31 October, 2010

happy halloweeny

I'm not dressing up for Halloween or anything, but..since it IS Halloween here, I suppose I could comment on the fact that I do miss suburban life trick'er'treating for the BIG candy bars at the rich people's houses up the street from my high school, and I do miss 'urban' life's adult Halloween parties. What other day of the year do you have an excuse to dress up as 'sexy' batgirl, wearing pretty much nothing but pink boyshorts undies and a pink cape and parade around nyc freezing your butt off?

Last night I had another performance of Koenigin...except, this time, it was at PREVIOUS-theater...the one I've been Guest-ing at for the past year.
And I haven't done the show there since JUNE...
So, having just worked in another production, with a different maestro with COMPLETELY different tempi (if you can believe it, for the arias...yes, it's very very true)...and I found myself last night sitting in the dressing room and...thinking about whether I would LIKE to do Queens over and over and over again.
Yes, it's an 'easy' sing for me. But it's also kind of a mind-trip...going from one show to the next with no re-rehearsal. Of course, the blocking is never hard unless you're catapulted out of the depths of the earth at warp speed by a pulley-machine rigged to the OTHER Queen's weight which was not changed to YOUR (lighter) weight (yes, that happened to me right before Der Hoelle Rache), but there is of course the "pressure" of Koenigin.
The pressure that even though you know you can wake up and sing this aria right out of bed with the F's perfect EVERY.Single.Time...the pressure JUST to see if THIS time around in live performance they will all come out perfect. The pressure NOT to let your mind wander since it IS so 2nd nature already. The pressure to make it a perfect and memorable experience for the audience..who up until now is getting a bit sleepy after the long intermission and the slow beginning of Act II, and who KNOW this aria in and out...in whatever tv commercial, online version of an 11 year old boy singing it, etc. They KNOW it.
As "easy" as a sing as it can be...it's never easy once you get onstage.
And that's something that I have to keep reminding myself as I calmly sit backstage knitting or listening to some pop music on my ipod or playing wordwarp on my iphone backstage...feeling no nerves at all because I know I've 'done' it so much..but then getting out there and remembering how much of a 'performance' I do want to give.
It's like I have to remember to 'get pumped' before I'm onstage, even though that 'get pumped' feeling usually shows up by itself via nerves. Now I have no nervous feelings anymore, so I have to find something to replace that with, to get my body and mind ready to 'SANG' it.

28 October, 2010

home sweet home

The last show of the production went off without a hitch. I say that, because there COULD have been a quite uncomfortable hitch..that being..me not arriving in time for the show.
You see, we had 3 days off in between performances so I decided to take a trip home.
Another singer had an audition in ITALY so I figured my 2 hour train ride wasn't too far away.
Until the rail strike, that is.
I arrived at the correct track for my 7:29am train -- supposed to arrive at my final destination with no changes...in 2 hours.
Well, one stop later, we get a nice little announcement over the intercom in 5 languages saying- due to the train strike we have no idea when we will be moving again or why we are really stopped.
Now, I had well over 9 hours to arrive back at the show...but I'm sitting on this train, unable to sleep since I'm on pins and needles no knowing if we will move. We are first stuck at a pretty large city/station. So I'm thinking- do I get off? Do I try to rent a car? Do I go the the AIRPORT?
TWO and a half hours later, we're on the move. Again, not knowing whether at the NEXT station stop, we will also sit on the tracks for a while.
In the end, everything turned out ok (of course it did, I just said the last show went well!), and I made it back by 12:30pm, managed to sleep for 3 hours, woke up in the mid-afternoon from my nap feeling like SHIT, and said to myself-- ok ..one more. I can get it together for this.. but really, I had NO idea if the F's would want to come out and play. I couldn't even talk in a normal speaking voice without cracking, that's how tired my body was.
But, I took a shower. For like 35 minutes. Steam. Heat. Does wonders for the body and voice.
Started warming up lightly in the shower and before you know it...I'm just fine.
Feeling energized again, warmed up way past the F, and voila- no worries for the show.
The show was great, the colleagues were lovely, the weather was a bit dreary most of the time, and I had a really nice 'artistic' time..even though I COULD have done a lot more studying of future-scores on my days off. As I've said before, I think it's pretty tough to motivate other music-learning while on a gig. But at least now I have a month and a half until the next one.
Until then, auditions are already lined up, beginning with travels to the south next week.
And in all of my time 'off' in between I'll be looking at 3 scores/4 roles.
Good to be home.

