Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yeah, Whatever. Butter.

Yeah, ok. So I posted the video from the Kennedy Center thing. I'm not into this musical theater hokeyness, but his voice is like butter. Or chocolate. Butter and chocolate melting together? Anyway, I'm not going to embed it so click on the link if you want to see it.
YouTube
MySpace

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Hours I'll Never Get Back

Just wasted two hours watching the Kennedy Center Awards to see approximately 2 minutes, possibly less, of the Gunnster singing for Barbara Streisand. Not to say that the people getting the awards didn't deserve them, but the program itself was your typical prime-time network event - just not my cup-o-tea. I will say that those Broadway singers have HUGE mouths, Beyonce was wearing HUGE earrings and Mr. Gunn is in HUGE need of a haircut. At least he was clean-shaven.

I have a friend (hopefully? Not so sure...) burning a DVD of it for me. If I can catch him before he does it I'll get him to do just the last 5 minutes so I can get the relevant stuff online for our viewing pleasure (?). The duet was very nice and he sounded great, especially with the microphone. I actually thought he sounded a little nervous at first, for like the first 5 seconds, but who knows. I was so exhausted by then after suffering through 117 minutes of the previous "we love you, honoree" business that my judgement was a bit skewed. However, the whole proceeding reminded me why I like opera.

On an unrelated note, one of my online friends, someone I "met" because I liked his MySpace profile picture, and where did I find it? On Mr. Gunn's friend list there - it was a squirrel with a superman costume on under his fur - I wrote him a note that I liked the picture and we instantly clicked. He lives in CA but was in NY this week on a musical project. We wanted to get together but he was too busy- he called me today. Husband answered the phone of course. "Yeah Susan it's one of your freaky MySpace friends..." Actually, he didn't say that. He knows who the friend is by name and was glad that it wasn't a telemarketer. It was fun to chat in person and be goofy in real time instead of via email. And we never would have known each other if it weren't for Mr. Gunn's Myspace page. Blah, blah, blah. Does make you wonder how many potential friends are out there who you'll never meet because your paths never cross. Ok, signing off before my philosophical waxing smears the computer screen.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's Not What You Think

Before I really begin this post I want to say that I'm not really as obsessed as my blog would lead you to believe. Seriously. It's more like... a habit. I'm very loyal. Like a dog. Woof.

Ok so first off I just want to remind everyone that the Gunnster will be on TV tomorrow night in the Kennedy Center Honors on CBS here in the States. For those of you who are unable to view it, no doubt it'll show up on YouTube and/or MySpace soon after, and possibly even here on the blog, providing all my connections are able to connect, so to speak.

The other fun news is, The Gunnster (yes, him again, but no, I'm not obsessed) is doing a FREE, yes you saw it here, FREE recital lecture thingee at Gaucher College in Baltimore, Maryland on March 1st. That's about a 3 hour drive from here. I got myself a pair of tickets and now just have to decide... to drive or not to drive? Of course the weather might make that decision for me.

So... anyone in the Phila/NJ/NYC area want to join me on a little opera adventure road trip to Maryland to see Nathan Gunn for FREE? Add a comment with your email - I won't approve it but I'll reply via email.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

One of the Team

I know that I can't be the only weirdo out there in this huge huge world. Today I came across this. Check out who they have carrying towels and first-aid stuff. Perfect, no?

Rugby and opera. Who knew?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why Why Why

Today's Saturday Afternoon Broadcast from the Met was the English family version of Mozart's Magic Flute. Ahh what memories. Only, the cast was of course totally different from the version I've seen about 500 times. And the dude who sang Papageno... What were they thinking? English is not his first language, which doesn't really matter, except that his diction was terrible. And his delivery.... Booooorrrriiiiinnnngggg!!!!!! Flat. No sense of timing, no expression in the voice, no, I don't know. Something was missing. Certainly there are plenty of baritones out there who can excel at Papageno. Our Favorite Baritone can't possibly be the only one. Why did the Met pick this guy? I don't know his name and I'm too lazy to look it up.

