28 February, 2006

playing with food

Avocados that are 3 for five dollars, I am sad when I go to the store and want to buy you, but you are dark green and still hard.
I still buy you.
Knowing that I have to wait three days until you are perfectly ripe is difficult.
Knowing that I will want to cut into you and eat you on tasty wheat-free crackers just one day too early just because I want an avocado and will not get the full taste of you does not make me happy.
I still do it too early.
There is one of you left, and today, finally, you are ripe. Now I don't have any crackers to put you on. I guess I'll just have to eat you all by your lonesome.

In non-Apostrophe news, I am looking for an injection of the words to Amor on the correct notes. I have two hours right now. Should I look at it? Listen to it? Ha! You fools.
I will peruse the internet for joyous things. I will sit in this lazyboy chair until approximately ten minutes of five, at which time I will go out and celebrate a Mardi Gras dinner, honoring the bazillions of dollars and empty trailers that are sitting unused in some bank, or lot in N.O., that the government can't give out because there isn't yet a system to give it out.
Just give it out!


addicted to the internet

Odes to my Online escapades:

Refresh my hotmail--
Does anybody love me?
Send me email now.

New Forum junkie.
Will IT speak of technique?
Off topic: discuss.

Tytania Strange
Sums up world literature
with exquisite wit.

N Y Times dot com
The sunday wedding section
and headlines of course.

Really, though.
I have a problem.
I arrive home and no matter how badly I have to pee, put my books and bags down, take my coat off, I'm immediately drawn to this glittering white 12 inch rectangle that has been idle all day. I MUST move my fingers over one of the keys to release it from it's "sleep" mode, and I must open my email, check nfcs, read the NYtimes headlines before anything else can be done.

I could easily sit in my chair and find things to do online for the rest of my life. Case and point tonight, where I did not stop doing something that had to do with online from about 6pm to NOW- 1:01 AM. Besides the Times, the email, the nfcs, the blogs that I read, there are also more important things like, googling "coloratura soprano" and seeing how many pages it takes until I see my name. Also things like going to operaamerica and reading all of the bios of all of the coloratura sopranos that are on the managed lists from Aeolian to Neil Funkhouser Managment (that's A-N- the rest of the alphabet is for tomorrow). Yes, there are productive things like putting together the report for my current YAP about "change", how to welcome it to our door, and how to really make this place A-number-one.

There are also productive things that I have not so much done- like memorizing that LAST Strauss song that I have to memorize. Please please please can it magically be in my head tomorrow before rep.class? Please?
I don't think so.
Especially because it's Amor, and even though I have deluded myself into believing that I know all the notes, I am pretty sure I have no idea where the words actually are sung in that soup of trills and roulades. (The soup is tasty, I'm just not doing my hw right now).

Oh, internet. how did I live with dial-up last year? HOW?
I know I was online just as much. It just took more time to see things and read things.

Wireless is the best invention ever and it better be free for the whole world soon.


26 February, 2006

another audition

Had my weekend big-name audition.
The panel asked for the weirdest pieces from my list in the weirdest way.
All of Chacun, first 2 sections of Zerbie, recit. of O luce, 2nd verse of Doll. I see what they were trying to do, but, uhh,, didn't you hear my French and High notes in the first two pieces? Was the Doll REALLY necessary?
I get that you wanted bel canto. Why then did you hear the Noch glaub of Zerbie? (kinda the same thing, only sits a bit higher).
Whatever. It kind of made the 3.5 hour drive back worth it even with the annoying traffic detour.

Let's see what happens.

That's what "friends" are for

This is not going to be a "mad" post. It will just be a regretful post. Regretful that I just found out that two certain people in this program have been talked about behind their backs, their attitudes (sarcastically negative) have been brought up numerous times, events have been planned without them and for the benefit of almost the whole "group" that hangs out together, and friends that they thought they had aren't really hanging out with them anymore.

These two people are very good friends and occasionally delight in lambasting their current vocal and financial situations, the lack of education they are receiving, the horrid level of everything artistic that surrounds them, and their general outlook on life, love and everything in between.

There are small details and character flaws that we ALL don't like about ALL people. Whether it's too much energy, lameness, self-absorbed, kinda not that smart (ok, dumb), whatever---that really annoy us and can become unfathomable when we all spend time together as a group. Of course, that's why the group breaks down into smaller groups. Better friendships are formed with people that connect on certain levels.
But that is no reason to smear someone's attitude and just decide to do something without them.

I don't want people thinking of these others like this. I don't want them to feel like these people are negative and wouldn't want to "hang out Anyway". I think it's just upsetting and sad that a group of people expressed these feelings as a group to each other and these two other people found out about it.

Not cool.

22 February, 2006

One week...

No, not since you laughed at me.
But one week (and two days) until I hope no one laughs at the state that my recital is in when I present it, because as of right now it's sure "interesting".
Ok, no, to be frank I have everything except for ONE song memorized. I have sung through three sets straight, (not five-yet). I have felt not vocally great so I'm just trying to get through it all with a pretty sound and without pushing, and today that seemed to work.
After 45 minutes of a lesson on the Debussy and Strauss set, I had an hour break, and then I sang the Mozart and Bernstein. Leaving one set that wasn't sung in the same day.

I felt tired, but not completely feeling like this would never come together.
I did find out today in other non-awesome recital news, that I will NOT be able to have a full runthrough due to my accompanists (yes, both of them) not being able to ever meet in the same hour to run the whole thing straight through. That doesn't make me a happy camper, because this rep is not only challenging in general, it's challenging to sing one after the other. So hmmm...interesting.

In other weird musical/audition/future news, I got a call from Unnamed-Opera-Department-at-Ivy-School-that-just-got-a-lot-of-money-toward-their-music-program , notifying me that they JUST received my application from the admissions office- there must have been some mistake or backup (seeing as how a zillion people applied for the "million" dollars), and can I come audition? Well, I told the assistant I'd like to, but I'm 5 hours away, and it would be tough, and I've gotten an offer for next year. He said he'd tell the head-important-teacher-director lady. 5 minutes later she calls me back and says she really really really wants to hear me. I was definitely one of the ones they wanted to hear, etc. etc. what can we do to get you down here, etc. etc. we'll make a hotel reservation and fit you in whenever time-wise.
Even after I told her my situation for next year and my offers (which she agreed anyone would be hardpressed to turn down), and asked her about deferrment, or if they could hear me next year, she STILL wanted me to come this weekend instead of not auditioning.
So-I'm going.
I can't lose anything. I hopefully can only impress, and that's about it.
And hopefully I'll learn my recital music on the way.
So there.

Last night I spent about an hour (oh, between midnight at 1am) looking at the Lakme score backwards. It's absolutely true, learning it backwards makes singing the ending easier, because it's what you learned first.
There are about seven huge chunks/scenes of music to learn- not including the aria scene that I already know. It will be a huge undertaking but I'm definitely up for the challenge. I already highlited in pink, wrote out the tricky rhythms- Old School publishers, why you gotta make quarter rests and eighth rests look EXACTLY the same besides the way they are facing???-- and listened to those big chunks of scene while looking at the score.
So gorgeous. I can't wait.


20 February, 2006

the wrath of hell

A. Mazing.


That's it. I won't cut it in this business with guys like this out there.


15 February, 2006

yo ho ho ga

Today I took my first Vinyasa yoga class. That means flow yoga. I haven't had that much exposure to yoga in general, but I think it's a pretty good deal whether you're holding poses or sweating from jumping between downward dog and cobra every five minutes.

This class was a good mix of both of those- although it was just the first class so I'm not so sure what is in store.
It was an hour and a half, doing a breathing warm-up, going through many sun salutations, warrior poses one through three, and then a cool down of lying and concentrating and breathing.

My thoughts:
This type of yoga specifically doesn't make you perfect poses. It's about moving between them. Which is good and bad for me- good because I don't have to feel like I'm falling over when my left hand is in front of my, my right leg is extended back, and I'm balancing on a wandering ankle. Bad because I don't get to try to at least experience more than a half minute of the poses which I would like to try and do better eventually.
I liked that things were interesting, the instructor was good, explained well, and I felt like I was doing the right thing.
The one thing I'm pretty sure I'm not doing right is downward facing dog. First of all, my hands and feet both want to slip off of the yoga mat- outward. So I compensate for that by tucking/walking my hands closer to my feet when we go into that pose- which I'm sure we're not supposed to do.

Things to work on!

About the recital.
Had another painful runthrough with my accompanist today. She will just not take any input about tempi. She doesn't know my Mozart. I am just kind of over it. I'll sing well no matter what, and whatever tempo she chooses will hopefully not mess me up vocally.

In terms of strauss, I think I am deciding to stick to three, not four of the Brentano's. With the extra stress from the accompanist (the brentano accomp. is different and wonderful thank goodness), I have to pay attention to the pieces I KNOW! Which is not what I counted on. Less time to learn pieces I don't know in two weeks and two days.

I'm finished complaining.

14 February, 2006

I think I can I think I can--and Vday

I got the official- I think you can do this for the Strauss. That means I'll be spending some quality time with the songs, words, notes, piano, Casio, German dictionary, and notebook paper or notecards when I get to the memorization phase.

It's Valentine's day. What does that mean for most Americans? They are out at Target or CVS buying last minute chocolates, stuffed bears and cards. What does that mean for me? Nothing in particular. I've never "bought into" V-day, as it is a sponsored by Hallmark Holiday. It would be "sweet" to get some chocolates- but that is sweet anyday. So I don't expect it today more than any other day. It would be cute to get or give cards- but not any more cute than any handwritten note or sweet email that I receive or send on any regular day. So instead of spending the 4.99 on chocolates and a card, I can instead come up with a witty way to un-celebrate Vday. Which I did last year in the form of an empty box of chocolates and a note inside saying- mmm, that was good. And this year I did in the form of reminiscing about old emails, actually the very first emails in this relationship, what they said, what they meant, and how we're here three years later.

