30 March, 2009

this is what I'm talking about...

I totally just read the post below and then the post that I wrote 4 days earlier.
How can I so easily switch 180 degrees of my thoughts from--couches and crashing are just fine by me right now---to---it's time to find a home?!!!

the nyc conundrum

My favorite internet google searches have been for real estate in NYC recently.

NOT that I have enough money to put 20% down on a condo on the upper west side...but it can't hurt to look, right?

And from what I'm seeing, things are just CRAZY cheap in the market right now.

I love NYC, all of my friends are here, my teacher and coaches are here, auditions are here (well, for 2.5-3 months a year), the culture, the shows, the parks, the museums, I could go on and on but then I'd be an advertisement for Iloveny .com or something, so I won't.

But, Libra that I am, I can always convince myself that this would be either the best thing or the most idiotic thing I could do right now.

Why would it make sense?
Well, I'm a singer. If I DON'T have performances in the Fall, then I will 100% be in New York City for fall auditions, which means 3 to 4 months per year.
Also, when will I be a 'real person'? Shouldn't I actually have a place to...say...put all of my shoes? My gowns? My clothes? My books that I have saved from college and want to put in MY LIBRARY one day? My scores? my--everything? (That is currently packed away and labeled in the basement?
Also, IF I wanted to put 'roots' down somewhere (that is not to say that I wouldn't prefer a life of moving around..which I actually WOULD), but WOULD it be in New York City?
If you asked me 2 years ago I would have scoffed at the idea.
No! Singers only move to NYC to then have to get some sort of OTHER part time job to SUPPORT their singing 'habit' and pay their exorbitant rents.

I loved Boston. I loved Chicago.
I loved anywhere in Europe--Paris, Milan--over New York--the place where I saw so many singers with high hopes go, only to turn to day jobs and a 'normal' life, while pursuing that 'performance career'.

But now...am I at a different stage?
AM I pursuing a performance career and kind of succeeding at it? (well, according to my 2008 taxes I am...)
And shouldn't I then, maybe, stop relying on my best friend's couch, my friend from highschool's airmattress, my friend from college's BED, and all of the other open invitations that I have to crash with people when I end up having an extra week in the city or a voice lesson or an audition that I have to come into town for?

(even though it's MORE than fun to stay with all of these people, and there is always an open invitation to hang out, catch up, and chill out at these lovely abodes that range from Prospect Park to Union Square to the Upper West Side)??

And now that it looks like loft studios on the West side (ok, Midtown west which is not ideal, but still IN Manhattan) are available for less than 300 thousand?! wouldn't it be kind of crazy NOT to at least LOOK at some of these places?

OK, so those are all of the "why not? just do it!/ PRO" arguments.

Here are the "what are you thinking! That's crazy! why would you even consider that?!" arguments.

Well, I only "really" have to be in NYC from October to December.
So- if I find a sublet for around 1,000 or less a month, that's a total of three thousand dollars instead of...oh--- TWELVE times TWO THOUSAND dollars which would be my mortgage payment.

If I own, it will always be MY responsibility to find a subletter.
Do I want that responsibility? How easy or hard it is to find someone for a short terms sublet who won't mess up your place, steal your stuff, be difficult, and be overall normal and not psycho?

What if (hopefully) I AM performing more and more, and needing to be in NYC less and less? (although for the sake of argument I could also say, what if the MET magically hears about my high q's and suddenly wants to hire me for "awesome-opera-2012" and I get to stay here and live here and sing here? omg/lol/hahahha/jk/ifonly!)

Do I really want to live in NYC forever? Meaning--in 'life'- not just singing life?
Probably not...although, again, if I were independently wealthy, it sure would be nice to have 'a place' in 'the city'.

WHERE do I want to live?
Still not sure.
But I want my stuff to live somewhere other than packed up in the basement.
And I want to feel like when I get off of a plane after 5 weeks of being 'away' or 'on the road', that I have a place with my things and my life to come 'home' to-- not just a couch or an airmattress or a best friend's always-open-invite, to call home.

27 March, 2009

a ny state of mind

Well, I'm back in NYC for about 3 days.
Voice lesson, seeing friends, photocopying music from NYPAL, going to a classical music concert, seeing more friends, hanging out, and LUCKY me, the weather is BEAUTIFUL today!

I'll spend the weekend here, then mosey on back upstate to do some final packing and choosing of clothing (if the weather in the past 2 days has been any indicator of what is to come, I'll have to take everything from winter to summer clothes with me), and then return for one more day to the city before I leave for next-gig.

Whenever I"m here I want to stay here. I want to go on craigslist and immediately search for a condo or co-op to buy now that the market is still in the dumps and will be for 2 years. It's just that final thought of--will I REALLY live here? Or will I mostly just have to find a subletter for my place?

Of course I want "MY" place..but truthfully, I was in NYC from Sept-December. And Since January I've been here a total of 4 days.
And after this weekend and my flight departure next week, I most likely won't be here until September again.

Sooo--for living somewhere for 3 or 4 months--is it worth it to have a place that I call HOME?
I want to say YES...but I can convince myself either way..into and out of it.
There are so many 'what-ifs' that would be amazing IF they happened (that is why they are 'what-ifs') that COULD possibly take me out of NYC for a long time...or at least, take the possibility of actually having a PLACE in NYC off of the table.

