31 July, 2007

more running around ny and crazy cabs

I know it may SEEM like I'm rolling in dough and that I take cabs all over NY, but that's really not true. Sometimes in Midtown to get from one place to the next I treat myself simply because walking to the nearest 1 or A train would entail about 1/3 of the distance I have to travel anyway (and with a carry on suitcase and my laptop in tow that's not so comfy in 90 degree weather).

So. I hailed another cab today. 40 minutes before my audition to go 20 blocks south. That's right- 20 blocks. Weellll, it was down Broadway, but still---20blocks!!! And it took until the last 5 minutes before the audition (plus me running from 47th to 43rd since I just decided to get out and make a run for it after being stuck at the same light for the third time in a row).

Ok, enough about traffic.
The audition went really well, and I'm pretty proud of myself for putting together an aria over this past month with no access to a piano, and no previous coaching except for yesterday's 30 minutes on it.

The first aria rocked...as usual...as it is my favorite thing to sing/act.
And the new one made a very good showing. I felt like I really nailed the high floats, had a lot of movement and legato and varied dynamics, good dramatic energy, and next time I will count just a little bit less in my head and let the music take me just a little more.

Upcoming post that I'm thinking about is: What is my starting aria for this year?
I know what I WANT it to be, but it's about 12 minutes too long.

30 July, 2007

conversation with a cab driver on Amsterdam and 100th

Him (rolling down the window in a New Yawk accent): Where are you going?
Me: 69th
Him: That's close enough---
after which he proceeds to tell me all about how he just turned down a fare because they wanted to go to Chelsea Piers and he didn't want to drive all the way down there in the traffic, because he wouldn't make it back to switch out the cab at the end of his shift at 5...and did I think that he was giving up too many fares close to 4pm? He didn't think so, but maybe he is, he's not so sure.

"Are you coming from home or going home? Oh, you don't live here? Oh- well where DO you live? Nowhere? How is that possible? Oh, you're a singer--
( at 78th and Bway) Oh, I know that guy on the motorcycle. He used to teach where I did- at the performing arts high school.
So- what kind of singer?
(at 72nd and Bway) When I was studying acting there was a vocal coach who lived down the hall from me and one day he tested my voice and he said I could sing--3? Can people sing 3 octaves normally? Or is it 2? Well, anyway, he said I had a pretty good voice, but I don't really sing except for my own pieces and for my own enjoyment and things.
So where are you singing next? Wow. Really. Wow".

He was kind of as self-deprecating as woody allen, only with really bad teeth, possibly not Jewish, and definitely not as famous for subtleties and sarcasm in filmmaking. But who knows.

At my final destination I just got out a bit dazed since he caught me right after a coaching, when I'm trying to let everything sink in and not escape into the netherword that IS people watching in nyc.

29 July, 2007

anonymity *edited*

**********************Edited to add that yes, I know that some of YOU know who I am. But I don't know that you know who I am (mostly). Therefore I can still write anonymously.
And for those of you that enjoyed that first reference to one of my favorite movies in the first line, the full quote from Lion in Winter is:

Prince Geoffrey: I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family.

I received a request this morning to reveal who I am. No, not online of course, but a comment sent to my blogger email account, asking for my website and saying that of course I'd still be anonymous and not "revealed".

Now, dear reader who commented below (which as the moderator of comments, I rejected, so that your email is not known to all as well), if you are reading, please know that I have a draft email currently in my account just waiting to be "sent" to you, revealing all and requesting that you continue to respect my anonymity on this blog, even though I WILL give you the information you requested in the email.

I can't really say that I had a "first instinct" in this situation. At first I thought- no way. Then I thought- why not. Then I googled YOUR email (and perhaps found a myspace page that belongs to you)--and thought- well, if it really IS this person who commented, then why should I NOT send this person my contact information? They seem to be interested in music, have a degree in it, be pursuing higher education in 2010 for a Doctorate, and are basically out there on the internet with family, blog, pictures, etc.

That is, IF my googling was correct.

So then I started typing up the draft email giving out my info.
And then I stopped and thought, would someone want to know what my name is THAT badly, as to choose an email/blogger name SO similar to this unassuming person's profile that I found "almost" fits on myspace?

This is a music diary--not a personal life blog--so sure, it could interest other singers. They could even learn from my experiences. If they want funny reviews and fuzzy illegal stage pictures, that too. I also don't name names, programs, companies, or any one else "personal" to me in this business. Reviews of other famous singers, yes, but no one that knows me.

So what is the harm? Well, I suppose there really is no harm, except that I'll know that a reader of this blog now knows who I am. And it's not about the mystique of anonymity being gone, it's just that when I type I like to feel like it's only for myself, and not someone else that knows who I am, that can look at my website at any time and see that if I'm stressed about learning Role1 and Role2 that it's those 2 that are in my "upcoming engagements" section on my website.

So, for now, that email will just remain a draft. And I apologize for that. I may change my mind--later today, or later in the year. But until then, know that you inspired at least a 15 minute google search and personal debate of online boundaries.

27 July, 2007

officially "stylin' "

Just got an "nyc" hair cut and have a cute sideswept bang.
So does that mean I'm officially in style now?

It's totally not "singer" hair, but I totally don't care! I lurvvvv it!

back "home"

Where is my home right now exactly?
Well, after living out of 2 large suitcases for the past 2 months, I'm ready to call just about anywhere I can hang my clothes up, have my own hairdryer, and not need adapters for electricity home...

I still don't really have a permanent address for this year, but in 'between' everything- meaning jobs that aren't in New York...I'll be in New York.

