30 March, 2011


Hurray! The whole show has been blocked in the rehearsal room.
Double hurray because today I made ZERO mistakes in counting my crazy entrances and interjections for the entirety of Act II-- although Act III coming up tonight for review still have a few metered measures that could cause mayhem...so here's hoping it all just keeps going smoothly.
I'd say fingers crossed- except that I use them to count. All the time.

Umm, seriously, I have come home from rehearsal EVERY night to do 'homework' which is review counting. And as such, I have found that I am sleeping badly, my eyelid has been twitching since last night, and I'm generally on-edge...
Simply because I feel like I can't relax yet.

Interestingly enough, it has not been a 'review the blocking in my head before bed' kind of show...(which, usually, that's the ONLY thing I have to worry about...ie, the singing, the right notes, rhythms, pitches, etc are already there easily).
The notes are 'normal', it's just their insane placement - ie, come in on the 3.5 beat of an 11/8 measure, followed by an entrance at 1.5 of a 6/8 bar - that is making me double and triple check my score every night and every morning.

And if you think you can just 'hear it' in the music...um, yea, No.
There are no clues to your entrance and no clues to your melody line in its own 'special' meter (in contrast to the other 9 singers who have other stuff going on at the same time).

I have worked on contemporary music before and have honestly never been this challenged. Even with crazy-current-piece-that-i-love-and-one-day-want-to-sing which has CRAZY and I mean CRAZY note clusters that SEEM to make no sense and rhythms that are all over the place, arpeggios that change by one note or one minor or one sharp or some displacement... EVEN that piece is a piece of CAKE compared to this.

ONE WEEK and a few days until opening. And although my 'execution' of the role is accurate and correct right now, it would really be nice if I could take a deep breath and RELAX at some point before opening night.
That, or grow 17 more fingers on my hands so I can count better.

27 March, 2011

blog much?

Yes, I've been THAT busy.
In a good way.
The way that this show is being staged (in order, thank goodness) requires all of the 10 person cast to be there at pretty much all times. Even if you're not singing for 10 pages, you're still on stage doing something- whether that mirrors what is going on, or is your own wordless and note-less story to tell.
That means I've had two rehearsal blocks filled every day (either 10am-6pm or 2pm-10pm), and mostly my time spent NOT in rehearsal has been spent reviewing music and double, triple, quadruple checking that I know my 'counts', that is, the count that I come in on for my entrance, how many beats are in between that and my next interjection, and so on and so forth.

This show is not a vocally challenging sing at.all.
Yes, there is a high F, a bunch of Es, some awesome crazy coloratura and even a long sweeping arc of sustained high legato...but the main challenge is rhythm, and the fact that the meter is changing every other measure. And you can't really 'hear' it in the orchestra below you. So you just have to 'know' (ie, count).
I'm hoping that by opening night I will 'feel' some things more rather than have to move my fingers really fast against whatever part of the stage or part of my body they happen to be leaning.

Other than that, it's a piece of cake! The cast is very nice, we all take lunch breaks mostly together (including trying out the over 100 flavors of snow cones that are sold next door), and last night we had a post-rehearsal margarita chips 'n dip kind of evening to unwind.

Now is my day off- the next one will be ONE day before our sitz and into the final week of tech.

Um, less than two weeks til opening?
We've staged act I and II. Three will be done in the next two days. And then it's run-throughs.

21 March, 2011

day 1 of school

WOW I had a long day today.
After a long flight yesterday.

I'm totally exhausted and jet-lagged (it's 4:40 am 'my time' and only 10:40pm here)...
but here are some tidbits from the last 24 hours.

A. make sure you know whether you will have to go through customs in the FIRST airport (the transit stop before the final destination), and whether you will have to WAIT for your checked bag to come out, collect it, re-check it, go through SECURITY AGAIN!!!! (because of that knife you picked up while you were on the FIRST plane for 9 hours)...and do that all within a one hour period of time before your connecting flight leaves. Check.

