Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I've been watching the video from Saturday's recital and hearing all the mistakes. Missed legato, missed vibrato, wrong length on some notes, and what the HECK was I doing with my arms?
Then I wonder, what will I sing next? I have no voice lesson for the next two weeks so I have plenty of time to think about it. The next Opera Project recital is at the end of May I think, and there's a voice eval with the music school and the recital my teacher hosts of all her students. I need two songs for each of those. They can be the same songs but they don't have to be. We were talking about Art is Calling for Me and Nel Cor... although now that I've sung Batti Batti twice in front of an audience I'm thinking, maybe I should revisit Vedrai Carino and apply all the stuff I've learned since I last attempted it? I also want to go back to Gretchen as she's been sitting in the back burner of my brain for a while. And then what about the next Opera Project recital? I'd love to do Art is Calling for Me but that's not opera - it's a song about someone wanting to sing opera. Maybe if I ever get to the point where I can do two pieces I can have that be one of them. And then of course I'm itching to do a duet. I'd love to do La ci darem la mano. Let's face it, I'm going to learn all of Zerlina, one piece at a time. So now I just need a baritone to be my Don Giovanni. All the men I know are tenors. Where are all the baritones?
Tomorrow I'm going to the AVA Gala "Brava Philadelphia," where I'll see Michael Fabiano (who finally got himself a facebook fan page) and Eglise Gutierrez, among many others. Joyce Didonato was supposed to be there too but she had to back out. Oh well.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
The recital went pretty well! Of course I think I could have done better, but I think I did ok.
I had a lot of fun. I feel so privileged to be able to perform with the Opera Project. Everyone is so talented! It's great fun to hear, support and encourage each other.
When I got there I realized that the tags were still attached to my skirt! So I was up in the green room (also known as the preschool classroom at the church where we perform) with my hands down the back of the skirt to tear them out when one of the other singers, an older guy, walked in. Oops, caught me with my hands down my skirt! The skirt was so long that I kept stepping on it on the stairs until I just gave up and hiked it up past my knees when I was on the stairs. That was interesting since of course I was wearing knee-high hose... but luckily the only stairs were the ones leading to the green room... through an area that was under construction... so the steps are splattered with paint, the railings are covered with drop-cloths, the floors are bare plywood and there is large equipment in the corners - big saws with jagged blades and I don't know what else... because there were no lights over the stairs. Fun!! All part of the adventure.
We forgot to bring the camera, so Husband made a video with his iPhone. It's taking forever to load so I'll publish it later... for now... Not sure what I was doing with my arms ... have to remember to let them just hang next time. You'll see what I mean if/when the video ever loads!
Later: I gave up and uploaded it to YouTube. Here it is:
Friday, March 26, 2010
There's one section that comes really easily to me - 4:26 to 4:34 here. (And my fantasy, of course, is to sound as beautiful as she does.) But for some reason I was having trouble with 4:19-4:22. It was the whole mental thing ... I anticipated it and tensed up... same old story. So I separated my brain out to pay attention to my body in that later part, then I applied that to the earlier part, and it worked. Basically, it comes not only to using the low abs for the breath, but also to trust myself to do it. When I relax and just let it happen, it sounds so much better than when I think about it. I know the words, I know the notes, I know the rhythm. I don't need to think about it. I do at some points need to think about where to breathe, to remind myself to take a breath, but the rest, I have to just trust my body to do its thing. So the next thing I need to trust it to do is not go all hoarse on me tomorrow.
I got the program for the evening. I'm in act 2 which means I'll have time to warm up during intermission. Good. One less thing for me to wonder and worry about.
Deep breath... relax... go.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
On to more important thoughts. I can't stop thinking about the cake pictured in my previous post. I didn't, I mean, I couldn't finish it. I ate only the part that was soaked with chocolate sauce, so there was a pile of leftover cake on the plate. I want those leftovers. Forget about the dude who asked me why I was standing next to the door to the theater. (where, I might add, I was allowed to stand, but later I realized it was near the top of a flight of stairs that lead to backstage, which I suppose led to the question? Yeah, ok...) The truth is they should be guarding the door to the kitchen in the restaurant. I'm liable to sneak in and steal the cake, or better yet, the pastry chef.
Opera Project recital is Saturday. I confirmed that admission is actually $15. I've been practicing NOT cutting the notes early to sneak a breath in, and suddenly I sound so much better! I sing the note the correct amount, take a nice breath and yes, there I am on time for the next line. When I finally managed to do it and I liked how I sounded I started laughing! I love that. I can't control it - I just start laughing when I have these "breakthroughs" and I hear the improvement. It's the joy of making music - it bubbles up and bursts out in giggles.
