25 February, 2009


Ok, today was just...weird..and good...and weird again...and very good again.

Let me try to explain. Morning routine went uninterrupted. Warmed up, felt good..but a BIT weird in that wonky-throated-what-the-heck-is-going-on-oh-yea-it's-almost-the-girly-time way.

I got to the opera house.
The last time I was here to see a performance must have been in 2001. Aida. I will never forget it because a Tuba totally ruined the triumphal march's LAST big beat on ONE, by coming in ONE quarter note early.
And then entire audience gasped and then a few people in the pit laughed. It WAS actually hilarious...but I felt bad for the guy.

Anyway...so I remember standing in the 'standing room' waiting line, putting my scarf around the pole, walking out to get a quick snack, and then STANDING for like 3.5 hours of Aida.

This time I got to enter through the stage door.
I was greeted by a man who spoke with a thick accent who told me to take the elevator to the fourth floor and go to probezimmer 6- that means rehearsal room 6.

One would think that when one got off of the elevator, one would see signs for said room.
Instead, I got to walk down one hallway, back to the elevator, walk down another hallway (all with numbers like 4022, 4021, etc), to THEN see an offshoot hallway with a tiny sign saying ZM1-6..which I took to mean, rooms 1-6...the ones I was looking for.
Half a staircase up and around and down later, I found room 6.

The pianist was American (from North Dakota...cool)..and we went through Zerbinetta, which I was starting with. I listed my other rep and she had no problem with it so I had no problem with it..and it was 12:05 and I had to wait until the audition began at 1.

So I sat on a ledge outside of the room where we would be singing..waiting, playing with my iphone, waiting, drinking some water, waiting, eating some bread (brown bread with hard crust. RULES). waiting.
Then another singer shows up. Then another...I guess that was the order in which the pianist was playing for them.

THen- 1pm.
Audition time. Except no, there is no order, so some singer decides to count off, and by the time I count off...quickly, but not loudly so I don't offend anyone else who may want an early number (DUH)...I'm number 6 of 8.

So I wait some more.
First girl- soprano, one song.
2nd guy- guy...who knows.
3 guy- ... "
4th girl- honking soprano and they asked for dich teure halle after the first piece.
5th girl- started with vivaldi. a slow aria. WHO DOES THAT? I don't care if you have the voice of the angels..do NOT start with an unknown Vivaldi Aria that is slow and boring.
ME- Zerbinetta.

So. It was one of those days..when I wasn't nervous at all before hand, and then I got in there and wasn't nervous, and then I started singing and wasn't nervous...and then...all of a sudden I started to be aware of what I was doing...in a not so fun way...like--thinking. BOO. Thinking is WRONG. I just "BE" when I perform...or try to just 'be'.
So now I"m trying to fool myself into NOT thinking..which involves more "acting"....(ekkkting)...haha..no, it involves me trying to get out of my head and into the character. So I focus on some physicality..in this case my hips...(hey, it's what came to mind and what I have to use anyway to get Zerb's point across)...and I'm trying to get out of my head by "being" better.

It worked. I ended up back in Zerbie's head and out of my own.

I finish. And one short old guy starts blathering in German about how I said the word "herz" wrong. Too closed. It was SOOO SOOO good, except for this one word. And that's a shame.
Did I seriously just sing for 7 almost-perfect minutes for you and you're pissed cuz on a HIGH F which is already in a CRAP vocal zone, I have to sing an open "EH" vowel and approach it from an A on the staff after a low D on the staff.

So I sang a little bit of a more closed-down Eh instead of an open Eh. LORD.

So I'm pissed.
Then the guy on the panel says do you have Queen.
Why YES_ (what a freeeeaaaaking surprise...see posts below)....I DO have queen's 2nd aria.
-No, do you have the first one.
-No, sorry not today (even though I do and the accompanist probably sees it right behind Der holle rache)..but I am NOT about to sing an aria that I haven't even LOOKED at in over 2 years. PLEASE.
And really? Really? You want me to sing through the entire thing JUST so you can hear that final F approached?
And you DON"T want to hear the 2nd queen aria that has like a zillion and one F's in it?
that's fine.
who ARE you people? and what have you done with ANYONE that knows what they heck they are talking about?

So. I'm pissed even more, because I wanted to sing a 2nd piece, and I had hoped that they would just ask me for something else after I said I didn't have the first Queen.

So I go outside and begin to pack up. But no.
We ALL have to wait there until every one finishes singing..and then there is going to be some kind of 'discussion'.
I'm thinking..yea, right..these people are just going to finish hearing us and then leave the room with us looking like idiots wanting feedback...

So, actually, they did what they said (in a weird way)...maybe they had to 'tawk amongst themselves" first.
But then they asked us in one by one and gave us feedback.

The nice man who talked to me said auf deutsch oder anglisch..and i said, ich verstehe deutsch, aber anglisch ist besser...
So he said- it's better for me too, I'm swedish!

So here I'm expecting something like:--your German was weak (which I have NEVER heard), it was OK. Good acting. Thanks for stopping by.

And instead I got: So, we would like for you to come sing on the mainstage as soon as possible.
Tuesday maybe?
Great acting, that one German word was just ok but we want to hear you again and we were very impressed, bla bla bla bla.
I stopped listening after the "as soon as possible".

And all I could think about was how PISSED I was for the last 20 minutes, waiting there, knowing/thinking that they hated me..even though I though/KNEW that I sang really really well!


morning of

In about 3 hours I'll be entering the theater to audition.
Until then-
shower, lip trill, hairdryer, sirens, makeup (can't really lip trill or else the eye liner will get all over the place and there is no hope for lip liner), outfit (even though it's 3 hours too early to put it on), banana, water, maybe some bread and cheese, warm up for real at the conservatory down the street, and then I'll be off and running.

23 February, 2009


Arrived in Wien (Vienna) this evening, and since I'm staying with a director friend of mine from a few years back (actually, from my first ever pay-to-sing program that I did when I was 20 or something like that), I feel right at home, since I've visited him before, I know the area where he lives, and generally- I love Vienna.

I took a 9 hour train from Hagen to Vienna, with three transfers. NO train woes or unknown Sbahn trips.

