26 October, 2015

on the move

Let's skip the part about how I haven't blogged for years...shall we?

News: After SIX years it looks pretty official that I'll be leaving 'abroad'. Leaving 'expat life'. And making a return across the Atlantic to the big ole' U.S.ofA.

They always say the grass is always greener...but actually, I've loved having a career in Europe. The fire, the passion, the MULTITUDE of opera houses, the feeling that even if I was unknown and even if I was the 'most famousest', getting 'just heard' at an audition just about anywhere would be possible. The love of the art by 'the normal people' who, walking by the opera house on a Thursday evening might just decide to pop on in for whatever show is playing-- in their jeans...and maybe also with their kids!

And now, all of a sudden, moving back, although a wonderful opportunity in a new city where people speak ENGLISH (well, sort of- I'll have to learn the accent, alright, y'all?)...my world just seems to have gotten SO MUCH SMALLER.
I was speaking to someone 'in the biz' about auditions and they said that there are fewer than 20 opera houses in the US that a person 'of my level' would sing at right now. He was not being condescending to all of the amazing 'start-up' operas, mom-and-pop smaller houses in regional areas of the country that otherwise would have NO opera-- no, not saying that that tiny regional gigs are not 'good'- but just that they're not WORTH it for the fee-- this person surprised me by saying- "you'd be better off staying at home having quality time with your kids than net 1-2thousand dollars for 5 weeks on the gig".

And that just, honestly, surprised me. Coming from a manager-- coming from someone who wants singers to be promoted, to be SINGING, to be having careers-- but someone that also understood that there is a value that is now 'fixed' in my life, and that is- staying with my family, and in this person's opinion, those gigs which would pay me under a certain amount- would not be worth it.

So here I am.
Back in NYC for a few auditions.
Singing (honestly...) better than ever.
Looking pretty good too if I do say so myself.

Thinking about all of this. Thinking about management (because in the USA, it's a must-- and in Europe I had gotten very comfortable with being nonexclusive), thinking about what my goals are for these next three years of being 'back', but not really back- because it's a new city, new connections to be made. And thinking about- most of all- happiness.

What will make me happy in 6 months? one year? five years?
How would I have answered that question as 25 year old?
And how do I answer that question, now (as an under 35-but-approaching-that-in-the-next-years) year old?
At 25- I most likely said: get management (check!), sing at xyz opera companies (check), make European debut and maybe sing at one of the top five houses in the US (check! check!)- all done by age 30-ish!

So what are my answers now?
Ok- 6 months- (Maybe) US management, Definitely: New Gig in the US.
1 year- Have the 'flexibility' to say yes or no to anything that comes my way- meaning, do 2-3 opera gigs per year that take me 'away' from home, and the rest- again, locally if I can --local to the BIG state that I'm moving to with at least 3 major opera houses that would be wonderful if I had the opportunity to sing there (for the first time and again)--
5 years- And this is an honest answer that is a 'first time' answer for me, but not a first time thought. I know that I'm not going to sing forever- not only because I don't WANT to be 50 and singing/traveling but also because I'm honestly interested in the 'other' side of the business- arts consulting, marketing, PR, budgets, EVERYTHING, that has to do with making what I deem an 'exciting arts organisation' EVEN more exciting and top-notch.

And I've had the chance to begin to do work in those areas as well in the past few years- as a consultant. What can I honestly say about 5-10 from now? I'm still hoping that around age 40 I am 'doing this' still- but...at 45? 50? I'd like to be on the other side. Whether it's a theatre or opera company, whether it's as a consultant or a board member or staff member, that's what I'm interested in, and that is what I want to build my 'next- real world' resume up.

So that's the truth. My truth at least.
It doesn't really have (that much) to do with having a family. It has kind of a lot to do with where the 'state of the arts' is on the performer's side. It has also a bit to do with generally what I think the 'shelf life' of a soprano is these days- as I see EVEN more and more companies set up resident artists programs, hire young artists during the programs for all except leading roles. It's just the reality on the ground right now. And if I'm on the 'other side of thirty'- THIRTY! For many of these places, then it's my reality as well.

Honestly, the best 'asset' that I think WILL keep me performing into 'old-er age' is the Queens.
Koenigin can get as old as possible.
And so through it all, whatever happens, I know Queenie will be there for me...and I'll certainly be there for her!

I know that was 'so much'-- so many thoughts for the first time I've really written in..years?

It's where I am right now.
New chapters always excite me.
This is certainly a new chapter in many ways and I'm excited to start filling the pages.

Ta for now.

11 April, 2015

the best job...

