Wednesday, December 29, 2010
My voice is improving little by little. I listen to my voice lessons and I practice, practice, practice. Mostly in the car, since that's really the only time I'm guaranteed to have to myself. I know it's not the most ideal situation but I have to make do. My next voice lesson is this coming Friday. Next Opera Project recital is… ? The upcoming performance is a composer's concert, featuring music of local composers. Then I think the next one after that will be in March. Hopefully I'll be chosen to sing in it. Oh and remember a few posts back I wrote about the possibility of a small part in an opera? Well, that fell through. Not sure if the part is being sung by someone else or if they removed it from the production. But it was nice to have people thinking of me as a possibility!
In professional performance news, someone I know (who happens to be a reader, you know who you are!) has these amazing photos from the performance of Billy Budd in Bilbao. I'm not sure where she got them from - they look like screen caps from a video. With her permission I'll post them here and/or to the Nathan Gunn Yahoo group. Here's a video from the production.
Speaking of Nathan Gunn, two (more) things.
Thing one: My brother and his family went to the family production of Magic Flute at the Met. They LOVED it. Even my brother, who was prepared not to like it, thought it was good. My sis-in-law said that Nathan was great. I kind of wish I had gone with them, even though I saw his Papageno back in April.
Thing two: Even though I'm not "into" Broadway, I still went and got tickets for this. Ann is coming out to join me and we'll be yukking it up in a hotel in NYC that night. Late night, post-performance Ben & Jerry's straight from the container, here we come! Maybe we'll even have spoons this time. I'll try to remember to pack a spork, just in case.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Cosi fan tutte at the Met was fabulous! Besides singing beautifully, the entire cast had great chemistry together, and great comic timing.
So the adventure begins, as usual, on the train!! I went with my friend Anna, the same person with whom I went to Grapes of Wrath. Totally packed train on a Saturday afternoon. I’m glad we are the 2nd stop on the line - we found seats together, AND they were facing forward. Don't want to ride backwards!! Then every station was crowded with city-bound and airport-bound people. At every stop the conductor announced in his New Jersey accent that there were no more seats up front - move to the back, move to the back... Meanwhile, in our car, directly in front of us were two women with a baby. An older guy was across the aisle from them, obviously intoxicated. In fact, I have no idea how he was still conscious. At first we weren’t sure, but we later realized that he was, indeed, with the women. He was loud and belligerent, threatening to kill anyone who got in their way and so on. I didn’t see, but Anna later told me that he was waving a pocket knife around. She had her eyes on the exits and was ready to pull out outta there if things got crazy. He was so wasted she could've just stuck her foot out and tripped him. Luckily it didn't come to that, and actually I never even saw the knife. And while all this was going on, another guy came down the aisle, hanging out little slips of paper saying he was deaf and asking for money. How did he get on the train? Was he running around the cars, avoiding the conductor so he wouldn’t have to buy a ticket? So he’s there with this smile, begging for money, meanwhile the women and the drunk guy were cursing up a storm and he was threatening to kill people. Yes, just another relaxing outing to NYC.
As usual, we had worn our sneaks and we walked up to Lincoln Center from Penn Station. As usual, we changed to our fancy but painful shoes a block from the restaurant. Dinner was at Rosa Mexicano. All I have to say is, YUM! Actually, I can say more. The food was really, really good. I had beef enchiladas in a mole of hazelnut and pine nuts. It was divine.
For dessert we shared the hazelnut chocolate cupcake.
Across the street at Lincoln Center we took the requisite photos in front of the fountain, next to the poster and of the front of the Met. These are all from my phone and the lighting was low so the quality isn't the best... Anna took some with her camera so when I get copies of those I'll post them.
Anna at the fountain:
Me in my seat:
And now let's talk about the performance.
IT WAS DELIGHTFUL! Does everyone know what the opera is about? If not, look here. And I'm happy, and not surprised to report, that Nathan Gunn did not disappoint!
