Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I went outside to play
There was a thunderstorm
I played out in the rain
Argh I can't remember. I should have written it down. You could tell he was making it up as he went along. It mostly rhymed. The rhythms were great. You could tell when he switched from the verse to the chorus and the meter changed. He changed his vocal quality when the subject changed - it was very dynamic. Husband and I just stared with our jaws hanging open. So the subject matter was familiar to him, the pattern of the song from verse to chorus and back to verse was typical of, say, a Beatles song, the tune was unique but melodic, it mostly rhymed AND he changed his volume and voice type to go with the feeling of the words. All spontaneously.
Perhaps this is something all kids can do - I have no idea. Either way, I am truly amazed.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Other July Things:
- A cast member was generous and nice enough to offer me free final dress rehearsal tickets (or just one ticket? I should find out... how does one ask? Oh I know, one waits for that person to read this entry...) for The Mikado on July 9. I wonder if I should see if said cast member has any other as-yet unspoken for final dress tickets for the other performance she was almost in until they realized how overworked she was and let her off the chorus hook. There are only so many costumes a person can sweat in in the course of a week.
- NYC July 17th? Free concert in Central Park. Depends on the weather and my motivation. I'm spoiled by my up-close-and-personal seats for the past few performances - 14th row, 3rd row, 4th row, 2nd row - yeah ok and upper balcony very near family circle before that- and this could be even farther than those balcony seats. And crowded. And hot. With no where to pee. Since it's free, I'll wait and see. Funny, in March I was all annoyed that snow kept me away. Now I'm like, oh, it might be too hot, better not plan on going. You can probably tell that Florida is not on my list of retirement destinations.
- That other opportunity I've mentioned might take place in July. Not sure the etiquette about when to call back, but I feel that right now it's too soon. Maybe next month if I haven't heard anything. The person with whom I spoke was distracted about something unrelated to our conversation. I'm thinking it might be best to wait for that situation to pass before attempting further contact.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Stayed at the most fabulous motel, ever.
Views from the patio:
Views of the patio:
That's some sort of fire-pit, filled with glass chips. The tiles are all iridescent.
The chandelier in the outside stairwell:
View from one window of our suite:
Here's the ceiling in the sitting room of our suite.
They let us peek into the unoccupied rooms before we left.
Check out this suite we didn't stay in!
And here's another, because who doesn't need a glowing red sink! The tub glows too.
Can't wait to go back and stay in one of the other funky rooms.
Back to the opera, and how it keeps me awake, next time.
ps I fixed the links for the rooms in the motel... sorry about that.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A. Memorize the rest of the words to Batti Batti
B. Sing it without consonants to improve my legato
C. Try to figure out where to breathe
Wish me luck.
Off I go to the mountains.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Don't know when this was taken. Found it here. Do people really buy this stuff?
Going on vacation this week so I won't be able to post for a few days. I will be able to moderate comments. No, I'm not going via motorcycle. Yes, I will try to button my shirt correctly. I will take my music with me so I can memorize the parts I still haven't drilled into my brain. Not sure what the rush is. I think I just like to pretend that I'm professional and have to memorize music before some deadline. Hopefully by actually looking at the music I won't learn it incorrectly and practice it with a mistake, as I've been known to do in the past.
ps not putting any names in the tags this time, which means, of course, that ... well, never mind.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The CD rack was at the back of this table in the corner of the dimly lit basement, and there were boxes of books on the floor in front, so I could barely see the titles. But look what I got!! $2 each!!!
All I could make out on this one was "Mozart" and "Operatic Moments" so I grabbed it.
It wasn't until I put it on the table to pay that I saw the list of singers!! Netrebko! Florez! Bartoli! Fleming! And singers NOT listed on the cover... like, Natalie Dessay ...uh oh I just dropped it on the floor trying to look at the booklet... oops... it's ok... whew. So she and Juan Diego Florez each sing an aria from an opera I've never heard of (which doesn't surprise me as I've really only heard of the famous ones) called Mitridate. Oooh look at the link - he was 14 when he wrote it!! Click on that link above the photo to get to the Amazon listing with all the details and audio clips. It's so nice to have an opera highlight CD that doesn't have overtures. I mean, I like overtures, but not mixed in a track listing of various arias from various operas.
I also grabbed this - Mozart's Magic Fantasy.
I've heard this before - I got it out of the library - but I think that particular copy was scratched and skippy.
If I didn't have Alex tugging at me (Mommy can we get this? Can we get that?) I would have looked for more! The entire sale was a success for us - For Alex I got what I thought was a toy car for 10 cents, turns out it's a transformer - it has a little motorcycle inside AND it twists into a robot. Got some other great toys too, all under $1. But these CDs... they're MY toys!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Soon after college, it seemed to me that most of my friends had some sort of passion. Medical school, midwifery, birdwatching, art, writing and so on. They all seemed to have something in their lives that made them feel complete, something they could immerse themselves in and come up with something to show for it, some sort of product - a career, a piece of artwork, a play, a performance. I felt a little left out. I wondered, "Where's MY passion? How can I just toodle along life, liking lots of different things, but not having a passion?" So now I realize that I just wasn't ready for it. Don't know why, don't really care. Here I am now. I do get wistful and wish I had started studying music in high-school and college. But there's nothing I can do about that.
