I have a long way to go before I will ever NOT be nervous at curtain, the moment before the lights come up, maybe someday it will happen. But the lovely thing about this particular one is that I am rarely off stage, and so I never have enough time to stop and think about what I am doing enough to get really freaked out. Even some of the most daunting moments come and go so quickly that I am spending really just more time being the character than being backstage waiting and having anxiety. This is a good thing!
So, my first aria, oddly enough, is more insecure in some ways, than the very hardest one that I have ever sung, which is Mi tradi!
The first time you open your mouth in the show and are waiting to hear what comes out...oh my, and especially when it is Mozart. That is fear on a whole other level. Fear that is unlike most other kinds of fear, the kind that most of the world's population will never understand. The idea that you may, in fact, completely ruin your reputation with the events of one evening's singing is pretty stunning. The idea that what everyone could be talking about afterwards is that you were bad is a horrifying concept in general. Oh, and it is only a piece that everyone knows and loves, and has stood the test of hundreds of thousands of performances for nearly three hundred years. But there is no sense in thinking about that if you can avoid it, so I play an interesting game with myself as the intro to the first aria starts. I say, okay, Jess. You are standing here right now and you have to do this. You can't leave. You can't walk away. Well, you could, but that would be more embarrassing than singing badly. So, you're going to have to do it. And it would be downright weak of you (and you are better than that and have years of training) to let the people behind you onstage and in front of you in the audience freak you out so badly that you didn't do it really well.
So I just say, well, here goes.
And sometimes I am better and sometimes I am worse. But mostly I am better. Because I say I will be.