is that???