Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a Doll

Happy New Year!

She stole the show here and here.

Now listen to Rachele Gilmore here!!! Yikes those are SOME high notes! I love it.

Olympia's Aria - Les Contes d'Hoffmann Metropolitan Opera December 26, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lu-Cha-Cha-Chia-ing it Yet Again

I've seen it at the Met. I've seen it at NJ Opera. I've seen it on TV. Now I'm seeing it again - this time in Florida. Ok so remember last year when I took my mom to see Nozze at Florida Grand Opera? Well this year I timed my annual Florida visit to take her to see Lucia di Lammermoor. And remember the year before, when I wrote about that Rigoletto with NJ Opera that I didn't super in because my email address changed between seasons? See where I wrote, "The woman who sang Gilda was FABULOUS!!!!" ? That was Eglise Gutierrez and she is singing the role of Lucia. I'm very excited to see her again, and I'm thrilled to be able to take my mother to the opera again. She's delighted. Two of my cousins are coming too, so we'll have a real girls' night out, with "girls" ranging in age from 29 - 82!

That weekend overlaps with the local production of Carmen, so even if I do get chosen to super (I've applied but have heard nothing) I wouldn't be able to do it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Merry!

It's Christmas Eve and here I am blogging. Why? Because I'm Jewish, that's why! Well, really because I'm finally not too tired or busy to sit at the computer and attempt to string two words together.

Last week my voice lesson was canceled due to SNOW!!!! Big piles of fun fluffy snow. I spoke with my teacher and she said we'll have enough time to get Batti Batti into shape before the recital at the end of January. And I have been practicing! I have been singing it without consonants. I have been singing it while consciously dropping my jaw down, down, down. I have been forcing my shoulders down. I sang it in the yoga tree pose. I've sung it while bent over and hanging down to touch my toes. I have been employing the Julia Child technique to keep the resonance. I want to be ready, I want to nail it.

I've also been trying to teach myself La ci darem la mano. The duet starts about 3 min into that video. You can also see it here, although they need to work on their diction. Ahem.

If only I knew a baritone to sing it with... For now I sing along with whatever recording I have handy - one in the car, one in the house, etc. Perhaps I can slowly teach myself all of Zerlina, wouldn't that be interesting. Hm. I have no idea how to learn or perform recits. I never even thought about it, really. I once had a friend who was a teaching assistant for a Mozart Recit class in a University in the Midwest, that's the closest I've come to it. An entire semester on just recits. So is that something I can teach myself? I doubt it... But I'm not ready for that yet anyway. This recit thing is just a train of thought here.

Work chorus thing happened. It was the same as last year. They asked me to get in front of the microphone. It didn't always work out that way. It didn't matter. We all had fun and even got a free lunch at a swanky restaurant out of it.

My final thought of the evening: I've been offered a free ticket to see Don Pasquale at the Dallas Opera on Feb 24. A free ticket to see Nathan Gunn sing some pretty music. This ticket possibly comes with a post-performance trip backstage. But either way... I have enough frequent flyer miles to do it. I've found a reasonably-priced hotel within a mile of the opera house. The problem is, I'm going to see La Fille at the Met on Feb 22. Husband teaches on the evening of Feb 23 so we'd run into the same old childcare issue. So if I went, it'd have to be the day of. We all know how snow can interfere with travel plans. I'd much rather get a flight for the day before. Plus it'd be exhausting to run to NYC and then fly to TX the next day. I've pretty much told the kind and generous person/friend that I don't think I can swing it. But wow I wish I could! I can't leave him hanging, though, if he wants to offer the ticket to someone else. Ah well. I guess I'll have to resign myself to seeing Mr. Baritone in March and in April.

Damn I'm spoiled. And I like it that way.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I realize it's almost a week since my last post. I will write, I promise. I haven't forgotten about the blog. There's even stuff to write about - the chorus at work, the snow, stuff with Alex... I will post a catchy-uppy post soon. Very soon. I promise.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Too Much Vibra-a-a-a-a-a-a-to

Friday night after dinner Husband, Alex and I went to a holiday music performance and sing-a-long at a nearby museum. The singers were from the young artist program of my local opera company. They're all so young - fresh out of college - and so talented! The music was nice and almost all if not all in English. Alex's favorite was when the baritone sang the Grinch song. Listening to it again it sounds more bass than bari but the program listed him as a baritone. At the end of the short program they did the sing-a-long. Alex had been waiting all evening, past his bedtime, for Rudolph. As soon as it was over he lost all composure and was Very Ready to leave, so we did. I wanted to stay and sing... but it was not to be. So it was very lovely. I just want to comment/ask about one thing. The soprano, who was tiny, adorable and charismatic, sometimes had so much vibrato in her voice that it was hard to hear the notes. When the vibrato wasn't overwhelming the notes she sounded absolutely lovely. Husband noticed it too.