So, for now, I'm content with crashing with friends..airmattresses, couches, same beds (with best friends only!), and I suppose one day when I'm a 'real' person I can decide on the city that I'd like to live in.

25 March, 2009

European Audition Tour #1 Statistical/Financial breakdown

The Dates:

The travel route:

The auditions:
3 Agents
8 Mainstage (9 with one callback)

The arias I started with:
Durch Z- 4 times a starter, followed every time except ONE by a request for Der Holle Rache. The one exception was request for Una Voce.

Zerbinetta from So war es mit Pagliazzo (and ONCE in its entirety)- 7 times a starter- followed 3 times by Der Holle Rache, TWICE by Durch Z and ONCE by The doll Song, once by "thanks very much that's all we need to hear".

O zittre nicht, followed by Der Holle rache- once, for a specific audition for QOTN.

The travel:
EASY with the Eurail pass--get on any train you want, sit in first class, get served chocolate balls and face wipes without request, get offered international papers, plug computer into train power system and watch movies, see the lovely scenery as it whizzes by, HOWEVER---be VERY aware that SOME trains do require reservations and seat reservations. ALL International trains do. This means an extra 7 to 35 Euros for each reservation. I think about 6 of my trains (paris/oslo/nantes--and back to Germany) required reservations ranging from 7 to 50 Euros for the overnight couchette or just the space for a seat.

The surviving on food from the HbF (that's the main train station) at most cities:
Brown bread plus cheese slices plus german chocolate plus apple plus bottle of water equals- enough food for a 9 hour train!
Rinse and repeat times 15 (the number of rides on the Eurail I took).
Vary: The KIND of cheese slices, the KIND of bread (roll/slice), the KIND of chocolate, and you're golden.

The cost:
RT Airfare: $650
Eurail Pass: 800Euros
Audition Fees: 65 Euros (20/25/20--for agent auditions)
Ubahn/Tram/Sbahn/Metro Tickets: Probably a total of 25 Euros
Hotels in the 5 cities that I couldn't find a friend to house me: 250 Euros
Entertainment (2 operas, 5 Euros each)...10 Euros
Food from HbF- probably 30 Euros or so....

The better way to do this is track my withdrawals from my bank account (which there were only TWO of): 150 Euros, 50 Euros. Total: 200 Euros--which paid for all of the cash needs like the Ubah/Sbahn/audition fees/operas/food, etc.

Plus the 100 I came with that were left over from the LAST time I was in Europe, 2 summers ago.

So that totals--something like--1250Euros plus the flight for $650...so rounding UP that's 1700 dollars plus the airfare.
Total: $2350. For 5.5 weeks of planes, trains, travels, auditions, housing, and everything involved in planning this kind of trip.

In comparison with what I know others to have spent, I did this on the cheap. It seems like a lot of money- but hey, if I was in NYC for one month, I'd be paying 1250 JUST for rent...no food, no travel, ...and...no auditions.

Sooo--it seems like an insane amount of money to be spending and to see deducted from my bank account. But actually, I'm quite happy that it's no where near 3000, which is what I expected.

More about individual thoughts and performance breakdown later...

suitcase update

I now have ONE suitcase of winter.
ONE suitcase of summer.

One closet half filled with dresses (summer/winter/fancy/semi-formal), half filled with jackets/coats.

One checked-sized suitcase that is packed for a gig (meaning, half winter, half summer, some pairs of shoes), and one carry-on sized suitcase that is half empty but will be packed with the rest of the things I need for a gig.

Oh, and in the basement--5 huge bags of shoes. Cowboy boots (green, white), Winter boots (white, black, brown, snow, gray, rain), heels (too many to count--shiny, patent, etc.), SNEAKERS (well, cute sneakers, not workout sneakers! (too many to count also, but I love them ALL sooo much)
Some flats---but none compare to my NEW silver awesome ones....and that is all.

WHEN I will actually have a CLOSET to put all of these amazing shoes in and actually wear them and alternate them with the outfits that they belong to...I don't know...but I'm keeping them as long as they still fit my feet!

24 March, 2009

what was that about scrimping and saving again?

Spring cleaning day has arrived and that means the following:

Drag 2 suitcases of clothes that have been packed since this summer into the living room.
Drag 2 suitcases of clothes that have been more recently packed for gigs or travels into the living room.
Empty 4 suitcases onto the living room floor.

Go through: heavy sweaters, light sweaters, nice pants, capris, workout clothes, nice tops, tank tops, too many pairs of 7s that I got on sale one day that have not been shortened, skirts, jackets, dresses dresses dresses (cocktail, Sunday, gowns, semi-formal, summer, etc. etc.) and DECIDE what I'm keeping, what I love but I've had for too too long, what I haven't worn in the past year (although that's probably not my fault since I haven't had a full closet of my own stuff for the past year either), and what I'm giving away of all of that stuff.

Things that went first: sweaters. They pill and pull. Can't argue with that.
Things that went reluctantly: a few skirts that I haven't worn in a while (and have most likely owned since 2003 or earlier), one of the 3 pairs of black pants, some tops and tanks that were looking shabby, not chic, and a whole bunch of T's from opera companies that I have worn as PJs and workout clothes for the past 5 years--but really, it was time for them to go.
Although the memory of the 2005 summer season will always be in my mind!!

What did I do to make myself feel better about giving away about 1/5 to 2/5ths of my clothes?