I know, it's been ages and ages. I know, I probably used that same intro. line the LAST time I hadn''t written in over a year.
I won't try to sum up or review.
And I also won't promise to blog more often! But I came upon the sad existence here and then realized that in mid-April for WHATEVER reason over 150 readers graced this page (reasons unknown to me?) and that I hadn't updated in so long that I ... probably should.

So the update is- HEYYYYY_---- I've got 2 kids! and HEYYYYY I'm still a working artist!

Things upcoming include a concert of SUPER modern music that NO, I have NOT had the time I've needed to learn (yet), and YES, does have a rehearsal in just over 2 weeks.

Then some more 'gala-esque' concerts which are always great since I get to pull out operatic gems PLUS learn a few new crowd-pleasers that I've wanted to take a look at and now have an excuse to do just that!

That's all for now.
Back to work...

21 May, 2014

..about those critics and reviews...

Much has been written that is more eloquent.

These aren't my 2 cents. This is my '35 weeks pregnant with #2 and STILL performing as of last week and final audition 2 days ago' hormonal ramble. (oh yea, surprise!)

I'd love to invite/force those insensitive critics to try get get through one 'day in the life' of an opera-singer mom in their OWN jobs (ie, horrible night's sleep, wake up and attach a machine to your boobs to milk yourself at 5am, try to get ready with screaming in the background and interrupted to hold a baby every 5 minutes, get to work on time, nope, no coffee break, have to pump,  child-minder just called, the baby threw up everywhere and has a fever can you come home, nope have an important meeting that you have to cancel that might have led to a promotion or a book deal, try to get home by 6 or you'll pay overtime at daycare, oh yea MAKE DINNER for your partner and then attempt to 'relax' at bedtime, which actually means: screaming from 8pm-8:30, sleep for 45 minutes, screaming from 9:15-9:30, a little more sleep, and so on and so forth until about 3am. Wash, Rinse, Repeat-- for approximately 16-20 months...)- and see how much 'work' they get done and how they feel about themselves at the end of the day-- also, how do your EDITORS feel about you at the end of that day. To assume that even IF their work suffered and their editor trashed some piece they wrote it can be blamed on 'recent motherhood'- really?!! 
That plus get some top designer on the line and make them all go into a costume fitting and stand almost naked in front of three mirrors with assistants noting how much material has to be taken OUT, and directors, asst. directors of both genders coming in and out of a flimsy cloth flap meant for 'privacy' to try and fit them into a 'regietheater' costume that fit a certain slimmer singer in the premiere 2 yrs ago and now has to fit the new cast.

Pass the chocolate muesli. 

01 January, 2014

Almost over

Ok those two weeks of 'crazy'/holiday passed pretty uneventfully. GREAT performances, time to rest despite the long drives and long train rides, and now just one more performance of Queen and then some down time.
OH how I HATE down time.
What am I doing right now?
Trying to figure out how I can fill it.
Opera, Concert, Recital, Recording, Lesson, Coaching-- SOMETHING to get me through until the NEXT time around.
Really hoping some last minute einspringens come up this Spring season.

20 December, 2013

clowning/queening around

While everyone else gets to enjoy Christmas, family time, and a vacation, my work begins this weekend.
Two productions of Magic Flute, 5 performances in two weeks, trains, automobiles, and hopefully NOT planes.
The first production just 're-rehearsed' for 2 days this week. Thankfully, this one has a cut version of the dialogue, very easy staging, and not much to do. So four out of my 5 performances will be relatively low-stress. There is ONE thing that I'm not too happy about and that is the conductor who led this piece over a year ago, with a totally different cast, not even taking the time to ask us about tempi or what felt good. And what he took just didn't do it for me. Yes, I can sing the first aria's first part super slow, and then the coloratura super fast. And yes, I can sing the second aria in your 'slower' tempo than I'd actually like, but you know what? If you really wanted me to 'sparkle', you'd FOLLOW ME! or at least ask how the tempo was after the rehearsal or during break! But, no. Instead you waved your little hands around and made the orchestra sound pretty at the tempo that you wanted to have the pieces sung/played at. Not so fun. Plus, when the arias are SO slow, I start thinking - hey, do I actually KNOW this text? And then of course I blank. Sooo-- that's awesome. I know it's coming now, so I'll be more prepared than our one rehearsal which happened to also be the first time onstage which happened to also be the first time with costumes/makeup and orchestra. Great.

Now to the second show, which worries me just a teeeeny bit more. I sang this production ONCE, two years ago. The text is the LONG version and for some reason I have NO recollection of ever having memorized it! (awesome, #not). Also, I wrote down the blocking (2 yrs ago in chicken scratch)...soo.... that has to be deciphered. And of course for production #2 there is no prompter and there is NO brush-up rehearsal since I'm the only person that's new and they just had performances of this show a month ago! Gah. Sooo--- that should be fun times as well.

