Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
I got the Collegiate Chorale's brochure in the mail today. In the listing for Grapes of Wrath it notes that there's an open rehearsal on a specific date in February. The date sounded so familiar. Why? Because, what do you know, I'm going to NYC that day to see La Fille. Hm, I thought. An open rehearsal. It starts at 6:30 in Midtown. Could I possibly hit some of that and still make it to the Met for an 8:00 curtain? I'm just crazy enough to try it... I'm ashamed enough to admit I did a google map thing to see how far of a walk it was... but just to be sure it would be, you know, worth my while, I checked another schedule and saw that the main attraction has performances somewhere in another time zone the day before and two days after the date of that open rehearsal. It's highly unlikely that he'd fly out to NYC for one rehearsal for a concert staging of an opera that they'll probably have the music onstage for. Right? So this is most likely just the Chorale rehearsal that's open. So, as tempting as it may be to slip in to the locale listed on the brochure, you know, just for a peek, I don't think I will. Instead I'll enjoy where ever we end up for dinner before La Fille with whatever interesting martini-esque drinks I choose to sip before seeing Juan Diego Florez from way up in the front row of the nosebleed section.
So. Two years ago I planned to see JDF and NG in the very same performance but instead ended up seeing them in different things about 2 weeks apart. Then this year I saw them a day apart... and for 2010 I'm planning on seeing them a month apart... but can you just imagine seeing them in different performances (ok one would be a rehearsal...but still...) on the same day? Nope. Not gonna happen. Even if it could, it won't. That fleeting thought has fled... straight to a martini glass.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
We did some fun vocal exercises. First we worked through that low-end passagio, where my voice breaks, to smooth it out. Then we did a scale up and down - do, re, mi, fa, so, la, so, fa, mi, re, do - but focusing on keeping it all on one plane and also doing a crescendo for each note so the entire run is a crescendo. So imagine a mini crescendo between each note and then one long one over top, and we did it on a vowel rather than
This particular teacher has been so fabulously receptive to Alex's particular sensory challenges. She spoke with his child study team and was arranging to come visit his kindergarten class to observe. She incorporated sensory breaks into her lessons after seeing me do them with Alex before class. For example, one of the things we do when
The minimum requirement for classes is 4 students. Last season they allowed us to have 3. I am told that a class of two will not run. The joy of making music with others (through ensemble, games) just does not happen if the group is too small. If one is absent...well, you get my drift. Ideally, I would love a class of at least 5 students who are NEVER absent.
Are there still openings in the Saturday classes at the conservatory? I know we have classes running there as well and the teachers are excellent! Also, Alex has a beautiful voice. Have you thought about the children's choir? I do not know what the age requirements are. You would have to call the conservatory.
So this morning, since he didn't have music class, Husband brought Alex to a martial arts class that someone recommended to us. Turns out two of his classmates (meaning, similarly
So that was this morning.
This afternoon we went to the Italian-American Festival. There was free opera!! And rides!! And yummy food!!
The free opera was from Boheme Opera Company. Yeah that website is a bit outdated. They did arias and duets - all Italian, of course, by Italian composers. We didn't go last year but we were there the year before and saw the performance. They did the exact same program and had the exact same singers. Ok, whatever, no big deal. But there IS a story, because, isn't there always? Two years ago we went with another couple who have a son Alex's age. So the boys were 3 at the time. The program opened then, as it did today, with the overture from Barbiere. Ok wait let me back up a second. The setting - it's outside. It was $2 to get in. Everyone is sitting on the grass. There are loudspeakers around reminding people to buy a 50/50 ticket. You can hear the loud music from the carnival rides. Ok so the music started and the boys got up and began dancing on the grass right in front of the stage. They pretended to conduct the orchestra. They mostly danced. The continued to dance SILENTLY throughout the performance. Then there was a brief intermission. The Husbands took the boys to the bathroom so it was just us moms sitting there. This older woman with a volunteer tag on approached us and told us to please stop the boys from dancing because..."these singers study very hard and the dancing is very distracting to them." I was looking at her like, are you insane? The singers are looking out over the crowd at a Ferris wheel and competing with loud rock music. So anyway through clenched teeth we apologized, blah blah blah. When the guys came back we told them what this old biddy had told us, and we moved to the side of the stage for the rest of the performance. But I was in high dudgeon. No one tells my opera-loving 3 year old son that he can't dance to the music at a free outdoor family event. So after the performance I approached one of the singers and apologized if the boys were distracting - I told her what the woman had said. She was appalled and said that they LOVED seeing the boys dancing and enjoying the music. The next day I emailed the general director of the opera company to tell him how much we enjoyed the performance, but it was marred by a representative of the opera company chastising us for allowing the boys to dance. Well he was APPALLED beyond belief. He apologized up, down, backwards and sideways, and then invited us to attend the final dress rehearsal of their next performance. We ended up not going because it was POURING with rain that day, but there you have it.
