Friday, October 31, 2008
Hear that piano? On the accompaniment CD it's very sharp and staccato. I have to ignore that and sing smoothly. It's a nice contrast. The CD is also very very fast. I feel like I'm running a race sometimes.
My homework is to learn the words, translate and IPA a new one in French - Apres un Reve.
Sometimes the first time I hear a song I'm going to learn, I don't like it. I don't necessarily dislike it, but I'm not always instantly crazy about it. But then, once I get into it, pick it apart and learn it bit by bit I really do fall in love with it. Or maybe I just get used to it????
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Here's some Pink Floyd. Yes, Pink Floyd on the opera blog.
and to keep it classical, here's Ave Maria:
So if you put this dude in a tux and taught him Lucia, I bet he could step in for a broken glass harmonica, don't you think?
Ahhh that Pink Floyd is so calming.... Maybe I've found the antidote to opera keeping me awake.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog. Carlos, the owner of the Anna Netrebko blog, tagged me.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. If you don't have 7 blog friends, or if someone else already took dibs, then tag some unsuspecting strangers.
Ok, so here we go: Seven Facts about Me
1. I was a baton twirler from the age of 5 all through high school, and I twirled the flaming baton several times.
2. In high school I was in community theater. We did "Once Upon a Mattress" and I had the role of the Kitchen Wench. I ran across the stage screaming while the king chased me and tried to grab my behind. Then in school we did "South Pacific" and in one scene someone... chased me and tried to grab my behind. Typecast perhaps?
3. Whenever I see a water tower, tall antenna or the like, if there's a ladder on it, I have a strong urge to climb it.
4. I lived in Minnesota for 3 winters and can "do" a Minnesota accent on command.
5. In high school I used to leave MTV on all the time so I wouldn't miss when a Duran Duran or Adam and the Ants video came on.
6. I like going alone to the opera.
7. I don't realize how short I am until I see someone the same size and think, "Wow, that person is short." and then, "Wait, we're the same size. I'm short."
I will now tag the following 7 bloggers:
1. Diva De La Blog, owner of a humorous blog about her own operatic experiences.
2. Tea At Valhalla - Lydia writes about studying opera at college.
3. Coloratur...aaah, whom I do not know, so it feels kind of strange to tag her, but I read and comment regularly on her blog.
4. The Reverberate Hills - Patrick's amusing insights into music, art and whatever else he feels like writing about.
5. Willy or Won't He? Humorous insights into all sorts of things, including opera.
6. Hey Liz, Lilly's blog about opera, music and whatever strikes her fancy.
7. The Journey of a Voice, Lindsey gets her groove back.
TAG! YOU'RE IT!
Monday, October 27, 2008
It was pretty good. We did some exercises to help me remember to open open open before the high notes. So if you think of the scale as doe-re-mi, we were singing ahs of doe-re-mi-fa-so-doe-mi-re-doe. The exercise is to open at so in order to hit the note at the high doe, then keep open and elastic all the way back down to doe. The exercise covers a few things - the elastic throat thing, the open mouth and not giving in to the break at the lower end. I'm supposed to practice in front of the mirror but that hasn't happened yet. Then we went over Vedrai Carino, especially the 2nd half. Now that I can get myself to produce the sound forward and rounder and fuller, I have to work on being consistent with it. So we let that go for a bit and worked on the feeling of the song. My teacher decided it might be easier to get into it if I had some poor injured man to offer myself to. I've mentioned before that my lesson is in an elementary school. This month as some sort of a project the kids have all made life-sized scarecrows and - get this - tied them to chairs. They line the hallways. My teacher tried to embrace one but the chair came up with it. Him. It. So we had to sing to them as they sat in the chairs. Yes. I sang to a scarecrow, "E naturale, non da disgusto" and "si sento battere, toccami qua" (I might have that all spelled wrong, sorry) while I grabbed at my... at my heart. Toccami qua. It's under there somewhere.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
There are 5 videos in this playlist, so don't run away after the first one is done!
Keep an ear out for the glass harmonica. You'll know it when you hear it.
In case you miss it in the playlist, here's another video that covers some of the same, above, but a different section.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This party was across the street from my house. Some other neighbors were there. One asked if we could hear a neighbor playing piano sometimes. I said no because I'm always singing and she said, "Oh! Is that YOU? It's beautiful!" Ha! That's only because she hasn't heard a professional opera singer lately. I didn't say that, of course, I just said thank you. Heh heh.
Cat pic Friday was yesterday. At some point I will post new cat pictures.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Those chandeliers are actually gorgeous, but the iPhone lens isn't the best quality when it comes to balancing the exposure. I was more interested in people watching than looking at the chandeliers.
My seat was in the Grand Tier, 2nd to last row.
There were three empty seats on one side of me and one empty seat on the other so I spread out. If only the armrests folded up like on an airplane, then I really would've gotten myself comfortable.
The opera was AMAZING! Diana Damrau has a voice like a bell, like a bird, like... it's unreal. So beautiful. Rather than give you a synopsis of the opera, I will direct you here, or better yet, here, where you can here Diana singing a bit of it. I will mention that the very opening scene, the one of the men scouring the woods, had dogs in it! Two beautiful dogs. Live animals on stage - always a risk, right? They were great and they didn't even get a curtain call.
Lucia's first scene was in the garden with her maid type person. She sang of a ghostly (ghastly?) woman who appeared to her and told her about a lover who perished in the fountain. A dancer in white, very creepy, came out and sort of floated around the way dancers can, and made her exit pirouetting down the fountain. Yes, ghosts talk to her. Perhaps she's already a nut job? The potential is there.
First intermission was rather long. I made a mad dash to the bathroom and was the FIRST ONE THERE!!! Of course I was also probably the youngest one in the building and therefore able to dash. Then I made a few phone calls while I ran up and down the stairs, checking each level to find which bar my friends were lounging around with their $25 glasses of champagne.