I never thought I'd be one of "those" singers..who didn't have a job in NYC (a singing job that is), but would decide to live here anyway just to be "around" the auditions and the scene- which no one can deny is best for coachings, connections, etc.

I haven't signed any leases or contracts for subletters because I have great friends with Large(!) apartments that have pretty much said I have an open invitation whenever I want and for however long I need to stay in Brooklyn, and I am also LUCKY to have second cousins that live pretty much in my dream apartment and dream location- right behind Lincoln Center--whose apartment I get to use on weekends when they are away at their house on Fire Island. Yea- THOSE types of cousins...trust me, they are twice removed and rollin' in it.
But they still are excited by the prospect of having their "opera singer cousin" stay at their place and warm up for auditions that will be in the UWS area!

So for now as I try to decide which suitcase of clothes I will need for the next week, and can't even think about packing up again for another month of "in between" weather, I'll be happy to be "back"- wherever that may be.

25 July, 2007

leavin' on a jet plane

Last post from Europe.

I fly back to NYC to mild insanity which includes the celebration of my brothers' birthdays (born same day, two years apart) and my dad's bday (4 days before theirs) in a large familial type of weekend extravaganza which includes tickets to see (NOT by choice..more like by force) XANADU the musical. Don't ask. My mom thinks sometimes that just because it's the "hot new show" that it will be good.

It also includes 2 auditions, re-organizing suitcases, gowns, packing for three upcoming weddings, (oh yea, and getting gifts for those as well), and basically re-entering life in the US after having left it behind and far far away for 2.5 months.

All while living out of a small carry on sized suitcase.

24 July, 2007

Rigoletto on the moon

Where I am supposed to be: In standing room only place for Rigoletto tonight which takes place on Planet of the Apes/Mars/NASA space shuttle/the moon (at least that's what it looks like from the pics)

Where I am instead: In my room eating dinner because after standing outside IN THE POURING RAIN for an hour, I still wasn't able to get a ticket, and the only people selling theirs wanted 150 Euros or more, and were NOT nice like the lady last night and didn't give up their tickets even though the 5 minute warning bell rang and they still had not sold them.

So my last opera will be tomorrow, Orlando (so excited), which from the production pics I am now calling the terrorist opera- complete with bomb cables, orange and blue jumpsuits, and face paint.

boooo. Last day of class is tomorrow. Move-out on Friday, and oh so much more in general.
But now--catching up and doing last day's worth of homework.

23 July, 2007

Il Turco in Italia

Saw a relatively new production of Il Turco this evening.
FIRST of all, we got into the opera and sat in 103.30 Euro seats.
HOW you may ask?
Well, we arrived the usual hour early, but this show was at the Prinzregentheater, not the usual Staatsoper. The house was much smaller, we knew that. The tickets in general were more expensive, we knew that too, and there was no standing room...we also knew that.

So we stood outside and did the dance: Does that person look dressed up enough to want to go to the opera tonight, or are the tickets they are holding on sale?
Let's cruise by and see what the price is. 40 Euros? No, we decided our limit was 30 for this one, and they only have one ticket anyway.

So we're standing, standing, waiting, looking. There were two women there with 37 Euro seats, ONE was willing to give it to us for 20. The other wouldn't budge. Plus they weren't next to each other, so we held off.

Finally this lovely looking blond woman comes up to us and in her perfect English says (after I had "cruised" her tickets for 103 Euros and said I couldn't afford it):
I won't be able to sell these, what CAN you afford?
So we said that we each had 20 Euros, which was our lower limit..and she said that she'd rather have someone enjoy her VERY good seats than have them empty.


So that is the story of how I sat in row 16 of the Prinzregentheater and could see Alexandrina Pendatschanska's amazing technique from the center of the row.

For 20 Euros.
Instead of 103.

Some people in this world are just really nice. This woman did not need to practically give us her tickets. But she did. And we said that we were singers and that made her all the happier.

Now to the awesomely funny production by Christof Loy.
It was just a joy to watch. Really. Updated, great comic timing, great voices- the best of the night being Pendatchanska's Fiorella- I mean, seriously...She sounds like a mezzo with her Eastern European color, and has this amazing facility with the Rossini score, and then out pops the high Eflat or D or whatever it was at the end of the aria and it's all there.

Ahhh..it was just great.

Things we loved:
Men's chorus dressed as women in the masquerade scene. Some of them made lovely Nathan Lane's a la Birdcage.
Alexandrina's (yea, we're on a first name basis) last aria where she pretty much had a tantrum and threw brightly colored shoes all over the stage.
And also all of her other arias and pretty much anytime she opened her mouth.
The poet's constant penchant for getting beat up accidentally.
The boxing match between Selim and Geronia including clothes being ripped off to show the boxing shorts in Italian and Turkish colors underneath them.

Narciso the tenor- David Alegret-- you GO boiiii...with your Rosssini tenor-ness. We mag'ed it. (mochte, mogen...you know, have to get th Deutsch in there somehow).

The scenes were also deftly changed by the men's chorus dressed AS the Staatsoper CREW (complete with black Tshirts with Staatsoper written on them), who came onstage and made fun of themselves and the situation that they had to be in by changing the scenery while another scenes was going on.

Self deprecating humor in opera, now there's a new concept.

Also, in the very first scene the curtain was already open to a bare stage except for a small mini-trailer park mobile home type of contraption. And somehow (through the trap door I'm sure), as soon as the chorus music began after the overture, we see three people come out. That's funny because it was there the whole time during the overture with the opera curtain.
But then 5 more come out. Then the entire chorus--- think clown car effect. It had us laughing for about 10 minutes...really.

It was just cheerful and smart. And extremely well sung.