So today I could see the soprano with whom I had spoken two years ago looking at me like, "I know her, how do I know her?" And I know I've seen the director of the company around town - he must come to the performances of the other local opera company or something. He also said hello like he knew me and had that puzzled look like, "How do I know her?" I wasn't about to launch into an explanation, "Oh, I'm the one who complained when a member of your Board of Directors told my 3 year old son to stop dancing..." They'll just have to keep on wondering.
The performance was good but we had to leave during the break because Alex had had enough. He went on 4 rides: the Ferris wheel, two swings (one much bigger than the other!) and the funhouse.
And the food - WOW. We had fried calamari, a giant fried rice-ball and on the way out we hit one of the bakeries for a box of sfogliatelle, pasticiotto and cannoli. And that's what I had for dinner. My stomach still hurts.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
And now, as my butt is totally numb from sitting in that tiny kindergarten chair listening to what Alex's day is like, I must go loll (and that's loll, not LOL) about on the couch and watch whatever baseball game happens to be on. *snore*
I know I mentioned that I got Very Good Seats, but I didn't mention exactly where. No, not Row A. or Row B. Or Row C either. Certainly not as far back as Row E, where the ticket prices increase dramatically. Not on the right side, not on the left, not on the aisle. Ok obviously I've been spending a little too much time with Alex and not enough time with other adults. But now you know where we're sitting, so if you go, look for us there.
So while the plan at the moment remains to go, watch, and leave, my friend may have other ideas or intentions, seeing as this will be her very first time seeing Mr. Gunn and, well, she's gotten an earful from me in great detail about all the various events I've attended. (grammar question: all the various? pondering that...)
Hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahem. Sorry.
Ok. Off I go. It's "Back To School" night, which means I get to pretend I'm in kindergarten and jam myself into a little chair to color a picture. Or something.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
OPERA-IN-CONCERT / AMERICAN MASTERS
The Grapes of Wrath, at Carnegie Hall
Monday, March 22, 2010 at 8pm
Music by Ricky Ian Gordon
Libretto by Michael Korie
Jane Fonda, Narrator
Nathan Gunn - Tom Joad
Victoria Clark - Ma Joad
Elizabeth Futral - Rosasharn
Anthony Dean Griffey - Jim Casy
Peter Halverson - Pa Joad
Stephen Powell - Uncle John
Andrew Wilkowske - Noah
Steven Pasquale - Al
Christine Ebersole - Mae/Waitress
Matthew Worth - Ragged Man/Connie Rivers/Truck Driver
Madeline Gunn - Ruthie
The American Symphony Orchestra
Ted Sperling, Conductor
So. Jane Fonda. Will she be wearing leg-warmers? Or else I wonder if, as narrator, they'll have her dressed in this outfit. Right. What's wrong with me? The woman is an accomplished actor, political activist and fitness buff, yet whenever I see her name I think of this, which is strange considering I've never actually seen that movie.
Anyhoo, I went and got myself a ticket. Pretty good seat too. So. Looks like we have a full winter/spring of adventure - Elizabeth Caballero, Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, Nathan Gunn and Nathan Gunn again. All that and only one trip backstage. Go figure.
Guess I should read the book and maybe see the movie before March. March! My annual "see Nathan Gunn" month. No, dear reader, I will NOT be attempting any face-to-face hellos this time around. But maybe March of 2011...
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Anyway, last spring my voice teacher participated in a day-long workshop of yoga for singers. She's now taking private lessons with the yoga singing teacher. She told me that soon he'll be doing group yoga classes for singers through Westminster and she urged, yes URGED me to give it a try. When and with what money? We didn't go there. She said she firmly believed that it would help me a lot. I am intrigued, and I have done yoga before, so I'll think about it. It all depends on the schedule and the price.
So is this a new thing, or has it been around a while and I've just never heard of it? I mean, it makes perfect sense to incorporate the posture, core strengthening and flexibility of yoga into singing. I really will have to think about it, especially once I know more about it.
