Wednesday, April 30, 2008

stress test

You know you're ready for a vacation when you work at a musical institution and it feels like a luxury to sit down for a whole hour and listen to a recital. After all, people, there are like 87 of these going on at any given moment within these walls. And I almost NEVER go to listen to I just so sick of the place by five o'clock that I can't bear to spend another minute? That's part of it. Am I too busy focusing on my own set of musical challenges? Yes.

Sometimes I forget how much there is to learn by taking a freaking second and sitting down to hear someone else play. And not that it's about "learning" per se. Because then, I'm still kind of making it about myself-- a what-can-I-GET-from-this kind of attitude. At T's recital yesterday, it was really just more about turning off my brain and participating in the music on a deeper level. At the end of the recital, I heard myself say "That was exactly what I needed."

Music is my job, but I realllllly want to stop thinking of it like that for at least an hour or two a week. As a self-proclaimed goal-oriented over-achiever, it's scary the kind of drive I have to make things happen, in the process often forgetting that this is MUSIC we're talking about.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I make a thousand per day. The biggest one is usually what to wear. Then, what to eat. like today, I'm hoping it will be leftover pad thai. ohhhh

Other decisions for today include which role at which organization to accept. This is a REALLY refreshing problem to have. It's not really a familiar feeling. So while I am usually a real champ at making decisions, today, I have absolutely no idea what to do. There are SO many things that factor in. I can talk myself into either thing, although I'm definitely leaning toward one.

Tonight, I'm going to T's recital, where I will be mesmerized and lulled into decision-less oblivion for about an hour. Then, maybe, if we're really lucky, I'll get to drink, in celebration of course.


Bring your own costume.


a phrase Joe and I coined last night on our way home from an audition road trip. It's a reality, people.

And according to another online source, here are a few other things it could mean. Though none so cool as mine:

BYOC Bring Your Own Chair
BYOC Bring Your Own Champagne
BYOC Bring Your Own Chick
BYOC Bring Your Own Chocolate
BYOC Bring Your Own Client
BYOC Bring Your Own Coffee
BYOC Bring Your Own Computer
BYOC Bring Your Own Condom
BYOC Bring Your Own Connection (as logging on to AOL via a TCP/IP connection)
BYOC Bring Your Own Console (gaming)
BYOC Bring Your Own Controller
BYOC Build Your Own Clone
BYOC Build Your Own Curriculum

I love my life.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The best things in life

at the moment include:

- Pad Thai. really lime-y and peanut-y with minimal egg.

- Puccini. especially with Mirella singing....

- Seeing good things happen to people who reallllly deserve it. That's the best.

- Daphne du Maurier on a rainy day like this (if only I wasn't driving to Timbuktu instead).

- Kind of getting mostly over allergies...fingers crossed.

- Having a cocktail. Although a cold Coors Light is a close second. I'm so classy.

- Audition road trips with Joe. It's a good excuse to buy fountain sodas and weird kinds of candy that you can find only in gas stations.

- Realizing all at once that sometimes the fun of all this IS hoping and waiting and working your ass off. Who will success mean the most to? Me. definitely ME.

- Having someone to talk you down from the ledge when you may or may not accidentally had a near- melt-down at work this morning. I love my S.

- Seeing trees all green that you had forgotten were even there.

- cats. They are sooo cute.

- Thing 2 on The Flavor of Love 2. She is so adorable.


On Saturday, I had one of the oddest auditions of my life. It was really more like a voice lesson. I can't decide if I should be flattered or not. Probably not. Because if I had been PERFECT, then, there would be nothing to say. But if I sucked, there would be no reason to try to tweak me. So, as always, no sense in trying to understand these things. I am forced to take it at face value. Joe and I walked away, sweating like crazy, as the building had been badly ventilated, and it was HOT. When we got in the car, we looked at each other in consternation. It took some time to process the whole thing, let me tell you. In any case, I was told I would be hearing from them-- gotta love that. More waiting by the phone.

Then, I rushed back to work the Gala at my place of employment, a long night, but the orchestra played well, and all in all, I was rather proud, in some ways. Wow, if that isn't a vague sentence. But, whatever.

Sunday, after church job, I took some time to work on Italian on Rosetta Stone. I love it!!! It's so great. All of you need to get it. Next, I'm doing French, because it's just so fun.

Then, we got dressed up and went off to the Cathedral for our confirmation service. Yes, my mom and I and Joe decided to become official Episcopalians. It was not without much thought I came to this conclusion, since you all know I'm rather attached to Eastern religion too. But, there we were, in the pew, with all our fellow "confirmans." Or whatever we were supposed to be called. It was quite a long thing, with a couple of hilarious flubs during the service, and some interesting noodling from the organist that made the whole thing quite a lot of fun. Joe and I were constantly elbowing each other. Not to say that I didn't take it seriously, because, people, any time do my hair and wear brown crocodile heels, it's for real. Afterwards, the three of us, plus my confirmation sponsor went to Pei Wei for a classy dinner. After the two hour service, I was starved, and when everyone got their food but me, I had a hunger-related freak out at the server.

Today, another audition road trip after work, and more good news for Joe!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Well, I guess today is Friday

The movie casting thing turned out to be a bit of a wasted night, as I was given the job in which I basically am the bitch who signs people in and keeps track of all the resumes and sides and doesn't get to hear anyone read. So, me and my cute outfit really would have been better spent on, well, me staying home and practicing.

