31 October, 2006

my "old" life

When I was another age, major, in another town, trying to decide what I would do with my life, my normal routine was:

FIGHT about mideast public policy with other majors in our favorite class, DISCUSS daily most of the articles regarding international relations in the NYtimes and the BBC. READ at least three papers- Italian, French, Israeli in the original language online. WATCH political shows, FOLLOW the elections (oh 2004- remember when I cried in my dorm room at 3am?), try to PLAN how to save the modern middle east from civil war and possible nuclear proliferation with my best friend. Look up grants that would fund advanced placement highschools so I could be a guest lecturer at a school that I would set up which would teach kids about the international world, not just the US, and also have the best music and language program in the world. LISTEN to symphonies of Beethoven and discuss them. Listen to the German Requiem and conduct it in my PJs from my X-long twin sized bed across from my best friend and roommate who was working on a public policy final paper. Read Milan Kundera. Read histories, biographies, the greatest novels of our time perhaps.

Not everyone around me did the same thing, but many of my peers and surroundings lent themselves to this kind of discourse. The singing world outside of academia is so different. I don't think I've spoken once to an artist about policy, about any current event, about anything other than when their last coaching was, how their voice did that night, how much emergen-C they took that morning, what auditions they're doing.

In one week I'm going to be leaving here and traveling to NYC for a few auditions. And THEN traveling around the East coast visiting friends, family, schools, teachers, etc. I think this break is very much needed, if not from the hard work I've put in here, then for the actual contact with a "real" world. Of course, my world is real now because I am being paid to be a professional singer. But that is not all that I am!

I still read those papers, I still crave the stimulation of heated conversation about topics that have nothing to do with the voice, yet have everything to do with music, art, passion, life, war, tragedy, peace.

I find myself asking whether I will find that again. I still have those friends, but we are no longer in a competitive university environment where the hotheaded youths and leaders of tomorrow gather to let their ideas flow freely and idealistically.
They have day jobs, they are in law schools, they have husbands or wives, and even though I know that flicker is still inside them, as it is inside me, I don't know how to make it come alive again- or even whether I could- or whether it would even be the same.


30 October, 2006


Time for 3 law and order episodes on usa/tnt/spike/bravo for the next 5 hours!

No, really. Today was the LAST day of "fall" if you could say we had a fall season. The leaves didn't change, they just kind of dried up and fell off. We had an early frost and snow (read back to Oct.11th), but today was absolutely beautiful. No peacoat, no scarf, just a nice walk outside in the sun to commemorate the last day of this weather, as real midwestern winter is supposed to be here tomorrow night!



This I know: As soon as I get a NOT positive review, I'll stop thinking that it's so cool to get reviewed!
But until then: I got two awesome reviews!


29 October, 2006

opening night and thank you DST

Woo hoo! A success! Besides a fire alarm that went off right before Nicklausse's violin aria (it was perfect timing with the downbeat of the first measure actually---awesome---and it was just a FALSE alarm), everything went really smoothly. I felt really good vocally and on the stage. It was SO dry out there. Even with sour altoid, pineapple juice in my water, and taking my last sip before the chorus comes onstage (so about7 minutes before the aria), I was parched by that time and somehow just got through it I suppose, dry throat and all.

I met famous agent A, and although it's hard when you're painted yello and gold and in a huge costume to really feel like you're 'connecting' with someone, I think that A was impressed, which is always a good thing. Someone new to put on the list of email updates, etc., and hopefully in 2 years I shall have some sort of representation.

This being my first major role at this house I wanted to make sure that I'm giving a great performance and making a good-better than good- impression, so don't mind if I write down for the record here that I felt I really did do just that.

Oh, and thank you daylight savings time- spring forward fall back- for making this morning extra special with my next 30 minutes devoted to my warm bed, instead of having to get up, shower already, and be on my way to the matinee performance!


27 October, 2006

final dress

We performed a student matinee today for a full house, and also as our last dress rehearsal before opening night tomorrow. It was really fun! The kids obviously loved the over the top characters, costumes, and even the story. I think they were also really blown away by the operatic singing as well. For many it was their first opera- highschool and college kids.