So - YAY for Turco.
First time I heard any of the music, first time I saw it, and NOT the last time since I'm considering buying it on Itunes RIGHT after I finish this entry, and also learning any of her arias for audition season.

ALSO, last but very much not least, I bought the bestest (am meistens)boots in the entire world today.
They are Frye boots. They are green. They are a little orange. And they make me happy.
And even though they cost a lot of money (more than I've ever spent on a pair of shoes, or probably any other piece of clothing including recital gowns), they are the shiny-est, pretty-est, cowgirl-est, cute-est, go-with-any-outfit-est shoes ever...and they're GREEEEEN!

Il Turco in Italia

19 July, 2007


There were MANY good things about this production and the singers. The count and the countess carried the show. Especially the Countess (Anja Hartensus -sp?- don't have the program in front of me right now).

Regarding many other things including pitch, tempo, characters, singing, staging, believability and overall reaction...it's been said that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

So, I will supply a blurry picture of the curtain call and final "garden" scene which was actually completely white with white sheets on the ground that some characters hid under while everyone else in the bright white lights pretended that they couldn't see each other and it was dark.

Off to Paris for a vacay within a vaycay. Be back Sunday night (and studying for my next German test then).

guidebook for standing room at the opera

So far I've seen three shows in standing room seats (third tier, center) at the Opera. Tonight- Nozze. Standing. I can doooooo eeeet.
Here is my personal guide for having fun and amusing yourself in standing room seats (which, fyi, at this theater are assigned so there is no mad dash to tie a scarf around the banister where you want to stand in the next hour).

1. Wear something nice for the opera, but not so nice that people will think you actually have SEATS. ie, no prom dresses. Fashion dont's I've seen so far (and there have been OH so many):
a. The "Jasmine": think, Jasmine in Aladdin top of the dress, only in white- kind of like a clamshell bikini, linked by a metal loop (one--in the front), to a long white skirt. So essentially, backless except for one strap of the top, J-Lo wanna-be front, but on a 40 yr old woman with a bad dye job.

b. The "my grandma wore that dress as a nightie in 1973": Pale small flowers, set on a dark color, a different colored, but still dark SOCK in SANDALS that look like Jellies.

c. The "I'm wearing a ballgown to the opera because it's the opera even though it's 90 degrees and begins at 6pm and my seats are in the highest ring, last row"- self explanatory

d. The Dirndl. Self explanatory. On some girls and women it's SO cute. On some it looks like a Renaissance fair gone bad.

e. JEANS on boys with mullets, rat-tails, or a combination of both. WRONG! Not allowed!

2. Exercise at the Opera!
There are SO many things you can do while standing or leaning on the banister in your standing room platz.
Including: Butt crunches, tucking in your abs and pulsing them for a bit, practicing your pliee positions and other ballet floor work, arm strength work (when the show is not going on) while leaning your weight onto the banister like a push up against a wall, Anything you can really think of that doesn't require leg lifts and can be done in a non-disruptive dark small space about the size of a standing coffin.

3. Intermissions: they are 40 minutes long here. And they don't sell candy or chocolate! Just expensive alcohol and some sort of gooey fruit sorbet. BUT there is an evil starbucks 4 minutes away and even though that is the MOST American thing I have done here, I HAVE gone there to get cookies or wraps or fruit smoothies in the 40 minutes because I didn't get a chance to eat dinner before the 7pm Curtain and 6pm "show up for last minute tickets" starting time.

4. Make friends with the old ladies around you. They have had season tickets to the summer festival for at least the past 20 years and they are here to see their favorite baritone. They may wear a lot of stinky hair products and too much perfume, but they are hysterical when yelling at some poor guy who is trying to get by them after the lights go dark and nothing has started yet, but they still have to move three inches to let him in the row which is unacceptable to them.

5. Bet on who will get a Bravo after their aria and how long it will be. Bet on how many curtain calls the cast will take.

6. Act like you totally know crap when people around you ask where their seat or standing number is and point to another door. There is NO order except evens and odds, and each section (far right, right, middle, middle right, middle left, left, far left) has their own even or odd section and they don't follow each other in a way that makes sense at all.
So after you figure out where YOUR seat is just be amused at the others that are running in and out of doors around you.

That's all for now because I have to do my laundry and pack for Paris, and oh yea, go to the opera in an hour and a half.

18 July, 2007


Doesn't the title make you want that warm caramel goodness in your mouth? Too bad I only have Ricola's here in case I get sick.

Aaaanyway. Werther tonight was sung with the fabulous Sophie Koch as Charlotte, and supposed to be Adriana Kucerova, but she got sick and walked the part while another "house" Soprano sang from the pit (as Sophie), and the talented and warm-voiced Piotr Beczala in the title role.

So. It started off with me being more interested in the cute little kids singing "noel noel noel" because seeing them run around and then freeze (as the staging had freezing when Werther was contemplating life and death and other poetic subjects), was more interesting than the set, which was a rotating (Munich is apparently one of the first, if not the first theater to use the a-la-les mis rotating stage), and painted and scribbled with "artistic" graffiti in French all over.

I tried to get a picture, really I did. But all 5 came out blurry. Damn you no flash!!! My hands weren't steady at the curtain call I suppose.

Ok, so. The singing was very good. I liked Sophie Koch a lot. She cut very well and had a warm tone but also mixed with steel, which was very effective dramatically during Va and the "you gotta leave me right now before my husband comes back" duet.

Werther- Piotr- amazing. Lovely French control in terms of pulling back on those high notes and singing them in that half falsetto half pianissimo voice. His aria got a good 2 minute cheering section, and it was really really really dramatic and he took it just to the exact right place- not melodramatic or histrionic even though the text and drama borders on that and sometimes requires it. It was...well, as my post below describes- honest. And he still got that awesome ovation.

