Monday, November 30, 2009
No reviews out there, as far as I can tell. What a relief! I'm not quite ready to be torn apart in a public forum. Um, yeah, I'll get back to you when I am ready for that.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
To change the subject for a moment, I received the info on how to apply to be a super in Carmen. I have to send an arts resume and a full body photo. I'll have to dig up last year's resume and add the singing experience. Then I've been chatting with a friend who is a photographer and she's been giving me some tips on how to get a nice looking full-body pose that doesn't look like the camera is aiming up (or down) your nose. So if I get in, the performances are the first two weekends of Feb, with rehearsals the few weeks prior. They're all over the northern half of the state, and one is in Baltimore. Remember last February... or was that March? When I wanted to go to Baltimore and there was a huge snowstorm? Hm. Anyway, one step at time. Let's get a photo submitted and wait to hear from them.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
SING THROUGH IT, SUSAN! JUST SING THROUGH IT!
So I did. And the first pause in the singing I did a little throat clear and it was smooth sailing. I forgot where I was and just sang and had fun. Well, I didn't totally forget where I was. There was a step down in front of me and I really really didn't want to, you know, fall... so I did glance down when I moved. The split railings gave me a perfect place for the asides.
I was definitely nervous before but was ok once I got out there. Then the frog in my throat threw me for a loop. Next time I'll give a 15 second explanation of what I'm singing, to get through any future frogs. Ribbit.
Everyone who sang was great. Everyone. Some of the singers have a lot more experience and it shows. But everyone was great. I still have a hard time believing that I was one of them.
Afterwards Husband gave me a bouquet of red roses - hooray Husband!
The woman who gave me the lessons told me I was awesome and that she was so proud of me. She said I "got" it and now that I can sing it like that I'll always be able to. Everyone was so nice, congratulating everyone and telling each other how great everyone was. The mother of one of the other singers asked where I study and thought I was college-aged. She asked me what I'm majoring in! I ended up telling her that I began studying about 2 1/2 years ago, at the age of 39. She said she thought I was brave to start studying at that age and to get up in front of others to sing. I was like, hey, I have a kid. Once you have a kid you can do anything. It's true!
They had brownies and wine so we hung around a little but I hadn't eaten dinner and as much as I love brownies and wine, I needed some real food, so we left.
Ok, when's the next one?????
Saturday, November 21, 2009
After the lesson I went straight to Sondra's for a fabulous massage. Then we went out to a coffee shop for lunch, and now Alex and I have been playing all afternoon. Soon I'll neti (again) and then start getting ready, no doubt far to early. Then I'll sit around in my nice clothes trying not to sweat. I wrote that somewhere, was it here, yesterday? That wouldn't surprise me. I'm very excited and a bit nervous, which means my brain is even looser and wigglier than it usually is.
So here we go!! Two and a half years of lessons, and now I'm singing opera with other opera singers in front of an opera crowd. WOW!!!!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Now... what to wear? I'm leaning toward the long black skirt with the flowers, a black lacy sleeveless top and a small sweater. And rhinestones, of course. So the skirt in that picture with a different top. And some kind of shiny jewelry. And I'll bring my other fancy shoes, just in case the grey shoes with the black piping look odd. And in case my other grey shoe isn't available... although I'm sure it will be. I think they left it at the church for me.
Hair???? I know to keep it off my face. But up in a fancy braid, or pulled back into a barrette? Or loose? I don't have bangs so it wouldn't end up in my face. It'd look like this if I wore it loose, a little longer. And if I wear it in a barrette and then take it out, it'll be pulled back a little, kind of like this. I'm leaning towards a low, loose barrette, which would sort of look like this, only neater. Seriously, I'm not that concerned about how to wear my hair. I'm blogging about it because it naturally follows the "what I'm wearing" paragraph.
