Wednesday, November 20, 2013


It is time to write again. I toyed with the idea of writing a different entry for each topic I want to write about, or to write one long epic post covering everything that’s happened over the past few weeks. Decided to go with, "mini-epic."

So I had been scrambling around looking for a  voice teacher.  I gathered some recommendations and finally ended up going to this guy someone recommended. It turns out he actually knew my teacher, although he hadn’t known that she had passed away. So I had 2 lessons with him. He was very nice, but there was something about the entire situation that didn’t click for me.  Part of it was, it was in a nearby town that has metered street parking. So I sort of stressed over having enough quarters for the meters, and finding a spot near his house. It threw off my timing because I had no idea if I’d end up with a 1 or 10 minute walk to his house. Also, he did want me to commit to a regular lesson, which of course I understand, but I’m not comfortable doing that at this point. So I felt a little pressure from him there, although he was flexible for the 2 lessons we did have. I was sort of willing to deal with those factors, but then he made a comment about me having to unlearn everything my last teacher taught me so he can teach me his way. My stress over the parking situation, the pressure to commit and that one comment led to my decision not to study with him. He was super nice, but the situation just wasn’t for me.

 Meanwhile, I needed to prepare for the October 19th memorial concert. I went to a rehearsal for it, coincidentally on the same day as a 30 Seconds to Mars show. The last time 30 Seconds to Mars played that same venue, I had an Opera Project rehearsal. So anyway I went to the rehearsal, then arranged to meet one of the teachers/directors for a lesson. That was fun, it went well. But generally he teaches only male students, so it was a one-time thing. He gave me great advice and also recommended that I hook up with a vocal coach. Bottom line, though, was that I need to take regular, weekly lessons in order to maintain and improve.

Then, the concert. I did pretty well, I thought.

Turns out it wasn’t broadcast live on the radio station. However they did record it, so who knows, maybe it’ll turn up online one day.

 After that, I sort of despaired about finding a teacher. How was I going to find a local teacher who I liked, who was as flexible as my last voice teacher was? It was impossible. About 2 weeks ago I finally gave in and realized that it just wasn’t going to happen. I actually said out loud to my husband that unless a situation like I had before just fell into my lap, I’d be giving up studying voice for a while. I knew I was giving in but I didn’t know what else to do.

That very same afternoon, I received a call from a woman, a singer and teacher, who had been very good friends (and was a former student, 40 years ago) with my voice teacher. Before my teacher died, they had discussed this woman taking on my teacher’s students. Because she was so close with my teacher’s family for so many years, they insisted that she give lessons in the house, in the same room even. It’s what my teacher wanted. So that’s what she’s doing. She told me that she’s still figuring out the scheduling, so is it ok with me if we schedule from week to week? And she’ll charge the same amount but will go 15-30 minutes longer. I seriously couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I almost started crying. This was the very same day I had the conversation with my husband. And BOOM something fell into my lap. 

So I did go for a lesson last week. I thought it would be weird to go into the house but have a lesson with someone else, but it wasn’t. It was actually comforting. It was great. It was natural. It was exciting. I kept giggling during vocalizations, I was so happy to be there. She was a great teacher too. So… I have a new voice teacher.
Next time we'll go over what aspects of singing I need to work on, what songs I've done, what I'd like to do, what she thinks I should do and just make a general plan or goal.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back on the Horse

I still have the recording of my last lesson with my voice teacher from March on my iphone. About 2 weeks ago I was finally able to listen to it without crying. I actually sang along and felt happy. I realized I was ready to study again.

About the same time, I learned that The Opera Project was presenting a memorial concert for my voice teacher in October. I emailed the director with the idea in my head that if I don't ask if I can participate, I definitely won't be participating. If I do ask, there's a chance he'll say yes. And he did. I actually got a little weepy when I got his reply, saying that he's sure she would have wanted me to perform. So I'll sing Sposa son Disprezzata.

Next, I realized that I really do need to get some lessons in between now and then, because I've lost some of the breath control, legato and other good singing habits. So I got a few recommendations, contacted one of the teachers and we set up a trial lesson. That lesson was yesterday and it went really well! It turns out that he was at the Opera Project Wing concert where I sang Sposa. So he's heard me sing, he knows what I can do, he knows where I need work and also... he knew my voice teacher.

