Saturday, February 28, 2009

Weathered Plans

Well, this Baltimore adventure is not looking good right now.

Local forecast for tonight:




And for Sunday:

Sunday: A slight chance of snow before noon,
then a chance of rain, snow, and sleet.
Cloudy, with a high near 38. North wind around 11 mph.
Chance of precipitation is 40%.
New snow and sleet accumulation of
less than a half inch possible.

Sunday Night: A chance of rain, snow, and sleet
before 9pm, then snow.
Low around 26. Blustery, with a north wind
between 11 and 21 mph.
Chance of precipitation is 90%.
New snow and sleet accumulation of
4 to 8 inches possible.

Then the Maryland forecast:

Sunday: A chance of snow and sleet before 1pm,
then a chance of rain, snow, and sleet.
Cloudy, with a high near 39. North wind between
8 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
New snow and sleet accumulation of less
than a half inch possible.

Sunday Night: Snow likely. Cloudy, with a
low around 27. Blustery, with a north wind
between 18 and 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
New precipitation amounts between
a tenth and quarter of an inch possible....


Like I said, it's not looking good... but if it's that bad, maybe the entire
event will be postponed. So I'm sort of hoping that if I can't go, nobody can.
Somehow I doubt that the people who schedule and reschedule these things
will consult me before they make their decision. Perhaps the airport will make
the decision for them.

So either way, sorry Nathan, but I probably
won't be there. I know your heart is just breaking
at the thought.

Firebrand of Florence, on the other hand - I'll be there no
matter what the weather.

Finally, as a sort of addendum to this post, after pasting
the weather service report here, the formatting went
insane on me and my attempts to make the page
pretty have been futile.
Hopefully no one's eyes are going all wonky from it
like mine are.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Instead of Cats

Another catless Cat-Pic Friday. But look at this!

Almost makes me want to run downstairs and start eating the Play-Doh. Almost.

One Problem Solved

Well, I probably won't have to worry about what to wear on Sunday.

Today's weather report from the National Weather Service:




So what does this mean for the roads? Glad I didn't pay for a ticket. Maybe they'll postpone it...

For those of you wondering what "it" is:

The 49th Annual Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Lecture-Performance: Nathan Gunn

Nathan Gunn, one of the most acclaimed and in-demand baritones performing today, will be the featured artist for Goucher’s 49th Annual Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Lecture-Performance, held on Sunday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in Kraushaar Auditorium.
Free tickets must be reserved in advance by calling 410-337-6333 or e-mailing
In addition to his performance, Gunn has offered to do a Q&A session/lecture/ demonstration with interested Goucher students and faculty on Monday, March
2, from 9 to 10 a.m. in Merrick Lecture Hall. If you would like to attend, or if you need more information,
contact Kristen Keener at or 410-337-6316.
For more information about Gunn’s performance and
accomplishments, please see

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Out of Sorts

Voice lesson was canceled today because my teacher had something she needed to do tonight. I really do rely on my lessons for the psychological release I get, first because I tell her all the crap (and the joys!) of the past week, and then because singing just does that. Plus focusing on singing, losing myself in it, is therapeutic. It's a chunk of time that I'm not thinking about anything else, and it's quite refreshing.

So instead I went out for dinner with a good friend. We haven't seen each other without one or both of our kids tagging along in a very long time. It was great! She wanted to see recent Alex pics so I handed her the iPhone. She was scrolling through the photos when she came upon this one. She almost dropped the phone. Then she said in a serious tone, "Will you please email this to me?"
Of course I then invited her to accompany me on my Baltimore adventure this Sunday. She can't make it but I have a feeling she would if she could.

There is one problem looming for Sunday. Here, I'll paste it directly from the National Weather Service.:

Sunday: Snow and sleet likely. Cloudy, with a high near 37. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Sunday Night: A chance of snow showers. Cloudy, with a low around 25. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Yeah. Not sure what that means for the road conditions. Of course, that's local. Let's check Baltimore:

Sunday: A chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Sunday Night: A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Ok, that's not so bad.

Guess I'll wear my galoshes, just in case.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More DianaLucia

I should have checked more thoroughly yesterday... here's another clip of Diana Damrau going mad from the same YouTuber I linked to yesterday.

I still don't think Damrau's press agent is going to call me and tell me to remove it from the blog, unless of course they all know each other.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh Who Are We Kidding

As if I could take a week off. So here's some stuff I sometimes watch.

Tipsy Waltz, in context.

And Natalie Dessay doing the Lucia Mad Scene:

I still think I like Diana Damrau's Lucia the best... that's like saying, which chocolate do you want from this box? They're all fabulous, but this one has that special something...

Ha! Here's one someone took from their seat at the Met. That's even more illegal than anything I've ever done! Uh... not that I've done anything illegal... but anyway... The sound quality stinks of course, but I have to post it anyway since I saw this production. Hm. I hope Diana Damrau's press agent doesn't call me and tell me to take it off the blog... nah...

Wow. They should have propped the camera up on something. I think I'm getting sea sick...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Two Things

1. A friend recently said, "Always err on the side of adventure." I like that. Sort of.

2. My brain needs an internet vacation. See you next week.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Experiment No. 2: Drama! Intrigue! Insanity!