I was disappointed not to hear Kucerova, and her replacement from the pit didn't do much to impress. The announcement involved something about the fact that she had sung it in German 5 years ago and was now doing it in French..so I'm sure that the pressure was on, she was on book and in the pit...not the funnest place to be. It was sweet and pretty but she couldn't really do all that she could do were she onstage I think.

Other observations: The death scene was amazing. All the old ladies were crying and after the doors opened there was many a smeared mascara face coming out into the bright lights of the hallways.
The rotating stage around Werther really worked. There was the whole time his writing desk on an "Atlas-like" ROCK in the center...and sometimes he was there ignoring the action on stage but doing his thing..and it was ok and I liked it.
Little kids choruses are more in tune and in tempo that the real chorus! HA ha! Luisa Miller's raced all over the place. The kids were pretty darn good.

General tips for Opera Festival goers in the future:

I mean, I've gotten awesome tickets each time I go, (standing room student price is 5 Euros, and if the show is sold out, people stand out in front of the theater and sell their tickets for close to the price they paid for it) but each time it's a gamble, because there are never any cheaper (meaning, not 340 Euro) seats left since they were all snatched up at the beginning, and then people just stand outside and sell them if they can't go- OR if they bought 4 for fun and go themselves but sell the other three.

We shelled out 20 Euros each for a nice seat in the 3rd Ring Center for Luisa Miller and that was really worth it. We have center seats for Orlando as well. We will probably get standing room tix for Nozze tomorrow night, and the shows left next week are Rigoletto (that weird Planet of the Apes/Set on the moon one), and Il Turco in Italia--hopefully we'll get into all of them for around 10-20 Euros.

But really, this would have been much easier and less of a hassle having to get to the theater an hour early and ask around for tickets at the door or in line for last minute student tix, if I had booked early. Of course, I didn't know which shows I wanted to see, or when--so I couldn't have done that.
But IF I decide that I need to come back here for a month again next summer I'm booking all the operas as soon as the sales open online in February.

honesty...such a lonely word

A discussion about vocal/dramatic honesty versus that thing that you see sometimes that you can't really put your finger on but it SEEMS like the singer onstage is acting/singing with an ear/eye to the audience reception..and sometimes that means that the "diva" is still in there a bit, and many times it means that the audience goes crazy over the performance--even if it was not acted/sung as honestly to the character as it could have been:

Last night the soprano outsang everyone. She was riveting to watch because she was always just Luisa. Not a lyric soprano singign Luisa. Not a soprano who will sing in XYZ theater next year and who made her debut with ABC theater in whatever year.

The audience warmed to her and gave her brava's at the END of the show, but it was the men, (not Vargas, that was just too much star quality to have in this comparison) who acted with a bit of a 'divo' attitude and with that "I want you to love me because I love you and my voice is awesome and you know it and I know it"-- who got the long bravo's after arias and duets during the performance.

So what does that mean? We are taught to be as honest as possible. We get kudos from straight theater directors who cross over to opera when we do what straight actors do- which is immerse, become, transform--without any trace of US, or where we came from, or where we are going. Just that character, where THEY came from, and where THEY are going.
But why is it that others buy the "diva"--it's not even diva, I don't want to use that word negatively... but why is it that there are others (music directors, audition/competition panels) who are won over not necessarily by a dramatically and vocally honest performance, but with that added element of "self-love of voice and character".

The NFCS forum has discussed this, but only in a sense that a singer has to bring the mojo into the audition room, or that "FU" attitude, and not be apologetic for being a good singer and having the "opportunity" to audition. But what I'm talking about is different. It's just this feeeeling that I get as a singer in the audience, or onstage with a colleague, watching other singers "get away" with replacing an honest performance with an amalgam of acting chops and even a fine voice, but combined with that "look"...that look---that whether in audition or onstage makes me cringe a bit because it's a bit masturbatory, yes, I typed out that word in the blog.

And "people" buy it. More than buy it---LOVE it. Hire it. Promote it. I'm not saying we can't be divas at all or bring that into any type of character on stage. The more diva the better if that floats your boat--in real life or onstage I guess...

I just think that when it comes down to performance and audition and competition, it is a bit maddening to see that. Of course an organic performance is what we all strive for, but is it a talent to add that "element" in and know that you'll win the audience/audition/review--whatever it is you want to "win"? Or is it a substitution for a truly honest performance?
Or some combination of the two?

17 July, 2007

Luisa Miller

Went to see a VERY interesting production of Luisa Miller tonight...with Rrrramon Vargas...and if I knew how to put the accent aigue over the O in Ramon, I would!

The concept/direction was SO cool. How can I describe it? A revolving set a la Les Mis, but split into quarters, and dopplegangers (yes, I used that word not only for the Lied poem and song) who mimicked every move that the singers did, dressed just like them and in fours so it looked like a kaleidoscope.

I can't do the staging description justice so I'll just stop there and say that if the production comes your way don't miss it. It was all intense and stuff.

Here is a pic of the set and the final bows--you can see the Dopplegangers in the back and the cast and conductor in the front:

Now onto the voices.
Krassimira Stoyanova- beautiful phrasing, amazing pianissimi, cut warmly over the orchestra, the best voice of the night- really. She had so much feeling in every note that came out of her voice and knew how and when to use any musical nuance that she made a decision about. It was gorgeous.