In the middle of this lesson I was internally freaking out thinking that there's no way I'll be ready to sing this song by October 18. Typical. And like my other voice teachers, he did a great deal of psychotherapy along with the regular voice lesson stuff.

I cried a little on the way home, because I miss my (late) voice teacher so much. I can't even. I'm getting weepy just typing this. But today I listened to yesterday's lesson, and practiced, and I can already hear an improvement in how I'm singing. So hopefully I'll make her proud. Now I will add her to the ranks of people I love who are no longer here, who I imagine come to the concerts to hear me sing.

One more thing about this October 18th concert: It's going to be broadcast live on a local radio station. They have a website with a link to listen online. NO PRESSURE. Zoinks.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Past, Present, Future

I really have no excuse for not blogging in so long. I keep having ideas of things I want to blog about, but I never seem to have them when I'm sitting in front of my computer.

So let's first do an update on Things That Have Already Happened.

Remember that contest I begged for votes for? Not the vintage cherry one. This one, to win a Meet & Greet with 30 Seconds to Mars? Well, like the vintage cherry contest, I won this one too, thanks to everyone's loyal daily voting!

Here we are in the room while Jared Leto thanked us blah blah blah.

Then we had the photos. Tomo, the "thumbs-up" guy in the black leather jacket, is the guitarist. As soon as he saw me he shouted, "OPERA SINGER!" So I gave him a big hug. Chatted with them a little, took this BORING photo...

So I asked for another, more creative pose:

This all took place before the concert, so even though we had been in the front of the line, we had no chance of getting on the barrier by the time we got into the theater. Instead we went up to the balcony and joined this row of photographers in the 1st row up there. They left after a few songs so then we had the row to ourselves!!

Next, let's have some singing updates. My last voice lesson was in March. I haven't had one since, and have been to only one coaching. I did perform, though. Here's what I did ... probably the best singing in front of people that I've ever done:

I'm thankful that I did have a chance to show this video to my voice teacher before she died.

There's a memorial for her at the end of the month. It'll be nice, I think. I've had no one really to talk to about her, I've just been mourning sort of on my own, which is very lonely. 

The other thing that's been filling my time and brain is that my son is now going to a special ed school for "smart kids with behavior challenges" ie, autism and adhd. We toured a bunch of schools, it was quite stressful. But we all like where he is now, him included. So things are settling down. I'm still doing a great deal of advocacy on his behalf with the school district over a few things, but things are getting done.

All this and I haven't really had time to sing. I sing a little, here and there, and of course in the car. But I feel like I'm losing my breath control and technique. I need a teacher. I have no idea how to find one, because I want MY teacher back. She didn't require payment up front, she understood that "life happens" and sometimes you have to cancel a lesson. I think I canceled maybe twice in the 4 years I went to her. Funny, my 1st two voice teachers sort of fell into my lap, without me looking for them. So who knows what'll happen next in my explorations.
More future stuff is, Met Opera tickets go on sale August 11. I want to see La Cenerentola and Die Fledermaus. It's hard to find someone to go with me though, and I don't have the money to shell out for an extra ticket in the hopes that someone will go. So I have a week to find a companion and convince them to pay now for an opera in April. Otherwise, I'm going alone. Wish me luck. I'll probably be going alone to Joyce DiDonato's recital in Princeton, but that's no big deal... just a 20 minute drive. I can eat pizza for dinner and still make it to the recital. But it's more fun when going to the Met to make it an adventure. So, we'll see!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sad News

I haven’t written for a while. I’ve thought about writing, but kept putting it off. You see, my voice teacher was very ill. She had to stop teaching in March. She had some surgeries in April. I visited her in May a few times. At my last visit, as I was leaving I told her, “I love you,” and she said she loved me too and, “I believe in you.” That was the last time I saw her. She passed away 3 days ago. I’m totally devastated and distraught. The comment I left on the obituary page doesn't convey how strongly I feel the things I wrote. I know I'll eventually find a new teacher, somehow, and will continue to study and sing. But for now, I'm just feeling lost.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Hello, Dear Readers!! Remember last year when I begged everyone to vote for my Vintage Cherry, and remember how I won those tickets to see Elixir of Love at the Metropolitan Opera? Well...

