Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mars 300 Serenade!

Had another AMAZING 30 Seconds to Mars adventure!

Last week they celebrated the end of their 2 year world tour with a record-breaking show at an old opera house in NYC, the Hammerstein Ballroom. The moment tickets went on sale I got myself one of the “more expensive than opera” tickets to include early entry, a meet & greet with the band and a few bits and baubles of swag.

So rumor had it that they had sold about 200 of these early entry tickets.  I knew that there wouldn’t be space for 200 people on the barrier, so I got to the venue at about 1:30 pm. Did I mention it was pouring rain? It was pouring rain. And crowded with umbrellas. And while that may all sound miserable, it was actually ok. I mean, yeah, it was miserable to be standing out in the pouring rain, shivering. BUT it was great fun to be hanging out chatting with my friends and making new friends! And meeting people with whom I’ve only interacted with online. That was awesome. So anyway we are eventually let in, and then between dropping off our soaking wet stuff and so on, the line order from outside was completely lost. We lined up in a room that only vaguely resembled the order we were in outside. So when we went into the venue, the entire barrier was taken by the time I got up there. I ended up being 2nd from the barrier, which in theory is good. Here’s a picture of my view.

Here’s a video I took of the opening song.

However, once the concert started, the people on the barrier pushed back to hold their spots, while pretty much everyone else in the venue pushed forward to get closer. Like agitated molecules, the temperature rose very quickly. Now, I’m only 5 feet tall. I could see nothing except the elbows that were coming toward my face as my body was pushed simultaneously in several directions. I could barely hold the camera. I was terrified. I asked the woman in front of me to call the security guard over. He pulled me out at the end of the next song. He lifted me over the barrier like I was a feather. I went around the side and made my way to the  middle of the crowd, near the soundboard. Why the soundboard, you ask? Because during almost every 30 Seconds to Mars show, Jared does an acoustic set from there. Plus someone had tipped me off that he had done it from there the night before. So I was ready and waiting when he appeared. Here are the videos and pictures I took from there. I just love how you can hear everyone singing along.

Everyone in the back was just as into it and excited as the people up front, but it was much much SAFER back there. I had plenty of room to jump around and go nuts. I definitely had more fun back there than I would have if I had stayed up front. And the place wasn't that large... here's a pic I took from the back, of the stage:

And then you hear me, saying OHMYGOD over and over because they played this song:

So after the show we had the meet & greet. All 200 or so people jammed into this little curtained off area of a room. They had people line up all around the wall, then another row of people facing the wall people, with a path in between. We could have done a Virginia Reel dance. Then they had ANOTHER set of people facing each other, in the middle.

This time around I decided not to make bracelets for them. Instead, I would prepare a song. So I took a verse of Caro Nome (the melody that starts here) and changed the words, although the last part is sort of a real translation of the aria:

This is your 300th show
In support of This is War
The record keepers say it’s so
And you keep on playing more
Thirty Seconds to Mars
You will always have a part….. of my heart…
You will always have my heart.

The words sound hokey spoken but are fine when sung. I’ll eventually make of video of me singing it. So anyway I printed up two copies and glued them to a card. One the back of one I wrote, “Thank you for inspiring me to follow my dreams,” and the other was for them to autograph.

So Shannon got to me first. I showed him the card and told him I sing and that I … he cut me off. “Oh yeah I remember. You sang opera for me.” Uh… yeah! So I told him I have this short song, he said, sing it when we get the picture taken. Next, Jared came over. I said, “My gift for you is a song…” and he said, “Yeah, I remember, you sing opera.” ZOINKS went my brain, again. I showed him the card, which he tried to keep after he signed! I explained that Shannon has the original. Like Shannon, he said I should sing the song when we get the picture taken. A little bit later, here comes Tomo. Before I could say hello, he said, “HI OPERA SINGER!”  so inside I’m like HOLY xxxx THEY ALL REMEMBER ME and to him I said I have a song, etc. Sing it at the picture. Yep.

Eventually we lined up for the photos. Plenty of time for me to get nnneerrrvvvoouusss. The photo taking is really really quick, because they have so many to do. So you hand your stuff to one person who hands it to someone else behind the photog as you pose for the pic, then you collect your stuff from that other person and run out. Yeah anyway so I hand my stuff and they say “WAIT! Let’s hear the song!” So … I sang. I started way too low, to the point that I had to switch to chest voice for the bottom notes. And I was nervous at first, until one of my friends said SING LOUDER, which made me relax, because it made me smile. Meanwhile, Jared, Shannon and Tomo are looking at me with the most amazing expressions of wonder and delight. I looked from one to the next as I sang, right into their eyes. It was amazing. I don't think I'll ever forget how they were looking at me. Then when I was done everyone applauded and someone shouted “BRAVO!” Jared and Shannon put their arms out and Jared said in the sweetest voice, “Come ‘ere” so I trotted over to be squeezed for the photo. This photo. Where Jared is SMILING. Because I sang to him.

If you google “30 seconds to Mars meet & greet photo” you will see that he makes silly faces but he rarely smiles. He was all smiley and amazed while I was singing. I mean I could see it, they LOVED the words, I could see that it moved them. It.Was.Awesome.  Afterwards all these people were like, how did you have the nerve to sing for them? You’re so brave! And one of my friends said, “Of course they loved it! How many people serenade them?”  I hadn’t thought of it as a serenade but yeah I guess it was!

The next day I actually cried a little, walking around the streets of NYC with my friends. I couldn’t believe it… they inspire me so much, and have helped me get through some nasty experiences… and to be able to sing to them how I feel was just the most amazing experience.

That night I saw them play a small, acoustic show at a beautiful old church. There were probably more people at the meet & greet the night before than there were in the entire church.

When I stood up to leave, Shannon was on stage with the mic. I waved and he said, "Bye Opera Singer!"

Remember when I saw them in Feb and guessed that they'd remember me?

I was right.

Remember when I said I loved my life?

I still do.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Professional Advice

I've been bad, bad, bad about writing. I've thought of all sorts of things to write, but haven't gotten my act in gear to sign in and actually write. And I'm still not there yet. I'm here today to embed this video from the lovely Joyce DiDonato, about how she handles nerves when it's time to perform. I'll definitely be following her advice about handling the physiological reactions the next time I'm about to step out in front of people to sing... and that might be next week at the 30 Seconds to Mars meet and greet. More on that later. For now, look at this:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Duran Duran and Duran Duran

In another flashback to my youth, I saw Duran Duran twice over the past 10 days. Yes, Duran Duran. These two shows were my 5th & 6th time seeing them. I saw them 3 times in March of 1984, twice at Madison Square Garden and once at The Meadowlands in NJ, and once about 10 years ago. Way back at the 2nd MSG show in 1984, I had friends who had 4th row tickets. They went back and forth with the ticket stubs until about 10 of us were jammed into 4 seats in the 4th row. The moment the band came on we all surged forward over the seats and ended up in about the 2nd row. Why they even had seats there I have no idea… anyway… this time around I had seats off to the side, but very close. Close enough to make eye contact when Simon came to the side of the stage. But I must back up because I saw them in Philadelphia last week, before the recent MSG show.