It was totally straightforward.

Except for the first HOUR, when all of Western Germany congregated upon Koeln (Cologne), for a crazy celebration of Carnavale Deutschland-style.

I was wondering why for the past 3 days I had seen people in insane costumes wandering around the central town square and train stations, and now I know why.

Koeln is the biggest center for celebration of this holiday (kind of like Mardi Gras mixed with Purim...or something like that), and people really take this seriously

Not only was free chocolate handed out on the train in first class today (I haven't had that before, so I assume it was for the holiday weekend and I shoved three pieces in my mouth...one for each train connection), but also, train schedules were CHANGED, there were MORE trains to Koeln, and on the way I saw bussloads, carloads, and general masses of people descending upon the city to celebrate.

So. I'm in Vienna, hanging out all of tomorrow and meeting with the agent that is sending me on the audition on wednesday.

Again, here on this side of the pond, it's normal and accepted to work with more than one agent...actually, a number of them, because of certain connections and relationships that certain ones may have...and whomever gets you the audition gets the commission both from the theater and from the singer IF the singer gets the job.

My current US based agency is doing great work for me in terms of inquiring about whether any house auditions will be held during the time I'm in a certain city...ie, oh- I'll be in Paris for four days...can you check out any place that is x number of hours away by train and see if they'll hear me? And that's GREAT because the more houses I sing for, the better-- even if it's a general audition. And their relationships with certain houses overseas is very good as well.

With the German/European based agencies, I feel like I'm being sent on specific things because they are 'in the know' about what Fest/Guest situations are open or not...since they have to do the legwork daily..and so I'm getting the best of both worlds--specific knowledge of openings from the people who are doing the legwork on the front lines here every day, and a solid foundation from back home that represents me well and is able to make inquiries that I would not otherwise be able to make on my own--ie, writing a company out of the blue just 'cuz' I'm here, and requesting a mainstage audition.

As I said, this whole trip has already been worth all of the planning, endless googling and emailing and Dbahning and fact-checking and language-translating, etc. etc....

I feel pretty proud of myself for planning this whole thing beginning in mid-January and actually having it work out here (so far!)
And I am enjoying my alone time on trains, looking out the window at the beautiful snowy scenery of the world passing me by...
And let me just say that I really would rather take a 27 hour train than get on a 3 hour airplane.
I get off these things and I am READY. To sing ANYTHING. Never tired, never woozy, never dehydrated...it must be the lack of pressure change...but I feel GREAT traveling with my Eurail and am glad I invested in it.

More on travels later, for now, sleep, and a free day in Vienna.

22 February, 2009

the best laid plans of mice and men

Wow, this is turning into the crazy-travel blog. (I just posted 3 entries, so read on if you want!)

Continuing on my journey from the night train (where, dear reader, I last described the pungent scent of the deserted train station as I eagerly awaited my 11:23pm departure on the night line), I boarded the train expecting…well, I don’t know what. I made a couchette reservation (the middle spot, so I would have to climb into the bed).

I was the last of six to arrive…and let me just describe in as few words as possible that these were 5 big stinky guys. So I get up into my bed, and all of a sudden- thump- the bottom half of it falls off of the knob that is holding it up and it starts tipping downward.
I immediately get OFF of the bed, try to fix it by lifting it back up. Seems to take. Get on again. BOOM. People- I am not THAT fat. Really. I know, I shouldn’t have had burger king for dinner, but seriously. And I wasn’t even sitting on that side—as soon as I climbed up to the other side it still fell.

So I play around with it again. FINALLY with the help of one of the stinky guys (the one right under me whose impending serious injury probably got him to think that it may be a good idea to help me out), found an extra screw that the bed was supposed to rest on…that was not screwed in. Grrrreat.

So we did that, the bed didn’t fall on his head, yadda yadda yadda, I slept from about 1am-3:30am.

Now I ALWAYS do this. When I have to wake up early, even if I set an alarm, I will sleep like CRAP, waking up way before the alarm, and then drifting in and out of sleep in 15 minute spurts. Not so fun. We got off of the smelly train at 6:23 am in Maelmo, I got on a regional 30 minute train to Copenhagen, had an hour to kill there (luckily I found my internet ticket from …YESTERDAY when I had bought an hour at a cafĂ© and only used 30 minutes), and then I got on the train to Hamburg.

Now, people. Once again, I will ask you very politely, oh Dbahn Gods…WHY would you not TELL someone that halfway through the trip you will be asked to get off of the train, onto a Ferry boat, and then back on the train again?
Also, WHY would you sell someone a train ticket that is clearly marked Hamburg to Hannover…which really means: Arrive in Hamburg Main Station, RUN your ass off to the SBahn (regional city subyway/train line), take an 8 minute Sbahn to ANOTHER stop…NEAR Hamburg, that is NOT called Hamburg, have to find your train departure to Hannover NOT by the time that is written on your ticket, because apparently that was the time that you neded to get on the Sbahn, but instead by cruising the board for the first train that leaves that has the stop Hannover written in one of the first 10 cities that each blue screen lists.

And how was I to know ANY of this? Well, I DIDN”T …until I overheard some people speaking in German about how annoying it was that they had to take the Sbahn to get to Hannover. And then my ears perked up and I was like---whaaaat? Sbahn? And then I asked the conductor if this was true, and she said yes.

And so.
Instead of being on my way to Hannover (after having taken that Sbahn to the correct departure station), I am now on an IC (not ICE) train to Dortmund. I’m trying to get to Hagen. The fake-Hamburg to Hannover train is 10 minutes late. Guess how many minutes I have to make my Hannover to Hagen connection? 9 minutes.
Now, I love these train systems. Really I do. But I didn’t want to take a chance that the train would make up those 10 minutes.

So—being (some would say anal, I would say always prepared)….I had written down “other” possibilities of connections. And thank goodness I did. Fake-Hamburg to Dortmund, Dortmund to Hagen.
I better be OFF of public transportation by 15:55.