Ooooh yea. I hit up Betsy Johnson even though the majority of her dresses are for teeny boppers now. Once in a while I DO find a steal there, and I was THIS close to buying a SUPER cute blue and white summer dress....but then I said, no, I'll wait.

Then I went to Ann Taylor--and after the teeny bopper of BJ, I felt like a mom shopping for my first day back at work in there. Plus it was all stuff from the fall season, which was another bust.

Third try- Michael Kors--umm, WHY is everything you have out right now inspired by Safari brown, beige and orange? That would be a big NO.

Next- Coach. I can ALWAYS find something I want there..and indeed- I found the cutest clutch purse--black and silver--TWENTY BUCKS!!! on sale for 50 percent off!

Then- Armani. Really, I never go in there, because I know that dresses, even marked down, will be over 300 dollars. But I just gave it a whirl.
And LO and BEHOLD, the HEAVENS parted and the GODDESS of FOOTWEAR delivered upon me the most AMAZING deals on two pairs of HOTTTT shoes.

Ok, you can't see them that well here, but I promise they are amazing PLUS I can walk on them without falling over! (Maybe this is a way to get NUMBER 17 on my list checked off!

And the cutest most sparkly silver flats that I want to wear every day under all of my jeans and with all of my skirts!

Ok, ORIGINAL price for the stingray stilettos---$730! Cha CHING! Final Price on sale because of the ailing economy and my general awesome-nity at finding a bargain at the store (it was their last pair)--Grand total: $69 bucks!!!!

Original price for the silver flats: $249....mine for the LOW LOW price of $39!!!

How sweet it is.

23 March, 2009

home is where the washing machine is

The rest of my journey back from Europe was uneventful.

I sat next to a Spanish student who was traveling to the US to learn English, there were no movies to see in the seat in front of me. They showed James Bond's Quantum of Solace at some point during the flight, but on those drop down tiny screens that were in the middle aisle and also about 5 rows in front of me, so I couldn't actually pay attention to the whole thing.

Instead, on my laptop I watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the new one) and The Devil Wears Prada (to get back in the NY state of Mind) until my computer died.

I'm not quite ready to write the big 'European audition tour run-down' entry just yet.

I will say that while I am very excited for upcoming-show and totally ready to get back into the groove of stagings, rehearsals, musical rehearsals, casts, and actual performance mode, I am planning a return.
Possibly in May.
I want to do as much as I can while I have the finances and the time to do it.
Flights are cheap (400 round trip to Frankfurt), and if I can get solid audition dates set up NOW, I will be on that plane in a NY minutes...or, a Deutsches minuten..or something like that.

Now, to do my taxes and my laundry.

22 March, 2009

Dublin Airport

I’m about 1/5th of the way home.
Woke up this morning at 6:20am, took a one hour train to Dusseldorf airport, checked in at 8:30 for my 10:30 flight (really, I promise I thought that this would take longer).
They made me check my carry-on because it weighed 17 Kilos. And I overstuffed too blatantly this time for it to pass first ticket agent inspection. So, sadly, I will have to wait for it at JFK.
I made two beginner traveler mistakes this morning---I’m blaming it on lack of sleep (I went to a German disco last night until 3am). Since I just bought some sort of medicinal “elixir” called something like Bronchilitis Elixir…made of plants and roots and other extracts (I couldn’t find any normal robitussin or anything with Guiafenasine), I need a lot of water to take it with because it tastes horrible.
So I bought a huge bottle of Vittel water for the plane. The big one. BEFORE security check.
I couldn’t chug it all right there so I tried to go for the “I’m really sick and I need this water to take with my medication”. The germans were having none of that. They asked me if I had a doctor’s note saying I needed to take THIS specific water with me.
Umm, not so much.
So I had to throw that 2 Euros away, and then buy a dinky overpriced waterbottle after I got through security, when prices increase twofold just because you are penned inside and waiting for your flight.

My flight to Dublin was uneventful except for the 60 teenagers sitting in the 10 rows in front of me all wearing a sweatshirt with a Shamrock on it that said Dublin ’09 (I’m guessing teen tour or class trip). I arrived in Dublin..and I walked through customs to the transfer passage—where, to my annoyance, I had to go through security—AGAIN—with my NEW bottle of water (albeit smaller, but still cost 1.80 Euro!) which I had taken MAYBE two sips of on the plane. This time I decided to just chug it.

I was then entranced by the myriad of duty free options that were available to me. I always am. But I never buy anything. I can’t justify some amazing smelling Origins body scrub for 34 Euros when I’ll probably go to CVS next week and get something decently smelling for 7.99.

Next up- a three hour wait in the airport and my flight back to JFK.
I have no idea what to expect for Aer Lingus (except a funny name)…do I get movies? Do I have to pay for food? Will it be sold out?
At least this time I have an aisle seat (unlike on the flight from NYC to Berlin), so I can drink as MUCH water as I please and not disturb anyone by crawling over 2 people to get out of the row!

20 March, 2009

Last everything

Last day, last audition, last time I'll have to roll my suitcase around (well, until next week's airplane ride to next-opera), last time I'll have to put on this audition outfit in Germany and hope that my one pair of stockings doesn't run LOWER down my thigh to actually peek out from under the dress (I've been keeping that run at bay for the last 4 auditions now).

