30 July, 2009

the first

This weekend I'll be paying a visit to my very first voice teacher.
I was 15 and begging my parents for voice lessons so that I could be the next Christine in "Phantom of the Opera" or Narrator in "Joseph", and a friend of a friend recommended a voice teacher.
Until that year, all of my singing was in choir, musical theater, and popular music of the mid-90s.

But at my first lesson, armed with my broadway hits book and the vocal/piano score to Phantom, Joseph, and myriad other musicals, this teacher heard me warm up, and said to me--have you ever sung opera?

Uhhhh-NO! That's for fat old ladies who wear horns, have braids twisted up on their heads, and metal breastplates. And besides, ..it's not "cool".

Ok then. She had me sight read a few pieces from the "24 hits", and then sent me home with a 'deal'.
She made me a deal--I could work on "Think of me" and "Wishing you were somehow here again" IF I also took a look at three pieces of photocopied pages of an "Aria" called "O mio babbino caro" and did homework on it.
Not singing...
figuring out the story, translating it, learning how to speak the italian correctly, and learning the melody on vowels.

(fine..whatever.I'll do it if I can learn Musical theater and be a STARRRR!)

So--I did.
And let's just say, that the next week--I didn't go back with my broadway books.

I was hooked and only she heard that voice inside me...the one that was suited to this genre...the one that I continued to pursue from that age, through college, grad school, and today.

And so--this weekend I will get to see her again, sing for her again (it's been close to over 2 years now because of my travels and lack of normal schedule), and see what the 'first teacher' "thinks of me" now.

24 July, 2009

ps- woah! my 25 things

I just realized that I'm fulfilling one of the things on my 25 things post! (See sidebar)!
Visiting FB friends IRL! LOVE IT.

Also in the past few months two or three other ones have been scratched off the list.

the good life

I know how I feel about 9-5 jobs, and as a creative type, it's just not the ideal for me.
But these past few weeks (almost a month now) has really made it even more clear to me how lucky I am to be successfully following this career path.
I know when my next jobs are. I know the window of time that I'm leaving open to auditions. But pretty much, for the rest of the summer, I'm traveling for pleasure.
Visiting friends from high school, undergrad, grad, opera programs, family that is scattered about, etc.
This is the life.
I know what follows all of this and so I am always preparing and am always prepared for any last minute audition that may pop up (have my high heels, audition binder and a nice dress I can pull it off with)..but in general...
it's reeeeelaxation with family and friends.

23 July, 2009

direct from nfcs.....yikes this is long.

"has a singer made it once they have an agent"?

This is indeed an interesting topic.
I remember in my PAD (pre-agented-days), thinking that singers who had agents were the 'professionals' who were singing the leading roles in the A,B,and C houses where I was apprenticing. And that was fine, because according to the 'shining path' (ok, LOOSELY use that term! lolzz) of having a singing career, it was: Undergrad, grad, apprenticeship at summer program, year round apprenticeship, and then either that company loved you and gave you a chance on the mainstage, or an agent heard you at one of the previous two things and wanted to sign you..because now you were "of age", "of maturity" and "of talent" enough to get their attention.

That or your b00bs looked awesome the day you sang for Placido via your teacher's personal recommendation into some competition that he was judging. j/k

OR, I believed, one could make their own path, and quite successfully do so for a few years:

Having finished school, and as an un-managed singer, approach both agents and houses of CERTAIN levels (CERTAIN-ly NOT A houses), and request an audition based on your previous work. Now, this only works if you actually accumulated about 10 to 20 roles in your Pre-Professional days (ie, school, summer workshops, apprenticeships, local/regional shows)...because, otherwise, I don't think you'd get much of a response from houses to book you for an un-managed audition unless you had the voice of an angel and they happened to listen to your recording that day instead of throw it in the trash along with the folder that all of your materials came in.
And it also only works if you are indeed ready in ALL sense of the word--you know, package, looks, voice, whatevs...that has been discussed previously.. to audition for these levels in the FIRST place.

Why does an agent make a difference?
Some math. (I'm a math hater- ...although according to "Outliers" it's just because I wasn't given enough TIME in my 42 minute classes to be a math-person)
Ok, let's say there are like ten to twenty 'top'-ish agencies, each of which (excluding the huge ones like CAMI) have..let's say 10 to 20 sopranos on their roster.