A few weeks ago I posted about an experiment. That experiment has concluded. The results are in. They are positive. Is that good? Are positive experiment results a positive thing? Well, in the realm of, "There is no such thing as bad publicity," I'm gonna say that yes, the postive results are positive. Should make things more fun, if only in my mind. And isn't that the only place that matters?

I am now conducting experiment number 2. This particular experiment involves... subterfuge (not by me!).... secret identities (not mine!) and any other dramatic words you can think of to trump this up into something more than it is and make it sound interesting. I will, of course, report the results, if not the particulars, once the experiment concludes.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Health Report on The Littlest Opera Singer

Poor Alex. He still sometimes says he wants to be an opera singer when he grows up. We just have to make sure he does... today he was trying to pull a heavy blanket off the bed. Socks + hardwood floor = his feet slid and he fell, striking his head on the bedside table. I was in the next room and ran in immediately to find him sitting there hysterical with blood pouring down his face. Ah, the joy of head wounds. A whole lotta blood. Managed to determine that it was just a small gash. After he calmed down and he cleaned him up a bit he was just lying there lethargically in my arms so I decided that maybe a trip to the emergency room was in order. Of course by the time we got there he was behaving normally. And the good news is, no stitches! Instead they glued the wound closed. Nice! I could have done that myself at home and saved us the trip.

So if he does become a famous opera singer one day, and you see a photo of him and notice the scar over his left eye, you can say, "Oh, I know how he got that."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Opera Fashion Revisited - Shopping in Your Closet!

I realized that I can't keep wearing the same purple and black skirt every time I go to an opera. I mean, yeah, it's super-comfy (read: slightly too large) and it looks great with any black top, but I must admit I'm getting kind of bored with it. The only reason I wore it to Die Fledermaus was because Alex chose it for me when he helped me decide what to wear.

An acquaintance of mine is an editor at Glamour Magazine. She appears regularly on Good Morning America and recently did a clip about shopping in your own closet. Can't find the link right now although I know it's around online somewhere. Anyway... here's what you do.

First you pull everything out of the closet. Everything.

Then you sort it all into piles:

Stained items - bye bye
Clothes needing repair (button, etc)
Other people's clothes - return it all!
What was I thinking/Doesn't fit and never will - Goodwill/charity

Then go through the keepers to see if you can make "new" outfits. Try pairing stuff together that you've never put together before - you'll be surprised at what looks good together! Just pulling everything out can reveal all these new ways of wearing things you already own.

I don't have enough time (in a row) to do my entire closet, but I have done sections at a time and already come up with some great "new" outfits, plus found things I had forgotten about. And I bagged up the things I'll never wear again - suddenly I have enough hangers for each thing to have its own! I don't think of myself as having a huge amount of clothes, but things to tend to jam up in the back and occasionally fall off the hanger.

So I found a few potential opera outfits. One I'm pretty sure I'll wear to Nozze in Florida because the shoes I want to wear with it look ridiculous with pantyhose. First though I have the (maybe) recital (still waiting for yay or nay on that from my own embarrassed mind), then La Sonnambula (perhaps that greenish dress I wore in Chicago?) and then Firebrand (A long black flowered flouncing skirt with a black "my eyes are up here" top. We'll see. Maybe I'll let Alex help me decide again.

Back to the Cats and a Clarifying Note

I know I seem to favor Diego here on Cat Pic Friday but he seems to pose for pictures more often than Viola. I mean, look at this:

Here's a Viola pic, just so it doesn't seem like I'm playing favorites. Even if I am. She'll never know - she doesn't read the blog.

And speaking of reading the blog, I want to clarify here that what may come across (to those nice people who don't know me) as an obsession is really just a habit and a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. People expect me to provide content and they send it along to me to share, and I do. Plus I love throwing videos together because it's like doing a puzzle. Of course I always respect issues of privacy and never reveal information that's not already publicly known. However, there will be a general slowing-down of videos, media and other information regarding certain topics for the time being.

Now, what do to... am considering skipping out on the whole Baltimore free recital thing. Someone needs to convince me that I should still go. Should I still go? I'm feeling a tad bit... embarrassed right now over possible interpretations of my...enthusiasm.

I know this sounds cryptic. But too bad. The rest is, as they say, private.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Old Friends

Voice lesson tonight. Same old story. I was picky, picky, picky, my teacher kept pointing out all the improvements and told me to shut up when I got too down on myself. I'm sure if I were standing closer she would have smacked me.

Pulled out the old friends - Vedrai Carino and Ouvre Ton Coeur. I can definitely hear a difference. I feel it too. I was almost intidimated by parts of Vedrai Carino, but now I'm taking charge. There are still parts of it that I need to work on, but I hear a difference even from last week. Ouvre Ton Coeur sounded better than I've ever done it before! I still have some, uh, issues, with the French pronunciation, but I'm working on it.

This Sunday my voice teacher is going to see the Met Finals. One of her friends has a student in the competition and invited her along. Yeah, these voice teachers, they all know each other.

Next week's lesson is canceled so no voice lesson until March 5!

