29 May, 2009

For Victoria

Hi there, and happy to meet you as well.
So you're 16 and just started singing seriously--and have fallen madly in love with music--as it should be.
My best advice- (assuming you've read my B.o.S posts one through three or four A via the archives OR via the handy sidebar in which I've already indicated them as my 'favorite posts'), is- to keep learning anything and everything ELSE that also has to do with this topic.
This means, of course, languages. History. Theory. Acting. Recordings. All of this PLUS a voice equals a way to have a '2nd' career/backup career/some extra cash that does NOT come from waitressing or selling your soul to the 9-5 temp. job devil while pursuing a full time career.

Or...even a completely different topic. Like mine- international relations...which most certainly served me well in terms of skills acquired and the kinds of jobs that I could hold while pursuing music full time.

But for now, since you're still in HS, I'll just say--enjoy it.
Find a teacher you trust.
Find music that you love and that moves you.
Find a way to express yourself through music be it a pay to sing summer program, a musical theater camp in the summer, or putting on your own concert of your favorite tunes for your friends and family.
Keep music in your heart and in your sights as a goal...

Oh, and my own path? I was a musical theater kid, begged for voice lessons so that I could be the next broadway star, finally got them when I was 15, and my first teacher heard me on day one and decided to give me an aria to learn for the next week 'just to try'. Were it not for her, I would not be singing opera.

28 May, 2009

remember that time when I said

that I wouldn't blog about my personal life?

Well, last night I had a conversation that proved to me even more (yes, this still DOES have to do with music/career thingies), that meeting the right person and being with the right person...all of which entails the obligatory (and most welcomed) marriage, kids, raising kids, and the "question" of being a "professional singer" that everyone is so seemingly up in arms about:
How do you leave for that long
Who raises the kids
Where do you live
Do you leave the kids when you have a gig
When do you HAVE kids...

back to my dangling participle or some other grammatical error...meeting the right person and choosing to be with the right person....
means that you CAN have everything you want...if two people agree to make decisions that will benefit one another as well as their career choices.

26 May, 2009

follow the fold

Ok, I think it's time that I discussed twitter, since I don't think it has 'jumped the shark' yet, it's still popular, and I'm still not using it.
Here is the problem.
Do I twitter as coloraturaaah? the semi-mostly-anonymous blogger that writes about my musical life and nothing really personal..just rehearsals, career, voice, etc?
Do I attach a name for myself and then twitter as a 'real person'- meaning, my friends IRL (in real life) can follow me, tweet, etc.? (And then no one here knows that I'm twittering?
Do I somehow mix the two?

There really is no great way to do this, and continue my 'career' discussion, while then suddenly adding 'personal life', 'who I am'/'where I am' kind of information...because I can see clearly that I would use twitter in a more personal way.

So. In the meantime, I'm sticking to facebook. And for those of you who DO know who I am, you know that yes, I have the over-use of status updates problem, but I find myself amusing most of the time, so if you don't want to read it, DON"T READ IT! But otherwise, feel free to enjoy my random quotes of the day (mostly taken from my favorite Will Ferrell comedies), and my status updates from the middle of Europe that are not meant to make you jealous that I'm driving down the scenic Rhine river eating fresh strawberries..ok, well, maybe just a little jealous.

25 May, 2009

it's been...one week

Ok, almost a week, but the lack of postage is due to the fact that I have more fun things to do than be on my macbook (GASP!) and muse about my career path (double gasp).
It's not that I haven't been thinking about both of the above (especially missing my macbook for the past 4 days I've been out of town), but I have had a long weekend of travel to new cities for exploring, relaxing, socializing, and taking in the beauty that is a riverside drive down the Rhine.

What I've been thinking about this morning now that I'm back and beginning a week of studying, memorizing, hoping that things will 'roll in', etc., is how many people are just beginning their summer opera work right now.

Which of course is fun, but still work.
And how I bought the freshest and juiciest strawberries from a roadside vendor, dipped my feet and splashed about in the Rhine, drove through the cutest sleepiest towns and villages for the past 4 days, and enjoyed a slice of living.

19 May, 2009


For as many times as I've heard this aria sung by others in auditions, master classes, dramatic workshops, gala events, tv commercials for pasta or pasta sauce, I've NEVER learned or sung Musetta's waltz from Boheme.
It's always been this silly piece in my head that I use my 'fake opera voice' to sing in in the shower, or in one of the many instances where I make fun of opera singer voices.

I suppose it's one of the classics in terms of offered audition pieces for 'general soprano'. Used by lyrics, light lyrics, and coloraturas alike--even soubrettes since they have the acting chops to sell it.