Cake. Cake. Cake. Yum.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
My friend Anna and I stepped out of our "mom" shoes and cleaned ourselves up for a night out. We caught a late afternoon train and arrived at Penn Station at about 4pm. It wasn't really raining, just spritzing a little, so we decided to walk up to the restaurant, a mere 24 short blocks up 7th Ave. Of course along the way it started to pour. We were leaping over puddles and trying to avoid other people's umbrellas. It was a short walk and we found ourselves at the restaurant rather early, but since it was pouring we had no choice really but to go in. We hung around and when eventually we sat down, along came Johnny O to join us. He's in NYC rehearsing for Armida and I had invited him along. We all had a blast! The food was good but we were having such a silly time I actually forgot to take photos of it. But then... the desserts. Oh.My.God.
I had the panettonne , a tall cake with raisins and hazelnuts that was served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was so huge I couldn't finish it. I'm still thinking about that cake and drooling.
John ordered the chocolate mousse. They came to the table with two metal buckets and started scooping mousse and whipped cream out onto his plate until he told them to stop. Scoop, scoop, scoop...
I was so eager to get started on my chocolate thing that I forgot to take a photo of Anna's limoncello creme brulee. I didn't forget to taste it though. It was to die for. Death by desserts. Still drooling as I type this.
While I had the camera out we took some more photos:
Anna and John:
Me and John:
And the other photos are on John's camera so I'm waiting... waiting... waiting for him to email them or post them to Facebook.
When Anna was in the ladies' room she overheard two women talking in excited hushed tones, "Did you see??? John Osborn is here! In the restaurant!"
Isn't that cool, that they recognized him?
He wasn't going to GoW so after taking pics of us under the marquee we parted ways. Once I get those photos, if they're decent, I'll post them.
Inside was crowded!! People everywhere going every which way. It was hard to get around. We did make it to our seat and I snapped a couple photos of my view from row D... which was indeed the 4th row.
The Chorale sat behind the orchestra. I could barely see them if I peeked through the orchestra. Then in front of the orchestra, as you can see, were the music stands for the singers. Jane Fonda, the narrator, sat off to one side. On the other side of the stage were some chairs for the cast members who weren't in the particular scene. It was semi-staged, so they wore costumes and moved about a little, but there were no props and they sang with books.
The music was so much better than I expected! I guess I was thinking, modern opera = modern, atonal music, but that was not the case at all. It was very accessible yet original. The story followed the book very closely. Some parts of the book were left out, understandably, but nothing different was added.
Jane Fonda was so very thin!! She was very glamorous in a long black skirt. She perched on a stool and read some parts aloud - much seemed to be directly from the book. I wonder how much she rehearsed because some lines she seemed to stop before the end of the sentence, and then pick up the next line as if it were a new sentence when it was actually part of the sentence before. It sounded a little awkward. She did that only a few times. Otherwise hear reading really added to the effect. A couple times she began reading as soon as the singers stopped, and she was cut off by applause. It was no big deal.
The singing was FABULOUS!!! Nathan Gunn, of course, was awesome. So what else is new. His daughter Madelyn was very good! While I believe that she would not have gotten the part if he wasn't in it, she was fine in the role. She has a clear, sweet voice and her acting was good. If she hadn't played the part I imagine that one of those childhood career performance kids would have gotten it. You know the kind, with the stage mother in the background pushing, pushing, pushing. But she was fine, she held her own and did a great job. There was a little boy in the production and he was just fabulous. Elizabeth Futral had a little too much vibrato for my taste, the type of vibrato that takes over the notes, but she was amazing. The entire cast was amazing. And it was so moving. You have to read the book. The events the family endures are simply heartbreaking, but the hope and goodwill shines through. The composer did an excellent job of showing how, although all this tragic stuff is happening, they still have hope, they can still smile about things... and the ending... well... I know when I read the book the ending was a huge surprise for me, and got me wondering how often that happened, because it must have... and it was in the opera too. I was expecting it but that didn't stop me from bawling. I could write the details here but it would sound very weird ... but basically, Rosasharn, who was pregnant, gives birth to a stillborn baby. Later when they're escaping to higher ground she and Ma come across a young boy and his dying father. R's milk has come in but she has no baby to nurse. The man is starving and needs food. The book and the music alike convey the seriousness as Ma and Rosasharn stare into eachother's eyes and Rosasharn agrees to nurse this man to save his life. As a mother who nursed a child, and Anna, who is still nursing her youngest, this draws out these deep feelings of nurturing mixed with the oddness and the question, would I have done that? And while I know I would have nursed any baby that was hungry, I honestly don't know how I would have acted in the same horrible situation. But that's just one of the many tragic (loss of baby) and hopeful (giving sustenance to a starving person) juxtapositions in the story. They caught it wonderfully in the music.