I'm leaning towards not going to the broadcast. I'm pretty sure I'd like to see it fresh and new when I see it at the Met. Really the only reason I'd go to the movie is to see Liz. BUT obviously I'll be seeing her live on stage and backstage. Have I mentioned that here in the blog? That backstage at the Met thing? To see Liz? Have I ?????? Cuz I jumped up and down and squealed like a girl when she suggested it. And it's a good thing she did, because Husband said he'd come with me to the Met only if I could guarantee him a visit backstage. So we're good.
And now, I think I'll go with him to a Yankees game only if he can guarantee me a visit to the locker room (clubhouse?) afterwards.
Ok, so I've blogged it out and I think I've decided, no HD. Good. Now I can mentally apply that $23 to the train ride to Manhattan. It's a money transfer in the brain bank. I just made that up, by the way. Not bad, eh?
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I think I just got dizzy, going in that circle. I better get used to it.
PS: The reason to view the profiles of people who follow you on twitter is because the porno sites follow you in hopes, I suppose, that you won't notice... I like the twitter block function almost as much as the facebook one... It occasionally happens on YouTube too.
We also did the next two pages of Gretchen - IPA, pronunciation, rhythm, more pronunciation of course and singing. Oh and more pronunciation.
I told my teacher about the potential thing this weekend. And do I need to get a clean copy of the music? If I do sing, I'll do Una Donna, but my copies are all pencil marked. She said that for something casual like this I probably don't need to. I'm thinking, I can probably buy the sheet music online, download it and print it for $5, so I might as well get myself a clean copy.
On my way into the building I ran into Alex's music teacher. She was there setting up. She has been fabulous at modifying her teaching style to fit with his special needs. She has been in touch with the case manager of his school's child study team and she'll be visiting his class to see how he is in a larger group, although I'm pretty sure that the music class will be small again, like 4 or 5 kids. Alex is very excited that she's coming to visit. I asked if he likes her and he said he DOUBLE likes her. Love that!
Friday, September 18, 2009
I have mentioned a possible performance opportunity in past entries. They want to hear me sing but we've been unable to arrange anything for a variety of reasons. Life, I guess, just keeps getting in the way.
It was on my To Do list to call again this week, and before I had a chance to call, I got an email about an upcoming performance. So I called. I'm waiting now for a call back, but the person I spoke with mentioned a date before the date of the upcoming performance, I assume as a sort of rehearsal/audition. And the date is the very same date as Back to School night for Alex. Can't miss that. He just started kindergarten and he's in a collaborative class, which means there are kids like him on the autism spectrum (PDD-NOS and SPD, please click the links to learn about what his life is like!!) and "model" children. I really want to meet the other parents and see what his school day is like. That means putting this off yet another month, unless they're planning on doing this in the afternoon. But... I doubt it...
Well, on the bright side, that gives me more time to improve, practice and add a layer.
When I was growing up, all 4 of my grandparents spoke Yiddish. My maternal grandparents were Russian and my paternal grandparents were Hungarian/Rumanian/Transylvanian depending on where the lines went on the map at any given time, but they spoke Hungarian and Yiddish. So they all spoke Yiddish to each other and to my parents. And of course any time my parents were talking about something they didn't want us kids to know about, they switched to Yiddish. Yiddish sounds sort of like German, and I think has some of the same phonemes and pronunciations. So after being exposed to so much Yiddish during my formative years, why the heck can't I pronounce these German words? Of course looking at that link I see they list alternate pronunciations of Yiddish words depending on the region the speaker is from. So perhaps Yiddish and German are not as closely related as they seem to sound? I realize that they are two different languages, and speaking one does not mean that you speak or understand the other. In fact, I recall my aunt telling me about one of her music students who did a German translation (into English, I think...) but used Yiddish instead and got it all wrong. But I'm not talking about meaning. I'm talking about sounds, about phonemes. So maybe my subconscious knowledge of Yiddish sounds is actually interfering with my ability to pronounce German. There must be a link somewhere between my brain and my mouth that's either helping or hindering my pronunciation. I just have to find it and adjust it. And I better do it fast, because my next voice lesson is tomorrow and my teacher is picky picky picky about pronunciation to the point where she'll cut me off to correct it.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Let's see... I was going to post a link to a radio interview about a recital, but I decided not to. I was going to do a mini-mini-mini-rant about the "About the Artist" blurb here, regarding I'm not gonna say who but if you follow the link you'll figure it out and see for yourself how outdated the info is. Banawoman pointed it out to me, saying that it was inexcusable for the info to be so outdated. I suggested she call either the opera company or the press agent to complain. After all, just finding or defining a problem isn't enough - once you know about it, you should do something to correct it. I mean, she should. I personally don't care what it says where. So anyway, I was going to post something about that, but decided not to.
