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.


video

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.