I really like these kinds of performances because you know that you're making an impact. Whether it's one kid who doesn't 'dis classical music, or one student who pursues private lessons, one kid who may not turn the classical station off while tuning the car radio...or one whole convert to the art of opera- it feels good to be a part of that live experience for them.
I got to go out into the audience after the first act, spoke to students, asked them about their experience so far, and the response was really heartwarming. To see 16 and 17 year olds excited about something other than Laguna Beach or the OC or whatever other reality show/lifestyle is the hot topic this week.
Of course I'm lumping kids together when I don't even know them, but you just have to turn to tv today to see what kinds of shows these teens are watching (and 20somethings too!) and being influenced by.

At any rate, this isn't some social consciousness post, but I'll just end by saying it was a good final dress, I seem to have my makeup/hydration/costume/rake etc. issues under control. I had time to breathe for 2 minutes before I went on, and the recording I made with the minidisk was really nice! So now a new doll song with orchestra is available in my recording possibilities library.

Opening night is tomorrow. I'm excited. I had BETTER sleep well tonight. I didn't sleep at all last night- half because I had that 'I'm scared I won't hear my alarm so why doesn't my body refuse to sleep for more than one hour for the entire night' kind of night last night. I had to wake up at 7:30 for a radio interview for the show.

Of course wake up really meant just turning the lights on, since I'd been tossing and turning since 3am when I TRIED to go to sleep for the first time.
I think I'll be too exhausted to be nervous about sleeping tonight.


25 October, 2006

what's the deal with...

I am not a diva- and I did everything I could to be courteous and roll with the punches, BUT I do have to write about a few things that really put me off of my game at tonight's first piano dress. No one's fault, just things that upset a balance which I thought I had achieved already.

A. If you're going to give me rehearsal shoes that are heels that are completely different height and strap than what I end up wearing, what's the point of the rehearsal shoes?

B. See above and apply to costume size/balloon skirt size.

C. Umm, having to sit hidden behind a set piece for over 20 minutes onstage but behind a curtain waiting for an entrance without water, suckers, being able to do anything to warm up including lip trill = NOT the best performance of the doll song. And it's freezing. Thank you for the towel to wrap myself up in after you saw my teeth chattering together.

D. If there's a rake in the show, let's rehearse with a rake!

I know when you move into the theater you have to be flexible. Time is spent, techs are long, things are different, set pieces are added, are farther away, closer, etc.
But this was SO much!
First, not only were the shoes different, but they had no treads. I was literally ice skating on the stage.
And hello--I'm supposed to be a robot- it's not like I can look down and make sure I'm not walking down the (wider than rehearsal) correct stair, or making sure I'm not stepping into the one inch trench in between the two rake pieces that HAPPEN to be situated in the general direction that I have to twirl and scurry along in!!!

I felt SO off because I had to be worrying about whether I'd twist my ankle or not- not whether I could see the conductor, hear the pianist, get the character, fix all of the other director's notes that I've been working on getting in order.

Whew. Ok. It's out. I wrote it, and I didn't show it in rehearsal. It doesn't make me that upset, I just wish that the anxiety I had to be projecting tonight could have been replaced by confidence in the rehearsal and on the way to the performance.


24 October, 2006


All fixed!
A short session today in which I realized I was modifying my Ooo vowel into something too open and weird and smiley- like, too open but with an Eee vowel somewhere in there too.
So. Just sing the word Amour.
And then BREATHE and sing it on Ah!

That was real tough.

