Monday, December 17, 2012

Voices of Angels

Saw the American Boy Choir "Voices of Angels" concert this past weekend, with special guest Nathan Gunn. The venue was a beautiful old chapel with super high vaulted ceilings. The sound bounced around in there like it was built for music. Maybe it was, I don’t know much about architecture. And the choir. They are, as their name suggests, boys. Boys with beautiful, beautiful soprano voices. A few of the older boys had deeper voices. It all blended so beautifully. Some of the boys were so little! They all wore long white robes with a red collar and a white ruffled neck.

It wasn’t exactly a church service, but there were readings between the songs, and some of the readings were religious. It was very, very moving. It was also really nice to see NG perform again. I was sitting in about the 10th row. Here’s the view from my seat, taken before the performance began:

Zoomed in:

The chorus started out in the back of the chapel and came forward singing. They eventually stood in the middle of the stage. Nathan stood by the music stand in between the poinsettias. The people doing the between-song readings stood behind that eagle statue. So I didn’t realize it when I sat down, but I was basically directly in front of him. I doubt that he saw me there. Well, maybe. At the end we all sang O Come All Ye Faithful together. I didn’t use my full-on operatic soprano, but I was loud and clear… No, not in a socially unacceptable way. There was a super loud organ playing and the entire room was singing, over 1000 people. He looked around at the people singing and I think he heard/saw me and gave a little hello-ish smile/nod. Like, tiny. Maybe. But probably not. I’m not delusional. Not about that, at least… And besides, he probably wouldn’t recognize me anyway. So like I said, I doubt that he saw me there.

The only weird thing to report was that, exactly at the end of each song, someone in the audience made a weird sound. Like a honk. I know it sounds crazy but I’m not making this up! Each time we’d all look over in that direction with a “What was that?” look on our faces. It didn’t take away from the beauty of the performance.

There was another, slightly longer performance the next day, but I was out seeing The Hobbit. So I’m sad to say, I didn’t get to see Nathan Gunn sing the Grinch song. But hey… I sang with him the night before. Me and a thousand other people, but still… Can I put that on my resume?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Double-Take $10 Karma

So remember in my last post how I said I check Nathan Gunn's website occasionally to see if he'll be singing nearby? Apparently checking his page isn’t always the best way to find out where he’ll be singing. For example, let’s say he’s singing some holiday concerts about, oh, TEN MINUTES FROM YOUR HOUSE. Something like that might not appear on his schedule. However, it does appear on the bulletin board in the kitchen where I work. So there I was, drying off my lunch container when I saw this poster.


My first thought was, “Hey, that guy looks like Nathan Gunn.” And then, “Oh…wait a sec!” It was a very Bugs Bunny double-take moment.

One of my colleagues has a son who attends American Boy Choir School. She’s the one who put the poster up. She told me she can get tickets for $10, but they’re up the balcony. I thought, hmmm. I’m seeing Nathan from “up in the balcony” at the Met next month. For $150. I think can splurge and get the $40 ticket. After adding all the fees and so on the online ticket price would have been about $50. But I couldn’t tell where the seats were, so I called the box office. Talked with the ticket person about how if I knew a student I could get way cheaper tickets (like, $15 I think). She said if I hadn’t told her that she could have sold me student tickets. I was like, I couldn’t lie about that! She was so impressed by that (kept talking about karma!) that she waived all the fees –so the $40 ticket ACTUALLY COST ME $40! I guess there’s your karma.

The concert is in a chapel and it’s general admission. I plan on sitting squarely in the middle. The Husband would have accompanied me but alas our babysitter isn't free that evening, so I’ll be going solo.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another Catchy-Uppy

Trying to get back into a regular blogging schedule, rather than this “1 post every 3 months” pattern I’ve fallen into.

Voice lessons are going well. I was supposed to sing at a concert in October but I was ill. Woke up with basically no voice. After discussion with my voice teacher she urged me to drop out, because if I tried to sing and didn’t do my best, I’d beat myself up. Then a few weeks later I got strep throat. Again, no singing. Then the subsequent concert was canceled because it was scheduled for right after Hurricane Sandy, which basically wiped out most of the electricity and half of the trees in New Jersey. So I missed about 3 weeks of lessons due to the storm and the infection. Didn’t sing when I was sick, obviously. So now I’m busy trying to work my way back up to where I was. Amazed at how quickly I’ve lost the placement and breath control. It’s coming back quickly too, but it shows me that taking that much time off from singing and from lessons is not a good idea.

For the concert I dropped out of, I was going to sing Sposa son Disprezzata. For the concert that was canceled, I was given the role of Iolanthe in a scene from Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta of the same name. Yeah I’d never heard of it either. Sounds glamorous to have the title role, but actually it’s a pretty small part in that scene. I’m fine with that – I don’t have the mental energy to learn a huge amount of new music in a relatively short period of time. I’ve also requested (not quite begged, but that’s how I feel) if I could sing Sposa in that concert. I’ve gone over it with the vocal coach, I’m confident with it and am eager to sing it to an audience. They did have some art songs and arias in the program so hopefully they’ll let me. Fingers crossed!