Yes, I decided to take the 28 hour train ride back into Germany.
My audition this morning/afternoon went very well, and yet again- I was asked for Queen after beginning with DurchZ even though they are doing Ariadne next year (although I’m sure it is cast already). The opera house is just gorgeous. I didn’t get to see much of the city seeing as how my 10 pm arrival on Thursday was followed by a 3:49 pm departure on Friday.
Oh. This is a good one—more travel tales.
My train at 3:49 left from Oslo Central. OR SO I THOUGHT.
I kept looking at the board to see what track number the train left from, and every other train before and after me for about 20 minutes was already up there. So then I look under “details” for the train. As it turns out, the train “KIND OF” leaves from Oslo! If you count an hour bus ride towards the Swedish border town of Konigsfinger (something or other)…OSLO.
Yea. That was a nice surprise. I had my first class seat all reserved and then I ended up sitting in the last row of a bus for an hour, and then getting on a regional train to….lord, where am I right now? I think it’s called Sodertalje Syd. I’m one or two stops away from Stockholm. Waiting for 2 hours in an unbelievably empty (and kind of scarily empty) train station… it’s one of those small regional stations with only 4 tracks, nothing open, no information booth, pay-to-use bathrooms, (ARGHGHGHG…why didn’t I go on the FIRST train?!), and to top it all off, someone let their dog poop right in the middle of the station. Seriously. You can’t get to track 3 or 4 without going within 5 feet of dog poop.

WHY the train schedule online thought that this 2 hour stopover connection before my night train (11:30pm-6am) to Maelmo (not Malm, you Ikea lovers), was the most convenient, I don’t know. I am PRETTY sure that the night train I’m about to take in an hour and a half starts in Stockholm. Yet I’ll be waiting for it here, at it’s 3rd stop, with dog poo.

Oh, speaking of Ikea, I almost forgot---on the way to Konigsfinger-border-town on the bus, we passed the largest Ikea I’ve ever seen (yes, larger than Elizabeth NJ, Montreal Quebec, Mall of America, MN, New Haven, CT and ALL the other ones I’ve been at that I can’t quite remember or actually care to share because that makes me sound a little crazy…but I DO love Ikea…so deal with it). It was like 3 buildings in one. I bet one whole building was just the “pick up the number tags you want” department…and one building was only to sell Lingonberry juice.

one would think

One would think that if one were to be auditioning at a professional opera house in Berlin that one would be familiar with audition procedures of some sort. I know we are more formal about this process in the US, but STILL.

This is what I saw from stage right after my own audition had just finished and the stage manager could not bring me back to my warm up room until the first half of the candidate’s aria that was next.

Walk out onstage…wander around aimlessly, as if waiting for instructions on how to do everything. Pianist meets her to get music. BUTT to the audience. Turn around when asked what she would like to start with. She says I don’t know. What would you like. They ask for the first Queen aria. She bends down three times to touch her toes, stretches her arms to the side, does some windmills, some lunges in each direction as if she were about to do a warm up jog at the gym, and THEN begins the aria.

Did I really just see that...on THIS stage? At THIS audition?

I certainly did.

20 February, 2009

burger king wireless

Hello from the free wireless network at the Oslo main train station's burger king.
Yep, I'm going to admit it.
Instead of a sampling of may raw fish and herring or some crazy pork-filled ball in soup, I rewarded my good audition this morning with a whopper. And fries. Ok, it was a value meal. Don't judge.

A few things before I head downstairs to find my correct track number and get on the right train (and not miss any of my very very close connections that I have to make over the next 27 hours):

1. Queen of the night seems to be the benchmark aria. Even when I don't offer it, they see it on my resume. And they ask for it. After I just sang them a high E in DurchZ and held it and did things with it. Whatever. Bring it on. It's just one note higher and lord knows I've got 4 or 5 more to spare.

2. My taxi driver this morning was from Somalia. Uhh...did no one else let him in somewhere warmer? Wow. It's not like you had to go through political strife and then get sent to sunny Spain or something. But a taxi driver in Oslo?

3. Everyone wants to know about Obama and how he will hopefully reshape the American image abroad. Also, when I say I'm "from New York" they get all excited like it's the best city in the world that they've never been to and some magical and enchanted place like Disneyland.

4. Cheese DOES last over 24 hours without being refrigerated.

5. Oh. I have a good story about my audition in Berlin and the girl who sang after me.
All about audition etiquette and notes to NEVER forget about how your audition BEGINS as SOON as you walk into the room. More on that later.

6. The Rail Platform worker in Copenhagen told me to be very careful about showing my passport to people in Denmark...because of where I was born. WHAT?!

7. It's usually a good idea to check whether you need a visa to get into any countries outside of the EU. My bad. Didn't need one, but that could have been really really not good.

Bottom line- I LOVE doing all of this on the fly. I've been here for exactly ONE week and already this entire trip is worth it with just the 3 mainstage auditions I've had.

Yes, I have my moments of panic...but that is what the trusty iphone is for...and no matter what...even if I get stuck somewhere (crossing fingers and knocking on wood that it does NOT happen), I will explore some new place and most likely make the best of it.

19 February, 2009

trains planes and automobiles (REALLY LONG TRAVEL POST)

Well, minus the planes and automobiles.
Since I bought a Eurail pass that entitles me to 15 days of travel within two months, I decided that my upcoming trip to audition in Oslo, Norway, would be done via train.
That’s not to say that I didn’t look at cheap flights. I went to all of the regular sites, consolidator sites, etc…it’s just that I had to keep emailing the house for confirmation that I could have an audition time before noon, or between 11-12 for me to make the flight BACK to anywhere, so in the end, of course, all of the airline prices went up.
That’s when I started googling, actually, I should say “Dbahn-ing”, because the website is bahn.de and it’s the Deutschbahn trains that I would be taking…the question was—from WHERE?

First I was in Leipzig for an audition. So- the closest point of departure would be from Berlin.
BUT I was supposed to stay with a friend in Dusseldorf (yesterday), AND meet with a friend in Frankfurt (also yesterday—on the way to Dusseldorf)…however, both of those dates, plus free couches, got bumped by a last minute audition in Berlin.