I’d like to thank Google Maps for giving me very wacky directions that entailed weaving around inner Philadelphia in a zig-zaggy square… eventually I found my way to the parking garage adjacent to the theater.
Now, normally, like most people, I suffer through the opening act in anticipation of seeing the main group I’ve paid to see. However, I knew that the opening act, Neon Trees, had opened for 30 Seconds to Mars, and that many Mars fans liked them, so I made a point of checking them out. I was not disappointed! They were so much fun. The lead singer is a maniac – jumping and dancing all over the place, running into the audience, telling wacky stories, getting the audience to sing along. I even knew one of their songs! Here it is, I found it on Youtube, from that night:

I was jumping around, punching the air with my fistful of glowsticks. I probably looked like an idiot but I don’t care. Remember the Blondie show? Oh yeah. I can dance while surrounded by seated people, no problem! And does he sound classically trained? Maybe a little: http://twitter.com/#!/tylerinacoma/status/128222171322515457
In between acts, Duran Duran had a screen on stage where they were displaying tweets with the hashtag, #duranlive. So much fun so see my own tweets up there, saying hi to people I knew in other parts of the audience and so on. Shrieking like a girl. Etc. OH yeah. Look. http://twitter.com/#!/duranduran/statuses/126078204703277056

Finally, finally, Duran Duran came on! I’m happy to report that I love them now as much as I did back in the 80s. They were so good! And now they are much more relaxed and polished. They were so relaxed, obviously enjoying themselves, really connecting with the audience. They made fun of themselves constantly. Simon leBon is now in his 50s, how strange is that? As strange as me being in my 40s. Ok. Simon is just so charismatic. His voice – beautiful. So much better live than on the recordings. Their show was great. They had these giant head things up over the stage – you can see it in the videos I took, here and here:

Yeah. You can hear me singing along, in my fantasy job of backup singer with them.

The crowd was great. Everyone was pretty much my age. Everyone sang along. I love hearing the crowd sing at concerts – so cool. When they played Rio I thought people would riot with happiness. A Rio Riot!!!

They had a female backup singer, she was amazing and she also oozed charisma. Like I said. My fantasy job, to sing backup for Duran Duran. Sigh… I didn’t want to video too much – I just wanted to relax and enjoy. And my way of relaxing at a concert is go to insane. Jumping, dancing, fist pumping. Completely losing myself. In this case, I was mostly standing on the seat so I could see, with my knees pressed into the seat back in front of me. Yes, I came home from the concert with bruised knees.

Ok so then I saw them again this week at Madison Square Garden. Perspective: The Tower Theater in Philly holds about 3100 people, and I saw plenty of empty seats. MSG holds I think between 18,000 – 20,000 people. There were some empty seats so let’s say there were 15,000 people there. Compared to under 3,000. They did the same set yet it was a totally different show. They were definitely still relaxed and happy, but the energy – WOW. Seriously. You can feel it in the air when that many people are excited and when the band is excited. It’s a physical feeling. I met an old friend, someone with whom I went to see INXS, Adam Ant and Duran Duran back in the 80s. We had so much fun, and really great seats. Here’s my view:

And yes, there was a point where I thought, "OHMYGOD. Simon LeBon is RIGHT THERE." And my 16 year old self got very, very excited. Especially when he went onto that box thing you can see at the right side of the picture. Be still my teenaged heart! Our seats were in the section where the management and friends of the band get tickets. There were women in our section in ballgowns, seriously! Maybe they had somewhere to go afterwards? There were also people who looked vaguely familiar. When I left my row to visit the ladies room, there were two older men sitting near the aisle. Rather than make them stand up, I climbed up one row… We chatted about that a little…about still being able to climb over seats… and I swear, I knew these two guys. I don’t know how, I just did. Then in that next row, this guy asked me to take a picture of him and his daughter. I swear he looked so familiar. But as I’ve said before, I live under a rock. Unless I actually work with or went to school with these people, I’m pretty sure they were some sort of famous. Who were they? I don’t know. Who knows. Maybe I’m just old enough that I’ve met enough people, and now everyone looks like someone I already know.

There are tons of videos from that night up on Youtube. Again, I didn’t bother taking any because I didn’t want to worry about it. But you can see the happiness emanating off John Taylor – look!

And … my fantasy moment… happened to someone else of course… Simon jumped in the crowd and asked if there were any singers in the audience. He picked someone from the front row to help him sing The Reflex. Of course they were a little flat… drove me nuts…

PICK ME SIMON PICK ME!!! I CAN SING IT ON PITCH!!! Ah well. There go my chances of getting hired as a “backup” backup singer.

So. The people next to us. OHMYGOD. They were drinking. One woman was a little bit beyond tipsy. She was all over the place. On the floor with her feet on the barrier. On her friend’s lap, facing her friend. Leaning backwards over the railing. At one point I was holding her head to keep it off the floor. Yes, she was that drunk. Then… she lifted her shirt to flash the band. Was she wearing a bra? Of course not. Did they see? I doubt it. I saw. I didn’t necessarily want to see, but I had no choice. She was quite entertaining. I hope she didn’t wake up the next day with any regrets. Or a headache.

So they're playing again tomorrow night at the same place I saw Blondie. A tiny, tiny place. So...tempting... but... I can't. However, I am going to see Don Giovanni in HD tomorrow, and I'm bringing an Opera Virgin with me. Converting my Mars friends, one at a time.