Currently listening to Juan Diego Florez. I’ve written this about a thousand times before, but I must say it again. His voice. Sigh. It washes over me like a warm soft waterfall of happiness. Extremely excited that I’ll be seeing him in January in the same opera with Nathan Gunn. Speaking of Nathan Gunn...  I haven’t blogged about the Gunnster for a while. I do check his website for updates. He’ll be performing in Carousel in NYC around the same time he’ll be at the Met. Those tickets are tres $$$$ so I’m going to have to pass. That makes me sad but what can you do? He'll also be at Zankel Hall again in February but you know. Been there, done that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meeting Adam Ant!

Don't even know where to begin with this. I'm pretty sure I've written before how important Adam Ant's music was to me when I was a teenager (and beyond). So when I heard he was touring the US after a Very Long Break I knew I had to get tickets the moment they went on sale.

I got tickets to see him in Philly and New York City, two days in a row. The dates were originally set for February of this year, but due to I-don't-know-why they were rescheduled to this past weekend.

So. Friday night. Seeing Adam Ant for the first time since 1992. This would be my 7th or possibly 8th time seeing him. I can't even describe the annoyance I felt as the opening act went on and on. They weren't bad. In fact they were quite pleasant. But I was there to see Adam!!! Finally, FINALLY!! The lights dimmed and this weird recording began, of some guy talking about I-don't-know-what because I don't remember. The show was so much fun!!! I took some videos which I'll post here. His voice is nowhere near as clear as it was 30 years ago. I think ALL singers should take voice lessons!!

A video I took:

Same song, 1981:

You can really hear the difference in the clarity of his voice. He's been through a lot, both physically and emotionally, since then, but I do believe a few voice lessons with a good teacher will help him find that clarity again. And like I said, all singers, no matter what level of skill or experience, benefit from voice lessons. Even professional opera singers take lessons and go for coachings.

And yeah, that song is about fetishes. One of the many words I looked up in the dictionary after first hearing his music at the age of 14 or so. Other "vocabulary" words I learned from him included sadistic, masochistic, truncheon, akimbo and simian. Incidentally, none of those words showed up on the SAT. However I did get quite an education. Luckily, this was way before the Internet so my only source for information was a non-illustrated dictionary.  I had to use my imagination. And trust me, I did. I was at that age where I knew there was something I wanted when I watched him perform these songs, but I wasn't exactly clear on the details. I since learned. Obviously.

So anyway I had a great time. I danced like mad, I did the Prince Charming.

And looking at that video now, I can see why he was so appealing to my 14 year old self; Partly a child, partly a young woman. That video could be for a child. It's a fairy tale. It gives advice to teenagers to not give a crap what anyone thinks about you. And you know. It's Adam Ant. In eyeliner and tight pants. I wanted...something. Just didn't know what. The timing was perfect.

Most of his songs are tales of or reactions to things that happened to him... and he may not have realized it, but they were also messages or lessons to all of us to basically do what you want, there will always be people who will try to ridicule you, cut you, take you down and insult you. Ignore them, and follow your own path. And be silly while doing it. And have a lot of sex. Ok I wasn't doing THAT at age 14 but it sort of flipped a switch in me, or maybe it was there when the switch flipped. Whatever. I can't separate them.

So like I said, I had a great time at the show the other day. BUT THAT WASN'T THE END!!! Oh no. For I had tickets for his show the NEXT night, in New York City. Free tickets, thanks to a friend whose husband knows people and got us on the list. The VIP list. Did I mention that the VIP list included a MEET AND GREET AFTER THE SHOW????

Now you all know how excited I was to meet 30 Seconds to Mars and tell them how they inspire me. That was an awesome experience. But this was different. I came to them as an adult. Adam Ant was indescribably important to me in my formative years. I changed from girl to woman while listening to and learning from his music. Totally.Different.Situation.

I made him a bracelet:

I had planned to write him a note but I didn't, because we didn't know until we got there if we'd have the Meet & Greet, and I didn't want to be all prepared and then disappointed. But I did plan what to say.

The NYC show was better than the Philly show, in some ways. The venue was larger and the energy was palpable. I didn't take any videos. I lost myself in the music. I was dancing and felt high with happiness. I realize I sound like a complete dork but I don't care, because that's how it was.

I knew that his last song would be Physical. And when it started, my stomach started doing flips because I knew that it wouldn't be long before I'd be meeting him. In the flesh. Face to face. (I keep quoting Blondie here, probably because I saw them last week too)

So they had us line up in a hallway that led to a doorway into a room. We went in to the room two or three at a time to meet him. There was a guy taking pictures with whatever cameras you wanted, both phone and regular. He took pictures the entire time so I have photos of Adam looking at the bracelet I gave him, which is kinda cool. It's a little blurry because the iPhone camera doesn't do movement well. Click on the image to make it bigger.

And now I'm going to write about the encounter in excruciatingly boring detail to most of you. But some of you will love it.