22 October, 2010

...what it feels like, for a girl...

Warning: Do not continue reading if you don't want to read about that 'totm' (that's time of the month to you MALES of the sex).
Singing and being a girl.
What an amazing combination...exciting high notes, falling in love at break-neck speed, dramatic death scenes,..and sometimes, when the full moon feels like really messing with you, having to sing a show while feeling that there are two very small but super-powerful ninjas inside of you trying to high kick and karate chop their way through your lower abdomen.

Add a corset, a really tight 'Shira'-esque utility belt completely bedazzled with fake jewels that is also a handy dagger-holder, and the fact that you CANNOT take off you costume ALONE to 'pee'(yea...), (and the dresser likes to take cigarette breaks..OFTEN..and you can't find her for most of the show)...oh yea, and SOME HIGH F's.... and you've got me last night.

I will say that no matter how physically blah I'm feeling, it usually does not take any kind of toll on the singing. If anything, people say I sound stronger, more forceful, more dramatic. Thanks crazy hormones of lady-ness!
I think it's just me taking all that flying dragon crouching tiger stabbing inside and translating it into my 'character'. HA.

Two more shows and then I'm back home!
New music to learn, routines to return to, and hopefully some auditions thrown in the mix with one or two day travel.

What I have left in my kitchen right now:
Taboule, cherry tomatoes, butter, 2 plums

no bread, no milk, but I have 1/2 a box of smacks (known as BEE POPS here).

Wonder if I can make it until the end of the run.
Oh, and a LOT of opening night chocolate.
Yea, I can do it.

20 October, 2010

day off

Show number 4 is tomorrow.
Show number three was the 'relaaaaaaxed' show. Everyone got over the opening night jitters, the first matinee slump/fake energy, and now we are in a rhythm.
We know our calls and sometimes get to stage just as the SM turns around to call us.
We take our time to get that 2nd wig change because we already know that the makeup and hair staff is outside smoking a cigarette and having yet another coffee at that exact 5 minutes when we're called to the chair.

I'm still not quite sure what to do with my days off.
I actually bought knitting needles and some yarn, turned on youtube, watched a video about how to get the yarn on the needle, then watched a video about how to knit.
And now..I'm 1/4 done with a scarf.
Except my fingertips hurt from stabbing the tips of them with the needles all the time.

I tried a bit during the show as well, which was pretty calming actually. Instead of eating chocolate and trying to unsuccessfully concentrate on reading books (calls get in the way of truly reading an entire page)...
So, maybe that trend will continue.

I KNOW that as soon as this production is over I'll be in music-learning mode again.
Actually, the other night I DID bring super-future score to the dressing room and managed to do a bit of work on the 'interjection' lines of the first act.

So there, productivity after all!!

17 October, 2010

opening niiiiight and the following matinee

Woo hoo! Had a great opening night of Zauberfloete.
At this point I am most comfortable in saying that I have no weirdo pre-show routine for THIS show, and perhaps this show only in my life...so far.
I have sung it so many times. I know the notes will be there. I can eat bbq flavored potato chips in my dressing room, followed by half a twix bar BEFORE the first aria and the second half of the bar BEFORE the second aria. I can have cereal with milk for breakfast, or I can have pineapple for breakfast.
And IT DOESN"T MATTER which is -- awesome!
I am relaxed. I KNOW that everything rides on those high F's, and I know that I got'em...so...I'm pretty much good to go.

YES, there is that moment right before the set opens up to reveal me before the act I aria that my heart starts pumping harder than usual. Yes, I can feel my heartbeat going a bit higher and faster...but no, it doesn't affect me.

Before the second aria there is just so much dialogue that frankly, if I worried about ANYTHING at all it would be that dang dialogue, not the aria.
And once I get through the FIRST run with the F's, the rest is easy as pie.

Opening night went really well. Had a resting day off where I nearly went stir crazy inside because it was rainy and freezing outside and I didn't want to risk a late-in-the-production chill. I went out to dinner with some castmates last night (pasta with salmon), woke up around 10am today, left for the theater at 1, and the show began at 3pm.

