Monday, June 30, 2008

Grammar Police!

Wow people (including myself) are going a bit nuts on Nathan Gunn's Yahoo Fan Group. It started with a link to his journal entry, and then a comment on the grammar and spelling in his journal, and then everyone (including me!!) went off (or is that on???) about grammar.

Meanwhile, what none of them know is, because I spend so much time with my over-generalizing son, I've been known to say "goed," "taked" and other rule-following yet grammatically incorrect conjugations.

Speaking of my over-generalizing child, today we watched parts of Fille. Again. Rataplan Rataplan Rataplan. Actually I don't mind at all - I like it too. When I like an opera I can listen to it several (hundred) times in a row. I'll hear different things each time. In fact, today I was listening to the music lesson in Act II on my way home from work. It's so wonderful. Natalie Dessay's voice is just... too beautiful for words. I felt like the music was pouring into my ears and spreading through my body like warm sweet syrup. And it's all calorie-free!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's La Fille-ful

Fille was on PBS again this afternoon. I saw the DVR recording light on so I turned on the TV to see what it was catching. Canceled the recording because I already have it, but kept it on anyway. Alex was totally into it! It was at the part where the soldiers caught Tonio and dragged him into the camp. Ah yes the Little Tenor in his lederhosen, so adorable. Alex kept complaining, "This is an OPERA! There's too much talking." I agree, there is far too much. But we did some puzzles and played some games during the talky bits. He watched the ENTIRE THING THROUGH TO THE END!!! INCLUDING THE CREDITS!!!!

His favorite part: When the drunken soldiers sing the "Rataplan" song.

Natalie Dessay is AMAZING. I so want to be able to sing like her but realize that it's just impossible. It will never happen. She hits notes that when I try, no sound comes out. What's up with that????

After watching it through to the end this afternoon, I came and reread my post-Fille posts and got that happy excited tummy feeling. Sounds hokey but y'all know what I mean, right?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Whatever you do... DON'T LOOK DOWN!

Surprise surprise - no parking fiasco today! Another surprise, although I would have known had I looked carefully at the schedule - no chorus today, just principals, smaller parts, covers and supers. Michael wasn't there so his cover did the part. I forget his name - Cody maybe? He was pretty good. They ran through the entire thing so I got to see parts I hadn't heard before. Everyone is awesome!

When the supers were done we went to the costume shop to get our dresses fixed. Someone had previously put these huge hacked-up hems in them so they had them taken out. Then there was far too much material so they had to cut the bottom. I went first. I had to climb up on this pretty high table. Like, I got on a chair and still had to put a knee onto the table to get up - I couldn't just step up. The costume woman, who was in a surprisingly good mood, (another surprise!) sat at the edge of the table with her hands on it: "Come forward. More. More. Keep coming. Forward. A little more..." Until my feet were touching her hands. I mean, right at the very very edge of this rather tall table. For some reason I was reminded of being at the doctor's or dentist's office where they tell you to do stuff and you just trust them. Then she said, "Whatever you do, DON'T LOOK DOWN!" and went to work snipping, snipping. I had my new strappy character shoes on and all my weight was in my heels. I imagine I was even lurching backwards a bit. Then she said, "I'm going to hold your ankles. Turn SLOWLY to the left." Inch, inch, inch... around I went. Snip, snip, snip. Then the ankle hold again while I turned my back to her. Then of course I was leaning forward with all my weight in my toes. She finished up and I couldn't get off that table fast enough. Then it was Rachel's turn. I took her picture up there. Is that dress not the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen? Oh wait by gorgeous of course I mean HIDEOUS! It makes everyone's eyes go all wiggly. I cropped the picture and tried to fuzz out the lights because they were so bright, hence the weirdness around her head. Wow I just used the word 'hence' in my blog. The hands working on the hem belong to a sitting-down person. I was tempted not to include that info because then the table would seem even bigger, and therefore my adventure even more adventurous, but then I realized that none of my intelligent readers would believe that such a high table would exist.

So, I learned today how far I can lean in one direction without falling over. Can't wait to see if I'm sore tomorrow in leg muscles I didn't know I had.

Photo: Rachel getting her dress snipped.




I asked the costume woman if we were going to wear bonnets and she said, "Oh, have you been called to the wig shop yet?" Uh.... how is anyone going to be able to put a wig over this head of hair???

Looks like there might be some more opera adventure in my future - but this one better not involve snipping!

Anticipating an Adventure

Rehearsal starts an hour from now. I'm already wondering what my parking adventure will be.

We have a costume fitting today. I have to wear my new fabulous shoes and climb up onto a Very Tall Table so the costume kids and their dragon-master can pin and sew me into my dress.

I will, of course, post a full report of the evening at some point tomorrow or Monday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Flashback!

