Friday, January 30, 2009

Still Amazed, and Return of the Cats

I have to admit I'm still amazed that my voice teacher declared me ready to sing Una Donna to People. And what a confidence booster. Seriously. This whole, "sing like no one is listening" really works. Seriously. I urge everyone to try it.

Ok. I didn't do the cats last week because I was too lazy. I didn't forget. I just didn't feel like it. But they're back and here they are doing what they do best.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reposting the Post

I'll probably read this post tomorrow and delete it, so lucky are the few who check in tonight.

Next day, Friday: Yup. Once or twice a year I delete a post the next day. This is one of those times.

Here, look at this:

You're at a loss for words, aren't you. I know I was.

Ready! Set! GO!

Ever since my resolution to sing like no one is listening, my voice lessons have been great. Truly great. Today we did Una Donna again and again, my teacher told me how much I've improved, and, ready for this: That I'm ready to sing it for other people!! Of course I still have a few bits and pieces of it to work on, but for the most part she was pleased and excited.

One of the things I find myself doing is swallowing down on certain sound combinations, which she said is from letting my palate down or something like that. It happens on -ar sounds, like the part that goes, "De un momento, dar retta a cento" and when I get to "dar" I sort of swallow it and it comes out a little nasally for the rest of the line. She kept telling me to imagine a peppermint feeling opening up my throat. I wasn't quite connecting to that so I tried to think it forward, and I sang it forward, which essentially did the same thing - it kept things open in the back of my throat and let the sound resonate out. She also said to sing it like I'm saying it. I have to practice that because she said it afterwards and then we moved on to the next thing.

I'm excited to think of how much progress I've made since I started lessons in the fall of 2007. Seriously. I could carry a tune just fine but it was all chest voice and belty. I never imagined in a million years that I was a soprano. I never in a trillion years imagined that I'd ever be able to sing opera. I do recognize that I don't have that full, I don't know, you know how good singers produce a sound that resonates through your body when you listen? I don't think I can produce that... but then again, I never thought I'd be able to sing the way I do now, so who knows?

Next week we'll touch Una Donna one more time and then jump back to the Tipsy Waltz. Starting to think about something from Nozze, seeing as how I'm sort of obsessed with it right now.

And now, take a look! I had it cut and straighted (blow dry and iron) today. Short!!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Variations on Papageno

Papageno has always been a huge favorite around the I'd Rather Be Sleeping household. Like, before That Performance I saw live in HD.

Someone on YouTube posted this "Papageno Variations" video in response to one of my Papageno videos. It's cool, no?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's Clarific!

Remember last year when John Osborn turned up in gold lame in Clari? Cecilia Bartoli was in it too. So anyway I was googling for info about John's upcoming run in Lucia in Brussels and up popped a video for... Clari! I clicked over to YouTube and found that these past few days someone (not me!!) got a bunch of videos of the production up. Naturalment I threw them into a playlist. No doubt they're out of order. If anyone knows the correct order, please post a comment or send me a message on YouTube and I'll fix it. Until then, in no particular order, here it all is:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Scratching That Itch

The past two weeks or so I've been listening repeatedly to Figaro and Susanna's opening duet from Nozze di Figaro. There's something about the wiggly music in the beginning that starts out alone and continues in the background... it's hard to explain but I feel like it scratches an itch in my brain. It just feels good. I've been listening in the car, so if the volume isn't loud enough to cover street noise I'll actually go back to the beginning of the track so I don't miss the opening measures. The louder the music, the more satisfying the scratch. That's weird, right? That's Mozart.

Here's a nice clip that includes the overture, the duet and the recit that follows. Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli!!! *sigh* The wiggly part starts at 4:23. Oh and then the clarinet that plays her part before they start singing... that feels good too. I wish I could explain it better... anyway, have a listen.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Linkadoo Love

Just want to remind everyone to check out the links over there on the side of the page, of the blogs and other places I like to waste time at. ---->

All About Opera News Page
gives daily links to opera stories in the news - reviews, announcements and so on. It's the first page I check each morning when I log on.