Here are some more pictures I found online. Usually I say where I found them, but I forgot to keep the links... oops... So... some of the production pics here are from the New York Times, some are from the Met Opera. And one is a pic I lifted off the Met's website using the iPhone screen capture feature.
Danielle de Niese was fabulous as Despina. Hilarious! Her entrance was her pulling the set onto the stage, because as a servant, she does EVERYTHING, including moving the house onto the stage. Of course I tweeted her about it during intermission:
@Danielledeniese Loving Cosi!! You sound great and are an adorable Despina!And look, the next morning, she replied!
@Luindriel Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it! Cosi was really fun last night- loads of laughs- the audience was in a good mood! :) DD
Isn't Twitter fun?
Isabel Leonard was in it too. I'd seen her before as Stefano in Romeo & Juliet. Fun to see her as a woman this time. She was great.
And also Miah Persson, my favorite Zerlina! It's funny, I think of people based on roles I've watched them in. Then it's fun and even refreshing to see them in something else. She was out-of-this-world amazing. Amazingly amazing.
The train ride home was almost as interesting as the ride there... Half-asleep drunken people on the wrong train talking about fights they've been in and so on. Got home after 2am. And that's it, another successful Opera Adventure featuring the Metropolitan Opera and Nathan Gunn.
Next time: The Hurricane Video and update on voice lessons.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Opera Project Recital was November 13. There are still a few shrieky, straight-out-of-my-mouth moments, but overall I think it's ok. I was feeling a little intimidated because all the other women who sang are absolutely fabulous.
The venue was interesting. It's a winery, hence the wine you can see in the video. And it's a castle, hence the wall hangings and chandeliers. Our "green room" was a conference room upstairs, through a gift shop/museum type area. Singing there was odd because there was pretty much no echo so it was hard to hear yourself.
There was no food there, and I hadn't eaten since lunch, so afterwards a friend and I went out for dinner. (Husband was home with Alex.) Oh also we got our picture taken for some newspaper... just did a quick search and can't find anything online.
Then a few days later I sang in the talent show for work. This was held in a theater at a local college campus. We had a rehearsal earlier that day and they asked me if I wanted a stool and where did I want the microphone?
Me: No stool, and I don't need a mic.
Them: No really, where do you want the mic?
Me: I don't use a mic.
Them: Don't you want to be heard?
Me: I'll be heard.
Another one of them, joking: She doesn't want to be heard.
Then, I sang.
"Oh. You don't need a mic."
"Yeah, I know."
Husband made this video. I really wish he had kept the recorder on. They applauded and applauded and hooted and hollered and I didn't know what to do! I bowed once and said thank you about a hundred times, and they were still doing it as I left the stage. I was shocked but I must say it felt pretty good! It was so strange to be on that stage. The spotlight was SO BRIGHT that I couldn't see a thing. NOT A THING. The other acts were fun. There were a few singers, a magician and a jazz guitarist. Also a poetry reading, a short story reading and a chair-yoga demonstration.
My goal now is to really stop all that head movement. I guess it's back to the mirror for me...
Cosi fan tutti next Saturday at the Met!!!! I was about to say that it's been over a year since I've seen Nathan Gunn perform but NO I saw him in March and again in April this year. Lucky me. A girl could get used to this.
In Mars news, remember that video I was an extra in? It's allegedly going to be released any day now. There's a preview here. Gulp. No, I'm not in any of those scenes.
Other Mars news, I'm going to see them in February!!! With the same group of people (plus a few more!) I met in Atlantic City. Planning is underway!!!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Then next week is a talent showcase at work. No one is able to accompany me so I'm doing "If Music be the Food of Love," the soprano version, with the CD accompaniment that came with the music book. It's so fast, it's like running a race, but that's ok. I went over it with the coach and will probably see my voice teacher the day before that performance.
That evening my voice... vanished. GULP. I was totally hoarse, sore throat, runny nose. NOOOO!! Woke up yesterday unable to sing. Tried humming and lip trills... nope. I wasn't hearing the notes I was trying to make. I spent most of yesterday whispering or talking very quietly when I had to talk at all and drinking tea. This morning I woke up and my voice is back!! Whew!!
