28 February, 2010

i'm so over it !

Blues are gone...
I had an amazing weekend.
First, a classical piano concert in Mainz. Then an all night dance party in Frankfurt.
Saturday- meeting new friends and playing with their cute kids, followed by a movie in English (Sherlock Holmes) which wasn't HALF as bad as I thought it would be, Vietnamese food for dinner, drinks and the rest of the evening at a cool rooftop bar, and SUNDAY- Lucia at FF Opera.

Not Bad At All!

This week- 2 coachings, meeting with a real estate agent, getting documents translated and attempting to get approved at all the right German offices that I need approval from, and maybe a foray into some Bikram yoga.

This weekend- Koenigin, family, and more family.

26 February, 2010

calming the crazies

Exactly one month and one week ago, I wrote how unbelievably happy and lucky I am to be having the kind of career that I want to be having--which is, ANY kind of career at all--where I get paid to do what I love, and I don't have to do anything else to support myself.

And then a long came google.
Oh google, why do you ruin my life sometimes?

Why is it SO SO SO easy to look up one thing, go on a little ninja hunt, and find that a colleague that I consider to be on par with me career wise, although a bit older than me, just got three amazing gigs. One of which I also auditioned for.
And why does that send me into a spiral of 'crazy'?
When there really is NOT so much that I can do about it?

Sure, I can google where she will be next year, how I THINK she got the gigs (because, truthfully, these days it just seems pointless to assume it's because of one audition and luck)--it's about politics, connections, agent connections, and so much more....and that's a bummer.

I can also google MYSELF and see that actually, although these three things that she is going are pretty dang awesome-- I also have a totally awesome schedule coming up complete with a premiere in a new european country, singing with one of the best orchestras in the US, and doing a role I love and a role that's brand new in my repertoire--and yes, actually it's MORE THINGS...BUT- it's not THE things the she has.

Which sends me on even more google-rific searches to find out what EVERY opera house is doing from now until 2012 and how I can figure out how to get in touch with them, whether I have sung for them before, whether anyone I KNOW sings with them, etc. etc. you get the point.

So it's this moment of very deep sadness mixed with- yes, honestly- anger and jealousy...that IMMEDIATELY turns into me needing to be proactive about the REST OF MY CAREER FOR EVER.

That proactivity turned into sending quite a few messages to my German colleagues asking them about certain etiquette for contacting smaller houses on one's own, or if a house has already heard you, how to approach them again saying "hey, wazup, remember me peeps?" (but, a little more formal, I guess)...
And it turned into some reassuring responses, a possible contact, and one VERY important thought that was emailed to me by a 'forum friend'--we don't even know each other in real life, but we know enough from facebook and friends that we can be considered 'close' in the singer-singer world...
who said:

"Yes, it's easy to freak out, but in the end, you can only do what YOU can do and not worry too much about the others.
I hate the business side. And I also hate how it's so little about the actual art we do but about agents and connections.
Such is life. But at least you have someone who will be at your side through the good and the bad times!"

And that last line could NOT ring truer.
It's not even a "BAD" time- I just had a bad night upon discovery of this information and following mini-freakout about 'the career'.

One year ago today I met (at a train station in Frankfurt) my now-future-....can I say it online....husband!
And so I think I have better things to think about and be happy about than feeling like somehow some doors closed and opportunities were missed in the US while I was over here having the time of my life this past year.

25 February, 2010


Lucia coaching this afternoon.
After an hour and a half, we got through Regnava and half of the first duet.
That's actually the type of work I LOVE to do- completely detailed, not letting anything slide, do it AGAIN until- YES, that was it.

It's SUCH an added bonus to be coaching with a native Italian, AND a coach who is also a conductor. NO detail gets by- have I mentioned that?

Things I have to think about:
1. Rhythm is marked for a REASON, but that does not mean that I have to be rhythMIC about my singing. Take the time to make a LINE, to make a PHRASE, and to make only what is important stand out- NOT every rhythm perfect.