It's funny because many people have told me that I'm brave for starting to study voice at 40. Then they usually go on to say how they've always wanted to study voice, or sometimes it's some other thing they've "always wanted to do." Well, why not just do it? Time will move forward whether you do it or not, so you might as well start. I don't feel brave about it - I just feel... I don't know... ready. I felt ready. So even though I may regret not starting earlier, it doesn't matter - I couldn't have started before I did because I just wasn't ready.
What's interesting is, I also love love love making earrings. I could call it a passion. I get in The Zone when I'm trying to find the right combo of beads, and when I do, I can actually feel it. Like, a chemical is released in my brain - an endorphin, perhaps? I get the, "Yes, that's right," feeling, and then I know I'm done with that pair. However, my passion for making earrings waxes and wanes. I have these surges where I'm constantly thinking about beads, looking at my beads, looking for new beads, and then I need time off. With music, I can't get enough. The, "Yes, that's right" feeling is bigger. It's huge. I want it. I want it now - I'm impatient. I know I need to build my voice step-by-step, but at the same time I want it all now. It's more than simply being addicted to the adrenaline or endorphin surge. Well, I think it's more. It seems to be. It's this sense of the music opening me up, spiraling around me, being part of me or me being part of it or something... I can get that feeling from listening to certain pieces of music, but it's much more intense when I'm creating the vibrations myself. I'm creating it - I'm a part of it. And I'm becoming more a part of it as I improve. It's amazing. It's an amazing feeling. Also, studying voice has forced me to open up, it's a form of communication. Right now it's allowing me to communicate with myself, but as I have more opportunities to perform I'll be able to share that with people. I've done that already a few times. I think that's one reason I post so many videos - I'm like a child saying, "Look at this! Isn't this great?" And I don't mean my singing, I mean the feeling of singing. It's like being in love - I want to share it with the world. So maybe it is endorphins.
So, I know it sounds sappy, and it makes me weepy to realize it (it's ok, we all know I have a low weep-threshold) - I truly believe I have found my passion.
So yesterday I saw the sheet music for Batti Batti sitting on the dining room table and the page of notes on the staff was comforting. I saw it and I felt happy, I felt... I don't know, I can't explain it - it felt familiar. So for someone who actually can read music at a glance, what must it be like? Is it like glancing at a page in a book? Do they hear the music in their head? Is the sight of sheet music comforting?
When I pick up sheet music and struggle to read it, it's like entering another world. I wish I had learned as a child - I wonder if, like everything else, it's easier for a child to learn to read music than for an adult.
Off I go to practice reading music.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Clearly I am not used to rejection without a reason.
I can hear my 25 readers thinking, "Oh no, she's not STILL whining about this, is she?" Well, yes, I am, so get over it.
So I wonder if I go back through the blog from the beginning and mark on the calendar the happy and angsty posts if we'll see a monthly pattern. There's a thought.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Obviously I am in dire need of a voice lesson and the mental release it provides.
Today I was practicing Batti Batti and was actually pleased with my progress. I am using all the layers I've built into my voice, or I should say, I'm incorporating them all together much more quickly than I was able to before. I'm really working hard now on staying grounded and using my low abs - keeping the breath low in my body. I'm remembering to open open open and not swallow the vowels that are followed by /r/. I'm even finally getting the hang of reading music. I never really learned before, but finally I feel a little less awkward reading along the rhythm, or moving to the note that the note symbol moves to on the staff. I think in terms of wholes and halves. I still have to work on remembering the sharps and flats from the beginning of the music. But little by little my brain is learning to read the music. I can't necessarily name the note by glancing at the staff, but I can do the changes and the rhythms. I still usually have to do the "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge" and F-A-C-E for the notes. One layer at a time. I'm glad I'll have a few voice lessons this summer to help me round out the aria.
So anyway, I'm excited by all that. Then, because of Facebook status updates, I'm aware of some of the rehearsal schedule for the opera I'm not supering in this summer, and seeing that makes me sad. Ok, it feels like a kick in the stomach. I know, I know, it sounds so dramatic, but there you have it. I know, I know, get over it already. I am trying to. Really I am. I thought I was over it, until I realized that rehearsals with the supers have probably already begun.
To put things into perspective, I keep reminding myself that if this is what's making me sad, that means that the rest of my life, the real stuff, must be pretty good. Otherwise this wouldn't matter at all.
Plus I still have this other thing in the works at the moment, the thing I won't write about until I know what the outcome will be. So I don't know yet if I'm happy or crushed by that.