Of course nothing has really changed as far as my parents are concerned... Today I told my dad I was singing in a recital tonight and he said, "Oh that's nice. A solo???" and I said yes and he said, "Really? You're GOOD enough?"
"Wow. You'll have to sing for me the next time you come visit."
Yeah, ok. Sure... I'd love to sing for you so you can cut me off and ask why I'm not singing in English, and then make fun of me. Can't wait...
But on to better things - TONIGHT! I'm really excited! I'll try to get someone to record it.
Monday, November 8, 2010
So that's where I am. Constantly checking the calendar to see where and what I should be singing. Crazy fun! I love it!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I thought I had a vocal coaching today. No one was there. Later found out that she thought it was tomorrow. Rescheduled for next week. Now I have no choice but to eat the apple pie I had picked up for her.
Next Opera Project recital is November 13th at a winery!! The accompanist isn't available for a rehearsal so we're going to repeat the program we did at the jewelry store. I like the idea of singing the same thing again - I wonder how I'll do it differently this time?
And on a non-opera, 30 Seconds to Mars note, look!
Dang, that's tiny. Even clicking on it doesn't make it that much bigger. Forget that. Click here to see it REALLY big, and then, FIND ME!! Hint: I was very near the front of the mob. More photos from the video shoot are here.
And now.... Zzzzz.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I had a voice lesson and a coaching since my last post. My teacher totally understood what I was talking about when I described the state of relaxed concentration I was in last week. I got there again at the coaching when we went over El Majo Discreto. My teacher would love for me to sing that at a future Opera Project recital because she says there are so few Spanish songs performed, plus she thinks it's good for my voice. I think so too. Now that I'm getting more confident with it, I'm starting to have fun with it.
Speaking of fun, I was unable to participate in last weekend's Opera Project recital because I was at the most amazing Halloween party, ever. Alcohol + karaoke = lots of silliness!! There are videos out there... if someone asks nicely I'll post a link as a reply to a comment.
In other news, apparently I'm being considered (or... possibly... have been cast????) for a part in a local composer's opera, for some future Opera Project date. It's all very mushy. Someone mentioned it offhand to me, "Oh, you'll be in that thing... maybe you'll play the part of my wife." So of course I'm all, "WHAT thing?" and then I learned that someone asked someone else if they thought I'd be interested in participating ... well YEAH!!!! And that's all I know. Not much. I haven't even thought about it that much because there's no info to think about. So instead I'll just wait, and maybe follow up with a "What ever happened with that opera thing..." if I don't hear anything in a few weeks.
Ok, fine. Here. Note to self: Step AWAY from the karaoke stage...
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I started Ombra Mai Fu. So so pretty. Here's Joyce DiDonato singing it. I can only daydream about sounding that beautiful. But I can make it pretty, I hope. I started it with my voice teacher on Tuesday, then I saw my vocal coach today. Today's "payment:" A giant chocolate chip cookie, decorated with frosting and little candy bars. So we went over If Music be the Food of Love, Se Tu M'ami and then Ombra mai fu. After going through it a couple of times she had me put the music down and go sit in a chair across the room. Then she played it and gave me the musical cues for when I should sing certain things. For example, hold out the opening note until the chord changes down, then go on. And so on, all different musical cues in the piano for when I should change what I'm singing. She also called out the words to me just before I sang them. Getting rid of the printed music was scary at first, but then it was liberating. Soon I was relaxing into the music and just letting it come out of me, while at the same time concentrating like mad to follow the cues. I was split into two levels. A super-relaxed, let-it-all-out level and a super-intense, concentrate-like-mad level. It was exhausting and exhilarating. And the time just flew by. It was one of the best coachings we've had so far. I'm in my happy place now.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Opera Project recital!! I sing tomorrow! In front of people!! And... I think I'm ready!! I'm excited and nervous at the same time. It's different this time because this is the first time I'm singing since I switched to this voice teacher. It's like a first performance. Especially since I've changed, I've improved so much since I switched. It's like I'm a new singer.