I have to confess that I watched some 2 hour special of the Bachelor in Paris last night. It was an hour of previous "overnight" dates and their interviews, and then an hour of the current guy's overnight dates. I think it's so ridiculous that he is seriously "dating" three girls at once. I mean, who in their right mind would not be curious as to what happened with the other girls, and who in their right mind would NOT take the key and 'share' the master suite of whatever posh hotel they are in---because they are on national tv and no one is going to stick up for whatever morals they may hold privately. They give the image of being ready for "more"--and our culture has interpreted that as sex. Are we really that low/shalow/insecure (add other diminutive adjectice here) that we need to prove to America in a sly smirky way that we're cool enough and "open" enough to start kissing on a couch and then let the viewer's imagination wander as we close the door and put up a "do not disturb sign"?
Do people really DO this?
I know, the answer is yes for many 20somethings and even 30, 40 whateversomethings. We don't have to live up to our culture of being prude, but we also don't need to be flinging sex around on the first "real" date that is a whole (gasp-wait for it) DAY long!

While I'm ragging on TV, which I only half-watch while doing my online investigating in the evenings, and reading the NYtimes, WifeSwap. This is a horrible, horrible, not even entertaining show. They take people who they know will not get along and make them live other lives. Animal rights activist? Stick her with a SC hunting family.
Hippie cool dude? Stick him with a new wife all into Christian ideals, yes m'aams, and spring cleaning.
It's painful to watch, and I feel like it makes a mockery of the "American" family. Or any other family for that matter. Why find people so far away from what the "norm" is just for entertainment?
That's why- for entertainment. But it's painful at this point, and the standards it sets for how people could potentially behave in their own marriage because they watch this show is pathetic.

No more complaining.
Back to Strauss.

13 February, 2006

Welcome to the kingdom of Eblogger

I moved my livejournal onto blogger today. Why, you ask?
Well, I find that reading other people's blogs on blogger is easier. I like the template better. And also, I needed something to do between 10:30 and 11:45 which would invlove massive cutting and pasting after an unfruitful search to see if there was a function on blogger that could magically upload all of my posts from livejournal onto this account.

So I cut and paste all of my entries for the past few months in here. Which is why they all show up under Feb.13th. No matter. Those with a keen eye will understand and see what happened. And perhaps even read older posts. (Which I have to figure out how to tag, since many of them are about the 'biz' and could be useful to know where and when they happened).

I coached Brentano today for the first time. It went as well as could be expected for not having the pianistic skills to get me through anything besides the melody for the past 2 weeks.
My coach thinks I can do it in 3 weeks and have it ready.
Iiiiiii don't know (said in an Iago voice from "Aladdin"). But I'll sure try.
I mean, I have to more than try. My program is due this week according to a lovely reminder email I received.


10 Feb. The countdown begins

10 February 2006 @ 05:47 pm
The Countdown begins
Three weeks until my recital.
Things I have to learn:
Four strauss songs. Seriously now. There are not easy, and I can't play anything to help myself except for the melody line. And we all know how Strauss liked to change keys every two measures.
It doesn't make sense in my head- yet. I listened and sang along and marked breaths and plunked outnotes today for about an hour and a half. I know I should/could do more, but I just want that magical moment to happen already- when it all clicks in my head and all I have to do is memorize the words.

My last set. Lullabyes in German, Italian, and English are not yet memorized.

I know the Mozart, but it's hell to get through it with my accompanist at the tempo that I want.
I know the Debussy (at least I did last year).
I know the Bernstein.

I haven't even attempted to sing the whole thing through yet. Maybe next week. Ha.

Post recital music learning activities:
Three roles for the summer, Five chorus parts for the summer.
Two roles for next year.

And did I mention- Ahhhh.

Current Mood: ahhhh

8 feb. two other questions

08 February 2006 @ 02:53 pm
two other questions..not follow ups
A.(1). Why does agma and taxes take so much money out of a paycheck?
Really. I think I'm getting one amount for the longest time and then the final number makes a tiny bump in my checking account. Not fun.

2. (B). Why do I continuously buy eggs and yoghurt and not eat them within a week before they go bad?
And furthermore-
Why can I primarily live off of sesame crackers and Sabra brand Hummus (the hummus of the GODS- seriously people, if you're from the Middle East originally as I am, this is like heaven and a little taste of childhood mixed together).?
And sometimes salad mildly drenched in balsamic vinegar.

yummy -g

8 Feb. Breaking the News

08 February 2006 @ 02:47 pm
breaking the news
I did it last night- on the phone, and also one email was written.
I figured it was the best time if any, after a successful run of the show, with nothing ahead besides my graduate recital, and no big performances that I can or can't get cast for. So I called up teacher/director and spoke with him on the phone. They were in the car so I'm was assuming the not overly stunned reaction was due to traffic getting into the city or something. Then I got a voicemail a few hours later saying how proud he was of me and how happy he was for me, after the initial shock that I wouldn't be here next year.

I am trying to revamp my website with new links, pictures, and updated everything. I am usually good at this, but the html is proving just beyong my means of understanding for what I want to do---"hey brother" (a la arrested development voice).

I know it will be sad leaving here. After all, I've had four mainstage opportunities that I would not have gotten anywhere else- school, program, or studying by myself and paying NY opera performance forums to put on these shows.
I have a real resume now, am getting real opportunities as seen by my summer resume and engagements next year.
The coaches that I have here ARE really good. They are always trying to make me better, find my voice, sing it, perform it, and they really believe that I'm going somewhere- maybe just not so soon :)

My next question is, if I've signed a contract to do something with some company, but that company has still not released their season which includes that something, am I still allowed to email/write about it in blog, website, contacting and networking stuff?

To be determined.

Current Mood: sweetnsour

6 Feb. The run is over

06 February 2006 @ 06:43 pm
the run is over
Four shows down, one paycheck to be deposited to go.

Today I was the most tired. Doing student matinees that really aren't "au matin" at all are not the most fun (8:30am call, 10am show). At least I didn't sing role 1 that was hard, I just had role 2 that I could sing without warming up at all.
Coach called me last night and said my performance was very good. I know she wasn't the most excited about me singing this role, yet--same with some people's opinions from this past summer. But I think I really opened up into it, sang it in my own way without pushing or screaming like perhaps some DC's or LC's do, and did it well anyway.
I again couldn't hear the orchestra being 13 feet high and about 20 feet away, but I watched teh conductor like a hawk (or tried to), and got the nod of approval after it was all finished.

Both conductor A and B congratulated me, as well as asst. director C who made her living from this role in Germany.

So I guess it's good that I have this under my belt with full orchestra. Maybe I'll take it off my resume in the English performance.

About my general performance. I think I did better opening night. I had more energy and spark. I think I still did really well yesterday, but caught myself a few more times on the singing and noticing the singing than just being able to immerse myself in the evil-ness of the character. All of the notes were still on, of course, which is all that matters in these pieces. It's just that you know when you're really on, and you know when you're paying attention and being careful musically, to "remain" on.

Now to summer program news and people in my program news.
One and possibly two singers may have heard Yes's from the program that I did this past summer.
As I am always the one to measure myself in the mix of singers, their histories, their experience, age, etc., I am thinking that this is a pretty good thing.
I was one of the youngest last year. One mezzo who is definitely going and doing a small cover is older than me, and a mezzo- no comparison even possible.
one soprano is my double cast for this past role, a bit older than me? (I don't know- I think so), and vocally sometimes really there. There are issues, but the voice is a good one.
I can't really talk about other people's techniques because I'm not one to try and fix or understand them. I will say that there are roles people should NOT so much do until they know that they will never mess them up (note wise, top range wise, bottom range wise,etc). Yes, there is such a thing as a learning experience. But when a whole show could possibly go wrong because this one famous aria is not the "best" it can be for the very expectant audience, I start to get nervous. so do others.

So that's the only news that's non-news.
Except also that the program I"M going to this summer will have two girls from this past summer as well. A little reunion, so to speak, that I'm very much looking forward to. These girls are immensely talented, some have very very big company auditions coming up for which I wish them really truly good luck.

I know I should be excited about where I'm going next year. I mean, I am. Very.
But I can't help thinking what would happen/what would have happened if I tried out for those "top" programs.
Should I wait a year? Sure, why not? I mean, now there is REALLY no reason to try and be the 24year old wonder child of Col.Sop. repertoire for these companies, and attempt to get hired as a product of youth, agility, high notes, and I think more of the "package" deal but highlighted by the fact taht I'm so young. Would it kill me to wait until I was 25 to sing for the top 3?
I guess not.

But sometimes I just want to try and see what happens.
Something to think about this summer when they come by (especially one of them)..hmm..


5 Feb. "decent"

05 February 2006 @ 12:15 am
My singing was "decent" according to one reviewer who must have been under the influence of some sort of drugs when reviewing our production. I find it amusing. Other people, like the conductor, are really pissed at her. She often has no idea what she is talking about, as she is the "entertainment" editor and frequents bars and restaurants more often than the opera.

Well, she said we broke the fourth wall with the orchestra..hm..she also found the trial scenes a bit too long and joked that the leads should have just gotten together and gone to vegas to get it over with.

Amazing. Welcome to journalistic mediocrity.

Well, if I had to get a bad review at least I'm glad it's from a no-name paper that has no idea what they're talking about...since I was the only one "brava-ed" after my arias.

Current Mood: whaaa?