So I'm hit with elation, depression, happiness, sadness, and I'm hit pretty hard in both directions, all over the course of several hours. This is my life. Is this normal? To quote the typical teenager, "What's wrong with me?"
Maybe it's time for some medication beyond the girltini. Feel free to recommend your favorite anti-depressant. My doc will rx anything I ask for.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Ok, off I go to watch this scene again.
So now we'll continue with Batti Batti, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I'm in love with this music. And we'll also be able to get into Gretchen am Spinnrade, which while I'm not totally blown away by, I know I will be, because right now the haunting melody captivates me. It captivates me even more than before after seeing Lucretia and experiencing those haunting melodies.
I have something else in the works but I don't want to write about it until after it takes place, or perhaps when it's imminent. Until then...
p.s. And speaking of hot fun in the summertime, I haven't forgotten about this.
This may sound strange, but I keep looking at their stomachs - especially near the end of the clip, where you can really see them - and how they use their breath to sing, low in the abdomen. During Lucretia, the only person whose stomach was really visible like that (well, beneath the sweater) was the Female Chorus, and I watched hers too. Let's face it, when it comes to studying voice and vocal technique, I'm an equal opportunity stomach-watcher.
Edited to add: In case that link above stops working, here it is in another format:
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Here's one I borrowed from their page. You can see the horse thing on his upper arm. Oh and that black harness-looking thing - he wore that during That Scene. Let's face it, Tarquinius loved his horse.
Another observation that should have been blazingly obvious at the time but wasn't until I was rethinking it today was, that rape scene - he's wearing a harness. He ties her up with the bridle. He rapes her from behind as if he's riding a horse... remember the whole whores/horse thing... I don't know why I didn't realize it at the time. Wait yes I do - I was too upset. Now it seems so obvious. And I'm still upset - I actually turned my head and averted my eyes as I wrote these last few lines.
I think this is one reason (besides sheer laziness) I don't like to do a lot of research before seeing an opera that I've never seen before. I have no preconceived notions about what anything is supposed to symbolize here - I'm going purely on that collegiate and graduate school training of how to analyze writing, poetry and other forms of art. And it's fun. I'm having these "aha!" moments as I think back over the performance. I imagine that some of the scenes are described in the libretto in detail while others are the director's creations. Doesn't matter to me - I mentioned in my last post that at least one other audience member questioned if the production was in line with what Britten intended. Perhaps this is naive of me, but... does that really matter? Once you write something, people are going to put their own spin on it, their own interpretation, based on their own experiences. You lose control. It applies to something as innocuous as this blog, or as heavily studied as the Bible. So really, is it valid to criticize something like an opera production by asking if it's what the composer had in mind? Unless the composer left explicit instructions, or is still alive, there's really no way to know. And surely any artist, writer or composer is aware that an audience may not know their intentions. And in this case I suppose the "audience" is the director. So how would a composer/author/artist feel about the fact that people are studying his or her work after they've been long gone. "Wait! That's not what I meant!" or, "Wow! That's not what I mean, but I like it!" or, "STOP!!!!!" To me, it doesn't matter. You put something out there, it's not yours anymore.
So this post has gone off on a tangent I didn't expect! Ah the joys of trains of thought.
I am still recovering from the performance. I'm still upset about the rape scene. I'm still blown away by the rape scene and all the rest of it. I'm upset, blown away and filled, as Banawoman said in her comment on the review post, with moments of joy about seeing it and experiencing the beauty of the performance. And of course seeing Nathan Gunn in it - vastly different from Papageno, Figaro, Zurga and the others he's made so popular... or have they made him popular?
Now I'm lapsing into post-performance blues. I've been waiting for this performance for almost a year. Banawoman and I planned to meet this weekend about 5 or 6 months ago, possibly more. The weekend was everything I thought it would be and more. So now what? It's time to plan the next few adventures. Who's in?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Rape of Lucretia was SO INTENSE. To say it was fabulous doesn't capture the fabulous intensity of the performance.
After seeing it, I poked about online for reviews. I found that people were not committing as to whether or not they liked it, but they had criticisms, such as, the production didn't portray what Britten had in mind, or, Nathan Gunn is too nice to play Tarquinius. Like here. (BTW, readers, scroll to the bottom of that post - the author claims to be composing a new opera that Mr. Gunn will be in? Don't know who the author is or how reliable a source the message board is, but there you have it.) For my part, well, I don't know what Britten had in mind, I never saw another production of the opera, and what does someone being nice have to do with his ability to act? All these reviews were so full of background information about other productions of the opera that at first I felt a little intimidated, like, who am I to go and analyze this complex opera that I've seen only once and haven't heavily researched? Then the other voice in my head said, "Who are you? You are someone who saw an incredibly intense opera performance. Just write about your experience." Sometimes that other voice makes sense... so here I am.
First of all, it was totally cool to hang out with Banawoman. We had a fabulous dinner at Estia before the show. Grilled octopus... FAB FAB FAB! I think I should try to have octopus before every opera I attend. There's a lofty goal. I also had this fabulous drink that was garnished with an edible orchid.