Looked up tonight to see the little red light on the DVR. What oh what could it be recording? Wait a sec... it must be Great Performances... which means it must be La Fille du Regiment!! The very same one that I was at , up up up and away in the beautiful balcony balloon!

No matter how good it sounds in the theater or on TV, live and in person, even from waaaay up in the balcony, it's exponentially better. Exponents, remember them from math class?

*sigh* Juan Diego does look so very cute in lederhosen, especially when compared to this. Go ahead, click on that, and then once there click on the "not safe for work set." Seriously. Then you too will think how wonderful the little tenor looks in Tyrolean digs.

Sitting there on the couch in my Hello Kitty pajamas I totally remembered how excited I felt to be sitting there in the Met up in the balcony waiting for the moment when Juan Diego made his entrance. And Natalie Dessay is nothing to sneeze at - the opera is a showcase for her - she's AMAZING! And now that it's "intermission," instead of running down three levels to hang out with the rich people and drink the expensive champagne only sold at their bar, I grabbed an ice-cream sandwich and came upstairs to write. But that's only because we're out of champagne.

I wonder if I can wear my pajamas the next time I go to the Met?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Splashes, Shoes and a Rubber Chicken

Sunday

While I realize that I promised to write about Sunday's rehearsal, the truth is, I was sort of ill, took very few notes and don't remember much. Let's see, I drove down a questionable alleyway to find my way to that one-way street mentioned in the first rehearsal. I even remembered how to get back to the car afterwards.

Ok here are my notes as scribbled in my notebook:

water in glasses
dancers
principals come in last, sit together, hug the director
sing octave lower to protect voice
cell phone or electronic game sound
Director: "You know why Verdi wrote it like that? The orchestra stops... To shut up the Italian audience."
and
"It's not sloppy drunk but it's feeling good."

So let's see... during the musical rehearsal there was some sort of cell phone or electronic game noise playing. Everyone scrambled to check their phones, except, of course, the owner of the offending device. Eventually the stage manager looked in his bag, and yup, it was his. Oops.

The glasses we brought out on trays had water in them. Blah blah blah not very interesting. I already posted the interesting part, when Ellen picked the wax out of Michael's ear. Yes, it was that kind of day. And now, three days later, I'm still waiting for the Imodium to wear off.

Oh! Here's one nice thing! Meanie girl actually smiled and said hello, and has been friendly even. It's as if she read the blog and recognized herself. I highly doubt it.

Tuesday

Yes, yet another parking fiasco. I didn't have to be there until 7:30 so I figured I'd have no problem finding a spot on Prospect Street near the rehearsal building. And in fact, there were no cars parked on Prospect Street for the 1st quarter mile.... because all the spots were blocked by friggin' saw-horses! There were "no parking" bags (yes, bags) on the meters. I was like a mile down the road before I spied an empty spot another quarter of a mile away. While I am a very big fan of walking, and do like a brisk walk after dinner, I don't relish the idea of leaving rehearsal at 10:00PM to walk a mile in the dark to my car. Alone.

So once again I drayed around until I found a spot on another street slightly closer than the spot I would have gotten on Prospect. Turns out that a Transformers Movie was being filmed there, during the day, which meant that the spots had to be blocked all day and all night. Or maybe someone forgot to unbag the meters.

So I did eventually make it to the rehearsal with time to spare.

I had been sort of ignoring it before, but the director has a sort of hissy fit when people talk when they're not supposed to. I suppose he has a point but he'll be calmly giving direction to someone and then suddenly he'll snap and shout, "SHUT UP!" It's shockingly effective. Individually everyone seems ok but when the chorus gets together they are very much like a bunch of kids.

EXCITING SUPER NEWS TO REPORT!! We've been put into the opening scene! (rah, rah rah.) Half the chorus enters and we come in behind and stand in the back. I'm carrying a vase of flowers, Kelly has plates and forks, Ken has two bottles and Rachel has a tray of glasses. The chorus does this slow motion move for a count of 8 and then when they break out and move at speed we step forward and set the table as fast as we can. Then we run off in time for Kelly to go back on to give Violetta her two flutes of champagne. Next we take our trays of drinks out. As I stepped out with my tray, one of the glasses wobbled... and over it went with a splash. Did I mention that they were full of water? Oscar-worthy actor that I am, I ignored it and went on to serve the drinks. Kelly later said that she heard the splash and was thankful that it didn't come from her tray. The asst stage manager ran out to wipe up the floor and said that if it happens during a performance one of us would come out with a towel to clean it up. Great. Nothing quite like the potential for humiliation in front of a paying audience to give me a steady hand.