Plenty to post about voice lessons and singing... next time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From Singer to Winger

Well, it was good while it lasted. The peeps in charge of the Opera Project have changed the focus of the group, to a more professional type of group, featuring people who have or are on their way to a career in opera. Makes sense - this way they can get more donations, more patrons, etc. I’ve known all along that I’m not in that league. The good news is, they’re creating a “wing” program for people like me – people with a halfway decent voice who want experience performing. They’re planning on holding 1 or 2 concerts a year. So eventually I will get to perform again… just not any time soon. It is sort of a kick in the gut when I get the press release emails about upcoming concerts … but I know it’s not a personal kick. To add a twist of irony to all this… Due to a miscommunication, I wasn’t informed that I wouldn’t be performing in the September concert, so I showed up for the rehearsal. Awkward… yeah. So anyway I got there at 2. A photographer from a local newspaper was there to take a picture to accompany the print version of this article. The people who actually were performing, including the accompanist, hadn’t arrived yet. The photographer had to leave, so I ended up singing while one of the founders/teachers sort of accompanied me. I say sort of, because I’m singing a different version of Nel Cor than the one in the Italian Aria book, but he knew the one from the book, so that’s the one he played. I plugged along singing the version I know while the photographer snapped away. Luckily you can’t hear in a photograph. So…I got my picture in the paper as a singer for the Opera Project…

...when actually I’ve been moved (let’s not say “lowered” ok?) to the Wing program. Story of my life. From Singer to Winger. My teacher told me of some other local, amateur performance groups in the area so I might check them out. The more confident I get, the more likely the chance that I’ll eventually maybe be back on the regular roster.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In A Different Universe

The Blondie concert was SO MUCH FUN!!!

Husband and I got to Atlantic City at about 6:30, plenty of time for drinks, dinner and for him to win $80 in the 5 cent slot machines!

Dinner was yum. Sangria! Martini! And look, oysters! And little cheeseburgers that look like muppets!

Not a frequent visitor to casinos, I was amazed and entertained by the variety of slot machines out there.

Even the bathroom was cool:

Finally it was time for the show. The venue was tiny!! The view from our seats:

On our way in I noticed the guy in front of us looked really slick. Like, short spiky hair, expensive suit. And he was wearing a laminated backstage pass. I still had that note from my voice teacher, and I was still wondering how to deliver it, so I filed Mr. Backstage Pass in the back(stage) of my mind.

Then, the concert started. WOWOWOW!!! Now here's where, if I ever wondered if I was from a different universe from other people, this concert may have proven it. I was the ONLY PERSON DANCING. Ok that's not entirely true. There were a couple of people right up front, and occasionally some people above me to my right... and also... Mr. Spikyhair BackstagePass, a little behind and to my left. This was BLONDIE, people!!!! Not a string quartet. I was on my feet the entire time, dancing and singing, jumping and fistpumping and having a blast. Every now and then I peeked around and saw the rest of the audience just... sitting there. Once the woman next to me stood up to dance. Someone behind us yelled, "Down in front!" and she sat. I turned around and yelled, "STAND UP AND DANCE! THIS IS A ROCK CONCERT, NOT AN OPERA!" The people right behind us were grumbling too, sort of under their breath but loud enough for me to hear, "I can't believe this. I didn't pay for this. I can't see." I very nicely URGED them to get up and dance. What was WRONG with everyone???? I wasn't going to just sit there like I was singing kumbaya around a campfire. Seriously. It wasn't until they played One Way or Another, about two-thirds of the way through, that people got to their feet.

Hey look!! It's Debbie Harry!!!

That's pretty much the only good photograph I got. However there are lots of fabulous photos here on the Artskooldamage blog.

And now... Here's my fangirl moment, because you know I had to have one. At one point, I don't remember what song, I could SWEAR she was copying my dance moves. I'd do something, then she would. Then I'd think, who did that first? Me or her? Then it'd happen again. So there. My fangirl moment. I danced with Debbie Harry, while everyone else (except for those few I mentioned) sat around me.

Here's a playlist of videos I took. I should post a warning - if you're prone to seasickness, don't watch. I was dancing the entire time. Also, they're not in order of performance. If the blogger format cuts off the YouTube window, you can find the playlist here.

After it ended, I realized I had one last chance to get my voice teacher's note backstage. You guessed it: Mr. Backstagepass man. I timed getting to the stairs when he did, and said, "I think you and I were the only ones dancing for this entire show." We chatted about that, and I asked if that was a backstage pass. I pulled out the note and explained to him that I study voice with the same woman Debbie studied with in the 70s, and this was a note from my teacher to Debbie, could he possibly deliver it? Well. He thought it was awesome, and he said he'd love to. I introduced myself, then he told me his first name, then repeated his full name in a sort of upspeak, as if to say, "You've probably heard of me?" Besides the fact that it was too loud to really hear, we all know I basically live under a rock. So even if I had heard his name, I doubt I'd have heard of him. Maybe he was a fashion designer, or a photographer? Doesn't matter. He was super sweet and took the note back for me. He even apologized that he couldn't take me backstage with him. How sweet is that? I'm really so happy to be able to tell my voice teacher that her note was delivered.

As we left the theater lobby, two tall, glamorous women approached me to thank me for dancing! They said they loved my energy, that it was contagious and inspiring. Then 2 minutes later another pair of young women came over to say that my enthusiasm inspired them to dance. So you all can imagine, I was dancing like a dancing fool. I loved the music, I sang along. They did old stuff, they did new stuff, they did... The Beastie Boys!! Fight for your Right to PAAARRRTAAAYYY! I think everyone was already standing up by then. I mean, can you IMAGINE sitting through that?

So the person sitting in front me recorded almost the entire concert on her iPhone, in between texting and posting to Facebook. Her videos are no doubt smooth and steady. And I bet you can hear me singing in all of them. Heh heh.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blondie Tomorrow!

I’m sitting here giggling with excitement because I’m going to see Blondie tomorrow. It never really occurred to me to post about it, until Husband asked if the only reason I’m going to see them is because my voice teacher was Debbie Harry’s voice teacher way back in the day. Of course not! He has no idea how influential Blondie has been on my singing, and I actually never really thought about it much, but looking back, I realized I learned a lot from listening and singing along. And sing along I did – I learned all the words to every Blondie song. This was back when I was a certified “alto” and didn’t believe I could hit the high notes, so some of the songs were especially challenging for me. Picture This was the most challenging of all for me. The chorus went on with no room for taking a breath, and it was at the cusp of how high I could sing below that flip in my voice. Now, of course, it’s a piece of cake. But then… I practiced that for hours and hours, trying to have enough breath to finish the line. What else? Sunday Girl. Also, just at that point of my (then) highest notes. Then other songs I just had so much fun with. Fade Away and Radiate. All sort of dreamy verging on dramatic. Hanging on the Telephone. Hell yeah. Rip Her to Shreds – the ultimate mean girl song!! In the Flesh. Swaying back and forth and flirting with myself in the mirror, then getting pouty. Call Me – loved the end “call me for your lover’s lover’s alibi.” I’d get mad when it was on the radio and they cut the ending before that line. And “roll me in designer sheets,” what a great line!!! Atomic. “Toniiiiiight…” “Oh… your hair is beautiful…. Ahhhhhh tonight!” And then there was a video for Dreaming that used to come on USA’s “Night Flight” and maybe the Kenny Everette Video Show (that link isn't for that video - I can't seem to find it on Youtube). I’d jump and sing along. Rapture. The first rap song? Maybe! Men from Mars? Sounds good to me. Now to give you a better picture of what this was like, I must add that I did most of this singing in front of my bedroom mirror, using either a baton or a hairbrush as my microphone. I’d pretend that I was Debbie Harry. And yes I did this with Queen songs too, where I loved that I could choose basically any line in the harmony to sing along with. But I never pretended to be Freddy Mercury like I pretended to be Debbie Harry. And speaking of baton twirling, two girls in our baton twirling group had this awesome duet set to Heart of Glass. What else? College - singing The Tide is High at a party, somewhere... I don't really remember...but I was hanging out with this guy who knew how to play it on guitar, so I sang it. Haha I wonder what my parents thought of me singing all these lyrics at age 12.
So to answer husband’s question, while I am thrilled at the idea that I was doing all that singing in the mirror while Debbie Harry was studying voice with the woman who now teaches me… hell YEAH I’d be going anyway.
Of course my voice teacher knows I’m going, and she gave me a note and a gift of handmade notecards to pass along to Debbie. How? I have no idea. I’ve emailed Chris Stein on facebook, commented on a picture on his public fan page and tweeted both him and BlondieOfficial… but I don’t really expect him to see it or reply. But who knows. Will tomorrow be another of my crazy rock/opera adventures? Either way, I’ll post about it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Channeling Eliza Bennett