And so- my “DBahning” could begin. Berlin to Oslo.
I didn’t have that many choices that were under twenty six hours of travel, so I decided to take the route that seemed most direct (or so I thought), AND that would only take on “day” on my Eurail pass. See, there is a magical rule for those who have the pass, that if your ‘travel day’ begins AFTER 7pm, and your destination will not be reached until after midnight, you only have to count ONE travel day---ie, it’s the 18th at 7pm when you leave, but you write down that you are traveling only on the 19th. Free day! Sweeet.

So. My train schedule was:
Berlin to Bielefeld
Bielefeld to Copenhagen
Copenhagen to Gotesborg
Gotesborg to Oslo central.

All with plenty of time between connections, and the ‘overnight’ part of the train (Bielfeld to Copenhagen)—had no switches (so I could sleep from 1am-9am).

Here is how this all actually went down.

8:45pm- buy bread and cheese and water and 4 clementines. I figure—it’s enough to live on in jail, plus some vitamin c. 26 hours won’t kill me.
9- get on train number one- Berlin to Bielefeld.
First class. No complaints.
11:55- get into Bielefeld, and have 45 minutes until the next train. Here is where the drama began.
Every train that leaves is up on a blue board that tells you the train number, the departure platform, and where the train’s final destination is.

So I get up to Bielefeld at midnight—everything is closed except for a 24 hours McDonalds. The police are standing at the door shouting at a man who is clearly intoxicated and decided to sleep it off at the train station. It’s COLD because the platforms are all outside and the only place to sit “inside” is the open McD’s.
I look at the blue board:
:43 Train 0047 ICE (Intercity express) to WRZSCA (Warsaw) via Hannover and Hamburg.
Track 4.

Where is MY train? I scan the board. No other departures until 3am. A train BACK to Berlin.

My train is called 0-xxc4700 or something like that, and the final destination is KOPNHGN (or, however the Germans shorten the German spelling of Copenhagen).

Cue the iphone.
Yes, I turned on international roaming and opened iRail.
Type in Bielefeld to Copenhagen.
See that it says :43 departure.
Why is this train going to WARSAW?! I’m PRETTTY sure that Copenhagen isn’t “on the way” to Warsaw.

Cue calling mom and asking her to google it for me.
Thank GOD it’s 6 hours earlier in the US because I don’t know who I would have woken up at 12:30pm in Europe.
She can’t find it on Dbahn…meaning….she can, but it doesn’t have any more details.

My next thoughts are as follows.
A. SUCK. What is WRONG with the DB people whom I MADE double check this in Berlin when I reserved my “couchette” (sleeping quarters) for the evening.
B. O.K. There is a motel outside. I’m sure it’s sketchy, but at least I don’t have to go far in case I get stuck here.
C. Look around and ask people where they are going. Of COURSE they are Polish..mostly…and going to Warsaw. And don’t know what to tell me. They think I should take the train to Hannover or Hamburg and maybe there will be a connection there. But my ticket says nothing about a connection.
D. It’s :35. I’m going up to the track where my train is ‘supposedly’ leaving, and waiting for a train official to step off the train once it gets here to see what the deal is.
So I’m standing next to what LOOKS like NOT a Polish person…and more of a “Nordic” person – ie, BLOND hair green eyes light skin.
And I’m like- Are you going to Copenhagen on this train?
And she says---yes, it goes to Copenhagen but only the first 2 cars.
Uhh---THANKS for letting me know DBAHN! It doesn’t say ANYWHERE that this train will mass-transport people for an hour and then break off into pieces for the night—at around 2am. Convenient.

That cost me whatever roaming charges were for that freaked out 10 minutes on the phone and 10 minutes for ‘data roaming’. Thanks.

PHEW. So I’m on the right train, in the right car. Next adventure- sleeping in a couchette (it was for 6 people but there were only 4---already asleep….so I get in there in the dark, put my stuff down, and just collapse after the drama of the last :43 minutes).

Woke up around 5am as usual. I’ve been keeping semi-insane hours here…I’m usually tired for about an hour between 7pm-8pm, can’t get to sleep until 1am or 2am, and then wake up WiDE awake at 6am. And that’s it for the day. Very bad, I know. But I’m hoping to catch up ….at some point…

We arrived in Copenhagen at 10am and then I had three hours to walk around before my train to Goteborg. I walked down the main pedestrian path for about an hour each way, hung around the train station, got decent Train Thai food (yellow curry with rice), MISSED the first train to Goteborg because I was eating and somehow convinced myself that the train was at 12:59 instead of the actual departure time of 12:47. Good times. Almost thought I would have to spend the night in Copenhagen.
Caught the 1:13 to Goteborg and HOPED that I would still have time to make my connection to Oslo. Cut it CLOSE (10 minutes)…but---
Right NOW---I am on the TRAIN to Oslo.
Arrival time: 10:35pm.

Goals for tonight:
1.Find a place to convert some money into Norwegian currency at the train station (I Hope) that is OPEN, so I can take the tram to my hotel.
2. SLEEP until 9am.

18 February, 2009

house audition

Yesterday I had my first European 'house' audition.
What they say in all the books and forums (what the fach/nfcs) is true.
You WILL get lost...at some point...in the building.

I was called at 2pm and there were 10 singers.
I showed up to the opera house at 1, (THANKFULLY have a friend that is Fest here who led me to the KBB office), met the nice woman in the office who gave me the general form to fill out--DOB, address, arias, etc.
I was then instructed to go to room 604a or something like that...to warm up with the pianist.
Well, I was on the "3rd" floor for the KBB, but the "6th" floor could only be accessed by walking across the 3rd and a HALF floor, which was half a staircase up, AND across the entire building so that basically I was in the OTHER building that is connected to the first building, and THEN go up to the 6th floor...kind of...and then down half a set of stairs and then I was at 604a.

The pianist asked what my music was...I never need to rehearse with them if they say they know the rep, and he did, but wanted to go through Zerbinetta---apparently for FUN...because he played it PERFECTLY , AND the opera house is DOING that show right now..so there is no reason why he would not have already coached that piece.

So..I sang through the entire thing..which was a nice warm-up, and then it was about 1:45 and I found my way downstairs (elevator directly down from where I was) to the "P" floor...which was where the stage was.