All of this plus- it's the WINTER! I'll be in HOTELS! Sleeping POORLY! JOY TO THE WORLD! I'm still getting better from a super-long super-horrible cold two weeks ago. I know, negative nelly and debbie downer right now, but I have to get it OUT or else it will still BE there when I go to do the shows. So, it's over and done with. Now time to decipher the blocking, practice the arias in a slower tempo, and stay HEALTHY for the next two weeks.

10 December, 2013


Recently read an article in the Times about job-seekers who were asked to write about their current job-less-ness as part of their further application process in order to actually get a job (ie, meet with couselors, fill out forms, etc.) And of course, it turns out that the more people wrote about their past experiences, even the fact that they were bad/negative and they DIDN"T have a job or were fired/let go from their job, the faster they got new work.
Now, I can't start making comparisons immediately- but let's take a quickie look at this here lil' blog and I sadly see that as far back as 4 or 5 years I was writing almost every other day- the yearly entries around 200-300. And now I'm at a measly 30 per year? I'm not going to connect that with the current state of my work-- because work in different countries is different, and also because I was still in the YAP track back then. But- maybe it WOULD do some good to 'write it out' and just see if that approach leads me to any new revelations about where I"m going next.

2013 began with what was possibly the highlight of my career in terms of gig visibility/publicity, etc. I was on a great roll, and kept rolling with it as an offer came it to bring the show to another theater, in between a zerbinetta or two and a queen or two.
I guess that was the 'prime time', and I did try my best to make as many connections and RE-connect with as many people in the biz as possible. So, I did my job- but it's tough to follow up when NOT that much new and exciting is happening.
Yes, I have 2 more queens and a zerb.

I'm not flying back to the US for auditions this year, as I've been told there really aren't any-- well, specific to my repertoire. I've had a few auditions in Germany that have yielded some of the most bizarre feedback I've heard-- possibly also due to the fact that they were in some of the most bizarre settings that I've ever had to sing in-- ie, the theater is under construction, let's set up bleachers in an old warehouse and erect a stage out of metal and clapboard--aaaand go.
Then on an audition that I really felt I nailed (and even have the recording offstage to 'prove' it)- another resounding no with feedback that I can't really do anything with or do anything about to change. It's just my voice and if you don't like it or it's not in 'style' right now-- sorry not sorry.

So I have one more next week. For a role that I've sung a few years back. A FUN role. I would REALLY just like to 'nail' something. I have work in 2014 (well, one production). And I want ONE more at least.

Even better, here's my list of "THINGS": Just putting it out there----
I want to work with ONE new theater (ie, get a job for '14 or '15) in Europe. (preferably the role I'm about to audition for, mmmkay?)
I want to get asked back by ONE of the theaters that I've already worked with in Europe.
I want to get asked back OR get asked to work with a theater in the US in 2015- I know, without an audition this season-- but...a girl can dream, right?
I want to SOMEHOW find concert contacts and get TWO concert bookings- either arias with orchestra or something like Carmina or Messiah for next Xmas season.
And then I want something totally out of the blue to happen with the modern/contemporary music that I have around.


What am I doing to GET all of the 'THINGS'??
Well, I set up a consultation with a possibly new voice teacher in January.
I am going to send a recording with a letter to all of the bigger orchestras here (I've already penned this ages ago, so need to update it and get around to really finding all of the contact info. and sending it, I mean REALLY).
I am going to try and find SMALLER ensemble opportunities for ongoing gigs in the area. I don't yet know how I'm going to do this. I did it for the past 2 years but when the lower-pay of small-time ensembles is NOT offset by my travel costs, it's not really worth it. So I have to go local...or, MORE local than a 60 Euro train ride or 65 Euros in gas.

That's all for now, folks.

08 November, 2013

Back in Deutschland

Back home, picking up the 'routine' again, which, of course, does not include staying in bed until 10am, watching a few episodes of Law and Order, and then rolling out of bed around noon to prepare for rehearsals or performances.

In two weeks I'll be singing another Koenigin, and I'm happy to report that it's the reduced text (yahooooo!), and I'm even happier to report that they're going all "German Wiederaufnahme" on me, which essentially means- I get sent a DVD of the show to look up, show up to the last 2 orchestra staging rehearsals, and then sing the show for the entire run after that! No rehearsal time (can I get a yahoooo again?!), which means I get to spend more time organizing the next few months, next auditions, other repertoire, thinking about a possible dvd recording of some contemporary stuff...maybe just maybe...not sure yet.

Looking forward to working closer to home for the next few months. There may be another international flight or two in my future, but if they're for auditions, that's fine. Otherwise, I get to sleep in my own bed, take ICE trains to performances, and get back in time for a late night snack and bedtime!