And now, for your cringing pleasure, here is a video that's so horrible you'll want to watch it twice.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Proud Mamma

Alex brought this home today in his packet of this week's work:

It appears he inherited his drawing skills from me. The teacher drew the notes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Earrings and Opera

Finally got my earrings out there! The gift shop of the local Watershed Organization has started promoting local craftspeople. Husband does some GIS work for them so he knows everyone there, but what really got me in was that we went to an open house there and I admired the earrings of one of the women. She admired the ones I was wearing, I explained I made them, Husband brought a few in the next day and all of a sudden they were emailing me asking for a photo and a bio. I dropped by today to see the display:

And look, my bio! Which I wrote...

I make it sound like all I do is make earrings and study opera. Because really, does it matter where I work or how much time and mental capacity I spend raising a special-needs kid? Of course not. Earrings and opera, that's all anyone needs to know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Quick Fix

Here's how to get your Quick Fix.
  • Start here.
  • Click on the picture to get here.
  • Second-to-last in the list is your Quick Fix. Go ahead. Get your fix. It's quick.
  • Oh and then you might as well read all the little words there.
  • Squint squint now they're in focus.
More later.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

When it Rains... It Snows!

That was today's weather... rain... then snow!

Had a voice lesson this morning. After the vocalises my teacher asked if I would sing Zerlina for her, Batti Batti. Um, sure, ok. So I did, then she told me that the Conservatory was holding a recital on the main campus to showcase the students of the satellite campus. Each teacher is allowed to send one student over for the recital and she offered the opportunity to me! To sing that aria! It's at the end of January. I'm excited to have another opportunity to perform, even if, like last May, the audience will consist mostly of the parents of the other students. Most of them are kids, studying all sorts of instruments - piano, flute, violin, etc. But I don't care. I'm thrilled at the idea of performing again so soon and I sure can use the practice! One of the things we talked about was how much I move about when I sing. She kept telling me "less is more" and that she could see me doing the hunchy thing in the video from last month. So I will practice standing still, keeping my shoulders down and taking the emotion of our my actions and into my voice. She didn't tell me to do that last thing, but I'll see if I can do it. I think I saw someone do that at a masterclass once. The one masterclass I ever went to. I was bored out of my mind at the time because I had no idea I'd later go on to study voice myself. So it's a great feeling to have something to prepare for, and then hopefully I'll feel comfortable enough to sing that at the next Opera Project recital in March. So the title of my post - when it rains, it pours? Or snows, since that what it did today - I feel like, now that I've had a little experience, more opportunities are suddenly rolling in. Well, I have my umbrella - bring on the precipitation! (I realize how much of a dork I am as I wrote that, so go ahead and make fun of me. I'm used to it.)

After lunch we went on an errand. I turned on the Saturday Afternoon Broadcast and realized I was hearing American Tragedy. I had learned earlier in the day via an email that it was going to be broadcast, but when I turned on the radio I was expecting to get the Met broadcast. But as soon as I heard the singing in English I knew what it was.

It took us about 10 minutes to get where we were going. That was enough time for me to realize that I'm just not that into modern opera. Perhaps being there and seeing it would make a difference. But on the radio I had a hard time with the music. We heard a bit on the way home and I actually turned it off. Yes, I turned off the radio while Our Favorite Baritone was singing. I hope they don't kick me out of the fan club. Heh. I made up for it later by watching the Magic Flute from the Met, DVR'd way back when it was on Great Performances on PBS. Alex sat with me and watched (almost) the entire thing. Husband did too. Then he (Husband) said he would have gone to see this with me at the Met. I told him I would go twice if he wanted to go, but we'd have to sit in the Family Circle, up near the ceiling. He didn't want to risk a concussion when he stood up so he declined.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bidding for Good

Just came across this site, Bidding for Good. A quick search for "opera" brought up this auction. Yes, that's an opening bid of $150 for TWO orchestra seats for Barber of Seville in LA.

As usual, click through to YouTube to see the entire video frame.