Don't ASK how I was supposed to know which closed door to go in when I got down to level P.
No sign for "stage" (in German), just a bunch of crew guys (they always look the same no matter WHAT country you are in, apparently)...who pointed at one of the closed doors.

So I walk in, and establish quickly that I"m on stage right, there are 6 chairs set up, and the stage manager has the order in which we will sing.

....aaaaand I'm last.
Number 10.

So I'm sitting. Kindof bored. (cue iPhone Sudoku and WordWarp games). At about the 6th person I got up and walked out to the back hallway, had some water, found a bathroom to do some lip trills in.
Come back.
Listen to the 7th and 8th.
Go outside again for the first aria of the 9th person, then they asked her for Pamina, and THEN it was my turn.

I was escorted onto the stage by the stage manager, my accompanist trailing behind with my music.
They told me where to stand on stage (which was REALLY far back...usually at US house auditions there is already a curtain down and you are standing in front of it...or, if you're using a set that's already existing you are somewhere in the middle or on the same level with piano. Anyway, it was UPstage by easily 20-25 feet to the edge of the stage.

Sang Blondchen, they asked for Queen. Sang queen...kicked some high F booty, and then- thank you very much, we will be in touch with your agent.

So--I know that it went well note-wise and presentation-wise.
Am I what they are looking for? Never know. Now I sit and wait.
Except that I DON"T sit and wait at all!
I got on a train BACK to Berlin (a new addition to the travel schedule, so I didn't use my Eurail pass for just a 36 Euro trip), and am back here for an audition this afternoon.
THEN comes the BIG travel day.
And by day I really mean 24 hours.
On a train.

I think it will be amazing and I'm really excited to see the entire trip from the window..well, plus be in a sleeper car from Copenhagen to somewhere in Sweden...but then see the frozen countryside for another....TWELVE hours...the next day.

It involves 4 train transfers that have all been plotted out with perfect (supposedly) timing for me...so here's hoping.

16 February, 2009


First of all, if you ever plan on doing a German audition tour and mostly correspond via email, you should know that the following exchange is normal and not considered 'pushy' or 'annoying'.

1. I write to them to request an audition and send materials along in the email.
2. They write to me saying thank you, how old are you, have you sung XYZ role (which, yes, was listed on my resume)
3. I answer saying how old I am, yes I have sung the role and I'd love to audition for them.
4. They write to me saying can I come on Feb.16th at 3.
5. I write to them confirming Feb.16th at 3.

(This all occurred by Feb.1 at the latest)..and here I am, thinking I'm all set...

but no--

6. I decide to write them a "hello, I've arrived and this is my cell number" email when I got here (13th), and say I'm looking forward to the 16th.

7. Fast forward to this morning- phone call at 9:30 am saying ..you didn't email us yesterday to confirm for today, so we weren't sure you were coming.

Uhhh---yes? I am? Have we not discussed this 6.5 times? And was it not all settled by step 3?
Could you even IMAGINE a US company confirming and reconfirming auditions for 600 young artists?

Ok, yes, there were fewer people here--BUT it WAS three days of auditions, about 10 people an hour.

Oh yes...10. Even though every singer got about 10 minutes.
Let's talk about that.

I show up to the audition at 2 (my time was 3). I had been warned that I would wait around if I showed up late, so I decided early was better.
I filled out a sheet that asked me how many centimeters tall I was, and for the LIFE of me I couldn't remember how many cm were in a yardstick...I THOUGHT it was a meter...so, 100, right?
Somehow I convinced myself of that, and with MY math skills of cross multiplication came up with 176.
Now...I use 175 for skis...so I was PRETTY sure that I was wrong.
So then I didn't put anything lest they think my answer of 176 was amazonian.
And here I am at 5'3 and a half.

There were about 4 pissed singers there that hadn't realize we were ALL told to show up at 3, and we were all filling out this form as fast as possible to hand it in and get a 'number' order in which we were to sing in.

They were already late from the 2pm group, so...when I arrived at 2pm, I got number 17.
Yep, 17 auditions about 8-10 minutes long.

Fast forward to 4:45--that's when I sang.

The singers in the hall were a mixed bag, but Germans were actually the MINORITY!
3 Americans, 3 russians, one Pole, 1 Spanish, 1 Brit, and 2 Germans.
The language of communication became Italian, because for some reason the Polish lyric soprano and the Russian (born there, living in Spain), spoke fluent Italian, the 2 other Americans spoke better Italian than German, and so somehow through broken Italian, German and English, we all managed to wait around together.

At first the attitude was competitive and secluded, but as we each had over 2 hours to wait it became clear that if we didn't start talking to each other we would all go crazy.

So. The audition.
Go in, show the accompanist my rep, announce myself and my piece (DurchZ), sing.
It was a nice long room with a little stage set up, the auditors were about 20 feet away, and I did well with that piece.
They chose Una Voce 2nd...again, went really well plus the F at the end (duh)...

AND THEN- began the feedback and questioning in German.

Now, peoples.
Der die das?
Flew OUT of my head.
I actually understood a MAJORITY of what they were saying and asking such as:
Where did I sing the Blonda. My voice is bla bla bla, the acting is bla bla bla, etc...
WHY do I want to sing in Germany. What other agents have I sung for so far. Has anyone sent me on any auditions.

I answered NOT like a complete idiot, but it went something like this in my head:

Jeezus H. how do I conjugate this verb in the plural (vous) form?
I think "Audition" is "Der". sure.
Uhh...ok, now I've moved onto using no articles or declensions and I will just say all the words together and hope they put it together by association.
So basically it was like.
Me. Sing. Repertoire. Germany. Love. German and French Coloratura Repertoire. That. Is. My. Type. Because. USA. More Italian. Bigger. Repertoire. Me. Will. Move. Here. Fest. Guest. Work.

The whole time they DID understand what I was saying..and obviously it was more put together than that--but HEY! For my FIRST TEN MINUTE speaking and understanding session with an agent...it was fiiiine.