"My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me..."

So says Elizabeth Bennett, in Jane Austen's famous book Pride and Prejudice. And so I must have been channeling Elizabeth Bennett yesterday at my voice lesson.

Let me clarify. I was in no way and have never ever felt intimidated by or because of a voice lesson. However, as usual, my own gremliny brain was playing tricks on me.

The Opera Project's next concert is at the end of September. Last week the director sent the email out asking if we're interested, what we'd like to sing, and when and where the rehearsals are. I replied immediately because of course I am always interested. Then a few days later the official press release came out about the event, and my name wasn't listed. Now, this has happened before, and a text message and email straightened out the mix-up. So I inquired if I was on the roster since my name wasn't listed, and I was told that they didn't know yet. So of course those gremlins took the opportunity to slip into the crack that opened in my confidence. Remember them?

Then at my voice lesson I learned that they were thinking of having the less experienced singers perform in daytime performances until they felt confident enough to sing alongside some of the really experienced, wildly-talented singers that always steal the show in the evening performances... that it can be intimidating to have to sing before/after some of them. The singers themselves are the sweetest, most loving and giving people ever - they do not contribute personally in any way, shape or form to any of this intimidation. It's all internal. I've posted about this only about a thousand times before... So anyway I also learned that they haven't totally decided who'll be singing at the upcoming concert, and that it's at a new venue so they want to impress the people so they'll invite us back. Makes sense to me. So I got to thinking, I can't go and sabotage myself by letting those "I'm not good enough" gremlins get back in my head. So I let loose and let go. After each song my teacher said that it was the best she'd ever heard me sing, and maybe a little adversity was what I needed to get it all out. Y'see, for a lot of my life I have been not quite good enough. I've gotten small parts in the high school plays, but never a lead. I auditioned for the special chorus, was made an alternate but ended up performing with them at all but 1 performance. I auditioned for the town's competitive baton twirling team in the 7th grade, was made an alternate and put onto a "junior" squad for a year. It's the story of my performing life. Almost good enough, but not quite. And each episode left me with that feeling of, "I know I can do better!" So when I heard about this potential afternoon "squad" my courage rose and I showed my teacher what I can really do. So here's hoping that I can show the director the same thing at the rehearsal, which in a way is I guess like another audition. However, I refuse to think of it as an audition because that imbues it with pressure that shouldn't exist. I'm already in the group. It's time for me to show them what I can really do. I will, of course, report back.

Thrifty, Nifty, Beethoven's Wig

Y'all know how much we love Beethoven's Wig around here. A lot. So of course we're excited to report that they're coming out with a new CD next month! Finally!!! Perhaps Alex and I will pull our acting, directing and editing skills out of the closet for a few new videos. Meanwhile, until then, go and enter this contest at Thrifty Nifty Mommy, to win your own brand-spanking-new copy of the CD.

Friday, August 5, 2011

If I Can Trill It, It Will Come

I’ve been bad bad bad about posting here. But I’m back!!! My voice lessons have been going swimmingly. We started Voi che sapete a few weeks ago. It was sort of a relief to learn a song that I already know the melody of. Also we’ve been working on different kinds of exercises. My teacher had me lip trilling up pretty high... then she pointed out that if I can trill it, I can sing it. And wouldn’t ya know, that knocked down some sort of psychological block - maybe one of those pesky gremlins- and there I was, ringing out these gorgeous high notes. Like, higher than I ever imagined I’d be able to hit. All this music, this voice, has been inside me all this time, and finally with the help of my teacher I am finding it and letting it out. She keeps giving me pep talks about what a gorgeous instrument I have, and how great I sound and all that. She tells me enough, I’m almost starting to believe her. Almost.

If I can figure out how to chop out a piece of the recording, I’ll post a section of the lesson where I’m singing these crazy notes. Meanwhile, I'll be singing along to all these high arias I used to think were out of my reach. Queen of the Night? Never say never!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yeah, I know

Ahaha I have to laugh at the title of this post because a few years ago I wrote one called, "um... I don't know." My post today may have an opposite title, however it is not opposite, or even related to, the "I don't know" post.

That said... What is it I DO know?

Well, I've said several times that I love the internet, for how it connects people who otherwise would never have the opportunity to interact. And a few days ago, I received a really nice message on YouTube from some singer/teacher in France... I'll paste the email in here:

Just a suggestion... from another singer

Hello, Luindriel. You are musical. Your voice has real potential, but you're missing the level of relaxation & breath control that permits the tone to float. It's clear you want to sing, and you can teach yourself to sing in a way that will bring you great beauty, by going out to www.archive.org, and doing a search, texts only, on 'voice culture' and you can also get things from 'singing', but texts only. You will find a host of books written more than 100 years ago that will show you how to sing the way you obviously want to. At the moment, your vowels are poorly formed, but that's normal if no one has shown you how to do them so that they ring without pushing. Take your future into your own hands. I teach in France or I would offer to help in person. What you want is a beautiful free easy sound, and you can get it more quickly by relaxing your jaw, your tongue, your face even. That's just a smidgen of the kinds of great solutions you can find. I used these books to reset my own technique recently, and they work, as now I am singing better than ever. A good book to begin with is How to Breathe, Speak and Sing, which gets into the old Italian school, the secret of great singing. There's also a new book out by Denes Striny called 'Head First, the Language of the Head Voice' that talks about the same things but in simpler terms. Just skip through the secions on anatomy if you don't like them - they're not crucial. I guarantee you results, and it's free (Striny's book isn't, of course), and all the old books on singing can be downloaded. Great summer reading for a singer. Good luck, and I hope you keep singing.
Robin Hendrix, Perpignan, France

I replied, thanking her for taking the time to write and recommend things, and gave her a brief account of my singing history and background.