I also cried when Noah, the oldest, in order to obey Ma and "help the family" drowns himself in the creek, meanwhile Ma is calling, calling, calling for him. And then when the baby died and they put it in flowing flood waters as a message to people downstream... and earlier, in another tragic/hopeful moment she sang that if it were a boy she would name it Moses... luckily Anna had brought a handkerchief and we were passing it back and forth to dry our eyes.
Intermission was insanely crowded. The same as when we first got there, people were milling about in every direction. Anna and I made our way toward the restrooms and actually got separated by the crowd. I ducked around the line for the mens' restroom to call Husband. While there I ran into someone I knew from several years ago - a chorus member back from when I supered in Romeo. It was so chaotic and crowded, all we could really do was shout hellos to each other before getting pushed apart by the crowd.
Afterward, it was raining lightly so we decided to walk to Penn Station. It's a 20 minute walk and we had 35 minutes until our train. Well, half way there it began to POUR, and I do mean POUR. We ended up dashing along 7th Ave, leaping over puddles, getting soaking wet and laughing like teenagers. We made the train with time to spare where we learned that the ink on the back of the program runs when it gets wet. Anna had this huge purse and had put my gray pumps in when I changed to my hiking shoes. The program left blobs of black all over the shoes, and forget about the handkerchief. The shoes I managed to wash with a damp clean corner of the hankie, and then after doing our own Rorschach tests on it, we tossed it into the trash. We were soaking wet and having a blast. I laughed so much and so hard yesterday (except during the performance, of course) that I think I woke up with a laughter hangover today. Is that even possible? We didn't drink anything but overpriced sparkling mineral water so what else could it be? Can't wait to do it all again!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Then I had an Opera Project rehearsal where I got to run through the song with the accompanist. She is so talented. I forgot to mention that last week, when we were trying to decide what type of intro she should play since the aria just starts with the singing, she quickly ran through the entire recit to see what came just before the aria. Like, out loud, softly and quickly, the way you zip through a song to get to the part you want to be at. Yesterday, she noticed that I was cutting off certain notes in the same spots, where they appear in the same pattern in different parts of the song, and she thought that perhaps I was doing it because I feel like I need to sneak a breath in. She said a lot of singers do it. She assured me that there is plenty of time for me to complete the note for the proper length and still get a good breath in there. She said that I was actually getting ahead of her when I was doing that! She kept assuring me that it was ok and that I had enough time. Full-time accompanist, part-time counselor of singers. The man who runs the group also mentioned the breath, using the breath, riding the breath. Basically everyone is telling me the same thing. Maybe I should start to pay more attention? I sang it a second time with more focus on controlling my breathing and I could hear the difference. I have it in me, I just have to trust myself. The parts of the aria that just flow out of me are when I relax, breathe and just trust my body to sing the right notes. Maybe I have to stop thinking so hard and just let go. Let it out. I'll try that, somehow.
Today I breathed a lot. All day, in fact. I bet you did too.
Tomorrow of course is GoW at Carnegie. I think I'm going to go with the multi-colored peasant skirt and brown top that I wore to Carmen and in Florida. It's uber-comfy, the skirt is so long that I can wear what someone I know calls "cheaters," meaning, SHHHHH knee-high hose instead of horrible all-the-way-up ones. Seriously. Who needs another layer of control top on top of the fancy overpriced flab-flattening underwear I'll be sporting. Hm. I can answer that question. I do. But I'm going to forgo that added "fashion" for the comfort of being able to breathe. And eat and drink! Another friend (who as far as I know is not going to Carnegie that night) might be meeting us at the restaurant for a drink before the performance. Should be fun!
Friday, March 19, 2010
The Opera Project opens its spring concert season on March 27 at 8 PM at St. Andrew’s Church, 50 York Street , Lambertville , NJ. Tickets are $18 and are available at the door. For information call 908-268-1264.
The concert of arias and duets will feature tenor Steven Snow and Deborah Maher doing “Ah, quegli occhi from Tosca. Also on the program will be selections from Cilea’s “L’Arelsiana,” Charpentier’s “Louise,” Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda,” Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” Puccini’s “Girl of the Golden West,” and Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado”. These and more will be offered by this versatile company of artists.
Profits from The Opera Project support Doctors Without Borders. The Opera Project feels fortunate that they in some small way have been able to help the earthquake victims in Haiti. The artists donate their performances to keep classical singing alive and accessible in our community on an ongoing basis not just once but throughout the year without traveling to New York or Philadelphia. The Opera Project is keeping magical evenings of music alive in a little church in a little river town somewhere in New Jersey.
Is it just me, or does "gauze ensemble" sound like something a mummy wears? I'm jus' sayin'...