Ok, so rounding UP to include some of the bigger rosters that have more than 20, and some of the "more than top ten" agencies to include their sopranos as well, let's say 20 agencies times 20 sopranos are competitively managed in the US.
400 sopranos.

Now, out of those, I assume there would be an about equal distribution of years that those sopranos have been managed.
Some are world-class, world famous sopranos. Some have been at a career steadily for over 5 years, and some have been signed within the past five years.
Let's focus on the ones that have been signed within the last 5 years...since that is who you are in essence 'competing' against to get a spot on a roster.
And I won't even get into inner soprano 'faching' categorizations.

So of the 400 sopranos---take 1/3 (the number who have been signed in the past 5 years and are in their "early" careers) == 133.333..etc. Ok, 134 sopranos who are around YOUR level of development THROUGH five years ahead of you.

How many of those 134 sopranos will actually be in New York City (and not have a previous engagement for October-December) at all of the auditions in which YOU would like to request and audition.
Ok, I don't know what the 'rate of work' is for singers, but let's HOPE that Just Under Half of them are "working singers" and they Happen to have a Fall 2009 gig.

Let's say that leaves 60 sopranos.

Those 60 sopranos from 20 different agencies will be put up for consideration for audition requests each time an opera company comes to New York for two to five days.
Let's assume sometimes a company is not interested to hear a soprano a 2nd year in a row (sometimes true), and that for SOME kinds of sopranos, there is no need for their voice type in the repertoire for the next season.

Thinking generously, let's SAY that thirty are now left.
Thirty managed SOPRANOS who have been accepted to mainstage audition...and these are just the ones who are in their 'early' career---this does NOT include the ones who are a bit ahead, maybe DON"T even HAVE to audition because they are a 'name', etc.

If THESE thirty (who will take an an entire day of the one to three days of auditions...but not all on the same day) had to already go through a certain weeding out process already--ie, an agent heard them..somewhere..(school, performance, YAP audition, competition), and they have been SIGNED, isn't a company more likely to agree to hear a certain number of these thirty sopranos instead of the I'm sure ..hundreds of request letters that they receive every season for an unmanaged audition?

Now, of course... companies DO hear unmanaged singers. Many GDs have written in the past about how they go through recordings, resumes, looking for that diamond in the rough or that raw talent or sometimes just that one that went unnoticed for a few years and suddenly has the 'it' voice of the moment and just hasn't been snatched up yet.

Of course, this math is no where near precise. I haven't counted up the actual number of sopranos--either managed of any age and level, or unmanaged of any age or level. There are many more agents than just 20. Unmanaged singers get heard all the time and get jobs out of it. Managed singers get heard all the time and don't always get jobs.

What is my final thought IF I were to HAVE a final thought--since I have seemingly gone on forever and ever in this little math experiment only to debunk my own formulas?

Well, here it is.
It helps. a LOT. It means that SOMEONE has given you a seal of approval.
And, hopefully, that someone ALSO has a good reputation themselves. The win-win is when someone sees your potential, and knows how to get other people excited about it in the form of 'getting you out there'...getting heard by the right people at the right time.

Singers can do a very large amount of their own 'business managing' on their own, of course. But at the end of the day, the person that can call up this or that company, find out about some season in 2012, be in the know about the upcoming cancellation, premiere, or audition...before anyone else...and actually be able to DO something about it (in terms of throwing the artist's name into the mix for consideration at any of these moments) is the person's who has the job title of artist manager.

So- to answer the FIRST question now that I've gone on some tangential dalliances, has a singer "made it" once they have an agent?
Well- of course not. But there are certainly incredible advantages to having a name besides your own attached to your work, work ethic, and marketability.
It also means that you have to maintain and, what's more, strive to excel in your level of talent, ability, professionalism, conduct, business savvy, etc.- for the same reason-- You are now attached to a name that also strives to achieve a good reputation, respect, and representation of the top talent in the field.

21 July, 2009

popular...you're gonna be pop-YOU-Hoo-lar

(Notice the connection between the current post title and the last post title...two points for musical theater geeks if you get it).

Today I'm going to make a quickie-recording of some 'popular' music...well, popular for the 1930s and 40s, and 'standards' of today.

Hurray for fun side projects.
I don't really consider them to be interrupting any 'work' that I have to do on upcoming score1/2/3. All in due time, I say.
And in terms of 'due time', I certainly have it until I hear about the first auditions of the season which eventually I will do an 'aria binder overhaul' for--ie, new copies, fresh pencil markings, new hole punches, etc.