B. If the above occurs and you should happen to be sitting in the LAST row of the airplane (my total bad for not requesting to be booked on Delta for this flight, where I have many miles to prevent such horrible seat assignments), find a nice looking stewardess and ask if there are ANY free seats toward the front of the plane that you can sit in for the last 30 minutes before landing so that you can SPRINT off of the plane and through said lines.

C. Why did a small, un-chilled Naked Juice drink cost 4.99 at the airport?

D. It is SO much better to stay in a HOUSE with FAMILY for a month than in a hotel.
Full kitchen, awesome people, free wireless that does not kick you off at the hotel, dogs to play with, bikes to borrow, and generally a more relaxed and home-y feeling. Love.

OK and now to the first day of rehearsal!!!!!!!
Very quickly- it will be awesome.
I mean- super awesome.
The singers are all great, and the productions sounds super cool.

Thankfully even though this music HAS been absolutely challenging to learn, I feel PRETTY comfortable after our first musical rehearsal today. There was one section that I had to re-do twice before I got it right because of a different conducting pattern than the beats that I had learned it.
I also learned that I will be on stage the ENTIRE opera...even though I don't sing a lot of the ensembles, I just comment on them physically.
Soooo-- yea, there will be no knitting backstage. Or chocolate-eating for that matter.

And now, sleep.

19 March, 2011

leavin' on a jet plane...

Haven't finished packing...but spending an evening with our neighbors drinking wine and eating dessert sounds like a good method of procrastination.

18 March, 2011


Here in Deutschland I've been using the DeutscheBahn (dbahn) train system for the past two years for most of my travel throughout the country and to Austria, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, etc- for auditions, vacations, visiting friends. I've had two or three semi-horror stories...that one time we got stuck on a track because an animal (thankfully not a PERSON) got run over by the train, and we just.sat.there for three and a half hours (I arrived in switzerland at 2am the night before my audition)., that other time where I stood for 5 and a half hours between brussels and frankfurt (no seats except the suitcases you were sitting on in the aisles) because of the 2009 december snow storms.

Generally, I'm pretty satisfied. I'm always on ICE trains (the fast, clean, did I mention FAST trains?), and I get where I need to go without much hassle.

Anyway, yesterday my only train option for an audition that was 5 hours away was an EC train, followed by the last hour with ICE.

LET me just describe to you the difference between 2nd class travel on the ICE and 2nd class travel on an EC.
LET me describe it to you in a SMELL:
(warning, do not read on if you are faint of...heart/smell/language, etc)





Cold Cuts and Garlicky Farts.

I kid you not.
for 4 hours.
That is all.

15 March, 2011


I'm pretty sure my productivity peaked at a whopping zero today.
Sure, I listened to a recording. Twice, actually.
But without the score open, it's pretty much a free-for-all of overlapping lines and notes which makes it pretty hard to 'make sure' that I'm right with my memorization.
Ah well, there is always tomorrow.
And the two 5 hour train rides that I have on Thursday.
Yes, two of them.
On the same day. Beginning at 6am.

the tax man cometh

Submitted this morning to my accountant who will hopefully make some magic happen.

Deductions for artists, fyi:
Advertising & Promotions Anything for Promotion of Bus.
Total Miles Driven All Miles on your Vehicle
Business Miles Driven Business Miles on your Vehicle
Auto Expenses Gas, Maintenance, Insurance
Commissions and Fees
Subcontractors/Labor Any Labor You Paid Out
Equipment Purchases (List on Next Page)
Business Insurance
Business Interest Business Loans (incl. Auto)
Legal and Accounting
Office and Postage
Business Rent Rent for Office or Practice Space
Equipment Rental Includes Car Rentals and Equip.
Supplies Any small items needed for Bus.
Equipment Repairs
Travel Airfare, Lodging--Not Food or Auto
Meals and Entertainment In Town Business Meals with Others
Meals and Entertainment Out of Town All Meals on Bus. Travel
Days Out of Town (Meal Per Diem) List Locations and # of Days Sep.
Sales Tax Collected Only if you Charge Sales Tax
Bank Charges On Business Accounts
Dues and Subscriptions Memberships, Magazines, Etc.
Research and Development Books, Classes, Activities in Your Field
Cell Phone Only your Plan, Not Extra Minutes
Business Phone Extra Business Line--NOT 1st Home Line
Computer Software
Printing and Film Processing For Business Photos
Health Insurance Paid
Costumes and Props (Performers) Things for Stage Only
Personal Maintenance (Performers) Direct Costs for Performance Image
Retirement Account Contributions What Kind? Trad IRA, Roth, SEP, 401K?
Health Savings Account Contributions Must have High Deductible Health Ins.
Business Gifts Limited to $25 per person