4 Feb. Le Show

04 February 2006 @ 11:41 am
le show
Well, well, well.
I could even eat last night before the performance.
I wasn't feeling that anxious, having convinced myself that I've already experienced the maximum trauma allotted for this role.
My heart beat a bit faster as i pulled my costume around my knees and sat on the lift ready to be hoisted up 13 feet and command the stage.
But I calmed myself down and did it.

It was better than good. This may be one of the few performances that I'm ever happy with my voice and acting in. Really. I usually don't think something is my "best" at a show. I think it's fine, better than others, better than me on a regular basis, but still perhaps not the "best". But this was very very close and almost there I think.

In my lesson yesterday which was a short warm-up for the show we yet again delved into my crazy voices-
what's that?
My M/T voice down low.
what's that?
My renee fleming opera voice.
what's that?
My impersonation of my own opera voice.
what's that?
I guess me feeling nothing.
That sounded the best.
I heard nothing. I can't hear myself and I sound small.
(laugher from coach/teacher)- that was it. Do it. Keep it.

So I started "smiling" into my singing. This apparently kept some sort of tingling sensation in my nose (although I couldn't feel it), but kept it open. ALthough I was thinking more about singing like a coloratura soprano taught me this summer- with the feeling that you have a cold and you CAN"T sing through your nose.
Somehow that opened UP my nose and started the vibrating going, without sounding nasal though.

So now I'm smiling in the mid-back mouth, know that the soft palate is raised, know that the resonance is working behind the nose and in it as well, and using my throat less and my breath more.

OK then!
The conductor even noticed a difference and after the show came up to me and said it was excellent, and he even thought I was Mic-ed up there!
Wow. I think I'll stick to this one for a while.

The show was great.
Onward and upward for the next three.

Current Mood: woo hoo

3 Feb. I luv 2 spel

03 February 2006 @ 01:45 pm
i luv 2 spel
Spelling Nazi
You scored 86 Spelling smarts!

Okay so you've either cheated, or you know all the vocabulary rules by
now. "I before E, except after c." bla bla bla. Great job. You know how
to spell, and you might be a bit anal retentive about it too. Not a bad
thing mind you, but I get picked on for it. An answer key is what
you're after? http://quizanswerkey.blogspot.com/

3 Feb. Day of

03 February 2006 @ 12:44 am
day of
Less than 24 hours to opening night. I can't really sleep.
I've been watching for the past few nights and into the wee hours of the morning episodes of Arrested Development on borrowed DVD. Finished those last night, so I had to resort to When Harry Met Sally this evening.
I'm turning in earlier than usual because I have class tomorrow very early and then that whole little performance thing.

I wasn't nervous on Wednesday. The lift was fine for the first aria, then for the 2nd they got me up there a bit late but it was still ok.

I want to concentrate more on the acting and the voice rather than thinking about the lift and the dress and the staff.

Wednesday's dress was fine. I was looking at the conductor very hard because I can't hear the orchestra quite so well up on my high perch.
I feel like when I'm with him and the orchestra, it always sounds to me like I'm actually ahead of them. Interesting phenomenon. All I have to do is look at him and make sure it all goes well. He knows how to get good things out of me and knows when to let me take it and fly as well.

Wednesday I also didn't really warm up that much. And ate kind of a crappy dinner before the show, and had a full day of class and general boredom afterwards to do nothing in.
I liked how it felt-not really warming up but still doing it well. I hope that tomorrow in my lesson at 2 I feel warm and then I can just take that and run with it at 8.
I know it will be fine. I just don't want to be nervous.
Although I know that I can sing through anything at my MOST nervous now, so maybe it will actually be a little better and easier!
Wow, what a thought-knowing that I've conquered something and it still sounded damn good (although it felt like I was going to pass out) even when at my most physically and mentally nervous. I think I should take it and use it. No need to be nervous now that all of the technical aspects work in the show! So no need to be nervous physically or mentally about my voice.

Ok then.
Report forthcoming.

-g (or about 8 F's)
Current Mood: ooh la la

31 Jan. Popular

31 January 2006 @ 11:57 pm
Of the 20 most performed operas in the US, what roles do I sing in them and do I know them?
Let's see....
1. Madama Butterfly
2. La bohème-Maybe If I learned Quando M'en Vo one day when I had time to be a generic soprano
3. La traviata
4. Carmen
5. The Barber of Seville- Rosina IF they cast a soprano
6. The Marriage of Figaro- Susanna if I knew it all and Barbarina (have 2 upcoming)
7. Don Giovanni- Zerlina if I learned it
8. Tosca
9. Rigoletto- Gilda if I felt like being more lyric and learned it
10. The Magic Flute- Queeeeen. And First spirit. Yea!
11. La Cenerentola- Clorinda if I learned it
12. Turandot
13. Lucia di Lammermoor- Lucia :) done and done.
14. Pagliacci
15. Cosî fan tutte- Despina- only know one scene
16. Aida
17. Il trovatore
18. Faust
19. Die Fledermaus- Adele if I bothered to be a soubrette
20. The Elixir of Love- Adina if I knew more than the aria and one duet

Oooh, Ok then. Most of my rep is absolutely NOT on there..but interesting to see anyway.
There is no role on there that really feels vocally where I am now. Even Queen and Lucia although I've done them I'd say- not quite yet again.
Susanna, Zerlina, Adina and Despina- ok, if I have time and look cute and want to be a soubrette then yes, I should learn those.
Gilda, Rosina and Musetta- again, not really my style, but generally more lyric than coloratura-ish..still possible to do for me if someone felt like hiring me for it one day.

So really, nothing that's immediately coloratura that I love like Lakme, Doll, Cunegonde, Zerbinetta (ha- like that would be among the top 20).

Interesting. Maybe I'll find a similar list about Europe or world houses and see whether that changes anything.


30 Jan. Revisiting Old Music

30 January 2006 @ 02:52 pm
revisiting old music
My recital is a mix of new and old.
Old meaning I sang it four years ago in a completely kind of different voice- the days when I would never run out of air because there was nothing to support but the tiny bird sounds of easy runs and coloratura passages.
Now as I revisit a Mozart concert aria with both mid-high range recitative and extremely high coloratura runs in it, I find a different challenge. First, the interpretation of Mozartian line in the recitative. Second, how to support these long runs that are not "difficult" for me now, but they are definitely not the same sing as I roll out of bed things.
It just feels different. It could feel a bit sluggish because it's old and not polished yet. But it could also be because of voice changes.

I just got a few comments back from the met competition judges, who we were invited to call and speak with on the phone.

Judge#1: Doll- well prepared good technique, good intonation, good lang/interp/style
Vgood school
Why didn’t we push you forward? Level of everyone else?

Ok- that sounds cool with me. Most of the contestants were a. older and b. from a very very top famous residency program that happened to be in that same auditioning city.

Judge#2: high is spectacular, sustaining that G is amazing. Must cultivate middle register so it has as much core and carrying power as the top.
As I go down the scale it becomes relatively smaller in the middle.
Work on rounding out the middle voice ‘quality’ –it sounds placed in the nose…in the middle core register.—which for a whole role like donizetti’s would start to “wear” on the listener after a bit. Fine for soubrette and character roles, but not for a whole real role.

Ok- I suppose nothing I didn't know either, except for the nasal thing which I've never heard of. I don't place anything anywhere, but I definitely have tried to work on the middle voice and have been successful with certain pieces or roles in really feeling that out and figuring out how to use it.
I don't quite think that O luce is the best song to show for that, nor is Doll- both of which they heard.
And I do know that the Recit to O luce was NOT the best in terms of my "middle voice" that I could give them- most likely because I was a bit dry, nervous, and it was the 2nd time I'd been ask to sing it in an audition or competition situation.

You learn from everything.
One more judge left that I haven't been in touch with.

But that's the thing with the middle voice. Is that I can do it the right way or the wrong way. I can color it or I can put weight on it or I can just do it well and it's right. All of the other ways are wrong, and they tire me out faster than I should be tired out when singing..anything.
So I lightened up on the Mozart today and suddenly the 2nd time around the recit was more there and easier and the runs weren't hard or bad. Now, I don't know if the tone sounded lighter or less rounded? or do they even have anything to do with each other?
But I felt like I was supporting well but not giving that extra push to make myself sound mature or older or more right for the dramatics of this particular piece.
I do that in performance when I think I'm "acting" or being dramatic, or just "being a singer"..but I should really just forget all that crap, let go, relax and sing how I know I sing without pushing or adding or rounding or coloring or doing anything to mess up what the normal output from my body is.

Current Mood: kinda tired

29 Jan. singing it again

29 January 2006 @ 01:30 pm
singing it again
After the hysteria that was, I had to sing it again last night. No lift, just a pre-opera concert.
I was warm about an hour and a half before I got up on stage. Standing backstage I kept getting nervous when others were singing. Then I sped-through the words in my head, knew that I knew this, and was still a little shaky. Why? Why? There is NO reason for this.
I told myself that as I flipped over and hung like a lifeless rag doll, trying to breathe deeply and relax myself.

If this were an audition there would be no such nerves. There would just be my trying to put myself out there, to show these people how good and prepared I am, to have FUN! Because there's nothing riding on this- if they don't want me,hopefully someone else will.

So as my stomach is mildly churning and my breathing can't relax, I'm thinking to myself- I'm good at this, why can't I just calm down? I have sung this at auditions so many times, and in performance even- and it's always been just fine- better than fine- awesome! Really something I look back at and know that I do well! Better than well.

I am reminded again of my previous post about nerves. I'm actually so flustered by the whole possible future experience of being that nervous and that shaken by a mechanical lift and its results on my general balance and well-being that I'm looking up the effects of Kava kava, bananas, beta blockers, and whatever else 'actor/singer' remedy that has made its way to the world wide web.