Things have been crazy. I had that one demerol-hazed rehearsal, then I saw my 87 year old vocal coach, whom I adore, she's so much fun and has so many great stories, plus she's an amazing piano player and has given me such wonderful advice about performing, then I had another regular rehearsal where I did much better. After THAT rehearsal one of the guys gave me an impromptu lesson. He said he really likes my voice - he thinks it'd be good for medieval music because I can sing the higher notes straight without going flat, and a lot of the older music was written for that type of singing. Singing them straight means I can do them without vibrato. I hadn't been thinking of that as an asset. I've been trying to figure out how to consistently maintain vibrato on the higher notes. Who knew it was a skill to hit them on pitch without vibrato?
Then I had a lesson yesterday. My teacher had a couple of visitors so after warming up they came in to listen to me sing Lascia ch'io pianga. They responded positively, said that my voice sounded very clear and pure. That's nice! In the middle before the higher notes she called out to be brave... so I did... and out came these gorgeous notes! It was all I could do not to giggle, but I forced myself through it and kept on going. Be brave... such simple words... and I listened and obeyed and dropped my jaw and supported my breath and OUT came the notes! I was reminded of that vocal eval from a few years ago where one teacher wrote, "Courage!" Maybe that's what she meant. Courage to trust myself.
My teacher and I talked about maybe coming up with a program of madrigal-type songs for me, in English, Italian and Latin. She pointed out how nice the music would be with a harp or harpsichord, and I joked that with a harpist I could then sing at wedding ceremonies. And then suddenly we were like, why not? Why not have a goal? I'm not sure at the moment exactly how to get from here to there, but the first step is to learn the appropriate music. The time will pass whether or not I work towards a goal. So who knows, it may never happen, but then again, maybe it will. As 30 Seconds to Mars says, Provehito in Altum - Reach for the Heights, or, Launch Forth into the Deep! Either way, I'm reaching/launching for it. With courage! I will, of course, report in again after the recital!! Hopefully with video!!!
ps must apologize if the font is all wonky. I wrote much of this entry from work in an email to myself and I can't get the formatting to change to the regular font.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
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Monday, September 13, 2010
Last week I had my first ever vocal coaching with a lovely and talented woman who happens to live in my town. She' in her 80s and is very good friends with my teacher so she won't take money from any of the students my teacher refers to her. So before the coaching I picked up a half dozen of the most beautiful cupcakes from the bakery for her. I should have taken a picture of them.
Monday, September 6, 2010
@jaredleto Atl City was my first Mars show - I'M HOOKED! My opera singing is improving in part thanks 2 yr inspiration. Thx 4 that! ~Susan
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
So after this week's lesson we decided that I will sing Laschia ch'io pianga for the recital. The rehearsal is Sept 12. I can't wait to sing this in an echoing church. I'll have to put my imaginary cupola man up in the rose window. I showed his picture to my teacher
and she agreed that he's worth singing to! Hahaha!! Me and my silly celebrity crushes. But hey, whatever works to get me on top of the air. This week, it's this. Ask again next week.
I just have to laugh at myself here. I mean, come ON. Look at me. I'm singing to a tiny Jared Leto up in a cupola in a painting. And the other crazy thing is, I actually totally love his band. I mean, it's nuts. They are called 30 Seconds to Mars and they sound like a conglomeration of all my favorite 80s bands rolled into one. They have a cult following that just fascinates me. If I were a teenager I'd be in the cult. I could let myself fall into the cult now, if I weren't old enough to be the mother of most of the other fans. But they do some really fascinating stuff with their music, incorporating the audience as part of it, which is just amazing to me. As usual, click through to YouTube if the blog format cuts off the video window.
And they did this all over the world, and then had people record themselves, and they combined all the recordings into tracks on their album.
This track, for example, starts with the crowd making a tone and just bringing it up.