The Pamina was good, but they cut a huge chunk out of the only aria of hers they left in the production! They just chopped out the whole, "looook Tamino, I am weeping, but you turn and walk away...." part. The entire thing was like 2 minutes long. I think Pamina was Nicole Cabell, who was in Pearl Fishers in Chicago this season with those other guys I've been known to mention here on the blog. It's so not fair to take away most of Pamina's singing.

Tamino, too... don't know who it was but I wasn't thrilled. Perhaps he sounded better live. I could swear he was flat at one point.

Seriously, the only parts that sounded better than the version I know were the ones with the three spirit boys. The audience probably thought so too, since the boys got the loudest applause after each appearance.

I didn't catch Queen of the Night. Wish I did but we were out running errands and were in and out of the car.

So all in all I was not pleased with the performance for a variety of reasons.

Better luck with the casting next time, Met Opera!

*by the way, the title of this post is a also link to a video.

Friday, December 26, 2008

More Tongue

What I can I say, I like catching 'em with their tongues out:





Diego loves to settle down on Husband's back:




Next week will feature Violacat. I'll try to get her with her tongue out, just for consistency.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Traditions

Last year on Christmas Eve Alex asked to hear Just Before Sunrise. My brother-in-law broke out the scotch and we had a tasting. Who knew that JBS was perfect background music for scotch?

This year we're not seeing my BIL until tomorrow, so we had to do our own Nathan Gunn tasting at home. Wait that didn't come out right... ahem... what I meant was, well, you know what I mean. Instead of scotch this year, we had bourbon. It seems so hard core! Bourbon! Like my voice should suddenly go all scratchy or something.



So we started with select scenes from Camelot:



And moved on to Romeo:

Nathan Gunn as Mercutio in Romeo et Juliette: Mab


and then Pearl Fishers:
(and what's with the the Lyric taking the video down and just leaving us with the slide show???)



And finally Magic Flute:



I think I like Christmas Eve. And I just want to add that I have the best husband in the world! He sits and watches all these NG videos with me. I mean, come on. How many husbands would do that? He's a Good Man.

Happy Holidays Etc

Today I got the DVD of my company chorus. Remember, I said that it was casual... I said that some people sang sort of monotone... Here's a clip. The microphone is not yet in front of me but you can hear me. I'm the one who didn't get the memo about wearing a red shirt but luckily opted for green.

video

Yeah. Without insulting my very friendly coworkers, I must say that I'd like to move up to something a little more professional sounding. But it was fun nonetheless.

I'm sad that the wild, "Move down! Just push her over and move to the mic!" pantomime wasn't caught on camera, but I do have before and after shots:





I'll no doubt be posting again later, like, after we light the menorah. Meanwhile, I urge everyone to do a search here on the blog for "caption contest" and then submit one for each entry that comes up.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Line "Em Up

Got my ticket for Die Fledermaus today. Lined up all my tickets, just for fun, and also to give myself a panic attack at the amount of money I've spent on these unseen performances. Click on the photo to enlarge. Paranoid freak that I am, I blurred out the bar codes and ticket numbers with iPhoto.




So here's the lineup:

Fri, Feb 13- Die Fledermaus - Princeton, NJ
Wed, Mar 11 - La Sonnambula, NYC
Thurs, Mar 12 - Firebrand of Florence - NYC
Thurs, April 2 - Marriage of Figaro - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Fri, June 12 - Rape of Lucretia - Philadelphia, PA

Summer - Hopefully I'll be a super in one of the three productions my local opera company does over the summer, then I'll hit the dress rehearsals for the others.

Wow. What am I going to wear to all these? Hmm.

So. Anyone wanna buy a pair of earrings? $20 plus shipping. I'll post pictures.