22 October, 2006


The sitzprobe went well last night except for ONE same thing that is happening more and more with this new strong "middle" voice that I have now. I haven't had a passagio in the past...I didn't feel a change in D,E,F,or G, and really only felt like I was getting high around the high C,D,E zone- which still didn't stop me from singing even higher.
Well- welcome to adult voice. It's just that G. If I approach it from the bottom I often forget how much new 'weight' I have down there, and sing it JUST under. It's not even close to being an F#. But it's not a G either. Something about it sounding like the vibrato is actually weighing it down rather than floating. And I've never really had to think about "float" or release before- I just sang. Which is what I'm obviously going to continue to do--- but I do have to note that in the doll song there are four very prominent held G's that I think I'm continuously under. I asked one of the coaches to listen for it, and they said, yes, they can hear it, but it's slight. Still, it's something I want to stop right now before it becomes a consistant problem. So far no other G's stick out in any of my other arias. If anyting, I think I wrote a post similar to this in the last year about the note D on the staff- how I can approach it from the top or bottom and if I'm holding it out to think up- that was in the O luce phase of recit. learning.
Well, now it's this isolated note in this aria. So at least it's not a constant--g is under-- kind of thing. Just have to think some more about it.
Dress rehearsals are all week and the show opens next weekend!


19 October, 2006

2nd post o' the day

Tonight we did a semi-run-through of the opera...and it went reaaaallllly well. The movements are coming more easily, the singing is not compromised by any of the jerking, twirling, bobbing, leaning, and other robotic moves that I'm making. The g's are coming out like buttah during the last run, I've taken what the director and conductor have mentioned, incorporated it, and actually remembered it all (!), and they are pleased with the result as well- as far as I can tell.

A special someone is coming to visit me this weekend. Of course it's the most busy weekend of the production- weekend of dress rehearsals and sitz probes for both casts, meaning I'm singing times 2. But it will still be great to have this weekend together, and then to see him in just a few weeks again!


decisions, decisions

My coaching today was part "Stop. Sing", part- I was still listening to myself.
The decided-upon rep is:
Starter for competitions: Lakme
Starter for audtions: Durch Z.

I WISH I could just sing Zerbinetta for everything, but
a. it's too long,
b. many people can't play it well,
c. some people think it's too--I don't know- academic or above their heads or something??? That's the usual "shrug" reacion that I have seen some other singers get when they bring this piece to auditions and competitions.

Of course, I'll have it on my list as usual, broken up into sections for starting (yuck), so we'll see if anyone will want to hear part of it.

I chose DurchZ because it's going to be like my Chacun was for the past 2 years- The thing that shows middle and line PLUS great high notes (well, unfortunately not a g this time- just that e). It's short, sweet, a character/acting piece, (plus it's Mozart) and THEN the panel can ask for what they want- if it's more coloratura- that's there. If it's recit, yep. If it's romantic or line--also there.

Plus all the other arias are over 6 minutes long- so they'll most likely ask for a section of an aria.

SO! After a killer DurchZ you can choose lakme, glitter, o luce, norina, zerb, queen--whatever you want! It's all going to be there and be easy to sing after DurchZ.

I used to think DurchZ was done by everyone and their mom, and that it was easy, and that every light voice did it. So I stopped singing it for a while. But now "they" (the powers that be) tell me that to hear a GOOD/GREAT DurchZ is pretty rare, it's rare that you hear someone who doesn't scare you approaching the top, or not breathing before the run, or just singing it really really well plus acting the crap out of it...so I suppose maybe even though it's sung by everyone and their mom, maybe they don't sing it as well as said powers think that I do.

Yay for a new short starting aria.
g...or z.


This morning after two run-through's of Hoffmann (just the first act), I had a rep. coaching where I decided to sing through the Bell Song and O luce...well, after two other tidbits of Lakme.
Here are my feelings on Lakme as a first time role that I will be singing this year, and how I'm preparing it.

This role is not only coloratura fireworks and that pretty duet they use in Giardelli chocolate or British Airways commercials. It is tender, calm, LOW, MIDDLE, lullabye, emotive-- I'd say it's close to Lucia in terms of emotion that you have to go through in each piece, and then also the absolute serenity of singing the "mad scene" that you have to approach some of the lullabyes with. Aaaanyway, it's challenging but in a really good way. Kind of like what Lucia was for me last year. The funny thing is, now I feel very comfortable with the low/middle lullabye sections and the gorgeous, long-phrased and lined pieces, and for some reason again my voice/mind connection decided to go on the fritz again today during the Lakme aria.