I know natural herbs are not FDA approved and I have no idea what's really inside what the label says. I also know that I'm not really at the step of taking something that is medically made for heart attack patients to prevent heart problems by balancing your blood pressure and not letting you have anxiety in the first place.

I don't want to have a medically induced feeling of nonfeeling, or taking away the fight or flight capability. Or do I? All I want to do is sing and act the crap out of this without anything else getting in the way- like a stupid non-hydraulic lift that does not level itself freak me out three seconds before I have to start singing one of the most famous arias of the repertoire.

I just don't know whether it will happen again.
Last night I felt surges of the nerves acting up at some points during the aria. I got over it by imagining myself at an audition and wanting to please these people and do a good job. But I was still dry, my legs still felt like they were shaking (I dont know if it looked like it), and I just didn't feel like it was all about the music. There was something getting in the way of me being able to do this the best that I have ever done it.

And I didn't like it.

Current Mood: researching

27 Jan. Technical Crap

27 January 2006 @ 11:13 pm
technical crap
I am so terrified right now.
Well, now and for the past four hours.
Rehearsal began late because we had a lift rehearsal. The lift being not hydraulic, but on some sort of distributed weight system with a guy guiding a cable with counterweights..I don't know.
Last night it didn't work because they thought the cable would snap since it was not aligned correctly.
Tonight I did the rehearsal in costume with the spear. They slowly hoisted me up, while I'm scrambling to make sure my huge train does not get caught and therefore make it impossible to MOVE for the first aria.

Fine. It would be problematic, but I could deal with it.

Then came the aria.
I had to climb 3.5 feet to get INTO the lift with my dress. Once on it, I had to be on my knees scrambling to try and tuck my dress in to the back of my knees. I can't stand up because the lift is that high that I'd be seen from stage (or, my crown would).
All of a sudden our 3 mph lift turned into some sort of turbo engine and they shot me up there.
I was so freaked out. Not necessarily by the speed, but by the fact that once I was up there, the lift shook a bit and I could not get myself grounded. I stepped off of it and had to stop.
I couldn't sing one note. My throat closed up so badly and I felt like I was going to start crying or vomit on the stage. I was so shaky. I was not well. I had to sit down and try to calm down.
But we went on and I sang the aria as terrified as I was, as nervous as I was, as hysterical as I was. I didn't think it sounded good and I could not control the voice- just like those times I talked about when I got really nervous for no reason. My body was rejecting what my brain was trying to do which was calm me down. Or was it my body reacting to the sheer terror and reliving on the unbalanced feeling that was going through my head?

I somehow got through it.
I thought it sounded like shit and I didn't get any of the musicality or blocking right because I was so freaked out about my voice not working.

I almost cried exiting the stage. Had to compose myself and wait until aria number 2 with the lift.
This time they had to stop right before it because the SM said that I wasn't ready to go. NOT true. They did't fucking bring the lift down in time for me and my huge costume to get in the damn 1x1 cubicle with my spear and be SHOT up again.

This time it went up much slower. But it was still shaky at the very top. I could barely get through the dialogue. I felt like I was going to pass out or something. I was so nervous and scared. WHY? Why? There was no way I was falling back down in there. But there was also no way that I was getting good balance before starting these arias.

The aria sounded like even more shit than the first one. I couldn't get my breath for the long tripelet run. The F's were fine, but everything else was horrible.

I got down and practically broke down on the way back to the dressing room.

There are so many reasons why I should be able to deal with this and get over it. It is "safe", but it's not easy, it's not what I should be dealing with before singing two of the most difficult arias in the coloratura soprano repertoire.

one week till the show.

Current Mood: trying to calm down

26 Jan. "Coaching"

26 January 2006 @ 02:04 pm
Sometimes you get to coach with really amazing people in this business. People that know the in's and out's of your repertoire, know how to play it, know how to get out of YOU what needs to be evoked and pulled and learned from the song, aria, role, whatever.

Sometimes, you're just going through something because you need to do it with a pianist for a recital.

I had one of the latter coachings today. It was to set tempi, see a pianist/coach floundering through music for the first time (granted it was a concert aria that was tough), trying to figure out how we'll be a pair together on this repertoire.
Kind of boring, but needs to be done, as I prepare for this recital.

That's not actually what was wrong or bad. What did not feel great (in addition to my slowly recovering voice from whatever allergy or cold I had), was the added stress and pressure by someone who does not know the music as well as you, and feels like the only way this recital is going to happen is if we preview a few sets before the date, meet a trillion times, talk about how "this will be great. I'm not worried. yea, sounds good. It'll be ok. I'm sure. Right? You'll be prepared. We'll be fine"...WHAT?
Can you just please be quiet and play the right notes on the piano?

If I could, I WOULD, but I kinda have to concentrate on memorizig the German words, ok???

I have a date. It's in 5 weeks. I have a set and a half to learn, and 3 and a half to "polish"/remember that I once sang well and pull out again.
I'll BE FINE if you just stopped bombarding me with questions like when can we present the German set before the recital so we're comfortable with it?! I'll BE comfortable with it...by then!


Current Mood: for no good reason

24 Jan. Vocal Health

24 January 2006 @ 11:09 pm
vocal health
So. I don't have a cold. I don't have a cough- unless it's really late at night.
I wake up with gunk in my throat and a semi-stuffy nose. My throat feels dry and scratchy like allergies or something.
But I'm not sick.
I can easily sing through this if I want to. But I don't want to, because I know the recovery time from singing the role will be more than just a good night's sleep.
It's very frustrating.
I don't need the practice singing the role or anything, but I'd also rather just do it up there and get it over with to practice and be fine with it.

I think it's allergies. But I can't self-medicate because I don't know any of the effects, or what will dry me out or not work or make me feel worse.


Haven't really practiced anymore but I have a coaching in two days and hopefully will feel better about this all soon.
After all, I only have 5 weeks.


Current Mood: symptomatic

22 Jan. Straussian I's

22 January 2006 @ 01:17 pm
Straussian I's
I am not feeling particularly motivated to practice, I mean, learn my recital music.
I'm a little sick (thanks to all of those flu-carriers who came to rehearsal last week with fevers even though they should have stayed home), and I am more than a little anxious about the fact that there are less than 6 weeks (as of yesterday) until my recital, and that I still have not picked out my last two sets of music.
I'm on the fence with two Strauss sets, both completely new, or just sticking in two old Strauss pieces that I have sung before and being done with it. And the last set is more of an idea than something I actually have the music to currently.

Not good.

I'm hearing these lovely songs (Brentano) and thinking, yes, I should learn them. They are really done often on recitals, in chamber orchestra pieces. I should know this. But my mind is not moving toward learning it. I can't really play it (well, I haven't tried, but it looks a bit harder than the usual Mozart that I can get through), it's hard to hear chord changes when you only play melody, and hence, the whole thing is in general harder for me to learn.
This doesn't happen to me with roles! I just do it. I know I'm contracted to do it and I learn it.
It's hard too, but somehow it's different.
This I haven't even put my mind to yet because I have so little motivation, and I'm already in self-doubt about whether I can actually learn it or not.
I KNOW I CAN learn it if I would stop writing in this blog, checking my email every five seconds, or turning the TV on or watching the DVD of Arrested Development or wondering how fast I can type per minute, or doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to distract myself from sitting down and actually trying to learn new music.

Current Mood: frustrated
Current Music: the first two measures of amor.

17 Jan. Update

17 January 2006 @ 09:06 pm
It's 29 not 23.

15 Jan. "24"

15 January 2006 @ 01:33 pm
No, not the show.
Yesterday the statistics broke down like this:
40 singers. 15 sopranos, 2 countertenors, some mezzoes, some tenors and basses.
10 singers were 24 or under. 30 were 25-30.
All of the sopranos except 2 had come scoglio or dove sono on their list of 5 arias.
The remaining two both had the Doll and O luce, but otherwise the "coloratura soprano" categories were different.
There were two or three singers (in my opinion) that should not have been competing (either yet, or at all- technical issues, vocal issues). There were many singers who I thought should advance to the regionals.
I want to talk about the sopranos, since that is the group that I belong to, and also discuss the results a bit.

Is it "impressive" to judges to hear a full lyric who is between the ages of 21-24? Apparently so. The Encouragement award went to a 21 year old who, yes, had a beautiful instrument. Very well trained, nothing really wrong. Good dramatics, etc. It was all there, just minus the "package" of comfort on stage. But had she been singing other rep, perhaps chirpy rep, or soubrette rep, would the judges have noticed? Perhaps not. Perhaps it was because of the come scoglio with it's highs, lows, chests, runs, that is what made the perfect impression. Now, yes, I know this is a competition and you bring out your audience pleasers and everything. But what is the difference between a 21 year old singing it "really really well" and a 29 year old singing it "really really well"?
I am not sure. But it impressed the people that mattered apparently.

Next, a general note on soprano repertoire and how it is sung. I must admit that even my ear has become accustomed to the coloring of voice, the certain tone that I have gotten used to hear all of the come scoglio's and dove sono's of competitions, aria nights and performances alike.
Is it my preference or my ear? Is it nature or nurture? Are these voices all blasting out loud and a bit dark/swallowed on purpose because that is the top standard that has been set for these kinds of arias?
If I heard someone sing either of these in just a sparkly silvery but still booming voice (is that even possible), would I like it?
Well, I did hear it. Granted, it wasn't a loud voice. But it was sparkly and silvery. It was, ok. It seemed weak (that's just because the actual voice was),but the tone, sound quality, what have you, was actually very beautiful, and I can't help but ask whether THIS was the soprano that Mozart had in mind when he wrote these pieces. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't- we don't have recordings of the singers that far back to actually know.
But what I do know is that all of a sudden it was a screaming match, a bellowing match, a hooty, darkened, swallowed tone match that had all of the sopranos sounding like they were singing with a jawbreaker in their mouth.