2. The 'big girl' voice. OK. I have written about this before and I will write about this again.
I can kind of adapt my voice to whatever 'sound' people like/want. What comes 'naturally' out of me? I actually don't really know. I feel like it's different in different styles of repertoire.
I DO know when I feel that I am 'on', with the breath, with this column of air that sweeps me into the high and dips me into the low. BUT- I don't know whether that is the big girl voice or something perhaps younger-SOUNDING, not less supported, but for some reason, more pointed, precise, and therefore..small.

The round big(ger) thing most of the time feels sloppy to me--but I am repeatedly told that it is most certainly NOT sloppy, and that it makes my voice bloom, and sound so much bigger and rounder and bla bla bla etc.

HOWEVER the round big thing also comes with a catch- IF I can't keep it supported all the time, and re-energized all the time, pitch suffers in the high passaggio. Not D,E, but F,G. And for a role that sits on those notes CONSTANTLY in the duets, it is certainly going to be my challenge for the next 2 months to figure out HOW to get this how I want it.

Can I do 'the voice' that 'they like' in ALL of the role? Can I save energy, air, and concentration by doing it the way 'it comes out' (which...may not be "that" sound that they want all the time...but still comes out, cuts, carries, and is ON pitch?) in shorter non-solo sections and just try and really mold the arias into ALL that they CAN be with this rounder sound?

Well--these are all certainly things that I can try to work on. But at the end of the day, I want to sing on pitch, carry over the orchestra, and most importantly, BE this Character dramatically.
Vocally, I am what I am. And I am NOT a lyric soprano singing Lucia. I got that. We all got that.
It's not a STRETCH but it's also certainly not 'common casting practice' right now.

I will use my voice the best way that it comes out on stage, nerves, drama, excitement and all-- and will bring my best and most crazy to it all.

Coaching number 2 and 3 next week.

24 February, 2010

here comes the sun

It's getting NOT wintery out there and I love it!
It's almost 5 pm, STILL sunny (ie, not dark and gray and freezing), and...and...that's lovely.

Meanwhile, what have I done today?
Let me put it THIS way--if there was ONE week where I should be allowed to stay in bed, eat chocolate, and attempt to drown out the general feeling of 'ugh' and 'lethargy' due to my body...this is it.
And so- I have done Juuuuust about...nothing.

I WANT to practice.
But I know it will sound like shit.
So I'm not going to attempt to warm up, and then sing LUCIA knowing that I will hate how it sounds because I can't find my center, have had a mild headache for the past 3 days, have eaten all the chocolate in the apartment one day and haven't had an appetite for anything the next (that would be today...I had to force down some cereal around 4).

Ah yes, once again let's all sing it together....
I enjoy being a girl...

And it's true- I AM going out tonight and yes, eventually WILL doll myself all up...
but for now, some more water and advil.

23 February, 2010

still here...

Really, I promise. There will be some substance soon.
It's just that running around the city at 7:30am to try and get the state office of marriage bureaus to believe you that it's impossible to get a birth certificate of an American citizen that was NOT issued in the US notarized and stamped IN the US except for in Washington DC where they STILL cause problems is a bit taxing!

21 February, 2010


I haven't done yoga since day 3.
Don't judge.

Was in Berlin this weekend.
Promise to update about real things soon, but for now, have to jump around the apt. because we turned the heat down really really low before we left and now it's freeeeezing here.

This week:
Coaching (s) with 2 new coaches.

17 February, 2010

day 2

I practiced yoga yesterday. And today.
And since I haven't done yoga for SO long (taking classes regularly in 06-07, then some random ones from my gym in '08), I was TOTALLY off balance... I mean the easiest poses that I used to hang out in...I was shaking, wobbling, had no center.
What does that mean?
I have to keep going to regain that center!