So of course I ate it.
At the theater we ran into someone we know from online. I didn't ask for permission to identify him here on the blog so I won't. But it was really great to meet this person, he was totally charming and adorable and he was sitting directly in front of me.
Ok so the opera itself.
My ticket was in row D. Fourth row, right? Nope. Second row. Eep! Right in the middle, too, directly behind the conductor. But he didn't block my view of the stage because the orchestra pit really was a pit. Before it began I stood up and took a pic with my phone so I could show you all the view and the stark sparseness of it all. (Is that redundant?) This isn't directly in front of my seat. Some people were standing there and I wasn't about to ask them to move so I could sneak a photo, so I moved over a few seats to the right.
There was a platform on the stage, set perpendicular to the lines of the stage, and upstage really was up. It doesn't come across in the photo but it looked very steep, like you could easily slide off into the pit. And as you can see, most of the (small) orchestra was underneath the stage. There was a little camera aimed at the conductor for the video feed for any offstage singing that goes on where the singers can't see him. I no doubt showed up in the video feed as I was right behind the conductor. I've watched that feed myself from backstage while supering and you can clearly see the people directly behind the conductor.
So the opera is told by the male and female chorus - chorus is a confusing term as just one person played each role. Bill Burden was the Male Chorus. The Male Chorus is a preacher who relates what takes place in Christian terms. It's hard to explain. But he told the story about Tarquinias. The Female Chorus, Karen Jesse, was dressed in capris and a sweater - as if that's what she put on that morning. She told Lucretia's tale. Throughout the opera the two of them gave each other these weird looks, mostly like she was glaring at him. I thought it would be resolved in the end but it wasn't, as far as I could tell.
The house lights were still lit and people were chatting when the Male Chorus came on stage and sat down. If you look at that picture... the space to the left of the platform gets bigger, as you can imagine. Not that big, but big enough for a little desk and chair, and I think a filing cabinet. That's generally where he stayed. Not always, but mostly. So he was there, looking at what I assume was a bible, and then the house lights went down and the orchestra began. There was no overture really. He started singing pretty much right away, setting the story. And here's the story:
The Etruscans ruled Rome. They loved beauty but also loved to kill. So they made all this beautiful art but were also ruthless. Tarquinias was the son of the emperor, in other words, the prince. His two generals, Junius and Collatinus, were Roman. As The Male Chorus introduces them, they come on stage. Tarquinius is carrying a horse's bridle and is wearing this horse armor thing over his upper arm. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to see it) While they were out at soldiering about, (drinking in camp) they sent a scout to town to see what the wives were up to. So they were reading letters that they got from the Male Chorus. It was interesting to have the M & F Choruses narrate in the present but also interact with the characters. It was cool. I didn't expect it. The characters didn't acknowledge the Chorus but they got props from them. Ok so the letters listed what the wives were up to. Junius' wife Patricia was found "getting a massage." Right. Collatinus' wife, Lucretia, was found at home with her maids. Now, back then the chastity of the wives was directly related to the status of the husband. So Junius is all upset that his wife was found cheating on him, and goes off about how all women are whores. It doesn't help that they've all been drinking and that Tarquinias is totally making fun of Junius over this. Who said Mr Gunn is too nice to play this role? My reaction to Tarquinias' behavior was, "What a jerk." Actually, Mr. Gunn's "Mr. Nice-Guy" reputation was no where to be found during the entire performance. So anyway Junius is like, all women are whores, and Tarquinias replies that no, not all, for Lucretia is chaste. They get into a fight, hurling insults and brandishing knives, and Collatinus breaks it up. The two guys point out to Tarquinias that he really can have no opinion on the matter given that he's single and the women he sleeps with are willing whores. That strikes some kind of chord in him and he becomes almost obsessed with Lucretia. She is a challenge. He gets a swatch of cloth from the Female Chorus and inhales it with pleasure. He seriously is rubbing this thing all over his face and through his hands, thinking about Lucretia. It's kind of creepy. Here's that shot from the newspaper article I linked to in an earlier post.
Junius tells him that Lucretia is a whore just like the rest of him. Tarquinius insists that no she's not, she's beautiful and she's chaste and he can prove it. Junius says something like, "You wouldn't dare," but at that point Tarquinias is so obsessed all he can think about is seducing her. He's the prince, right, so he's used to getting what he wants when he wants it. Totally self-centered and all that. He is so excited to get to her that he grabs his horse and just goes without properly saddling her up. At this point I must point out, in case you haven't noticed, that we've been hearing the words "whores" and "horse" a lot. Go ahead, say them out loud. And then, there's Tarquinias, sleeping around and carrying that bridal with him like a security blanket everywhere he goes.