Viva La Diva
is the fabulously amusing and insightful observations of a young opera singer trying to make it in this mad mad mad mad world. Stay tuned for the HBO series.

Parsifal and Opera Chic get the inside scoop on all things operatic before anyone else does. They write great, detailed reviews. O.C. tells it like it is - she's hilarious! Parsi manages to meet almost every opera singer he sees perform. Might have to hit him up for some tips!

Hey Liz
writes about music and other things that pop into her mind. She should post more often so we don't think that her mind has nothing popping into it. Oh wait she probably has a life...

Lindsey Gets Her Groove Back
is the intermittent (read: she needs to post more!!!) insightful blog of an aspiring singer trying to see where she fits in the musical sphere.

Tea at Valhalla
is a great read - Lydia, now at music school, tells us her hopes, dreams, fears and all the daily dirt that goes on as she learns her thing.

Reverberate Hills
- Just go read it, ok? Patrick's into Haiku this month.

Anna Netrebko, courtesy of Carlos - Carlos gets the scoop on All Things Anna and brings it to us directly from Barcelona.

La Cieca - Everyone needs to read La Cieca, including all the comments on each post, although sometimes the random verbs assigned to the utterances are more humerous than the comments themselves. And we mustn't forget that La C posted that video to his blog of Alex loving La Fille. That doesn't bias me. Much.

hasn't made an entry since last October, but we love him so his link stays. C'mon Poltie, let's see something new!

Coloratur ...aaah writes deliciously detailed posts about life of a professional opera singer - a behind-the-scenes look at auditions, rehearsals, performances, traveling, daily woes and triumphs and occasionally a wonderfully cryptic entry of notes to herself about what she's working on.

And then there are the professionals and their carefully written, offend-no-one-praise-all and-never-complain blogs:

Nathan Gunn
- Sporadic bursts of almost-daily entries, then nothing for weeks.
John Osborn *no blog yet but the photo pages do tell a story*
Christian Van Horn - Regular blog entries about his work and travels, complete with photos.
Joyce DiDonato - If she weren't a fabulous opera singer, she'd be a writer. Looks, smarts, talent but so sweet that we can't even hate her for it - instead we love her!

There are a few other links over there -----> that didn't make the cut to this entry. Go look.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Despina Returns

Voice lesson tonight. Went back in time and reviewed Una Donna. Only it wasn't back in time - it was right now. All those little bits I had trouble with last year - the note jumps, the legato at certain parts - no problems. Of course now there are new things to work on... always something new... which actually I just love! We're getting into the little details of what sounds start and end what notes and how the legato sort of slides together and when to start or end a consonant sound... and I love it.

When I left the room, the mom of the next student was in the hallway and she started grilling me. "Are you soprano? Which one? Soprano 1 or 2?" Um... what? And then she asked all sorts of unrelated stream-of-consciousness questions about my teacher, what she charges, does she sing now, then about what I sing, about her daughter having only 1 elective next year and should she take flute or voice? One question after another. Meanwhile, a headache was creeping up the back of my neck and I had chills and all I could think about was going home, taking Tylenol and getting under my blanket. So I told her, make an appointment with the guidance counselor and see if you can't fit both in somehow. She went on to describe other school scheduling issues and I kept telling her, talk to your daughter's teachers or guidance counselor... tell them what you want and ask how they can help... we parents are the only advocates for our children... and so on. Then I ran out so I could get home, medicate and tell you, Dear Reader, all about it.

So I have a question. Now that I've ended my moratorium, does that mean I have to mention the guy in every blog post? Cuz I could scrape around for something if I had to. But I don't think I will. Go read his newly updated blog (as of this evening) if you want something. There. There's some teeny little thing. Not worthy of a tag, even.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's for Dinner?