Her email really pointed out to me things I already knew but needed to hear - especially the very 2nd line - that I’m missing the level of relaxation and breath control that permits the tone to float. That’s exactly what I’ve been working on! A few weeks ago my teacher pointed out that I seem to always have fun... except when I’m on stage... So I’ll probably peek at some of the books she recommends. But the reason I’m sharing this is, how nice is it that some random person came across my videos and took the time to compose such a nice message? A change from some of the comments I’ve gotten on the videos, my favorite being, “stop sing!!!!!!!!!!!! you destroyed this beautiful peace!” on If Music Be the Food of Love. That may be, but please, if you're going to criticize, at least offer some suggestions for improvement?

What also stood out to me in the message, "Take your future into your own hands." Yes! I agree!! I have always believed that. It's good to hear it from someone else.

So I have a voice lesson today. I’ll have to remember to tell my teacher that I’m going to see Blondie in September!! Debbie Harry was her student back in the early 80s, back when I was singing along to Blondie into my hairbrush microphone in front of my bedroom mirror at the time. Yeah, that makes me giggle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Paying Gig!

Whew. Finally I'm not totally embarrassed by a performance. I say not TOTALLY because of course there's always something that makes me cringe. Like in this past performance, finally, finally, I didn't crack and I kept my voice on top of the air, for the most part. But then…why was I channeling Stevie Wonder? I mean, he's blind…he doesn't know that people don't usually waggle back and forth when they sing. I have no excuse. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

There was no rehearsal with the accompanist before this concert, and I was singing something that we hadn't practiced before, so I actually took a photo of the music and emailed it to the accompanist. Then I went up an hour and a half early to run through it with him before the show.

I wore the same cocktail dress and hot pink feather hairband that I wore to the last concert:

But I waited until I got to the venue to pull on the restrictive, flesh-squashing underwear. Wouldn't you?

Before the concert began, one of the guys gave me a pep talk. He said he wanted to work on me with my self-esteem - that I'm just as good as everyone else in the group and to just get out there and have fun. He kept telling me how far I've come in just a year and how gutsy that is. It doesn't FEEL gutsy. It just is what it is. But he was right, as I watched the other performers that night I realized that I was on par with them.

Before I sang I invoked the presence of all my dead, opera-loving relatives - my grandfather, an aunt and an uncle. I was focusing on my aunt mostly, but I swear I felt like my grandfather bumped into my right side. It sounds crazy. Probably just wishful thinking. I mean, I was thinking actively about them, and then it felt like he was there, to my left. I don't have that feeling now. I'm trying to feel it as I type this. It's not there. So who knows. I'm the biggest skeptic there is so I don't even believe myself.

So here we go, Sento nel Core, by Donaudy:

So my next goal is to work on STANDING STILL!!!

After we all sang, the owner of the winery gave us each two bottles of wine! My first paid gig. Paid in wine... that works for me.

Then I got in the car, pulled off the flesh-compressing underwear and drove home.

Now I have the whole summer to build up a little rep... maybe I'll be able to sing TWO pieces at a concert next season.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Update No. 2: 30 Seconds to Mars: NEON NIGHT

Next report: The 30 Seconds to Mars concert in Camden. Which actually took place a few days before the Rigoletto Adventure, but oh well, I'm posting about it after.

Not going to go on and on about how AWESOME it was. Just a few facts, a few photos and a video to give you an idea of my view of the stage.

Technically these are views of us from the stage, from the pit between the stage and the barrier:

I'm the one in the tiara... Yeah. It was part of the birthday gift from my friends. That, and the wand, the pink hair thing that I've worn twice to sing, and a feather boa that you can't see in this pic. It all matched great with the neon theme of the evening. And I left feathers everywhere.

Here was my view of the stage:

Neon theme... lots of pink in the crowd that night..

And here's one of the videos I took. Watch through to the end, promise? You'll see the feather boa in action. Among other things. Let's just say, be thankful this isn't a scratch-n-sniff screen.

Here is the official Meet & Greet photo. As you can see, Jared LOVED the boa. Who wouldn't?

And I know you're all wondering, did they remember me as the one who sang opera at a meet & greet a few months before? Shannon got to me first, again. I asked if he remembered that I sang opera for him a few months before... His reply, "Oh, thank you very much." Uh yeah obviously you didn't hear what I said... I was laughing because he was just clueless. Tomo, I forgot to ask. Then Jared came by. We were laughing and I said I was molting. It's true. Feathers were everywhere. Then one of my friends reminded him SHE'S THE ONE WHO SANG OPERA IN CONNECTICUT DO YOU REMEMBER??? He claimed to remember... said they had an opera singer on stage with them at a show in London once... blah blah blah... Well. Maybe they remember, maybe not. I have a feeling he always says he remembers when people ask him if he does. Anyway, I don't care if they remember. I remember and that's what counts.

Finally, before you go, click here to see the official band photo of the audience, taken from the stage. Click on the picture to enlarge it. Then look for the pink feather boa in the front row. Oh yeah.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Catchy-Uppy Part Whatever: Rigoletto in May

There are so many things to catch up on. Here we go with Part 1, Rigoletto.
Remember how I speculated (poorly) by getting extra tickets to Comte D'ory, and ended up trading last minute for Rigoletto? Well I went with a friend to see it at the beginning of May. Yeah, like 6 weeks ago.

Here I am on the train in my favorite sneakers:

I was in the very first train car, in the very first row of seats behind the little room where the conductor and driver live. And that was good, because that car lost power, which meant it lost air-conditioning. It wasn't too hot, but it did get warm. But because of the power thing, the workers kept going in and out of the little room up in front. THAT room had plenty of air-conditioning and it kept blowing out onto me. The tunnel from NJ to NY was a little dark, but there were little emergency lights so we weren't plunged into total darkness.

It was extra fun with this friend, not only because she's a lot of fun, but also because, although she'd been to many plays and shows both on and off Broadway, this was her first opera.

We had great seats in the orchestra - didn't even need the binocs.

It was, of course, really really good. My newbie friend said she could listen to the soprano "all day" and also that she'd like to come see another!