Today the audience was much more enthusiastic, although I'm not quite sure the performers were. For me, it's a total of 10 minutes of singing, so I crank it up every time..frankly, with Queen, there is no way not to.
But most people hate matinees- whether it's immediately after opening night, or after a day off..it's still tough to get INTO it after waking up early, freaking out because you've been on a late night sleep schedule and now it's 10am and you have to make sure the voice is there at 3pm instead of 8pm. The second performance is usually dubbed the lower-energy performance by the singers. So a few singers were feeling sluggish in energy, but I don't know whether it made a difference on stage or not (since I never sing with anyone until the 'death scene' at the end!). Well, I sing TO Tamino and Pamina, but in this production I don't really have contact with them directly.

Aaaanyway, I'm feeling GOOD about today's performance AND opening night.
I have SO much yummmmy chocolate from the bonbons that we all gave each other, and yes, I have been eating them. And will continue to do so. DON"T JUDGE.
NO, I haven't been doing yoga every day either. please don't judge?

14 October, 2010

it's the day before the show, y'all!

My routine?
Do as much of NOTHING as possible.
I have the majority of my 'toi toi toi' notes written (except the director and maestro which always take a bit more time).
I will attempt to drink water today. More water than usual..and my usual is about .75 liters. Ooops. Yea, I know, I should try to improve that, seeing how it's a whopping 2 glasses out of 8 that we are 'supposed' to have per day.
But I ate a clementine! Does that count?

The rest of today's options:
Learn new music? NAAHHHHHH!

Clean the apartment and put all the clothes away that I have been throwing on the floor after arriving home for the past 2 nights at midnight after our tech and dress? MOST LIKELY NOT.

Watch movies and be online from 6pm until I try to go to bed around 2am? Most likely.

11 October, 2010


My horoscope for this week:
This week is very impressive with its 'long range success' potential and other forms of 'down the road' happenstance near the 11th to 13th. Foreign connections, invitations to speak, perform, attend and expand are likely and can come 'at the last moment'. Power people favor you boldly near the 11th and again the 14th. Cooperation appears slightly more challenging the 13th to AM of the 15th but you have to show your 'creative problem solving abilities' and what may appear to be controversy on the surface, may actually be the universe giving you the chance to 'showcase' your abilities.

Well allllrighythen!

05 October, 2010

remember that time...

when I talked about time management? And how I 'professionally' posted that this business is mostly about waiting around to go onstage?
And how I always have the next score I have to learn with me? and a book? and my iphone?

Well. I have those three things here too (minus the iphone since I"m not paying that ridiculous amount per month for world service, thank you very much!)...and I still think I win the prize for BEST at doing NOTHING when I have to WAIT to do SOMETHING.

I arrived to rehearsal at 1:30 today for our costume run. Except, my costume wasn't ready. So I had 30 minutes to kill until the top of the act. Except, I don't sing at the top of the act.
So I have 25 more minutes to kill.
And then I sang my aria.
And then it was about 2:35. And then...it was 5pm and I had done NOTHING but sit in my dressing room.
I tried to read 3 pages of a new book.
I opened next-next-score...once.
I actually LOOKED for a pencil in my bag (and didn't find one..because I was using another bag last week and it got lost in the transfer) so that I could maybe WRITE something...like, a haiku.

Called to Rehearsal
Why isn't wi-fi working?
Hours til my aria.

Koenigin der nacht
Epitome of evil
Ten minutes of song.

Ok, time to get my things together and go back for ActII this evening.

01 October, 2010

funny/crazy (business of singing, kinda)

You know what? I was just re-reading my B.(o).S - Business Of Singing posts from the year 2005-2006, and I would not change a word or an experience that I had.
I did the BA/BM. I did the free MM (as I postured, pay for a great undergrad, GET paid to sing for the grad, if you can). I did the language immersion (semester Italy, summer Germany). I did the residency (even though I had a backup plan in case that didn't happen). I did the summer YAP auditions/preparations for 2-3 summers both while I was ALREADY employed in a residency, AND while I was experiencing what I said NOT to do, which was- move to NY for auditions. Although, my move to NY was because I already had an offer from a manager to COME to ny, and so even though I worked a part time job, what I was really doing was dipping my toe in the 'professional' lifestyle pool of a managed singer, living in NY, working between auditions, and hoping that these auditions with the new management would take me AWAY from New York.
A few months later, gigs started rolling in. I was gone for more of the year, but still had no 'other' place to call home, so I actually started looking for real estate in nyc. OH HARLEM 2br SUNNY apartment that was under 300thou, how I WISH I had invested in you when the market was still in my favor. Bygones.
And professional gigs, however many or few per year, continued to roll in from about 2007 until today...as a 'free lance'/guest singer, not doing residencies, and not doing young artist programs anymore.
And New York, well that was an 8 month stint, followed by planning a European audition tour, which turned into another crazy chapter of life called- falling in love, getting married, moving abroad...which brought on CURRENT chapter of life- juggling a singing career in both the US and abroad.