The Mysterious Backstage Redhead

Yes, someone called me that today. Time to work that self-fulfilling prophesy and live up to the title. Of course I'll probably have to enlist that particular person for help.

I'll never reveal my source (source, if you read this, you are welcome to "out" yourself) but I will hopefully live up to the title to the best of my ability.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What is THIS??? Not me!

I think y'all know by now that I have a tracker on the blog. One of the things it lets me see is how people get here - like, if they do a google search, what they search. I follow those links to see where my blog comes up in the list. Just curious, you know?

So WOW was I surprised to see this as the first listing for a search of "luindriel blog." What the heck is that???? Bad fiction! Using my name!!! From... 2006. 2006? I guess I don't understand how google works. How is it that something published 2 1/2 years ago is coming up FIRST? Even more important, how did they come up with Luindriel? Randomly? Or... ? One day I'll post how I came up with it. Maybe. But right now, for the record, I am in no way, shape or form related to the Luindriel or the fiction that appears on that page.

Just had to get that off my chest.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fledermaus or Gunn? What????

It has happened again. I recognized a piece of music -ok, an entire opera - and I'm sure it's because the opera was part of popular cartoon culture when we were kids - Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and so on.

The entirety of Die Fledermaus was so familiar to me that I could have hummed along. And yeah yeah I know my mother told me that she used to play it all the time. But I could swear some of it brought up cartoon images in my mind, so I thought for sure that Husband would recognize it. So yesterday I played the overture for him. This was my first time hearing it since seeing the performance on Friday. Not only was I able to hum along, I was able to "play" along on his back. Ok ok get your minds out of the gutter - when I was a kid my aunt used to play piano on our backs or arms, for fun. So anyway that's what I was doing to Husband while we listened to this. I played a few scenes for him here and there and he agreed that it looked like a lot of fun. I mentioned that the performance I saw is being done next weekend too and he said, "You know, I'd rather go to that than go to Maryland to see some boring Nathan Gunn recital. " I stared at him. I decided to... ignore him. I asked him if he has heard from a young relative of ours who we had asked to babysit... not yet.

Then today the relative said no, sorry, he can't. So luckily for Husband, he's OUT of the "boring Nathan Gunn recital." But he's not going to Fledermaus either, unless he arranges the tickets and childcare, and somehow I don't see that happening.

Another Oberlin Q&A Account

I received an email from Sharon L, photographer extraordinaire, with her notes and impressions of the Gunn Q&A session in Oberlin. Here, with her permission of course, is what she wrote:
These are the raw pictures which have not been "worked." Raw formatted pictures do not go through the camera's processing other than taking the images. The final ones seem to be turning out...WOW...even if I say so myself!

The afternoon was very nice with Nathan and Julie. Here are some addition pieces I picked up:

In addition to Ann’s write-up, Nathan said that he has been pursued by several b-way musicals, but didn't mention which ones. I asked him if he is considering a b-way or old favorite song album and he said he definitely has some ideas, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get it done. (As I KNOW from a friend's personal experience who is on b-way.)

Some asides: I was the first to arrive as we were getting pelted with snow in Cleveland. But a few miles from Oberlin it turned sunny with little snow if any on the ground. I milled around for about 20 mins. The program organizer came and opened the doors and I milled around the literature section outside the 12x20 room (approx.) and found some interesting info. on the success of the music program at Oberlin College. Julie arrived at about 12:30 PM, we exchanged hellos and I told her that I really enjoyed to recital. Students and others started to arrive piecemeal and coffee with small sweets were brought in. The organizer met with a profusely bubbly lady who was talking about breaking her coffee table, for which she had to buy a new one. In listening, I discovered that she had just finished an interview with Nathan for the Oberlin College radio broadcast. No dates were discussed and I haven’t had time to investigate if this is available online. At the recital the night before, there was some speculation if the recital was being broadcast over a local classical radio station. (WVIZ) and that it might be available online. I have not had a chance to investigate this.

Nathan came in, bantered with several of the students and then the Q&A began. One student asked the importance of keeping fit and Nathan began describing how he does not lift weights. Esp. when he was younger as there is data that shows it interferes with the capacity to breathe correctly in singing. Julie chimed in saying that now he has established his technique, it would not interfere. Nathan continued to relate that his eldest daughter, who was in gymnastics (but no longer) had specific exercises to do to keep fit, esp. in the summer, when they are in Europe. He tried them and said he was so sore for days afterwards and felt that was all he needed to do. He also loves to run and takes long walks (as demonstrated in some of his journal entries).

After the Q&A session was concluded I asked if I could take a picture. They graciously agreed and my camera failed. The shutter would not release! (THAT never happens!) Standing there looking like a doofus, I attempted several times. I thanked them for their time and said I would not hold them up from the other few people still milling around.

A nice couple of hours and a nice professional couple.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

When it Rains, It Pours! Q&A Session with the Gunns

Actually I think it might have been snowing in Oberlin this afternoon when Ann took this nice picture:

She also wrote up a synopsis of the Q&A session from this afternoon, which I'm posting here with her permission. Thanks Ann!
Following last night's recital, I'm just back from a fascinating hour with N&J, tucked above the Oberlin bookstore, in a casual, intimate space. N&J were there with oldest daughter Madelyn, answering questions of the 30-odd Oberlin music students who invaded the room en masse at exactly 12:59.