I have GOT to stop thinking about this. Thinking about anything that has to do with my singing. It's not that I'm actively listening to the sounds I'm making. On the contrary, I'm maybe questioning what the sound is, what vowel I'm using, asking if it's really free--- I mean- who needs that?! I just need to relax and sing like I know how to sing, emote like the character, feel the words...ahhh..sometimes it's so frustrating to pretend that no one ever "taught" you to sing or "tweaked" you or discussed "breathing" and "technique". It was all there from the start. It needed guidance and love and nurturing and time. And now it's here and ready!! And I have to just trust that feeling more.

Of course I was taught. Of course I learned things along the way. But when it comes to performing and singing, all of those learned skills should come naturally now. There is no reason for my mind to wander and wonder whether it's going well! And still, it happens. Maybe it was because it was a coaching- and I tend to "listen" more in those types of situations rather than onstage where I have do just do my thing. Listen to see if everything in those lessons is actually working out in this coaching..and WILL work out in auditions and in the role.

Goal for tomorrow's Met competition repertoire coaching: STOP. SING.


16 October, 2006

tax talk

I know, I know, it's not that time of year...YET! But I was going through some receipts today, trying to add up in my head what I've made/think I'll be making, and then all of the expenses I have...and I've come to a question that I can't answer--yet! (The power of google lies ahead)

So- I moved to this city.
I had moving expenses- liiike, packing up my previous apt., driving my car out here, and purchasing and new bedroom set, as well as a plethora of other household items at Target and Walmart that were NECESSARY for my life as a singer here.

However--I am currently employed by an opera company that takes out state and federal taxes.
I will be paid from Sept-Nov., and then from Jan.-May.

What does that mean in terms of any deductions?

I am not a resident here, but then again, I do not have another household where I AM a resident (ok, I guess I'm a resident here..eventhough I'm not changing my driver's license or anything).

Expenses such as rent/electric/per diem food, etc...are something that I would be able to deduct if I were say, at a summer young artist program for three months... but what do I do about that HERE?

I moved here for the purpose of being contracted and employed by a certain company. THEY are not paying my expenses, they are paying me a salary.

What's the deal?
Off to google to find out.


15 October, 2006

151st post

Not bad for blogging on blogger since January and I'm NOT even counting the blog posts that I moved here from livejournal!!!

I have officially completed my outreach concerts for the season (until January that is), by singing the last Donor Benefit concert on Saturday night, and then completing the fun (but very early am) Queen of the Night concerts with orchestra here..ok, those weren't outreach out of necessity, that was a real job- but it was still for kids and families!
After 6 Queens over 3 days (only the aria, but still, you warm up, you sing half the aria, you make sure you have the F's, you warm DOWN so you can sing the middle, etc), feeling a bit under the weather during most of them, and having mainstage rehearsal at the same time, I can officially say I've been a trooper for these things during the past week.

We haven't begun tech week yet, but this week I'm looking forward to just a few lighter rehearsals, and then when the orchestra and tech nights start, hopefully I'll be more refreshed, less reacting to the heat being on and the weather being around the freezing point, and even a little healthier (after I go explore Trader Joes and Whole Foods tomorrow!)

night night,

Grease 2

Is on ABC family right now.
Oh, the memories and moments that I could spend recounting and re-singing my Musical Movie obsessed childhood...

Woo hoo! I get to flip between this and any episode of Law and Order that USA/TNT/Spike has!!!

It's nice to wind-down after tonight's donor concert with some brainless tv.
Although I am reading a new good book called "The Shadow of the Wind" by Zafon....I know, I know, sounds like some sort of modern romance with Fabio on the cover, but actually so far it's a nice escape into the old winding alleys of Spain and the Mediterranean breezes with a novel about a novel.

Back to Michelle Pfeiffer and that hot Australian or British guy.


13 October, 2006

bday sickness

It's that time of year again... around every birthday I either get a cold, weird allergies, or just feel like crap for a day or two. Maybe it's psychological and I feel like I need some sort of babying, needing to be taken care of, so my body tries to get me to stay in bed for two days. Well, whatever it is, I feel sniffly, kind of congested, and just want to spend the day under the blankets!