Intermission scrim, before Act 2:
I never did find my companions so I just trolled around until it was time for the act to start. It was, of course, amazing, Everyone was amazing. You could see Lucia really going, well, insane, as her brother Enrico lies to her about her lover, Edgardo, and convinces her to marry the rich guy he's picked out for her, Arturo. Act ends with the party for the signing of the contract. It took her a long time to sign - I wonder what she really wrote? Edgardo comes in and sees what has happened, freaks and is escorted out.
One of the most exciting things about act 2, of course, is that it was chock full of supers!! Maids and servants!! Drinks on trays!! Nothing spilled. The glasses were probably glued to the trays.
Another rather long intermission. And an eventful one, for this is the intermission during which I had an argument with an usher! Rather than explain the whole thing, at the end of this post I'll paste in the email I sent to the Met about it the next day.
Intermission photos, including an iPhone self-portrait, trying not to laugh. You can see a bit of the pre-act 3 scrim:
Finally, act 3. Blah blah the brother visits the boyfriend, meet you on the playground after school, I mean, in the graveyard at dawn for a duel. He gets back to the wedding party in progress (Aside: what kind of brother forces his sister into a marriage and then leaves during the reception???) So anyway by this point she's already gone completely bonkers. They had this balcony up across the top of the stage and she comes staggering out backwards. "Where is my husband?" she asks. She's clearly out of her mind. Her wedding dress is stained with blood. She drops her veil over the railing and comes down the steps. (aside #2: When I told my mom about this she asked me if she fell down the steps) There is an absolutely fabulous cabaletta where she's singing these very fast very high coloratura notes and each note is echoed just as quickly by an instrument called a glass harmonica. Apparently that was the instrument of choice to portray madness in a character at the time. Ohh lookie the NY Times has a little video of Natalie Dessay doing Lucia last year. Sets and costumes were the same, but I saw Diana Damrau. Natalie is amazing too! So at one point she sits on the steps and starts tearing at her veil and that's when I lost it. I mean, yeah, I'm a cryer. I cry at operas. But I cry quietly. Well I was trying my hardest to cry quietly when what I really wanted to do was sob right along with her. At another point she was laying back on what I think was the prompter's box but I'm not sure... anyway it was reminiscent of Madonna singing Like a Virgin. (Aside #3: Madonna obviously took voice lessons after her first album... perhaps a before and after post is in order) Ok so back to Lucia - she's in this bloody wedding dress calling to her lover that now they can be together and share bodily pleasures while she writhes around on stage with her knees up and apart and she's running her hands over her own body, and the wedding guests look on in horror. It was awesome. So this all goes on for a while until she collapses. Then the boyfriend shows up in the graveyard for the duel, hoping to die, and when he learns of Lucia's death he offs himself. Of course it took him 20 minutes of singing to do it. He was fabulous. Piotr Beczala was his name. The cast applauded him during curtain calls, that's how awesome he was.
So now on to the non-opera related things that happened at the opera house.
I never did find my friends during the first intermission. Turned out, my one friend, after two glasses of wine at dinner, decided that she didn't want to risk coughing during the performance, because although I couldn't tell, apparently she had a cough. So she drank two glasses of wine and then took a triple dose of cough medicine. Big oopsie there. Middle of the first act she began to feel unwell. She staggered out to the lobby where she collapsed on the floor and asked for a doctor. She got sick and they wheeled her to the infirmary. Yes, they not only have a house doctor, they have a little infirmary at the Met. The doc told her that it happens all the time. Luckily she felt better quickly enough to make it back for the rest of the opera. I didn't learn about this until this morning.
It was during the second intermission that I had it out with the usher. Here's the letter I sent to the Met the next day:
Hello, I had the pleasure of seeing Lucia di Lammermoor on October 22.
One member of our party was an elderly woman. Her seat was Grand Tier, Row G, Seat 123. After act 2, when she stood up, her seat folded up and would not come back down. I approached an usher to ask for assistance. His name was Anthony and he was usher #7. He was very rude. He dismissed me by saying, "Yeah, we know, that seat is broken, there's nothing I can do She should just find somewhere else to sit," and he turned away. I asked if he could help her find a seat. He said no because he didn't know where there were any empty seats. I then asked him if he could please go over and talk to my companion. He gave an exasperated sigh and went. Meanwhile I asked another usher who was very helpful and friendly and tried to solve the problem. I went back to Anthony to ask him his name and he said, very rudely, "I don't understand what the problem is." I replied, "I know you don't. I would like to know your name please." He was then rude to me later during the intermission when I tried to use my cell phone.
My friends and I save our money all year long to go to the opera once or twice a year. It was disappointing to pay over $100 per ticket with the fees to not only find that the seat was broken, but to have the usher be so rude to us about it. I have tickets to see La Sonnambula in March and I hope I do not encounter a similar problem.
Please contact me to let me know how you plan to resolve this situation.
And here is their reply:
Dear Ms. xxxx,
Thank you for contacting us.
We appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention. I apologize for the manner in which you were treated while attending the October 22nd performance of Lucia di Lammermoor. It is unfortunate when anyone’s opera experience is disturbed due to inappropriate behavior. Please know that our House Management Department has been contacted and they will address this situation with the usher so that we can ensure this type of behavior does not occur again.
It remains our goal to continue producing opera and providing service of the highest caliber and your input is valuable to us. We are constantly reminded that we are able to provide great performances of opera for everyone because of our loyal supporters.
Once again, please accept our apologies for the unpleasant situation that you experienced. Thank you for your support of the Metropolitan Opera.
Judy M. WilliamsMet Opera Customer Relations
So it was a mad mad mad mad night and I loved every moment of it. (Except for getting car sick in the limo. I didn't love that part.)
See those little tentacles and suckers? YUMMMM!! Of course the 2 glasses of wine I had might have affected my gross-food meter. Everything else on the plate was good too, but the little 8-armed suckers were all mine!