Topics ranged from Nathan's education to his favorite singers and, of course, vocal technique. It looks like, based on my notes, it will take an hour to read this...ha! Of course, you can just skip it, too.

In college, Nathan sang 400 performances of Lieder. Julie noted that there were a few operas in there, but they were ... tertiary. Nathan: "Yeah. Good word."

Students were interested in the Gunns work/family balancing act. Nathan admitted that opera houses aren't very family oriented, and, at best, it's a negotiation to get time off--"Can I please have Thanksgiving Dinner?" But, he says, don't put having kids on hold. Things can be worked out. Julie added that it's important to find someone who likes the idea of this life. "I love to be at the opening of Billy Budd. I don't mind spending some time alone in order to have that."

They chose Illinois as home because it's more accessible to both coasts. Nathan really avoids extended commitments in Europe unless they take the whole family in summer. "My kids," he says, "used to think I worked at the airport."

Nathan was asked what future roles he wants to sing. "Siegfried." (note: I know nothing about Wagner but I think that was a joke.) He then mentioned Eugene Onegin, the Count, and, "I really want to sing Billy Bigelow!" This lead back to Nathan's observation, noted elsewhere, that his branching out in musical theater and contemporary music is not "crossover" but merely what he likes. When he recorded Billy Joel and Sting songs on his latest CD, "Just Before Sunrise," he
chose those songs because "they didn't do them very well and I thought I could do them better," he said with a laugh.

Nathan also indicated that, with current economic conditions, opera houses are opening up to the idea of staging musical theater like Carousel and South Pacific. Performing in conventional musical theater is out of the question for him because of the open ended commitment. He spoke admiringly of musical theater people as the hardest working people in the business. "I can't imagine getting an opera chorus to show up smiling, dancing, and toting boxes around 8 times a week." He did say, though, that he thought audiences have a "hunger" for a "real" voice. He said the overwhelming audience response to his singing in Camelot was an eye-opener for him.

On how to determine the range of your voice, "You are what you get hired to sing." Julie told students not to worry about "getting it right." Curiosity about the work is what's core. "If you don't allow yourself to mess up, you'll never get it right." Nathan admitted that, early in his career, he prayed not to be the one who flubbed a note or a line. When a colleague did, he breathed a secret, guilty sigh of relief. Now, he says, he's seen the world's top performers in
the most famous venues make awful mistakes--including himself. He's empathizing and pulling for them now.

Julie reminded students "don't give up 'you'. It's hard to be an artist without 'you'." Nathan added that you have to work with people who like your ideas. Not everyone will. Not everyone is going to want what you have.

Someone asked Nathan for his ultimate advice. He didn't hesitate: "Find a teacher who will physically teach you to sing. And DO what they tell you. It sounds obvious, but it's not. While you're a student, your teacher takes the weight of your vocal health on his/her shoulders. After that, it's your responsibility."

"Technique is the alphabet you learn. Beyond that point, the act of singing should be an oasis. No matter the house, the acoustics, even the emotion of singing at a friend's funeral-" Julie finished the sentence, "there is a parallel refuge in the music."

Oh, and his favorite performers? John Charles Thomas, Tony Bennett, k.d. lang...

The Amazing Revenge of the Bat

Die Fledermaus was AWESOME!!!

Ok, that's all.

No no no I'll write all about it.

Let's see. I already posted the pic that Husband took of me on my way out the door.

Actually I need to backup here for a sec.

A few weeks ago I joined a local opera-fan MeetUp Group. A bunch of people in the group were also going, and one of them emailed me to say that she'd be in the lobby with a MeetUp sign. I didn't see them before the performance, although I did see this sign:

I went to my seat up in the third-to-last row in the balcony.

The theater is pretty small though so all seats are great.

The opera started with the maid singing as she came up the aisle through the audience. She was awesome! She stole the show. The entire opera was just ridiculously goofy with current cultural references. There's a lot of room in the dialogue for that. The plot is very silly. Um... let's see... there's this husband and wife. He got arrested for jaywalking and then his jail sentence was extended because he tried to bribe the police officer. So he's supposed to go off to jail. Meanwhile, his old college buddy, some cute baritone whose name I don't recall (and it's just as well, for my own sake!) plans to get back at him for a prank he played on him when the guy was drunk. He was dressed as a bat for a costume party, and was so drunk that the husband character, as a joke, dropped him on a bench in the middle of town. He woke up the next morning and had to run home dressed as a bat. Ok so he wants to get back at the guy so he ... ok wait this is too complicated to describe. Read this instead. It's the very production I went to see. So basically, everyone has a costume and they all go to this party and pretend to be someone else. They all get drunk and let's see.. the husband who should be in jail flirts with a mysterious woman who is really his wife in a mask. She had been with an old boyfriend earlier in the evening, a tenor who kept singing Verdi. After the husband left for the party (the wife thought he was going off to jail) the boyfriend came in, put on the husband's robe and sat down. Then the jailer came to arrest the husband, and, to avoid scandal, they let him arrest the boyfriend. At the end everyone goes to the jail for one reason or another and it all ends happily ever after. There are can-cans, conga lines, silly songs and many physical gags. And the singing- WOW WOW WOW!!! Everyone was FABULOUS. Seriously. On top of all that silliness! It was AWESOME!!!! It was semi-staged so the orchestra was on the stage behind a scrim. It came down after the overture. I really liked watching the orchestra - seeing all the violin bows move in unison, like a dance. And I knew all the music. Go figure. I've never heard this opera, that I know of, yet I knew the entire thing. I mentioned that later to my mom and she was like, "Well, of course. I used to play it all the time." And then she launched into song!