Too bad I have two coachings and a dress rehearsal today. Otherwise, even though it's the weekend night that I get to do something for my Bday, I think I may just stay in tonight.


11 October, 2006


still my bday. in a bad mood post-rehearsal. not cool.
tired and annoyed at life.
you'd think at this age i would have things more figured out,
or at least not let the annoying things get to me so much.
One hour and ten minutes until this day is over.


birthday blog

Happy birthday to me! I woke up at 7:30am to get ready to sing QOTN in two concerts this morning. Got my glitz and glam on in my gown at 9:30am and onstage at 10:15. Both concerts went nicely. I sang well, felt good, conductor wants my card!, and only have 4 more to go!

g (feeling slightly older today as it is a definite milestone of the 20s).

09 October, 2006

photoshoot and photoshop

The leading ladies of Hoffmann had a photoshoot this evening. As one of the ads that will be publicizing the production, we're all going to appear around Hoffmann in our "element" ie- costume and attitude.
As I mentioned below my costume is Krazy femmebot with stuck up blond hair pasted onto my head, so it already feels weird to be "cute" as the doll. I went with more of the pursed lip, doe-eyed, surprised that I'm in love even though I'm hot kind of look. I hope it works and something comes out well.

Now that I know about photoshop and how EVERY picture in EVERY magazine is automatically reduced to 96% (well, maybe not every, but a lot), I am just hoping that this turns out well. Besides my headshots I've never been in a photoshoot. I kind of felt like Zoolander- "You're a MONKEY Derrick"...or something like that. Moving your head to a different angle every two shots. Smiling just a bit differently. Moving the chin up (NO double chin here!).

It was fun. I have got to try and get to bed early tonight because of the concert dress rehearsal tomorrow where I sing Queen on the "early" side of the day.
For now, it's relaxing, drinking some more water and maybe even doing a little ginger tea action later on tonight.


lunch break update

It was better today with what I had thought up, but still not what is wanted. Therefore, it's private time for me and the AD with the specific moves that they want and me learning them.
It just got cold here, which means I'm in for my usual birthday/change of season cold/sickness/allergy. Not too cool because I have 6 concert performances of QOTN coming up tomorrow through the weekend, plus a donor dinner to sing at this Saturday night.

Yesterday I felt sneezy and stuffy. This morning I felt dry. Now I feel like there's a lump of nastiness in the middle of my throat which I obviously can't cough up or else I'll just start coughing and make myself worse.

Water, Airborn, and Vitamin C, here I come.


unblocked blocking

I currently have a Word document open in which I have pretty much typed out every move I'm making onstage during my aria. Except that it hasn't been performed this way for the director-yet. That comes tomorrow morning. The first blocking day was ...interesting....

Ok, so I had an idea about the "character". I mean, really, this is not such a character- it's a doll people. In the past I've played it as a few things, but most successfully, a ragdoll (making total body convulsions and head shaking possible), and also somewhat of a conscious character in terms of "uh oh! musically something is about to go wrong with my springs right now, I wonder what it is! Oh no! My arm is twitching! and there goes my head..." etc. etc. So my facial expression has changed from plastered smile to "uh oh" doll, and I've basically been very "loose" in a controlled manner to try to make an effect (successful as far as I'm told and reviewed and ...) that I'm a really funny doll that breaks down a lot.

Weeeelllll... welcome to different and new production. I'm now expressionless (really, just a doll), have no idea why or how things go wrong with me, most of my movements are more mechanical, come from the waist instead of the whole body. Long story short, I felt completely bare in the first staging in terms of having to get up there, sing it with the eye on the conductor, and then out of the corner of my eye watch the director who is blocking it according to their vision, yet hadn't really made clear what they wanted yet.

By the end of it I was sweating, and also frustrated at how challenging it is each time to adapt something that is so normal for you, to someone else's idea. I've had to repeat roles before (this one included), but never has it been such different body work, which then translates into different feeling of support while singing. I have time to get this in my body. I have time to convince myself that this character and this blocking will work for me. I have time to get it into my voice while moving differently and breathing differently. I have time for everything- which is the greatest part of this challenge.