Ok, animal lovers, stop reading.
For dinner I had this wonderful chestnut-flour pasta with bolognese sauce made from... rabbit. Yes, I had the rabbit bolognese, or as I started calling it after the 2nd glass of wine, bunny bolognese. The ears, of course, were on the side. No, no, no. No ears. It was funny because one member of our party was horrified and said she could never order rabbit, and then went ahead and ordered veal. Ah the irony. Baby cow kept stuffed in a box its entire life or fuzzy little creature that some people keep as pets? What's worse? You decide.
We split a dessert 4 ways, don't ask me what it was but I assure you it was delish.
Then they were all lagging behind so I went off on my own to go in and find my seat.
Next post: The Opera!!!
Ok I finally have time to toss together an entry about Wednesday.
Husband dropped me off at the train station and the train was there. I had planned on taking the next train, but I was able to buy my ticket and leap onto this one before it left the station.
When I got to the city I began to walk uptown. Sensory input all around! Especially through Times Square! This suburban Jersey girl was a bit overwhelmed, not that you'd know to look at me.
I eventually gave into my coffee urges and popped into a Starbucks. As I was sitting there with my coffee and chocolate-hazelnut biscotti, I became aware of the faint music playing in the background. I had to strain to hear it, but it sort of sounded like the Beach Boys, and it was a tune I knew. I started humming along to myself, thinking, what Beach Boys song is this? Until I realized that no, it's not a Beach Boys song. It's the (in)famous Pearl Fishers duet. Now, I know I've had Pearl Fishers on the brain lately, but I swear to you that that's what it was. Done by what sounded like the Beach Boys. What's up with that? So today I did a google search on "Beach Boys Pearl Fishers Duet" thinking that nothing would come up, and wouldn't ya know, there's a band called The Pearlfishers who name the Beach Boys as their primary influence. I've not been able to find the duet yet, but you know that if it's out there, I'll find it.
Ok so I was caffeinated and ready to go. To the bathroom, that is, and What's this? Bathroom is for employees only? How can that be???? So off I went wondering where I'd find a reasonable public bathroom.
I wandered into Gucci. The phrase, "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" took on real meaning there as nothing had a visible price tag. Next I went into a shoe store. The lowest priced shoe was $295. No thank you.
At Columbus Circle I wandered into what is basically a shopping mall. Hooray! I thought, a bathroom! I passed by several statues of dogs dressed in various expensive outfits and found a Borders bookstore. Used the bathroom and figured that was a good time as any to put some makeup on. And of course my mascara instantly clumped. Hate that. I rarely wear it so I should probably invest in something better than Avon, but it's all I had. So I strike up a conversation with this older woman about makeup and turns out she is a sort of amature makeup artist type person. She recommended I look for a tiny brush that can be used for eyelashes. "Where would I find one of those," I wondered as I meandered back into the mall. Then, as if out of nowhere: Sephora. "AHA!" I went in and was instantly overwhelmed by choice. I wandered the aisles in a daze, wishing that DivaDeLaBlog were there to advise me. But I found the little brush, most likely the cheapest thing in the store at a mere $5, and made my first Sephora purchase. I was in such a daze that while online an employee asked me if I was ok.
And I should have said no. I couldn't find the escalator down so I went down in an elevator and went out what I thought was the same door I had gone in, but... everything looked different. Where the heck was I? Somehow I had gone through the building and across the block to the other side. Oops. Thank goodness for the iPhone and it's "You are here" mapping system. So I ended up, of course, behind Lincoln Center, like, behind the Met. The entire place is surrounded by boards and fences due to construction so there wasn't much to see. I made my way to Cafe Fiorello, went to the ladies' room to change to the heels and use the new eyelash brush and by the time I came out the rest of my dinner companions had arrived.
My manager at work took my picture before I left on Wednesday:
Next entry: Dinner
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
After a consultation with a Fashion Expert (ok he's 4 and was in the bath at the time) I have figured out what to wear to the opera tonight. Yes, that's right, I haven't posted about it much, but tonight I'm seeing Lucia di Lammermor at the Met!! Diana Damrau! And thank goodness I did well on the logic portion of the GRE all those years ago:
- I have to get Alex from school at 1:00.
- Husband will walk there from home.
- Alex has music class from 2 to 2:45.
- Husband will drop me off at the train station at 1:30 or 1:45
- I'll take whatever train comes next.
- Husband will accompany Alex to music class.
- I will walk from Penn Station up Broadway to eventually end up at Cafe Fiorello to meet my party at 5:15.
- I plan on ducking in and out of boutiques and shoe stores, feigning interest in $500 shoes.
- Opera is at 8:00.
- Limo ride home after opera.
This limo ride is the reason that Husband will be walking to Alex's school, otherwise I'd drive myself to the train station, park there, take the train back and then drive myself home.
I have with me:
- The Ticket
- Various Medications Just In Case
- My Fancy Shoes
- My Hiking Shoes (and socks!!) for my Uptown Hike
- Rhinestone Bling
- Granola Bar
- Hopefully the binoculars, if Husband can find them at home.
Full report of the day will follow once I recover. Here's hoping I can stay awake during the performance.
Monday, October 20, 2008
"You bring the myoo
And I'll bring the zic
And together we'll make myoooooo-zic."
We went on and on with many variations, repetitions of different parts and so on. It was awesome if I do say so myself, ha ha.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
People do still occasionally ask me to post specific parts of it. The truth is, I'm too lazy to do that. But I do hate saying no, so this time I did a google search and came up with this - looks like someone posted it to google videos in three parts. Here they are:
There. Done. Enjoy. Whew.
EDITED TO ADD: Someone just emailed me to say that it's not the entire thing, that some scenes aren't there. Too bad, enjoy anyway.