Now he's SO EAGER to get to Rome - the Male Chorus is singing about how he whips the horse and goes as fast as possible. Meanwhile Tarquinius has come out of that door with a leather strap around him - it's attached to something backstage. It lets him out across the stage and then he's leaning and straining against it. Like, if the strap broke he would have gone sprawling right into the Male Chorus, who was right in front of him. You could really see the desire, the lust and the obsession in his face, in his body - he wanted to be there and he wanted to be there NOW. I think I was digging my fingernails into my palms just knowing that he was on his way to rape her.
Next we see Lucretia in her home with her nursemaid Bianca and her maid Lucia. The Female Chorus narrates here. They are at the spinning wheels and Lucretia (Tamara Mumford) sings about how she misses her husband, and how unfair it is that men teach women about passion and then leave. Then there's this whole strange (too long?) bit about how women must fold linen... to me it symbolized that women keep the home, hold it together, while the men are out fighting. Like, it doesn't seem important - what's the big deal about folding linen? But it's the home, and without a woman, there'd be no home. She comes across one of her husband's shirts and she holds it to her breast with such affection, you could really see how much she loved and missed him. Tamara Mumford was excellent. Beautiful, rich voice, so expressive, and so beautiful all in white.
Ok so then Tarquinius bangs on the door and asks for lodging because his horse is lame. This confuses and upsets Lucretia - modesty dictates that he not be there, but hospitality dictates that she must give him lodging. There is a fabulous, fabulous scene where the three women are bidding him goodnight. Lucretia is very firm. The nursemaid Bianca, sung by (have to look it up) is wonderfully rude "in that polite way that servants can be rude" sings the Female Chorus. The other maid, Lucia, wonderfully played by Rinnat Moriah, was all flirty and excited to have the prince in the house. It was wonderful the way they were all singing the same words but were all sending very different messages. So finally they finish their goodnights and go to bed.
Intermission? How? What? You mean, stand up, go out into the lobby, go into a bright bathroom, converse with people, when meanwhile you know that Lucretia is about to get raped? How can there be intermission?
Next act opens to this:
Again, a view from my seat, so you can see the orchestra pit as well as the slanted stage. And a bed. Lucretia's bed, surrounded by a curtain. The house lights went down and there were these lights from the balcony sweeping the audience. Then we see the two maids, one on each side, each with one of the men. I think it was Collatinus to my left and Junius to my right. Banawoman thought Collatinus was to the right and Tarquinius was to the left. I don't think T. was up there at all, because it wouldn't have made sense. They had flashlights and held them up to their chins as they sang, kind of like they were telling ghost stories around a campfire. I don't remember the exact words but basically it was a chant like, "Down with Etruscan, Hooray for the Romans..." It was creepy and tense and you could see Lucretia on the bed and you knew she was going to be raped... Ohmygod it was awful. I mean that in a good way. The tension was incredible. And it got worse.
Tarquinius enters and basically laughs at an "impotent" bust of Collatinus, which was actually the singer standing behind a pedestal, goes past the sleeping nursemaid and up to the bed. The Male Chorus describes him like a panther as he stalks around the bed. The Female Chorus is on stage urging Lucretia to wake up. The Male Chorus is there telling Tarquinius to stop. He leans in to kiss her through the gauze. She's still asleep and thinks it's Collatinus so she responds and puts her arm around him, but then she wakes up and is horrified. She's pushing back at the curtain and he's trying to get in, he's like, "You have lust, don't deny it," and she keeps singing, "I deny it, I deny it..." it's just awful. Then... he gets mad. *shudder* He grabs the curtains and just YANKS them away to the floor. Ohmygod it was awful and I'm getting weepy again writing about it. He gets on top of her and tries to kiss her, she pushes him off. I forget which one of them picked the bed up onto its side - I think she did but I'm not sure. So the bed is now up on its edge, mattress facing the audience. My heart is pounding as I write this. I didn't want to watch yet I couldn't stop watching. He grabs the horse bridle (remember, he carries it everywhere) and ties her hands with it, then he drags her over behind the bed and rapes her from behind. You could see the upper half of their bodies. You can see her sort of lurch forward in shock... He's crying out in ecstasy, "Lucretia! Lucretia!" and meanwhile there is such a look of pain and horror on her face - it was so difficult to witness. And remember I was in the 2nd row so I was witnessing this from like 15 feet away. I'm getting all upset typing it. I'm crying now as I was crying last night watching. After that heart-wrenching scene he pushes her to the ground behind the bed and you can see his boots sticking out from behind, so you know he's not done with her. It was just... awful... Then he drags the bed off stage, and she must have been inside it because she wasn't on stage after that. Was he dragging her back to his chamber? Was that it, or did he rape her all night long? It's unbearable to think about.