We also got fitted for costumes. I should have taken a picture of the delightful black and white checkered floor length, long-sleeved, high-lace-collared dress I get to wear. It was a little too long so they have to take out the horrible choppy hem someone put in it and redo it while I'm wearing the shoes. Patty, the head costume person, was just as surly and frightening as she was last year. The interns are just as young and all have normal names! Meaning, there's not an Ashely, Brittney, Taylor or any other soap opera name among them. I guess classic names really have made a comeback. Of course I don't remember any of their names. So anyway my dress fits just fine otherwise, thanks to my post-pregnancy, um, figure, (I will continue to "blame" pregnancy for my new, larger shape for as long as I can, meaning, for the rest of my life) but for the Kelly and Rachel and their fat-free dancer-bodies some adjustments have to be made to account for the extra material in the chest area. Ahem.

We made it back to rehearsal in time to move the table on for the poker scene. I had been debating about whether or not to bring a fake spider or other small plastic insect to stick on the table, but decided that I didn't want to risk really fooling anyone - those toy bugs are frighteningly realistic. So instead I took a tiny Lego man and sat him down behind the bag of poker chips. At the end of the scene when we brought the table off he had moved to behind the ashtray and under some money. I calmly palmed him as I arranged the stuff on the table and no one said a word. So today I brought home from work a tiny rubber chicken I had there, and I do mean tiny - like less than an inch long - to put there on Saturday.

Today I went to a nearby Capezio outlet to get character shoes. This store!!! I can't believe I didn't know about it before!!! Very cool shoes meant for dancers but perfect for fancy events, all leather, mind you, for under $30! Sale shoes were $5 a pair!!! $5! For high-heeled leather strappy shoes and sandals! And the dance clothes are like workout clothes, also super cheap and adorable. $5 racks of what look like super-comfy yoga pants, racks of sport bras in all sizes and colors... if I didn't have Alex with me I would have spend a few more $$ than I did on my new shoes.

Next rehearsal: Saturday night.
Goals:
  1. Don't trip in the shoes
  2. Don't spill anything
  3. Talk to the principals
  4. Plant the tiny rubber chicken on the poker table

We're Like, Supers Who Sing! Umm.... No.

So the woman whose lap is featured in a prior post has a blog of her own, Viva La Diva. Check it out.

When I told her how I became a super, she said that she's like a super who sings. Yeah, um, except that all I had to do was say I was interested. She had to audition. In New York. She gets daily coaching in voice and acting. And when the summer is over she'll be going to another voice program somewhere else. One she auditioned for. And got into. Me, I'll continue taking voice lessons once a week.

I'm the super who sings. I just refrain from singing when I'm supering.

Can't... Catch... Up...

I've got too many drinks in the buffer. And I'm not here now to catch up either.

Just realized that I've been saying how Ah-Maze-Ing Michael Fabiano's voice is so why not give an example. Thanks, YouTube, for everything.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

First of Three

I have three things to catch up on:

1. My most recent voice lesson
2. That outdoor concert
3. Sunday's rehearsal

So....in this post I will discuss....


1. My Most Recent Voice Lesson:

Had a make-up lesson Saturday morning in one of the practice rooms at Westminster. Like the space so much better than the 6th grade math classroom the lessons have been in so far! With it's "Black Holes are God's Way of Dividing By Zero" banner across the board... yes it's a Catholic school. Yes I'm Jewish. Yes it's vaguely disconcerting to me to be surrounded by crucifixes and other Catholic symbols but I've gotten used to it. So anyway... wow I digress a lot... so Saturday we were in the practice room. The sound was great! My teacher told me that I did really well at the studio class - I didn't realize that this was my first time seeing her since then. Then we did some vocal exercises - one of my favorites where I sing See-YAAAA Ahh ahhh ahhh all legato... I think it jumps up a fifth (?) from see to yaaa and then down in, what, 3rds? I don't know... but it's so much fun to do. She always tells me to "Let loose, sing like an opera singer" and so I do and it sounds great and then I laugh and have to stop because I can't believe it's me singing like that. Then there's usually a point where I don't let myself slide up to the YAAA note for whatever mental block reason and I have a pause between the two notes. It's like I don't feel like I can control the slide to stop at the right note, although I can just hit the note. I think it's the C. I try not to peek at the piano but sometimes I do. So I KNOW I can hit the note, I just have to trust that I can slide into it from below. Anyone out there have any tips for overcoming that mental thing?

So we moved on from there and started "Ouvre Ton Coeur," which meant first checking the IPA, meaning, I copied it onto my copy of the music, then we went over the words and how to pronounce them, back and forth, a word and then a phrase at a time, then the rhythm, chant chant chant to get the words with the right number of beats, then she played the tune on the piano without us speaking the words at all. I recorded it all and have been listening to each part. I'm forcing myself to be comfortable with each aspect before I seriously try to put it all together. I have problems with the pronunciation once I try singing it. And I took French all through college - you'd think it'd be easy for me.