I have my regular voice lesson tomorrow morning, then a massage at a local salon, and then I'll fidget through the day, get ready too early and try not to sweat in my nice clothes.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Um... no. I resolved this all last week... didn't I? She checked the computer and said she saw the authorization to resend all the tickets. I told her I got tickets for La Fille only, and asked if it was possible that since the other tickets had a different order number, perhaps they were mailed separately? She said no, all six tickets were mailed in the one envelope. Um... no? I'm holding the contents of the envelope. Two tickets. She said, no, there are 6. And if I've lost them, I'll have to come to the box office on the day of the performance, two hours before curtain... NO!!! Is anyone LISTENING? And you'd THINK that they'd have the phonetic spelling of the operas available to the people who answer the phone so at least they'd pronounce them correctly. I can't even remember how she butchered Die Zauberflote. I heard the Z and knew which one she meant, barely. So I left a message for the guy with whom I spoke last week.
Why oh why can't they get this right???? It's not that difficult. 3 operas. Print the tickets. Mail them. Am I missing something here?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
And it still seems like when I get to a g something happens and I lose the resonance. She said she can tell I'm getting tense about it and to relax - and that she knows it's easier said than done! She said not to worry if I don't get the resonance on that note on Saturday - I'll still sound nice and will smile and be cute and everyone will like me. She was so so sweet. And she said so many funny things. I have to listen to the recording because of course I don't remember now - except the boob thing, of course. That was to help me feel my ribs expand outward as I inhaled. We also looked at the music books I have and she gave me advice on what types of songs to do next. I sang Gretchen for her and she said it sounded really really good, and maybe I can do that for the next recital. So I'll work on all of it with my regular teacher on Saturday and I'll just do my best on Saturday night.
Oh and when I told her about the shoe incident she said, "Yep. You're a soprano."
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Voice lesson in the morning. My teacher was a bit out of sorts. She had just had a death in the family and was leaving that afternoon on a 3 hour drive for the funeral. So she was a bit out of it. But we pressed on. She was very excited to hear about the rehearsal last week. I told her about the lesson. She was pleased and said that when I'm ready to switch teachers I know have someone to switch to. I was like, wait! Are you trying to tell me something? Like, was she moving or something? She laughed at that and said that it's perfectly normal for singers to switch teachers every few years or so, for a fresh perspective on things, and that no, she'll be around for the long haul. Whew.
Unfortunately she can't make it to the recital because it's her mother's 80th or 85th birthday, I forget which but some birthday milestone, and the party that was scheduled for this weekend got moved to next weekend because of the funeral.
Then, rehearsal. It was fun. I was nervous because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to produce the sound we had practiced during the week. But I did fine. The rehearsal was in the preschool classroom and the piano area is set apart from the rest of the room. It wasn't like a rehearsal where we practiced going up and down on stage. It was more like, practice with the accompanist to make sure he/she knows what you want. I spoke with the woman who's accompanying me. She's so so sweet. She explained that my job is to sing. Her job is to pay attention to me and play to how I sing. I never thought of it like that but that's good - I don't have to worry at all, really, what she's doing. And she's good - she really does listen and change according to what I sing. I told her how I have little experience singing with a real life accompanist and I really like the organic nature of it - it's so much more satisfying then singing along with the CD accompaniment.
After I sang I hung around and chatted a little. And then when I was getting ready to leave, I changed from my heels back into my hiking shoes, like I always do. Then when I get home I always put my shoes away in their box with the paper stuffed into them. Neurotic, maybe, but I like my nice shoes to stay nice. So yesterday I got home and there was just one shoe in my bag. OOPS!! I called and luckily some people were still hanging about, so someone is taking care of my shoe for me until next week. "Don't worry, Cinderella, we'll keep your shoe safe," is what they said. Yeah. My new nickname, no doubt.
Today we got an electric keyboard and stand. 88 keys, piano action, the whole deal. I love it. Alex loves it. Husband loves it. And the music store had a promotion going on - 10% off if you bring in a can of food to donate to the local food bank. I ran to the store next door and for under a dollar I got $45 off my purchase. Nice!