As an almost inappropriate aside here, the costume - he was in a sleeveless undershirt (a "beater?") with this harness around his chest that showed off all his muscles. And he was still wearing that horse thing on his arm. But those arm muscles - I couldn't stop looking at his friggin' muscles. So every now and then part of my mind would leak out of the story and into reality and think, "Look at his arms! WOW!" and then, "OMG he's raping her, stop it, this is awful." I was attracted and repulsed at the same time. And I wonder if that wasn't the goal, in a sense. There was this vague sense of the erotic under all the violence. I'm not really describing it right - because there's nothing erotic or attractive about rape - but the way he played the character... argh I don't have the words to describe. I wanted to stop looking but I couldn't stop looking. Meanwhile the M&F chorus are off to the side, visibly upset. I think the Female Chorus really was crying.
So I'm sure I wasn't alone in being totally horrified, even though we knew the rape was inevitable... and then the next scene - done on purpose, of course - the juxtaposition of the maids happily gathering flowers the next morning in a pit they revealed under a panel in the flooring. Lucretia staggers out and the nursemaid figures out what happened pretty quickly. Lucretia is singing about her shame... shame... shame... thinking of herself as a whore... crumbles a red rose...the acting was superb but at this point I felt the libretto moved too quickly, like time sped up. She sends a messenger, the nursemaid tells the young maid not to, but it's too late... Collatinus comes in, she confesses, he assures her that she is still chaste because she was not there in spirit... she's like, it doesn't matter... I can't live with the shame... she grabs a knife... falls onto it into the flower pit and dies. The M&F Chorus end the story with a "What have we learned" and they related it to Christianity as rose petals shower the stage. Then suddenly it was over. I was exhausted. It was so intense and so wonderful and so awful (in a good way) that I was just exhausted.
The music was haunting. It was weird and beautiful and strange and wonderful. The singing was superb. Everyone in the cast - what fabulous actors. I was seriously blown away by the entire production. And contrary to the "experts," Mr. All-American-Nice Guy Gunn swaggered around that stage and convinced me that he was a selfish, self-absorbed jerk used to getting what he wants. It can't be easy to play that part, but he didn't just pull it off - he owned the role. That rape scene - Ohmygod. Horrifying. Tarquinias in ecstasy and Lucretia in agony ... I swear there was a collective gasp from the audience as we realized what was happening.
I'm sure I left out lots of good stuff. I told Banawoman that she will have to post a comment with her thoughts/impressions/stuff I forgot or misinterpreted so no doubt we'll get that from her within the week.
After the performance we walked around the neighborhood a bit to sort of unwind ourselves. So no, to those of you who were wondering, there was no in-person Gunn-encounter. Not to say we didn't sort of keep an eye out in our wanderings, because of course we did, but we weren't out prowling. We finally made our way to the hotel, stopping at a convenience store on the way for ice cream and cracker jacks to help us recover.
Today, in between torrential downpours, we wandered down to Independence Hall, saw the Liberty Bell, went to an exhibition about Charles Darwin and saw another about Benjamin Franklin. Look! The glass armonica!
We also went to Reading Terminal Market and of course tried to move some Very Big Rocks.
Ahhh another fufilling operatic adventure!!! And I survived without any Embarrassing Encounters! (sort of wistful about that, go figure...)
Friday, June 12, 2009
I keep thinking there's something I'm forgetting to bring. I have the tickets, the outfit, the earrings, the makeup, the shoes. Plus a lot of other stuff, like, something to wear tomorrow.
Check tomorrow night for a full report!!!
I forgot to post yesterday about my voice teacher's feedback about my performance at the recital.
She said that she noticed that when I started my breaths, like at the beginning of a line I guess, I was sort of hunching up and using my chest. In other words, instead of keeping my breath low, I was using my chest to breathe. I actually haven't had time to check the videos since then. She reminded me that the breath must come from low in the abdomen and I must keep my shoulders down in order to keep the breath down. I remember that from last year's studio class when she told me to press my hands toward the floor. I'll have to take a look at the vids and then work on keeping that regal posture no matter what my arms do. No hunching or scrunching allowed!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tomorrow: Changed my mind and decided to go with the long black flowery skirt and a black top. I do have earrings for it but of course I needed to make new ones so I spent much of the evening after my lesson throwing together variations of sparkly dangly things I can wear with it. I'm too wiped to photograph them now but I will. I think I made 5 or 6 pair.
So anyway I've tossed what I think I need into the bag, including the tickets. Don't want to forget the tickets. I have makeup, clothes, shoes, jewelry, toiletries and the camera. Tomorrow I'll toss the phone charger in and that will be it.
Hooray!! An adventure!!!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Ooh looking for that link was the first time I actually heard the song. So far I've listened only to the pronunciation and the accompaniment on the CD. It's haunting! I'll embed it:
I like these videos that show the music. It's like, a step above "follow the bouncing ball."
So anyway, if I have time on Thursday after my lesson I'll post about whatever it is we do. If I have time... as I have to pack my little overnight bag for my Upcoming Adventure, and who knows how long that will take. (ok probably about 20 minutes but this is opera so I get to be dramatic.)
I cannot thank you enough for posting these incredible videos of Nathan Gunn. He truly is one of THE GREATEST operatic baritones of our generation. He'll certainly become a legend! I think his Papageno is by far the best! I love your channel so much I just subscribed to it! A million thanks!