And the live footage on YouTube is amazing. They have so much energy. The intensity is not unlike opera. The music is different, but the feeling is the same. I mean, I'm sitting here, listening to This is War because it's playing in the window I opened to get the code, and I'm punching the air. And then laughing at myself for doing it. And yes, I do laugh at the pink mohawk. And yeah, I guess rock singers are allowed to go flat occasionally. I do cringe at the occasional flat notes and the sometimes screechy voice. On the other hand, I do love hearing the audience sing along. Look at the related videos to see more live footage - but beware, it's not all safe for work. The language is colorful, if you get my meaning. Just like his hair. But according to Twitter, the mohawk (now bleached white) was cut off today.
They play these giant arenas in Europe, but are still on the small club circuit here in the U.S. I would love to see them before they hit arena status here. They're actually playing about 2.5 hours from here this coming weekend, but it's just a wee bit too far for a solo round trip. I don't know anyone who would go with me. It's also a holiday weekend and the venue happens to be down the shore (that's, at the beach for people who are NOT from New Jersey) so the commute is probably more like 5 hours. On the other hand, tickets are only $25. So now I'm hoping that they come to Philadelphia in the near future, like maybe they can jam a date in there while they're in the area.
So, back to the opera. I'm starting to get excited to see Cosi in November. I have an extra pair of tickets for Le Comte Ory for Sat, April 2, Grand Tier Rear. Trying to figure out how to unload them. Craigslist? Ebay? One of those ticket brokers, like Stub Hub? A loyal reader here?
And getting back to Twitter... I've suddenly been really active there. Find me there and follow me!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
It starts with a recit, then the aria. Here are lyrics I copied from here. They're slightly different but close enough.
Lascia ch'io pianga
Let me weep
EDITED ON AUG 25: The video shows in the editing window, but when I publish, it vanishes. Sorry about that - I'll work on it and will repost when I figure it out.
Voice lesson yesterday was FABULOUS. Holy cow. I'm like, who the hell is that? OH! It's me. Seriously. Srsly. Wow I've been wanting to type that, srsly, for like, a long time. Srsly. Ok. Anyway... I was on top of the air and I produced that sound I've been aiming for. I practice all the time, every note of every song, I make myself go back and re-do if I don't like the sound. And what do you know, practicing really does help. And was also helps is that my teacher has this painting next to the piano, of a street scene, and there's a church with a cupola on top, which is like a little tower, so anyway, because I'm shameless, I imagine that this person is up in that cupola, and he needs to be able to hear me from all the way over here, and if I do well, well, I can't say here what happens because this is a family blog. But, seriously, uh, I mean, srsly, imagining that someone is listening and that I could possibly win some sort of impossible reward or prize actually helps me relax and let it all out... even if my man in the cupola would have to be like 1 or 2 inches tall to actually fit in the painting. Luckily I have a vivid imagination. And wow, rereading that, it sounds really... inappropriate on so many levels. A man only 2 inches tall, and me and my vivid imagination. What I meant was, he'll grow to regular size when he pops out of the painting, thanks to my imagination. I mean, he'll just BE regular size. I won't see him grow from 2 inches to regular size because that would be too disturbing and freaky. Right, so... anyway...
I have to just open up and let the sound out, because when I trust myself to do that, I amaze myself. I realize I'm not in it for a career or anything like that - it's just that I never imagined I'd ever be able to sing like this. I'm in the process of posting a clip from my voice lesson - the only way I can think to do it is to make it into a video. Time consuming, but I see no other way to upload sound here.
Anyway, I'll post again once they fix the web page so it displays correctly. And once I make the little video, I'll post it. And I'll definitely post again if my Cupola Guy pops out of the painting and lands in my lap. Actually, if that happens, I probably won't post about it. Hm. That implies that if I don't post about it, that it may have happened. Well I'll let you all just wonder and imagine.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The Opera Project has a web page now: http://www.theoperaproject.us/1.html. And if you go to the contacts, eventually, I think, you'll see my photo and bio there!!! I mean, how friggin cool is that? I never in a million years could have imagined that I'd be on a web page as an opera singer, complete with photo and bio. I'm not there as of this writing, but they asked me to send it and I did. And let me tell you, I feel pretty intimidated - look at the bios already there. Prestigious schools, awards, many many roles... My bio is like 3 lines long. I feel like I don't belong there on that list. I'm not there yet. I keep expecting them to change their minds, or something, about who gets their bio and photo posted to the page. But the truth is, I'm plotzing here at the mere idea of this. It's one of those, "I can't stop giggling" moments. Even though it hasn't quite happened. But the moment it does I'll post all about it, and of course I'll email the link to everyone I've ever known.