Back to the jazz lead sheets.

17 July, 2009

orbtiz, sidestep and kayak, oh my!

I'm trying...really trying...to be bff with these travel websites. I KNOW it's not their fault that their algorithm magically tells them when someone ELSE has purchased a round trip fare to LA and therefore when I logged in 30 minutes ago and the price was $517 and now I log in and the price if $589 my eyes pop out of my head and my heart breaks a little.
Ok, it IS their fault. Math and econ dorks!

I've already purchased two round trip flights to Europe and back, a round trip fight to Chicago and back for Fall Wedding '09, and now I'm trying to plan out my next 2 weeks of travel, all for the purposes of "deep deep relaxation" (please pronounce that phrase a la Katinka Ingabogovinanana from Zoolander), but right now my blood pressure is just rising with these insane summer flight prices!

IF the planets magically align, I will be spending 2 days in NYC, 2 days upstate, 4 days on the Cape, 4 days in LA, and flying back to an airport that is close enough by car to get to Newark airport at 10am in the morning the day AFTER my LA arrival to pick up a very special 'package' who will be visiting for 2 weeks!

Oh yea, and then pack up my life again to move for 2 months- but that's at the END of August!

It's SO nice to know that for the next (ok, I can only officially say 2...) productions someone ELSE will have to deal with my travel arrangements! All I have to do is tell them whether I prefer window or aisle. And of course, that depends.
I take into account:

Time of flight (early morning, I want to sleep against the window)

Day of flight (if it's the same day as the first meeting, aisle as far front as possible so I can get out of the airplane as fast as possible, get to the hotel, get ready, etc..I know, it makes ALMOST no difference..but in my head it does!)

Likelihood of a full flight (little midwestern airlines have more recently been a bit more empty, so I'll take window and hope no one sits next to me..big companies like Delta and Continental--almost always Aisle since some poor bloke will be stuck in the middle and probably leaning his corpulent self too close to me...gotta have the aisle spillover possibility in full effect)

And under NO circumstances do I ever book my ticket so late, or get to the airport so late that I'm stuck in the MIDDLE seat!

Oh, wait, did you think all prima donnas travel first class? Haha..yea...no.
A. not a prima donna
B. have never traveled first class--although where it would REALLY make a difference is in overseas flights...yes..11 hours of personal service and space to relax.
C. guess it's never really made a difference because even as the seats get smaller, leg room gets squashed, and aisle space gets narrower, I'm still the same small size that can be comfortable balling myself up into one seat and falling asleep ...in my own little corner in my own little chair....

Now if that chair just didn't cost $589 dollars...I'd be realllly excited to sit in it.

15 July, 2009

extra extra...read all about it...

Except that you CAN'T because I can't write about it yet!

But let's just say that I'll be revisiting a role in 2010 that is by the same composer of the 2010 role that I will be revisiting in January, but in a different language. Run-on sentence much?

Ooooh...aaaahhh....the intrigue.

And, interestingly enough, I'll be revisiting both of these roles in the order that I performed them way back when...ok, not SO way back when, but way-back-when enough to say way-back-when.


Let's see how many times I can use the word revisiting in one blog entry.


Oh, and I get to add a G sharp into a cadenza...ARTISTICALLY!

14 July, 2009

i'm biding my tiiiime...cuz that's the kinda 'gal' Iiii'm

Update for myself:
Score1 has been with me for 2 weeks now. It's all good.
Score2 needs to be cracked open and translated and learned..but there is PLENTY of time for that.
Arias that I am thinking about adding to my 'package' this Fall, or my general audition knowledge...looked at them, would love to coach them, but am on the right path.
Arias that I want to revisit such as all things Italianate to keep working on the seamless Italian feeling in all of my pieces even the ones that have 16 staccato Es and Fs in them--ok, have only practiced one or two in the past few months..but it's something.

My general feeling about this summer is that- I actually HAVE gotten a decent amount accomplished musically, I'm definitely glad that I made the decision to do 'important-audition' in Europe, and I'm looking forward to splitting my Fall between Europe and the US--and hopefully get a bit of the best of both worlds in terms of auditions in both areas.

The waiting game...it's always the roughest..but of course, all I can do is ATTEMPT to put everything out of my mind...trust in the fact that I did a good audition..and hope for the best.