14 March, 2011

one week

In one week I'll have my first musical rehearsal for the piece.
Wheee :)
Feeling good still, haven't even THOUGHT about packing.
What I HAVE been thinking about are my taxes (and ALMOST have all of the info. that I need to send my taxman). Here's the thing.
I consider myself an intelligent person.
And then I take it ALL back when I go on the irs.gov website.
WHAT kind of people are writing this stuff?
You say one thing CLEARLY and then the next paragraph takes it all back with exceptions.
What's THAT about?
I mean, even if I tried to do my OWN taxes (which I would never DARE since I'd most likely get audited in about five seconds), I couldn't figure this stuff out!
As a HUMAN and an INTELLECTUAL PERSON I actually WOULD really like to understand this stuff. For my own well-being and education.
But right now, I just don't want to deal with it.
I have tallied up all of my deductions.
I know how much I earned.
And hopefully somewhere between line 40a and 107c on all of the forms I have to fill out, I won't have to pay through the nose...even though I did have to pay a bunch last year.

I won't get all political and say where I'd LIKE my money to go to-- but the thing is, it's PROBABLY going to go toward the defense budget, and NOT toward paying the people who should be paid the MOST in this country- teachers.

08 March, 2011

oh snap!!

I LOVE this feeling.
Let me tell you about it.
It's the feeling of FIRST mildly freaking out because I have two weeks until my next gig and I'm not SO sure that I know all the music as perfectly memorized in my head as I want to which is usually the case when I'm working on another show and not paying attention to the NEXT one except that this NEXT one is a brand new one, and modern and not 'hard' per se, but hard enough that I have to constantly think about counts and weird arpeggios that I have to enter on some offbeat in the middle of a 16/8 bar...(yes this is a run-on sentence, deal with it)...and THEN it's the feeling of NOW, having looked at Act III yesterday for about an hour, having already known that I know act I, and having looked at Act II tonight for about an hour...feeling like- WHAT was I WORRIED about?
It's the feeling of CLICK- it's there!
I didn't even have to do anything! Well, except drill and practice and listen and think about before I go to sleep and while I'm walking to the post office and the grocery store.
But it's that GOOD feeling.
That feeling that this is two weeks away and eeeeverything will be juuuuust fine.
I might not even bring the score in my carry-on to the plane, THAT's how good I feel about it.
When it clicks, it clicks. I don't question it, I just go with it.

Sometimes singers ask me about my 'process'...(ok, like, TWO times they asked me) and it's always one of two answers.
I either broke it down FROM the beginning. Word by word. pitch by pitch. rhythm by rhythm phrase by phrase page by page, scene, act, until every day, memorizing one piece, learning another piece, starting breakdown work on another piece...until I knew I had it all.
I barely practice it, I KIND of test myself before I have to be at the gig, and it's MAGICALLY there in my head-- memorized and ALL. Ready to go.
I don't know why or how this happens. I mean, obviously I DO spend enough time with it for things to sink in.
But it's not the daily- page 1,2,3, etc. type of 'studied' approach as my other approach.
It's more like- ehh..let's listen to Act I on my ipod even though this chick sings 4 entrances wrong and changes a few pitches.
And then it's like- the score is in front of me, but so is facebook.
And then it's kind of like- gee, I hope I know this...the gig starts next week.
And then it's like- someone better invent some kind memory injection or osmosis drug because the score has been open to page 143 for the past 20 minutes and I've been watching Sky News about Libya instead of counting.