So I have one more make-up class to do over the summer, probably at my teacher's house.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Great. Now that photo'll be all over the Internet.

No, Michael, not all over the Internet. Just on my blog.

"Random Chorus Member Number 12," as she prefers to be called, whose lap is under Michael's head, inspired the photo caption: (meaning, I took part of what she said and then made it my own.)


World-famous La Scala tenor Michael Fabiano with xxxx Opera Company,
where chorus members scramble for q-tips to dig chunks of wax out of his ears.


Truth is, when I showed him the picture and he said what has since become the title of the post, I couldn't tell if he was being snarky or jokey. I was sitting there on the steps eating my apple when he plunked his head down in her lap and said, "You smell good, like a girl," and she replied, "You have a big chunk of wax in your ear." And she really did dig the wax out, using the paper towel I had used to dry my apple. No, I didn't take the towel back. Ew.

Here are some more rehearsal pictures:





Look! Someone was recording the rehearsal! What is that machine? I want one!



Some sort of stomach bug is going around the cast and apparently the supers are not immune, so I'll have to write about the rehearsal in detail another time when I am in full health.

Also, I went to a live performance behind Panera last night, well half of one anyway, and I'll have my version of a full review up in a few days.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Another Take on Romeo

How beautiful is this???!!!



Thanks to the person who alerted me to this video!

It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's... Super Supers!

Email received at 10:13 last night:

Dear R, K, K and Susan:

You guys are NOT needed on Friday. It will be more of a dance rehearsal for chorus and dancers.

From John, "The supers are doing great."

Sincerely,

M


Oh no! I was counting on that rehearsal for more fodder for the blog. Plus I know at least one of the dancers, not only from last year, but also because his little sister took voice lessons with my teacher in the time slot before me, so I used to sit in the hallway with her mom (and his, obviously) chatting before my lesson began, and she told me all sorts of stories about him. (Holy run-on sentence Batman!) I was looking forward to seeing him today. Perhaps Sunday.

So I wonder if John (the director) thought about saying, "The supers are doing super." True, it doesn't flow as well as "great," but still, for me, it would have been hard to resist.

Cat-pic Friday:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Italian Lesson

"Piu staccatto!"

"Bravi! Bravi!"

"Crescendo!!!! Crescendo!!!!"

"Molto piano"

"Subito piano"

The maestro is so cool. He dances around waving his arms and shouting in Italian. I love it!

My rehearsal adventure starts, as always, with the parking. Today I found a spot on the street, hooray! Right next to some guy who was changing the tire on his car. I pop out of my car, "Hi, need any help? Uh, not that I could do much more than cheer you on. Hey, you're doing a GREAT job changing that tire!" He must've thought I was a freak. Then I put too much money in the meter. Parking is free after 7 and I got there 6:30. I swear I'm good at math... or at least I used to be... but I gave Parking Authority an extra 25 cents.

So I had 20 minutes to kill. I went to the music building and saw some of the chorus there. I said hello with a smile... nothing. Hmm. Not another repeat of last year! I went outside and sat next to Sean, said hello, he looked familiar, was he here last year... nope... but he was in Rigoletto. So we met. Then the meanie girl from last year came out. I said hello. She looked the other way. Very drama-llama dramatic. Okayyyy... I'll wait to see if she comes around. Then someone else came out and lo and behold she was... friendly!! Made me wonder, was she actually in the chorus, or just some random woman passing by? Seriously, so many of the chorus girls were so standoffish last year (and by standoffish, I mean, of course, well, this is a family show kids so I'll stick to standoffish) that I had a hard time processing the friendly interaction.

So once again the rehearsal started with the music, and I've summarized that above. The chorus sounds AMAZING. A MAZE ZING. Two of the leads weren't there so the covers sang the roles. Then we moved on to staging - another party scene. This time Ken and I carry a card table laden with drinks, cigars, cards and cash onto the stage. The we skedaddle out of the way so Kelly and Rachel can bring the chairs. Worked great without the chorus on stage... then the director had them come on, and part for us, but then they closed back in just as Ken and I were trying to exit and there was a lot of shuffling and bumping. I cannot count how many people I bumped into tonight. So anyway then Ken and I go back to the table and grab trays of drinks. The tray had I had had two gummy sticky things on it so I stuck two of the glasses there. Then we had to go right back onstage and serve the drinks. I just go into the crowd and people take a glass, so it's different every time. The last person to take a glass tugged on it and almost took the tray with her. She burst out laughing and I got the giggles. Well I had already had them from before, when I was trying to exit the stage and kept bumping into everyone. Then at one point we have to remove the table, and again *bump* *oops* *sorry* *snort* *don't laugh... don't laugh.... don't laugh...* Really this one guy just has to get out of the way, but each time he stepped to the side, I also stepped to the same side... Eventually we'll figure it out.