I've said it a gagillion times before, give or take a few million: This is what it's about. Sharing the music. Sometimes even I need that reminder.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
There, was that cryptic enough for you?
An acquaintance saw the videos of the recital and called to tell me how much she liked it but... was I warmed up for the first song? Because I seemed a lot more warmed up by the time I sang the second song. (um... I was plenty warmed up, but a tad bit nervous?) And then... "I know you want to sing only opera, (you do?) but you should sing musical theater." She lots of nice things about me having a great stage presence, all sorts of very nice things, and then, "I know you just sing what your teacher recommends you sing, (you do?) but I think you should tell her that you want to sing musical theater, and you should give her the music." (I should?)
What? I mean, it was really nice of her to compliment me - I thanked her up and down for that, I truly appreciate it and never expect it - it continually surprises me - but what's with the assumptions about what I want to sing or what my relationship with my teacher is? She took voice lessons for a couple of years a Long Time Ago so I wonder if maybe she's projecting. I sort of ignored her "advice" as it was based on incorrect assumptions (ah how often does that happen to all of us???) while thanking her profusely for her kind words.
It's not my intention to come across as mean here - she really was very nice, and has nothing but good intentions, and I truly am grateful and thankful that she wants to help - but she just got so darn pushy with her "I know..." this and "I know...." that, telling me what I should do, when really she has no idea. Is it wrong of me to get annoyed? Ask me again in a week, I'm sure I'll have a totally different reaction.
Edited to add:
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Everyone did pretty well except for the poor girl who went right after me. She's 11 years old. Yes, 11. She pulled a total Cindy Brady and just froze up there. She looked down and mumbled the songs, forgot the words, plundered on through, but she stayed up there through both songs! She sat and cried through the rest of the evening. She was so brave to stay up there! As soon as it was over I went over to tell her how brave I thought she was, and how it'll get easier, and so on.
At the end I gave flowers to my teacher and the accompanist. Then I went out with a friend who had come to support me. Husband had already left with 5 year old Alex (I still CANNOT believe that he's FIVE!!!) pretty much right after I performed, as it would have been asking far too much of Alex to have him sit still and quietly through all the other singers.
Now I want to perform again. It gets easier every time. More, I want more! Wheeeeeee!!!!!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
So this is the "middle" version of the song. One of my voice teacher's colleagues took the soprano version of the song and transposed it down so it's in between the mezzo and soprano versions we already had. This was my first time singing it through in that key, and the first time with a real live accompanist. I still need to fix where I breath for some of the lines.
When we arrived at the chapel, the piano had this cover strapped to it with a padlock. My voice teacher had a security dude in there trying to open it. He had this huge ring of keys and he was on his back under the piano trying them all... nothing. He left to look for more keys. Meanwhile, the accompanist comes in, picks up the edge of the cover, gives it a flick and the straps all undo. It was like Fonzie and the jukebox. (Sorry, can't find a link for that.)
If Music went pretty well, and then in the middle of Despina we got off the rhythm near the end so we redid that part. And for some reason I messed up the words right at the beginning - I anticipated in "de saper" and sang "se saper." I've never done that before! I won't do it tomorrow. I also got the melody wrong the first time I sang, "e qual regina." Again, I anticipated and sang it the way it goes the 2nd time around. And then the last 'col posso e voglio" bit I was a bit too pushy. All things I can fix. So anyway I edited the clips to make it look like one run through, although you will be able to tell where the cut is.
Even though there was only 5 other people there (the rehearsal was staggered), I got that performance rush and wanted to just hug everyone afterward.
Hopefully someone will record it tomorrow. Wheeee my first recital experience!!!!!
Friday, June 5, 2009
It's a sheet cake, a bundt cake and some leftover cupcakes from the batch he brought to school.
Stack it all up, pour on the frosting, dot it with marshmallows and open a container of sprinkles over the top and there you have The Crazy Colorful Cake!
The center of the bundt is filled with runny frosting and then I jammed a cupcake in on top. Can't wait to cut it!
We'll have a total of 18 people. I think I made Too Much Cake.
I'll have to leave mid-afternoon tomorrow for the rehearsal. Maybe I'll bring my teacher a piece.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I think of it as, the singer (me) is talking about someone ELSE singing, urging him to keep singing because it's just so beautiful it fills her (me) with joy, like warm melting chocolate flowing through her (my) body, so much pleasure that it hurts, and if he doesn't take her (me) that instant she'll (I'll) lose control. "Take me, take me!!" That is sort of where I go when I sing that song.
My teacher showed me how to bow and said that each student will walk on stage, bow, sing two songs, bow, acknowledge the accompanist and walk off. A little scary and very exciting!!! Shouldn't be scary - the audience will consist of the parents of all her other students as they are all teenagers.
My first recital! Can you believe it?
