28 September, 2008

Bernstein, Bolcom and Boulez

Thursday night I attended the NYFOS concert in honor of Bernstein and Bolcom. This was the first opportunity I had to see Steven Blier's work, although I've heard about him and working with him from many singers over the years.
His performance, anecdotes, attention to the singers, and everything about the presentation was moving and beautiful.

Except for TWO inopportune cellphone ring interruptions (one right before the intermission and ONE during the LAST measure of the almost-a-capella Bernstein 6 voiced encore---ouch....really...that one was painful), the night went smoothly, with amusing and beautiful selections across the board.

The Bolcom McTeague selections were pretty awesome, especially the "gold babies" aria which I wish I could have the opportunity in context onstage because I think it's a modern mad scene that could be amazingly directed and sung with the right crowd.

One of my favorite pieces from Bernstein's Peter Pan was performed by a good friend of mine, AND the crowning glory of the evening what that I got to go to an after-party AT Bernstein's apt. Well, what used to be his apt. Now his daughter lives there...W.57th between 8th and 9th...Penthouse.
I was IN the presence of genius...Seriously..I rubbed up against the walls so I could touch the same things he maybe did.

THEN, yesterday, I went to see the NYPHIL at Avery Fisher under Maestro Maazel play an AMAZING program:
Mahler Adagio from Symphony 10
Maazel Music for Flute (pretty cool actually)
Boulez Pli Selon Pli ....AND
BERNSTEIN Symphony 2 Age of Anxiety---AWESOME. Really. His music just makes me really really happy.

The crowning glory of THAT night was that right after the concert got out I got back on the 1 to go to a party uptown and there was a lone flute player on the opposite track playing solo selections from Candide--Glitter and Be Gay and Make our Garden Grow--and I got to smile all over again.

Mmmm....it's just so happy and genius all mixed together.

A happy and inspiring weekend.

26 September, 2008


An edited version of a recent family email I sent describing my day job duties as a NYC singer here during audition season.
Names, departments, places of work, and other details have been eliminted so I don't get "dooced".

I've recently entered the real work-force with two part time jobs.
On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30am-1:30pm I work as a temporary administrative assistant.
LET me just begin by saying--if you work a real job- bravo to you.

A sampling of my recent schedule:
8:15am- arrive, punch in, login to my computer (it took the tech department 4 days and 5 signatures of three people to get me an email here).

8:17-8:55, or, before my office-mate gets here- try to make myself look busy to the boss who sits in the office next door by walking around with blue files in my hands (we hold all personnell files here and have to sign every piece of paper that comes through about them..and THEN refile them). Walk around with blue folders some more. File a few. Put a few in another pile to file later. (All this work actually takes 5 minutes to any normal person with alphabetizing skills, but I stretch it out for as long as possible).

8:56-9:45am- logon to the company email and PRINT, one by one, the 150 or so daily applications we receive for : Security guards, administrative assistant, purchasing managers, etc. BEFORE I can give them to my boss I have to make a cover sheet detailing how many applicants there were, where the found out about the job (ie, Craigslist or the newspaper), and then place them neatly on her desk. This is interrupted by the arrival of my 2 other office mates and stories of their commutes and the late trains from NJ, and their class schedule for that day, and their dinner out with their boyfriend last night, and the shoes they are going to wear to their friend's wedding this weekend, and eating an apple or a banana.

9:45-12- Think about how I wish I had brought a better-tasting lunch instead of just throwing some rice and chicken in a Glad container.
Also, get asked by my boss to follow up on emails and calls that I wasn't there for in the first place, get sent on wild goose chases like "find a file from 2006 from a company we no longer work with", and
"take these time cards up to the fifth floor". (5 minutes later) "Take these time cards up to the 4th floor" (10 minutes later:) "Can you get this guy to sign this paper on the 5th floor and bring it back here?" (we're on the ground floor)..and OF COURSE there are elevators, but if you had ALL of the documents lying around in the first place, I THINK I can handle carrying more than one thing in my hand at one time.

12-1:22- Look at the blue files again. Maybe file one or two---to leave some work for the next day.