So when it was my turn, I went over and he held his hand out for a handshake. I said, "Hi, my name is Susan." He said... I don't remember. Nice to meet you, probably. Then I handed him the bracelet and said, "I made this for you." He admired it, said something like, "Oh isn't this lovely! I'm going to put it on right now." And he did. And I watched to see if it fit. And it did. He was wearing a thick silver bracelet of like a chain of skulls, so it matched. You can kind of see it in the above picture. I'm sure he thanked me but I don't remember. Funny, I don't really specifically remember any of what he said. I remember that he made intense eye contact and that he has amazing green eyes, and that's he's very soft-spoken... so different from his stage persona. He put his arm around me for this picture, also taken with my phone.

Then the camera dude got my friend's camera. While he was doing that, I turned to Adam and said, "I want to thank you for teaching my teenaged self everything... about life." And he very sweetly said something like, "Oh you know. Teenagers." And I said something about also wanting him to know how many wonderful friends I've made because of him, and then I hesitated (because it's against the rules at Mars Meet & Greets) and asked if I could give him a hug. He was like, "Of course." And I hugged Adam Ant. Tightly. And I almost lost it. I seriously was about to start crying. I said, "Thank you. Thank you." while we hugged. I had to let go or I would've started bawling, smearing mascara and snot all over his nice coat. Couldn't have that. Then we took this picture. Could I be standing any closer? He had me squeezered in.

Next, he was ready to sign an autograph. I don't really collect autographs, plus I actually already have his autograph from the last time I very informally met him. Through a fence. Yeah. So anyway... one of my friends was supposed to have gone with me both nights, but she had a baby five weeks ago. She had no childcare for the Philadelphia show so she had to miss it. She came to NYC and was able to score a VIP pass with us, but not the aftershow pass. She was ok with that because she wanted to get home to her baby. So I told him that she was supposed to be there but couldn't because she just had a baby... not exactly a lie... but anyway... I asked that he write the autograph to her, so he said, "Isn't that nice of you" or some other trivial thing along those lines, about how GENEROUS I AM for getting his autograph for SOMEONE ELSE (Ok, he didn't actually say that, but it was implied. Maybe. Probably not.) and wrote it out to her.

Next, my other friends got their meet and greet and photos while I waited on the comfy little couch you can see in my picture. Then the three of them were about to take a pic with him and they called me over. There was no way I was going to NOT be making physical contact, because, you know. So I scootched down in front of him, then realized I needed a little support, so I asked him if I could lean on him. Of COURSE I could. THEN my friend's camera died, so I grabbed my phone. AWKWARD MOMENT when we're all posing and he can't get the camera to work! So we were sort of laughing, and I was like, Are you sure it's ok if I lean on you? And he was like, Of course! So of course I did. If he had stepped back, I would've been flat on the floor. He was so sweet and gentle and patient and accommodating. So here's the group pic, taken with my phone: 


We took another, but my other friend's eyes were closed. I'm not sure which of the two I cropped this pic from... Me leaning on Adam Ant while he smiles.

It took 30 years. But I finally got to meet the man who unknowingly guided me through my adolescence. Here's what I wrote on facebook about it:
Guys. I met Adam Ant yesterday. Some of you probably never heard of him, others probably thought he was dead! His music taught me so much about life when I was a teenager. I'm thrilled to pieces that I was able to tell him so, and to thank him, and tell him how I made wonderful friends through our shared love of his music. And we hugged. And all I could say was, "Thank you. Thank you." It was a very emotional moment for me. Everyone should get the chance to thank the person whose music or artwork has inspired them.
Longtime readers of my blog know that I truly believe that, and will always make a point of thanking my favorite performers for doing what they do, and for inspiring me. I have a feeling they never get tired of hearing that. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Winners (Me!) and Spoilfaces (Others!)

THANKS to everyone who voted for my drink in the Elixir of Love contest… I WON!!! I sent facebook messages to groups of people, asking them to vote – opera people, moms groups, 30 Seconds to Mars fans, Adam Ant fans, college and high school friends. I also posted on some people’s walls and put the link as my facebook status every day, reminding people they could vote once a day. I tweeted it up the wazoo (I believe that’s an official term to mean, a lot) and asked people to RT. I tweeted people directly asking them to vote. People asked their friends to vote. And lo and behold…I got 527 votes! The guy in 2nd place got 334:

Then the Met sent me a letter saying that my drink “won the hearts of their fans…” Well. Not exactly. But I’ll take the win! The contest said to get everyone to vote. That’s what I did.
The prize is, two tickets to L’Elisir D’amore and a special gift from the Met Opera. The tickets and the special gift will be waiting for me at the box office on the day of the performance. I will, of course, report back afterwards. The performance is in February so you’ll all just have to be patient.
And then while I was busy basking in my win, I ALSO won the Met’s weekly drawing for $25 weekend tickets. So I got to see the Saturday matinee of Il Trovatore from Orchestra Row R. I had a friend meet me, but unfortunately she got there late and had to watch the first act with about 35 other latecomers on a tv screen until intermission.
The opera was interesting. The plot was ridiculous, of course… a sort of loosely woven story of revenge, betrayal, misunderstandings and death. But the music was wonderful and the singing WOW as usual. I loved the soprano. She had such a sweet voice. She made it all sound effortless. At times the orchestra was louder than the singers, which was not ideal, but that was only at a couple of points. This is the opera that has the famous “Anvil Chorus.”
Afterwards, I got “involved” in a conversation on facebook with someone who has a Bad Attitude. He actually gave me permission to quote the conversation here, although I will leave his name off. Not that it matters. You wouldn’t have heard of him, he hasn’t sung anywhere. But for the sake of anonymity, let's call him, Mr. Snooty Spoilface
It all started when a friend "checked in" at the Metropolitan Opera:
Mr. Snooty Spoilface I wonder who the soprano is.... I saw the final dress... the MET was TRYING IT.