Rrrrramon- sounded awesome. I heard him in R+J last year--or was it 2 years ago now--with Dessay, and while it's impressive (the best male voice onstage tonight) and cuts very well, it's not THAT big. It fills the hall but not in that booming rumbling cavernous sound that some singers have. I still really liked it in the role, and the acting was much like his Romeo- young and foolish and a bit uppity--but then again, both stories are pretty much Romeo and Juliet- except one is in Italian and they both poison themselves at the end- no dagger and re-awakening scene.

Elena Maximova made a hottt Frederica- all dressed like the 1940s/early 50s with a long trench and a sexy black number (the show was definitely updated, but the sets looked 1970s and the clothes looked late 40s- weird). Nice voice. The a capella quartet sounded pretty amazing with the two women, and also their brief duet in Act II.

And the men. I mean, I'm not going to say "eh", but overall I was not impressed with either father. And here comes my mini-rant about men's voices and the business. Is it just that there are less of you? Can you REALLY get away with not being on pitch for almost every final cadenza that you sing? Umm, that thing that happens at the end of every note you sing that makes you sound KIND of like a goat...that's ...well... a bit endearing for THIS role, but I'm not sure the best approach to vocal technique.
Look, I know these peeps are already famous and stuff, but if you're singing at this opera festival can you please be the bestest ever? I don't want to be scared every time you go up for a high note, or when you hold things out and your voice starts to wobble and, oh yea, also you don't move well onstage and you could st
and to lose a few pounds. This would just NOT fly for women of any fach.

I am finished now. Overall, it was the first time I heard a majority of the music, and saw the opera live and I was extremely impressed by the staging, sets, most of the voices, and once again the insane audience here that yells bravi after every aria or big pretty ensemble, and makes the cast come back for at least 5 bows. Seriously. They stay standing for a good 25 minutes after the curtain comes in.

Yes please!

16 July, 2007

it is le hot

It was about 93 degrees today. And what was I doing? Wandering around Karlsplatz and Marienplatz looking for cute boots to go with my skirts. Yes, by the way, that is the "new" European thing here...and I've seen it a bit in the US, but it's crazy here. Cute cowgirlish type boots and sundresses, skirts, whatever. Not the sleek American ones that were in all winter or the flat suede ones under skinny jeans. I'm talking real western style boots. It's a really cute look. And I found some, but they are MAYBE half a size too small. It was the last size they had (7) and they DID fit, but I wonder if the 7.5s would be more comfy or have more room for socks in the winter...so I didn't buy them--also partially because they cost 199 Euros!

It's only Monday but I'm excited for an upcoming purely vacational weekend in PARIS and BURGUNDY this weekend. With my oh-so-special someone!!! YAAAAYYYY! We haven't seen each other in too long. Not cool.

So I'm planning out my cute outfits and shoes fit for city-walking (don't know what those will be yet since my trusty ballet flats are getting really worn out here), and looking forward to a good time had by all :)

15 July, 2007

more from tonight

a. for some reason my computer is really slowing down- enough that while I'm typing this sentence, it's about 10 to 12 words behind where I actually am. Hmm....could that be because 1. I uploaded too many pictures and my memory is low? 2. I have too many applications running, 3. I am charging it at weird hours from an adaptor --even though it does get to 100%? or 4. It needs to be turned off and given a little breakie?

b. while on the tram on the way back from Rosenkavalier I was discussing among other things, a Fulbright, and if I applied for one, how it would be to stay in the US, and have someone kick my ass. So yes, an asskicking fulbright. So that I can be really thin and toned and buff (asskicker number one is a personal trainer), know a lot of music (asskicker number two is a coach to work with every day for one hour on repertoire that I will eventually sing..in life), keep up my languages and not lose them after this month of intensity (asskicker number three is someone to speak to me, or three people, in French German and Italian....either the days will rotate, or they can come have a meal with me--three per day-and we can just discuss daily things--- it works out great)..there was a longer list of my application requirements all filled with some sort of reference to asskicking.

But seriously, if I were thinking of applying, and I'm not sure which country I'd want to go to, I would definitely involve some budget for the physical appearance. Because as much as people don't want to say it or admit it "for real", lookism happens, and hearing voices that are "just pretty" or "pretty, really good, but not amazing" or "really great but nothing that unique" yet seeing a tall thin picture of perfection on stage leads me to wonder...how MUCH really..and I mean really..does that have to do with this?

Even if a voice is really really REALLY good, were they picked for their voice PLUS looks, were the looks a requirement, was there a voice that was BETTER but didn't have the right looks? I just wonder.

And there is even more, but it's 1:48 and I have to wake up at 7:20 to get to class on time.


Just got back from Der Rosenkavalier. Ahhhhhh. In a great great non-stressed-out-coloratura-way!
It is just so good.

The final trio and duet get me every time. I get teary right before "Marie Theres..." and then it's pretty much sheer joy on my face until the final notes of the opera.
It's not necessarily because of one thing. The music , or the drama, or something that just moved me. It's so many things combined into one.
First, that I learned this trio very very VERY early in my singing "career" ha--ie, I was 18 years old, and this to me was just the most sublime singing that could be done. The floating, the way the lines intertwine, the text, the setting, the quiet and still that is this beautiful piece of music. Not to mention the final duet after it. Of course, I am biased, because I did write my thesis on this piece, as well as Ariadne and two Mozart pieces as well, so I would say that in some way or another I know it inside and out (including music theory!) and just have a different feeling about it. I've never seen it performed before and this was just---wow.
The sets were gorgeous, the costumes as well, and the singing was very very beautiful from everyone.

I'm learning the Presentation for an upcoming audition, and hearing it live in the theater today and seeing it and how it affected everyone onstage and watching was really special.