I think mentally there is also a challenge of liking it "this" way, or selling it "this" way and feeling like it will work just as well as 'before'. It's funny how one wouldn't really think I have to come up with a character for the doll, but watching youtube and google videos and anything I can get my hands on of famous performances and stagings of this, you can go from vixendoll to kidsister doll to divadoll to robotdoll.

I think for this one my costume is definitely femmebot/showgirl. So I need to figure out how to mechanically incorporate the technical moves into femmebot moves. Anyone have an Austin Powers netflix I can borrow?
It will involve hips, and a very wide stance (also something that is worth a later posting- POSTURE when you sing).


06 October, 2006

just in case

Just in case you actually wanted to see said costume from below post that is keeping the fridge door shut for me, turn to this month's Opera News and checkout what Ms. Coburn is wearing in the Olympia pic attached to the review of Hoffmann.

...And then continue reading for a page or two and my name will be there too! hee hee. Or is it a page before..I don't know. It's fun though.


04 October, 2006

holy costume batman! (or, I like my butt and I cannot lie)

I had my costume fitting for Olympia today. WHOOOOO EEEEEE! Do I have to watch what I eat and go to the gym between now and opening night!

It's actually really cute and pretty..and GOLD. It fits fine, but there is much visible leg (well, in gold tights, but still), there is much visible...umm...upper chestal area (ie gold strings attached from my neck to two boob cups that hold them in with a corset attached), and much visible arms (which I've NEVER been able to tone..maybe because I give up after 2 reps of 8lbs each at the gym--haha..and by gym I mean the next door hotel's workout room where I sometimes walk briskly on the treadmill for 45 minutes).

Since this is a co-production I was able to see pics of the gals who wore the costume before me (actually there were two sizes made for the two ladies), and I'm actually fitted into the smaller one (by two inches-woohoo!), with some zipper issues on the arm clamps- who knew that being right handed meant that they would have to let out the skin-tight gold tubing in my wrist and my arm by 1/2 an inch JUST on the right side? I've never really had size/body issues, except for the fact that I want to stay below a certain weight in my head, try to eat healthy (ish), and FEEL and know that I could be more toned, but have gym-attendance issues. So...I guess I DO have body issues, I just don't take any measures to actually attain those body goals because I know I'm fine and even on the small side for society as I am...whether I want to be a certain "number" or "size" smaller in my own opinion.

On the other hand, I haven't since my adult life of buying dresses/jeans been a size zero- I just jumped from Gapkids to a 4/6, so there's no point in wishing that somehow I'd drop a bit. I like my butt. I like my boobs. If I lost any weight, I'd lose it up top first, and that would just be a shame! Especially for a certain man who's coming to visit me soon.
I could use a trainer in toning though. But doesn't theat mean lifting weights? And isn't that like, heavy and stuff? and hurts your neck sometimes? I'd like more muscular legs and arms, but what is that really going to take?

Some guys are obsessed with the gym, lifting, bulking up. I really don't want bulk. I want tone. And I do know that's usually what women get when they do easy lifting with many reps. But I have no plan. And even if I did, what would be the odds that I followed it correctly AND saw the results by opening night in 3 weeks? Any website suggestions? Maybe I'll google it tonight. Or maybe instead of watching CONSTANT Law and Order reruns on TBS/TNT/USA I should turn to the "FITtv" channel and see what I can do on my bedroom floor!


02 October, 2006

breaking the fast...

Today and last night I thought about life, future, past, and collected myself anew in hopes of a sweet year filled with happiness and health.

Then I broke the fast with Chinese food. The food of Jews on Christmas, when normal restaurants are closed.

Tomorrow is the first day of Hoffmann rehearsal. I feel like I'm more nervous about what I'm going to wear for the new cast/conductor than my actual singing in rehearsal! I do love the doll and hope that he is ok with my cadenzas and other note interpolation craziness.