The breathing and flexibility, yes, that I have. But the CORE. That's the thing that I always just shimmied around. In workouts, in yoga, in breathing-for-singing...I never really strengthened it--mostly because sit-ups suck and kind of hurt my neck, as did the whole pilates movement...too much straining the neck which took a toll on being relaxed for singing.

But you have to find what works best for you.
For me it's NOT a hardcore ab workout--but it's working out that core through other things. Either sports that don't focus on just core, but end up working out everything anyway, or-- yoga.
Where I feel something is being worked on, but it's a relaxed and focused way.

I actually looked up a Bikram center here, but seeing as how I was so unbalanced, I don't think that practicing in an over-100-degree room is a good idea just yet.
Although I was kind of excited for all that sweating and loss of water weight.

I'll give this 2 weeks and then see how I feel.

15 February, 2010


I'm baaaaaaack!

Things on the agenda:
Lucia coachings and practice
3 more performances of Queen

unpacking and sleeping in my OWN bed!

13 February, 2010

wait, what?

Did I just sing the biggest audition in my life so far exactly 12 hours ago?

Ok, here's how the whole day went.
Gotta remember the little details so I can do it again, right?

around 9 ish, woke up, but stayed in bed.
11- ate a banana and drank a lot of water--started to hydrate.
11:30- MASSAGE! This was the BEST Idea I've had in about 8 years since my last "paid for" massage (I'm more a chiropractor kinda gal)...but I knew I was tense, and I wanted something that would both release the stress AND energize me for later that day.
One hour later...I was feeling GOOD.

12:30-3ish, LIGHTLY warm up in the apt., ate suuuuushi (which I SO SO SO SO will miss the GOOD and CHEAP quality of when I'm back in Dland on Monday)
3-HOT shower with lip trills
3:30-5ish get all my stuff ready, put normal clothes on, pack my audition clothes, audition binder, a bit of food. Oh yea, I ate another banana. I'm NOT joking people- this audition had me NER.VOUS and SOMEONE SOMEWHERE said that bananas are a natural beta blocker. So I'm going with it. Whatever.

5- after makeup is done and hair is dry, head out to pay for a practice room in Merkin---except, Merkin closes at 4! My bad.
head to the public library to change in their bathroom (classy, I know).
Change, need to waste some time at the public library, since I'm going right next door in 20 minutes.
6- arrive backstage.
6:05 get taken to a warm-up room. Change from snow boots to high heels.

Start warming up again. Sing through the pieces once but not full force. Take a break. Keep lip trilling.
6:30-6:40- decide to calm myself down even more by singing-- (gasp) JAZZ music! Yep- all of my favorites that calm ME down, that I sing when I want to calm OTHERS down (or just sing them to sleep)...and...singing in that natural, I don't care what comes out voice right now--put me in the BEST mood.

Mostly because it got my mind off of where I was about to sing next.
And focused it on the love of my life :)

6:42 accompanist arrives and we go through piece 1 very quickly- singing most, but not all. We start piece 2 and then it's TIME TO GO TO STAGE!

Ok, I held a halls cough drop that I had kinda been sucking on the whole night in between my fingers on stage. I didn't need it...but for some reason, I just kept it in between my thumb and forefinger...I'm ASSUMING no one from that house saw that! haha...

First piece- YEA! Felt good, didn't get tight, I'm like- DUDE this house is awesome to sing in!
Second piece- AS good as it was going to be WITH nerves. I mean, it's STRAIGHT TONE for the whole thing, and I think I vibrated on like 4 notes or so. I vote for- YES.
Third piece- All I'm thinking is--DAMN I just got through the 2nd piece! The rest of this is a piece of CAKE!
Fourth piece- YES, final cadenza and final high E- YES!

And all I can think is-- did I just audition on the Met stage?


11 February, 2010

one down, one to go

Ok, well today got off to a good start.
First of all, shockingly- I got to bed EARLY ! Ok, for me early is before midnight, but still.
I woke up for a bit around 5am, was wide awake around 9, and relaxed and took my time getting ready for everything today.