So- the conclusion of the audition was the following:
They like me.
They want to send me to some middle-of-nowhere town on the NORTH SEA to audition for Fest contract that includes in the upcoming season Rosina, Blondchen, Sophie and others...
soooo we'll see.
They even had me sign a piece of paper (thank GOD I could understand what was on it and I didn't agree to some freaking exclusive contract or something)..that said THIS agency was sending me on an audition for THAT house and it would be set up via phone tomorrow.

That was fun.

Onto tomorrow (today).

15 February, 2009


Hello from snowy Leipzig.

I spent the day mostly inside in Berlin because it was snowing from the top but on the street it was freezing rain. I ventured out for an AMAZING lunch of middle-eastern food from the section of town that really knows what it's talking about.
Falafel sandwich for 2.50Eur...enough to feed two. So money baby. And you didn't even know it.

In the evening I had my FIRST Eurail pass experience!
Yes, I bought a 15 ride pass to be used to and from anywhere in Europe, over 2 months.

At approximately 4:49 (after gorging myself on Hummus) I arrived at the Berlin Hbh, found the track number (1), three flights down, ran with my CARRY ON suitcase, and boarded the train at 4:55, with a prompt departure time of 4:58.

One hour and nine minutes later I arrived in Leipzig to meet a 'school friend' (from our Master's degree years), who is singing in a Fest contract here.

Even though we haven't kept in the best of touch over the year and a half he has been abroad, it was like no time passed at ALL (except for news of engagement and upcoming marriage that I had no idea about!).
I almost forgot how laugh-out-loud funny he is, and I'm glad that he has agreed to host me on my one or two (haven't decided yet) days in town.

Tomorrow I have my first "european agent audition"...which really is nothing different (I suppose) than any other audition I've ever done.

Bring my materials, bring my rep, wait around, sing...only difference is I will probably get immediate feedback.
I think it will be fun to see what a first impression someone gets from me and how they tell me while I'm standing right in front of them--not with a filter of an email, a follow up call a month later for feedback, or even some sort of form letter....or, as is common in the states...no feedback at all.

I'm feeling good and still excited about everything so far.
Auditions are shaping up, I feel healthy (knock on wood), I am still in awe of my suitcase skilzz every time I close that baby up and navigate my way outside to the Ubahn, Sbahn, bus, tram and train.

The one thing I know I'm missing out on a bit is being a 'tourist'.
Yes, I have the "let's go Germany" book, and I DO want to see things...but the pressure is on to stay healthy, not be in the cold for too long, and not wander about while important emails or phonecalls could be received at the other end inviting me to some end of the continent or other.

I'm keeping a lower profile than usual but I hope that with more time and experience with travel everything will become more routine and I'll have time to explore and feel ok about spending it outside walking around in the freezing cold--not worrying about how many Ricola I have left.

14 February, 2009

berlin day 2

The performance last night of Cassandra/Elektra was exactly what I needed as an "introduction", or, RE-introduction to Germany after 2 years...last time when I lived in Munich I blogged for the entire summer about the amazing and sometimes euro-trashy Munich Opera Festival productions...and now I feel right back at home with new insanity, crazy staging, and in your face singing.

I knew that night was going to be interesting when the stage opened on a male chorus painted white and wearing suits--I mean face, hair, everything.
Then when the set opened to reveal a blood-soaked soprano wielding an axe--it just got better from there.

There was a King painted red, a PIT of cork and rubber pieces that made up the entire staging for Electra, bodies (rubber/decapitated) being thrown through a chute-like contraption 20 feet above the pit of black and gray cork.

Sadly, I can't offer my i-pic-a-day photo today...because...I haven't really brought my iphone anywhere with me, nor have I turned it on. I'm still a bit nervous about the data transfer EVEN though the nice man at customer service assured me that if I only use wifi mode that it shouldn't charge me.
Not taking chances.

This morning I woke up around 6am EVEN though I only went to bed after midnight..AND I had to sing in a competition that I had to show up for at 9:30am.
I was led to a warm-up room, had about 25 minutes to warm up before my pianist showed up, we sang through 3 songs, I was led into the room to sing for the panel, and they asked for Queen after Chacun.

The German went by a bit too quickly for me to understand EVERYTHING they were saying to me, but it still went well...and so I'll hear if I hear..and if not...then I won't and I'll consider it my first 'audition' here that went well.

SO tired right now, and am going to see another opera this evening--perhaps a 40 minute nap is in order.

OH. And then I spent the afternoon being a tourist in Mitte.
More on that and 'impressions of Berlin' later.

13 February, 2009


(My view at about 8am Deutschland time/2am my time...at the tail end of a 9 hr flight with NO sleep).

Well, I managed to not fall asleep on the airplane for nine hours, because who can go to sleep..ON a plane no less, at 8pm at night?
I even put in earplugs AND used a mask to make it dark--but alas...no sleep.

I arrived in chilly Berlin, didn't have to wait for my suitcase because it was CARRY ON!, made it to my first crashing destination in about 20 minutes (7 stops on a direct bus), and spent the day catching up with a friend, relaxing, AND seeing Cassandra/Electra at Deutsche Oper.

I'm too tired to post about it right now (actually, I'm NOT tired, but that is scaring me, because I ONLY napped for about an hour today, and so all in all I haven't slept in over 24 hours..except for one hour..hmmm)...So I really need to go to sleeeeep since I have to wake up and sing some arias around 9:30am tomorrow.

More to come via free wifi!

12 February, 2009

leavin' on a jet plane

My flight takes off at 7:45 tonight.
I had an early audition today, a lovely brunch/lunch, spent the afternoon relaxing, checking out travel websites, making sure my iphone won't charge me a million dollars when I try to turn it on in Europe, and basically doing the opposite of freak out about anything.

Even though just about EVERYTHING is up in the air here..I'm kind of ok with that.
I don't know where I'm staying past the 19th of February (and yes, I'm staying until March 22)--but maybe that's ok!

I think everything will work out.

I realized today that the one thing I DID forget was the cable for my camera-to-computer, so I think I'm going to start a project called iPic-a-day, in which I take an iphone picture of something and upload it.
This is contingent upon me being able to access free wifi after having turned off the roaming data charges on the phone, and also contingent upon any of the iphone pics actually looking decent (of course, not as good as a real camera, which I shall also be using).