And in the end, I'm always super prepared and having FUN in the first musical sing-through instead of holding on to the score for dear life before the director rips it out of our clammy hands in the first staging rehearsal....

Just under two weeks until the first musical rehearsal.


Ok, Act I is totally memorized no mistakes on any fast rhythms or random interjections on the count of 15 eee and uh out of 18.
Act III is ALMOST the same with the exception of a few pages where the ensemble of 8 is basically one eighth note off (staggered, but we all have about the same melody or something similar), and if you miss a beat, you're now doubling someone instead of singing the right line.
Act II is my project for this evening.
Some crazy arpeggio type articulations interspersed to the counting of:
123/123/123/1234 at the speed of light, of which I'm pretty certain the conductor WON'T be breaking the beating down as much as I'd like, so I have to find the arc and hopefully hear where I fit into it.
And, go.

06 March, 2011

the dotted line

No, nothing is signed yet, but in the past three days my schedule has filled up considerably- in a good way.
In the meantime, I have 15 more days until I depart for next-opera, and while I am feeling good about the score and my preparation, it's not perfect yet. And that is simply because it's freakin' impossible to count or play along AND sing it to 'practice' and see if I have it memorized.
It goes something like....
6/8, 16/8, 12/8, 3/4, 4/4, 3/4, 4/4, 2/4, 16/8...
In the span of about 5 pages, at speeds of "stormy", "a little faster than before", "gradually getting more intense", "Urgently", "Ominous" and "FASTER".

Back to counting entrances. The thing is, the music is so easy- ie, the actual notes. It's literally the speed and changing meter that could drive someone batty. Those orchestra folks who get to actually LOOK at the music while they're playing are LUCKY in this case. It's not hard at ALL when you know the changes and can see them happening in the score. It's a whole different story when attempting to pull it out of your brain at warp speed.

03 March, 2011

home sweet jet lag

The past 4 days went something like this:
Night after the last matinee (which was awesome, BTW): was already packed but was so excited to leave I didn't fall asleep until 4am.
Woke up at 8am the next day, left for the airport at 9:30am.
Flight #1- kind of slept.
Flight #2- didn't sleep at all (movies plus a LOT of turbulence).
Landing at home at 7am "home" time- meaning, I felt like 2am but it was the morning.
Proceeded to stay in bed most of the day. No unpacking, no eating until 10pm.
Next day: slept until 2pm.
That night: fell asleep watching a soccer game from 9-10:30pm then didn't sleep AT ALL from midnight to 6am...
6am (today) being the time I had to wake up to take a THREE and a half hour train to my audition.
Today. Yea, did I mention that no sleep part? And the WIDE AWAKE on the train part too?

I was fully expecting to doze off on the train and catch up, but no such luck.
Got to the audition city way early, had a tea at starbucks, checked in, warmed up for about 10 minutes, saw the accompanist for about 10 minutes (YAY YOU CAN PLAY ZERBINETTA!), and then- the audition.

There were three of us today. All Queens.
First singer started with Der hoelle rache. Then they asked for the first aria.
Second singer started with an Italian. Then they asked for Der hoelle rache.
I started with Zerbinetta (from So War). Then they asked for Der hoelle rache.

I felt super good about the Zerb. I felt normally good about the Queen. After hearing the first two girls who had voices on the larger/dramatic side, I was like, Ok, I'm just going to do what I always do and give them what I can give...
and that's accuracy, excitement, crispness, and always always IMMER the high F's and everything in "line".

Aaaand....that is what I did.
On the train back I almost missed my stop home because I fell asleep IMMEDIATELY for three straight hours including interruptions by cold blasts of air from the opening train doors at every stop.
Now I'm just OVERtired...want to go to bed, but just can't make myself actually get in it yet...

Lots to think about tonight...
But very glad to be home.