Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pre-Hijack 6 Month Update

I seriously haven’t posted since JANUARY????? Yikes.

So I guess I’ll squash 6 months worth of opera and Mars activity into one post before hijacking my own blog to participate in an education chat over the summer.

One topic at a time:

First… The WING is no longer. I’m not sure what happened. So … I’m back on the main stage, as they call it. I’ve performed in two concerts. One was “April in Paris” and it was so much fun!
It was held at a historic mill – basically this large barn-like structure with some antique milling equipment still there. The stage is about 2 steps up from the floor. The floor was set with little round tables, cabaret style. There was a table of food at the back. And as the name suggests, it was all in French. Now, to back up… I had been working on Voi che sapete, then I learned of the theme about a week and a half before the show. French! Hmmm… back when I first began studying voice, I did learn a few songs in French. The easiest one for me to relearn in time to perform was The Tipsy Waltz. There were two Opera Project rehearsals and I had just one voice lesson before the concert.  It’s such a short song that
I sang it through twice. See if you can tell when I spilled the wine all over my dress.

The next month we had another cabaret-style concert at the mill. This time I sang Voi che sapete. The person who recorded this for me probably didn’t realize he was recording it sideways! Here we go:

I still need to work on standing still! Also, breath control. Remember to breathe! But I’m doing so much better with keeping my voice on top of the air.

Now I’m learning this silly aria from Barber of Seville. The maid sings it – it’s about how crazy the house is with everyone being in love with all different people, love is this terrible thing and OH NO SHE FEELS IT TOO. No video yet of ME singing it. Here’s a silly one I like. It doesn’t include the recit, which is a about 30 seconds long.

Then the other day I found a CD I made of accompaniments for songs I was learning with my voice teacher. I sang through them for my current voice teacher and we decided to work on Gretchen am Spinnrade and Vedrai carino. And I’m going into it all with the attitude of DON’T FEAR THE HIGH NOTES!!

So that’s the voice lesson summary. Now, onto the performances I’ve attended.

JOYCE DIDONATO in Princeton! Yes indeed. She is amazing. Had front row balcony in a tiny tiny venue.

Then I saw her AGAIN in May at the Met. La Cenerentola. Went alone. Went to the matinee. Took myself out for lunch at Bar Boloud beforehand. Food and service were fab fab fab. I had the prix-fix 3 course lunch. There was pate with these tiny pickles, quiche and a pear tart.

It was more food than I could eat. Then I went across the street to the Met and made my way to my seat in the orchestra rear. I was about 3 rows from the very back. View from my seat:
The opera itself was FABULOUS. But of course it was. How can any opera with Juan Diego Florez and Joyce DiDonato be anything but? She'll be there again next year. And so will I of course!

Next season I plan to see The Merry Widow and of course La Donna Del Lago. Nathan Gunn, Renee Fleming, Juan Diego Florez, Joyce DiDonato and John Osborn!!! Whoop whoop. Will convince the Huz to come with me to at least one of those.

Finally, in Mars news... not much. Saw Artifact in NYC. Ticket included Q&A and photo with Jared. He saw me and said, "Hey! The opera singer! We have an opera singer here!" And I swooped in for the hug. 

Future Mars news: 2 shows in August, but they're sharing the billing with another band so I have a feeling the crowd won't be the same. We'll see!

And now, the next several posts over the summer will be related to a virtual camp I'm participating in, about school involvement in the community. And maybe opera stuff, if anything happens in the middle of the summer.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

No Fear!

Normally I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but this year I did make just one: Don’t fear the high notes. There are notes that I can comfortably hit and sustain, but for some reason when they turn up with certain words in a song, or in a certain jump from another note, I swallow them. Why? Fear. For some reason I’ve been afraid of sounding screechy or flat or just plain wrong. But that fear was causing me to close up, which of course then makes the note screechy or flat or wrong. So from now on my motto is, don’t fear the high notes.

I've been missing my previous voice teacher a lot lately.  I can imagine what she'd tell me to do when the notes don't come out the way I want them to. Sometimes I can hear her voice in my head, telling me to lift lift lift my voice on top of the air, aim between my eyes, and so on.
I’m working on The Sun Whose Rays are All Ablaze, from the Mikado. There’s one note that under any other circumstance I have ZERO problems with, but here for some reason I have a mental block. I think it’s due to the consonants. The note is on the words, “our worth” and “awake.” I think the W is messing me up. And let’s not even talk about the R in “worth.” In fact, let’s forget it exists. The K in “awake,” too. Doing the W and then the R or K has been my downfall. Sure I want to have good pronunciation, but the phrase is repeated a moment later in notes that I sing just fine. It’s more important to keep a beautiful, round, rich open tone than to worry about pronouncing these two words perfectly. When I stuck that idea into my head, suddenly I could sing the notes! Such a simple solution. I just need to practice, practice, practice so that I do it correctly every time.

At yesterday’s voice lesson there were a few other people in the house, so for me it was a chance to practice singing in front of people. I definitely felt a little self-conscious. But after a little while I got used to it. I told my teacher how well I can sing in the shower and she suggested I keep that relaxed shower attitude whenever I sing. Except, keep my clothes on. Obviously.

She actually feels I’ve progressed enough to sing with the Opera Project main stage again. I’m not sure how to even bring that up with the director. I did ask him if they plan on having Wing singers in any main stage concerts this year, but they haven’t planned that far ahead yet. Then he told me that the Wing is planning to do scenes from Marriage of Figaro this Spring. To me, that’s pretty much a message to stay with the Wing. So for now I’ll just wait.
There’s actually no news on any upcoming Wing concerts for the library series. However, I learned that the showcase concert in May is going to be a little different this year. In the past, they assigned roles for a few scenes, and also had people sing arias or art songs. This time around they’re having auditions. I’ve been working on Marcelina’s part in the duet “Via resti servita” and I (personally) think that would be a fun one to do. But as much as I’d love to be in a scene, the reality of the situation is, I can’t attend a whole bunch of regular rehearsals, what with working full time, having a young kid who’s in swimming, baseball and sometimes soccer, etc. It’s also hard for me to find the time to learn the recit. I asked them if there’d be any possibility of a “park and bark” as I like to call it, to see if I can sing an aria or art song, but they said that Figaro will pretty much take up the entire program. So unless I get a part that’s just me running on stage and singing, I might not be able to participate. That makes me sad, especially because my former teacher created the Wing for people like me, to get practice singing in front of an audience. I don’t have a future goal of being a professional opera singer. I just like to sing. I kind of feel like a scenes-only show (consisting of mainly high-school students) excludes people like me – adults with a full time job and a family — and therefore goes against my former teacher’s intention when she created the group. But the group has evolved, as groups do, and there’s nothing I can do about it except continue to ask if I can do an aria. And I'll audition for the concert when the time comes. Hopefully it will all work out. Meanwhile, I’ll keep on studying. And who knows what other performance opportunities might crop up.