And finally, a note about age. Now, I don't know if this was a mistake on the program or not. But when you are able to be googled and everyone can see that you are actually 29, and have had over 8 years of performance experience, yes, at top opera companies!, and there are newspaper articles online that say how old you are when you joined one of these prestigious residency programs, why does the program say that you are 23 years old? Of COURSE it is impressive then, that you can sing the crap out of any full lyric aria from Turandot or Fledermaus.

I was a bit shocked at this. I want to assume that this is a mistake of course. This particular singer has gotten to the regional finals before, as she did this time. This particular singer looked nothing like 23 years old, and in my opinion, sang nothing like a 23 year old singer would sing (unless they truly were a wunderkind). She has her act together. She sounds amazing, looks great doing it, and got to the audience. That's the point of these things---win over the judges and the audiences. And she did. But why did that program say that she was 23?
I will never know, unless it is "correct" on the regional finals program.

As far as my own performance it went very well. I know I got the audience with the first one. Cute, perfected, just all there, plus those high notes never hurt. The second one is my least favorite aria, but on there because again, it's the Italian show piece. It went well. I have sung it better, but have only been asked to sing it twice in audition/competition situations. So it will now be the one that I work on trying to perfect, seeing as how people are actually asking for it even after hearing all those high notes in the first piece.

Current Mood: curious
Current Music: music running in my head: Come scoglio (darkened)

12 Jan. Fake Sugar

12 January 2006 @ 11:12 pm
fake sugar
Yoplait, why do the commercials say that you are so healthy? Why are there 20 something women eating your yoghurt on the TV and a lovely feminine voice telling me that three servings of you a day gives me the calcium, nutrients and other vitamins that I need daily.
Yoplait, I bought you. Six cases of you. Vanilla flavour- my favorite.

First of all, you are shaped really weird and I can't fit a tablespoon inside the container. Is that some kind of sign that I should only be eating you slowly and savoring the moment with my little teaspoon?

Also, your nutritional value stinks and so do your ingredients!
The THIRD ingredient is high fructose corn syrup! And then we have some natural flavours and extracts, but still!
Should I have bought all natural yoghurt? Am I spelling yoguhrt/yoghurt correctly?

Yoplait (light)/fat free, you make me sad because I thought I was doing something good for myself and you with your 1/3 fewer calories than regular lowfat yogurts has disappointed me. Because you have aspartame and other sweeteners and added vitamins that aren't there regularly!

And what is with the sodium level?

I don't reguarly read the yogurt container, but since I couldn't fit my SPOON in I ended up looking at the back of the conical container. Is there a back of a conical container?

Current Mood: annoyed
Current Music: BBC world news

10 Jan. Head to Knee

10 January 2006 @ 01:04 pm
head to knee
Yesterday I had my fourth ballet class. We do an hour an a half that includes bar work (it's probaly barre to be French, but I'm going to write bar, because I've never had ballet before and don't really know which one it is!), stretching, floor work, and then learning a combination.

Seriously, I never thought I'd be this flexible again. After four classes and a week and a half of very sore muscles in regions that had not been exercized since my forays into gymnastics and iceskating as a wee one (well, through middle school- then only basketball was cool in highschool), I can now officially bring my head down to touch my knee when I'm in an open straddle position. This had not previously happened since the Middle School V-Sit Reach test for the Presidential award in Gym class.

My goal is just to learn as much as I can, as I've never taken a real ballet class before. It's also to increase my flexibility and maybe one day be able to do a split again (I know, that's mostly the gymnastics days of yore talking, and to know that this is helping me already in ways that I don't know yet- maybe next time I walk out on stage there will be an element of grace that I don't have to worry about, because I got it from the hour of Pliees and Tendues at the "bar".

I also signed up for a (ok, I lied there, today I'm GOING to sign up for a) "flow" yoga class. There is some fancy name that's attached to this that I don't remember right now. But- local community college, really cheap class, once a week for an hour and a half.

This isn't all New year's Resolution inspired (because I have STILL not gone to the gym to replace my lost ID card, and still don't plan on going to "work out" for a good while), but I have always wanted to do these things, never had time, and doing Queen right now means I barely have to be called to rehearsals, and I have the time. So that's what I'm doing.

Now that's it's 1:15 and I still haven't gotten out of my PJ's or my apt. yet today, I think it's time to go learn some recital music or at least warm up before my coaching later today.

Current Mood: artistic
Current Music: all of my loud clocks and their second hands

8 Jan. Pre-competition lesson

08 January 2006 @ 04:24 pm
pre-competition lesson
I just had my first lesson since December break. But that's not really what I want to write about. I want to write about something I don't really understand- your voice/body/mechanism/mind taking over the "controlled"/FREE singing that you do.

I can sing my repertoire when I roll out of bed. I don't have to warm up and the high notes will be there. I have to warm up a bit and the low notes sound BETTER. But either way, I'm always "on" in terms of auditions. I don't have big breakdowns or nerves that I can't deal with.
Two years ago the two competitions I did I also did not have any nerves. Well, sure, I am a bit jittery/excited/nervous right before I start singing, and even a bit of the way through, but it has never REALLY influenced a performance of mine.

Over two years ago during my senior undergraduate recital was when I first experienced nerves that can take down my performance. Granted, I was kind of on the rebound of being sick, I was extremely overworked, overbusy, and overtired. I had many concerts with another on-campus group at that time, as well as the hardest final of my undergraduate career to deal with that same week.

When it came to singing- and I was prepared for all of the songs- overly prepared even- my head started to get the better of me. I started being aware of my vocal production, which led to it getting shaky because my larynx rose due to nerves. It was all in my throat, and I felt a flutter enter the voice. I felt that production was compromised, and that I was falling back on "technique" to get the sound out instead of just plain easy singing where I didn't have to think about anything.
Now, in the recordings, sure- it's not my best. BUT it's also not that noticeable to people who have never heard me or to anyone who has.
I may have been singing with what felt like was a huge dry lump in my throat, but the notes still came out, a bit softer than usual, and a bit airy.

That feeling has not really happened to me since in a whole performance. This summer during the one performance when all of my family was there I did get that feeling during the MIDDLE of the aria on-stage, but when singing "easy" rep (well, for me), it was pretty easy to deal with as well.
I think it was almost like on-stage anxiety- when I realize what is "riding" on this, what I'm actually doing, how "great" it is--but instead of thinking how great it is, I start getting nervous that I'm in such a big important place and I'll mess up or not do my best, and then the larynx thing happens.

I have not had a lot of vocal pedagogy, so I'm not sure if the laryx rising is the correct term for what is happening. It's mental, but it establishes itself physically in my throat. All of a sudden I feel an immense dryness. I feel like I can't sing a note because I just cried or screamed for 2 hours. I feel like I could control what I'm only if I either persevere (ie push) through it, or take it down a dynamic notch and try to calm whatever is jumping up and down in my system.

So the performance this summer. Again, no one noticed it. I just had a brief moment of --panic? Or mental overstimulation that got in the way of something that should happen freely and that I was prepared for.

Now to turn to today, or a previous performances. It has happened for what seems like forever to me, but what really is about a split second (or five) at almost every major performance I've had in the past 2 years.
Daughter- during the first duet. Medium during the Waltz. Lucia it didn't happen with this year- but I could feel it coming during the first aria and then suddenly it was not there.
I'm really talking tiny moments that no one else but me knows that something is just "not right". I sing through it even though I feel like my whole voice will give up under the pressure of this weird sensation.
It's almost like a hoarse sensation that only affect the high notes (the easiest for me)...and then I have to "think" about the notes, place them, instead of just sing them and have them be free like they always are.

Now, before the senior recital this never happened. I was never nervous, or aware that something could go wrong vocally or dramatically. I think I still have a lot of confidence- more than the average singer- would going into any vocal situation.
But these occurances make me think about how to overcome them and also what they mean.

Is it my mind catching up to the kind of unexplained and magical output of notes and voice that I have?
Truth be told, I have never had to really work hard for singing. Learning the music, yes. Drama on stage, dancing, yes, but the actual vocal production? No.
Runs, legato, whatever song, aria, duet, role- once I learn it it's there and it's usually in the right place.

Is my mind questioning how I get there? While on-stage? Is it actually that I DO have some sort of technique that has made it easy all of these years for me to just have to learn music and have it be well supported, in the right place, and not have to be fussed with?

Why can I be so confident and on the right track up until opening night, and then for some reason the nerves surrounding the first performance on stage for an audience get to me? And then get in the way of what I would usually not have to think about at all?

Well, today's lesson was a practice run for the weekend competition. I know I am in between good and better places in terms of some technical things. To clarify, I like to jaw, over-chew, and have sensations of singing, instead of just letting the singing happen from the top of my cheekbones and up.
The former worked for me when I was a tiny little thing and didn't have the VOmanly sound that I do now and didn't have to think about breath support, etc.
The latter is what I need to concentrate on to keep every note on the high side now that I have learned how to attack a note with good support behind it and not just sing on the leftover air inside.
It's not any type of difference to me, but to teachers and coaches alike, they say the sound is much more supported, open and round when I do this, and combined with the crazy high Q's that is a good thing.
So now I'm not just a waify high Q singer, I also have some meat on those bones (or scales upward).

I know how to do it. I have to NOT think about technique, and instead just think about the song. The words. WHAT I'm saying. That's it. It's so simple. There is nothing on the page besides the right notes which I have already learned, the right words, which I have learned how to pronounce correctly, and the MEANING which I need to infuse into my performance and which is its truest form is the correct way to sing.