I've entered another clicky-click contest! One click a day. The top 7 win tickets to see and meet 30 Seconds to Mars!!! You can click once a day thru May 9. Please click, please share, please click and share again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that...


Friday, April 5, 2013

The Random Gift

Just realized that I never did report back about the "special gift" that was part of my Elixir of Love Prize. I was excepting something related either to Elixir of Love or else to cocktails. Nope. I got a large envelope in the mail from the Met Opera a few days after the performance. Opened to find a random assortment of items from the gift shop:

A bookmark, a deck of "What Do You Know About Opera" trivia cards, a blank sketch book with a Boheme-themed cover and the season book. It looks like someone went into the shop and randomly tossed a few items into the envelope. I'm not complaining - as I said before, the tickets were the real gift. It was just kind of humorous to get this random assortment of items.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Yodeling Legato

Wow. Just wow. I must admit I went into last week’s production of Elixir a little jaded, thinking, how could this be any better than what I saw with Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau? It wasn’t better, because it was a different. It was equally as wonderful. I remember the very first time I heard Anna Netrebko sing I was moved to tears, back when I saw her in Romeo et Juliette. Subsequently, hearing her in various recordings I’ve thought, what’s the big deal. Then I heard her again on Saturday. And BOOM! Tears.

Backing up, as usual, to the pre-opera activities... Realizing that it would cost approximately the same for the 2 of us to take the train as it would to drive, the Husband and I decided to take the car in. Plus then we wouldn’t be at the mercy of the train schedule. Those late night trains are all locals… putt putt putt between every.single.station.

So here I am, with the angry birds stickers apparently flying out of my head?

And you know, it's a good thing we drove, or we wouldn’t have been able to listen to the cowboy yodeling radio station we picked up somewhere near Newark Airport. I can’t make this stuff up. Well I probably could, but I’m not! We yodeled our way up the New Jersey Turnpike.

We went to the box office as soon as we got there. They had the tickets but “we don’t keep gifts here.” I even showed them the email from the rep saying that the gift and tickets would be at the box office. They had no idea. They took my phone into their little room, it was like handing my baby to a stranger. They returned it and suggested that I check at the shop. The shop people were like, that's not our department. Everyone was very nice, but they had no idea what I was talking about. So the mystery gift remained a mystery! I did email my contact and he said he’d mail the gift out.

Anyway the seats were in the orchestra ROW R!! Right smack dab in the middle. Like, $300 tickets. That is enough of a gift!

For dinner we went, where else, to Café Fiorello. I really need to start going somewhere else for dinner. We were seated on the opposite side as when I was there last week, but somehow we got the same waiter. I kept forgetting to take pictures of the food because I was having too much fun. But here's a picture of my drink, a vodka something-or-other, off their cocktail list.  It had red grapes and I think half a lime in it.


Here's what remained of the antipasto plate before I remembered to snap a pic. Still on the plate I see zucchini parmesean, eggplant caponata, shrimp and white beans, grilled sepia (which is like calamari) and potato pie. It was all very yummy.

We also got the fried ravioli, which was ok but I wouldn't get again, and for dessert, the lemon tart, which was fa-bu-lous. No picture but you can imagine. The top was coated with sugar and then burned, to give it a hard crust like creme brulee. Fresh whipped cream on the side. Yum I'm actually drooling while typing this.

And I even had a “star” sighting! Half-way though dinner, Pretty Yende, who had performed in the matinee, walked by with her entourage on their way out, carrying several beautiful bouquets of flowers.

Back to the Met we went, to our seats in row R. Check out this view!

The opera was SO MUCH FUN! Matthew Polenzani was Nemorino. I think he should change his name to Matthew PoLEGATOnzani. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard such beautiful legato, ever. This coming from the person who could listen to the legato pour out of Juan Diego Florez all day… so you know it’s a big deal. Wow. And Anna Netrebko. Her voice had a timbre to it that went right to my insides. Perfect resonance. Together they sounded heavenly.