Tomorrow I get on a plane in Dusseldorf, and after a quick change-over in Dublin (yea, Aer Lingus and your cheap flights!), I'll be back in good ole' NYC. For one night.

Then it's:
Dentist (overdue for a cleaning and making sure that I don't have cavities), chiropractor (he's not going to be happy with the fact that I've had a one shoulder bag for 6 weeks and have been carrying my laptop, audition binder, and various other very heavy items that have made my back and next feel like I'm about 30 years older than I actually am), taxes (not much to say about that except...taxes).

In that order.

And then- some repacking and off to the next adventure.

I will write a run-down of expenses and thoughts later on, but for right now I'll say that this trip has been 'educational' and very well worth it.

I understand how it all works now. And I want to come back and do it again!

17 March, 2009

fast trains

If I could choose any train to live on it would be the TGV.
Minus the ears popping because of the sudden tunnels at warp speed.
The seats are as comfy as a well-used and much loved favorite couch.
The train I’m currently sitting on was most definitely made in the 90s, as its color scheme is fuscia, gray, and the occasional neon green chair.
I bet they thought it was so modern when the design was approved. Now it looks like a Millennium party decoration gone wrong.

I’m not feeling 100% better yet, but I’m hoping that the change in air and this gorgeous weather will inspire my nose to stop running and that strange bronchial cough to shut up long enough so that I can sing my audition tomorrow morning.

I can already feel that IF I really needed to (like, if I had a performance tonight), then I would be able to do it just fine. I would have to warm up a little, I would still feel a bit blocked/stuffy, but the sound would be there. It’s not like the voice is gone.
So hopefully that will continue until tomorrow when it will even be closer to perfect.

16 March, 2009

paris and the plague

Well, made it to Paris, sang an awesome audition--and I mean, one of the most fun times I've had with Zerb, and then, to my not-so-surprise, heard the list of singers called back and couldn't help seeing the trend of Francophone names.
I get it, it's a French studio program. However...why advertise yourself to the masses, knowing that you will have oodles of American youngsters flying over for a LOT of money, to just give each person 4 minutes of ONE song (unless you cut them off after the first page and pick another song..as you did to about 3 people before me), seem totally disinterested the entire time, flipping through papers and whispering amongst yourselves, and have FIVE days of auditions like that (which, might I add, ran TWO and a HALF hours late)...only to call back 12 French singers?
At least that is not the ONLY thing that I flew over to Germany for.
I could not imagine the discouragement of those who spent probably 800 dollars on a round trip flight, 90 dollars a night on a hotel (and I'm sure they assumed they would be called back, too..that's 3 nights), only to get in the room, have them cut you off after one page, and ask for one more minute of a 2nd aria.

I was here already, and it was just two more stamps of my Eurail pass...so no big deal.

Returned from Paris to the beginnings of the current singer-plague.
Well, ok, not yet.
Right now it's just a totally stuffy nose and some post nasal drip that is making it just a bit uncomfortable to do just about anything...since I am constantly blowing my nose.

I am supposed to sing on Wednesday, and tomorrow is supposed to be a travel day for me.

I am PRETTY sure that I'll be fine...but I would hate to get on a train for 8 hours to find that I'm not 100% by Wednesday.

I'll be monitoring this all day by staying in bed, drinking water and EmergenC, drinking tea, real orange juice, and seeing whether it's feeling better or worse by tonight.

Last week here and I just have ONE more audition and this happens now? Well, I suppose better than on the plane ride back or next week when I'll really be busy re-packing my life into the next 5 week stint.

12 March, 2009

2nd class

Today is my first train trip that required a reservation that I couldn’t book for first class. I’ve been traveling in style with my Eurail pass, being offered chocolates, newspapers, anything from the food car, my own personal waiters, space, empty chairs all around for the first 11 trips of the 15 on my Eurail pass. Not so today. I’m traveling to Paris and there were no first class reservations for seats available (although that is partly my fault because I didn’t make the reservation early…I just waltzed up to the train station yesterday evening, less than 24 hours before my train, and hoped for the best.

Well, that didn’t happen, and so I am now sitting with all of the ‘rest’ of society, in a cramped, totally full, 2nd class car.

It smells a bit of smoke, the chairs have seen better days. Legroom? What’s that? And I’m sure that no one in a freshly pressed uniform is about to offer me a dark chocolate treat. Ah well, the train ride is only 4 hours long and then I’ll be in Paris!

11 March, 2009

the morning after.

Ok, so I got to sleep on it.
I'm now feeling like--yea, I think I rocked it.
I think I presented myself in a really good way.
I think I'm excited for the last two auditions of this week (one in a mere 4 hours..and no, I'm NOT in the correct city yet).
I think--who else can sing the heck of of Zerb, followed by Queen1, maintain composure, act 'with feeling', smile, prance around onstage like it's just a game (which...Higher Power up above HELP ME TO REMEMBER--it IS!), and as they say 'gett'er done'...?

So I did it. YAY.

10 March, 2009

two down two to go

So in this week of insanity here is the audition run-down and I THINK how I really felt.