I felt a bit less tense than yesterday, and for the audition today I sang zerb and crazy1/crazy2. Actually, this company isn't doing crazy-opera, but they ARE doing modern stuff next year, so I thought- why not- I'll offer this stuff and if they pick it, it will be good practice for the NEXT day.

And sure enough, after Zerb which I thought went well...they picked both crazy pieces.
The first one went smashingly as always. The second one--the ONLY thing that can kind of trip me up if my breathing gets away from me--- STILL went well.
And yes, I was nervous. And Yes, my heart was beating a bit faster. And yes, it was a 'room' audition so it was bright, I could see the people's faces..it wasn't on some big cavernous stage-- BUT. I feel like I did it well.

I am still trying to channel as many 'kick butt' vibes as I can for tomorrow at 6:50pm, and the "I know I can do it, I've done it before, this is just like in practice/rehearsal" mantras--etc.

Yes, I'll be more nervous. But I have the best support system behind me..wanting me to do well, and wishing that I could come HOME!!!

10 February, 2010


Had a short coaching today with a new pianist for upcoming audition.
There is always that 'adjustment' time. I'm used to doing this with someone else. Period. No one will be the same.
And I can't let that throw me off of my game.
I don't feel as 'supported' because this new person doesn't know me, isn't invested in my success necessarily, and just- doesn't play it 'like I'm used to'.

That psyched me out a little at the coaching today. I could feel myself getting a bit-- well, upset isn't the word- but vocally emotional I would say- to the point where my larynx was trying to shove itself into my eyeballs.

Can I still sing when that happens? Yes. Does it feel good? No. Does it sound the BEST BEST BEST that it could sound? No. Is it still accurate?


There is that but that's just NOT the same.
I have two days to mentally and emotionally prepare for doing this large audition with a partner different that who I am used to.
And I have to deal with that.
It's nothing musical, it's mental.

I have to make myself feel like I'm not being 'tested' by this new person who is supposed to be my support.

I have to make myself believe that it doesn't matter what notes are happening under me- what is most important is each and every single note that is coming out of my mouth.

I am going to write positive things and make them happen.
I'm going to concentrate on what I'm doing. I'm going to LOVE each and every opportunity that I get to do this. I'm going to remember how many times I've practiced this in the shower, in my bedroom, in the practice room, and under my breath standing at a deserted tram stop. This is EASY for me. I remember singing it into a mirror on the bathroom wall and just smiling because it's fun and awesome and cool.
I want THAT feeling on Friday.
The feeling of 'knowing' how fun it is, how easy it is, how- I'm not doing this to impress anyone, I'm just doing it, because I can do it.

Edited to add possible new mantras:

Number One:

Number Two:

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like me...

Number Three:

Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They're the same face! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills! I invented the piano key necktie, I invented it! What have you done, Derek? You've done nothing! NOTHIIIING! And I will be a monkey's uncle if I let you ruin this for me, because if you can't get the job done, then I will!

hahaha. Automatically cheered myself up.

snow day

It's snowing and beautiful and I have to watch it all from INSIDE because--I can't get sick!!!
Audition Thursday and audition Friday.
Must protect La Voce.
That sounds so 'singer', but really--if I'm outside, if my feet get cold and wet (since I don't have snow boots, if I get a chill, if ANYTHING happens, it would affect my performance for those 2 days.

Today- I have to go out twice.
Once mid-day (2 avenues and 4 blocks away), once at 6pm (2 avenues and 6 blocks) and I THINK that will be ok!

Thinking about pretty-important-audition-Friday...
I'm actually really excited for it!

Think positive :)

09 February, 2010

winter wonderland take 2?

I've been lucky enough to miss much of the brunt of bad weather this winter.
Mostly because previous-gig from Jan5 to yesterday was in a city that has perfect winter weather--well, anything besides really cold and really snowy is perfect.