The Melting Explosion

Despite appearances, I have not forgotten the music. Was listening to Arias for Rubini today. Ahhhh that voice. I'd still do anything Juan Diego Florez asked, if he'd sing his request. And I've been so focused on seeing the Gunnster in Firebrand of Florence in March that I have to keep reminding myself that I'm seeing Juan Diego and Natalie Dessay the day before. My brain is going to melt. Or explode. Or possibly both. Order is irrelevant. Explode, then melt. Melt, then explode. Either way. Then there's my whole "gotta get backstage" attitude. Not for the Met - but somehow, some way... I am not going to see Nathan Gunn perform without an in-person hello. Nope. And I'd really rather do it inside than out. And as you can guess, I'm working on that.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Something More -The Letter Y

When I wrote about last week's voice lesson, I knew there was something else about it that I wanted to mention, but for the life of me I couldn't remember. I was listening to the recording in the car this morning and was reminded, but that was this morning, so now, of course, I don't remember. But I think it had something to do with physics, and sound waves, and a word that sounded like one word and rhymed with another. Oh and something about how singing different vowels for the same notes requires a different technique, all related of course to that physics word that sounds like one word and rhymes with another. I do remember my teacher saying also that some of it depends upon whether or not the day of the week that you sing a particular song ends with the letter y. So if there's a reason this particular post about my lesson sounds so, well, sounds the way it sounds, it's probably because I'm writing it on a day that ends with the letter y.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Catchy-Uppy

Catch-up time.

Thursday - Voice lesson. Worked on the low stuff again, including Shall I Come, and also some great vocal exercises to help smooth out the cracks. Cracks-be-gone! We figured out that for the same notes, I crack on certain vowels only. I'm fine with the eeeee as in "be," but tend to crack on the more open sounds like "long," so we came up with some exercises for that. Chanted out the rhythm and started the melody for the Tipsy Waltz. And now, no lesson for three weeks!!!! My poor brain.

Ok. Fun stuff time, also known as Other People's Blogs.

I know in the past I have made fun of Mr. Gunn for his spelling and grammar. That's ok, we none of us lurve (yes, lurve) our favorite opera singers for their writing skills. But the past week or so his journal entries have vastly improved, pretty much when he started writing about singing at the Kennedy Center Honors shindig. It's pretty interesting because he tells about all the pomp and security surrounding any event that includes the president. I, of course, want more details about the food and the clothes, because I'm shallow like that. I have been all over the internet trying to find any of the photos he says they had to keep posing for, but the press have stuck to the uber-famous in their internet photo slide-shows.

Next on the agenda, John Osborn has launched a cool new website. Check it out - I especially like the photo pages. The pics are nice and the text is really entertaining - sort of a mini-journal. I think he should jump on the bandwagon and start blogging about his Adventures in Opera Land.

Cat pic Friday: You can see Diego roll over in the Rover Roll Over video I posted on Friday night. I have decided that that brief appearance counts for cat-pic Friday.

Husband today: Oh great, now I've got opera on the brain, thanks to you, as he whistled some Papageno bit.

Pause.

Me: Well, that's not a BAD thing, is it?

It's all part of my devious plan, muwaaa haa haa!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rover Roll Over!!!!

The most recent installment in our Beethoven's Wig video project:



Go, rate, comment, enjoy!

Not Forgotten

I haven't forgotten all my dear readers! All 25 of you. I have a voice lesson to write about, cat pics to post and other stuff to ramble on about. But for now I'm off to a par-tay like the wild party girl I am. Tomorrow I'll be out all day as well... so I may not post until Sunday, unless this party tonight wraps up early. Keep checking back!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Changing My Mind

When I started voice I was all about opera. I wanted to sing in Italian, in French, in German. Oh yeah and English too. And I still want to sing as much opera as I can handle. But then I found that old song and maybe it's the nostalgia about the song itself, but I really like it. Then Divavixxen posted a comment about having the right voice for that type of music. It made me realize that maybe I have the "right voice" because I really like to sing it. Not that I don't like to sing opera. This is hard to explain. I just feel comfortable singing that minor-key ye-olde-english stuff. There are a few in my book so after we go over the Tipsy Waltz (which I was supposed to IPA and I never did and probably won't because it doesn't seem to help me and does manage to frustrate the hell out of me) I'll look at the songs in the front of the book to see if anything stands out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Grammar Rant No. 3.14

Today's rant: Homonym trouble.

What is UP with opera singers and their homonym trouble? If English is their second language, then fine, it's understandable. Otherwise, there must be something wrong with the educational system in this country.

Ok. I know we love them for their amazing talent for singing and acting the most beautiful music in the world. But still...