I am definitely feeling a bit flustered because I have to pay more attention to travel and making the trains than to the actual audition. I still of course have my concentration…and I’ve managed to compartmentalize (as I do best) the fact that I have to get up, warm up, get there, kick ass, and then run to the train station. And each one of those things I try to put in a separate little drawer. But of course, to be that emotion-less is difficult…with high stakes auditions.
So- the first one went well…it also wasn’t that important—an agent, who said that she really liked my voice, bla bla bla, she could tell I had high notes for days, bla bla bla, great acting. Bla—nothing I haven’t heard before…but can she do any work for me before I head back? Who knows.
The second one (today). The BIG one.
Ok, I woke up, and my neck was totally out of whack. I attribute this to being on a train for 4 hours plus freaking out in general about this audition.
Freaking out…in an excited and half-nervous but maybe good-nervous kind of way.

I wake up and feel bla. Take a shower. Neck is busted if I look the left. Oww.
Warm up outside on the porch overlooking a courtyard because the weather is KIND of nice and I don’t want to sing in a room with too much acoustic before singing in the theater.
Sounds good, if a bit on the cautious side vocally…I don’t know what that means..but it didn’t really feel as “free” as it does. Also attributed to busted neck.

So. I get to the theater an hour early, run through Queen1 with the accompanist (who was the same accompanist that I had 2 weeks ago, so no need to revisit any of the rep).
They were only hearing 4 singers.
Three women and a tenor.
The OTHER soprano who is young happens to be a colleague of mine from the states—meaning, I’ve met her one summer, heard her sing one concert, and know that we sing almost the exact same rep—kind of.

So—that adds to the competition a bit…and now I’m focused on singing a kick-ass Zerb, and KNOWING that they will ask for Queen1 which they had requested that I prepare.

So. I’m standing backstage getting ready for the audition, and on stage they are rehearsing Lucia. Umm, YEA with Jose Cura. Oh yea…and his dressing room? Right next to Mr. Keenlyside….both of which were next to my warm up room.
And then around the corner comes FREAKING Seiji Ozawa!!! WHAT??!?!?!?
Did that really happen? Seiji was all decked out in some ‘street’ threads…looking all cool and breezing by.
Umm, yea—there were some famous peeps walking around backstage right before I had to get out there.
I had requested to sing first (because I had to make the train)..and it turns out it was VERY lucky that I did.
Well, the audition was supposed to begin at 1:30. I actually starting singing around 1:40 because the staging rehearsal for the men’s chorus of Lucia ran late. So after I sang and was running out of there to make it to the train station I overhear that they only have the stage booked until 2pm, now not all of the other people may get to sing 2 arias, they were trying to extend the time until 2:15, but the crew was NOT happy about that because they had another scene to set up.
Whew. Glad I wasn’t involved in that.

Now, the actual singing.
Ok, people, I’m going to give myself a break because this was a BIG one. I mean, pretty much the same thing as singing at the top one or two houses in the USA.
So. The ONLY thing I will say about the Zerb, which overall I think I did REALLY REALLY well with, is that I DID end up between the So war cadenza and the Als Ein gott—on the HIGH ie, Sharp side of the cadenza.
Not a whole step sharp …but enough that I had to recalibrate once I came in for Als Ein and then GOTT with the piano I was sharp. Now, of course that’s better than flat.
But I was still annoyed. I had a feeling that I kind of lost the sense of the center of the note as I was in the cadenza…but I really thought that I was OK…and of course I hit the top note even though it must have been closer to an F than an E (no big difference of course for my voice)…so I’m attributing obviously, to what it was…nerves…excitement…and….I’m ok with it. Because the rest of it was great. Trills, musicality, acting, loving being on this super-amazing stage and having the opportunity to sing for these people.

So. I sang that piece. Then they asked what I had with me. And since I had been instructed to bring Queen1 since that’s what they asked for last time, I said: both queens, rosina, Olympia, blonda and cunegonde—just to give them all the options just in CASE they decided to change their mind and pick a different piece.

But no. It was Queen1. Which, really, people…I have no problem with. And I knew that. Even though being here has fully annoyed me with every audition panel asking for Queens just because they want to hear the F’s and I HAVE all the F’s—let me show you something different..let me show you some LINE or SOMETHING else…but no.
So. Queen 1 is obviously much more dramatic than 2, and it takes more line and such. So I understand why they wanted to hear it…but I hope they weren’t expecting some dark sounding dramatic sound out of me after I just sang the crap out of Zerbinetta for them.

Anyway. With no break, I re-center myself quickly, even while the pianist is playing the intro I’m kind of humming a low low F just to get my throat open and free after ending all of the Zerb coloratura…which is VERY different from Mozart coloratura.

Ok. So we’re off.
Intro- Dramatic, slow, nice line.
Zum Leiden- I think I did some nice things with Pianissimo 2nd Ach Helft, I had good diction through emotion. Du, Du Du section- Yep. This is where I let it take off and just do what I do. It was clean. It was even. The approach to the F was solid…I was a fan.

I was a little dazed at the end…I mean, they said thank you, I smiled, I walked to the pianist and thanked her and she said she hopes to see me! (ha—that means I guess she liked me and wants to see me working there…IF ONLY they could make the decisions, right?!)..so I walk offstage, the agent that sent me on this audition was there, all smiles, and then I took off for my next destination.