Let's see... he told the plot of the opera - his character, Tarquinius, isn't really a bad guy. Some other dude says something about all women being whores (he was careful to point out that it was a quote when he said it) and Tarq is like, NO, she's not, she's GOOD and that he can prove she's chaste by seeing if she resists. If she does, she is. Um... right. Hence the word "rape" in the title.
The interviewer asked him what it was like playing a role like this, where his character does something so bad. I don't remember his reply but he did say something about being able to turn it off when you leave so you don't take the bad feelings with you, something like that. And also that he plays other characters who are better than he is, and that sort of balances it all out. They played a clip from Billy Budd as an example.
After the clip the interviewer said she always enjoys watching the guest listen to him or herself, and how does he like it? There was some joking in there (working, sorry, I missed it but heard the laughing) and he said that he tries not to pick himself apart (something about his wife disagreeing??) and no one likes hearing a recording of themselves and that he tries to hear the musicality of it. Something like that.
They talked about the baritone voice type, and that Elvis and Bing Crosby were baritones, and the types of parts baritones have in different types of operas.
He talked about how he got started singing and got all nostalgic about this car, a 1970 Plymouth Satellite, (I wrote that down) and talked about stuff I've read/heard in other interviews.
Regarding having a pretty voice - his first voice teacher told him that having a pretty voice is a gift - compared it to having pretty eyes. Out of your control.
Oh THEN she played a bit of Papageno and asked us to excuse the quality but it's a homemade recording. Ha! Damn I know that approximately 2 readers will understand my reaction to that. Too bad.
Um.. he talked about using the stomach muscles that contract when you cough, not the ... what did he call it... vanity muscles? Again... I was paying about 75% attention.
And I will leave you with this... he said it in the middle but I can't help but revise the order for effect... (I was at work and that's my job!!!) He says he tells his students to follow their bliss - to be honest and sing where and what they're comfortable with.
Oh and one more thing: The theater where RoL is taking place is so small, he said he can reach out from the stage and almost touch the conductor. Yikes. That IS small.
There was more. The radio station will probably archive the interview. Until then, here's a newspaper article about the production.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Newsflash from The Opera Company of Philadelphia!!
WHYY in Philadelphia is interviewing the cast of Rape of Lucretia tomorrow, Thursday, from 11-12. They'll be taking questions so warm up your dialing fingers. Then they hop over to WRTI on Saturday at 11am for another interview. Busy busy busy! Both stations are set up for online listening, and will most likely have archived and/or podcasts of the interviews available if you miss them.
With all that's going on this weekend I keep forgetting that I'll be seeing RoL next week. Can't wait to hang out with Banawoman!! We're busy making plans - and those plans DON'T include waiting at the stage door - we already have other (tentative) plans for after the performance. Sorry to the readers who were hoping for another foot-in-mouth moment - I'm following the "avoidance of embarrassment" school of thought this time around. I hope that school isn't too boring...
So how many insecurities showed up in that dream!?? Wow. I thought I was over the whole lack-of-supering thing. And the fat thing - wow. That's not like me. Better get back on the mini-trampoline to quiet my subconscious!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Tengo que decidir que operas me voy a ver en el Met el ano que viene. Carmen, si, porque Elizabeth Caballero canta, y Zauberflote, para ver nuestro Papageno favorito... puedo comprar una mas para ver JDF? O Diana Damrau? Hmm.. Creo que debo buscar un lugar oficial para vendar mis aretas.
Lo siento a los lectores (gracias a mi amiga y maestra I.L.) que hablan espanol... mi espanol necesita mucha ayuda!
Monday, June 1, 2009
Still on an earring-making roll. I got these Fabulous square rhinestone spacer beads today - click the photo to see it all bigger.
- Must make photocopies of all reports.
- Send a note to school to pick him up early
2. Final voice lesson of the semester is Thursday.
- Bring book that Alex borrowed from HIS music teacher
- Write note to his music teacher w/gift (earrings?) as we will be missing the last class because...
3. Alex's birthday and party are Saturday.
- Clean the house
- Clean the backyard
- Organize the goody bags (beach balls, sunglasses, silly straws, etc.)
- Make cupcakes on Wednesday for him to bring to school on Thursday.
- Make a cake Friday morning, decorate Fri evening.
- Shop for cake ingredients and party supplies.
- 20 guests total (8 kids, 12 adults) - Pizzas? How many? Chili? How much? Hummus? Make or buy?
- Clean up and organize the backyard (ie, put toys out)
- Shop for food, beverage, snacks, etc. (this requires more lists)
- Clean the bathroom
- Clean the kitchen
- Do some more cleaning
4. Studio recital is Sunday.
- Still need exact location!
- Figure out what to wear.
5. For the shopping - must make lists!! Cake ingredients, etc.
6. Keep track of all the lists.
7. Find the time to practice in front of the mirror.
Ok now that I've typed it all out and sorted it into manageable bits it doesn't seem as daunting. Oh wait, yes it does.
Here's this weekend's creations. Click to enlarge the photo.