Since I have to sing it for a specific event in the near future, I have to "actually" learn it.

Task #1 for the day (that started way too many hours ago according to the 'clock' and the 'sunshine', however, that started for me about 30 minutes ago).

15 May, 2009

things that only we 'get'

There are just some topics, that as much as someone who wants to know about your career, or wants to support your career, or wants to give advice or help you think through a career choice, etc...that people who aren't doing this for a living won't be able to understand.

Yes, they can be sympathetic. They can be a great sounding board for ideas. They can support a decision, talk you through a day of crappy news about something in the business, and they can be amazing friends. For these friends, I am thankful every day...for their continued support of my crazy career and never-ending excitement and amazement at some of the accomplishments I've had this far along.

But there are some friends...singer friends...who just get it.
Because they live the life too.
They have been there, done that, and if not, they know someone who has.
They know exactly what I'm talking about, the why, the how, and the who, and often are the one drop of grounding in a somewhat drama-filled business.
NOT the business on stage. But the business of the business.
And for those friends, who galavant around the US and Europe whether it's with heavy or light luggage ( :) ) , I am thankful today.

13 May, 2009

three days down

Three days and three auditions down.
Sung: 3 blondas, 2 Queens, and one Chacun le sait.
Heard: 3 different places saying yes, you're doing everything right. Everything sounds and looks like it should. This is something special. You could and will most certainly get work here....juuuust not right now.

I get it.
So now I have a good week and a half FREE to do what I want (until the next scheduled audition).
Am I ok with that?
I mean, of course, I'm wishing that I would get an email or call from a few key people who have emails or calls out on my behalf for upcoming audition scheduling...buuut--I understand the reality of...another soprano syndrome....and it's almost the end of the season..what would these people do with me anyway EVEN if they liked me?

So I'll just keep on kicking ass at the auditions and impressing the people the need to be impressed.

Leaving something that will be remembered..and hopefully called upon..at some point in my career.

In American-career updates, I'm excited to be working on upcomingrole2010take2 (it's the 2nd time I'll be performing this role and it's one of my favorites! And yet, it somehow escapes me how in 4 years I have managed to forget SO SO many words. Never the music. But words words words).
I don't have the score for upcomingrole2010.1 (new role, after take2 role), but I have a recording which I'm familiarizing myself with what, with all of my long train rides to different European cities.

12 May, 2009

hallo again

Arrived tired, avoided jet lag by going to a flea market for the entire afternoon on day one, crashed at 10pm at night, woke up a 4am but was able to sleep until 6, prepared for my first audition for the state run agency.

Sang Durch and Chacun! (fun!), got great feedback- they loved the voice, attitude, etc., and then the ever-popular motto: well, there are no openings in your fach right now but as soon as we hear, you'll hear from us.

Day two- another state agency audition in a different city.

It's a bit of a rainy gray day here in Deutschland, so I'm not quite awake enough or focused enough yet...but a warm shower and some light vocalizing should do the trick.

09 May, 2009

up up and away

It's the day of the flight y'all.

I've managed to squeeze every last ounce of space out of my carry-on...with clothes, shoes, music, hairdryer, and everything a girl needs for 6 weeks of work and play.

Although I'm quite proud of myself for the clothes rolling skills, and even the fact that I can still CARRY the suitcase if I had to...(preferably not up and down broken escalators in Frankfurt or the dang Metro catacombs in Paris)....it IS on the heavy side...for airlines, I mean.

I went to see what the weight limit of a carry on bag is for my airline, and it's 8 kilos! HAHAHAH! That's like, 20 pounds or less! Who are these people kidding?!

This is easily 30-40.

So I'm still not quite sure what will happen when I get to the airport. Whether I will feel like dealing with the carry on or whether I will be instructed to put that puppy under ..in the belly of the plane.

I have a busy first three days upon arrival, and then a lull...which I'm hoping will magically get filled with auditions from the FIRST three days or from other things that I'm waiting on.

If it doesn't, I'm strongly considering a vaycay in Italy! Cuz- WHY NOT?!

I'm feeling pretty zen about the upcoming weeks.
There is a definite reality of the "American going to Germany for auditions" that is called- The Economic Crisis.

I'm not saying jobs abroad should be able to be plucked off of a tree, juicy and ripe for the taking...but I AM saying that it was certainly different a few years ago (from people that I have spoken to), in terms of houses saying YES to hearing you..no matter what...if you were qualified.