I have another mid-week rehearsal with my "new" teacher this week, then one more voice lesson on Saturday morning, before the real performance. A bunch of my neighbors and coworkers are coming!!! Wow!! I'm sure I'll fret more about that later in a post closer to the date.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I've been thinking about how I laugh when I like how I sound. I think I've described here before what I like about live opera - how the singer's voice vibrates through your entire body. It's amazing, a visceral experience. And when I can achieve that resonance, it resonates throughout my own body. I don't know if it's reaching anyone else's body, but I feel it in mine. Mostly in my head, but still it's my entire body. Once I get there, I have to relax into to it to maintain it. And when I feel it I get so excited that I laugh and I lose it. It's kind of like making yourself see the 3D in those 3D pictures. Sort of. You have to relax and go blurry and then when part of it comes into focus your brain will catch it and bring the rest of it into focus. If you let go of that state of mind you'll lose the picture. So it's not exactly like that, but the idea is sort of similar.
I haven't told my teacher yet that I had this extra lesson. Is that weird? Should I have told her? I don't think it matters. I will ask her to listen to me sing Una Donna to see if I can do what I'm trying to do with it. And of course I'll tell her. I just didn't call her or email her or anything like that.
And OH! I have to write about my customer service incident with the Met.
I ordered tickets the day they went on line, in August. To date I still haven't received them so this morning I emailed to find out what the deal was. Here, read it yourself. I cut off the names to protect the innocent, ha ha.
She didn't respond to that email so I called about an hour later. I spoke to a very nice man who immediately said that of course they can print out new tickets and I should have them within two weeks. He gave me his name and extension and said to call him directly if there were any problems. So... why couldn't the woman do that after I sent her two emails asking them to do so? It's not like they tear and take the ticket - they scan a bar code. And she told me in the email that the originals have been deactivated. The man on the phone agreed with me and took care of it. He could see the emails while we were speaking so I didn't need to explain a thing. He figured that since there were two different orders, it's possible that someone might have pulled them aside to combine them into one envelope and somehow an error was made. He said there is no record of the tickets being returned to them, and it's possible that the post office lost the mail. (two orders?) But none of that matters. He was super sweet. I guess I learned my lesson - next time, call first.Hello,I made the attached ticket order online in August. I also ordered tickets on the telephone earlier that same day for Carmen in January and Die Zauberflote in April. Can you give me an idea of when the all tickets will be mailed out? Or, if they were mailed out already, I never received them. What is the procedure if that is the case?Thank you for your help,
Thank you for contacting us.
We regret your tickets did not arrive at your mailing address and we have processed passes for you to pick up at the Box Office. Our Box Office is located in the North End of the Front lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House.
Your passes will be available for you to pick up starting two hours prior to curtain time for each performance and we recommend you allow at least 45 minutes for any lines that may have formed.
As you may know, Lincoln Center is currently undergoing redevelopment. Access to buildings, parking garages and the ramp in front of the Plaza may be diverted to an alternate entrance. Please allow extra travel time to adjust for any delays you may encounter during this construction. To obtain the most current information, please call 212.546.2656. We appreciate your patience during this time and apologize for any inconvenience you may experience.
Again, we apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us. Thank you for your support of the Metropolitan Opera.Sincerely,
Thank you so much for your quick reply.
I'd much rather have the tickets in hand prior to the performance to avoid standing in lines on the day of the performance. Also, for some of the performances I am meeting a friend who will be arriving separately, so she will need her ticket before hand. I have not had problems receiving tickets in the mail in the past.
Here is the info:
My telephone order number was xxxxxxx.
The tickets were:
Carmen - Jan (details details details)
Die Zauberflote - April (details details details)
The email order number was xxxxxx
La Fille du Regiment - (details details details)
I spent a total of $630.
Please resend the tickets to me at:
(my name and address)
My telephone number is xxxxx
I will send you an email to confirm that I've received the tickets when they arrive. If for some reason the original tickets also come I will of course let you know and will either destroy them or return them, whatever your preferred procedure is.
Thank you so much for your attention to my request.
I regret that we are not able send you replacement tickets as our records indicate these tickets were printed and mailed on August 18th.For security reasons, all passes for lost tickets are held at our box office for pick up. It is not our intention to inconvenience you in any way. This procedure is in place to ensure that you will have tickets in your possession for the performance. We do not want to risk losing your tickets a second time. If you prefer to have your friend pick up the passes (one person can pick them up), you may send us her name and indicate the performances. She will need the order number (xxxxxx or xxxxx) and photo identification to pick up the tickets; however, she will not be required to present the credit card used for purchase.