1:22-1:30- pack up my purse as SLOWLY as possible.

Today, since I'm working until 5 I've managed to extend my 'doing nothingness' into the extreme. AND have I mentioned my boss isn't here until Monday?
I checked my email every 5 minutes. I read the entire NYTimes online. I wrote a friend's bio, resume, cover letter. I baked a cake.

Of course, the filing and alphabetizing work never ceases--new health forms, payroll forms, changes of address forms--dare I suggest to them to move everything to an online system and make PDF scans of everything that comes through so that NO ONE after me has to FILE anything ANYMORE?!
Yea, that would never happen I'm sure.
Until then, I'll be the one knee-deep in blue file folders in the middle of the office floor alphabetizing and sorting payroll receipts.

My SECOND job is every Wednesday from 11-4pm. I babysit two twin one year old girls.
And I swear, nap from 2pm-3pm included, I feel more ALIVE during those 5 hours than one SECOND of work in this office. And they can't even talk back. They just smile and laugh whenever I read the book "Is THAT my Dinosaur" to them for the 12th time.



Ok, now, really- it's not like I don't WANT to work. I'd love to do something--but if I finish all of the filing right now, there will be nothing. I'll sit here, waiting to be given more work, not get any, and then get sent on some idiotic task that doesn't really need to be done, but is being assigned to me because I'm here and look like I need something to do.

So. There you go. Note to self and my future business practices- streamline, streamline, streamline--if you don't know what your assistants are doing for you at all times, you most likely don't need those assistants.

That is all. Back to my exciting work.

24 September, 2008


First two auditions of the Fall Season.
Saturday-Zerb and some MT
Monday- Blondchen and Oscar.

I'm liking how fun and easy this already feels..as usual.

Nothing much else to report which usually happens when I'm being a busy bee.

20 September, 2008

post-lesson things

Had a great lesson yesterday and will attempt to write down the things that signify the good/correct/beautiful/open sound at all times.

Breathing- back expansion, full everywhere not just low, breathe to the point where all you can do is let the air flow back out, never any less, regardless of what the next phrase is like.
Eyes- smiling eyes, smiling cheeks.
Under jaw- loose, fatty, should be able to put my thumb in that space and not feel anything going on. Low, free.
Sound- back and over
Space- sideways hitting my molars.

I never talked technique before, really...most of my teachers had the creative/artistic/feel this approach and that was fine with me.
With this new teacher I'm getting a bit more tech talk but it's being modified to sensations and sound which is what I identify with most and work with best.

Bottom line is musicality and artistry. Words. Feelings.

Now to see if I can translate that successfully into my audition today.

18 September, 2008

sounds of silence

I haven't been so bloggy because I've been so busy!

Working, working out, workin' the new aria list, etc.

Everything is going just peachy.

Today I received an email with the upcoming cuts to upcoming-show.
I know, I know, I shouldn't be surprised that my always-cut aria is...cut.
But I just WISH that there were three extra orchestra minutes so that it wouldn't be cut.
It makes so much sense! It's funny and silly and gives some dimension to the 'other side' of the story.
Ok, ok, maybe not but it would have been awesome to throw in those high E's and F's in an appropriately hilarious manner and really get into it onstage before the finale.

Ah well. Maybe next time.

13 September, 2008

Dear me in 1999

Dear Self in 1999, thank you SO much for sticking to your gut, believing in your musical abilities, and dreaming about being onstage for the rest of your life.

Self 2008 thanks you profusely on behalf of all of the 9-5 days that I did NOT have to endure for the past 9 years.

Sure, part time work, internships, making ends meet, jobs here and there, even some crappy office work endured. But today, as my 'first day training/shadowing' I worked a 9-5. Filing. Work emails. IT department. Payroll. Time stamps.