It still hasn’t really set in that I just sang an audition for this house.
I mean, I could start writing all about how—well, who KNOWS what Kind of feedback I’ll get, IF I’ll get it, WHEN I’ll get it…whether they even liked me or not, whether that one thing in the Zerb that I’m not happy with will be the dealbreaker, whether they liked or didn’t like my vocal quality for Queen…I mean…really- who knows….right?
So of course I could dote on the negative, or try to already set myself up for hearing a probable no.
I mean, that is what you do in the US, right? Assume it’s no until your agent calls sometime in January or February (or if you’re lucky the day after your audition in Mid-December) and says—you have an offer.

So- out of sight out of mind? I’m not so sure.
The experience was COOL. I mean, I was in and out of there within an hour and a half…I definitely had heightened nerves but I DON”T think that came out in my voice, demeanor, or general audition skills…

I don’t really know how to feel now. I feel…relieved. I feel—a bit content but at the same time I want to pull apart every part of the singing and acting (that I can remember….) and figure out what I did, how I did it, and whether I would like it if I was out there in the house listening.

Onward…(but still….wishing I knew more)…til tomorrow.

08 March, 2009

mostly trains..no planes or automobiles

How I plan to rock this week, Part I...with updates about specific auditions and travels as they come.

A. Wake up tomorrow in great voice, get ready for audition, rock audition at 14:30.
B. Make it to my train to Vienna at 15:40.
C. Wake up Tuesday in great voice, get ready for audition, rock audition at 13:30.
D. Make it to my train to Leipzig at 14:40.
E. Wake up Wednesday in great voice, get ready for audition, rock audition at 13:00.
F. Make it to my train to Hagen at 15:24.
G. Wake up Thursday at whatever time I please, get on a train to Paris.
H. Wake up Friday in great voice, get ready for audition, rock audition at 15:30.

That is all.

07 March, 2009

munich and music part II

I think that I learned something new about how I learn things today.

I was looking at my upcoming-score and trying to memorize the three or four lines of actual dialogue that I have.

I knew what I was supposed to be saying and what it was about.

However, I couldn't really get it out in the right words, nor did it interest me to try to break it down and learn it word by word.

I needed to hear it in the cadence of a sentence and then see if I could repeat it based on the 'feeling' of the cadence and the aural sensation of what the sentence should be.

Nothing to do with what the actual words were.

For example, I knew I needed to say something to the effect of--

Oh frederick, you're so smart can't you help save my daddy from being all sad and stuff?

And the actual line was something like:
... cannot you in your calm excellent wisdom find it in your conscience to say something that will relieve my father's sorrow.

Ok, that was the line.

But this is how I learned it:

Double Negative, Alphabetical order, backwards alphabetical order, SS, help my dad.

Which means:
Cannot you (double negative), C, E, W (calm, excellent wisdom--alphabetical order), F,C (find, conscience --backwards alphabetical order), Say something (SS), that will relieve my father's sorrow.

That is weird.
Why couldn't I just memorize the line like I'm supposed to? I don't really know.
Why can't I THINK about what the line is? It actually does, KIND OF make sense...in RP English...
but no, I have to come up with some weird thing, that even though it's for one line and I don't need mnemonic devices to remember it, ....I somehow come up with a device that's EVEN longer than the ACTUAL line to memorize it.

And that is reflective of how I sometimes approach memorization--well, I always like things to be orderly and either alphabetical or backwards-alphabetical.

But in addition, I could sing entire operas based on the words that IIII think should be in there.
ie, I know what is supposed to come across on what notes, I know the beginning words, the ending words, and most of the 'big' words...but I fit in little words as I please..and yes, sometimes I make up NEW words (that still rhyme and that still make sense with what's going on!)

Ah well. It's a fun exercise and I suppose whatever method gets the correct words in my head at the end will be just fine.

My last day in Munich is tomorrow.
This week is going to be the craziest of travel weeks yet- but I'm prepared and totally ready for it!
I had a weekend to relax, see an opera with weird/amazing German staging, do laundry, figure out my train schedules and BACKUP train schedules (in case any audition runs late and I can't get to my next destination in time), and I'm excited for these last TWO weeks of being here.

Audition every day except for Thursday of this week.
In three different countries.


Bring it!

05 March, 2009


Ok, I just read THIS blog post, and now I'm really wishing that I was in a music-learning frenzy too.

Buuut instead I'm here with my one carry on bag, my one upcoming-score, and a bunch of itunes.
And online scores (which are really hard to look at and actually learn from).

I'm not starting to feel the pressure, but I'm just starting to think--if I WAS in NYC right now, would I be doing the same?

Nothing but working on music?
Or would I still find a way to not pay attention to upcoming 1,2, and 3, and revisit 1 and new-next-year?

Ok, to give myself some credit,
I'm pretty sure upcoming1 will be just fine.
It's in English (ok, I still have some text to memorize..and some finales...oh finales....bane of my existence), and I 'know' it.

Upcoming 2 I've done before (that doesn't mean it's still in my head--but in THEORY it COULD still be in my head).
Upcoming 3 is mostly being the seconda donna and singing above the chorus a lot..so--no need to worry.

Ok! I feel better!

Sometimes I really AM in music-learning mode and I love it (mostly, when I learn stuff that I don't need to know until 2010 instead of stuff that I need to know next week). But I think I need my own kitchen table, and not a German train tray-table.

Off to a rainy Munich day and a night at the opera to see a friend perform.

But just to make it clear, after reading that post, I did just put on my itunes and pull out upcoming-score--just to make sure!

04 March, 2009


It's SO nice to be back in a city that I know well!
I spent the summer here two years ago studying German and going to the opera...a lot...and as soon as I stepped off of the train I felt at home.