I have to have a good time with the character. No, with me.Because I am the character at that moment. I have to give over to the French silliness, the Italianate drama, the German Storm und Drang, and whatever else inspires these words and notes to cross my lips.

Perhaps this is the way I would like to deal with the 2-5 second nervousness that attacks me in the middle of songs as if to ask me- why are you doing this? Are you really good enough? Let's see- if your body does this to you, can you still sing it?

Next year when I sing a certain role that is very exposed and beautiful, I want this to not happen. I want every vocal musical line out of my mouth to be controlled by me and not a wandering, anxious, nervous, or wiley mind.

It would also be really nice if that happened this weekend too.


7 Jan. Serving Sizes

07 January 2006 @ 10:54 pm
whaaaa? Serving Sizes
I bought a bag of lovely soy crisps today. You know, try to be healthy for the new year.
There are supposed to be THREE serving sizes in the bag? (reading this while finishing the second to last chip). MMkay.
Oh well. At least they're soy crisps and not doritos in some huge sized bag (that I would eat most of anyway).

I have a love hate relationship with late night eating. It feels and tastes so gooood! There is no reason for me to eat except out of boredom, but also the fact that it tastes gooooood! I'm kind of hungry at night, probably because I don't eat well enough or enough during the day. Well, this is not usual behavior.
Usually I will just have some fruit at night and be done with it. Or water. Yuck.
Have I mentioned how much I despised drinking water? I know that drinking 8 glasses of OJ a day is even worse, so I feel like I'm in kind of a perpetual state of dehydration. Last year I was obsessed with the crystal light powder packets that flavored the water. I had a red tongue from the raspberry one all the time. But they also have some dehydrating qualities, not to mention the fake sugar that can't be that great for you.

See? During this whole post I managed not to eat a soy crisp. As soon as I press preview and post I will finish the bag.


6 Jan. Those butterflies

06 January 2006 @ 05:54 pm
those butterflies
I just received email notification of my participation in the Met competition. I haven't sung in a competition in 2 years. The first time I did them I did two pretty good sized ones that were competitive, and placed and got into the finals. This one just seems bigger for some reason.
I know, I know, no one gets actually hired by the Met if they do well in this competition. It even says so in the application form.
I just want to do well. Singing for a group of judges that has some pull and hopefully knows a bit about music and comes from a varied background- ie,not all one company- is a really good opportunity to make good first impressions.

I think more than the repertoire (which I'm still deciding about, and can continue to decide about until the day of the competition), I want to know about what to wear!


5 Jan. Pretty Pretty Princess

05 January 2006 @ 02:11 pm
pretty pretty princess
I know this quiz was around a long time ago, but man, I have got to stop reading other people's blogs and going to all of their links!
At any rate, this is the kind of princess I'd be.
I was more hoping for Anastasia, but that's not disney. Now there's a girl who knows how to dress, how to pick a guy, how to wear her hair (in a ponytail!), and how to have a good time!

Which Disney Princess Are You?

You're CINDERELLA!Outwardly, you are meek, mild and easy to order around - but you have an inner strength and grit that sees you through the hard times and keeps you soldiering on against all odds and obstacles, especially when you go out partying. You loathe your home life and long for the time when you can leave and surround yourself in the sophistication and luxury you dream of. You hate your family, so you don't mind lying to them and using underhand ways to go out and break the rules. Your dream is to be the belle of the ball, and you always overcome your shyness to be just that when you hit the floor. You like to look smart but don't go over the top with your image, saving it for special occasions. You're not squeamish about rodents and bugs, and you're unafraid to get dirty and work hard. People are drawn to your calm, helpful nature. As long as your wicked stepmother doesn't stop you, you WILL go to the ball...A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep, in dreams you can lose your heartache, whatever you wish for you keep...'

4Jan. Worst cookies/biscuits ever

04 January 2006 @ 08:16 pm
WORST cookies/biscuits EVER
Sometimes I feel like I have to cook or bake. I'm actually a very good COOK. I always come up with really interesting recipes that involve cooking fruits like apricots, or making salads with cranberries and other fun non-expected mixtures. I am NOT that good of a dessert baker. I mean, I know how to make an apple crisp. And a Cheesecake. But usually I just don't have all of the ingredients necessary to make what I want to make.
What I want to make is usually something to satisfy my sweet-tooth, and since I never have any desserts in the house, tonight this posed a problem.
I had: flour, peanut butter, sugar, baking powder and soda, and vanilla.
So I figured, perhaps I could whip something up that was cookie-like or biscuit-like without needing milk or eggs.
I found a recipe online for peanut butter biscuits. Don't ask.
It said:
a cup of flour
1/4 cup of peanut butter
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup of milk (ok, I used water for this, which may explain why my burnt-nasty dry biscuits were so bad).
I also decided to be a little creative and add a tad of vanilla and some crushed up smart start cereal to the tops of the dough before cooking it (10 minutes at 450).

What did I get?
I have 12 hard little misshapen squares of nasty baking powder tasting burnt peanut butter smelling HARD biscuits with burnt cereal on top that not even a hungry raccoon would taste.

And all I wanted was some dessert.
I guess I'll just have to eat some cereal without milk, and then maybe some pineapple.

So much for expeditions in baking.
Maybe I shouldn't trust on-line recipes. Or MAYBE I should quit thinking that I can substitute water for any liquid required in baking.


4Jan. one two three....sasheee

04 January 2006 @ 01:04 pm
I had my first intro. to ballet class today. It was great. I learned that I have SO little flexibility (well, in the right places for ballet). Example: I can sit in that backwards W position that parents always tell their kids not to sit in, but I have no turn out.

I am inspired. I really want to do well, and I really want to increase my flexibility. So now, IF I waste the hours between 4-7, I'll at least do it in a straddle position so I can have a better turn out in these lessons later on!

Maybe I'll even practice the first nine counts of the little steps that we learned today for our combination.

I have danced before, but pretty much faked it, which is fine with most opera companies unless you're in the ballet movement of some opera. I AM good at musical theater dancing, and just shaking booty, but not so much at structured point turn one two three ballet kind of stuff.

That's ok. I'm not bad- I have just never done it before. So I'm looking at it as a new and exciting experience that hopefully I'll have fun with and do well.

Yuck, I sound like such a little goody two shoes describing my first adult dance experience. Eww! no, not THAT kind of adult dancing. Get your mind out of the gutter.

---------g (two three)

3Jan. Third day of new year and already...

03 January 2006 @ 12:12 pm
third day of the new year and already...
I have already not done anything to move my butt in the past 2 days.
I have also happily eaten cheese and seedless rye bread sandwiches for more meals out of the day than I wish to discuss openly. Also, chocolate.
I did come home last night after rehearsal at 10pm and watch tv instead of blowing up my balance ball and sitting on it.
I did wake up at 10am today (it's now 12) and do nothing but sit on this cozy chair at my computer doing work, calling to pay bills and change addresses and the like, oh, yea, and watching tv.

I DID do a private/mass email of happy new year yesterday which was actually quite painless. I got responses and replied personally which to me may end up being better than just sending a card and hoping they get it and remember me. So the email was the same for MOST everyone, but I plugged in the name and had a line or two of personal info. if it was relevant, and I think that worked out quite well.

I may even dig up my older contacts from previous programs and do the same. But I would have to do it today because then it's a bit past New Year's wishes!

The one thing I did decide on (well, not decide on, but was given a suggestion for) is to learn Ophelia's Lieder by Strauss for my recital. I want to do a kind of "youth" theme. It doesn't have to be all daisies and love, it doesn't have to be lullabyes, and so I think a set sung BY a child who doesn't understand love and is very distraught may be quite appropriate! Now I have three sets that are 100% IN, and still looking for two more languages, online music and more suggestions.
I wish I liked the requirements of this recital more.
But I don't. And I don't like when my date is (SOON), and I don't like that I'll be doing this last minute because I'll be coming off of a show right before it.

Oh, I did do something else musical last night. I made a photocopy of most of the score to Suor Angelica to start takinga look at what my part is. I'll also get Gianni Schicchi today, and with the Ophelia, I think I'll have a lot to look at and learn in my days o' rehearsal boredom and semester-that-hasn't-begun-yet blues.


1Jan. Happy New Year and Some Resolutions

01 January 2006 @ 03:14 pm
Happy New Year and some resolutions
After a very relaxing break in the US and the UK it's time once again to head back to rehearsals, final semester of classes, and general overdrive during this performance/recital/graduation infused period.

I suppose I should learn music in the order that I have to sing it-
ie Flute (dialogue!) and fairy music, Recital music (still yet to be chosen, ordered and learned), music for this summer which I'll be assigned soon, music for NEXT YEAR which I know, but includes a whole role that will be a very very good challenge for me.

Instead, what I really want to do is learn that role (for next March), forget about the recital, hope that somehow, magically, the Flute dialogue enters my being through osmosis and spits itself out onstage.

What I also need to do a lot is write New Years/I'm still alive and look at what I'm doing cards to "contacts". This is called "networking". Some singers don't have any idea that you need to do it. Some know you need to do it, but do it very strongly and that's just weird.
I think a nice happy new year oh by the way I'm doing this and that and I hope that all is well card is a great way to stay in touch that's a little more personal than the mass email of my show dates or my future plans.