Can I please have that daily schedule? That email sent at close to midnight that tells me what I'll do the next day? Rehearse which scenes? Go to which donor benefits? Have which coaching? Call times to rehearsal? Directions to the theater? Costume and wig fittings?
Something different and exciting every day and something that I know I rock at?! (Although, I DO alphabetize and mail merge at an alarmingly fast rate)


11 September, 2008

workout woes

I was doing sooo well. Every day at the gym last week except for Sunday.
Then on Tuesday I decided to take a class called--something or other cardio.
Wasn't paying much attention to the class description and so I'm in there and all of a sudden all of the women set up their step thingie (that I expected) and ALSO take a bar, and 2 sets of weights.
I'm thinking- ok, some squats with weights, some lifts with weights, etc.
I got through the class, WITH weights, doing all of the reps and feeling like my biceps were about to pop out of my skin. Literally POP out. They got so huge with all of that lactic acid..or whatever it is that muscles make when they get worked out vigorously for the first time in hrmsmhhrmsmss years.

Well after the class, even with the stretching at the end, I still felt really tight. SO I decided to stay for a YOGA class. Nice, relaaaaxing yoga. Right?

Welcome to Astanga yoga.
Welcome to jumping back and forth into and out of sun salutations (12 times), welcome to doing things to my body that I haven't done since gymnastics 10 years ago. With heavy controlled breathing. The kicker was that my arms and legs were SOoo overworked from the weights that my balance was all off--I could barely even stand in warrior one, let alone hold any kind of plow pose without my ab muscles freaking out and doing that weird pulsating thing and my legs shaking and my arms burning.

That night- felt good! 2 class workout, yea!
Next day- "help I've fallen and I can't get up". Seriously, I couldn't put the phone up to my ear. It HURT to type! My poor macbook got no love.
Walking, sitting, standing, or moving into ANY position from my PREVIOUS position. OUCH.
Today- thought I'd be able to go back and do some cardio.
No. I still can't really walk straight or fast--I feel every muscle move. I mean, I'm proud of myself for doing two really challenging classes and kicking my own tushy, but YIIIKES, I will NOT be doing that again soon.

Today- first day of work2 (and made enough to cover tomorrow)
Tomorrow- coaching, GYM (yep, I'm going back for more)
Friday- first official day of work1.

I'm going to take another hot shower to try and get my muscles to reeeeelaxxxx.

09 September, 2008

the real world

Since I'm here for 4 months and I can't spend all hours of the day practicing, memorizing upcoming music, coaching, and taking lessons without some sort of income to support my singing habit, I decided to apply for part time jobs.
Got the first 4 I was offered. Had to choose, and hopefully I made the best choice schedule/flexibility and sanity-wise.
It feels nice to be wanted--even if it's not in the music-hiring genre.
Time to make sure I have corporate casual looks for tomorrow.

07 September, 2008

I'm in a NY state of mind

As much as the whole world may be at my fingertips online, these days it seems as if everything is open to me as I walk out my front door.
What did I do yesterday in the torrential downpour?

I was OUTSIDE! Walking the streets of my neighborhood, getting drenched in the rain and hot wind, and loving every second of it. Laughing as I jumped through puddles in my slippery and squishy flip flops, drying off with the air dryer in the bathroom of Lincoln Center Plaza, watching everyone hurry by with their huge umbrellas, or standing underneath the construction beams that partially shielded them from the waterworks, seeing some couples improvise ponchos with plastic bags from Zabars, some who just chose to get drenched and walk like it was a sunny day through the streets of the upper west side, not a care in the world to the horizontal rain coming at them.

Sure, it was a bit uncomfortable and generally wet. Yes, I even bought socks (3 pairs for $15 at the gap) and put them on during the movie that I saw last evening, still in my damp dress in the seat. But overall, it was my kind of day, in my kind of town.

Everything within reach.
Especially the new Pinkberry that opened up across the street from me. Mmm..dangerous.
My gym, my favorite salad place, my proximity to the public library and the natural history museum, my block, my street...I've known this area for a long time and never felt like I really belong--as I was mostly couch hopping or running between one audition and the next. Now I get to come home, put the keys on the table, and know that if I need anything else, it's probably right around the corner.

04 September, 2008

check out that package...


O-Kay! I may have settled on the top 5 arias for this audition.