My Friend: 
They are trying it's a mess

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
Hahahahaha the only two great singers are Dolora and Morris.

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
Who is the soprano?

My Friend:
It's true those two are the best. I don't remember some Asian woman. I'll look at the program on intermission.

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
Wow. The same one I saw in the final dress on Wednesday. She sings out of tune and I doubt she'll make it thru Act 3.

My Friend: 
It is guanqun yu

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
That's her. Should be singing Susanna from nozze, not Leonora.
My Friend:  It was a mess. Dolora and Morris were seemed like they muted the orchestra. How do you even do that?!
ME!! : Did we see the same opera? Carmen Giannittasio was Lenora. She was amazing. The sets were a big clunky sounding as they moved around but I thought all the singers were great.

ME!! :
Also the orchestra was pretty loud down in the orchestra. LOL. Row R. They drowned out the singers at some points. Where were you sitting? If you were under an overhang that could explain the muted sound.

My Friend: 
I stood in the back and sat in a few different spots out from under the overhang. The orchestra was muted and you (me I'm guessing everyone) still couldn't hear the singers. I went to the matinee sat afternoon and there was an insert saying that Carmen Giannittasio was sick and that Guanqun Yu was taking her place and making her met debut. The production was kind of awful...with Morris Robinson and Dolora Zajick, and to be fair a few others, as vibrant spots in the mediocrity.

ME!! :
Oh! There was no insert in my or my friend's program. I wasn't thrilled with the production but I did like the singers. I thought the soprano sounded lovely.

Mr. Snooty Spoilface

ME!! :
Which part is hilarious? There are so many choices...

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
Trust me, you don't want to know.

ME!! :
Hmm. Are you making fun of me for liking the soprano? I can take it, I'm a big girl. wink

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
Lol. There were only TWO Verdi singings in that ENTIRE cast, Zajick and Robinson. If we as singings, young and old, begin to accept mediocre singing as the norm there truly is no hope for our art form. I'm not sure if you're a singer but I challenge you to research the singers of the past who have sang that role. Both L. Price and M. Price, Millo, Milanov, just to name a few.

ME!! :
I don't have formal training in music - I'm one of those people who started studying voice as an adult, for fun. So as an audience member, I'm not analyzing every note or technique, and I don't know what composer people have trained to sing or whatever. I experience the performance as it is. I understand where you're coming from, however I have no interest in knowing who sang the role before and how they sang it. I'm there seeing who IS singing it. Does that make sense?

My Friend: 
Lol Susan I wouldn't make fun of you...everyone has different ears. I think she had a nice voice just not for Verdi. I am curious about what specifically you liked. And please don't feel I'm asking you to defend your opinion, simply want to hear it...I want to know exactly what you thought. Feel free to post here or message me.

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
I thought I was having a conversation with an actual singer. Oh well. Continue on your journey sugar.

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
I apologize, My Friend. You know how I get about singing.

ME!! :
Mr Snooty, Are you implying that someone who hasn't studied formally doesn't have a valid opinion of a performance? I consider myself an actual singer. I don't get paid and I'm not on a career path but I love singing and I love performing. It's part of who I am. I don't have to have gone to music school to have that passion. Your patronizing attitude is one of the reasons opera seems so snobby to the general public.

Each singer brings his or her own self to the character. It's fine to love how a particular singer performed that role, I have my favorites in certain roles too. But I try to see what's good about a performance, and what's enjoyable... not what was wrong. I don't go in expecting a sub-par performance because the singer isn't "trained" to sing Verdi.

, what I liked was how pretty her voice was. It was sweet. This was my first time seeing Trovatore and I thought the sweetness of her voice was right for the innocence of the character. I also thought the tenor was good too. Yes I've heard better tenors, with stronger voices, but he was fine in the role. And the reception they both got from the audience shows that I wasn't the only one who thought so. She had one show-stopping aria and also a standing ovation at the end. Are we to dismiss the general public's "opinion" as because they're (we're) not "smart" enough to know what's good, so we accept mediocrity?

If you guys don't mind, I'm thinking of using this conversation as the topic of a blog post.. I won't name either of you of course. But that "actual singer" comment is priceless!