I had an audition this morning specifically for QOTN.
More specifically, the house was hearing 13 singers for that role.
One after the other.

I'm sure they NEVER want to hear that piece again in a loooong time.

So- of COURSE, I was first to show up and fill out my papers at the KBB, and my audition was scheduled LAST on the list. (Singing began at 11am---rehearsal with the pianist began 9:45am).

a. that is really mean to do to MOST sopranos. (I don't really care, but there were some that looked like waking up that early and warming up to an F wasn't really their cup o' tea.

b. Since I was last I felt obligated to let every girl that knocked on the one out of two warm up rooms to warm up before me..since I had so much time.
c. I let SO many girls in front of me that I didn't get to rehearse with the pianist (although that's not something I care about for these Queen arias).

So. The audition.
Get there at 11, make SURE that I'm last. Go to the Kanteen (this is the cafeteria that every opera house has INSIDE--how cool?! that you can get your breakfast lunch dinner or coffee at any time in between rehearsals instead of braving whatever weather is outside).

Sit around. Eat a croissant. Find a now-empty practice room and sing through Queen2 (which I what I wanted to start with).
Go back downstairs. They are only on number 7.
Hear some not-so-high-F's, here some not-so-clean runs.
Figure out that they are MAKING everyone start with the first aria, and only if they like you, you get to go outside while another singer comes in, take a break, and then you are asked for the 2nd aria.

BOO- because I wanted to show the 5 F's right off the bat.

So far- 2 girls have been asked to come back for a 2nd.
Wait some more.
Put on my heels (yes, I was wandering around in my audition outfit and my fake Uggs (FUGGS)).

Wait some more.

FINALLY- go out, introduce myself and say something about being the last but not least--that got a chuckle. sweeeeet.

First aria. O Zittre Nicht- I decided that I was going to distinguish myself, if not by accurate voice alone, then by a helluvan acted performance.
So right away I'm into it, moving around (with PURPOSE), and being 'dramatic'.
As soon as I was finished--YAYYYYY! They ask for a 2nd piece! (Der Holle rache).
Now, all of the other girls have gotten to WAIT for 5 minutes before attempting the 2nd piece.
I have to sing it right there.

Whatevs. Same thing to me.
So I start. This piece is easier than the first one anyway.
Knock out the high notes, knock out the low notes, have fun, be musical, have line, have purpose...and just like that it was over.

The agent that sent me on the audition was there and got almost immediate feedback (within the hour)....which was:
They like me, like my voice, like all the rep. listed on my resume, BUT they are going to go with the QOTN who looked amazonian, sounded dramatic, AND knocked out all the high notes.
Now, I did hear her, and she was awesome.
So no hard feelings.
I am usually disappointed by 'dramatic' voices in Queen because frankly, they are not accurate MUCH of the time...(at least when I've heard them)....
But this girl rocked it.

So- she was older, she was already an established Fest singer at another big house, she LOOKED the part (amazonian) and it's ok if I 'lose' to her. She was damn good.
And so was I. In a different way!
We are alllll special.

Rainbows and bubbles for everyone.

02 March, 2009


Well, my luck with trains seems to have run out, as the last train from Amsterdam to Munich this evening (at 8:30) was completely sold out.
It was an overnight train, and you have to reserve a couchette--there are no seats.
All of the beds were taken--6 person, 4 person, first class...nada.

Even though I was at the station 2 hours early to actually make the reservation!

No matter, because I have a whole extra day to get to Munich before I have to sing on Wednesday, but it would have been nice to sleep on an overnight train instead of waste 8 hours during the day on a train tomorrow.

I am staying at a different hotel tonight--both of the ones I have found were 30 Euros each which is a pretty amazing price for a single, non-shared room.

Tonight's was even last-minute--I walked out of the train station after trying to jump on it semi-illegally ...well, I kept asking all of the conductors...are you SURE there is no room on the train...are there any cancellations? etc...
But no. The answer was no room. No reservation. No get on train-y.

So I left the station with my luggage (which, after an entire day of carting it around since I THOUGHT I was leaving...was getting heavy by this point), went to a 'hotel reservation' center than I saw on the main street, asked them what they had available, and 5 minutes later I was booked in the Princess Hotel--about 7 stops away via tram number 1 from the main train station (which I shall return to early tomorrow before my 10:20 train).

I now get to spend another night here, catching up on emails, seeing what the week has planned for me.

I have this Thursday and Friday free again...which annoys me...because it seems like every house only has auditions on Tuesdays or Wednesdays....and so basically I can have a long weekend every weekend..BUT I want to be singing! Of COURSE I will visit the beergarten in Munich on Thursday and Friday IF I don't have anything else..buuut...I'd rather be busy with my job.

Speaking of which, in 2 days I will have exactly 30 days until I leave for next-opera.
I THINK I know it!! :) :)
I haven't done the 'test myself with a speed-through' yet, but I will have plenty of train rides and plane rides coming up to do so.

I'm SO happy that I DID NOT bring the scores to future 2 operas with me here. My suitcase is filled enough, and lord knows I don't need any more heavy books to drag around with me.
One flimsy little upcoming-score is enough.

I'm off. Hoping for better "bahn" luck in the coming weeks.

01 March, 2009

Frankfurt part II AND crossing one of the "25 things" off!