Truth be told, I'm this close to ... telling ... about something... but... I won't. Instead I'll just keep on keeping on in this confused and stupid life I lead. Unless, of course, anyone else drops me from their facebook friend list and cuts off all contact a week or so after their boss joins facebook. Oops did I just type that out loud? Hm better not put ANY names in the tags.
So anyway have I ever mentioned how much I love the "block" feature on facebook? If you're reading this and you can't find me there, I've blocked you! Isn't that exciting?
I'm so confused. I'm a screwed up 42 year old teenager. I think I need to go find a daisy so I can pick the petals, "I like him, he pisses me off, I like him, he's a CENSORED, I like him, oh who the hell cares."
Ok, back to Valley Girl AND the chocolate crumb cake that my in-laws brought over tonight. I love that cake almost as much as I love the block feature on facebook.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
So anyway it's good to know that my suspicions were correct re: my lack of party karaoke skill, because one of my friends is having a stage with karaoke next month at her annual crazy over-the-top Halloween party. Of course there will be alcohol so anything goes. Luckily yesterday I realized that we have an entire karaoke section in the On Demand section of our tv service, so I'll have plenty of time to practice "Hopelessly Devoted" whilst sober before Halloween.
Opera Karaoke, on the other hand, I can handle. I especially like them when their site is actually working, unlike at the moment when it seems to be down. Read about them here instead.
Monday, September 14, 2009
So whether I super or not, looks like it's going to be a great summer season! The next question is, will I be able to see all three for $15 like I did this year?
Sunday, September 13, 2009
THIS post is to direct you to a copy of live broadcast of La Juive from last night in Amsterdam, starring an I'd Rather Be Sleeping favorite who sometimes reads and comments, John Osborn!! I'm listening right now. *sigh* It's beautiful. I've never heard of this opera and it's so so pretty. Bravo Johnny!!!!
Instead, I updated this.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
First, of course, she asked me WHY I was trying to sing Gretchen when we hadn't gone over the pronunciation and rhythm and all that. She basically gave me the same lecture/advice as SEY did in the comment here. Patience, patience, patience, layer by layer, one thing at a time and so on. Then we went over the first two pages of music, IPA, pronunciation (yeah of course I was pronouncing a few things WRONG!!) and rhythm, then I sang just those two pages and we worked on that a bit. Oh even before all that... well, AFTER the lecture but BEFORE the singing, we did some warm-ups to work through what she calls "the valley of the shadow of death," those low-ish notes where my voice (and other people's voices too, I imagine) tends to break and crack. Then we were doing things up and down with a glottal stop to prevent me from adding an H to the beginning of the vowels. At one point she stopped me and asked if I realized I was doing a bit of what she called a "washing machine twist." For certain parts of the scale, but not all, apparently I was doing this little sway back and forth as I sang. I'll have to look back at the videos to look for it. So I concentrated on standing still, keeping the breath low, using the low abs and all that, not adding that H to the beginning, up and down and up and down to iron out that break... THEN we worked on Gretchen. Ok that's not true either... she said something about the A vowel being difficult at certain notes, which reminded me that I wanted to ask her about one section of Batti Batti, the "sapro baciar" part, where I have so much trouble with "baciar." At least I thought I did. I think I do. She had me sing it and said it didn't SOUND like I had trouble with it. She said that the CH causes us to close down when we need to be open for the next vowel, the A. She suggested practicing those measures without the CH and then adding it back in. Same old story. So back to Gretchen because AFTER that, we did work on it. My homework for Gretchen is to keep the vowels going to the end of the words. Some of the notes are held for a bit, and I tend to let down as if I've run out of energy. Thinking about it now, I think it's because I'm unsure of the song, so hopefully I'll be able to practice now, along with the cassette recording I made of the lesson, and gain more confidence. My other homework is to read about Faust, to see where Gretchen's lament about losing her lover fits into the story. My teacher said she loves how I can carry the emotion in the music, and it'll be better if I really understand the character and the story beyond, "She's distraught because she lost her lover."
So that's my homework for the week. Oh and to focus on standing STILL. I guess it's back to the mirror for me.
Oh, and she read/watched (and commented on) this. She thought it was great. She knows Alex because she used to each in the Early Childhood department and was his teacher for two years. That's how I met her, and when she switched to teaching voice she recruited me as one of her students. Read about that here.
When I got home, Alex asked me for a blank tape to record some CDs, just because it's fun to play with the boom box, so I gave him an old voice lesson recording. Well, before recording his songs onto it, he listened to the whole thing. I was in the next room and it was strange (and almost creepy, for some reason?) to hear my voice doing scales and what-not from the next room.