Mr. Snooty Spoilface
By all means use want you want. But please become a learned singer so you and actually appreciate what you're hearing. When you and a baritone, soprano and tenor who have no business singing Verdi, yes that bothers me. And what bothers me more is when you have a singer who claims they loves and are learning how to sing in an art form yet doesn't want to do the research of what type of voices should be singing the certain rep. I find that ridiculous. I'm very opinionated when it comes to singing and I know tons of patrons who have never sung a note yet know rep and who should be sing it. Don't be a dummy. Please do some research. Trust me, I will help you with your very own development.
Best in your singing!!

ME!! :
Thank you for your well wishes. And no no no. There is more than one way to appreciate and learn music. Your way is not the only way. You don't know anything about me to say what I want or don't want to do. I started studying at the age of 40. I see it as an achievement to finally do something I've always wanted to do. I have a job and am the parent of a special needs child. I squeeze in 30 minutes of voice lesson a week unless parenting interferes. I am in it for me, to learn what I can do with my voice, not to criticize the casting director at my local opera company for putting the wrong type of singer in a role. I do agree that you appreciate more the more you know. I appreciate opera singing more than I did before I began studying voice now that I know a fraction of what goes into it. I love learning to sing, I love singing, I love going to the opera when I can afford the time and money. But let's switch lives for a few days, and then you tell me when you have time and energy to do anything else for yourself other than the weekly 30 minute lesson. I do most of my practicing in the car because it's the only set chunk of time I have alone.
One piece of advice I have for you is to be nice to everyone you meet, from the friend-of-a-friend mom who studies voice for herself, the person measuring you for your costume, the super who volunteers to be a soldier or townsperson or the person in the box office selling tickets. You never know who is in the position to do the hiring, or who they know. And you never know who is in the position to buy a ticket to see you, or decide NOT to buy a ticket, based on how you treat others. No matter how talented you are, if you are as rude to other people as you have been to me, you will encounter a glass ceiling when the decision for a role is between you and the guy who maybe isn't as strong a singer but sure is nicer to work with.

Mr. Snooty Spoilface


Yes, Mr. Snooty had to get the last word in. I let him, because it was obvious that he was not getting off the top of his cultural ladder. I suppose another option would have been to attack him. But I figured I went beyond the necessary by defending myself, and he wasn't worth my time to attack. I'm not proud that I played the "I'm the busy parent of a special needs kid" card. But... he called me Sugar!
I do believe that it's attitudes like his that keep opera inaccessible, by implying that you need to have all this background knowledge to "properly" enjoy an opera. What a load of garbage. You either like something or you don't. If you have some background knowledge, great, you'll understand it more. But it's not a requirement. And there was no mediocre singing that day. The Met doesn't hire mediocre singers. I realize that all the Snooty Spoilfaces out there will say I'm naive for saying that. And I don't really care. I go in to a production ready to be amazed, not prepared to criticize.

I think what really made me reply at all was that he called me Sugar. So patronizing. Part of me wanted to smack him so hard upside the head that he'd fly ass-over-teakettle against the wall. And truthfully, I wrote that only for the opportunity to write "ass-over-teakettle."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Vote for my Vintage Cherry!

Thought that might get your attention!!! Vintage Cherry is the name of a drinky-drink the Huz and I came up with to enter the Metropolitan Opera's "Elixir of Love" contest. The entry with the most votes wins tickets to see The Elixir of Love. Which yeah, I've seen twice this year. But this is a new production with a different cast!!! You can vote once per day between now and September 23. This is my shameless plea to PLEASE VOTE FOR MY DRINK!!!!! <---click the link to go directly to my voting page. THANKS!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Lazy Blogger

This might possibly be the longest break I’ve ever taken from the blog. And really it’s just because I’m lazy. And busy. Busy being lazy. So what’s new? Let’s break it down.

Voice lessons: They're going great!! Working on the lower part of Rossini’s Cat Duet. Don’t have anyone to sing it with. How pathetic is that? I’m also working on Sposa son disprezzata. It’s sounding better and better. It’s in a perfect range for me. My main concern is keeping the air up and over and front for every note. I practice sections at a time to make sure each vowel combo gets lifted, lifted, lifted.

Opera: Got tickets to see Comte Ory at the Met in January! They changed their pricing structure. No  more Grand Tier Rear. Bye bye jokes related to that. Now it's premium, prime and balance. Like steak, almost. So of course the prices went up too. Balance is the last two rows on the sides, except for the aisle seats. The price difference is ridiculous. So I got the best possible balance seats. Hoping we'll be able to move to slightly better seats like I've done in the past. And of course if they still have it, I'll enter the weekly drawing for $25 weekend tickets. And YES!! I'm excited to see Juan Diego Florez and Nathan Gunn in the same opera. Finally! Maybe. As long as no one cancels this time. I don’t think either of them will. I don’t think I’ll cry if they do, like I did last time, but I make no promises.