And so with those few words...and my usual high expectations...
I'm off.

10 February, 2009

masters of packing unite

Check it out.
My red carry on suitcase, a little black day bag, and voila--
Just in case you need to know what's inside:

Big (lil') Red:
1 black leggings
3 dresses that go over leggings
1 pair of 7s
1 pair of hot black pants
1 Jlo-esque velvet PJ/workout(ha) outfit (sweatshirt and sweats)
2 warm sweaters (green and red)
4 shirts to wear under stuff: white, black, black, brown
1 audition outfit (black w/red trim)
1 pair black heels
---assortment of UNDIES and SOCKS (probably 1.5 week worth)
1 pair grey low boots
1 pair of uggs (that I'll be wearing most of the time so I'm not packing them or feeling the need to make sure they fit in the suitcase)
1 Upcoming-Opera score
1 Portfolio of "materials"- itinerary, 10 copies each of resume/Bio/Cover letters in English/German and 15 headshots.
Bare minimum amt. of toiletries, makeup, 1.4 oz lotions and such, hair thingies, 1 set of audition jewelry,
1 Lonely planet guide to Germany
1 Berlitz "German Vocabulary" book
1 pouch of WIRES (2 phone chargers, camera battery charger, camera,
1 Dual Volt mini-hairdryer

All that and it's not ridiculously heavy OR overstuffed.

In the day bag (right now)- subject to re-arrangement depending on where I'm going and for how long:
1 pair shiny blue heels
1 Audition dress (blue/white)
1 pair stockings
Hat, Scarf, gloves, audition binder.

AND in my purse (which is big enough to fit a binder, but not too much of a 'sac'/bag"
Macbook, eurail pass, wallet, passport, headphones, iphone, german cell phone, sour altoids, pitch pipe.


(what am I forgetting?)

a whole bunch of auditions

Getting ready to begin a whole month and a half long of auditions.

I actually like auditions usually--unlike most singers who would just rather do what they do onstage during a performance and feel a weird pressure to compress themselves into a 7-10 minute version of themselves as an artist.

Of course, I do feel like sometimes I'm compressing myself into that 7-10 minutes (preferably 10-12 if they hear any part of Zerbinetta plus another aria...ha)...

And I think that I play a good 'game' about how to present myself, with what repertoire I choose, and why.

For example- audition today for a large festival.
Well, I go to the website, and see who is cast in this summer's operas. What kind of voices they are taking for what kind of roles.
Ahh----yes, normal (to my eyes) casting of the -ina/ettas (not some full lyric or famous person singing the cutesy roles.
And what about next year's rep? Well a quick glance ahead reveals some Mozart with more of those soubretty roles that could be sung by just about any voice type as long as they act well, look great, and possibly have some international buzz about them (at least that's what I see from this year's list).

So. I have a choice.
I can either start right off with the Zerb, which yes, puts me in my own category of "high/crazy" that I love...however--may not show them that I have a middle and low that can be negotiated IF they were to consider me for an -ina/etta role.
Or I can start out with DurchZ which is inherently coloratura because of the high notes and runs but deceptively shows a cute character, something that could be thought of as the same as a Zerlina/Despina/Marie, etc...

Of course, choice 2 prevails, and I still offer the Zerb so they see it's on my list along with other mostly coloratura stuff that's harder to cast all the time.

How did today go?

Well--I THINK well...I FELT good about it (high notes, shaping of phrases, maybe the one low E was a little less supported than I wanted, fun to act, etc)..but I think I've lost a bit of the ability to tell since I am more involved in the performance (a good thing) and less involved in everything else that gets in the way (a good thing also).

If there was something WAY out of the ordinary that I could hear as I was making the 'mistake'...then yes, I'd know..(and I would HOPE that would never happen unless I was sick and singing...always a bad idea, and caught me ONCE off guard this past fall)

But otherwise (for better or for worse) I think I've built up this repertoire so much that my level of singing is always on par with where I want it to be and where it should be OR higher.

Sure, I got off of a plane yesterday and was more tired/dry throat-ed (?) than usual...but I don't THINK that made a difference.

I had fun.
AND they picked a new-(-er) aria for my 2nd piece which I think is just gorgeous and magical and, well, FAIRY-like...

So hopefully some magic fairy dust will rub off on me for this one or the next however many are upcoming in my travels.

08 February, 2009

back in a flash

And just like that I'm back in NYC for a night.

Same apt., same takout (pineapple fried rice and spicy crunchy salmon roll)--they still had my number, address and credit card in their records, same bed, and same 'routine' :
Try to fall asleep early (FAIL), wake up early, shower, warm up after 9:30am, get ready for audition, and head out!

Next I'll be attempting to pack for Europe for 5.5 weeks in a carry on suitcase.

Watch OUT for my SKILLZZZ.

Full list of included items to be announced shortly.

gone baby gone

Tonight's last performance was so much fun! Great energy, new laughs, and then it was time for the bittersweet parting...
Saying goodbye to a cast that you are not so sure when you will see or work with next.
Knowing that even though I have SO much energy right now that I still have to wake up, throw everything that I have left into the suitcase, return the rental car, get to the airport, and get on an airplane trip that will really cement the close of this gig.

It's times like these when I sometimes wish I DID have a place in NYC--that way I know that I'd at least see everyone when they came through the city for auditions, or to perform, hang out, or even live.

But I still don't live anywhere...and as Peter Pan says--I'll never grow up never grow up never grow uuuuuup, not me....not I!

No, I think I will. It's just not time to really move anywhere permanent because...there's no reason to--yet! And who knows if NYC will really be my final destination--after all, I AM about to embark on a European journey that may just lead to a new home somewhere else for a little while.

Of course, there are always my "25 things" (see side bar) to still fulfill---living in the city, living in the burbs, split a year in Paris, Munich and Milan....so---I'll still take being a hobo for a while until something pulls me in another direction.

On to the smaller, less complicated things---like, am I going to finish the M&M McFlurry I bought myself as a post-show treat and feel incredibly and overly full? Or will I learn how to say "NO" and attempt to go to sleep without a tummy ache and a sugar high?

Hmm....the M&Ms are calling.