I made the link into it's own click over there on the right ----->
And no, no matter how many people click-n-request, I will not contribute to his postage fund. You asked for it, Mr. VH! HAHAHAHA!
Actually this reminds me of something else I've been thinking about. I mentioned in a prior post that I'd be willing to throw a slide show together of him for YouTube. Then I got to thinking, why? Why would I do this for someone who I don't know and have only heard sing in the tracks on his web page?
That thought simmered in my brain on a back burner.
Later that same day I was thinking about college. I was very much involved in my college radio station. I was a DJ one year, but mostly I was behind the scenes. I started in the Production Department, helping to write and record Public Service Announcements and advertisements for the different radio programs. Then I became Promotions Department Manager, which meant I organized the benefit concerts with the local bands, promoted the station with t-shirts, buttons and other paraphernalia and tried to recruit new members. That local band scene was tons of fun. Everyone at the station promoted the local musicians. We did what we could - we went to countless shows in all sorts of questionable locations (Meaning, the Court Tavern in New Brunswick), we played them on the radio and hired them for concerts whenever we could. I was musing about that and vaguely reminiscing when I realized that my enthusiasm for making these videos of Nathan Gunn, John Osborn and now Mr. VH is not that different than what I did in college. Well, except for the music, the fashion and the price of admission...
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I'm still having trouble getting it all together. My latest "layer" is getting the sound deep in my body, meaning, using my low abs to push out the air. I've mentioned that before. So when I concentrate on doing that, I lose some of the legato and some of the vibrato. If I focus on the vibrato, I lose my low breath thing. I know I sound so much better now than I did a year ago. But the thing is, sometimes it does all come together for small sections, and I barely believe that it's me making that music. That just makes it worse, because I know I can do it, so why can't I do it? And then of course thinking like that is like a mental block because then I become too conscious of myself. Really what I need to do is relax, but I still feel like I have to be conscious of so many of the physical elements. So really I just need to practice more until the physical stuff just happens. But then I have to make sure not to over-practice. My teacher pointed out that taking a day or two or more off sometimes allows the music to sort of sink into your brain helps you get over some of that mental stuff. Oh and she also made me lay on my back on the desks and sing Vedrai Carino from there.
Oh and another super-frustrating thing is that I'm listening to WFMT right now, to the Lyric's "Operathon." Scott Ramsay (I was a monk in Romeo, he was Romeo) is being interviewed as I type this, about his experiences at the Lyric, and he's talking about how totally cool it is to work with experienced performers, see how they interact, take points from them...and masterclasses with well-known performers. He just told a story about being at a rehearsal early-ish in his career and Ben Heppner sat down next to him and said, "Oh I sang the part you're singing. When you get to this part, don't sing it too loud because..." and Scott found he was right. Ooh and he's talking about Romeo and how he did it last summer. It's so weird to hear him talking on my headphones right now.
So why is this super-frustrating? The truth? I am so envious. It sometimes fills me with regret that I didn't start studying voice 25 years ago, but who can say where that would have led me. I even get mad at my mother for putting me in baton twirling class instead of singing and acting classes. But that's useless... So I'll just keep going to my weekly voice lessons and do what I can to expand my own abilities and continue to learn and love the music. Geez that sounds hokey but it's true- the more I learn about music and about singing, the more enriching it is to listen to and enjoy it. And who knows, maybe one day a director will need a super who can twirl baton.
Friday, October 17, 2008
The entire thing was set to Papageno's Birdcatcher Song. Actually it sounded a lot like the Baby Einstein version. Yeah, I know that links to the other aria. I couldn't find the BC one on YouTube.
So how many people knew what the song was? What's the percentage? Any guesses? Seriously. I think I'm being generous when I say 20%.
Edited to add: Wow I sound like such a snob, hahahaha. Ah, who cares.
My voice lesson yesterday. Especially when she had my lie on the desks on my back to sing. Yes, desks, because my lesson takes place in an elementary school classroom. There's more but I've had too much to drink to go into it now.
My friend Colleen lost her battle with cancer today. She is survived by her husband and two children, ages 2 and 5. My heart if breaking for her going, knowing that her kids would be growing up without their mother, and the 2 year old won't remember her.
Viola and her closeup, last week.
Viola and Alex when he was about 3 or 4 months old.
Whose crib is this anyway? Alex, age 3 or 4 months.
I'm short! I forget that I'm short until I see pictures like this.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Ann and Nathan compare scarves.
So what's with that blue scarf anyway? I think I have one of those - if it has little metallic threads running through it, it's the same one. I got it in 1988.
EDITED TO ADD: Third pic came through the wires. Here is Ann with Christian Van Horn and Eric Cutler. Cute, no?
- The sound was much quieter than she expected, because she usually listens in the car at top volume.
- Christian's voice carried very well and he sounded Grrrreeaaat.
- Before the performance, there was an announcement that Nicole C. had a cold and while she was going to perform, she might not be up to par. Ann could detect no problems - said that she sounded fabulous.
- Everyone was much taller than she expected
- The supers were the best part of the show, especially the bald ones in the saffron robes. Ok she didn't say that but I had to put that in for one of the readers. As a super myself, I always look for and notice supers, but the uninitiated don't notice them. I suppose that's the point.
- This is my 401st post on the blog, in case the title didn't clue you in. Ann didn't tell me that either.
She said that the performance was wonderful, the sets were gorgeous, the staging and singing were superb. She got weepy, she was moved, she almost fell out of her seat at certain parts. No surprise there.