I was looking for
-something that is a departure from the 'same old, same old'- meaning, high notes, coloratura, spunky character that is full of energy, cute, cunning, etc.
-something off the beaten path, but not too out there
-something that shows legato line but also doesn't compete with the lyric bel canto sound and, finally,
-something that is not a zillion minutes long (like most of my pieces)


Durch- because Blondchen is awesome. It's mozart, it's line, it's high notes, it's coloratura, it's a great character acting piece, and it shows everything I want to show in a 'hire me now I've done this before and I'll do it again' kind of way.

Fee- because it has low, it has subtlety, it has beauty and a magical sparkle about it that draws the listener in because of course, they know the story of the magical fairy godmother that makes everything ok in the end. Beauty of line, a pianissimo high C, trills galore, and, hey, it got me a big job this year...so there must be SOMETHING about it that is special. It's a LITTLE off the beaten path, but what pretty/crazy/cool French piece isn't?

And the shocker of the evening, Italian- Handel, Alcina, but NOT Tornami.
Since I didn't want all 'olympias, oscars, norinas, blondchens, etc'..I think I'm going with a SLOW Handel, Morgana's last aria from Alcina.
I can ornament it beautifully, it's repertoire that I am very flexible and at ease with, and it WILL show the grown up, leading dramatic lady that I want it to show.
It was a close call between that and Presto Amiche, the added aria from Il Turco, and I will still learn both and have both ready in case I feel like adding some 'flare/sparkle' into the package at any point.

Rounded (?) out by Zerbie that pretty much just shows it all--
Slow, fast, high, low, German, acting, coloratura, legato, have I mentioned acting?

And, depending on the audition and the likelihood of new music being done, either,
The Tempest, or Glitter.

Oh yea, and depending on the pianist as well.

All subject to change, of course, but I'm happy to have sung through the french and italian choices and to have trusted input about which ones were the best.

Feelin' good. Maybe it's those endorphins from the gym today. That or having an awesome coaching.

gym day 1

Ok, so I didn't get up for the 9:30 class, BUT I did do 42 minutes on the elliptical machine while listening to upcoming-opera-1 and looking at the score. I got to the Act I Finale. Not too bad.

Off to shower, warm up, and go to a coaching where I will focus on figuring out my best Italian piece for upcoming audition season.

give my regards to broadway

Wow. Two amazing musicals in one week.
Wicked last week and tonight Gypsy with the unforgettable Patti LuPone.
Oh, and during the week via tv, dvd, and dvr: The Producers, Legally Blond, Hairspray, and Chicago.
Yea, it was that kind of week :)

The performance tonight was electric. AND I got Ms.L's autograph after the show!
She was SOOO nice! EVEN though her car was waiting to whisk her away for the evening, she Sharpied every program that was held out for her after the performance and was more than cordial about it.

It really has been about a month full of music for me- from live operas to live theater, to new musicals and old favorites.

I'm ready to dive into my own work.

Oh yea, and like Lil'MissB, (we must be on the same wavelength or something), I also went to the gym for the first time in a *while* today, signed my name in blood for the next year (plus or minus a month of 'holding' my membership when I'm away), and signed up for 3 personal training sessions so a big buff (and hopefully hot) man can tell me to get my butt in gear and stop being a little baby about the zillion and one sit-ups he's about to make me do.

My alarm is set for 8:30am tomorrow. Cardio class.
Let's see if that actually happens.

Coaching tomorrow.
Goal: Sing through everything Italian possible and PICK something for audition season.

01 September, 2008


I flew to Chicago for the weekend to surprise one of my best friends for her birthday.
Our activities included lunch at A Mano (lovely Italian place that reminded us of 2001, the year we met while studying abroad in Milan), cocktails at Rebar (in the Trump tower with a view of the lake), Wicked (yes, the Broadway show which I had never seen before), and the LBD (little black dress) third annual party. All of the girls showed up in their little black numbers, all of the boys showed up in their "I'm not really wearing a suit" pants and ties, all of the martinis were mixed an hour before showtime to avoid any alcohol-induced spillage in the kitchen, and the night was certainly an affair to remember (over-sized sunglasses and messy chignon the morning after to prove it).

Back in NYC now to try and work off that weekend of indulgence, but how can you go back to carrots and hummus after cupcakes and highballs?