Ok so first intermission I was wandering around and found the MeetUp people. Uh oh. Remember that group I was mixed up with when I was waiting for Juan Diego Florez to come out the stage door at the Met? Yep. Talk about socially awkward. All they did was complain that the orchestra sounded muddy, did I think they sounded muddy? The violins and the horns? They were asking me about the summer season and one of them said, "Aren't you in the opera company?" and I'm trying to tell them that I'm a super, no singing, etc, but it was too late - they were starstruck! It was bizarre! They kept asking me all these questions, firing them off one after another, and they were so excited to speak to someone who actually appears onstage during an opera. It was awkward and finally I truthfully told them that I had to get on the line for the ladies' room before intermission ended. They invited me to join them for dessert after the show and I gracefully declined, again truthfully telling them that I was meeting someone from the chorus afterwards. Not that I had plans to hang out with said chorus member, but they didn't need that info.

Afterwards I did get a chance to say hi to someone I worked with this past summer. We chatted a bit about this and that. Then as I was leaving I ran into the super captain. Haha love how that sounds. Super-Captain. The guy in charge of the supernumeraries, I mean. His 10 year old son was a super in the production. He said he'll probably learn in April or May if they need supers for the summer. I told him I saw Lucia at the Met and they had maids and servants, so hopefully whoever directs our version will want them too. I told him I'm interested and to keep me in mind.

And then... I left.

Photo Bonanza! The Gunns in Oberlin

Fellow blogger, professional photographer and Gunnfan Sharon L. also attended the Oberlin Recital last night. Here, posted with her permission, are the fabulous photos she took. Thanks Sharon!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chocolate Covered Something

News Report.... ...... .....

Ann has just left the Nathan Gunn recital at Oberlin. What follows is my interpretation of her account of her adventure.

Ann arrived in Oberlin a bit early so she tooled about a bit looking for somewhere to grab a quick snack. She wandered into a chocolate shop and picked up a pile of deliciously rich dark chocolate covered raspberries, quickly setting the tone for the rest of the evening.

At the chapel she realized that there were many empty seats in front of her, so instead of remaining in her 18th row seat, she moved forward to the 9th row on the aisle. Perfect view. The lights dimmed and out they came. Ann reports that he looked Absolutely Fabulous with his longish hair, perfectly-fitted tux and clean-shaven face. Julie too looked mahvellous in a long navy gown with criss-cross straps and super-high heels. They began to perform without preamble. The program was Schubert's Die Schone Mullerin. Nathan looked around at the audience as he sang and Ann thinks that it's highly likely that they made eye contact a few times. She was in a lively red sweater, alone in the row, on the aisle, and most likely stood out, visually, from the other nearby audience members. Additionally, the house lights were on slightly to allow people to read along in the program. Did he recognize her but not remember how or why? Possibly. We'll likely never know.

She said the music was so wonderful, his voice so wonderful, the piano so wonderful, that it was almost too much to take. She felt like she needed to take a break, get some air, come back to herself and then return to the music. But she couldn't! It was wonderful and in a way, exhausting. The songs were about a lovesick young man and of course Nathan was able to expertly convey that vulnerable lovesick thing as he sang.

In between songs there was sometimes a spattering of applause from a few people in the front row. Ann said that Julie would turn from the piano and smile at the applauders with such warmth that it spread through the entire room. And I think I wrote about watching Julie play when I went to Zankel Hall last April - she is amazing. She becomes part of the piano and just dances with it. Ann reported that Julie's beautiful gown was cut in such a way as to really show off her playing. Piano fashion - who knew?

So after it ended they came back out for an encore. Nathan told the audience that they never do encores with this particular program, but it's Valentine's Day so... and now Ann has no idea what that encore music was. She said it was beautiful, like the rest of the program, but.... what was it???? Perhaps she'll find out tomorrow at the Q&A. Now she has something to ask other than, "Do you google yourself and read people's blogs?" Oops did I just type that? Silly me.

More to follow after the Q&A session tomorrow.
On a personal note, since this blog is about me, I haven't forgotten that I must still write about Die Fledermaus. Here's the pic Husband took of me on my way out the door. Details to follow, I don't know, tomorrow I guess.

Where Is the Bathroom?

I need to write about yesterday's trip to the opera to see Die Fledermaus, but at the moment I cannot due to the rather strong girltini type drink Husband so generously poured for me. Instead I would like to point out that Ann (Banawoman) is, right now, as I type, at Oberlin, waiting for Nathan Gunn to start his recital. And as I was typing this, she called me to let me know that the restroom is under the stage right next to the dressing room. Then Alex came into the room and said, "I love you mommy. I love you more than you love me."