Here we go with grammar lesson number pi.

there/their/they're

there: pronoun for location. The stage is over there.
their: third person possessive pronoun. The men left their codpieces in the dressing room.
they're: contraction of 'they are.' They're on their way to the cast party.
Combo: They're shocked that their costumes were left over there.

your/you're

your: 2nd and 3rd person possessive. Is this your libretto? Your makeup is smeared.
you're: contraction of 'you are.' You're only in the chorus so stop singing along with the principals.
Combo: You're not going to believe this but your mother stopped by with your lunchbox.

its/it's

its: third person singular possessive. The opera singer set the chair on its side.
it's: contraction of 'it is.' It's difficult for opera singers to spell correctly.
The confusion is that for regular noun possessives we add 'apostrophe-s,' so people (such as opera singers) insert it in the third person possessive 'its' where, in truth, it doesn't belong.

And my new favorite homonym error, which I saw for the first time in my life today:

where/wear/ware

where: location. Where is the party tonight?
wear: Tonight's event is evening wear only. Did you bring your gown?
ware: something that is for sale, an article of merchandise, often used in the plural: The artist will be selling his wares at the craft show.

Learn it. Love it. Use it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reports on the Boys

I feel like it's been a while since I reported on what Our Favorite Opera Singers are up to.

John Osborn
, as we know, just put out those great CDs. He's currently singing I Puritani in Amsterdam. Can only imagine the number of frequent flier miles the man has.

Christian Van Horn
, the Tall Man with the Deep Voice, is currently in Munich getting ready to do Boheme. His blog is pretty interesting as he recounts the unusual rehearsal process. Apparently the theater does the same version of the opera every time, so a singer who has done it before doesn't need to show up for rehearsals until the very last minute. CVH is one of the newbies so he has been there all alone for private rehearsals, imagining his colleagues are there as he does his thing.

Nathan Gunn... I'm sorry what? I got distracted. Oh that's right... I, um, since he's not my friend on facebook I don't know! (I learn all I need to know from status updates, very handy, that.) He's not even ON facebook. (I hope my computer doesn't explode from that link...) And I thought EVERYONE was on facebook! Anyway, he just did a recital in New Hampshire followed by a master class the next day. Of course I know people who went because I'm like that. And of course it was, in their estimation, gloriously wonderful. My next Gunnster performance is in March, unless airfare to Ohio suddenly drops to $75 round trip between now and Valentines Day. The price of fuel is going down but I don't think it'll go down quite that far.

Before my March Gunn Encounter (because I will do my best to say hello in person, because I'm like that) I will be seeing Juan Diego and Natalie at the Met! And by before, I mean, the day before. I wonder if there's a prop bed somewhere in the Met, or anywhere in Lincoln Center for that matter, where I can spend the night? Like how the kids in that book slept in the beds at the museum? Jeez both Juan Diego and Nathan are probably sleeping in the city that night. Maybe I can crash on the couch in one of their apartments or hotel rooms. I don't take up much space, I don't snore and I promise I wouldn't blog about it! Just push two chairs together for me and I'm good to go. Yeah, I didn't think so.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Big Race

Had about 5 minutes to myself this evening so I quick ran and made this video.

As usual, Husband and child entered the house when there were about 10 seconds to go.

I know it's riddled with mistakes. I am a Work in Progress and I'm sharing with you. All I hear are mistakes.

I call this post "The Big Race" because the piano accompaniment is so fast that I feel like I'm running a race.

video

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mixing it Up

A few posts back I mentioned the sheet music I found from about a hundred years ago. Ok more like 17 years ago... anyway, go read that post if you haven't yet, and then listen to this.

video

It's low for me. Much of it is in that wishy-washy region of notes where my voice breaks. I crack in a few places, like "fain-ed," "thief" and "lover" and somewhere near the end when Husband and Alex started up the stairs (couldn't they have waited like 10 more seconds?!!) and probably at some other parts too. I tried to pull back a bit after cracking on "fained," can you tell? But despite all that I think I sound ok. I mean, I'm truly amazed at the difference between before and after I started studying voice. Now I'm working on erasing the obvious break in my voice. I can feel it and I can hear it at some parts. Any tips? For any of it? (but be nice!!!)