But then we have the non-performance goodies. As it was a matinee, the majority of the audience members were active members of AARP. So when it ended, she found herself stuck behind slow-movers with walkers and canes as she tried to make her way backstage. Then once backstage some flunky had to look up the room assignments to find Mr. Van Horn, and by the time they led her to the right spot all the singers were out in the hallway by the dressing rooms, in their street clothes, ready to leave. She found Christian, introduced herself, they chatted about this and that, you know, including his whole lack of YouTube presence, met Eric Cutler who was right there, everyone is very tall and then garble garble bad connection somehow she met the Gunnster. Hair slicked back, beard, surrounded by people. She chatted with him a little... apparently mostly about... me. Eek? She told him she knows me and then... yes, she showed him the picture of us to remind him. He was like, "Oh! Yeah!" but the man is an actor so who knows. Then she said that I would be upset if they didn't get a picture. Eek again? But they got a couple of pictures with her new magic camera that senses when people are smiling and automatically takes the shot. How bizarre is that? So anyway she got a few pics with the singers, joked and chatted a bit and then left. All in all a nice backstage experience. Photos to follow tomorrow.
She had left her program in the house, so she then went to the box office to beg another one. Then, as she was walking to the bus... the title of this post. Oh dear. I'll keep it short but I can't think of a way to write it that's sweet. She realized that she was walking behind him. She... called out... asked if she could ask him something... and... asked if... oh dear. I'm actually having trouble typing this. Forget it. Let's just say, it was mortifying and my name came up again and... Eek. I had nothing to do with it. She felt bad at the time, worse when she told me, I assured her it was fine and, no worries, Dear Reader, all is well between Ann and me. I'm sure we'll all be laughing about it in the morning. But for now... all I can say is... Oh no you didn't!
Then she said she probably wouldn't be calling on her way backstage. WHAT??? She has to call so I can continue to post the play-by-play of her adventure. Hmm that should be any time now.
I have my voice lesson tonight so all updates will take place after 8:00 eastern standard time.
Ann has called with the Intermission Report from Pearl Fishers in Chicago. She says that the Gunnster has lost "at least 5 pounds" since that video was made and he was looking mighty nice. The music, she said, is glorious, but we already knew that. Eric Cutler, she reports, has an amazing AMAZING voice. Knew that from the radio broadcast. Christian Van Horn sounds great and it's a shame he's "hidden beneath all that beard/wig/robe." She is amazingly calm, probably because she skipped lunch and is actually weak with hunger.
I was doing fine with her detailed description until she said something about real live action being so much better than the photos . Then the jealousy pretty much overtook my excitement. Whaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! She had to go get back to her seat before intermission, so I called fellow blogger Lilly for a cross-country cry. Because yes, it's true, all the bloggers know each other.
Will report again once I get the next Chicago Report.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
One of our party next week for Lucia at the Met had to pull out due to an illness in the family. One week to go and suddenly there's this ticket available, Grand Tier!!! Just $110!!! Any takers? Seriously... post a comment with your contact info. I won't publish it, but I will contact you.
Tomorrow is my friend Ann's whirlwind visit to Chicago to see Pearl Fishers. She has not only given me permission to use her name, she has encouraged me to, so there it is. Ann. Going tomorrow. To Chicago. Pearl Fishers. If she's lucky, the cast member who offered to put her on the backstage list might even remember to do so. She'll be reporting to me telephonically during intermission and afterwards, and I will, of course, update the blog with her adventures whenever I can. Her only problem is that she has to leave for the airport at about 6, so she's not sure she'll have enough time to meet & greet & photograph & simper & so on & so forth & etc.
When I went to see Barbiere there I too had this feeling of, "I sure hope he (John Osborn) remembers to put me on the list..." and of course he did. Actually it was pretty funny because we exchanged these semi-formal emails about it, and then we went out drinking and all hell broke loose. Ok not hell, not even heck, but it sure as hades wasn't formal. What am I trying to say? It was just normal. Hmm a rhyme. Normal, not formal. Ah I could go on and on with this a la Dr. Seuss, but ... I won't.
So where was I? Right... let's hope she's on the list, because if she's not, I'm the one who'll have to listen to her cry.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
In a word: Creepy.
And here are some more words:
Disturbing, strange, good, bad and did I mention strange? I think you really need to see what's going on onstage. The announcer does a good job of describing it scene by scene, so as tempted as I was to skip that, I'm glad I listened to it. How else would I have known about the nuns dipping into pits of mud below the stage to cover themselves with it before climbing onto scaffolding?
I didn't listen as closely to the announcer as I should have because, as usual, I was doing several things at once. So my description here is based partly on the announcer's explanation and partly on the singing, for I could pretty much understand about 90% of the words.
Ok the story is, there's this 12 year old girl, remember the long red hair? So, Act 1. She gets bitten by a dog. Does it have a white spot on its head? Yes it has a white spot. A white spot? Yes, a white spot. Your wound is healing well. You have a fever. The dog with the white spot died of rabies. You probably won't have a scar. Oh but you have a fever. Oops you're not well, you're acting strange, you must be possessed. Into the convent you go for your exorcism.
Here comes Delaura, the 36 year old priest played by, surely you remember, Nathan Gunn. He's there to save her. But... oops. He loves her. Yeah, a bit of a problem on so many levels. End of act 1 we hear him singing, over and over, "Tear the flesh from my bones." Assuming that the bloody self-flagellation scene is playing on the screen. So onscreen he's trying to beat it out of himself. So to speak. Meanwhile, onstage, he's giving into the temptation, or so says the announcer. I so wish there were and at the same time am so glad that there aren't any photos of this floating around online, as far as I know.
So act 2 - You know, they get together again, read some books/poetry together. Dreams of snow covered fields? Bunches of grapes? Not quite sure. Eventually she's crucified to the bed, the muddy nuns keep Delaura away while the bishop performs the exorcism, she dies and goes down into her grave, it's all very confusing and creepy and shrieky and stuff. Apparently the crucifixion did her in before the rabies ran its course. Delaura ends up living out his days in a house for lepers. Nice.
The announcer gives horrifying descriptions of Servia's long red hair being cut from her head, and of people finding it in a crypt or something. There's blood everywhere. Creeeeepy.