Intermission on the balcony:

So I'm already planning on a group outing for next year. I'm not doing season tickets again this year, so I'll be stuck calling and/or going online in August with all the other peons when tickets go on sale. Of course I absolutely have to see L'Elisir d'Amore so I'm thinking that might be The One.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Suck it Up

You know how sometimes you're trying to learn something and you're just not getting it… then one day someone describes it in a different way, or uses a different word, and suddenly it all makes sense? That's what happened when I switched voice teachers a year ago… my current teacher had a different way of describing what I needed to do and suddenly it just clicked. I made a huge leap in my singing ability based on that… and while I've slowly continued to improve and refine my singing, I don't feel like I've made any huge leaps since then.

Then at my last lesson, we were doing vocal warm-ups at some lower notes and she said, "Think of sucking your voice up." I had been thinking along the lines of throwing it out between my eyes, focusing over my nose, or up and over inside my mouth and face. When she said to suck it up, I thought of trying to suck it into my skull. Of using my brain to pull it up there. That one word somehow made something click, and I was suddenly able to keep my voice up on top of the air at a note that I had struggled with before.

So off I go now, to suck it up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gremlins! Buh-Bye

I read the following post out loud to my teacher, before publishing it here:

Gremlins. Ah those sneaky little things. They get in and sabotage things. Only, they are ... me.

I sang in a recital on Saturday. And as usual, I did not perform as well as I wanted. Why? I kept asking myself. What was different on that day? And slowly I came to realize that I had sabotaged myself. It started with my general feeling of, “Everyone else is so good... why do they let me sing here.” The little gremlin on my shoulder poked me in the side of the neck and taunted in a deep gravelly voice, “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!”

Then the rehearsal, where I sang Ombra mai fu, and the call the next day. “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” taunted the gremlin. And not being listed on the program in the first place. “SEE!” croaked the goblin. “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” My rational side whispered, “But they do let me sing. I’m still singing. I AM good enough.” “NO YOU’RE NOT!” snapped the gremlin as he poked me in the neck.

During the week I saw my vocal coach. Corrected some rhythmic and phonetic problems. I sounded pretty good. I recorded it and practiced with it.

Then, the day of the recital. Packed house full of “important” people, ie, potential donors. One singer after another gets up and knocks ‘em dead with a fabulous performance. Then that damn gremlin showed up. “WHO ARE YOU KIDDING? YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” poke poke poke. As I waited for my turn, I kept telling myself that that shaky feeling wasn’t fear, it was adrenaline. Well. That damn gremlin managed to knock down my self-esteem and I walked out onto stage nervous. “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH! NOT GOOD ENOUGH! YOU’RE GOING TO CRACK! YOU’LL SEE!” I did my best at the time, but it definitely wasn’t my best. It was acceptable. And I didn’t crack because I safely went under the “flip” for the low notes, rather than trying to keep the air on top. I smiled and all, but I was miserable. Then afterwards, the comments from people... oy vey. How we choose to interpret things.

“You sounded a little nervous when you started... but you got better...”

“You’ve come a long way. And you LOOKED adorable.”

And my favorite, the condescending & sympathetic, “Was this your first time singing with the Opera Project?”

So I have a new goal. That pokey gremlin has been warned: Gremlins who poke will lose their fingers.
(thanks to a twitter friend for that gem!) That gremlin has no role in my life. I have sent him floating off in a helium balloon. I know what I can do and how to do it.

I also have been able to look at this not as “yet another humiliation because YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH,” into, you’re ok, you can do better, every performance is a learning experience. I did watch the video and realize I wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was an acceptable performance. But I don’t want to deliver acceptable. I want to deliver, spectacular. I’m hoping to be able to sing Ombra mai fu at the next recital. No more of this “You’re not good enough,” no more poking. I’m going to get out there and show ‘em what I can do. Because you know what? I AM GOOD ENOUGH!!!


My teacher assured me that yes, I am indeed good enough. She thinks I have the potential to be really really great. I can produce some really beautiful sounds when warming up with scales and so on. All I need to do is consistently apply that to singing arias. I just have to practice staying on top of the air at all times. She also talked about comparing myself to others - which as even I know, is a no-no. I mean, I know how I'd respond to someone who read that gremlin essay to me.

So the next recital is June 11. She doesn't think I'll be ready for Ombra mai fu so we'll figure out what else I can sing. I'm sure we'll come up with something.

So anyway, this is what I wore for the recital:

And this is how I dressed when I got home that evening, to comfort myself in my gremlin-induced pity-party:

And yes, they are footie pajamas and the skulls do glow in the dark. Thank you, Target boys' department.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Just the Facts, Ma'am

The Opera Project has a concert on Saturday, May 7 at 2, to celebrate some important birthdays in the company. Last week I noticed on the website that my name wasn't listed as one of the singers, although my teacher and I had discussed me singing there and I was preparing Ombra mai fu. So my first thought was, I guess they don't want me singing there after all. Then I gave myself a mental slap and thought, They may not know that you're interested. Because even though my teacher is one of the founders and all that, it's someone else who sets the programs for the concerts. So I sent him a text asking if there was room for me in the program because I'd like to sing, and he said yes. Like, pretty much immediately. Which was nice. I mean, if he didn't want me singing he could have said that there was no room, right? Of course the rehearsal was the same day as the 30 Seconds to Mars concert in Camden, which made me really nervous about the timing since I was getting picked up at my house at 2, and the rehearsal started at 1 about 30 minutes north of where I live. I did end up getting to sing first, and was done pretty quickly, but I didn't do as well as I hoped. And I know it's just a rehearsal, but it's daunting… I was actually shaking. Because the truth is I'm still intimidated by the talent of all the other singers, and I still marvel at how very fortunate I am that I sing with this group. And I was a little embarrassed singing because they are all so good. I know it's silly, and I know that they wouldn't let me sing with the group at all if I wasn't good enough, but that doesn't stop that little nagging voice that tells me I'm not good enough. So anyway I got home in time and the concert was great (another post for that!) but then the next day I got a voicemail message… and before I write about that I must say they are the nicest people ever, and that no matter how this may come across in print here on the blog, this was relayed to me in the nicest, gentlest and most friendly way. They said that they think I'm not quite ready to sing Ombra mai fu, that it's a bit too sophisticated for me. But I can sing Se tu m'ami again, and then maybe think about Ombra mai fu for the following concert on June 11. So of course THAT got me wondering just how bad I really sounded at that rehearsal...although they did still suggest that I sing... Also there's a birthday party after Saturday's concert, and I can sing it there. Truthfully, I'm not upset about not being able to sing Ombra mai fu at the concert. I'm still thrilled that I have the opportunity to sing again, and I'll get more practice doing the same song in front of an audience and so on. But the embarrassment… oy. I'm embarrassed that those ten people sat there in that little church chapel listening to me sing… and then decided that no, I shouldn't sing that song. I mean it's a GOOD thing. Better to be embarrassed there, in a safe place, than in front of a paying audience. But still… I don't even want to tell anyone about this. Even though it's not such a big deal. It's taking up a large amount of space in my head right now, space that should be filled with happy thoughts, not embarrassed thoughts. I'm hoping that by blogging it, it'll leave and I'll be able to move back to the happy high I was experiencing after the 30 Seconds to Mars concert… which I'll post about shortly.