Then we had a break.

Overheard in the bathroom (translation: I was in the stall):

"Ohmigod! Look! Three blonds together"
"Well, I'm not as blond as you two."
"True, your hair tends toward red." Pause... "But it looks GREAT with your coloring."
(An aside here: They're all platinum blond. None of them tend toward red.)
Pause.
"Ooohhhh! Did you know we're going to be in a lesbian scene together?"
(I'm still in the stall wishing so much that I had my notebook to write this all down)
"Yeah, he told me to put my head in her lap and my face ends up in her crotch!"
(I flush and exit the stall as they're on their way out.)

So I decide to sit outside. I plunk myself down next to some of the chorus members and pull out my little container of fruit.

My nearest neighbor:

"Hey! You have blueberries! And grapes!"

Me:

"Wow, you're really good at identifying fruit! Would you like some?"

And so we got to chatting. She asked how I became a super so I told her I had a friend who had a picture of herself with Nathan Gunn, and I asked her how she met him. She told me she was a super in an opera he was in and I was like, "A super? What's that?" and the rest is history. Well as soon as I said I had a friend who met Nathan Gunn her eyes lit up and she was all "OMG!" so of course I whip out my iPhone to show her The Picture.

I told her the whole story, and that I know one of his students, and she said that someone in the chorus this year studies with him. She also asked if she can come the next time I meet him... I told her to get in line! I also told her that I study voice at the local Conservatory. Turns out she goes to college that the conservatory is associated with AND my voice teacher was a guest lecturer in her pedagogy class. She asked me what I was singing and so on. I was still amazed - a normal person in the chorus! I think last year's experience really jaded me. This year is already a lot more fun.

Anyway, break over, back in we go.

So we go over some more table-moving and drink-serving. Someone left a libretto nearby so I was reading along. There's one point where the chorus sings, "Alfredo, voi." Alfredo, it's you! and at that very moment Michael Fabiano, who is Alfredo in the production, opened the door and came in. It was hysterical - I don't know if he planned it since he could probably hear the chorus through the door.

Did I mention that the chorus sounded AMAZING??? And Michael is awesome. WHAT a FABULOUS voice.

The director was very pleased with everyone's performance and we got out an hour early.

I walked out with Ken and Rachel and we talked about how nice everyone is this year compared to last year.

Next rehearsal: Friday afternoon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Staccatissimo!

My first rehearsal for Traviata was today! It was partly cool and partly boring. A lot of it was like this:

See all those people by the wall? Standing there? Waiting? Doing nothing? Just... waiting? That's the chorus. All that tape on the floor? It showed the archways, the entrances, the edges of the stage and so on.

So I'm really telling this out of order. First thing is, the directions on where to park. They said to take a certain highway to a certain exit and then make a right turn onto a specific road. Well, since I live close to Princeton, I don't take the highway, so I knew I'd be on that certain exit road in the other direction and would therefore be turning left. Smarty pants that I am, I looked at a map and saw that the road named in the directions had a different name where it intersected with the exit road. When I got to it, guess what? It was one way coming out. Meaning, no matter which way I had approached I wouldn't have been able to turn onto that road. So I went on and made a left on the next main-ish looking street, and then sort of drayed around until I found the road listed. Great! Then... I went too far. Passed the parking lot and was approaching that intersection. Hmm... take another 10 minutes to loop around... or... drive in reverse? Yes, I was suddenly one of those people who drive in reverse the wrong way on a one-way street when they pass where they want to be. Luckily it was a lonely road. So after parking, I had to walk up a hill, turn left, go a few blocks, cross a street (one I had driven on, which you've probably figured out if you have a sense of direction) through an archway and into the music building. It's a good thing I made the choice to back up on the road or I would've been late.

So finally I get there and the first person I see is one of the meanie girls from last year! I also knew a bunch of the guys. So I plunked myself down in the corner and took out my notebook to take notes.

They started the rehearsal with some musical stuff. The maestro was, I think, the same man who took my picture with John Osborn at McCarter all those months ago. I think he recognized me too. So they went over the opening and it was great! He was calling out things like, "Piano! Piano! Staccato! StaccaTIssimo! Crescendo!!" Everyone followed his instructions and it sounded amazing. Finally, finally we started staging.