Nathan sings from falsetto to super-deep. Like from one word to the next. It was cool, he sounded good, but creepy. The women shriek and scream and sing and shriek and hoot. I think Yoko Ono might have been in the chorus. Creepy stuff.
And if all that weren't enough, I think it was mostly in a minor key. Ouch my brain.
But what's even stranger is, at first I was like, this is awful! But by the end I kind of thought it was pretty cool. I can imagine that seeing it was an amazing, horrifying, creepy, fantastic experience that I'm not sure I would want to have. I have no plans of listening again. But if anyone wants to, it's available here , free, for the next 4 days. By the way, if you do listen, just so you know... it's a little creepy.
Damn. Talk about opera keeping me awake. I hope it does, because if I sleep, I'm likely to have nightmares tonight.
Ok so of course totally on my mind is I'd Rather Be Sleeping's reader, Banawoman, who is going to Chicago on Thursday to see Pearl Fishers, and somehow (ha) wrangled herself a backstage pass. Somehow. *cough* However, since I'm not going, while I'm happy/thrilled/girly-giggly for her, it's not occupying the majority of my mind-space. That's not to say it doesn't have a big, ok, HUGE chunk. Just not more than 50%.
No, instead it's the new song I'm learning - Vedrai Carino. I'll even spell it right this time. I'm memorizing the words. I'm busy applying every layer of vocal whatsitmacallit to the piece, bit by bit. Caress the notes, keep the breath low (meaning, pull the low abs in to force the air out), keep the throat open and elastic, legato, legato, legato. My only concern is that perhaps I'm practicing some part of it incorrectly, and then we'll have to undo it. We meaning, me, myself and I. I first wrote we thinking, my voice teacher and I, but really, she'll just point it out and give me tips on how to fix whatever it was I mistaught myself. Ultimately, it's up to me.
I love how much faster this is coming together, though, than the previous songs. It's like some of the technique is finally sinking in and becoming second nature. And to think it only took a year of lessons.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Today let's talk about Christian Van Horn. Deep. Deep deep voice. Like, elephants and whales can hear him world wide, and no doubt are listening, because they are smart animals. So why doesn't this man have more of a YouTube presence? Is this him? Even if it is, there are no vids of him singing, so next I'll direct you here. Personally I'm lovin' his "Cedi cedi." I'm off to see Lucia next week, by the way. Not with CVH, obviously, since he's otherwise occupied. I mean, employed. To clarify, I'm neither going with him to see the opera nor seeing him perform in it. But as I've said about a gagillion times, he seems to be a goofball, what with those postcards and all. It's very "Goofballs R Us" here at the I'd Rather Be Sleeping house, so he earns several thumbs up all around.
So. I wonder if I should find a piece of music, like, for example, I could cut something out of Pearl Fishers, and make a video slide-show for YouTube, just because. You know, because I can.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
She's right. I am the only "thing" stopping me. I kept that in mind as we went over Vedrai Carino this week. I vowed to not be the thing stopping me. So we went over the IPA, the rhythm and the melody. Then we jumped right in and started singing line by line. And you know what? Once I stopped being the thing that stops me, I instantly noticed an improvement. I'm slowly but surely getting better at coordinating the breath and the throat. I'm not yet at the point where I can just instantly relax my throat and use my low breath, but I can get there much faster than it was taking me before, and I don't have to concentrate on it as much.
It is such a relief to be back with an Italian aria. The French was a pain in my arse, to tell the truth. And what's funny is, I studied French much more extensively than I studied Italian back in college. I'm sure that the fact that my major field of study was Spanish has a lot to do with it. I do find myself having Spanish interference sometimes with the Italian words. For example, in Vedrai Carino I want to say Vedrai Carin-yo, as if there were a tilde ~ over the n, because that's the word in Spanish. So like everything else, I just have to train myself.
And speaking of training, I practice all the time. When I'm not singing I'm thinking about singing and about the music. I also practice reading along in the music while listening to the accompaniment. As a result, I'm slowly getting better at reading music. I can't glance at a staff and tell you the note, but I'm pretty good with note-to-note relations, so I can learn a new piece of music that way. "Ok, these two are the same, and this is a half step up, and this is an 8th note, and then back down a third..." and so on.
I love that all the different layers I'm learning are getting easier for me to put together. The breathing, the throat opening, vertical space, taffy-pull rubber-band type throat, and then the notes, the pronunciation, the words, the music, the rhythm, the meaning, the feeling and the legato. I would love to be able to pick up a new piece of music and have that all come together right away, but my style of learning is that I have to focus on one or maybe two layers at a time before integrating them or adding another. But it's getting easier and easier to integrate them with each new piece I study. Not to say that it's easy, but it's not as frustratingly difficult as it was at first.
Now I just have to remember to not be the thing that stops me.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I have a voice lesson in about an hour. For this lesson I was supposed to:
- Write out the words for Vedrai Carino. Check.
- Write the translation below the words. Check.
- IPA the entire thing. Ummm...... che... I did some of it, does that count?
Friday, October 10, 2008
Diego lounging on a boppy pillow
Prince Diego in his castle
Viola will dominate next week's post. I promise.
I'm pasting this in from a website that was set up to help raise college money for her two children, ages 5 and 2.
You can read more about Colleen's story on her blog at www.spiffyknits.blogspot.com.
Colleen underwent surgery to remove 60% of her liver. At the same time, they removed some of Colleen's lymph nodes. Then, Colleen went on to begin regrowing her liver with optimism and grace. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, bad news. On a follow up visit, it was found that there were cancer cells in her lymph nodes. They planned to begin chemotherapy October 3rd. Before chemotherapy could begin, Colleen had a couple more visits to the hospital because of various complications. Last week, the news was more grim. A CT scan indicated that the cancer has spread throughout her body. Chemo is no longer an option she is willing to consider. Mainly because it would take away from her family too much of the time she has left. Plus, the doctors have said that there is a strong possibility that it could even accelerate her deterioration. She wants to approach the time she has left with the strength, grace and dignity that defines her personality.
