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.
The coaching was great. It was my first time hearing Lascia ch'io pianga with the piano. It's so beautiful! She gave me a lot of advice about the recit - we went over it about a thousand times. Each time she said, "Ok, just one more time..." Uh huh. And one more, and one more, and one more... and it was exactly what I needed. She talked about how the recit is talking, even though there are musical notes. It's talking. You phrase it like you're talking. We went over the phrasing a lot. You are not restricted to the meter or rhythm because it's not the music... it's talking. With music. She told me that in about 10 different ways until she was sure I understood. As I relaxed I was able to relax into the part and get the musical recit to sound like talking... talking that just happens to have notes behind it. I still have a lot of practicing to do but I might be slowly starting to get a grasp on the concept.
Then of course we worked on the aria. That, of course, is restricted to the music, and needs to have more legato than the recit. And with me, when I learn something new, my legato is the first thing to go, and then I have to work it back in.
Then on Sunday I had an Opera Project rehearsal. But before I go into that, let's back up to a week ago Saturday, when I jumped like mad during the Jared Leto Aerobics Hour (and a half) that was the 30 Seconds to Mars show. My back, it doesn't like jumping. No, not at all. It was already unhappy before the show, from all that standing around. Then, JumpJumpJumpJump!!! and then ... the next day... OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH. It has gotten progressively worse since then. On Sunday morning I gave in and took half a Demerol I had lying around from when I had a root canal. (c'mon, you all do it, you save the painkillers in case you need them again...) And then, I went to the rehearsal. Hoo boy. Not doing that again. Luckily, Husband drove. So I stagger up there (most of the stagger was from the pain) and explain to them that I am on Demerol, then I try to sing. Actually I did ok, except I was nervous and actually forgot the words. I know the words! I know them very well!! Except ... I forgot them. I was ok with keeping the voice on top of the airstream, but my legato left me. One of the men there came up and asked me if I'm embarrassed to let my belly poof out. Well hell yeah, I'm a woman, I keep that sucker sucked in as much and as often as I can. He urged me to let it out and really use it, to use all my breath and not just the last 15% residual air in my lungs. Duh. I know that. But I wasn't doing it. I blame the Demerol. I actually blamed it at the time. I promised I'd be sober next time. I actually said that. I know I shouldn't have. I was just embarrassed at how sucky I thought I sounded. Then they went on about what a beautiful voice I have and it's a very common problem among singers and I need to work on the legato and see you next week. Husband said I didn't sound as bad as I thought. Someone else in the church (we rehearse in a church) told me I sounded great. They didn't have to do that. But if all these people are telling me how nice I sound, why do I think I sound like a screech owl? As I stumble around on my low dose of narcotics? I tell ya, if there's a way for me to embarrass myself in a situation, I will find it and not only will I do it, I will do it well. Of course all I did was thank them for their help and for the compliments while at the same time thinking, "Holy crap, I suck, they're not going to let me sing, they're finding all this stuff wrong, they're lying about how I sound..." Hello, self-esteem? Are you on vacation this week?
Tomorrow I have another coaching. I'll have to stop by the bakery on my way. Maybe I'll get cookies this time - oooh I know - a linzer tart or two. They're pretty big and they are YUM. Hell maybe I'll get one for myself too, and eat it in the car on my way home so I won't have to share. Bwuaa haa haa.
On a completely unrelated note, sources indicate that Our Favorite Baritone, Nathan Gunn, will finally be singing Don Giovanni. According to this article it's set for some time in 2012 in Washington, DC. I'd almost consider combining a mini-vacation there with a road trip to see the Gunnster as the Don. Plenty of time to think/plan/obsess over that.