The opera opens with Violetta having some sort of painful illness attack, and then suddenly the chorus comes in for a party. The women are all high-class prostitutes - I think we'd say escorts. The director directed and they followed - also amazing. Then, finally, he stuck the supers in. He welcomed us and the chorus politely applauded. Our roles are as servants, serving drinks for a toast... and the song is that Sock Opera song. I kept envisioning those socks the whole time, and they did that scene about 10 times. That's a LOT of socks. So anyway there are four of us - including Rachel and Ken, who were monks with me last year. The other super is Kelly, who I met at the Rigoletto party before I met John. She was a super in that too. So we each go out to a different clump of partygoers with our trays of glasses. Everyone was really nice and funny, saying, "Grazie, Susan." When Kelly dropped the glasses on her tray, the woman who plays Violetta worked it into her line and sang, "She's fired tonight." Then any time anyone dropped a glass, they were "fired." Other than serve the drinks, we also come out later in the scene, cross upstage, exit simultaneously through three doors and the back, turn and close them.

It was fun to see how the staging evolved. The director just pointed at people: "You, you and you, over there. Then you two, when the music does this... move upstage to there... and as they do that, you and you, cross over to here..."

At one point the leads got the giggles but kept on singing. Why not, right? It was for staging, not for the music. But when they were singing it straight - WOW!! Their voices... so wonderful. The music vibrates through your entire body. Can someone remind me, please, why some people don't like opera?

There was no party - at the end I could hear people asking each other what they were doing until they had to return for La Cenerentola rehearsal.

I have to go back on Tuesday from 7-10. Hopefully that means I'll be in another scene. I can't imagine they'd need us to rehearse the drink serving and door closing again...

Other cool things - I pretty much understood most of the Italian... and I wanted to sing along with the chorus but obviously I didn't. I paid close attention to everyone's body and face while they were singing. One thing that stood out was the "dumb jaw," as my teacher calls it. They all had it - the relaxed jaw and big open mouth.

I just have to mention a couple of the women in the chorus. There are three platinum blondes! Two of them are beautiful - like barbie dolls. They both reminded me of Reece Witherspoon. They looked like Southern Belles, and they have very southern names. Of course I can't remember now. One might be Ashley. I'm not kidding. Don't worry, the others aren't Scarlett, Melanie or Tara. Yes I know Ashley was a man in GWTW but it's a girl name now. Don't ask me why. I know lots of things but I don't know that.

One bizarre thing that happened was, from my angle, I saw someone sitting in a chair and I could swear he had a huge humpback, arms that ended at the elbows and no legs. I was like, wow, how is he going to move around stage? But... it was all done with mirrors, or, in my case, bizarre angles and partial views. Normal guy, no physical deformities, all his limbs intact. If that doesn't prove I'm insane, well... let's not go there.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Possible Party

When the super captain (that's the guy in charge of the supernumeraries for the opera, not some super-duper captain person) sent the initial email out with the rehearsal dates, he mentioned a company party tomorrow from 5-7. I now have the rehearsal schedule for tomorrow and it's not mentioned. So ... is there a party? I hope there is... because I'm such a party animal. Ahem, no, because I'd like a chance to meet and mingle. And of course, I'd like more to write about... it's been a slow opera week as here at I'd Rather Be Sleeping. A little dose of chorus gossip would perk us all up, don't you think?

I've completely forgotten about Cat Pic Friday. So even though it's Saturday, here's one for Friday.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Whew Just in Time

Today, this afternoon, I got the info to check the daily rehearsal schedule with the opera company. I also found out where I need to go on Sunday. I'm excited to find out what exactly I'll be doing, to meet the chorus, hear them sing and scope things out. You know I'll post a complete report afterwards.

And now, off I go to IPA "Ouvre ton coeur."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Work, Pizza, Song

Yesterday I learned that my company has a chorus that performs during the holidays. I joined, and today was the first rehearsal. There were maybe 20 people there. Denise, who I've mentioned in this blog before, is the musical director. Someone was playing an electric piano. Denise had us warm up with scales and other little vocalises, all the while shouting out little tips - "Deep breaths!" "Yawn!" "Relax your jaw!" and so on. Then we just jumped right in and sang Pastorale, "Tu scendi dalle stelle," an Italian Christmas song.

We met in a conference room. Think of your typical office conference room, that's where we were. The chair I was in was too low - it was like I was sitting on the floor! So my feet actually touched the ground, but it made my knees come up too high. You may be thinking, so what? But you must understand that this is very unusual for me as I am a mere 60 inches tall. Ok, 60 and 1/2. But still... so what this is leading to is, I ended up standing up near the wall because I could not produce the tone I wanted while sitting in that bizarre position. Stan, who I've also mentioned as he was one of our Romeo party, seemed annoyed by this. He said, "Just press your hands to the floor." Hmm has he been reading my blog? Anyway, I stayed standing and no one else noticed or cared.