It has broken all of our hearts to realize that Colleen is most likely not going to be with us much longer. She has taken a "don't ask, don't tell" approach to how long she has, so that she can enjoy everyday to it's fullest. Plus, honestly, the doctors wouldn't be able to give a good estimate for how long she has. Either way, it is not long -- it is just too aggressive of a cancer.
Colleen has touched many of our lives with her intelligence, wit, humor, generosity, talent, and amazing outlook on life. The ladies here at Tiny Lady Cooperative have had the fortune of being business partners with her, and many others have enjoyed her fibers and yarns. Friends from real life, as well as online, have rallied together to show Colleen how much we love, support and admire her.
Please join us October 28th-November 4th as we host an event to raise funds for Colleen and her family. All funds raised will be placed into a college fund for her children.
Thank you in advance for your generosity in supporting this event.
So like, I google someone simply because I like his goofy personality that comes through in various types of comments on that Social Networking Site. Next thing I know I'm sending him notes and requesting postcards. I post all about it, and soon others are running to request postcards. And then, true immortality: Opera Chic hears about it.
So, Dear Readers, If any of you have requested and received a postcard from Mr. Van Horn, feel free to send me a photo of the postcard and I'll post it here.
All I know is, he better not ask me to contribute to his postage fund. I have to save those pennies for opera tickets.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
This is most likely a photocopy as the other postcards are in full living vivid bright Technicolor-color. The handwritten message is, of course, private. However, I do wonder if the adjective to describe the word "opera" was thought out or not. I'm thinking yes, knowing what I know that he knows.
Remember, Dear Readers, that this friend will have already seen Pearl Fishers and will be on her way to the airport exactly one week from when I'm typing this. Let's hope she can hold herself together.
Of course that will also mean that my note to a certain person reminding said person about something I mentioned briefly near the end of a previous post will also, hopefully, have been delivered and maybe even read. Well, delivered at least. The content of the note will be a reminder to this person, as I know for a fact that this person has already agreed with the terms, so to speak, of the content. Now it's just a matter of time, and we all know how short we all are on that. (And for those of you who know me in real life, stop snickering. I'm fully aware of how tall I am. Or am not.)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Have you seen the drawstring to my pants? I think I'm about to lose them.
Have you seen my Wonder Woman arm cuffs? I need them for protection.
Have you seen my...
Sorry, Dear Readers, but I can't bring myself to type it.
But notice that he does have the Wonder Woman arm cuffs on, so at least he's protected.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
This is probably the 3rd or 4th time since I started the blog that I just plain changed my mind about a post. This one was up for about 2 hours, and, according to the tracker, was seen by potentially 5 people.
So this is now a boring, nothing post. But now you know that it used to be a different, boring nothing post.
You're not missing much.
It's not a jump. It's just a go. Go from here to there. No problem.
I'm still working on the energy thing, controlling my abs and my breath, getting the breath lower in my body so I can sustain the higher notes without that blurt-and-swallow thing.
The truth is, I want it to all come together the first time I try to put it together, and of course that's not possible. So now how does my logical brain get the message through to the singing brain? I guess that's why the Evaluators suggested I try this song - for the learning experience. Or, as it seems to be today, the frustration experience.
It's like this - Zurga, (the Gunnster), is sort of the top dude in this fishing village, like a judge and lawmaker type dude. One day his old buddy Nadir shows up and the two of them reminisce about how much they had been through together way back when, and they sing that oh-so-famous duet about how they were at this temple and saw this priestess and they both fell in love with her. They decided not to let that ruin their friendship, and then at that point for some reason I didn't catch, they parted ways. Zurga went off and found the village. Nadir, the sneak, stalked the priestess. She knew he was stalking her and thought it was kind of cool. Ok. so, back we are in the present. Every year (I think) this priest (deep-saffron clad CVH) brings a beautiful priestess, Leila, to bless/pray for/bring luck to the village. She wears a veil, has a vow of purity, yadda yadda yadda. So soon after Nadir arrives, up floats the boat with the beautiful priestess. Zurga is like, "Hey, are you ready to do your thing?" and when she replies, Nadir recognizes her voice, then she somehow sees him and does a double take, causing Zurga to be like, "Um, are you sure?" and she's sworn in or whatever the ceremony is. Later as everyone is out working but that sneak Nadir, he goes to sing to the priestess. She can't resist him (if he sang to me like that I'd have been his too) and replies that she digs him too. So of course they can't help themselves and there goes her vow. Now I wasn't totally paying attention so this part of the story is a bit fuzzy, but I think they either get caught, or, more likely, Zurga realizes who she is and goes to talk to her because, of course, he still lusts after her after all these years. She admits to him that she and Nadir are already "together," and he freaks out, abuses his position of power and in a fit of jealousy condemns them both to death. Harsh.
So to prepare for being dead, she gives her necklace to a soldier and asks him to give it to her mother, it was given to her by a man whose life she once saved. Well of course jealous Zurga overhears and recognizes the necklace because, wouldn't you know, he's the man.
So everyone's ready for this execution - it's like a big party because this is an Event. Zurga is like, dang, I can't put them to death, not only do I still love her (and him, in that brotherly way), she saved my life! So instead of just telling everyone, which would have been the right thing to do, he sneaks off and lights the village on fire. Then he comes running back, yelling, "Fire! Everyone run back and save the children!" When the villagers are gone, he tells Nadir and Leila to run while they can - he's saving their lives! He knows that when the villagers realize what has happened they'll put HIM to death. So it's all heartbreaking and stuff and even the happy couple floats off in a cloud of guilt.
So I know my description is a bit lighthearted, but the music was anything but. I was all weepy and sniffly for most of it. I was so moved, I sent messages to both CVH and Eric Cutler to let them know, mid-show, (yes I know they weren't checking their email during the show) how wonderful it was.