Not opera related, and there's a good possibility I've posted this before, but if so, here it is again. See, that's the great thing about having your memory go. It's like seeing something new for the first time... each time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'll Give You Teeny

Ok, you asked for it. Well, one of you did. But the rest of you want it. Every teeny little thing. So just short of inventing some teeny little thing, I'll give you this.

I was poking around my blog tracker (translation: obsessively checking it) and found another search for "sexy hair nathan gunn" that led someone here. I looked at the other pages that came up and found this old review on some opera listserve. I don't even know when it's from. Perhaps one of the more avid and knowledgeable Gunnfans could clue us in as to what year this was, as I am currently too lazy to go poking around online. That review references an earlier post about the Gunnster as Dandini in La Cenerentola. I wonder how long ago that was?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bathroom Fantasy

I'm going to admit something, but don't tell anyone, ok? It's a fantasy of mine, and it's sort of personal.

Remember the TV show, Bathroom Divas? I have daydreams, no, fantasies, about being on that show. The idea of actually winning terrifies me, so my fantasy ends with me NOT winning. Lame, I know. But the idea of winning the initial competition with a trip to opera boot camp, to get training and lessons from professionals in an intense environment, I'm all for that. They pick people who already have some modicum of talent and then judge them by how much they improve each week. I could probably have a lead in my high school play right about now (except that I'm more than 20 years out of high school) and I'm a real quick study - just ask my voice teacher. I'm passionate and dedicated. I'm courteous, friendly, witty and helpful. My experience would make me an asset to your company... oh wait this isn't a cover letter.

So there you have it. Another one of my embarrassing fantasies. Pretend I never mentioned it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Singing Hand

Does this make you long for spring training or what? Alex and I threw this together over the summer.

And here's another take on "Goodnight My Someone."


Friday, January 16, 2009

It's Still All About the Hair

I have so many pithy comments and silly yet at the same time very nice things to say about ... well, I have my self-imposed ban until the end of the month... and all I can think is... what if someone else says them first??? I won't be the most clever!! I'm trying to not mention things like... sexy hair show? Conference? Perhaps as in press conference? We already see Anna Netrebko in jewelry ads when we open Opera News. Are we going to see... no... I can't. Of course that doesn't mean that I won't find out. I just won't write about it. Until February. Unless I am so compelled to that I can't control myself. I wonder if there's a support group out there for people like me.

Obvious Side-Effects

I usually (ok, always) check my email with my morning coffee. Today I had a subscription update from YouTube, and in the abbreviated blurb that comes with each video in the email, I saw "Osborn" and "Tapia." Interesting, I thought. Then I went to work, where YouTube is blocked. (there are ways around that but that's for another post.) Then I forgot!!! Bad me. Then I was thinking about John Osborn for some reason and I suddenly remembered. The "Tapia" listed there actually isn't his wife - it's a guy! It's obviously an audience recording, but in spite of that the quality is pretty good. The person who uploaded it is obviously a Dessay fan, hence the title of this post. So anyway, here it is:


Amina...........Natalie Dessay
Elvino..........John Osborn
Rodolfo.........Eric Owens
Teresa..........Claire Larcher
Lisa............Marie Devellereau
Alessio.........Alberto Tapia
Un notario......Giulano Bernardi

Hans Graf, conductor

Opéra National de Bordeaux

July 1999

Cool, huh? I can't wait to see this in March!

Gonzo Cat!

Musically today it's all about Muppets from Space. I'm about to go groove with Gonzo's brothers in a moment. Meanwhile, here are today's cat pics.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear that Diego poses for pictures:

Viola, well, we have to pose her.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's (Still) All In Your Head

I didn't sing much while I was in Florida. However, I didn't stop thinking about singing. I practiced in my head. I practiced holding together all the things I've mentioned before - relax the shoulders, relax and open the throat, open the jaw, caress the notes, deep breaths, maintain the legato, and so on. These are things that, when singing, I still have to work at to get them all to fit together. But I thought about them in my head and practiced them. Sounds strange to say I practiced without actually singing, but I did.