So- let's talk about THAT!
Recently on nfcs a professor asked that some PROFESSIONALS (am I that now?!?!?!) fill in the blanks so that some of his students could do a project about what they THOUGHT a singer's life/pay/rehearsal day was like.

I answered for both the US and for Germany. In my experience. Of course, it's very different in both places, but what I find myself thinking about more and more, is the fact that I am here, and there is still a whole lotta 'crazy' going on in NYC.
And this is the life that I HAD. Just a few years ago. Living there, and making EVERY.Audition.REQUESTED of me. And nailing it, because there were just SO many auditions that how could you NOT nail it? Auditioning was my JOB. I owned it. Loved it, knew exactly how many minutes it would take to walk from my apartment to NOLA, IN my audition dress, but my fake UGG boots (with heels in my bag), what rep. I'd be singing, who else I would MOST likely see there that was my 'direct competition', what rep THEY would be singing, and how I would rock out my Zerbie/Blondchen/Marie/Cunegonde or whatever else they asked for.

I suppose there is an 'audition season' here in Europe, which is, mostly late fall, with some spring opportunities. But in general, theaters have house auditions. Every 2 weeks or so. IF you can get a SPOT in those auditions, it's kind of like a no pressure situation. They aren't looking for specific rep (like in the US, where you always know what you're singing for). They aren't looking for a specific singer, unless they immediately need to fill a fest position. It's just like - rolling up and saying 'watup, yo!, I can sing Koenigin, wanna hear my high F's?' and they're all like- 'sure, ok, that's cool.'.

And it's not some CRAZY thing where you see all 5 of the girls who sing the exact.same.rep as you do in the hall before the audition, and one after the other goes in to sing chacun le sait (only I add the high g's, thank you very MUCH!). And you don't feel the PRESSURE that those ADs in the room have to cast for next season and next season and hear 30 people per day for the 3 days they are in new york.

But on some level, I REALLY miss that pressure and insanity. Because it gets to be routine. And once it's routine, you're golden. Nothing can get you off of your game.
Bad weather? Early morning audition? Sinus? A little cold? NOPE- your throat is a MACHINE. You can do it no matter what!

And so, here is where I am now. With great connections and offers from houses in the US (about to get greater next year). STARTING to get the hang of what's going on here in Europe, although still needing to get myself out there to MORE German and French houses. Especially French, I HOPE, soon. Representing myself well everywhere, but still trying to find that 'in' for how you REALLY get noticed at a 'house audition' when you're not specifically auditioning for anything.
WANTING to continue to work on 2 continents (and more!), but knowing that IF I have gigs during "US audition season" ie, Oct.-Dec., that the likelihood of the US gigs continuing will be mostly based on previous work and previous houses inviting me back, not necessarily auditions. (Which is why I'm back this year at all three houses that I'll be singing with in 2011).
Also huffing and puffing at the doors of my 'local' houses in Dland- not sure how to get auditions there yet, but obviously having the "Koenigin card" which I'm happy to play IF they are also interested in Olympia, Zerbinetta, and any of my other repertoire.

And there you are. Yes, I'm busy. Yes, this is my career. And my ONLY career at that. Yes, I'm making enough money to support myself and contribute to my now '2 income household'. Yes, I want to be busier. A lot of the Europeans I meet here do a LOT of concerts. I have NEVER done a concert. I mean one with Lieder and a chamber orchestra. I've done Carminas and Messiahs and such...but maybe that would be something to look into for the future.
So now it's about balance, remaining competitive which is ALWAYS my nature (with myself, not others)..but of course, I have to get the audition date and THEN bring it. And perhaps looking into this whole concertizing thing. OOOH! A NEW PROJECT to explore!
Not like I don't already have WAY too many things to learn or google already.

Ok, that was long. It's past noon. I'm in bed. I have no more chocolate muesli. It may be a croissant breakfast kind of day. IF I get out of bed.
That jogging/running project? NIXED by crappy weather. I PROMISE I will try again in the spring or when I have a treadmill at my next hotel stay in the US.
For NOW- it's 40 minutes of yoga per day (from online videos for free) plus some situps and girly pushups.