Now they say No, we have no vacancy in your fach, AND no, we won't hear you for an information audition.
And some don't believe in the merits of an 'information' audition anyway--if you're not singing for something specific, why sing?

But you know what? I think...hey, I'm in YOUR country for one month. I made the commitment. I'm already here. It doesn't cost ME any more money to show up in your city, warm up, sing pretty, and make a good impression... so....why not?

No matter what happens here for the next few weeks, I'm working toward ONE day next month where I hope to really shine.
Beginning this Sunday I want to make a 30 day project for myself (ok, 31 actually), to be the MOST prepared that I can be, and that means:
Vocally, Dramatically, Physically, and anything else "-ally".

Off to sleep, then the adventure begins at the airport in about 13 hours!

07 May, 2009

let me tell you how it's done

Heels: Blue shiny, Black
Character shoes: Black
Flats: Red, Purple
Sneaks: 1 pair of cute sketchers
All are stuffed WITH socks and wrapped IN socks.

Audition outfits:
blue dress, red dress, black/red skirt shirt combo.
2 pairs of hose.

1 pair Jeans, black pants, brown capris, black sweatpants (for airplane), black yoga pants (PJs). Rolled.

1 summer-y black dress, 1 blue/green print dress, 1 tan dress. Rolled.

Tank tops- white, red frilly, black frilly, black, black workout, gray, blue frilly
Short sleeved shirts: black/white stripe, black.
Long sleeved shirts: black, green.

swimsuit- green

Scarf- white

8 pairs of undies/3 bras/8 pairs of socks (I will be able to do my laundry for FREE weekly--otherwise I'd take a lot more of the above)

1 pair black leggings

1 Black hoodie, 1 black/grey long-sleeved button down sweater, 1 light button-snap jacket

All of these items are sitting daintily rolled inside of my carry on suitcase, and have not yet made it impossible to close the top.

The things I need to ADD to this pile are non-clothing items: a few toiletries, as well as all electronic and musical and paper things.

Music binder, folder of 'where I'm going' printouts, make-up, converters, German and American phone and chargers, computer charger, pitch pipe, cough drops, current medications that I'll still have to be taking into next week, and THIS time I'm NOT bringing my German text book OR the Let's Go Germany book. Lord knows I opened those ONE time on the last trip. An I don't need to be lugging around the extra 5 pounds.

What else? Oh yea, I need new printouts of my materials, need to make sure all of the arias that I already had to list for competitions are indeed in the binder, need to make sure I have both passports that I'll be using in the next month, need to make sure my ipod/iphone/macbook is loaded with the music and movies that I want to watch on my long train rides around the continent, and I need to pack my OTHER carry on, which is actually an overnight bag that I will stuff my purse into for the airplane. Then I will use the overnight bag when traveling for shorter time periods, and leave the carry on back at basecamp1.

Possible picture of packed suitcase to come--if I get around to taking it with my iphone and transferring it to the blog.

06 May, 2009

packing again

I'm coughing a lot less, feeling a bit better, and having to make packing decisions that I DON'T want to think about right now!

The challenge:
Pack for 2 different weather systems on two different continents, from May 10th to June 23rd-- WITH audition outfits, competition dress, music, shoes, beachwear, REHEARSAL wear (meaning, have to bring character shoes also), ALL...yes, ALL in ONE carry on bag, PLUS an overnight bag that will be my 2nd piece of carry on luggage for the plane(s).


I went through most of my clothes today and just as an "EXERCISE", threw everything I wanted into the carry on. (ONLY clothes. no shoes, no books, no music, no directions, no toiletries, no nothing). It Fit. -ish.

Main issue: Shoes and audition wear.
I have a blue/white/blue shoe combo that I used the entire time last time. It was great.
HOWEVER, because I have a competition and another certain audition, I need to bring a black/red/ black shoe combo outfit as well.

That means already 2 pairs of heels, and 3 audition outfits.

I also want to bring 2 pairs of flats, one pair of sandals, and one pair of cute sneaks to walk around in...but ALSO- will I want to work out and want REAL sneaks? I think I'm going to have to give up on that idea.

Plus character shoes for an audition that requires 'rehearsal attire'. Whatever that means.

Clothing: The weather has been SO messed up in the US, I can't expect it to be any different in Europe.
Usually May means cute short sleeved tops, light jackets at night.
But since it has been freezing here, my packing will have to include at least one or two long sleeved light sweaters.

I'm not quite sure yet what I'll settle on, but I'm planning on overstuffing that carry on as much as possible.

