30 August, 2010

Answers for Alison...

A few questions asked, a few questions answered:
I never used to have them when I was younger (I'm talking high school here). It was only as I progressed and got to a certain 'level' that I started to realize, wow, THIS level may have something to do with my NEXT level. It was my first year as a resident artist (in a program connected with a grad school) that I realized, ONSTAGE, in the middle of the Act 1 duet, that woah-- I hope this goes well so that the next and next and next thing go well.
And My heart was beating so hard that what it sounded like to ME was that my voice was shaking too.
I felt like my larynx was going to shoot right out of my eyeballs, and everything became really thin and weird in my head.
What could I do? I was in the middle of singing, so I just kept going. What seemed like an eternity later, which was probably less than 2 minutes, my mind stopped wandering, I focused more on the character and less on the 'sound' that I was trying to hear...and then it went away.
But almost EVERY show since that show... I've been calm on the outside and nervous on the inside (inasmuch as I can't control how my heart beats before the show starts)...then as SOON as I get onstage, I am in character and there is nothing that can freak me out...and even if I start to have that 'freakout' feeling of raised larynx I push myself MORE deeply into the characterization (the "acting"), and then it's gone.
And sure enough, when I listen to that clip from grad school- you can't.even.tell that I was freaking out vocally.
So it's a mental thing. And yes, it feels like it's affecting you and that you can't sing one more note..and then, you just have to learn how to calm it down yourself.
It's something I still work on for every performance. Find the fun and the calm, and try to ignore that fast heartbeat and the 'oh man, this is really real' feeling.

On the days of shows I try to find a routine. Eat normal things and not some crazy spicy chicken sandwich (that's reserved for AFTER the show--1am from Wendy's...yummm). I go through my music (speed-through). I get to the theater early. I warm up a few hours before..all routine things to stay calm. I know my heart will start pumping faster right before the curtain and especially right before my entrance. But I try to think of 'good energy' and how I can use it for my character...and beyond that, just trust in the voice and the fact that I've done it before, I'll do it again, and as long as I love it...I'll keep at it.

Preparing for a piece.
Well, I'm doing this right now, and no, it doesn't mean I practice every day. I have gone LONG bouts without vocally practicing, but almost every day, I will do SOMETHING that is considered studying. Whether it's marking up a score with a highlighter, doing IPA, doing translations, going through the words to something I'm trying to memorize in my head or testing myself by writing them down on paper...it's a combination of vocal preparation as well as mental preparation.

Getting something into my body 'vocally' can happen at any time and for any reason...sometimes I study bits of the role every day (study, not sing..just play the melody and harmony)...sometimes I have to sing it over and over and over, and then it's there.
But by the time it's 'showtime', or, rather, first rehearsal time...it's always there. Sometimes "magically", meaning, I don't FEEL like I had to actually sit and memorize notes and words, and sometimes it was note-plunking and playing memorization games with myself on the airplane.

'Nothing to do' is very often misleading. The shows that I have to learn music for are not until March and April, but... if I do nothing now, I'll have a LOT to do later.
So I TRY to do a little each day. And when I can't take modern music anymore, I switch to going through my old audition arias. Or I listen to some things on youtube. Or I google what other roles I could be learning or singing or looking into...which always leads me on a 'rabbit hole' kind of online chase and ends up taking half of the day.

So yes, I have 'nothing' to do for a while since my next show is Magic Flute and I have already sung it (nothing 'new' to learn except some dialogue), BUT I do always try to think a bit ahead and somehow get some daily 'practice'-- vocal, mental, translating, listening..just being around the art.

Hope that helps!

29 August, 2010

more coachings

Had another really good coaching this morning. Got through act 1 of upcoming modern opera...which is easy note-wise, but not math-wise...so I had a 'conductor's' view of how the beats would be broken up- 4/4/3 (11/8) or in ONE, which is really written out as a FAST 6/8...ahhh...yes, it hurts my head but I'll eventually get it.

And then I sang through Doll and Queen. HIS opinion- start with queen. I'm not sold on it YET, even though it's easy as pie for me...it's still not everyone's cup of tea (vocal weight-wise)...the F's will be there each and every time, and so will the CLEAN runs, and so will the GRACE note before the cadenza that leads UP to the high F's (which, frankly, I have only heard dessay and damrau EVER sing,..but, ok..moving on)...I don't sound like a vengeance/death-eater Russian Lyric soprano with freakishly high extension that SOMETIMES hits F's and sometimes hits E's.. .