There is much more to post about this weekend, the extremely insanely hot weather (remember when it was 40 degrees last week and I had to buy sweaters? Now it's 90), and more, but for now, a bit of Deutch homework and then maybe another post in an hour or so.

13 July, 2007

There is a castle on a cloooouuuudddd

Castles here pretty much rock.
Today I visited THREE of them--all in a one and a half mile radius.

All of the guidebooks say that they "rival Versailles"..well, they say that pretty much about any castle that's not Versailles, but this garden was pretty awesome, as were all of the original pieces of furniture, wall tapestries, fresco ceilings, and other awesome things that I wasn't supposed to take pictures of inside but did.

There was a guard following me into every room but I was pretty sneaky and was able to lose my "tail"!

Here is a 'partial' view of the whole thing...one of the castles:

What's in store for the weekend? Since the weather has decided to cooperate, there will be a visit to a beach/lake or other body of water, probably more castles and medieval structures, the famous Hofbrau Haus for some lederhosen-watching, the Englischer Gartens for the same, except outside, and a very very very hopeful try at getting last minute tickets outside the opera to see Rosenkavalier on Sunday. The show is sold out apparently.

How did my German test today go? Well, I'll have to wait until next week to really find out, but other than blanking out on a few indefinite pronouns because I didn't know what the nominative case was originally that modified the noun, I think it was ok!

12 July, 2007

pirate's boooooty (s) = hottt

I went to see my first live ballet tonight. Le Corsaire.
It's about PIRATES! And BOOTY! har har har....
And it was so amazing. I'm mean, I've seen clips of Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliette and Swan Lake before (ok, I've only seen swan lake clips from the movie Center Stage but STILL!), seeing it live (from the top gallery for 5 Euros) was still something spectacular.

I wish the I had binoculars to be able to see the dancers' faces (and their crazy makeup and tiaras and tutus), because their bodies from so far back were so expressive that I know it would make a huge difference to see the whole thing.

Curtain Call pic with the prima ballerina taking her bow:

It was really really cool.

The audience went crazy over the 2-3 minute solos that each dancer had. I mean crazy. They got 4 ovations at the end of the show, and after each main character had his or her dance they were bravo-ing all over the place.

I guess it's really hard to jump in the air five times in a row in a perfect circle around the stage.
They made the main "corsaire" dude, aka pirate, look like Johnny Depp from the Pirates of the Caribbean.
The evil dude (dressed in black and red), whom I shall from now on call Benvolio (the evil dude in Midsummer--kinda), always danced these evil cool dances with a girlfriend dressed like Carmen with a red scarf.

The primas wore tutus the whole time but the rest of the women were harem girls or slave girls so they were dressed in veils and little else! Some baggy pants and small tops a la Jasmine from Aladdin...you know...

It was a great experience.

In life/job/profession news, an upcoming audition. Not more to say about that except that it's going to be SO much fun since it involves the show I just sang which is my mostest favoritest moglichkeitEST (yea, I'm trying to study German but instead blogging) opera!

11 July, 2007

For a mpls sop: things I have learned about Europe so far

1. Pack less than you need, but pack for all seasons. It's summer here. What was the weather today and this whole past week? Low 60s and raining with a lot of wind, so it felt like mid-50s.
Bring some sort of hoodie or jacket, a rain poncho and a tiny umbrella--and of course scarves--singers always wear scarves!

Even though my closet has 4 summer dresses in it, numerous cute tops and skirts, a long sleeved shirt or two, and 2 pairs of capris, one pair of black pants and 3 pears of jeans I have so far over the past week worn:
1 skirt with leggings underneath and my hoodie, the same pair of jeans every other day with a long sleeved shirt and a light rain trench over it--so who cares what shirt I was wearing anyway--and a pair of black slacks with a nicer shirt for the first day of class.

So I could have done without the 4 other pairs of pants I brought, and two pairs of jeans (skinny and flare!) and many of the cute shirts I brought that I'm currently hiding under heavier outerwear.

Bring something for performances-- I have a cute black dress that doesn't wrinkle that I can go "bohemian" with if I add leggings and a scarf since it's so cold. Plus the scarf can work as a wrap instead of a raincoat.

Oh, and shoes? Black ballet flats that I can either dress down w/jeans or a skirt, or still get by wearing a black dress with for standing room at the Opera. I have a pair of heels for auditions, and I brought sneakers (which I try not to wear unless hiking up to some castle in the mountains). Just what you need. You don't need a brown pair and a black pair, and if you do-- bring less clothes!

2. Pack less MUSIC than you think you'll learn. OR make photocopies instead of bringing full scores.
I have 2 scores that I need to learn here, and two 1.5 inch binders of arias and other music I'm working on. I don't need anything else, and if I did, I could probably get a friend to fax it or pdf it to me--so no need to lug heavy books around because you "should" or "could" be learning such and such a role for some point in life.

3. Buy train tickets NOW if you know when you want to travel (or look into the Eurail pass). I didn't have my act together and wasn't sure which weekend I wanted to go to Berlin. Well, now I want to go this weekend and round trip tix are 210 euros! So---I don't think I"m going to go. It was just for a visit- not an audition- but still, I wanted to travel there. And if I had booked the ticket early and online (you have to print it out on A4 paper...but the train conductors don't care that much if it's not), then I could have gotten a "specialpreis" and gone for about 30-50 Euros each way. BOOO.

4. Adapters and computers. There are internet cafes in every big city ranging from 2Euros-4 Euros an hour. I brought my laptop anyway because I have an apt. with internet connection.
In terms of adapters, I bought a little extension adapter (just one), and there are normally only 1 or 2 outlets free in most rooms anyway, so I alternate between plugging my computer in, plugging my phone in (that's German anyway, so it has the correct plug), plugging my ipod into my computer to charge it, and I have a dual hairdryer that is pretty sweet, except I blew out the fuse in it by turning it on HIGH on day one!!! So. No high powered things, and I got by with just that 5 dollar radio shack or target adapter. No need for a whole power strip to convert into the electricity here I think.