So, to sum up: For a while I was feeling kind of dejected and embarrassed, but I'm back to grateful. I am so grateful for this opportunity to sing. At what point will I ever feel like I fit in?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rainy Day Crack

My previous voice teacher told me that no matter how much you practice and prepare, if something goes "wrong" in a performance it's never the thing you expect it to be. That info came to mind the other day after performing "Se tu m'ami" at the Opera Project concert this past weekend.

I'm not usually a pessimistic type of person, but looking back at the evening…

  • It was pouring rain. POURING.
  • When I got in the car I noticed a bunch of CDs had slipped through the passenger seat cushions to the floor below Alex's seat, where they appear to had been stepped on. I scooped them up and put them in a little tote bag I found laying there.
  • When I got to the green room (really a preschool classroom in a building adjacent to the church where the performances take place) there was NO ONE THERE. In reality that's a good thing, because I did some warm-ups, tried to tame my hair, etc. But I was a little concerned… WHERE THE HELL WAS EVERYONE? DID I HAVE THE WRONG DAY? Turns out that because of the rain, everyone else went straight to the church.
  • Because of the rain, there were more singers than audience members. We sat in the audience when we weren't singing, to make it look fuller.
  • Before I performed I went into the "backstage" office to change into my shoes. Things are piled up there, hoarding-style. I knocked into a precariously balanced tray and sent a box of stationery tumbling out and all over the place.
  • My shoes felt strange… because I had put them on the wrong feet. Corrected that immediately.
  • My panty hose kept rolling down every time I stood up. No one could see but I could feel it.
  • I realized I never had agreed on a signal with the accompanist to begin. He started as soon as I got on stage. I was hoping for a moment to take a deep breath and center myself. Did so during the musical introduction.
  • I didn't sing it as well as I know I can. I lost the air pressure, gulped on a word and then actually had a huge crack near the end.
  • I bowed and smiled but felt like crying. I disappointed myself and felt like I let my teacher down, although she didn't feel that way at all.
  • When I opened the passenger side car door to put my bag in, the little tote bag of CDs fell out and most of the CDs slid under the car. Did I mention it was pitch black and soaking wet out?

Apparently everyone else thought I did great. I guess I do hear the mistakes and the potential for improvement more than anyone else does.

Judge for yourself:

I'm not trying to be an overly-dramatic drama-llama here. It's just that, I know the potential sound I can produce, so I'm disappointed when I don't. Consistency, that's what I want.

On the plus side, during the performance of one of the singers after me, the pianist was missing a page of the music, and it took them a few tries to figure out just what the heck was going on. Plus he sang beautifully, and there was a huge thunderclap during a dramatic pause. So it's all good. My crack? Forgotten. By all but me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Comte Ory in Multiples of Three

Saturday was packed with opera! I had a rehearsal for an upcoming Opera Project recital at 3. We got there promptly at 3:00 and I'm proud to say I think I sang pretty well! I did the song twice because my teacher arrived halfway through the first time. Then we all chatted briefly with the director. I told him that we were on our way into NYC to see Le Comte Ory, and who was in it. Well. He told me that the O.P. is planning on doing some sort of benefit next year for some sort of vocal award (can't remember the particulars of any of it) and happens to be an award that both Juan Diego Florez and Joyce DiDonato have won. And there's a slight slight infinitesimal chance that they would actually be at the event. I mean, let's be realistic. It's highly unlikely. Highly. But just the idea that there's even the slightest, less-than-1% chance that they could be there… OH.MY.GOD. Just the idea is leaving me floating in my happy place. And then off Husband and I went to see them in NYC.

We drove in and got there an entire hour before our restaurant reservation. We wandered around a little and then ducked into Bar Boulod for drinks.

The pink drink is some fabulous mixture of blood orange and absinthe. The other is kumquat and I don't recall what kind of alcohol. They were both yum.

Then we went to Rosa Mexicana where I had a mango laden drink and Husband had an uber-fancy margarita. Then he had a pear something with cinnamon simple syrup that I drank most of.

He ended with a glass of "sipping" tequila and I had a coffee with Kahlua, tres leches and Kahlua mousse. And that's just the drinks. The food was YUM. We ended up with their famous guac for two, then we shared a bunch of appetizers as our meal. Everything was delicious, PLUS we had room for dessert: The most scrumptious flan ever, with a scoop of absolutely delectable chocolate mole sorbet that was just TO DIE FOR.

We stumbled across the street to the Met where I bought myself a wind-up Nunzilla that spits fire!!! Look! I also got a Magic Flute flipbook, which Alex at first rejected but then later looked through and now loves.

We got to our seats with plenty of time to hit the restroom.

View from the seats:

And now, the opera itself.

Very loosely, the story line is, the men have gone off to fight in the Crusades. Their wives have vowed to live as widows until they return. The countess isn't married but her brother is one of the crusaders so she decides to live as a widow too. So they're all (allegedly) chaste and in mourning. The Count Ory, who happens to be in love with the countess, but apparently not THAT much, sees this opportunity to help "console" all these lonely women so he runs off with his assistant and comes to the village disguised as an old wise hermit, complete with long hair and a long beard. His assistant totes him as this mystical guy who can grant them blessings, etc. So he comes in and all the women are fawning all over him. Everyone lines up to ask him for blessings. He is all, come back to my hovel with me and I'll comfort and bless you all. Then along comes Isolier, his page. This is a trouser role played by Joyce DiDonato (who tweeted me back during intermission when I tweeted her a photo of my view of the stage!) So of course the hermit/count recognizes the page, but the page doesn't recognize his boss. He too is in love with the countess. The countess has asked for an audience with the hermit because she's so depressed. Isolier suggests that the hermit counsel the countess to fall in love with Isolier to help lift her depression. Isolier also tells the hermit of his idea to sneak into the castle dressed as a nun. So of course the count is all pissed off that Isolier is his rival, and of course he steals his idea. The countess comes, he counsels her, she falls in love with Isolier, there's all this confusion typical of Rossini and then the hermit removes his hair, beard and raggedy shift to reveal that he's actually the count. Everyone is royally pissed off, they chase each other around in circles, etc. End of Act 1.