This is a pretty scattered post, but I suppose I'm just thinking about the 'bottom line' --meaning, what I really want to do. Which is this. So- how to make that a viable option..given the economic effect on budgets for the arts.
I am VERY lucky to have the means (thanks to previous-shows0809) to travel pretty much wherever I want to whatever audition I want..in the US and in Europe..FRUGALLY...and not really have to worry about when it's all going to run out.
Thanks to good budgeting, I know what I can spend, how much more is left, and what more I'd like to do in the next 4-6 months that will involve travel for auditions (and a tax write-off NEXT year--woot!).

Goals for myself I suppose are to somehow secure the most auditions possible in Europe and the US for upcoming seasons...with a strong leaning on Europe, kick @ss at the auditions, and get fun and exciting offers that will continue to take me all around the world...

oh how starry-eyed and positive the outlook can be sometimes :) I suppose it's just one of those sunny days where nothing seems like it can rain on the parade.

12 July, 2009


Hello from chicaaaaago (please sing the word Chicago a la mr. Sinatra)
Visiting for a long weekend of fun with friends with an audition thrown in for good measure.
Not much to update as it's not ideal to do so from my phone, but I didn't want to neglect my bloggly duties... So I will just say
that I wouldn't trade what I do for anything in the world! Yes, I may write about my constant packing of suitcases, insane travel stories, uncertainty about the business, competition and self-motivation and everything that is NOTeasy about this path...but in the end...it's the best feeling to give your all, with all the years of study, coaching, and performance leading up to one great twelve to sixteen minute audition, performance, or even just cracking open a new score and feeling like a little kid at a candy shop.

07 July, 2009


...has arrived!

Tomorrow will be spent packing (again!), translating things from French to English, and trying on my new dress which is maybe my audition dress (at least for any auditions in the summer/early fall) with different hair styles and shoes and accessories to see if I can pull it off!

It was a reward to myself for having teeth that my new dentist said were absolutely stunning, no cavities, and nothing to even write down or note as abnormal in the comprehensive exam!

Yea Crest whitening toothpaste with baking soda and Listerine.

02 July, 2009


That was so much fun! I just spent an afternoon singing through the entire role of opera.1.2010---
I haven't performed it since 2004, and boy--does it sound and feel different--in a REALLY good way!

What I have to figure out in the near-ish future are what cuts the company will be taking..as there are substantial repeated sections that are 'normally' cut, and also a few one page sections in 2 arias that are SOMETIMES cut, but sometimes..if the 'diva' wants them in, they stay...hmmm....is that MY decision this time? LOL...

So. I'm very reassured that this will be an easy and fun re-undertaking. Mostly some memory work, figuring out some new-er fun-er cadenzas, but in general, it seems to me like it will be great!

Now I'm waiting for score to opera.2.2010 to arrive so I can see what's in store for MORE french and french dialogue learning after this first French brush-up.

In financial news...I bought two round trip tickets to Europe today, as I have a wedding to return to in late September, and I am planning European-Invasion-Part-THREE for this upcoming Fall.

Ok, I will admit on a personal level, that yes, the MAIN reason (wow, am I even really admitting this?) that I am returning is for personal reasons....HOWEVER, I am going to take my work there seriously, as always, try to get every audition possible during that time period, and somehow try and make it known that I have a long list of roles completely prepared, already performed, and absolutely ready to SPRING EIN...ie, jump in...if ever someone should fall sick and need a last minute Queen of the Night to go rock the house.

01 July, 2009


There's nothing like a slew of side-projects to jump start my 's.i.s' (self-imposed-study) goals.

Score-2 is in the mail, Score-1 is being toted around wherever I go.
I am thinking about learning Fiakermilli- the whole role--since it's so small anyway-- just to have it done and ready in CASE that ever comes up..hey, it's shorter than Zerbinetta and it's actually being done quite a bit 'over there'.

I want to play with some new ideas for French and Italian arias. Not sure which ones yet...and maybe/most likely ones that I've learned/sung before, but have not necessarily used as audition pieces--that often.

Also, German. Need to study more every day..ok, that hasn't so much happened yet..at all. BUT the text books are next to me!

And then I pulled up the old musical that I was writing...(libretto) and am starting to have some cool ideas about that.

No, no, must concentrate on tasks at hand.
Opera1, Opera2, and upcoming audition season ass-kicking.

First, sleep.