Other upcoming adventures: Seeing Blondie (again) in early October, and then Adam Ant (again, after a Very Long Hiatus) that same week, two nights in a row. Meet and Greet tickets for Adam are $300 so that won’t be happening. But, as usual, I have something in the works… the tickets for one of the AA concerts are courtesy of a friend’s husband’s friend… so the friend will work on the husband to work on the friend to see if there’s any way we can somehow participate in some type of meet and greet. I suggested she bake the guy cookies, or maybe even a cake. Because Adam Ant was my life in the early and mid-80s. Much like opera and 30 Seconds to Mars are now. Now, the idea of meeting him makes me crazy with excitement. And even though I kept my cool meeting Juan Diego Florez and 30 Seconds to Mars, I can’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t dissolve into tears meeting Adam Ant for real rather than down an alley and behind a fence like I did last time… in 1985. And since I have no idea if it’ll even happen, I’ve decided to simply refuse to think about it. Wish me luck.

Finally, YouTube: I have an accounts under Melfindel, TheLuindriel and Bookshelf23. I don't need or want multiple accounts so I plan to consolidate them soon... whenever that will be.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Double Cross-Dressing

Once again I find myself apologizing for the huge gap in posting. Last month was a little hectic, but things have finally calmed down enough for me to catch up. And guess what? I sang in a concert and I’m actually not disgusted with my performance! I mean, yeah, of course I hear all the mistakes, but I’m pretty pleased for the most part. Here, decide for yourself.

And yes, as you see, this is my “alternate” youtube account, because once again EMI has made copyright claims on the 30 Seconds to Mars videos I posted. I filed the same response as I did last time. If/when my Luindriel account is reinstated, I’ll quickly change the descriptions on all the Mars videos.

But back to the concert. I played Cherubino in drag in another scene, dressed as a girl from the village bringing flowers to the Countess. That was fun because I got to act, hiding behind other girls while they shoved me to the front, and then they spun me down the line to end the song with me presenting the flowers to the Countess on the last beat of the music.

I also sang in the chorus for scenes from Die Fledermaus, Madame Butterfly, Dido & Aeneas and The Mikado. If videos of any of those scenes show up anywhere, I’ll post links.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Interlude to my Interlude

Lots going on here! YouTube reinstated my page, hooray! And I'm doing scenes and an aria at an upcoming Opera Project Wing concert. But more on all that later. I'm breaking my (unintentional) posting interlude with something I haven't done in a very long time... A Gunn Interlude.

Here Nathan talks about his top 5 shirtless roles. He seems to be smeared with mud and blood alot.

Note his reversal of barihunk into hunkatone. Somehow "hunkatone" has a slightly different meaning to me than "barihunk," and it actually does seem to more accurately describe him.

And here's another topic on which Mr. Gunn and I agree: His view on Opera vs "Popera." I have had, while not quite arguments, let's call them... heated discussions, with people, on why Andrea Bocelli is not really an opera singer, nor are any of those contestants on the many singing reality shows out there who choose to squawk out an aria when it's their turn to compete. It's not that these people don't have talent. They do! But they couldn't get on stage and sing an opera, without a mic.

So yeah, speaking of getting on stage and singing, I'll be singing Voi che sapete and also doing the Cherubino cross-dressing scene in the upcoming Opera Project "Artist Development Wing" concert. Basically it's me and 15 teenagers. The youngest is I believe 13. We are all singing in the chorus for scenes from Die Fledermaus, The Mikado, Dido & Aeneas and Madam Butterfly. We have actual staging and everything. I'll report more on that... eventually.

Monday, April 2, 2012

From YouTube to You Tomb

I'm out of town but had to make this quickie post to let you all know that YOUTUBE SHUT DOWN MY PAGE!!!! Apparently EMI records doesn't like people posting live concert footage of 30 Seconds To Mars, in spite of the fact that it in no way hurts record sales. So they've been filing copyright claims on youtube for live videos - I'm not the only one affected by this. After 3 claims, YouTube automatically shuts down the page. Nice!!! So there go all the Nathan Gunn vids, my singing vids, the John Osborn videos, I think I had a Christian Van Horn vid... all gone, along with all the comments. Camelot? Bye bye. Magic Flute? Gone, gone, gone. And what's even sadder about all this is, I think I trashed the Romeo, Camelot and Magic Flute vids from my hard drive a few months ago when it was too full. So when I return to home base I'll see if I can file a response or whatever to get my page reinstated, and if that fails, I'll make a new one. Meanwhile, the 4 people a year who access the "My Favorite Baritone" page are going to see a whole lot of "video not found" messages. Sorry, Nathan fans! I'll try to fix it as soon as I can. Meaning, at some point in 2012. Now, my next challenge is to figure out how to send this blog posting from an iPad. Wish me luck...OH! I see a publish button. That was easy! ps anyone know how to add tags?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Double Dose

First off: This blogging format has me stumped. It adds lines that I'm not inserting. So if there's a gap after the picture, scroll down for more text. I have spent far too much time fiddling with the formatting to no avail...

So here we go!

Having some serious sighing sighing moments here. I’ve been in this position before. It’s all Juan Diego Florez’s fault. You see, I saw him at the Met in L’elisir D’amore on March 9, then I won the weekly Met drawing for the $25 orchestra seat tickets. For the same opera. Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau. Again. So of course I went! Two weeks later. And now I’m in that euphoria that only comes from seeing Juan Diego Florez sing, twice in two weeks.