Then today I had my first voice lesson in three weeks. I went in with my "sing like no one is listening" attitude. And guess what? I could hear the difference. And my teacher could too! She pointed out that sometimes taking a break from singing and just thinking it all can really make a difference. It's like I straightened something out. I had a mental breakthrough. The notes were clearer, I was more confident and I was getting some of that sound I've been aiming for. Not all, mind you, but some. I allowed myself to relax and enjoy. Again, sounds strange, or obvious, but there you have it. I was in a Happy Singing Place. Next week we're going to revisit Despina because I want to see how far I can take her. Or me. Or both, I suppose.

Now I'm posting in tiny tiny letters and italics, in a difficult-to-read color, to trick myself. I am NOT posting about That Guy I sometimes (often) post about, but a situation has been brought to my attention... turns out that Juan Diego Florez, Joyce DiDonato and That Guy I'm not allowed to mention are all performing in Barbiere together in Los Angeles in December. But you didn't read it here, ok. Shhh. And no, I don't think finances will allow a Take 2, although I doubt Juan Diego will be going anywhere near bony fish in November.

Super Chocolate

I don't know if any professional opera singers read the blog, and if so, how often they do so, but I do know of at least 3 who have read it in the past so... here's a request:

I know you're all always super-nice to the supers because you're all super-nice people. But did you know that supers LOVE chocolate? So it would be super if you'd give them some to share in the green room on opening night.

Thanks for being so super to the supers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Trip to the Prize Box

Here in the "I'd Rather Be Sleeping" household we utilize a reward system to encourage desired behavior from our Littlest Opera Singer. We use behavior charts where he can color in a puppy or whatever, or draw another line dot-to-dot style to get the knight to his horse, etc, when, for example, he stays seated for all of dinner or goes to bed without calling me or Husband with some excuse, and when the puppies (5) are all colored in or the lines (7) are all drawn he can trade the chart in for something in the prize box.

I've decided that I too need to modify my behavior, and what better motivation than a trip to the prize box? So for the rest of January I will not mention a certain person who seems to get mentioned here in the blog far too often. Each time I post an entry that doesn't mention that person, show that person in some form or have a link to something about that person, I'll color in a puppy on the chart. At the end of January, if I have a full chart, I'll earn a trip to the Prize Box. Now the question is, what should I put in the box???

Is It Soup Yet?

I have fun checking the tracker to see what kinds of google searches lead people to my blog. But some of them... well, I just don't get it. I tried googling some of the very same things and my blog doesn't come up until like page 7 of the search. Who goes all the way to page 7 on a google search? Ok dumb question, I have. So then I tried googling the old, "Nathan Gunn Naked." Luindriel's blog? Nope. I mean, he's NOT naked here as far as I know, and I should know since it's my blog, right? And I stopped at page 3 of the google search. But even just a straight, "Nathan Gunn" search got me nowhere near me. However I did run across a slew of photos from some shindig in Chicago last fall here. Of course, it's all about the music. You can hear him talk about it on a podcast from LA Opera here. But you want to google your way to my blog? Try "house centipede" or "my good opinion once lost." Nothing to do with opera, yet you'll probably end up here.

Anyway, that's not the point. What is the point? There is none. My voice lessons resume tomorrow, perhaps I'll come up with a point after that. I'm thinking now that I want to put the new stuff on hold and go back and fix the pieces I put on the back burner. Time to move those babies forward. Unless my voice teacher says they need more time to simmer. Is it soup yet? Not yet...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cluck Cluck

While I was gone, these photos from the San Fran Flute appeared, along with the reviews. Who cares about the reviews. Look at these crazy photos! Ahh! I just got frightened, for a moment.

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Or... the bewb? Eep.