In between acts they broadcast bits of an interview that was done with the Gunnster, Eric Cutler and some others. Eric explained a technique called "mixed voice" for hitting the higher notes in certain arias. He sounded amazing. Seriously - another one of those, "If you sing it to me, I'll do whatever you ask" kind of voices. Dang.
Now I want to hear the opera over and over (and I can because I have a copy of the broadcast already) and read as much as I can about it. It's nice to add a new opera to the mix in my brain.
Monday, October 6, 2008
It's about to start so off I go.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Hahahaha! And that gives me an idea.
Anyway, he finally earns himself a listing in the tags. Good work, Mr. V.H.
For example, if money were no object, I'd already have booked a flight to and a hotel in Chicago and would have tickets to see Pearl Fishers once or twice. But money is an object, an object that I don't have enough of to go gallivanting off all over the country to follow opera singers and maybe offer to do their laundry.
So, until I strike it rich, I'll have to live vicariously through friends who do get to go, and I'll also live internally, in my head, because anything can happen there, and, like Vegas, what happens in my mind, stays in my mind.
While we wait for all that, put this into your mind.
And as always, go, rate, comment, enjoy.
My friend received the infamous postcard from the person. I thought I had gotten mine the other day... but it was a card from the vet reminding me to bring Diego in for his shots. Meow.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Diego settles into a pile of clothes on the chair.
Viola caught checking the jewelry box for anything she can pawn.
(get it? PAWn. Just made that up. I'm feeling very clever!)
For 5 minutes there were no toys on the floor, so the cats made their move and collapsed as if they had been sleeping there forever.
Am in intense, intense discussion with the friend from the friend/person post about the particulars of her upcoming adventure. This is important stuff, people. We'll be living vicariously through her soon. She is aware that the pressure is on. She won't disappoint us.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Had my voice lesson tonight. I thought it went pretty well. I mean, yeah, I can always sing better at home or in the car - isn't that always the case? But I kept thinking about the sound I want to produce, and inspired by a soprano who I've mentioned here in the blog only a thousand times or so since the summer, I was able to relax and produce the sound from deep down, using my lower abs until they were shaking. Gotta fix that ASAP. Of course I can only dream that I'd ever sound like her, but that's not really what I'm trying to do. I want to sound like me, and I want to like the sound I produce. We worked on Ouvre ton coeur again. This time my teacher happened to have a recorded accompaniment, only the mezzo version, a step lower. I know the tune so that was no big deal, except for a couple of notes that were kind of surprisingly low. And it's so fast!! It has to be because some of the notes are held for a long time. I'd pass out if I tried to sing it slowly, seriously! I borrowed that CD because, yes, I bought the Standard Vocal Literature - Soprano book, and it happens to come with a computer program that can speed up and slow down music tracks. I should be able to bring it up a step, save that version and burn it to CD. Hopefully that won't make it run faster - Don't know if I can sprint through the song. There has to be a happy medium. Will tackle that project later.
I'm still frustrated with my inability to make certain transitions without blurting them out, but my legato has improved thanks to my vowels-only week of practice. I'm still working on coordinating my abs, mouth and throat to work together the way I want/need them to in order to produce the sound I want. It's hard! It's like stumbling over roots on a path... you're walking along almost gracefully and then OOPS you almost trip and you look like a clown for a couple of seconds. That's how I feel when I have trouble with certain parts and the notes sort of blurt out, out of my control. Then the next time I get timid and close down on them.
It's all within my control. Practice, practice, practice.
See, this is why voice lessons are like psychotherapy sessions.
And speaking of psychotherapy, in a moment of insane fantasy, I did look up a few airfares to Chicago... If I had found anything under, say, $150 round trip, I probably would have done it. I think we're all lucky I didn't. Except for me!! I'm not lucky I didn't!!! AAAAAHHHH.
Oops, sorry. Momentary outburst, it'll pass.
Thanks to those who have donated!!!
Voice lesson tonight. Updates to follow, as usual.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
So that said, one of my newest friends, someone who thinks about life the same way I do, with whom I could say I instantly clicked, is going to Chicago to see Pearl Fishers. In fact, this friend is flying in and out the same day. Crazy, right? Hmm that could explain why we instantly clicked.
Ok. So. Remember the person who gave me permission to use that PF rehearsal picture? He has a very entertaining blog (in which he recently said "hi" to his newest readers) (and which he updated moments ago as I was writing about it... oooh spooky ha ha) and there he promotes himself with these silly postcards he doctors up to add his picture and url. He says that he'll send you a postcard if you find him on one of the social networking sites. He just so happens to be in Pearl Fishers at the Lyric.
Ok. So. My friend who is flying to Chicago to see Pearl Fishers joined one of the social networking sites and wrote this person a message, telling him that she found his blog through mine, and that she's coming to see the opera, etc. Oh did I mention that my friend has a tiny crush on a certain other opera singer who is also appearing in Pearl Fishers? Anyway... I think the person is aware of that because of a message I sent him during our initial correspondence, in which I told him about this friend and where she'll be aiming her binoculars, without naming names of course.
Ok. So. This person wrote back to my friend and told her... wait for it... that he'd put her on the list so she could go backstage after the performance if she'd like. Ha! Sound familiar? I actually did the Happy Dance in my kitchen when I saw her email about it, I was so excited for her. I mean, I know exactly how she feels. So now my friend has to figure out how to not pee in her pants or whatever her personal reaction may be as she goes backstage, and also how to see the crush when she's invited back there by this other person. Maybe after she reads this she'll post a comment identifying herself, but that's up to her. I will, of course, hound her for a "guest" blog entry about her experience and she dang well better pick up a cell phone between now and then so she can call me during intermission.
And for me, I'll post a picture of the promised postcard if/when it gets here.