If the tickets do turn up in the interim, please contact us again and we will remove the passes to allow you to gain entrance with the original tickets. Sometimes customers do find misplace tickets in with other mail or elsewhere prior to the performance dates.
Please let us know if you require further assistance.
Thank you for supporting the Metropolitan Opera.***********
I understand that your records show that the tickets were printed and mailed and that you have security procedures in place. I also understand that you have no intention of inconveniencing me or any of your customers.
However, it is not possible for me to alter my plans for the evenings I am attending the opera in order to stand in line up to 45 minutes. It sounds as if the original tickets have already been deactivated. Therefore it makes no sense to me why you can't resend a me a set of tickets or else the passes. Again, I paid over $600. That may not seem like a lot of money to many of your customers, but it is a huge amount to me. After paying that sum of money I do not feel I should be inconvenienced simply because your records show the tickets were mailed. Bottom line is, I didn't get them. You did, however, charge my credit card.
I would like to have the tickets in hand prior to the dates of the performances. I will be traveling into New York from central New Jersey for each performance and have made plans for before the performances. After paying over $600 for these tickets, I find it unreasonable to be asked to alter my plans stand in line for possibly up to 45 minutes. Perhaps the passes can be mailed out instead? You have all of my info in your system. I can provide you my credit card number over the phone if that would help you process my request. Certainly there must be a way you can honor my request. Perhaps you can pass my email along to a supervisor who is able to circumvent these security procedures.
Please call me if you would like additional information such as the credit card information.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
There had been a chance that I'd come into a new set of photographs for the other website from the evening from a different source (not Banawoman, for, like me, she does not "sneak" media, and accidental phone calls that are not recorded don't count), but apparently that is not to be - people were specifically requested by the performers to NOT take photos due to "a recent unpleasant photo experience" they had. Wow, that sounds so... gossipy. And you know me, I try to stay away from gossip. So I'm staying away from that one. I honestly have no info. Well, that's not true. I do have an inkling, but it doesn't involve me, and that makes it gossip, so...
I wonder if at the next event they'll make an announcement, "please do not call your friends during the performance, accidentally or on purpose..." *sigh* It wouldn't surprise me.
Moving right along...
Right. Off to bed.
Monday, November 9, 2009
We went over Una Donna and she helped me recreate that feeling in parts of the song where I was losing it. Specifically it was the G. She said I have a passaggio there and I have to flip my voice over to the other side of the shelf. Funny that she used the same term for the upper passaggio that I've been using myself to describe how I manage the lower passaggio - getting over the shelf.
She said that in her opinion I am a soubrette. I nodded and then looked it up as soon as I got home. No, it's not a hot-dog. But I like the description so I'll say ok, I'm a soubrette. Not that I want to lock myself into one type of singer or another. But since I'm not out there auditioning for flirty, street-wise sidekick roles, or any roles for that matter, I think I'm ok with the idea of the label. Plus it makes me seem more official. If someone asks, I can say, "Oh, me? I'm a classic soubrette soprano."
She was so sweet. She asked me about what I'm singing and gave me recommendations of songs to learn. She asked what my teacher and I are working on, vocally, and I said that we are working on getting that full sound at those notes on certain vowels - basically the same stuff. But hearing it described a different way from a different teacher really did make a huge difference. She said she didn't want to... how did she put it... she didn't say "step on her toes," but she was concerned about not wanting to offend my teacher by offering me advice. I assured her that my teacher will be thrilled by any progress I make, no matter how I make it.