05 May, 2009

rough recovery

On Sunday of our final matinee, I was still feeling pretty miserable. I began the amoxicillin regimen that was prescribed to me on Saturday, but wanted to hold off on the prednisone...except that upon waking up, it was clear that nothing had really cleared up, and so the only way that I was going to be able to phonate PAST the swelling in my throat was to take the two tiny pills.

Since it's kind of like Zpack that you have to split up over the entire day on the first day, I only took the first two--thinking--ok, if THIS is what messes up my voice forever...at least I just took 2 of 6. Maybe it will be less.

The matinee began at 2, and I was feeling vocally the same, but I could feel that the irritation in my throat was already lessening--a good sign.

So I sang like I would any other day--with full emotional and vocal commitment--and the last show was a blast.

As soon as the show was over, I went home, packed my things, and tried to shut up.
Since I have to begin auditioning again in Europe starting next week, I really really really wanted this thing to be over already.

Sadly, it is not.
Well, the original symptoms are. That is to say, chills, fever, post nasal drip, productive cough with tons of multicolored phlegm (stop me when this gets totally gross), sore throat.
Now it's just awful awful dry cough--and I THINK that it's actually a side effect of the meds, and not the tail-end of the sickness.

Which is totally horrible--because coughing puts actual acute pressure on the cords.

It's been scarily bad for the past 3 nights especially...ie, can't go to sleep for about an hour because if I lie down (back, side, or stomach) I start to cough. And now I'm getting paranoid that EVEN though I just got scoped BEFORE this sickness went away and everything was fine, that somehow SINCE the drugs have started working I have busted my voice seriously due to the dry coughing.

Of course, I do know this is KIND of paranoid, but it's still really really not cool.

So here I am, almost midnight, having just taken the last two pills of the evening, trying to stifle the cough and losing, hoping hoping hoping that in two or three days this will all be a thing of the past.

Because there are WAY more exciting posts to write about in terms of upcoming THINGS than this.

02 May, 2009

When the show must go on...

So what happens when singers have to sing 'sick'?
I was given the go-ahead by the camera that looked at my cords. I could phonate, warm up, sing the entire show, but what I would be FEELING the whole time was--
somehow not up to par. Sick, stuffy, achy, sinus-y, dry, bla bla bla...
So what do I do? Sing through it of course! Make that energy somehow work in my favor.
And voila--
The people that knew I wasn't feeling well were like---hoooowwww did you do that?
The people that DIDN"T know I wasn't feeling well had no clue I felt horrible, and the people that count (my family!!! who flew here tonight from three different cities, coasts and time zones), were laughing out loud hysterically, loving every second of the show.

So, all in all, yes, I'm happy.
I hit the high notes and all the ones in between too.
There were moments that I felt less 'balanced' or 'supported' than usual. I took my time and made it work.
There was nothing that went 'wonky'. No cracks or dips or blips...or ...I can't think of anything else that could describe a vocal hiccup.

Nothing. Just not my 120% of usual "me" onstage.
Maybe my 20% extra on top of a voice that could only function at 90%, realistically.

Of course, what could I do?
Take the steroids that were prescribed to me and just push through it and possibly do REAL damage?
No thanks.
I'll stick to FEELING yucky backstage and being a bit more careful about what I do, than totally obliterating that good on-screen video clip of my cords approximating this morning.

One more day of resting, and then ONE more show.
Hopefully this will all be long gone by my next adventure overseas in one week.

01 May, 2009

bill of health

I wasn't really feeling any better this morning, so I decided to contact any local ENT that would see me on short notice.
Three phone calls later, I found myself in the head and neck office of a nice Dr. who put that little tube thingy up my nose and searched for the culprit that has been making me feel so awful for the past three days.

Of course, I wanted it to be an easy answer, preferably one of three:

And it was none of the above.
Sinuses are clear.
I would have been more congested if it was allergies.
And my throat is too clean for strep.
Tonsils are too small and normal for tonsillitis.

I have some inflammation in my throat, but my cords are PEARLY white and there is no reason to worry about any vocal damage if I sing the show.

The culprit?
Something viral or bacterial that is leaving no trail...and therefore can only be dealt with by waiting it out, or medicating with steroids (NOT a fan. EVER).
So I got the prescriptions and I most likely won't start taking them until Monday, after the close of the production-- IF I still don't feel well.

Until then, I'm happy that there isn't anything wrong, that I saw my vocal cords on TV for the first time in about 5 yrs and they looked totally fine (always good to know), and that I just have to try and feel physically better for tonight, because vocally, all indicators would point to the fact that I should be totally good to go.

All that and a bag of chips probably cost me a zillion dollars including health insurance...but it was worth it.