But besides winter-airplane-fiasco-2009 right before Xmas week, I haven't had THAT much bad weather get in the way of 'things I need to do'.

Except for the forecast for NYC in two days.

Yes, Wednesday is the day that I wanted to drive into NYC.
I wanted to pack and repack all of tomorrow- which mostly means, going to Target to find things that are cheaper in the US than in Germany, figure out how to pack them into my suitcases, try again, and CONQUER the 50 pound weight limit while still managing to fit in two pairs of cowboy boots, another peacoat that has been in the closet for a year, shoes, shoes, and more shoes..>AND all of the stuff I came with January 5th.
(Yes, I realize that I may be paying 45 dollars to check a SECOND bag).

Well, Wednesday weather forecast, you do NOT look good.
And that's not cool!
I'm supposed to have a wedding dress fitting!
I'm supposed to get my hair 'did!
I'm supposed to do some dry cleaning!
I'm supposed to get all my nyc appointments/buy out over the counter meds (mostly mucinex)/get the requested items for German that want things from abroad/things that I need to do before going 'home' things DONE!!!

And your snow prediction of at LEAST six inches is SO NOT COOL RIGHT NOW!

I will be super rushed, but I think I'll have to leave for the city tomorrow and beat this supposed bad weather.

I sure will miss the trip to Target to get things I probably 'don't need but figure that it can't hurt to have since they'd be way more expensive if one day I decided I DID need them in Deutschland.'

07 February, 2010

bye bye!

Last show this afternoon went wonderfully, followed by a cast party, followed by the superbowl, followed by...oh wait, it's right now. I SHOULD be packing and making sure/praying that my suitcase doesn't weigh more than 50 pounds. Instead I'm watching a rerun of law and order.

I feel really good about this production and how all of the shows went. I am SO happy and lucky to already know that I've made a good enough impression to be asked back for a future engagement, and in ADDITION, the 'powers that be' are also planning on being at a future-performance of mine to assess whether they will rent a certain production, and so- again, a chance for them to see me kick some tail and perhaps be under consideration for even more things!

What I need to concentrate on right now:
DO NOT get any kind of 'sick' on the plane ride tomorrow, the weather change to the east coast, AND big ole' audition on Friday.

My eyes were devil-red today, which means I got allergic to SOMETHING, but it didn't affect anything but my eyes. So- I blame it on either things here beginning to BLOOM (I spent yesterday walking around outside in the beautiful weather), OR the weather changing yet again from dreary to warm to windy again..and just throwing everything off kilter.

I have been practicing upcoming audition-rep every other day here--while warming up for the show.
Honestly, I so "get" this crazy piece and I love it a little more each time I sing it.

It's soooo cool.

I am really hoping to make a good showing on Friday, oh who am I kidding- I'm hoping to kick some @ss obviously- if not for this, then just to make as good of a first impression as I can.

But AFTER Friday is what is even better-

There's NO place like home and I can't wait to fly across the pond again :)

06 February, 2010

show 3 out of 4

Lovely yet again. Last night was the best audience we've had so far (oh, except for the dress rehearsal with 1200 screaming and laughing kids)...but we got a true lovely standing o at the end--and not that it counts for anything, but you could tell they were really enjoying themselves and the show and really cheering us on the whole time.

One of these days, SOMEWHERE I will have the balls enough to write about some K.RAZY drama that has gone on backstage during this show.
I suppose I can't do it here even if I DON"T name names, but all I will say is-- if I EVER, and I mean EVER get even mildly famous, I will always remember that there is NO reason to be 'difficult'. This is one of the coolest jobs ever and compared to people stuck in cubicles, there is absolutely no excuse for me to ever snip about time, schedule, days off, calls to the theater, and ANY thing else that is beyond the control of the daily schedule requirements.
That is all :)

Last show is a matinee, then cast party/superbowl, then- PACKING!