As you can see from the website, the next recital is that that very same jewelry store where I first saw the group. Then I have plans on October 23 (my friend's long-anticipated, over-the-top, fabulous annual Halloween party) and then she and I are going to see Cosi at the Met on November 27. I'm hoping to be able to sing in the others though.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Alex is pretty much obsessed with Star Wars. Eventually I learned the names of the actors in the "new" prequels, googled them, (because I live under a rock ... apparently I was the only female on the face of the planet who hadn't ever heard of Hayden Christensen, the guy who portrayed Anakin Skywalker, you know, Darth Vader before he turned to the dark side) and then looked at their other stuff. And because I'm a teenager at heart, I ended up watching this Canadian tv series about troubled teens at a boarding school in the mountains, called Higher Ground, starring the same Mr Christensen when he was a teenager. That of course led me to watch other angsty high-school tv shows, specifically, Freaks and Geeks (loved it then, still love it!) and My So Called Life (loved it then, still love it!). Then I googled all those people to get the "where are they now" update and found out that the guy everyone wanted to make out with in the boiler room on MSCL, Jared Leto, has been in this sort of progressive rock band for the past several years called 30 Seconds to Mars. It's not opera. No.... way.... but it's compelling. And or course most of their fans are, you know, young enough to be my kids, but... whatever. They have this almost cult following - catch phrases, clothing, war paint, screaming fans, etc. I would have loved these guys had they been around when I was a teenager. I mean, they've got the looks, makeup and fashion of Adam Ant and Duran Duran but they have actual musical talent. I love the drums. So here I am, watching, or trying to watch, a livestream of a chat with the band. It's insane. It was insane... it's already over due to technical difficulties... So the band was on a webcam and there was a live chat window that flew by at the speed of light. Then it all crashed... and thanks to Twitter updates I know that they lost internet access at their hotel in Tel Aviv ... But the cult members, uh, I mean, fans, I'm sure, were shrieking to see their leaders uh I mean, idols, live on the screen for those few minutes. It got me thinking, I can't even imagine what my life would have been like had the internet existed when I was a teenager. It's truly unfathomable. Meanwhile, there I was, listing to Alex play Mario Cart Wii, saying goodbye to Husband as he left to see a baseball game, wondering if maybe I should shut down the computer and feed my child... nah, he knows where the food is.
So as I stated early on in the life of this blog, I love the internet. I love how on Twitter you can follow "famous" people and sort of communicate with them, and know from the time of their updates exactly when they are doing something. So I guess I love the legitimate stalking aspect of it. It's not really stalking - after all, if you use twitter you are giving the world permission to see whatever is it you post there. Also I love how, on the internet you can make friends with people you never would have met before, how you can trade information and how a band can try to hold a live chat with their fans. I mean, how COOL is that? Are opera singers doing that? I don't mean voice lessons on Skype. I think live opera via one of those live video chat feeds is in order.
In a sort of related post, Joyce DiDonato has started a Vlog on YouTube. I hope that doesn't mean she'll slow down her writing, because I love reading her blog. And I can't wait to see her at the Met!!! Next April. It'll be here before I know it. Together with JDF and Diana Damrau. Seems unreal. And my plan is to stay healthy... no backstage acupuncture this time, if only because I can't be guaranteed another view from the wings.
Had a voice lesson yesterday. Will post about that later ... however I do want to mention that the next Opera Project recital is September 26. In fact, I think I'll call the Guy In Charge right now to remind him that I'm interested in performing. And then, perhaps I should feed my child...