Will have to get a few other opinions in the meantime, but I will still try to continue my daily (except for weekends) warming up, practicing, AND music-learning on my schedule.

Next week: American wedding (#3)

25 August, 2010


As in, I have not been very successful at it this week...but I DID do my situps and pushups today.
I am going to yoga tomorrow night. Really.

23 August, 2010

two week countdown

Wedding #3 (to the same person, for the third time)- is in 2 weeks! That means I'm flying to the US in LESS than 2 weeks! That means LONG LONG LONG lists of THINGS that I want from EVERYWHERE need to be made, so that I can buy said things, instead of having them shipped here and THEN pay import taxes on them, or just buying the things here for twice as much as they really cost...I'm looking at YOU, listerine!

In other news, my fitness regime is on 'hold' for a week ... ahem....
And the only thing I really want to do is switch off between eating dark chocolate and salty pretzels for the entirety of the day...
Oh, and ice cream for dessert.


I am going to practice. Now. Ready for it? I'm pressing publish post. And then turning on the keyboard...and NOT checking my email accounts or fb or the nytimes.
for realz.

20 August, 2010


Coached the 'opera' act of Zerbie yesterday and it felt so so good.
When I practice this by myself with no piano accompaniment, or should I say my CRAPPY attempt at piano accompaniment WHILE singing really hard stuff, it's really hard to hear where the line is supposed to fit sometimes. But when you have all of the RIGHT notes around you, it turns into a piece of cake.
There is that ONE cadenza after the 'recitative duet section b/w Zerb and Harle that I still don't have in my ear perfectly. The B# is the LEADING tone (yea, sure I'll remember that in my head when I'm most likely STANDING on my head singing it).

Anyway, now I suppose it's onto the first act. Which is WAY more recit-y and talk-y, and oh, what? I say something on that page? thanks.

Also should PROBABLY look more at upcoming modern-thingamajig, and I will. Really.

I LIKE having work to do, and I LIKE doing work with other people- ie, coaches.
It makes making music so much more of a mutual growth process..rather than me sitting on my butt trying to figure out how to change from 3/4 to 11/9 every other measure.

Although, I do remember the summer before my yearlongRAP apprentice program when I learned all three of my upcoming roles (Oscar, Lakme, Olympia, oh yea, and Barbarina) entirely by myself all summer long (while sitting at the beach of course), with no coaching except AFTER I had already learned and memorized it completely.

So I know I can do it on my own, I just prefer to have the detailed input AS I'm still fresh in learning it, rather than after I have 'sung' something into my throat and head for an entire summer.

NOW that it's past noon again and I'm still in my pjs AND the sun seems to be shining, I will attempt an outdoor activity...possibly jogging. Haven't done that one in a LONG time.

Here...I...go... ?

19 August, 2010


Ok momentary craptastic practice session seems to be over as of yesterday.
Had a lovely hour of feeling good, free, and easy, just as life and song should be.
Today I have a coaching and I'm hoping that what I've learned so far will fill one hour of singing...
It's pretty much the large and in charge section of Zerbinetta 2nd act.

Also, I KIND of learned three out of the EIGHT sentences that I need to know for my next Koenigin dialogue.

ALSO, I DID NOT go to yoga at all this week, but I DID do situps and girly pushups for 3 days in a row, and ride my bike for about 40 min. LEISURELY...so, no REAL workout, but I'm still trying.

And shockingly, instead of bouncing around on the kg scale when I eat some bruschetta or other BREAD like substances, I'm staying the same and even going a bit down..which is encouraging.

Other music- I TRIED to look at the modern opera, really I did. Counting hurts.
And I know I have to do this one all on my own because no one here has coached it or been involved in a production of it to help me out before. It will be a really.really. long haul.

And audition arias- I sang through doll and chacun. It's possible. JUST possible.
But would I start doll from V.2 ? It's so LONG and repetitive. And drama-less.

Off I go to start my day (at noon).


17 August, 2010


well HELLO there, craptastic practice session. We have not met for SUCH a long time. Guess what? I really really dislike you.
All I wanted to do was have an easy warm up and maybe sing through the "opera" act of Ariadne.
But no, you decided for some reason that my voice wasn't going to ever feel warmed up, so even after I moved on to the Strauss I could feel that things weren't free. Yes, they were coming out of my mouth, and yes, they were on pitch. But I couldn't DO anything with them, and it did not feel lovely and easy and free.

I still attempted to sing through the big sections, but now...my throat is tired, I'm tired, and added to that it's been gray rainy and COLD out! Where did the summer and the sunshine go?