The opera was amazing. Basic plot: Nemorino (Juan Diego Florez) loves Adina (Diana Damrau) but she keeps brushing him off. She reads everyone the story of Tristan and Isolde, how Tristan drinks a potion to make Isolde love him. An army regiment comes to town and Sergeant Belcore (Mariusz Kwiecien) sees Adina and proposes marriage. She finally gives in and accepts. Nemorino is heartbroken. Then a traveling quack doctor comes to town, selling a potion that can cure anything. Nemorino asks about the love potion. Of course the doctor says he makes it. He sells a bottle to Nemorino, telling him that it’ll take a day to work, but once it does, every girl will find him irresistible.

Nemorino is very excited and drinks it at once. Of course it’s actually a bottle of wine and he gets drunk. The best part of the opera: Juan Diego Florez doing a drunken happy dance. Some brave soul recorded it from one of the performances:

If the blogger format cuts off the edge, click through you YouTube. It was HILARIOUS!

Nemorino decides to ignore Adina because he believes that tomorrow she’ll love him, so why bother her now. She notices this, and is upset that he’s suddenly not paying attention to her anymore. He didn’t even come to the banquet to celebrate her upcoming wedding to Belcore. Nemorino decides he needs to buy another bottle, and joins Belcore’s regiment for the sign-on salary so he can afford the elixir.

Next, the village girls share the news that Nemorino’s uncle has died, leaving him a pile of money. So naturally he’s suddenly an excellent catch. The next time they see him, they’re all over him, trying to get his attention and win his affection. He hasn’t yet heard the news of his uncle’s death, so he thinks that the potion is working! Adina sees the girls fawning over him and gets very jealous.

Nemorino is packed to join the army, and he sings the famous “Una furtive lagrima” on his way. You could hear a pin drop, that’s how quiet the audience got. Did Adina shed a small tear at the news of his leaving? If so, he can die happy. Meanwhile she bought his contract back from Belcore to keep him there, and blah blah blah happy ending she and Nemorino end up together, her friend ends up with Belcore and the doctor declares another successful outcome of his marvelous potion.

Adventure number 1, March 9
Train to Penn Station:

Walk uptown to Cafe Fiorello. Get seated here:

Yummy food, as always, including this rum-soaked cake topped with meringue.

We got out of there with minutes to spare. We literally ran across the street to the Met and dashed up the stairs as the chimes were ringing. Keeping our momentum, after the usher directed us to our seats (2 rows down and to the left, for row F) we went straight down to Row A (6 rows down and to the right) where as of that morning there were still 2 unsold tickets. The seats were still empty and most of the audience was already in, so we figured we were safe. We settled in, took a “view from our seat” picture and then up went the chandeliers, like, right in front of us. Holy cow! We had upgraded our seats, ninja-style!

During intermission we posed for a few pictures on the outdoor balcony on the Grand Tier level:

And at the end, we all turned on our cameras (and I do mean all, like everyone in my section) to take pics and vids of the curtain call. Here is a zoomed-in shot of the picture I took:

All in all, a fabulous evening at the opera.
Adventure number 2, March 24
So like I said, every week the Metropolitan Opera has a drawing for $25 orchestra seats for the upcoming weekend. I enter almost every week, and have never had my name drawn... until last week! Even though it was for the very same opera I had seen 10 days earlier... a chance to see Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau again... from the orchestra... for $25... I didn't hesitate.
I grabbed a different friend, one who had never been to the opera before in her life, and off we went. We decided to drive rather than take the train. My very first time driving in New York City! It wasn't a big deal at all, really. We parked in the Lincoln Center garage, grabbed the tickets from the box office and went across the street to find some dinner. Ended up at Fiorello again... but outside. With this view:

Of course we didn't skip dessert ... nom nom nom chocolate mousse!


Then we trotted across the street in our heels where there was plenty of time to hit the ladies room. We even did a little shopping at the table they have in the lobby from the gift shop.

The seats were far back enough that we were under the overhang of the balconies above. But there was no one directly in front of us, so we had a nice view:

Intermission, I dragged my companion to the Grand Tier outdoor balcony for the requisite pictures:

 People caught us taking that picture...

Then as the final chimes were ringing before act 2, two very tall people came and sat directly in front of us! We immediately moved forward to two empty seats about 5 rows up:



Now we were no longer under the overhand and WOW! What a difference in the sound!

I think the singers were even better the 2nd time I saw them. Juan Diego Florez sang one legato line the entire opera. Music flows out of him like honey, sweet and luscious and yum. Diana Damrau’s voice moved me to tears at some points. The opera is a comedy and I was sitting there with moist eyes because her voice was just that beautiful. And again, like on the 1st night I was there, for Una Furtiva Lagrima, you could hear a pin drop, the audience was that quiet, until the end, when everyone hooted and hollered. The people we were sitting next to in Act 2 were whooping and yelling like we were at a rock concert. So was I… At the curtain call too. I didn’t take any pictures during the curtain call, but almost everyone around me pulled out their cameras.

The rest of the adventure involved driving around New York City looking for the hidden entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, driving in the rain and fog on a road that suddenly exited into Newark with no warning, and eventually getting ourselves home safely.