And because the song was in Italian, we had pizza for lunch.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Alternate Blog Life

Rehearsals for La Traviata start next week. The super captain send an email saying that once again the opera company is looking for guest bloggers so I whipped up an entry and emailed it to the woman in charge. It hasn't shown up on the blog yet but I think it will. Last year's social dynamics thing went a little too far, publicity-wise, so I decided to tone it down a bit and submit more user-friendly entries. This one was inspired by a comment I left on one of Joyce DiDonato's recent blog entries. It sort of reads like a high school essay. Don't worry, my entries here will not be affected, I promise.

June 9, 2008

A Super Summer - What to Wear?

I'm very excited to be a part of my <>'s summer season. This year I'll be a supernumerary, or, "super," in La Traviata. The supers perform the non-speaking, non-singing roles in operas. I haven't had the first rehearsal yet so I don't know exactly what part I'll be playing, but I've already had to submit a form with all my measurements for the costume department.


It amazes me that someone can look at this list of measurements and sew together a costume to fit. Last year as a monk my costume seemed simple – a monk's robe – but each person is a different height, with different length arms, so the costume department had to make many last minute adjustments so we all looked exactly the same. Then they label the costumes so you don't grab the wrong one when it's time to get dressed.

The costume department does more than make all the costumes from scratch. During the production one costume person was in the dressing room before the show helping anyone who needed assistance. Several costume people were backstage checking each person prior to going on stage. They were busy for most of the performance, fixing hems, repairing tears and doing whatever else needed to be done to ensure that we all looked perfect. I'm not sure but I think each lead in the production had a dedicated costume person who helped them change between scenes. In spite of all this crazy activity just before and during the show, they always had a friendly smile and were always ready to help.


I'm looking forward to finding out what kind of costume I'll be wearing this year!


*******

Is that ending dorky enough? Wow, it's true, I really
am a geek. Well, that doesn't surprise me. It also doesn't surprise me that no matter what I do, I can't get this section to go flush to the left like the top section.



Saturday, June 7, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Who's Watching?

I like my MySpace tracker. I find it interesting to see where the page hits are coming from. People in the following places have viewed my MySpace page:

Australia, Rumania (Bucharest), Spain (Barcelona), France, Peru (Lima), Canada (Ontario)

NYC
Many NJ cities: Frenchtown, Trenton, Hamilton, Edgewater, Princeton Junction, Flanders
Decatur, Indiana
St. Louis, Missouri
Little Elm, Texas (I think I know who this is)
Huntingtown, Maryland
Mountain View, California
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jacksonville, FL
Phoenixville, PA (I know who this is)
Yardley, PA (I definitely know who this is)
St. Charles, IA
Chicago, IL
Urbana, IL
Bronx, NY
Someone at the Metropolitan Opera looked at my page the day I saw Romeo there.

I have a free tracker so it only shows the last 100 visits. It always shows an IP Address and often shows both a city and the Internet provider. It also shows how many times that IP address visited my page. For example:

Mountain View, California, US
66.249.73.146
5/21 10:25:41 PM 1 Google

If there's no city listed, I'll sometimes plug the IP address into an IP Address locater. Occasionally it comes up unknown.

It's something I'll poke around with when I'm bored.

I wonder if I could put a tracker on my blog? Hmmmm.......

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Older, The Louder

The studio class was tonight. What fun! The anon poster on my other entry was right - everyone was so supportive and nice. Of course I had more in common with the parents...

The students were ages 12, 13, 17, 18 and me, 41. One of the mothers was younger than me. All the parents thought I was a college student.

We drew numbers for the order and I got to go first. That was fine with me, I was going to volunteer to anyway.

So here I am explaining my character, her background, her motivation, her feelings and so on. Interestingly, I was also the only one who described the character without using that "upspeak" questiony voice. Obviously I've had a lot more practice speaking in public - and not just because of my advanced age - I was a teacher before I had Alex. Explain something to a group of people? No problem.



And here I am singing. Do I look like I'm so distraught that I want to die? Um... that's in the music, it's not how I felt about my performance.



So I sang through it once, then my teacher came up and said that by holding my arms up like that I was lifting the breath from down deep where it needed to be. She had me really press my hands towards the floor and WOW what a difference! Like, an immediate improvement. It was unbelievable. We went over a few other bits and bars of music and then I sang through it again. Well I tried to but the first time I dissolved into giggles and had to start over. And I know why - I could hear the improvement and sometimes I get so astonished that I'm able to produce a pretty sound that I just start laughing. But then I managed to sing it pretty well, I thought. (although not as well as I can do it home alone of course...) I wasn't as unhappy with my performance as I was after the eval. Everyone applauded, which was really nice. They all commented on the instant improvement.