On that note, I must participate in the Alex Bedtime Ritual. More later when I hear from Ann. And eventually I'll write about how wonderful Die Fledermaus was, cuz it was.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Another "Alone to the Opera" Post

Tonight: Die Fledermaus. Going alone. Sitting in the balcony. It's at a smallish theater so my cheap seat in the balcony will still be better than any seat I've ever had at the Met. Of course I'll still bring my binocs, just in case I want an uber-close up view.

There's this reception thing afterwards (remember Turandot and Rigoletto?) but I don't have a ticket for that. When I called about it a few weeks ago they told me that the tickets were $100!!! This week I learned that they are a mere $25. Now, if they had told me that when I called, I probably would have bought one. But I'm not buying one now.

Hm. Maybe I can crash...

Will report later. Now I must swallow some food and then hit myself with a pretty stick. (As opposed to a stupid stick, which I sometimes grab by mistake.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Riding the Breath

Had an extra-long voice lesson tonight. I wasn't happy with my voice at all. But I plundered through and worked on some of that dastardly French pronunciation for the Tipsy Song. Or Waltz. Whatever it's called. The pronunciation is causing me to lose my legato. Seriously, I think it's the first thing to go when I need to work on some other aspect of a song.

Then I wanted to go back to Vedrai Carino. Like with Una Donna, I can definitely hear a difference after putting it on the back burner for a while. But then there's that damn legato. Where does it go? I wish I knew. So we did it without consonants and then stuck them back in, which helped. Then we talked about riding the breath. Turns out I was doing something that my teacher said is a common mistake- I'd have a few measures to prepare but would take this one big deep breath just moments before I had to sing, then it would come out with a sort of jarring blast. So I practiced taking that big prep breath sooner than I thought I should, and I began to let some out before starting to sing, so that the breath was on its way when I jumped on with my voice. Hence, riding the breath. I could hear an instant improvement when I did that. We worked on a couple of trouble spots and will probably work on it some more next week.

Tomorrow: Fledermaus.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trolling About

Feeling a little bored this evening so I'm poking about YouTube on the Nathan Gunn videos that other people have posted to see if there are any new comments since the last time I looked. I do this every 6-8 weeks or so. Sometimes I direct people to my channel or blog. Sometimes after seeing a video too many times I notice things that I never noticed before, like Nathan removing a stray hair or something from his mouth at about 3:26 in this. Actually Banawoman had pointed that out to me but my memory being what it is, I forgot.

Not quite sure why this video of mine comes up when I do the "sort by date added" on the Nathan Gunn search on YouTube. Any ideas on that? Anyone?

Now, if you go to YouTube and do a search on Nathan Gunn, you do need to weed through some of the non-Gunnster Gunn videos. For example, there is a Nathan Gunn out there who is some sort of religious leader. He goes on missions around the world. He posts videos. Those videos interfere with my searches for the REAL Nathan Gunn videos. Next you'll get Slither. Do you want Slither? I don't think so. But there's a Nathan Fillion and a James Gunn and they're always listed together so Slither always comes up. I have learned to put "-slither" on any google searches I do. Sometimes those guys still come up in the results, possibly because they've worked on other, non-slither projects together. And for the record, I have no idea what slither is, and I don't care. Then there are other random Gunn videos out there, but they're not OUR Gunnster.

One video that won't come up is this one. He's not in the tags or description. In fact, I came across this totally randomly when I was searching for different Despinas doing Una Donna. It came up in the related section and, ardent fan that I am, I recognized him from the tiny thumbnail picture for the video. Kind of makes you wonder how many other untagged videos there are of our favorites out there. He wasn't tagged in this one at first, but someone mentioned it in the comments of another video (don't ask me which because that I don't remember) and I put a comment suggesting that the video owner put him in the tags. If you do click that link, you have to get through the bariatric surgery scenes, but hang in there, it's worth it, I promise. And if you like interviews, you can also look here. You'll get a fair share of performance in that too.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for updates after tomorrow's voice lesson and Friday's solo operatic adventure to Die Fledermaus.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Opera Futures

I'm busy saving my pennies - the Met's 2009-2010 season has been announced!!

So of course I'm going to see Carmen with Liz Caballero as Frasquita. Don't know yet which performances she'll be in, but I should have that info by the time tickets go on sale in August.

Next of course of course of course I absolutely must for sure go to see oh wait who was it OH YEAH Nathan Gunn as Papageno!!!! Die Zauberflote!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010, 8:00 pm
Fischer; Kleiter, Shagimuratova, Polenzani, Gunn, Pittsinger, König

Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 8:00 pm
Fischer; Kleiter, Shagimuratova, Polenzani, Gunn, Pittsinger, König

Thursday, April 8, 2010, 8:00 pm
Fischer; Kleiter, Shagimuratova, Polenzani, Gunn, Pittsinger, König

Saturday, April 10, 2010, 1:00 pm
Fischer; Kleiter, Shagimuratova, Polenzani, Gunn, Pittsinger, König

That's like, over a year from now. Wow. Well, it's good to plan ahead. Now I know to turn down all invitations I get for next April until I know which performance I'll be attending.