I'm so happy that I got to see this opera again. I am in total Juan Diego Florez mode right now, listening to everything and anything I have. And melting. And wanting to see him perform again. And sad that I'll have a to wait a year for that to happen.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Old Wish (Hopefully) Coming True!

Waaaaay back near the beginning of this blog I wrote about how totally awesome it would be to see Juan Diego Florez and Nathan Gunn in the same opera. Then, it almost happened, until the infamous fishbone incident. That all worked out for the best in the end… and at the time I thought, eventually, EVENTUALLY, they’ll be in something together at the Met. Well, finally, FINALLY, that eventuality has arrived! Or, it will arrive, a year from now. Look! So, the question is, do I go see Le Comte Ory again? Ok. Dumb question. Nathan Gunn and Juan Diego Florez in the same opera. Of course I do. And I drag along as many people as I can!!! Hopefully neither of them will swallow anything throat-scratching.

Other tasty looking picks, for me, include La Traviata with Diana Damrau, and possibly the holiday performance, which next season will be a shortened, English version of Barber of Seville. What are the chances that I can drag Alex to that? He’ll be 8 ½ then. He’s familiar with the opera. He likes it. Hm. It’s a definite possibility.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


The days are just flying by!

I sang in the first Opera Project Wing performance last week. I sang two songs – Nel cor piu non mi sento and Voi che sapete. I did ok, but would you believe I actually FORGOT THE WORDS at one point? I fudged it and no one seemed to notice. People who know Voi che sapete will know where I made up a word. Hey at least the vowel was the same. And a few people actually approached me afterwards to compliment my voice and say how much they liked my performance. That was nice! I'm always so surprised when that happens. All I hear are mistakes, so I always assume that people are just being nice. But I also know they wouldn't approach me and say that just to be nice. So it's pretty cool!

The voice lesson following that recital I was lucky enough to have two teachers at once. Sometimes they talked about me like I wasn’t there. I was fine with that. I learned a lot about breath and legato line and how to really incorporate the two. Like my voice teacher says, sometimes you just need a different person to explain the concept to you a different way in order for you to get it. So I’ll see her today for a lesson, then I’ll be seeing the other teacher later in the week.

Then… on Friday. FINALLY! L’Elisir D’amore at the Met!! Juan Diego Florez. Ahhhh. And then on Sunday, another recital, where I plan to tackle Ombra mai fu. Then I'll write all about both adventures, hopefully while they're still both fresh in my mind.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Let’s start with voice lessons and singing.

I can hear and feel myself improving every week. Slowly, slowly, I am incorporating and blending together the different techniques that together help me to produce beautiful rounded notes on top of my air. I’m currently working on many many songs, but focusing mainly on Voi che sapete and Deh vieni non tardar. Because why not sing two different character’s arias from the same opera? Also working on El Majo Discreto, I Love all Graceful Things, O mio babbino caro, and keeping fresh and updated on the songs I’ve already performed. Upcoming concert will be in April, I think in a local library.

Speaking of April, I’ve planned a trip to see the parents. Last time I was there they told me and Alex to stop singing around the house. Oh joy. Then if for some reason they do ask me to sing, my mother will interrupt and ask why I’m not singing in English. Oh joy. My dad will make some snarky comment about the crystal breaking, or when will I be onstage at the Met. Oh joy. So they’ll be snarky to me, but I will learn later from the relatives that they brag about me when I’m not there. What’s up with that? I wanted to plan the visit to coincide with Rigoletto at Florida Grand Opera so I could take my mom, but I just couldn't work it out.

Next random. For a giggle. Jared Leto has a photo blog. He has been asking people to send self-portraits that he makes into a collage and posts on his blog. He gets thousands of entries and uses about 20. He chose my picture for the first one. Look! Guess which one is me. Go ahead, look for me there.

Another random: Fun with the blog tracker! There was a period of time where I was getting hits from a search on “spider with striped legs,” mainly from people in Ohio. That’s weird, right? I often get hits from google searches about the Grand Tier in the Met Opera. And now I wonder if Nathan Gunn isn’t up to something, as I’m suddenly getting many hits from searches about him… including people looking for naked pics!! Uh… no. I realize that simply by putting this in a blog entry I’m going to get more hits. It’s a loop. It’s loopy. I’ve also got people googling him and my blog together. Like they're looking for him here. More than once. So now if they do it again they’ll know that I know they’re looking. I know that they know that I know…and so on, and so on, and so on.

Final random: My next operatic adventure is in March! It seemed like it would never get here when I bought the tickets back in August. But finally, soon, I'll be seeing Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau in Elixir of Love. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, thinking about it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The MARS 300 Song!

I finally had the house to myself the other day. I put my R2 shirt on, warmed up the pipes and then recorded myself singing this about 50 times until I got a version I wasn't too embarrassed to share. So this is how I wanted to sing it on the 7th. I've tweeted the link to the band a few times but they get so many tweets that it's unlikely that they'll see it... but I wanted to get it out there. So, without further ado, here we have, the MARS300 SONG!