The other singers were, Mariusz Kwiecien as Belcore, the conceited army sergeant who wanted to marry Adina, and Erwin Schrott, who, by the way, is Anna’s husband! That must be fun… anyway he played Dulcamara, the maker of the magic elixir, which, as we all know, is actually a nice bordeaux. He was so funny!! In last year’s production, the character of Dulcamara was an older, more grandfatherly type guy. This time, he was more like a Barber of Seville guy – he had everything to cure anything, and he always had a woman nearby. Mariusz K was adorable, as usual.

It was weird… I was a little distracted at first. My mind kept wandering to other things… and then suddenly they began singing and that was it. All other things left my mind and I was just there, feeling the music. Maybe it was the seat location, I don’t know. But the singing just resonated through me. It was like a drug. It's why I love live opera. Because when it hits you like that, you want more, more more. But unless I win the $25 ticket drawing again this season, I won't be going again until next season. Technically that could be this calendar year, I suppose. I imagine they'll announce the next season schedule soon.

Meanwhile, I'll announce what at the Special Gift is once I receive it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vintage Cherry Rewards

Remember a few months ago when I begged everyone I knew, and many people I didn’t know, to vote daily for my entry in the Met Opera’s “Elixir of Love” contest? And remember how I won!

Not because my drink was the best, but because I nagged the most people to vote. The prize was, two tickets to see Elixir of Love at the Met, plus a “special gift” from the Metropolitan Opera. Well, finally, this coming Saturday, Husband and I will be seeing the opera. It’ll be interesting to see this new production, especially since I saw the other production TWICE last year. This one stars Anna Netrebko and Matthew Polenzani.

So the tickets will be waiting for us at the box office, along with the “special gift.” We have no idea where the seats are, or what the gift is. I will, of course, post again afterwards with all the boring details. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Comte Ory, Take 2

I had no idea when I purchased opera tickets on a hot day in August that the performance date I chose would turn out to be one of the coldest days of the year. Last week’s cold weather (highs in the 20 degrees F) made wardrobe planning a little tricky. How much time would I actually be spending outside? How overheated will I get on a crowded subway, if I’m dressed for the outside weather? Of course I tackled this problem with my usual over-thinking, and ended up in leggings under a long skirt, also a many-layered shirt ensemble that ended up being pretty nice. And, as usual, I wore my hiking shoes, and stashed my heels in my pink purse. Here I am on the train, sneakily putting my feet up on the opposing seat.

I met my friend at Penn Station and we headed uptown on the subway. We had a little time to kill so we puttered around the Met Opera shop, which was amazingly empty. I’ve only ever been there just before an opera, when it’s wall-to-wall people. Then we went to Avery Fisher Hall to use the Secret Public Bathroom. Anyone who is stuck uptown in that area of Manhattan, there is a nice bathroom in AFH open to the public. There’s even a bench and a full-length mirror. So we got ourselves together and switched out of our traveling shoes into our heels for the short walk to the restaurant.

As usual, we went to Café Fiorello. Don’t know why I always go there. Habit? It seems about as good as any other place in the area, and I do love the seafood. This time we shared a “Seafood Supreme Pizza”

and for dessert, a tiramisu cake:

I’m not that into tiramisu, to be honest, but the cake was nice and light and fluffy. And of course we enjoyed a cocktail – this is a “metropolitan daquari” and was quite yummy.

Next, on to the Met. And guess what? It had snowed during dinner. The sidewalk was a slushy slippery mess! We clung to each other like old ladies as we minced our way across the street.

Our seats were in the last row of the Grand Tier. There are only 7 or 8 rows so it’s not such a big deal…however that didn’t stop us from upgrading ourselves to empty seats directly in front of us in the first row. Here’s the upgraded view:

The soprano – Pretty Yende – was A M A Z I N G. This was her Met debut, filling in for someone who dropped out before rehearsals began, due to illness. As usual, the legato poured out of Juan Diego Florez like honey. And Nathan Gunn was pretty good too, except that he was kind of hard to hear over the orchestra. I’ve read reviews of other things he’s done where people commented on that, but I’d never actually experienced it until then. Anyway, I must admit, it was pretty funny seeing him and JDF dressed as nuns.  You can see some of that here, a few minutes in.

Usually during intermission I like to go out on the Grand Tier balcony but the door was locked... Yeah, that's snow. You can see the fountain all blurry in the background.