Now, tell me- is sending out mass emails really that bad? I have "groups", and they can never see who I'm sending it to- it's all BCCd. For the singers, they get more mass emails than directors/conductors/coaches. They get the "what's up I figured i'd try to keep in touch" emails, the "hasn't it been such a long time since we all sang together at bla bla bla summer program" emails.
The directors get short and sweet "you're cordially invited to xyz peformance, I hope you're doing well and please stay in touch" emails.
I don't think it's brash or too up front or too suck-up-ish. It's a way to stay "in contact" without having to write a personal email to OVER a hundred people, who will then mostly all write me back, who I will have to respond to as well.
I don't know.
Maybe I SHOULD write a personal email that's a "standard" email and then just plug in the names of the people.
Maybe I'll try that this year.
Unless I buy new year's cards TODAY and write 30-40 by TOMORROW and send them out in time!

Maybe I'll just go back to eating my cape cod potato chips, sitting here in front of the nice fire in my last day of freedom before rehearsal begins tomorrow and I make the trek back to my frozen wilderness.

OH yea, I said I'd write some resolutions.
Well, I don't really believe in "resolutions", but I do think that whenever I have a break OR I'm very very stressed to the point where I can't concentrate on anything and end up thinking about my future life plans, I tend to plan things better, think things through and constructively criticize my life as it is.

So, I'm going to start going to the gym again, since my membership is paid through August and I went only from August to October of this year (then the show and COLD got in the way).
I'm going to seek out a yoga class at the community college.
I'm going to hope to join a dance class...hmm, this is all body/movement themed, but if anything, I really would like to do that both for myself and my career.
I think I'd be good at movement, I've just never really had to be coordinated into a dance (besides the musical theater grapevine or some basic thing like that) before.
Those are the physical things- really hoping do do some body work three times a week at least.

The menta/emotional things:
Maybe take more time to write down my thoughts here. Write more about what this supposed "career" that I'm chasing and striving for takes, takes out of me, and takes me going after.
Try to make this last semester apart when we are only 5 hours apart a little easier if that's even possible. Next year it will be a plane ride apart, so if we can make this work we can work through anything. Yuck, I sound like Dr. whoever on Tv that tries to solve marital problems.
This means communicating. Not recounting the day. Not thinking that it's enough to make time at night to talk to each other, but actually know that it's not the making of the time that counts, it's the conversation that we have when we talk.'

The artistic things:
Learn music! Stop being such a lazy fool who comes home and watches whatever is on TV between 4 and 6 and then goes back to rehearsal, comes home and watches Tv or wastes time online after 10pm. It's ridiculous how much music I could have had learned if I had used those hours to look at music rather than sit in my nice comfy red warm blankety chair.....

Happy New Year.


Dec.23 The Bizness of Singing part 3 (college)

23 December 2005 @ 11:36 pm
The Biz of the Biz part three- College
I know, I know, I shouldn't assume that the majority of people in the US go to college. But I am hoping that if someone reads this and is looking for singing advice, that they would consider that their education- both on stage and off- has a lot to do with what kind of training they get.

Now, I am a product of a unique college experience. When I was a highschool Junior (let's be honest here, more like Sophomore who really really liked to plan ahead with charts, graphs, internet material and lots of email inquiries), I was not sure that studying music was for me. Actually, I thought I was better than "just" a music degree. I loved academics. Loved languages, political science, English, writing, history- anything that was social sciences based. And I excelled at those subjects as well. Unfortunately the math-music connection didn't do me very well in calculus. I didn't want to 'throw' my higher education away by majoring in measly music- or worse- voice. What would I get in a voice degree? Lessons, music history, theory, solfege, perhaps a bit of piano, and chorus. Right? Of course, it MAY prepare me for a career in music and give me some experience that would look good on a resume. Yes, one would assume that going to a music school or conservatory would have the best resources in terms of coaching, teaching and growth as an artist. But I was not sure about that, and I was not sure about my career path.
I had a passion for music, but also many other things.

My choices to narrow down from thanks to standardized testing, AP scores, grades, and volunteer work:
A large university with an excellent music school that I could double major in something "real" and music.
A very small college that excelled in liberal arts, may not have the best music program, but was a great academic degree
A conservatory where I would only study music and get basic liberal arts classes (2)
A conservatory/University program where I would be shuttling between 2 schools, earning two degrees at the same tame, working twice as hard as my friends to pursue both music and something that could get me by in the real world.

There are many schools that fall into each of these categories. And one by one, I narrowed them down, choosing about 2-3 in each category that I thought I could get into. I applied to 12 schools for undergraduate. One was a big university with a great music program that I KNEW I could get into (safety), the rest were reaches or near-matches with my qualifications.
There were four double degree programs that I was looking at during that time, and I applied to all of them and got into 3.
I did get into one small only liberal arts college that was 'academically' rated higher than any other school I applied to.
And I got into the "reach" big Universities with the big named music and politics programs.

I decided to push myself and be one of the seven entering students in the double degree program. I had 5 years to do the requirements of 2 degrees. I feel as if I got the best of both worlds in terms of music, and the college experience. Of the 7 who entered the program with me, only two others graduated on-time, two dropped out, and two finished the program late. It was rigorous and busy to say the least.

Which route should a highschooler choose?
Well, here are a few things to consider.

Are you interested in studying ONLY music? If so, then that may narrow your choices to only conservatories or only Universities with great music programs.
Are you interested in other academic pursuits MORE than music? If so, you may want to minor in music, or double major, while having the luxury of staying on ONE campus, having a fun, real, college experience, and still continuing to study music, but knowing that you come out with a degree in something that you could get immediately paid to do (hopefully, unless you're an ENGLISH major or something!! Just Kidding).

Money- My parents, the saints, took out LOANS. MANY LOANS. I am responsible for paying them all now. By myself. We decided that because of the rigorous program I was pursuing that there would be no time for me to get a job and be in school. Therefore, LOANS. I pay 356 dollars a MONTH now to pay them back, and have about 50thou to pay off. It WILL be ok. I can survive on what I earn AND pay back the loans, but it is a huge burden to consider. If I had that extra 350 a month I could have HEFTY savings and investments by now.
In the money category- if you can't pay the insane tuition of, oh say, a conservatory that costs around 32 thousand or MORE a year (not including housing in the major city where it is located), think of State schools and larger universities- Cheaper.
I will never know if I made a mistake in NOT accepting the nearly FULL ride I got at Eastmann/Rochester double degree program. I would have gone to a great conservatory, a pretty good university, gotten 2 degrees, and had no debt.
(I would have frozen my booty off for 4 years too, but that's another story).

BUT- on the side of loans and expensive schools, what's in a name--well, some people in your future musical life WILL recognize a big named conservatory over a small college or university with perhaps an unknown musical faculty and center.

I think that in undergrad (whether you're planning on going to grad school or not) it's worth it to take out the loans to get the best collegiate education that you can. The success you have will give you a leg up on your first job, or into your graduate program. When it comes time for grad school- THAT'S when you want to be thinking about that full ride- or a stipend for working in the music department.

That still doesn't answer the question of what to study.
If you have another love- go for it.
Good in French? DO it! It will NEVER hurt to have a strong academic background no matter what you are interested. Heck, major in Biology and keep taking voice lessons in the music department. Audition for the shows and maybe try to get into the opera scenes or drama class.

What I appreciate most about the program that I chose:
I got to live among 1500 other Freshman my first year, in a real college dorm (not in a 200 person consevatory tiny building where everyone knows everything about everything), experience the normalcy, the jocks, the geeks, nerds, international students, extracurricular clubs and activities, dining halls, Xtra long twin beds, the a capella groups (huge in the northeast), the amazing professors from all over the country and the world, the first-class libraries, the academic challenges and social milieu of a Liberal Arts College.
I also got the small conservatory, professional voice teacher and coaches, music history, theory, solfege, chorus, singers and musicians all around me, artistic growth, artistic inspiration, zeroed in studies of music, music and music as a career, profession, more than a hobby, something is riding on the fact that I was one of X number of freshman sopranos at the conservatory.

That's not for everyone. Although I had a college experience for sure, I did NOT have as much free time as any of my friends. I just had to be more places more often than them. I had to plan my classes around 2 schools including the 30min. commute between them, had performances or rehearsals at night, chorus bright and early in the morning, and in between fit in my politics, english, french, italian, german, math and science requirements..etc. Needless to say, I am more inspired by this kind of environemt. It fuels me to work harder, rather than taking its toll, as it did on those who dropped the program.
However, there was not ONE weekend where I would not cherish my sleep, since I got so little during the week. My ringer was OFF, there was no rousing me before noon unless there was a fire drill or a performance I had to be at.

All this talk about the choices of college/university/conservatory, and I have not really spoken about how to get INTO these places.
Well, if you follow the handy dandy Highschool recommendations, you're on the right track.

IN ADDITION to the good grades, and everything that it takes to get into any regular college for liberal arts studies you need:
A GREAT, not just good, GREAT recording. Usually the requirements vary for departments, but it's always at least 3 or 4 languages through 4 or 5 art songs, maybe one aria and one oratorio are allowed.

People, this is not about impressing with repertoire. This is about singing the CRAP out of what your best piece is. I don't care if it's caro mio ben. DO IT if it's the best thing you do.

If you don't know what to put on the CD, take a look at what the graduation requirements are for that undergrad vocal program. Probably you do a Jury every semester that requires songs in every language and at the end your recital will require different history eras- baroque, classical, romantic, contemporary.
IF you have this repertoire already secure, (or ONE example from each category), they will see that you are already on the right track in terms of what you are learning. They will see that you are already smart enough to be singing not just arias that are inappropriate, but a good mix of Handel and Bach to increase agility, Mozart for standard repertoire, Debussy for artistry, and some crazy piece in a non-key because you challenge yourself to do it!

Please, please don't make the CD at your voice lesson. Go to a church, a hall, a rehearsal room- anywhere but the porch of a house that's been converted into a studio.
Minidisks are wonderous things, and I have gotten amazing quality from my recordings. You don't need to spend a thousand dollars at a studio to do this, but make sure what you send represents your voice RIGHT NOW (not 6 months ago at a concert with clapping in the ends of the tracks), especially if you're a soprano and there is a pre-screening process.