And getting back to the Bidding for Good site, there are all sorts of auctions there, for every organization you can think of. Also of interest to me is this one, which I'd consider bidding on if I weren't waiting to find out about supering in it. I'm laughing because I'm thinking, Wait, aren't I busy that day? And that's because I have the performance dates in the back of my mind, just in case.

In case you don't feel like following the links, here are the descriptions:

LA Opera:

Estimated Value $446.00

Two Orchestra Seats at the LA Opera for The Barber of Seville. Dec. 19th, 8PM perf. Value $223 each. For this effervescent comic opera, LA Opera has assembled an all-star cast featuring two celebrated artists. The New York Times commented that the "dashing Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez was a vocally brilliant and charming Count Almaviva...and the perky, rich-toned and vocally brilliant young American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato had a triumph as Rosina." Principals include audience favorite Nathan Gunn as Figaro, who brings to the role "unmistakable star power"


You and 5 friends will enjoy VIP treatment at NJPAC’s presentation of Bizet’s Carmen performed by Opera New Jersey and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on February 12, 2010. This package includes 6 premium seats in the President’s box, pre-performance and intermission use of a salon complete with refreshments of wine and fruit, and a backstage tour!

Sounds good to me. The opening bid on that is $177. The value listed there is "priceless." But it wouldn't be priceless for me, because I don't know of 5 people who'd want to come with me. I'd have to pay them to come. That, on top of the winning bid... I guess I'll keep my bidding card down for that one.

Radiating Joy!

I'm participating in the holiday chorus at work again this year. We had one of our cafeteria performances yesterday. It was fun. Once again, they took me and one other woman aside and quietly asked us to stand in front of the microphone. But that's not what I want to focus on.

I want to talk about the absolute joy that radiated from our director's face throughout the entire performance. She was dressed in black with red sparkles in her sweater. She has straight black hair and was wearing red lipstick. As she directed us she had this HUGE smile on her face. She looked just like a doll. She was in her element - directing music. And the quality of the singing didn't affect her... because trust me, while a few of us can sing, there are many who have a hard time singing on pitch or even at the correct time. But in spite of that, she radiated joy during the entire performance. It was awesome and contagious.

One odd thing that happened to me, and I seem to recall this happening last year too, is that I got a little light-headed, like I wasn't breathing enough or correctly. We have one more performance so I'll focus on correct breathing. Don't want to hyperventilate my way through the entire thing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Whoaaaaahhh Nellie

Yikes. I guess it's true - if people keep telling you something over and over, eventually you'll start to believe it. Check out this article. Just have to chime in here with my 2 1/2 cents. I'll start with some quotes directly from the article.

"I'd like to take a little bit of responsibility for this nightmare." The source of that generous offer is far from evil. If anything, Nathan Gunn is the dimpled picture of Midwestern nice guy-ness -- think a younger, darker Russell Crowe without the edge. That's why he's volunteering to take the fall for men like himself -- opera's tantalizing new breed of baritone known as "barihunks."

Ok. Take responsibility for ... bloggers (not me) coining this phrase and applying it to you? Oh come on. No no no. Whoa Nellie! Reign in that horsie! That's so the opposite of nice guy-ness. Sorry. In fact, to me, the entire article has an undercurrent of "not such a nice-guy." For example, about teaching:

...when he encounters students who model themselves after Luciano Pavarotti's physical example, he gives them a talking-to.
Oh, that is SO nice. "Hey! I don't care how much talent you have. You're too FAT! Lose the flab or you'll never get hired!" OUCH.

Although I guess I do (or did, at one point) fit into the category of
breathless blogs written by devoted admirers.

But the stalkers - I can safely say I don't do any of that. I agree that it's spooky for people to take your picture on the street without you even knowing it. And then ask you to sign it. People have chutzpah! And they also forget that everyone is human. They think celebrities belong to everyone. I witnessed that first-hand at the Met Opera stage door when I met Juan Diego Florez. And got his photo. With his permission. Next to me.

Speaking of Juan Diego Florez. He and the Barihunk and Joyce DiDonato are doing Barbiere together in Los Angeles this month. I've finally gotten over the disappointment of not seeing them all together in Chicago as planned. Perhaps one day the three of them will perform it together at the Met.

Speaking of the Met, I called them. Again. Apparently my tickets for Carmen and Die Zauberflote weren't resent because they had printed the passes for me to pick up. So in my most recent conversation, the passes have been canceled and the tickets are allegedly in the mail, for real. Uh huh. We'll see.

So back to my original topic. Here's a clip from a recent production. Enjoy.