At the end of intermission we decided to put our snow-worthy boots on because we knew we'd want to make the mad dash for the subway the moment the curtain calls ended. So we were very stylish, sitting in our fancy clothes and clunky boots. 

People went NUTS at the curtain calls, hooting and hollering for the singers. It was kind of awesome. Everyone left the building with a smile. My friend and I joined the press of people entering the subway. There were so many people, someone had opened the emergency gate and we were herded through with the crowd. Finally made it home at 1am! Long day but totally worth it. Plus, I broke 3 rules!!! 1. Feet on train seat. 2. Upgraded opera seat. 3. Unpaid subway ride. I'm seriously living the rebellious life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


The Opera Project WING concert was fun!!! The first part was scenes from Magic Flute, dialogue and some songs in English, some in German. It was cute! It’s amazing to hear these gorgeous, gorgeous voices coming out of such young bodies! Some of the girls are in 8th grade. How old is that, 14?


Here’s the Iolanthe scene:

See that tall girl with the long, dark hair, all the way to the left? Listen to her when she sings. Then remind yourself that she’s in EIGHTH GRADE! Imagine that voice in 10 years! We had a lot of fun with that scene. Some of it was improvised. I actually got some of my lines wrong, using words that have the same meaning, but still… not the right words. For example, my line was, “He’s extremely pretty,” but for some reason I said, “He’s exceptionally pretty.” Why? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. We had a lot of fun, also backstage was fun sharing glitter makeup to make everyone more fairy-like.

Before Iolanthe, I sang Sposa:

As usual, I hear all the mistakes… especially that weirdo crack sound near the end… a sound I have never ever made before in my life, and couldn’t reproduce if I wanted to. It was as if a gallon of mucous suddenly poured out over my vocal chords. Most people told me they didn’t even hear it. It seems so LOUD to me but I’m taking their word for it. I did pretty well otherwise, although I know I can sound richer. I was a little nervous, you can hear it in the 2nd syllable when I first started to sing. But I’ve practiced the song so much that the nervousness sort of went away as I continued singing. In the past, it used to creep up and get worse, so there’s something.

I was thinking this weekend how thankful I am that the Guy In Charge of the Opera Project saw my potential back when I auditioned… him letting me sing with the group opened up a whole world of singing to me, allowed me to find a great teacher and gave me these opportunities to grow and perform that I never would have had otherwise. I should write him a note. Although how to do that, without being awkward? Hmm. Maybe I’ll tell him, the next time I see him.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Prancing Around

We’ve had one rehearsal for the upcoming concert and I have to say I think it’s going to be fun! I don’t do much in the Iolanthe scene except creep up on stage when I’m “called” from the deep, then sing my 2 lines, throw off my robe and happily greet my “fairy” sisters. I do a lot of smiling, I greet my son, smile at him as he sings and then the fairy sisters and I prance off stage. We will be wearing long flowy skirts and dresses. What are the chances I’ll step on the edge of my skirt and fall flat on my face, or even better, somehow end up pulling it off? Hopefully slim…

We didn’t yet get to practice it all together. They were all learning a dance while I was shown my staging. We have another rehearsal this weekend, it should be fun. Even though I do sort of feel like a den mother, or girl scout leader, or whatever. I think (but I’m not sure) that all but one of the fairies are in high school. It doesn't matter. But I do sense a sort of distance. I'm the grown-up. If only they knew how much like a 16 year old I feel inside!

At the rehearsal I also got to run through Sposa son Disprezzata with the accompanist. I finally have the timing and tempo correct. I think. There are a few parts where I have to remember to hold back on the breath at first, not to blurt it all out, so I have enough to finish the line. The other singers were coming in (with their parents, some of whom I might be older than…) while I was singing so it was good practice for me to have other people in the room and keep my focus. I did waver a little when I saw them look over. During the performance I focus on the back of the room, sort of toward the point where the wall meets the ceiling. And of course I will become the distraught, betrayed woman in the song, and try to get that emotion into my voice, all without losing my focus. That's the plan, at least.

They’re also doing a few scenes from Magic Flute, in English. I could overhear the 3 spirits singing, 3 girls, they sounded great. I’m looking forward to seeing it all.