So Hot, So Cold

Just returned north after a few days in sunny Florida. Didn't get to sing much due to disinterested parties, who, sadly enough, are my parents. I tried to sing officially once. Una Donna. They cut me off after two lines:

Dad: I can't understand that.
Mom: I have that in English from the Met, do you want to hear it?
Dad: You should sing it in English.
Mom: I have the libretto that came with the record - it's in English. (she starts to sing a bit of it...)
Dad: (walks away)
Me: Um... no thanks... ok, well... I guess I'm done.

Then another time I was reading my music and humming along to practice/learn. Alex and Husband were goofing around and Alex said, "Stop! Tell him to stop," and my mom misheard and said, "Yeah, tell her to stop." Nice. Thanks mom.

The third and final time I was singing bits of Traviata that I don't even know the words to, just oohing and aahing as I was going about my business, and I stopped/faltered when I got to a note that was too high for comfort. My father started to laugh. I asked him why he was laughing. I wish I could convey the tone of his response. Think ridicule. "Oh, I thought you were going to shatter a glass with that high C." Yeah, whatever. Thanks dad.

So, there you have it. Sing like no one is listening, including and/or especially your parents.

Many people are remarking upon how sad I must be to leave sunny Florida for freezing New Jersey. I'm sad, but I'm not that sad.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Off I Go

I'm going to Florida tomorrow and won't be back until Monday. Here's some stuff to hold you over until then. This is all part of my "sing like no one is listening" attempt.

Yet another video of this. I never give up.

And this:

There's one more... if only I could get it to upload. But if you click through those to YouTube (and you should, so you can rate and comment... PLEASE comment with suggestions!!!) you'll see the other. If it ever uploads. Otherwise, you can see it here:
Still Singing Like No One Is Listening - Vedrai Carino

Finally, something professional. I love love love this:

Breaking News!

Husband has agreed to come with me to Baltimore to the free Nathan Gunn thing. His exact words: Sure, why not?
Then I said, "You could meet him and shake his hand."
His response: Ew. (this is in reference to the "Just think, I shook hands with him later," comment, found here.)

So there you have it. Husband and I are going on a date to see Nathan Gunn. I wonder if Husband will thank him for ... nah, let's not even go down that road.

So... who wants to babysit?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Opera Victim!

Last fall during a local Harvest Festival I won a free pedicure at a local salon. Soon after the event the weather turned to sock season so I've been hanging on to the certificate for just the right moment.

Day after tomorrow I'm going to Florida for a few days so yesterday I went for my pedi. Got a manicure too, why not. So while the woman was doing her thing for the pedi, my phone rang. It was a good friend and regular reader of the blog and we had our usual inappropriate giggling banter, including a cleverly snide comment from her about the name of the color of the polish I chose. I won't publish the name here, but I will say that it did have the word "opera" in the title. I ended up telling the technician of course which led to a whole... well I don't want to call it a lecture, so ... let's call it, an information session about opera. And because she was trapped there at my feet, literally, plus I was a paying customer (for the manicure) she had no choice but to listen, including when I pulled out the iPhone and played the mad scene from Lucia so she could hear the glass harmonica, and then Juan Diego singing the impressive fast bit at the end of Cessa in Barbiere. By then it was time to move to the manicure room, where it was too noisy to hear anything else, so she had to be satisfied with simply seeing a picture of Nathan Gunn (poor girl, somehow she survived) and listening to me describe his voice. She promised to look him up on YouTube. Of course she promised... I hadn't left a tip yet. I kept punctuating everything with, "Opera is not snooty! The tickets are just expensive unless you sit in the nosebleed section," and I gave her the "You know more opera than you think" speech, complete with little snippets of popular pieces. I told her about being a super, crawling on the stage, etc. She seemed genuinely interested. After all, the operas need hair and makeup people, right? We talked about that, and about how to make buns with thick hair, and how to make pin curls, etc. She didn't seem put off by the opera talk at all, which of course means she's good at what she does.