I'm actually already in Amsterdam, but it's still worth writing about the rest of my weekend in Frankfurt.
I crossed one of the things OFF OF MY LIST

Ok, so it was MODIFIED---BUT.

I can now officially drive a stick, NOT just in theory, but on a GERMAN HighWay!

Ok, I was too scared to really go fast, but I did it! and my heart was racing the entire time.

I think I got the timing of the clutch/gas thing, I didn't stall the car, I didn't CRASH the car (and yes, there were cars around)...and most of all, it was one of those things that just felt so exhilarating and new!

I had been talking about it in passing to my gracious host and joking that I couldn't take over so don't be tired! And then...jumped out of the driver seat, switched with me, and off we went...with me at the wheel feeling like a million bucks.

Wow- if this is how it feels to do something that you've really only dreamed about or never really thought would happen...however small, or big...I had better get to the rest of that list!

Frankfurt (or, when in Rome)

Now this is what a weekend should really be.
Since nothing really happens in terms of ‘business’ from Friday through Sunday, I had a choice of where to go for the weekend.
Well, my choice was- pay to go somewhere for the weekend, or call upon all friends and friends of friends to see who would house me for three to four days (my weekend began on Thursday in Vienna).
So I got in touch with a friend of a friend…we had never met before, but we decided to meet in Frankfurt and spend the weekend exploring the city.

Being led by a ‘native’ really does make a difference.
I arrived at the train station around 7:30, and was immediately chauffered via automobile ! First one I’ve been in since this trip began..through the city. This building, that church, look at the river—all of the sights—out of the car window instead of a tram or by foot during the day using a lonely planet guide.

Then- dinner at a restaurant where the chef was a friend, we got an amazing free dessert (after pasta with black truffle sauce- YUM!) which consisted of cherry ice cream, a molten chocolate cake, syrup drizzled by professionals, and even a little mint leaf as garnish.

After dinner- more sights in the car, and finally, arrival at a destination with my own bed, a warm blanket—what more could I ask for.

I spent the day Friday mostly by myself since my gracious host had to work. But. In the evening I had a Friday night I will not soon forget.
After eating an apricot filled “Berliner” (scrumptious filled pastry sugary thing), we headed to Wiesbaden for the evening. Hung out with other friends and drank Riesling FROM their vineyard. I mean, really. That was amazing in itself.

And THEN we headed to …what else?...a spa. When in Rome… (aka- Wiesbaden- a hot springs central health spa haven for the Germans and the tourists).

We walk into what looks like a tiled hall of Roman marble, find a locker, and off come the clothes—oh yea, did I mention that “German” spas here are all naked? Both sexes?
Yea. Puritan America just had a heart attack. This would NEVER fly as the ‘norm’ in the US.

So, no clothes (and yes, I just met my host less than 24 hours ago), we first take a shower BEFORE we can enter the spa.
First off- sauna room which had lemongrass salts added to it.
15 minutes.
Next, an ICE SHOWER followed by ICE bath- 5 minutes. Yes. It was painful.
Next, a pool of lukewarm (well, it FELT lukewarm by the time we had finished with the ice shower…but it was actually quite cold) water, next a pool of actually very very hot water—(not jets like a whirlpool).
All the while, naked all around. It was 10pm and the place was hopping.
Next, steam room- PLUS you get some salt to rub all over your body like a scrub until you glisten and sweat it all out again. More ice-shower.

That round of all of the above took about 30 minutes. Now we were ready for a ‘treatment’, which meant that a woman came into the sauna and put special scents inside that were supposed to encourage “deep deep relaxation”….or cleansing or something like that. So we are sitting there for 10 minutes while chamomile and lavender purify our nostrils, and the woman is whipping around a towel to make the scent go up more into our noses and the heat kills me a little more. Really, there WERE about 10 seconds that it was so hot that I didn’t want to breathe. Although I WAS sitting at the top level where the heat rises. But in the end I was fine, I managed to take all the deep breaths that I needed, and so the sauna treatment ended.
Onto the ice shower (really, pieces of ice came out onto my head), ice bath, luke-warm pool, steaming hot pool, and finally a jet-sauna pool.
Now we have been here for about an hour and a half and I’m ready for the longest nap or night of sleep ever.
So, quick shower, walk through the unisex dressing room—which is by now almost empty with a little bit of nakedness left over, and instead of going to sleep we decided to top the night off with a healthy lassy drink with peppermint inside…and then the ever-so-healthy chicken sandwich and French fries.

Ok, let me just take a minute and write about being naked among many many people that were my age, older, and of both sexes for an hour and a half.
It was totally and completely normal. I wasn’t sure what I would really think of the whole thing….when I knew we were going I had a feeling that it would be naked…but maybe I thought there would be separate dressing..undressing rooms…but no. It was…get here, get a locker, take it off baby.
And you know what? It was totally civilized and natural and…well, I don’t need to convince anyone one way or the other…but I’ll just say…that I was pleasantly surprised…as I was this whole weekend, at the amazing experiences that one can have…in places where you may never have known to go unless someone ‘in the know’ told you about it…and introduced you to that experience.

And so—that was only my SECOND night in Frankfurt….there is still a blog entry to come about all of Saturday which was a mixture of singer-life and real-life.
And oh yea, I’ll be on a train to Amsterdam tomorrow morning at 9:30.