5. Tip/(VAT) is included most everywhere I've been in Germany. Also in Vienna. You have to look at the bottom of the bill, and it will also say at the bottom of page 1 of the menu if it's included or not. Don't be the dumb American that leaves 20 percent on top of that.

6. Stores/Restaurants like to have exact change. If something costs 19.80 Euros they'll always ask you if you have .80 cents if you give them a larger bill and not the exact 19.
It's annoying, but a good way to get rid of change! They look at you like you're crazy if you try to break a large bill like 50 Euros on something that cost 10...so when you exchange money see if they'll give you small bills.

6a.- don't think about the exchange rate. It's horrible, and just try to imagine everything in dollars, because you'll come out poorer either way. If you are trying to dissuade yourself from buying something then think of it as : a meal that costs 30 Euros (2 people, central Munich dinner last night) was really 30 plus half of 30 (15)--so it costs 45 dollars. That is a LOT. Maybe I won't eat out ...ever...again!

7. If your German is good enough to ask for directions in German, you'd better hope it's also good enough to understand a GERMAN's German when they answer you in German!!! Otherwise, ask, (in German), if they speak English. Or continue on in the direction of the hand pointing and ask again somewhere closer to your final destination.

8. HandM is evil and everywhere. Stop buying cute sweaters, blouses and dresses there...wait, that tip was for me.

9. Give yourself time to wander around alone, and don't feel pressured to be the tourist all the time. I've been here for a week now and just walking around every afternoon after class for a few hours, I have a "place" for tea, a corner I like to people watch, a "local" Indian place that I go to...get lost and explore outside of the touristy sections. It's cheaper!

10. Bring a student ID if you still have one to get into almost everything for half price or a Euro or two less.

11. Wasser OHNE gas! (Unless you like that bubbly crap).

That's all I can think of for now.
Happy trails to you!!!

10 July, 2007

Jesus, Mary, and the Saints

I visited the Alte Pinakotek today which means that I saw a lot of art work from the 13th-17th centuries, which also means that I saw a lot of art work influenced by Christian themes from the old and new testament...scratch that- ALL of the artwork I saw had those themes in one way or another, even if it was a portrait of a lady seated in a plush chair with a lapdog at her feet. IF she had grapes in the background that probably had a connection to Jesus as well- the stem from the vine, the saviour, the wine...

When I studied in Milan my Art History class went to almost every famous museum around Italy, and I learned quickly to play games with the paintings like:

Find the most evil looking cherub (there is ALWAYS one that has an evil face or is carrying a scythe instead of playing a harp)

Name that Saint based on the other symbols in the paintings (ie, Sebastian is the guy with the arrows, Catherine is beheaded, the dude in the cave with all of the skulls and the lion)

Name that century based on the formation of the women's bodies and whether Jesus looks like an adult or a child.

It's always interesting, and fun to realize that had I not taken that class, I wouldn't know that much about it or be able to play these games in the first place (well, the evil cherub game requires no previous learning).

Back in the apt. now, and debating whether to begin my German homework or study my music.
Began working on Presentation of the Rose not long ago, need to continue my work on Opera1 and Opera2 upcoming and ALSO learn three songs in Russian for my best friend's wedding that is in less than a month!!!

So maybe music now and homework later!
Ahh, the Perfekt tense, you'll just have to wait until after dinner.

09 July, 2007

my new favorite word

No, it's not some twenty syllable long amalgamation of German nouns and adjectives.

It is simply:


THE in English is the best word ever. Why? Because it's not The masculine, feminine, or neuter. It's not The in the predicate nominative, accusative, genitive or dative. It's not The in the conditional, it's not THE with a reflexive pronoun and a dative prepositional phrase, and I don't have to know what I'm going to say next, before I say THE in English.



08 July, 2007

...when you wish upon a star....

Disney Castle today was pretty awesome. Then a storm began at the top of the mountain and accompanied us down the mile walk to the waiting bus. We didn't get that soaked because of the tree cover, but it was still a bit of a rainy ending to an otherwise sunny and beautiful day.

What did I learn today? Ludwig the IIIrd who built all of these castles was a bit cray-cray... in that his obsession for Wagner and all things Wagner went a bit too far in my opinion.

He made a grotto in his backyard hoping that Richie would come hang out with him and play his music just for him. He also built in his other castle a mock up of the exact set of Wagner's first Parsifal and hoped that Richie and his buddies would come perform it there..for him...alone...

He also wrote personal letters to Wagner asking him to come visit and telling him that he's remodeling his new castle based on his first operas.

Hmm...ok then Luddie.

I also bought a stuffed little green dragon called Georg, but I think I will rename him something cooler and more dangerous sounding...like ...TROGDOR!!! The BURNINATOR!!! (Please see link to Strongbad if you have no idea what I'm writing about).

Now for a picture maybe, if the upload option in German works.


and my new best keychain friend:
Georg aka Trogdor the burninator'

(I think this is going to come out sidewayz, but I'm not going to do anything about it. Deal).

So that's my story for today. We came back "home"--not home yet since my desk for studying is filled with everything that I haven't unpacked yet-- and studied German verbs for about an hour (trying to memorize both their meanings and whether they take the dative or accusative or BOTH depending on the definition(s) ).

This week is supposed to be really cold again so I'll be appreciating my new HandM sweaters and leggings that I bought last week while I was freezing in the rain here.

night night.