It's a shame that some people have this attitude toward opera that, when they hear that you like it, attend it, participate in it or study it, it affects their attitude towards you as a person. I recently had an unfortunate experience with a local moms' club of which I am a member. I had met some nice women, had lots of fun and thought I had made a few good friends. But then this opera stuff, they bring it up and are mean about it, because it's "weird." I didn't go in announcing my love of opera, blah blah blah. It just comes up, especially when I'm in an opera as a super. Traveling to Chicago last year might have been the starting point of the weirdness, now that I think about it. One incident that stands out in particular was in the middle of the summer. The moms group had a mani/pedi party at a local salon. It was in between Traviata performances so I was looking for a neutral nail polish color that wouldn't be seen from the audience. I wasn't announcing it to everyone, it just came up when a few of us were looking at the selection. One of the women said sarcastically, "Gee Susan, it's not a big deal. No one is looking at your NAILS!" Well yeah, duh, and we don't want them to be. Little comments, little digs like that came from the same few women until I really felt a bit like I was in the 7th grade. Then they started excluding a few of us from events by forming another online group and making arrangements there, but of course we weirdos found out, blah blah blah. All sorts of female passive-aggressive popular girl nonsense that I don't have time for. So what's my point? My point is, these people ostracized me (and a few others, women who I genuinely like because they are interesting, smart and different) because I/we didn't fit into their mold of what a mother/wife/regular person should be. And at the same time that they were telling me that they didn't like me because of who I was (and one of them did send me a rather mean email about it!) my true friends were spontaneously telling me that they liked me because of who I was. It was quite the interesting situation. I miss the fun social stuff I did with that group of women, but don't make me choose between opera and what you consider "normal," because I'll choose opera over normal any day. So to my true friends who read my blog, you're all a bunch of weirdos and I love you all.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oh, The Laughter

My next Opera Outing is to the HD transmission of Lucia. Husband doesn't want to go. He was pretty clear about having absolutely No Interest. So I've started asking my friends.

The first friend I asked told me she'd rather see an opera live than HD in the movies. Ok but... she's NOT seeing any operas live, and the HD transmissions are AWESOME! Plus I was offering the ticket for free. Gratis. Still no go. I thought she was a sure thing, but ok.

So I moved on and asked another friend who I thought would jump at the chance. She laughed. Seriously. She LAUGHED. She thought I was JOKING. I told her about the story. I told her about the glass harmonica. She kept LAUGHING and saying things like, "Are you KIDDING?" "No, REALLY? Opera?" Gee I might as well have told her that I was going on a root canal vacation or something.

I have a couple other people I can ask. I can't wait to see how they react. More laughter? More disdain?

So first I have free tickets to see Nathan Gunn perform. The only interested parties live a plane right away. Now I have a free ticket to see Lucia, live in HD. Anna Netrebko people!!!! Live from the Met!! That's the Metropolitan OPERA, not the Museum!!!! Nope. Nada. Nadie. Hm. Maybe they're trying to tell me something... perhaps I should switch my brand of deodorant.

Friday, January 2, 2009

What day is it? It's Friday, right?

Having two weeks in a row with all these days off has totally mixed me up, day-wise. But I do believe that it's Friday. Did I say Happy New Year yet? If so, here it is again. Happy New Year! Vocally, this year I resolve to sing like no one is listening. I want to really practice on putting out that full sound that I know I can produce. I can do it sporadically but I want to do it consistently at all ranges. Is that too much to ask?

The last couple of days I've been tossing slide-show videos together in iMovie. Here are the results:


Of course you should click through to see the full descriptions, rate, add to favorites and comment.

And just so this comes up in people's Google searches: Nathan Gunn. YouTube. You Tube. There. That should stop people from always ending up here when they google that.

Cat pic time. I promised Viola this week, if I recall. Too bad. I have this silly one to post instead and it features Diego.