After me, the kids sang. Their biggest obstacle is their lack of self-confidence and their concern with what others are thinking about them. That bled into their singing and caused them to be timid and flat. By flat I don't mean the notes, I mean the affect or demeanor. So with them after they sang their piece, the teacher worked on drawing more emotion of out them so they could better convey what the character was feeling. Two of the students did it pretty well - the 12 year old and the one boy who I think was 17. The 13 year old was tall and gorgeous with a beautiful figure that she was obviously ashamed of because, well, she's 13. She tended to slouch and was sooo quiet. Once she relaxed and stopped giggling she produced some really beautiful sounds. She has a lot of potential once she gets older. Afterwards I told her that I often giggle uncontrollably during lessons and sometimes have to raise the music stand so I don't see the teacher's face, just so she knows she's not the only one. The age/confidence factor definitely made a difference - I sang the loudest and I threw myself into the character. My teacher gave me advice on technique only, while she focused on meaning and emotion with everyone else.

Afterwards we had some snacks and then I had to make a choice: In one corner, the students sat together chatting... in the other, the parents. Of course I ended up with the parents. After everyone else left (they had homework!!!) I stayed behind to help clean up and chat with my teacher. We decided that we will go see La Sonnambula together at the Met next season so I'll be getting tickets when they go on sale to the public.

I have two lessons left, both make-up lessons. One is Saturday the 21st, the other is as of yet unscheduled. My homework is to translate that French aria the Evaluators recommended. I wonder where I put it...

Until then... Alex turns 4 tomorrow!!! And rehearsals for La Traviata start next week. I guess eventually someone will let me know when and where...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cure for a Sudden Lack of Confidence?

Tomorrow my voice teacher is holding a studio class for all her students. I'm going to sing Lasciatemi again. I've been listening to my lesson and practicing that part with the embellishment. I know I can do that "frightening part" (see comments on the post with the video) in not only a non-frightening manner, but actually quite nicely. However, starting yesterday and leaking into today I've been feeling nervous and not very confident about the whole thing. I know I need to get over it because I absolutely positively must be relaxed in order to sing, and I know I can sing it well.

So, how do I get over it?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Busy Earning Beverages and Remembering

Just threw this together... Now that I have the hang of the program, it's surprisingly easy. Although... I did try to just do the "Pour mon ame" part but could only figure out how to trim the end, not the front. So here it is... and LISTEN to those notes at the end. WOWZA!



And while I was waiting for it to process and upload, I watched this:



This took me from 7th grade up through college graduation. I was a bit out of touch with the MTV scene once I entered college in the fall of 1985, and I don't know all the songs listed for 1989! But I was, at the time, very involved in both my college radio station and the local music scene (follow that link and scroll down to the "music" section), plus there was no cable in the dorm, so who had time to keep up with the video top 40? The only time I watched TV was to see the Olympics and The Young Ones. Wait a sec, wasn't that on MTV???

Ok so while we're going down memory lane, I'll list some of the 80s bands I've seen in concert.

Adam Ant - (6 times, and met him.) (of course! I've always been this way...)
INXS - (6 times, hung out with them)
Eurogliders - (Many times, hung out many times, and recently reconnected on MySpace!)
The Police
REM - twice (Once opening for the Police)
Joan Jett (Opening for the Police)
Madness (Opening for the Police)
The Cure
Echo and the Bunnymen
Midnight OilGene Loves Jezebel
Lords of the New Church
Nik Kershaw
Fishbone
Joe Jackson
The Alarm (twice, and met them)
New Order
Squeeze
Duran Duran (3 times in the 80s, once in the 90s but for some reason never met them. Wouldn't want to now...)
Billy Joel (free tickets up in the nosebleed section of MSG)
U2
The Monkees
(without Mike Nesmith)
The Fixx
Pink Floyd
Paul McCartney
Hoodoo Gurus (met them)
The Fleshtones
Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Grateful Dead (twice. don't ask.)
Phish (wait a sec I think I've entered the 90s... saw them several times, met them, etc.)

I also met Wham but didn't see them perform. I'm not quite sure that's something I should be admitting though...

I know there are more, and I'll probably remember a whole bunch the moment I shut down the computer. Meanwhile, it was a major PIA to do all those links, so please click a few so all my hard work will be worth it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bizarre Dream

Last night I dreamed that my voice teacher gave me an assignment to write (yes, write) a duet for two sopranos by this coming Friday. Not a mezzo and a soprano, but two sopranos. I decided to write a mother and daughter duet. The daughter was pregnant and they were arguing about names. (reality check: that did not happen to me, nor am I pregnant). I was all freaked out because I didn't know how to read and write musical notation, so in the dream I started with the rhythm and wrote some clever rhyming lyrics, and decided that I would just record the tune or make up my own notation system. I remember writing the lyrics, they seemed clever in the dream, I think the mother was giving suggestions for names and the daughter was saying why the suggestions were no good.

I should have written it down as soon as I woke up. Maybe I'll dream the rest of the duet tonight.

So not only is opera keeping me awake, it's also invading my sleep.