07 July, 2007

Alice in Wonderland

Just got back from my first opera here: Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin, conducted by Kent Nagano.
Bought half price (student) standing room tickets because the rest of the theater was completely sold out except for the 200 Euro seats and I don't think I can QUITE afford that...yet!

Got to the assigned standing room platz, saw that people were pretty much going anywhere with the best view, got a great middle of the theater view from the second to top most balcony, first standing room row, and then there ended up being a free seat right in front of me!

The production. SO amazing. The stage was raked to at least 50 degrees, there were actors, dancers and puppeteers on cables flying around and doing flips from one side to the other, the technical design was really creative, Alice (Sally Matthews) had to sing through a huge puppet head until the last scene, and her outfits were cleverly made to trick the eye into believing she actually did "drink me" and "eat me".
The rest of the cast besides Gwyneth Jones (queen of hearts) sang from the bottom of the stage with a bit of acting- that was a bit of a disappointment as they didn't really get to explore characters as much as be stock voices for the action going on onstage.

The music. Interesting and exciting. Some was Eastern influenced as well as some "computer" sounds, although I'm sure they were actually made by instruments. Very nice compositions with arias, duets, and other exerptable pieces. I heard some of the "new" music of Ades- like the character of the Cheshire Cat (Pia Komsi) who beguiles through wordless coloratura, more symbolic of a state of being rather than a lyric.

There is more to say and report, as well as illegal pictures to post taken from inside the theater during the curtain calls, but for now, I have to get to sleep because I'm going to visit the Disney Castle (yay disney!) bright and early tomorrow morning.

06 July, 2007

Oh happy day! Oh happy weeee....... (me)

The internet lives again on my ibook!
I no longer have to login in on german or austrian computers with messed up keyboards that switch the letters y and z and have actual keys for umlauts, and have no @@@@@@@ symbol. You heard me. @@@@ on german keyboards is control alt Q !!! Who would KNOW that?

It has been quite a week with travels to four European countries, only one of them was for vacation, and performances, debuts, competitions, classes, overnight trains with no sleep, evening trains that turned into overnight trains because of railway strikes, and much, much, much more.

For now I'm settled in my new place for the next month. I've had two days of class and although I'm finding it very challenging so far, that is of course what I'm here for.

I've already visited one cool castle, this weekend I'll go see another one (the one Disney based its emblem on), I've bought blankets and sweaters at HandM because even though it is summer it has been absolutely freezing here and all I've had is my black hoodie to wear over my tank tops from the motherland.

Music? I already have 4 tickets to the Festival (I wish to go to the Festival!)--to see Le Corsaire, Orlando, Alice in Wonderland (standing room tomorrow night) and Rosenkavalier IF our connection comes through (one of the students in my class is an opera production history professor on a Humboldt Scholarship here and knows "Kent" personally!

So. First official login of the next month's plan to be in ONE place (well, during the week at least!)
Ta Da.
No more garment bags, carry on suitcases, or foreign train schedules. At least for a week or so!

01 July, 2007

Vacation in Verona and Venice or, How to learn an opera in five days without really trying

I arrived in Munich one week ago looking forward to a relaxing Italian holiday before my studies were to begin.
The hotel had wireless (yessss!) and I just happened to check my email one last time before packing up lappylaptop for a week and leaving it all by it's lonesome while I cavorted around the Veneto.

(and by cavorting I mean eating gelato, and taking pretty pictures of the view from Ponte Pietro)

And then a curious email. Could I call someone asap about filling in for a leading role in a concert version of my absolute favorite opera in English and dream dream role to perform? Well SURE I could!

Have I performed it before? Not entirely, and never with orchestra. But I had been assigned numerous duets and the famous finale many times throughout the past in summer programs, school, etc.

Can I arrive in ANOTHER COUNTRY on Thursday? SURE--just set it up. I'll leave Venice a day early.

Can I be off book? WHY NOT?!

And so- a lesson in learning an opera in five days (after your music is sent to you via two huge pdf files and you spend 20 Euros printing it out at EZInternet Cafe across from the Munich Hauptbahnhoff at midnight the day before your departure for said vacation)
1. Words, words words.
What else could you do on a 5 hour train ride but repeat and write down the text?
Over and over. And then again. I like to write out everything I need to learn in as tiny print as possible on one piece of paper.
I do it looking at the score first, and then to test myself, I write it out again without later on. But until then, I wandered around Verona Day 1 with that piece of paper, testing my memory and referring to just that instead of the full score.

2. Ipod Ilove.
I happened to have the correct version of the show in a recording on my ipod so for the ensemble pieces that I had never really paid attention to before, I could get the tonality in my head.
Luckily I also had my pitch pipe, so at night before going to sleep at the hotel I would blow the first pitch of a piece, and try to very quiety sing through it and see if I end up on the right pitch at the end.
If not, I back up and find out where I went wrong.

Between running the words on every train, walking down via Mazzini, and at Juliet's Balcony on day 1 and 2, I got most of the words down.
The music was harder because since we were always in a public place I couldn't sing out.

EXCEPT that I did give the stagecrew a performance at the Arena di Verona at around 10am on Day2--- but I sang O mio babbino caro to the huge and amazing empty stone structure---it was pretty spectacular... plus, the crew that was setting up for that evening's Aida all stopped what they were doing, listened, and clapped at the end.

By Thursday night I was humming everything without looking at the music anymore, and I could run the words at any time, anywhere.

So I got on the plane, flew an hour, and after three rehearsals on Friday, learning the staging, and falling into bed exhausted, it was performance day on Saturday--and voila- my European Debut.

Feels great.
And now back to regular life.