No. Must be strong.

g'nite. I think.

07 February, 2009

Last Performance

Tomorrow night (well, tonight really, since it's 1:10am) is our last performance.
How do I feel after 7 and before the 8th show?
Still as fresh and excited about it as day one.
Of course, now it feels a bit more routine and we've settled into a rhythm on stage--which we now can work with, around, and inside out of.

Even MORE fun!

All in all, for a debut with a new company in a new role, I'm really happy with my time here. I'd be happy to do the role again (and next time beg again for the aria to not be cut, and probably get my hopes dashed once again...oh well), because I find a lot of humor and humanity in the show.

It's not just slapstick funny and it's not just a little kid's fairy tale.

Not much else to write besides updating those long lists of things that I need to do before I leave the country...which I have not done.

What I HAVE done is pack the big checked suitcase up, and try to pack as little into the carry-on that I'll be converting into my 5 week closet next week.

That's a start....with about 36 hours before I actually get on an airplane to cold NYC.....right?

05 February, 2009

One Week

In one week and about seven hours I'll be on an airplane to Europe.
In between now and then I still need to:

Sing 2 operas, hang out with my family who is coming to visit and hear the final performance, return my rental car (hopefully scratch-less from the insane drivers in this city), pack, get on an airplane, arrive in NYC at 8pm on Sunday, get to my previous-apt. which I can thankfully still crash at anytime I want, wake up on Monday without "airplane voice", sing an audition at noon, return upstate, unpack, repack (for 5.5 weeks in a carry on suitcase because that's how I roll), take another train back to NYC, voice lesson, sleepover at best friend's apt, audition, sleep over at previous-apt., audition, GET TO AIRPORT on time and get on a plane!!!

I also still need to make photocopies of music, print out maps of where I'm supposedly staying/going/traveling in Europe, make sure that my camera is charged...
Speaking of which, I REALLY REALLY wish that I could bring myself to buy the coveted CANON RebelXSi camera that I've been eying for so so long...because this would be a perfect trip to have it.

Hmm...last minute purchase? Yikes! I'm so tempted.

But getting back to where I am now, and not one week from now---
I've had an amazing time during this production. Really great colleagues that I can now call good friends...and not just on facebook! This show has been so much fun. Great music, fun stage-work, easy singing, and it doesn't hurt that the beautiful beach is about 7 minutes away.

Tonight we have a new conductor for our 2 final performances since we are in a secondary location. So it will be a whole new show again. I'm excited, of course, because I know it will add yet another element of 'new' into the performance tonight.
That plus the fact that last time we performed was five days ago!

Off to find some breakfast (at noon), and then get ready for show #7.

03 February, 2009

backwards procrastination

For some reason the most impending music-learning is always the last thing I am really interested in practicing or learning day-to-day.

Instead, I've been reading about and listening and looking into original materials that make up 2010-#2-opera that I have exactly a year from now to learn and start to put onstage.

In advance of my upcoming trip overseas, I find myself in the unlucky position of having to kill a few trees and make many photocopies of every single aria that could possibly be asked for while I'm abroad and auditioning.

It's not enough to have the 6 that I always offer (plus the other 6 in the binder that I could just as easily offer)...I'll have to add about 10 or so--the secondary arias from roles that I've done completely, the lesser known repertoire that is not asked for as often in the US, but may be of interest over there, the soubrett-y roles that I could easily sing if asked, and definitely have learned, but have no reason to offer in auditions because I have better starter-aria choices.
However...they all may be asked for....for ANY reason...and so, I'm taking them with me.

What I should probably ALSO take is a zipdrive with everything as a PDF (now that would really be an undertaking)...in case I need extra music, lose something along the way, or just don't feel like carrying all of that paper about.

I'm HOPING to take just one aria binder (I know this will turn into 2, 1inch binders)...and also upcoming operas 1-3...but MAYBE (and this is depending on how badly I feel for the environment or how bored I get at the photocopier), JUST the pages that I sing in? I know, I know..that's horrible. But I'm familiar enough with all of the shows that just having my own music would be terribly helpful, and not such sacrilege ...and really for the second two it's about recit. Which I can do without music...I'll need something to study on those long train rides.

Oh yes, speaking of long train rides, I settled on a Eurail pass. 15 days within 2 months- unlimited countries. I'll only be there for 5.5 weeks, so that means that even if I go roundtrip to Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, and Zurich, I still have enough rides to get from Berlin to Leipzig to Dusseldorf to Munich and back to Berlin.

So there it is.
I'm excited, but haven't even thought about it since I still have 2 performances here, PACKING, unpacking, voice lesson, auditions in NYC, repacking, not forgetting anything, and getting on an airplane!

01 February, 2009


So, including dress rehearsal, we have performed this show 7 times in 9 days.
That's quite a bit of singing, a lot of energy given and received on stage, and in general, pretty much of a whirlwind kind of week and a few days.

Tonight was the last of those performances that were "in a row-ish", and now we get to sit pretty until THURSDAY night, our next performance.

I don't know WHAT I'll do with myself.
We do have a brush-up musical rehearsal on Tuesday, but in the meantime--a whole 5 days to ..what?
Learn other music? I suppose that would be a GOOD choice.
Go to the beach? Well, it's chilly here and unless this cold front moves on, that would be a bust.

I started packing today.
Even though I"ll be here for another 9 days.
There are certain things I know I won't wear again, I won't need again, or that I can just put in the suitcase no matter what, and if I do need to dig it out, it will be on the top.

I did a bit better than usual with my outfits this time. I think I only didn't wear about 5 shirts, and both pairs of capri pants that I brought.
That's pretty good. I wore all of the shoes, worked out a whopping TWO times and did use my gym clothes and sneaks.

There are two scores for summer-roles that I brought that I haven't cracked open (there is still time, though!), I have looked at upcoming-score a lot, and otherwise I don't think I have that much "stuff".

It's sad and exciting to begin to slowly put things away here.
It means I know it's almost over, and I can start looking forward to the next adventure, but it also means that I've gotten to a point here where I'm comfortable and having fun, and just being in the moment on stage, hanging out with new friends, and living up these last days of performance both on stage and off.