Please come back, summer, and maybe when you return you can bring back that NICE practice feeling again--hopefully tomorrow.


15 August, 2010

my maybe schedule

2.5 weeks until I leave the country for more celebrations in the US.

In the meantime, I need to do the following things as often as possible.

Tues/Thurs 10-11:30 Bikram (which really means 9:15 to 12:15 with the bike ride to and from included.

All days- new regime of situps and pushups...and by NEW I mean, what I was doing in April/May daily until coming back home and only doing bikram and biking.

Generally- biking my 45 minute route.

That was body work.

Now music work:

--Dialogue for new Zauberfloete. I know this shouldn't take too long, but I have to start memorizing and practicing again, since the version I'm currently doing is super-cut and changed from the next production I'll be singing.

--Warm up and audition aria review. Get super comfortable with rep that is always on my list but that hasn't been asked for in a WHILE. Still thinking about starting with French these days...we shall see.

--Relearn an opera in English. Sang it in French already. Must re-wire the brain, learn the words and dialogue in English. Ouch.

--NEW crazy opera. This is the one I really have to sit down and study. It's not going to just pop into my head. Count, write in the counts, memorize the counting...and the rhythm that changes every other measure.
Words seem to come easier..I just need to know when to come in and how long to hold each note! Ha.

--FUTURE- spend some QT with 'Zerb and the gang'...first, order the VOCAL score (which, I have SOMEWHERE in the US but my mother can't seem to find to mail it to me), then the normal- mark the part (actually in this case PARTS since it's a role and a cover), and let the games begin.

In truth, I have MORE than ample time to prepare everything..but since my next 2 jobs are Koenigins, I have let a taaaad bit of time go by without really prepping as seriously as I would if I was leaving for an engagements in less than a month.

Now all I have to do is actually stick to some of the above instead of look at wedding pictures!

14 August, 2010


Happily hitched, back in FF, taking the weekend to take a vacation from my vacation, and then I promise I'll really start working on all those things that I'm supposed to start working on.

04 August, 2010

don't judge

Ok, so I got a manicure today. I had NO idea how to tell them not to use those cuticle cutter thingies in German so I just pointed and said bitte nicht mit das ding hier.
and I MAY have paid 5 euros for eyebrow tweezing. Yes, me, the girl who is the anti-girly girl and does everything herself.
I shouldn't AND don't care about this stuff on a regular basis...but somehow this 'you only get married once' thing..well, in my case 3 times..HA..is starting to sink in!

So- I spent twenty Euros and now I'm hoping that I don't do anything silly to mess up my nails before Sunday. I give myself about ... 12 hours before I mess it up somehow.

E.nough about weddings and getting pretty and packing for one week of fun with family on the beach with a wedding ceremony thrown in for good measure.

What I SHOULD be focusing on in the next weeks is actually-
GERMAN AUDITIONS fall season take 2!

Last year I arrived at the very end of August, and had 2 auditions the first week of September, and got an offer from the 2nd audition.

This year I have work from mid-September to the end of October, and I know that will prevent me from doing some auditions...BUT I'm really hoping to get on the ball and sing for as many European houses as possible.

I think I'll stick with what works but I really want to find the right 'starter'.
Fille isn't done here that much, and I don't think a high G in a piece that Germans don't like or know that well is as impressive as something they are more familiar with.
HOWEVER, Zerbie is long (as usual), and Koenigin is up in the air what with fach preferences an all.
DurchZ shows a bit more 'maid-like' secondadonna tendencies, so I'm not sure about that anymore either..
Doll? Perhaps start with the 2nd verse and then let THEM decide.

Ciao for about a week and a half-- when I get back from the motherland, the wedding, and the beach.

01 August, 2010

one week

In ONE week and a few hours I'll be in makeup.
But not for a show...for my own wedding.
Yes, it's already legally been signed sealed and delivered, but there is going to be something ridiculously amazing about spending a week with our families, celebrating at sunset on the shores of the sea, and once again smiling and looking into the eyes of the person that I am so lucky to get to spend the rest of my life with.
Yes, there are last minute things, as there always are...
Programs, little favors, what to wear for the OTHER days I'll be there and be attending celebratory dinners and the like, music still has to be made into a playlist (oh yea, that's how I roll), SHOES, bathing suits, did we pack everything?
But as long as we both arrive safely and our families do as well, I'll be on cloud 9.
So, 8/8- the countdown begins.