I'm sure there's more fun stuff that I'm leaving out, but that's what I can remember now. I recorded the lesson. I can't wait to listen and practice and giggle with disbelief at how I sound.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I spoke with the woman I mentioned yesterday, the one who will be giving me a free lesson tomorrow. Again she was so so sweet! She told me that some of the other singers yesterday had the same problem I had - a lack of fullness on certain vowels at certain pitches. I kept thanking her and she told me that she LIKES doing it, that it gives her joy to help a singer improve. The way she kept telling me the good things - my breath control, the sound for most of the song, how relaxed and natural I seemed, and then how when she told me what needed improvement she said that other people have the same problems - it shows me what a good teacher she is. She didn't just get up and tell me what I had to fix - she told me what was good and made me feel like I wasn't the only one needing to fix something. The psychiatry behind teaching is so important!
I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow. Just keep thinking, Julia Child. It's funny because when I was a kid my mom and I would watch her show together and at the end when she said, "Bon Appetit!" and then the music would start, we'd just burst out laughing like it was the silliest thing we'd ever heard. And that image comes to mind every time I remember yesterday's advice. But the important thing is, it works! I put some Julia into my singing and voila! The dish had added flavor. Another reason it made me laugh was because I used to pretend to be an opera singer as a kid and that's how I'd sing. Who knew that all that pretending would come in handy 35 years later.
So slowly, slowly, I'm starting to believe.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Voice lesson this morning went pretty well. I warmed up beforehand so we'd have more time to work. Learned a new vocalise with triplets going up and down, then went over parts of Batti Batti.
This afternoon I had a rehearsal for the recital in two weeks. I was nervous but excited. I sang Una Donna. They cut me off near the end - they being, the man and woman in charge of the group. They wanted to give me advice on how to get through a certain part - they kept apologizing for offering advice!! I'm like, pour in on! As much as you want!! It was this one part of the song near the end where the woman said I was getting off pitch because I was losing ... I can't remember her exact words... but that I needed to use my entire head as my instrument and bring the sound up to keep it at the right pitch. She said to think of how Julia Child spoke, and use that sort of tone or practice or whatever to maintain the loftiness in the sound. So I tried it again and it did sound better. THEN she asked if I'd be willing to come see her one day this week for a quick coaching FREE OF CHARGE!!!! She's a retired opera singer - she has sung with some Very Famous People. She was super sweet. Both she and the man in charge kept telling me that I have a beautiful instrument and how easy it is to fix what it is I'm doing wrong. I was like, "Beautiful instrument? Me? ME?" Ohmygod. I couldn't believe it. She and I spoke for a while. She said that even after 62 years of singing she still has to think about it to produce that lofty "Julia Child" sound, but once you get there, it feels natural and it feels so good it's like an orgasm. Yes, that's what she told me. She was telling all sorts of great stories about people she's sung with (like one Famous and Handsome tenor whose wife was always around and wouldn't let any women near him!). So we exchanged phone numbers and we'll talk about me coming for a quick lesson/coaching. How friggin cool is that? And as I was leaving the guy in charge told me that my Despina was "cute as hell." Cute as hell. Love that!
Alex and Husband came to retrieve me so they got to see the place and meet everyone too.
Wow. Professional opera singers and teachers told me I have a beautiful instrument and that my singing was "cute as hell." Does it get any better?
Of course it does, because it's Saturday, which means that after my and Alex's music lessons this morning we went to the farmers' market and got those mouth-watering tamales, which we had for dinner. And also on the way to the car after the rehearsal we passed a chocolate shop where I bought a few uber-fancy chocolates at $1.50 a pop, including one with cayenne and one with cardamom, cayenne and other yummy things mixed in.
AND my super comfy old-lady nightgown came in the mail today and is in the dryer as I type this.
So this day has left me all giggly and happy. A yummy day. I was long due.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
However, while there is a wealth of fabulous information there, it doesn't tell me what I really want to know: How long does a warm-up last? If I have a rehearsal from 3-5 and I don't know at what point during that rehearsal it'll be my turn to get up and sing, when should I be warming up? Should I warm up at home for 15 minutes, then in the car for 10, then keep quiet for the next 10 until I arrive at 3? Then what if I don't sing until 4:30? Am I still warmed up? Is it all lost? Should I warm up until the moment I park the car? Should I wear a scarf? Would that make a difference? Or should I forget about all that and just take a xanax? Hahaha ok maybe not. I'd still warm up beforehand.