The Noive

My voice teacher was SICK and had the nerve to cancel my lesson rather then haul her sick self 45 minutes to sneeze in my general direction. Haaaaarrumph. Good thing, too, because I was supposed to do the IPA for the Tipsy Waltz and I didn't. I did manage to write it out and then translate it, and I left a line free for the IPA, so at least I did something. But not the part she told me to do, probably because I've been busy with this. And would you believe I posted this entry there first by mistake? Oops.

The challenge of today's Cat Pic Friday is to post pictures I haven't yet posted. Although I just went through all the Cat Pic Friday posts and did see a few duplicates. Oops again.

Today it's all about Viola.


How does she DO that?


Cat Camouflage

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Crack-Tastic Day

Today we had another choral concert at work. For some reason I just wasn't finding my voice. I couldn't find the high notes and I was cracking on those in-between notes.

When we all filed in I ended up a little past the mic. "Good," I thought, "Just as well." The women on either side of me have very nice voices, so I figured it didn't matter. But then the woman who directs us kept motioning me to move over to be in front of the mic. When I say motioning I mean urging me with her hands and mouthing to me to move. Where? We were packed together and the woman next to me who was in front of the mic is bigger than I am - it's not like I could nudge her down! Plus she has a really nice voice! But the director woman kept pantomiming and mouthing so finally I just pantomimed that she should move the mic over. That felt weird because it's not like I wanted it there, but I really wanted her to stop playing charades. Then the woman on the other side of me asked me what that was all about, and I whispered that they wanted me in front of the mic and she was like, "Well." This woman has a little solo part in Silent Night so I backed up to clear the mic for her but she didn't move. When I told her later she said that she doesn't need a mic for the high notes, just the low ones. Ha! I'd rather NOT be amplified for the low ones, what with my voice taking on a life of its own and cracking when the notes entered That Funky Range. I held back the energy the way I practiced in my lesson and it seemed to help. But of course that mic was plonked down in front of me just before one of the crackiest songs in the set. I was ok, probably better than I think, but I bet the recording would have been fine where the mic originally was. Hmm I wonder if it picked up the monotone "alto" voice of the person behind me? Not that it matters - this is a really nice group, anyone can join and it's a lot of fun. They videotaped it too so hopefully I can get my paws on a copy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cat Pic Friday, One Day Late, With Guest Cats

Yeah, I know, Cat Pic Friday was yesterday. Better late than never.

We have some Guest Cats today, courtesy of Hey Liz. Thanks Liz! Umm... can you please leave a comment with their names???







And now, here's Digeo, trying to hide from his Adoring Public.




His true fans will always know it's him, much to his annoyance.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Beethoven's Wig - Midnight Snack

Here's what we did today. Are we clever or what?

Keeping it Low and Light

I noticed during the holiday chorus concert thingee that many of the songs were low for me and I had to concentrate to keep them in head voice/mixed voice. Not a big deal.

Last week I came across a piece of music called, "Shall I Come Sweet Love to Thee." This just proves that I never throw anything away. This music was from a book of medieval songs for guitar. I bought it for a boyfriend in the early 90s, pre-Husband obviously. This boyfriend had a roommate who was into these live action role playing things - people from all walks of life would go camping for a weekend and pretend, all weekend, that they were residents of a medieval village. They'd have jousts and so on, there were points, there was game money... it was very complicated and involved. So my boyfriend and I went as non-playing characters (NPCs for those in the know) to be roaming minstrel types for a day. He played and I sang, and that was one of the songs.

So yesterday I brought the music to my voice lesson. It's low! I'm sure that I sang it all in throaty chest voice at the event all those years ago, the same sounds that I heard the chorus members singing around me yesterday for some of the lower-pitched songs.

We went over the melody and I sang it through a few times. It was so refreshing to do something new yet familiar, where I didn't need to also concentrate on pronouncing French like I have to do with Apres un Reve. It was fun, and I think I sound ok - certainly better than I did back then at the campsite. There was one part that I consistently cracked on - the same note in the same pattern in different lines. So we worked on keeping it in mixed voice and not drop down over that shelf, as I think of it. If I lighten up on the breath I can do it. Perhaps I'll make a recording if I get 10 minutes alone over the weekend.