Then of course there's Nozze, Traviata, La Fille, Barbiere, Boheme... but let's be reasonable. Let's keep it to the performances that Juan Diego Florez will be in... um... just La Fille I think. BUT Diana Damrau is in that too. But she's also in Barbiere. But I've seen both operas. But so what. But but but...

And of course I'm also going to see John Osborn in Les Huguenots at NYCO in November. At least I think that's the what and where. It's definitely the who. Somewhere in New York. Singing something. And I'll go.

Man how am I going to afford all this? Oh well I'll figure it out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sneaky Peeky at Lucia in HD!

Of course yesterday before the HD transmission and during the intermissions I was updating my facebook status and communicating via facebook with Carlos.

And then someone wholly unrelated to opera commented on my status update about Lucia:

Oh - the song that's used in the Fifth Element.

So of course today I googled it and sure enough, Il Dolce Suono is in the movie. Totally weird. I've only seen bits of the movie but from what I remember, that fits right in. Can't tell if it's the glass harmonica though. I think it's the flute.

I decided to give the commenter a link to the same piece with the glass harmonica. I searched YouTube, sorted by date added and look what I found! Someone somewhere captured a bit of yesterday's transmission on film. Film on film. How meta. But look! And listen! It's that scene with those beautiful caressed notes I mentioned yesterday.

I didn't give my facebook commenter the link to that because I wanted him to hear the same part as the part in the movie, so I sent him this instead.

Now I can't wait for this to be on PBS so I can watch it over and over and over.

Circle Gets the Square

How could I forget to include this yesterday???

All summer long I stressed about dropping those damn champagne glasses. It was like an obsession. Will I drop the glass? Will I have to (ok, get to) crawl out on stage to wipe up a spill???

Now, the one thing about an HD broadcast is, you're right up on stage with the action. And in Act II the action included supers with trays of champagne glasses. At one point the mean brother uncorks a bottle, pours two glasses and hands one to Arturo, the groom he has chosen for Lucia. The glasses were pretty much the same ones we used over the summer - your standard plastic champagne flute. Only up close I noticed something different. Yes, the bottoms were round, but... what was I seeing there? Some sort of... edge? Oh yes. Someone is very smart.

No wonder their glasses didn't even wobble. Each flute had a clear plastic square on the bottom. Like, glued to the bottom. From the audience you can't see it. For the supers it means a much smaller chance of spillage. Why oh why didn't anyone (and I include myself in this bunch) think of this????

I'm sure none of the movie audience noticed the square-bottomed glasses. In fact, there's a good possibility that of all the people all over the world who saw Lucia in HD yesterday, I'm one of maybe 100 who noticed, and I'm being generous with that number. I figure, any other super, prop person and possibly actor familiar with drink-serving on stage or screen might possibly have noticed. If they were looking.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blog Post Salad

Many things to write about. I considered making a separate entry for each topic but decided instead for ensalata mixta.

Starting with: Mixed greens

This past Thursday's voice lesson!!!!

The lesson was great. Really great. I love the vocal exercises she has me do. I really love them. I practice caressing the notes and smoothing things out and ironing the break and all that other fun stuff. I had my eyes closed and I pictured myself on a stage. Since I've actually been on a stage as a super I imagined that theater. In my mind, the house was mostly empty save for a few people in the top row and standing behind that top row. I sang so that they could hear me. Ok, I'll admit it - I pretended I was auditioning. For what? For anything, really. Bathroom Divas. Opera chorus. Community theater. And WOW it totally made a difference. Adding that exercise to "sing like no one is listening" improved my sound immensely! Of course if I really were auditioning for something I'd probably be so nervous that I'd open my mouth to hear a trembling warble, but alone with my teacher in the room it was really good. We did Una Donna a few more times before putting it back on the back burner. Amazing how far I've come with it.

Then we went back to The Tipsy Waltz from La Perichole. Even with IPA and my own pronunciation notes I have trouble remembering all the vowel sounds. French has different sounds when you sing it from when you speak it, because apparently French isn't difficult enough for native English speakers to pronounce just one way. I studied French for years, which makes it worse - I have that interference (along with Spanish and Italian) when I try to sing. But little by little I'm improving.

All in all a pleasing lesson, I'm making progress and (this week at least) I'm happy with the sounds I'm producing.