I'm so happy to have my voice lessons resume!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
One thing I love is when my voice hits some timbre and I feel it resonate in my head and/or in my body. I get into a groove and just feel it. I almost stop thinking and just go.
Once again I'm finding it hard to explain what I mean. But this time it's mainly because it's 11:30 pm and I've had a stressful day unrelated to opera. I won't bore you with the details, but needless to say they have mushed my brain a bit.
Ok I just yawned such a big yawn that I felt like how a snake must feel when it unhinges its jaw to eat some big thing it's caught.
Perhaps I'll read this tomorrow and post a follow up when I'm feeling more eloquent and can see a bit straighter.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Tomorrow: First day of KINDERGARTEN!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Let's start with stuff NOT related to music/opera/etc:
Alex starts kindergarten on Wednesday!!!!!!! I can't believe it. Still have to get some things together for him - they gave us a long list! I have everything on the list except a 4x6 photo. Who prints photos? So tomorrow I'll have to run out to one of those photo stands in the local pharmacy and print a pic. Maybe I can get Husband to do it in the morning... Hmm...
I have to fill out a bunch of forms and stick them in a folder, then I have to get that and all his other stuff together into his backpack.. Then I have to sleep without having another one of those "OHMYGOD it's Alex's first day of school and we're going for a walk in the wrong direction and he's still in his pajamas and the other kids are on their way and there's no way we'll get home, get him dressed and get his stuff together to make it to school on time and then we'll get lost on the way there and by the time we get to school they'll be leaving for the day," dreams, like I had the other night. I thought I was done with those once I graduated from college. I guess now I'll have them for Alex until he's old enough to have them himself.
That's really the only non-opera/music thing on the list. But it's pretty much the biggest thing on my mind this week, and it has temporarily replaced opera as the thing that's keeping me awake.
The rest of the list:
- Prepare for Saturday's voice lesson - music, CDs, blank tapes
- Call my voice teacher to see if we can tack on the extra time this and next week before Alex starts HIS music class.
- Call that local opera/singer group to find out about potential opportunities
- Possibly attend an "(local town) Friends of Opera Meetup Group" meeting/reception on Sunday... must RSVP by Friday.
Alex has been into Adam and the Ants lately. That, and he likes the thunderstorm scene in the Met's version of La Cenerentola, when the umbrella catches on fire. Adam and the Ants... Rossini... Adam and the Ants... Rossini... It's like a circus at my house.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Watch through for the surprise ending at about 1:15. I don't think Bizet wrote that part into the opera, but who knows? Maybe this is based on a rare edition of the libretto or something. And you know the drill... if it doesn't fit on the blog page, click over to YouTube. It always fits on the preview before I hit publish.
Friday, September 4, 2009
That said, I do want to do a duet. I love love love the first duet in Nozze, between Figaro and Susana. *Everyone HAS to click that link. Thanks.* Surely there's some guy out there who can sing it with me. Of course he has to be cute, because that will help me with my acting. I'm not yet at the stage where I can pretend to be in love with some guy who I find unattractive.
My only opportunity, possibly, might be with that group I wrote about a few months ago, where "regular" people perform. I think I'll give them a call next week to see what's what with that opportunity, or, as the guy in charge called it, opera-tunity.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I am such a girl, sometimes.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
And even though it's a recital and not the opera itself, it still brings me back to when I supered in it and she sang this role. I usually missed the beginning of this because the green room backstage was kinda far from the stage, and I always had to pee of course, so by the time I made it to the green room she'd be in the middle of this already. I'd be there in time to see her smash the glass, which she doesn't do in this particular clip. And we'd be watching on this tiny little black and white video monitor with a sort of tinny flat sound. And she was still fab. I wanted to yell at everyone to shut up so I could hear.
In fact, I want to yell shut up right now, because I'm listening as I type, and there's this quiet section about 7 minutes in where someone decided to have a coughing fit. Why why why??? I want to invent a theater seat that causes someone to turn to a pile of dust if they cough during a performance. Wow I'm getting all biblical, but there you have it. That's one of the greatest sins. Hold it in and cough during the applause. Yah ok mini rant over.
So anyway, the sound on this clip, or perhaps it's my computer, doesn't do her voice justice. And check out that purple gown! I'm going to have to make her matching earrings.
Can't can't can't wait til Carmen!!!
PS Just for fun, here's a clip of Liz singing in the very Traviata I supered in.