The rest of the application:
Well, I'm assuming you'll need a resume and a repertoire list. You may not have a long list of either of these, but try to make whatever you have work for YOU.
If you don't have operatic performance experience, don't list that first on your resume.
Instead, list the choruses you have been involved with, and how long.

No one is expecting an undergraduate to have sung in anything but MAYBE a soloist in school or community chorus, a short recital, and perhaps some opera scenes if you did a summer program.

DO put your language studies on there. DO put other relevant skills like instruments played and how long.
DO put dancing and acting experience and for how many years.

The Essay:
If you're applying to a conservatory they will invariable ask you in some sort of covert way why you want to be a singer.
The question could be name one piece (book, music, movie) that has had influence on your artistic career and why, or it could be why do you want to pursue music?
Don't say you have a passion for music. Don't say you've been singing since you were three in your crib.
Think about this question seriously.
What event in your life has led you to the decision to pursue music as more than just a hobby, and in fact, as a possible career?
Is it your love of studying everything that has to do with music? Languages, stagecraft etc?
Is it the mentors you have gained from this study?
Is it how the art "moves" you or others ? (OK, try to shy away from this as well).
Is there one experience, musical or not in your past that you feel was the decisive point of entry for you in the pursuit of these studies?

If you're applying to a university and there is a general essay or personal statement, find a way to work music into it if that is your passion. (Of course also cleverly discussing your previous experience as a lifeguard and how when you almost saved that little kid who fell in the pool you knew from then on that you wanted to "help people" is a good story too).
Or, don't write about music at all. Personal statements are clinchers. You need a great start and a great finish, and somehow to tell the reader the important things you have participated in during HS, and how those things influenced your decision to apply for X university and study Y.

So, to sum up APPLYING to colleges:
You have choices about where to study.
You have to sit down and make a priority list for yourself- it may include considerations like Money, type of school, type of degree, courses of study, location location location, teachers, and much much more. If you write these out and really look at what schools and programs have to offer, you too can narrow down the seemingly endless list of colleges and universities that you can apply to.
You have to be prepared to send in your BEST in the form of a paper application (with CD). A well written essay, well presented resume and repertoire list, and most importantly a GREAT, not just good, CD.
Then, yes, you do have to give a good audition and impression if you get a live audition, but that is talk for another day.
There are some great choices out there in terms of schools.

Most of all, you have to go where you think you'll be HAPPY. Not the big name school because you think it will get you somewhere.
Not the big fish in a little pond because you think you'll have a leg up with more roles under your belt from a small small school than those in the 'famous' big schools or conservatories.
This will depend on climate, who the students are, where they come from, what you can study, how the campus LOOKS!
Take time to gather the information and your choice will be more clear.


Dec.23 The Bizness of Singing Part 2 (High School)

23 December 2005 @ 06:53 pm
The Business of Business (part two)- Highschool
Ok, back from dinner- filled with yummy roasted chicken and roasted vegetables. Apple Crisp to come out of the oven in less than 30 minutes. It's good to be home for the holidays. Or should I say Hannukah- since this whole war on Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays has been going on for the past few weeks.

Now, back to my master plan of advice.

Let's begin early- let's say something like my own experience.

You are a highschooler who has a good amount of musical theater experience. You may know every word to every musical written by either A. Andrew Lloyd Webber B. Rogers and Hammerstein C. Sondheim, or D. Any of the newer musicals, like Wicked and Rent that have been popular for the past 5-10 years.
You are probably in Choir, and also in Select Choir, and also got into All-State Choir. Maybe the drama department at your school is just OK- so you've done a few community shows too.
Suddenly, you ask your parents for voice lessons (in addition to the piano and guitar) because your choir teacher says you really have some talent.

Finding a teacher in highschool: It could be your chorus teacher or someone he or she recommends. I'd recommend going to the nearest college to where you live and checking out their voice faculty, or any of the vocal MM students that are at the school. You must have a good rapport with them. You must be willing to experiment with new warm-ups, physical sensations, rolling around on the floor or sticking your tongue out- this is the trial period for everything. If you get your technical studies started early enough, you will be so much ahead of anyone else your age entering college to possibly pursue music.

What to study in highschool (or, 24- no, not the TV thriller): I admit, my teacher gave me arias. But I would absolutely NOT recommend that to anyone this age. Start with the good old 24 pieces of Italian music. Art song, as it is called, is really the key- short pieces that are not too overreaching, but still challenging enough to feel you have accomplished something once you learn them...ALL.
If you want to succeed with this method, buy a Vaccai warm up book as well. Establish a practicing routine- don't just mess around on the piano (like I did).
Translate EVERY word of those songs. Know what they all mean from memory after you translate them. Make sure your diction is on the verge of impeccable.

What the 24 can teach you if you let it:
Singing with dynamics- they are all marked in there. Learn how to sing the second verse of Tu lo Sai as it is marked and you can sing Pianissimo!
Italian Diction- already mentioned. Your languages need to be a strength, by the way.
Legato, Staccato, marcato, LINE (the ever-elusive word used to describe how the song connects to itself, to your breath, and to the output for the audience)
Breath control (Ma ricordati di me in Tu Lo Sai for Ex.)
Interpretation of Italian Song! These are beautiful, beautiful songs. Learn them as an excercize for technique, but also have fun with their characters- the girl that sings Nel Cor is much different than the one who is singing Lasciatemi Morrire.

IN addition to the 24 to establish good habits and good technique, YES, I'd say take a look at arias that are appropriate for your voice (size, weight, color). Do NOT perform them. Study them with a trusted teacher and get their feedback. Make sure you don't have any bad habits or they WILL come back to bite you in the booty when you have to sing them for real (thank you, Juliette's Waltz).

If your teacher thinks you'll be a coloratura soprano do NOT jump in singing Queen of the Night. Listen to it, sure. Have an aria book that includes it, fiiine. But what about starting with something like a lighter Mozart- Durch Zartlichkeit? Bester Jungling? Every coloratura soprano I know now was once just singing all of the soubrette music, keeping her high notes in shape, and waiting for the mental and physical and vocal OK to jump into the high-flying and often heavier roles that coloratura voices feel most comfortable in.

Know and love Handel if it works in your voice. Not only will you be re-hired to do those cantatas in concert once you're in or out of college, it's great for vocal agility.

If you're in the mood for the more sensual or something that needs to be acted- try some French art song. Research cycles of music so there is a definite character/beginning/journey/end to what you are singing. Debussy, Faure wrote most of the hits. Look for something off of the beaten path as well.

Opportunities in highschool may seem few and far between, but you CAN start a resume.
It can include musical theater if it has been legit.
It should include concerts you are involved with, and of course any soloing that you do.

One of the best things I found was this competition, the ARTS scholarship, run by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA)- open to highschool seniors and ages 17-18 I think. All arts groups are represented (dance, theater, voice, MT, writing, instruments, etc), and you apply by Cd in the first round. If you're accepted you go to ARTS week in Florida with other talented kids and have coachings, concerts, make connections and friends- and best of all- FREE, with the opportunity to be funded FURTHER from anywhere between 500-5,000 dollars. Not a bad way to end HS.

There is also All-state, and the Governor's award in most states (in Music). There are your own school's music awards if they have them. Join a community chorus. Put on your OWN concert if you need to raise money for college or a summer program- ask your local religious center or recc. center if you can use their space (usually they'll say yes and it will be free, too- since you're such a cute highschooler) for a recital. FUN! Experience! Contacts! People who may want to be your sponsor or patron for a certain program or for a few years throughout college! Dealing with nerves! Dealing with accompanists, publicity, resumes, headshots, decorating! All wonderful things to have under your belt before you attempt to go to school to "learn" how to be a singer and "learn" how to have a career".

Ok, before I end this section of highschool singing (next phase is college) I will say, that if you feel you are advanced enough (and so does your teacher) and you have parental support ($$), think about doing a pay-to-sing music program over a summer.
It can be in Italy for the big bucks to learn the language AND get to do some scenes and take voice lessons, or it can be in the US where you get to do scenes, maybe a legit MT show, an operetta, and take voice lessons.
Check out classicalsinger.com to read more about the tons and tons of programs offered for all age and talent levels. But I personally feel that if you are ready, it's a good idea to sing for someone other than your teacher and your choir in highschool. You will immediately meet at least 40 more singers from all over the US who are your age or older, you will make contacts with the administrators of the program who will smile and coo because you'll probably be the "baby" of the program, yet you'll be READY to take on anything vocally and on-stage regardless of your age, and you'll make really really good contacts that you can keep updated about where and what you are doing while you are in college!
Who knows- one summer in the future they may just need a last minute soprano to sing Barbarina, OR Susanna.

High School.
Aside from the breakouts and fashion faux pas, the plastics or the music geeks- if you really start to get your act together early in terms of singing, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of anyone your age when you get to your next destination: College.

Things to remember for Level I:
Choirs- outside of school if possible
Lessons- teacher you trust, stick to art songs and technique, be familiar with future arias
Competitions and Scholarships- find them, make that money, and get out there if you can
Resume- start building one with legit MT, chorus and maybe a recital if you can get one in
Summer study- either do language immersion, pay-to-sing or both. Get a head start and make contacts.

And in addition, academically of course you want to be taking MORE than one language if possible, participating in a drama class, familiarizing yourself with opera stories, composers, libretti, scores, recordings, and making sure you are comfortable with piano (for piano proficiency classes in the possible future), and music history (to pass those pesky entrance exams IF you major in music).

--------high g