Next in the salad: White asparagus, tomato and ventresca

Lucia in HD!!! Anna Netrebko as Lucia - WOW that woman can sing. Talk about caressing the notes - in the mad scene her voice was like luxurious silk. Different sound than Diana Damrau. I loved loved loved Diana at Lucia. But I loved loved loved Anna too. And then of course, it was the HD thing. In the movies. So I heard the woman on my right tell her companion that Lucia is her favorite opera and she even has the libretto. Yep. She hummed along for about 75% of the performance. One of my friends was on my left. The man next to her... cough... cough... slowly unwrap cellophane hard candy... fold the wrapper. What is UP with folding the wrapper??? Hint to all opera goers who might want a hard candy during the performance: Unwrap them before. Ok so then the movie situation itself. The teenagers running the thing didn't turn the lights down until about 10 minutes in, after about 6 people left their seats to go tell someone to turn the lights off. THEN they had the projector focused in such a way that the subtitles didn't show. Well that's not entirely accurate. When there were two lines of titles, the top line showed. So every 5 minutes or so we'd see a line of text. At the first intermission one of the alta kockers in the audience clued the teenage projectionist that maybe they could zoom out just a little so we could READ ALONG???? At this point some of you might be thinking I'm a bit harsh with my alta kocker reference. But seriously. The hard candy guy was letting them rip, audibly, during the last act. Lucky for me my hair is still long enough that I could pull it around and use it as sort of a shield, like a gas mask.

Yep. You pay $22 for a ticket, you get a $22 experience. Oh and the water. I won't tell you how much I paid in the theater for a bottle of water, but it was a good percentage of the ticket price.

Finally: The salad dressing. And some boquerones for good measure. Yum I might have to order a can or two. But as usual, I digress...

Check this out! Opera Karaoke! Ok so it's really piano accompaniment for a bunch of different arias and duets and so on. But you can download one or many without having to purchase an entire book and CD. Fun stuff.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Just a Quick (high) Note

I Puritani opened tonight in Amsterdam. Rumor from the Opera House has it that the amiable Mr. Osborn was a huuuuge success and easily hit - wait for it - a high F. Bravo Johnny! Wish I could've been there for so many reasons, not the least of which is, if I were in Amsterdam, I'd be on vacation.

Bravo Johnny... Johnny Bravo... stream of consciousness follows... Cartoon? Or, that Brady Bunch episode where the hipster record producers want to turn Greg into a rock star because he "fits the suit..." ?

Radio Magic

Why is it that when we hear something on the radio that not only have we heard countless times before, but we own several recordings of it, we still get excited? I think it's because it's fun to know that someone else out there likes the same music and has chosen to play it for everyone to hear.

Yesterday while driving from Here to There I was listening to a classical music station's beg oops I mean, pledge drive. The reward for donating x dollars was a box set of recordings of all Mozart's music. Like, a huge box. So they did their begging and then played something from the box - think of all the great music they had to choose from - and they chose the overture from Die Zauberflote! I've heard it countless times, I've seen the opera live in the theater and on television and video, yet I got so excited to hear it on the radio. Someone else was choosing to listen and play it for me! Ok not just for me, but who cares? That particular drive was just the right length to hear the entire thing without having to hear them beg again at the end. (actually I turned the radio off... no donation ... is that bad? Probably. Oh well.) I was so excited to hear it, I was singing along and conducting in the car. It was like a special treat. I was having one of those days, and hearing the MF Overture really perked me up and put me in a good mood. Wow now I feel like I should give them money. Well I'm sure the feeling will pass, and more quickly than it should. (thanks Jane Austen for that line.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm Back. Again. For real.

It all has to do with levels of reality. As in, there's real life, and then there's non-real life. That's related to, but not identical to, unreal life. Unreal life is more like unbelievable reality. It's real, but shouldn't be. Non-real life, on the other hand, is what sometimes tries to cross over into real life, but it's not real. Sometimes it leaks into the blog here. Sometimes I notice and don't care. Sometimes I notice and comment, or even change and/or remove a post. Sometimes I just don't notice. Hm logic problem there... how do I know I don't notice if I'm not noticing? Ack it's not always good being too smart for your own good because it's hard to outwit yourself. So... I believe I (usually?) have a full grasp on what's real and what's non-real. And that's the real reason I'm buying myself a drink.

Changing My Mind (again)

I retract my previous post. [so much so that I've deleted a chunk of it] I'm not asking for anything except, what? My money's worth from any performance I attend, anywhere. From anyone, really. Hm what does that mean for the free ones? After all, you get what you pay for and all that? But either way I'll get my own pink girl-drink and will say some variation of, "Why, you're welcome, it was my pleasure" if I ever hear a thank you. And that's to anyone who thanks me for anything. After all, my mother raised me that way. That reminds me -the experiment is still running. I will report the results, maybe, one day. Maybe.

Vowels: Followed Johnny O's advice and sang Una Donna, vowels only. In the shower. Ok that's irrelevant, but not really. The bathroom has great acoustics! So I did it a few times, then added the consonants back in, and I can feel the difference more than I can hear it. Although I can hear it too. Thanks Johnny! BTW, I Puritani opens this week. I think it's this week. For some reason I can't keep numbers in my head these days. That includes dates, addresses, telephone numbers, driving directions, whatever. These days? Ok it's been forever. I'm good at math though, go figure. Heh unintended pun.

Okayyyyy I am going off the deep end here. Rambling about nothing, boring everyone to tears. Stop crying and go read a more interesting blog from the list on the right.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Where's the Beef? (and an experiment)

Ok, maybe not the beef, for all that implies. But that drink I've mentioned sporadically here in the blog...

Just to be clear: I post things to YouTube out of my love for the music. I'm a sharer. I like to share. I ask for nothing... but...

The rest of this post has been deleted to protect the innocent. (that would be me)