Zipped out to the balcony for some fresh air:

Act 2 takes place in the Countess' castle. It begins with a terrible thunderstorm, complete with pyrotechnics on stage - they used some sort of arc-creating device like a welding tool to create the lightning, it was really cool. So all the ladies in the castle are freaked by the storm, then there's a knock on the door - it's a bunch of nuns who claim they have been harassed by the count. Except… it IS the count and his knights. We have an absolutely ridiculous scene where the count, dressed as a nun, thanks the countess for saving them… and gets very, very friendly. The countess is like, what the… why is this nun behaving this way… meanwhile… the count's assistant, dressed as a nun, has broken into the wine cellar and brought the nun-knights plenty of bottles. And I have to say that nothing pleased me more than to see Juan Diego Florez dressed in a nun's habit, spinning happily in the middle of the stage, habit flying out. The nuns-knights proceed to get trashed. Every time a woman from the castle came by they pretended to pray, but it was more and more difficult for them the more they had to drink. They sang, they danced, they formed a kick line. It was hilarious.

Then by far the best scene… Isolier gains entrance to the castle. When he learns that a group of nuns is there, he realizes that the count has stolen his idea and it's actually all men. Oh the horror, oh the scandal!! Isolier pledges to protect the Countess. They figure the count will try to sneak into her bed that night so Isolier stays with her. And of course he does, pretending to be the nun and claiming to be scared and unable to sleep. What ensues is confusing and hilarious. He gets into bed with them and somehow (perhaps because he's drunk??) doesn't realize that Isolier is there. So the three of them are pretty much all over each other. Isolier tells the countess (who at this point knows it's the count and not a nun) that if it makes the count happy, why not let him caress her? Yowza baby! It was quite interesting to watch, and watching through binocs gave it an added touch of voyeurism that opera is known for. They were seriously all over each other. Hands on legs, diving under her dress, snarfling each other and so on. It was this bizarre sensual mixture of, are we watching a woman with two guys (Countess, Page and Count) or a guy with two women (Juan Diego, Joyce and Diana)? At the end the husbands return and the count I guess gives up.

The singing was, of course, spectacular. At some points Juan Diego was a bit hard to hear. Diana Damrau… what a treat to hear her sing. Those high notes…WOW!! She seemed to have a little trouble with a few of them but for the most part she was spot on. And Joyce DiDonato…adorable. ADORABLE!

After intermission the people next to us didn't return to their seats so we got to spread out a little. Did they leave or simply move to other empty seats? Who knows…

Here are some videos the Met posted on their YouTube page, taken at the dress rehearsal... including the Menage a trois from act 2. As usual, if the blogger format cuts the video edge, click through to YouTube to see it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Every time I walk into Lincoln Center and see the arches of the Metropolitan Opera House I want to jump around and giggle. Like this. Just the sight of the fountain and those arches fills my stomach with happy butterfly flips.

So even though I wasn’t attending an opera Monday evening, I still got those tummy flips as I entered Lincoln Center to attend a performance of Nathan Gunn and Kelli O’Hara with the NY Philharmonic. The theme: Classic Broadway.

But of course let’s back up a moment. For when does a blog entry of mine ever start with a review of the performance? No no no. We must discuss the entire adventure.

The adventure began the day before the performance. I trekked into NYC to meet Ann for our annual Gunn performance outing. We hopped in a cab downtown to a FABULOUS Greek restaurant called Snack. It was TINY. We got the last available table (there are 5 total) and feasted on grape leaves, skordalia, white anchovies and other goodies:

Then we walked around the village a little (that’s Greenwich Village, for all you out-of-towners) and wandered into the few boutiques that were still open at 8:30 on a Sunday night. I got a FABULOUS selection of rhinestony items, including this: for a Grant Total of $10.

Breakfast in the hotel was on the 33rd (I think) floor, which boasted a lovely view of buses exiting the Lincoln Tunnel:

The next day we wandered around NYC, did some shopping, I found a FABULOUS bargain on a FABULOUS raincoat that actually fits because it’s petite length!

We eventually made our way to Lincoln Center where I got those happy tummy flips as described above. I exchanged my extra Comte Ory tickets for a performance of Rigoletto in May. Had to upgrade to the orchestra. Confirmed frantically via text and telephone that the babysitter was available while I stood there at the box office window. I figure Husband will like Rigoletto - I’m toting it as “Verdi’s Greatest Hits.”

We trotted across the street to Cafe Fiorello where we feasted on the King’s Antipasto:

And finally we made our way to our seats in Row R of Avery Fisher Hall for the performance.

View from my seat:

And then... I got scolded by the usher for taking a photo. Oops. Phone off and into purse.

Confession: I always get a little nervous before a Gunn performance. I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing it’s because there’s been so much drama associated with past performances, both happy and ... not so pleasant... Or perhaps it's simply because I'm excited to be there? Either way, that anxiety quickly passed, and I’m happy to report that none of his entourage crossed my path. The usher scolding was as dramatic as it got. Whew.

Another confession: I’m not really that “into” Broadway tunes. I am, however, “into” hearing beautifully performed music. The concert itself was delightful! The NY Phil is an amazing amazing orchestra. What a treat to hear them play! And the singing... WOW!!! I believe this is the BEST I’ve ever heard Nathan sing, and I’ve seen him perform several times. I don’t know if it’s because he was wearing a microphone, or because it was not opera, or just that he was in top form, or what. His voice was AMAZING. Wait, what’s the word of the blog post? FABULOUS. He was fabulous. Kelli O’Hara has an absolutely beautiful voice too. Clear as a bell. And I took advantage of our proximity to the stage to pay particular attention to her technique - how she pronounced certain consonants and how wide open her mouth was. All thing my voice teacher has been telling me - to not over-pronounce, to open open open wide, to stand still. I realized that I understood the words even though she did not over-pronounce, and in fact, sometimes barely touched or even skipped the consonants completely. In between songs the conductor explained the history and context of the pieces, which was really really nice. He was very personable. It felt like a private conversation rather than a presentation to an audience. We left the theater smiling and feeling good. And not that anyone else’s opinion matters to me, I do want to point out that the NY Times reviewer felt the same way. Plus that's the article to read if you want all the musical details. My favorite line from the review (of course):

Mr. Gunn injected a note of lubricious sleaze into “Wouldn’t You Like to Be on Broadway” from “Street Scene.”

Afterwards, we changed out of our finery and walked around Times Square where we ran into Spiderman! Look! He complimented my hat... then he tried to steal my purse!! Hahaha!!

Next adventure: Comte Ory at the Met!!