04 February, 2010

30 operas in nine years

Been adding some reviews to my website and fixing flash photo web galleries, etc.- and I just counted up my NAMED roles since 2001 (yes, there have been a few that were out of fach, or really tiny, or just not worth mentioning because the opera house wasn't 'important enough').

Ok, granted the first ...however many... were still while I was in high school, college programs, or summer apprentice programs..

But still! 30?! That is CRAZY!
I can't thank those early people who heard 'something' in my voice ENOUGH! If it weren't for their encouragement and goading TOWARD the classical music scene, I'd still be trying to be the next Sarah Brightman (in the ALO years, NOT the weird late 90s) somewhere on stage...or I may have turned to my original academic pursuits- international politics!

quick turnaround

Today started off super tired and super groggy. Probably something to do with that extremely large margarita that I had last night for dinner and those heavy enchiladas smothered with cheese. YUMMMM!

No, all dietary reasons aside, I had a dialogue brush up at noon and was planning on warming up after that.
Well, my voice was NOT planning on warming up after that!
I felt myself feeling sluggish, voice wasn't really warming up into that 'place' that feels good, and so I listened to my body and stopped.

Came back home, puttered around online, took a one hour nap, and then tried to wake up again.

Shower, makeup/hair call, THEN warm up for 30 minutes. And voila- everything was as it should be.

I was REALLY not feeling show #2 tonight--before I got to the theater.
But once there, I slowly built up a nice momentum, started feeling good about being warmed up, and then had a GREAT show!

I HATE that I don't ever have nerves after the first show. I mean, of course I don't hate it. I just hate that I have nerves for the FIRST show!
WHAT can I do to trick myself into avoiding this?

Because I was so calm and focused today.

Speed-singing (quietly) all of my words for each act before it began, going over couplets in my head before the next entrance, and voila- all was wonderful.

I'm really looking forward to the next shows...the Friday night crowd and the Sunday matinee crowd--always different, but always energized in their own way.

Can't believe I'm almost out of here!

03 February, 2010

show #2 and youtube

We've had 3.5 days off since opening night, and tomorrow is the 2nd show.
What does that mean?
That we have a dialogue brush-up tomorrow mid-day, and then 4 hours later I'm called to the theater.

I spent an hour and a half today singing today, although it wasn't current-opera, it was future-opera--I mean, I may as well say it here, and the google-ninjas of the world can try and figure out who I am yet again...because, I'm going to be blogging about it quite a bit in the next few months, I suppose.


And singing the Regnava, Enrico/Lucia duet, and Mad scene in the original (higher) keys...(most likely).

I don't want to talk TOO much about upcoming work when I'm still in the middle of current-show.

So let's get back to it.

2 reviews that have come in so far have LOVED the show and said two lovely things about me as well (published immediately on my website, which I have also just tricked out with updated photo flash player and new links to videos that are NEW TO YOU!).

Why new to you?
Well, that's a whole....other....discussion.
Basically, I have seen everyone including their mom AND manager recording either audio and or video of artist's live performances...with orchestra.
And for the longest time this was such a no-no.
It was some big secret if you got a bootleg recording of yourself, sent it to your agent, and had to be super careful about where it was sent out.
Lest the opera house/orchestra catch wind of it...for reasons that I DON"T quite understand. Because, if anything, this is for STUDY and MORE JOB purposes. I make ZERO money off of putting a video up on youtube of me...and heck, if I see that the login name behind over twenty videos of artists on ONE roster is actually the MANAGER of that roster--I think it's safe to assume that their live recordings of operas are just as legal as mine are.

So There!

Back to the performance- AGAIN!

I will run through the show in my head tonight. Also tomorrow after the dialogue rehearsal.
The 'opening night' pressure is off which means I hope no heart jumping out of chest experience again...but I am still excited and giddy about the performances we still have left.