Cat pics: Later.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Summer in Winter

Flashback to the summer! I was in this! Not this scene of course. But this is the very stage upon which I crawled on my hands and knees in front of a paying audience. But seriously, this is why it's so awesome to be a super. You are surrounded by talent! And if you get to crawl on your hands and knees onstage it's an added bonus. The camerawork is a little dizzying at first but it settles down until the end, when it looks like they dropped it.

The In-Between Times

I'm in between the chorus performance at work and my voice lesson. Yes, here I was yesterday thinking there was nothing to write about because I forgot all about today's performance.

It was fun. A bunch of us were in a conference room waiting for someone to come with a keyboard, I think, to warm up. I couldn't just sit there so I sort of started things going - had everyone stand up and stretch, showed some breathing techniques and gave suggestions on how not to shrug the shoulders up, as some people were doing. Then the keyboard came (I'm not sure but I think it was a toy) and we did some vocal warm-ups.

The performance was fun. I learned that I am not the only one who didn't know all the words, and in fact, I knew them a lot better than most of the people standing around me!

One thing I noticed - actually I couldn't NOT notice this - was that I was getting lightheaded. It's like all that deep belly breathing was similar to hyperventilating. What's up with that? In between songs, or when I didn't have to sing, I concentrated on normal breathing so I wouldn't pass out. I never felt faint, but the whirly-twilry head feeling was there. And of course, while I was singing and feeling this, I was wording a blog entry about it in another part of my brain. Multi-tasking! I'll ask my voice teacher about it tonight.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Not such a lull...

All that talk of inappropriate talk and then I come across this. Well someone pointed it out (thanks, facebook) but I won't say who. Um, might not want to watch this one at work, in front of the kids or, well, you get the idea. Pretty funny, don't ya think?

Lull.

Sure, there are things I could write about, but they'd bore you all to tears. I think that by now everyone gets it that people in Champaign/Urbana are googling the whole people mag sexy man guy and getting here. Um... I've posted about getting tickets.... Um... that same dude is singing at the Kennedy Center Honors this weekend and it'll be on television at the end of the month. I'll probably bat my eyelashes at my coworker who can burn dvds from his TIVO and will get the relevant portions up on YouTube and/or MySpace in early January. Really I just do it for the free drinks. Wait a sec - he's not one of the drink-buyers! Damn, everyone knows I put all the videos up in an effort to "earn" enough drinks to become a girl-drink drunk! <--- watch that, it's funny. Someone let him know, ok? Hahaha I'm just kidding. Sort of. It's just that ever since I had that pomegranate martini with the candied lime in Chicago I can't stop thinking about girltinis. Wow that sounds so inappropriate! I love it! Hey at least I entertain myself. Wait that sounds inappropriate too! Wow. I better stop before I get myself into even more imaginary trouble than I can handle. OH NO! Even THAT sounds inappropriate!! Help me!

Ok ok... new topic.

Didn't have a voice lesson last week due to Thanksgiving... Oh I know, that reminds me.

Elizabeth Caballero
has been putting up many more videos at YouTube. So click on that YouTube link to check them out, ok?

Um... what else... on Facebook there's a silly status game thing going on where you pick up the nearest book, open to a certain page and count a certain number of sentences in, then post that as your status. My nearest book was "Bringing Opera to Life," by Boris Goldovsky, published in 1968. It's next to the computer because I was checking to see if it was worth selling on half.com. So my status sentence is:

Whenever a performer is singing while in direct rapport with his partners, he must move to upstage (right or left) of them.

That's it for now. Voice lesson tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Filling My Dance Card

Just got me a ticket for Rape of Lucretia in Philadelphia.

Ready??

Row D, center. Yes, that's 4th row.

Oh and I'm not going alone. No, Husband isn't accompanying me. No no no. Instead I am going with a friend who is accustomed to backstage visits after seeing the Gunnster, as evidenced by the photos in that link. We're gonna have a blast!

Hmm... I wonder if we'll go backstage.

I hope they don't spit when they sing. Better bring a hankie, just in case. Plenty of time to plan since the opera's not until June. June!!! Six months from now. Wow.

My opera dance card is filling up for 2009.