So anyway Grapes should be interesting. I'm curious to see Nathan Gunn's daughter Madeline perform. She must be talented or she wouldn't get the part, right? Did she have to audition? Or is it like, if you're good enough and it's the only way we can get your Famous Dad to sign the contract, welcome to the cast. I imagine no one auditioned at all - they probably know who they want for each role and just ask. I say that like I know when in truth I have no idea. And in truth I don't care how she got the part. However she got it, I do believe she wouldn't have gotten it if she didn't have the talent to pull it off. And it must stink to have people question your ability like that. Oh well. That's what happens to kids of performers until they prove themselves. I'm sure she will.
As usual I'll write a full report! But until then there's tomorrow's voice lesson, tomorrow's run-through with the accompanist and all of Sunday to get through.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Did I not say yesterday that I'll do what my voice teacher says because I trust her advice, especially when she makes me laugh? I know she didn't read that blog entry but she may as well have. Yesterday morning during our vocal exercises she had me do that chew-on-the-tongue thing to help relax. Again, too hard to do without laughing. But I suppose that on some level laughing relaxes you too, so it was effective.
Cool - while looking for and failing to find a link about tongue chewing, I found this blog entry about creating and maintaining the legato line while singing.
Daylight savings time has me all mixed up. I think I'm up too late but I'm not sure. But just to be safe, I'm off to bed now.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
The woman who gave me those extra lessons last time told me I have improved a lot and it sounds really pretty. *blush* I still find it hard to believe I'm actually doing this! It's still so odd to me to suddenly sing. I mean, I get there, I give the music to the accompanist and then suddenly I have to sing. I know that's what's going to happen, but it's still a sort of shocking transition from just standing around to suddenly singing. Funny, when I stepped onto the stage I actually said out loud, "I love it up here." And that love or delight or whatever helped me relax and sing my best. We went over a few parts where the accompanist and I had to coordinate speed, etc, then I was done.
Then I drove home through a torrential downpour with flooded parts of the road, tree limbs and wires down and general mayhem on the roads. That didn't prevent me from stopping at the market to pick up a few chocolate items - dark chocolate-covered marzipan, one of my favorites, and some ice cream and whipped cream to serve for dessert tonight since I have a friend coming over for dinner. The marzipan I ate most of on the under-one mile drive home of course.
Friday, March 12, 2010
- I trust my teacher and will follow her advice, even when, or should I say, especially when, she makes me laugh.
- I trust I will not make a fool of myself tomorrow afternoon in the rehearsal.
- I trust the singers and the teachers there to offer moral and occasionally technical support.
- I trust myself not to come across as an insecure little girl, even if that's how I feel inside, especially after I hear other people sing.
I still have this feeling of disbelief, like, how can I possibly share a stage with all these talented singers? How did I trick them? I go back and forth between feeling confident and feeling like I'm insane.
Guess that's typical. I almost typed normal instead of typical, but really, what is normal?
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Not sure if it worked because every time I tried to do it I dissolved into laughter. But you all know I'll be frying in the car all week.
The other fun part of the lesson was us trying to fit two different versions of Nel cor piu non mi sento together, only they're written in different keys. I have one version from an iPhone app that's lower than the one in the book. However it has some nice ornamentation and we were trying to pick and choose which ornamentation to use. Then she was transcribing it to the other key and seeing what fit where, and writing the new notes on the music. And she said the song was easier than the other music I've been learning... so of course I had to go and find a way to complicate it. Further complications, which also explain some of my pronunciation and lyric mix-ups, is that every version of the song has slightly different words. Some have the same words but in a different order. So we're going to stick with the lyrics from the latest book because they're allegedly the most authentic. I just need to forget all the others... while at the same time I pull some of the ornamentation over. Without the words. Since they're slightly different. Arrrrghhh my brain is frying too!
Friday, March 5, 2010
And then I'm seeing him yet again in early April, with Banawoman, at the Met. Grand Tier Rear, that's us. I mean, that's where we'll be sitting. We are busy planning that event as well. One thing that's not in the plan is me getting sick. Not that I planned it last time, but you know what I mean. Not that I don't like a little backstage action, mind you, just... not at that price. And not really that type of backstage action. Wait a sec, that sounds wrong. Ha! What I mean by action is, I don't want to develop acupuncture track-marks, thankyouverymuch, plus I'd probably be banned from the Met forever or something if it happened twice in a season.
Did I mention next season yet? Did I mention Nathan in Cosi in the fall and Magic Flute in English at the holidays? And then there's Le Comte Ory in April 2011, with Juan Diego, Diana D and Joyce D???? How fast will those tickets sell out? I guess I know where I'll be at noon on August 15.
Voice lesson tomorrow. Last week I realized that duh, I can record my lessons directly onto my iPhone, and then listen whenever. I even have an adapter for my old car that plays only cassettes! So buh-bye cassettes of lessons and hello digital technology!