Love it.

Anyway, it was something new, right? I tried it and it didn't do it for me.

This weekend is completely packed with stuff to do-- I'm working tonight, then an audition tomorrow, and rushing back to work another concert, and church on Sunday... then Monday, another audition.

I'm really excited to sing for people, after a great lesson/coaching on Wednesday, I'm ready.

You know what else I'm ready for? Summer. A drink. Time to read my book. The Sex and the City movie. Some beach time. Shopping for a REALLY PRETTY summer dress. Until the beach happens, I'm taking the edge off this pasty whiteness with self tanner. Not reliably great, but what can you do? When I have money....hmmm maybe a spray tan.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Today has been a good day-- my heart flooded with relief when I saw the number of the director from an opera company that shall remain nameless flash up on my phone this morning...HE CALLED!!

At last, he called, and I'm doing Lauretta in Schicchi, for a production that will go up in September, right around my mom's birthday. I'm excited to learn the music.

Tonight, however, I'm doing something completely out of the ordinary for me. Especially since pretty much everything I do is in some way related to making me a success at singing-- going to the gym, practicing, Rosetta Stone, going to lessons, getting manicures. So I decided it was probably a prudent idea to diversify just a tad. So, I'm helping a friend who has decided to make a feature-length indie film with her open call auditions tonight! I think it will be an interesting thing to learn about. I hope, for their sake, that it's nothing like as stuffy and scary as opera auditions, but that maybe I can learn something from this other take on performing.

I hope I look cute enough for indie film people.

Probably, they'll be wearing jeans with holes in them and stuff. Oh well.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What would I do without YouTube?

Especially when I made the mistake of taking a power walk after dinner, throwing caution to the wind, since pollen is literally DRIPPING from the air...this choice, with my diet in mind, had rendered me pretty much useless. I came in, did some sweet neti-pot action and took a shower to rinse off the pollen, took more Mucinex...and promptly pronounced myself in for the night. My head was ready to explode, so I thought taking my mind off it is the best way to go.

Since I'm auditioning for a Musetta and a Zerlina coming up here in a couple weeks, I'm doing some market research. While part of me's been thinking I'm not quite right for Zerlina vocally and visually, I know for a fact I wouldn't get cast as an Elvira or an Anna-- not at this stage in the game... So I decided to check out some pirated production videos of her arias on YouTube. Love it. It's comforting to realize that it might not be as much of a stretch as I thought...I think I could bring some attitude for Miss Z.

Okay, then I started looking at Musettas, and well, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that they're alllll oooverrrr the map. I'll never forget when I saw La bohème at Chicago Lyric years ago and the Musetta was some Russian girl who could sing louder than practically anyone I'd ever heard. I didn't find it particularly alluring-- but the Mimi was Pat Racette, so that quite made up for it. After a few Quando m'en vo s, it's just too tempting to venture into the Mimi videos, so I did. I started with the one that came up first-- Mirella Freni's Donde lieta. Ohhh so fantastic. And then some other people...and it became clear to me just how important that real Italian sound is for that kind of music, with just the right mixture of bright and dark...there were a couple videos of realllly good, reallly famous singers for whom it just didn't work as well.

There's a lot of Angela bashing going around, but when I saw her sing Donde lieta, people, it brought tears to my eyes. Her legato was so unbelievable. The way she can just string the notes together to make the most miraculous phrases-- I've got to tell you, it was inspiring. She might be a diva, but she just sings that role so freaking beautifully, I just love it. Now, Alagna, on the other hand...

In other news, this weekend, I'm going out to shop for a Preakness hat. It's a major priority. Turfside Terrace, here we come.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Waiting for the call

We've all done it. You try to pretend you're busy with important things like homework and planning your brilliant career, that you don't have most of your self-worth and self-esteem and self- everything invested in this, then your roommate gets a call from her mother on the one phone in the house (this is back in college when talking on cell phones was still really expensive...looong ago), and you start to totally freak out.

It takes some of us longer to realize how pathetic we're being by waiting around by the phone for a BOY to call. When roommate A rolls her eyes at you, and roommate B asks if you want to go to the library, and roommate C plies you with food, and still all you want to do is stand around looking at the phone, you know you've got a serious problem.

The advent of cellphones and free anytime minutes made this torture a little more mobile. Now you don't have to "sit around," you can go to the gym and wait, you can go to the mall and wait, you can wait your little self to death without ever having to change your routine. Yes, you can drive yourself one hundred percent completely mad over a man while still doing all the other stuff you have to do. Gotta love technology.

And excuse me for living, but I thought that having a fiancee meant that I would never have to do that again. I thought I traded all that in for comfort, security, and someone to come home to. Love, after all, means never having to wait by the damn phone!

But somehow, I seem to be waiting again. Just like the rest of you opera types-- our particular brand of waiting is just as's the did-I-get-the-job?-they-said-they'd-call torment and I reallllly realllly hate it! It's killing me. This week! You said you'd call this week!!! I NEEEED you to call now!!

And all the while, my entire head is exploding with allergies and I went to the doctor thinking my tonsil was swollen, but apparently that's how they're supposed to look, so that was embarrassing. And my neti pot and Zyrtec and Mucinex are working overtime and I'm scared!

Today, I think, will be a rather neurotic day.

Friday, April 11, 2008

OMG I am so freaking adorable

...I spent some quality time in my closet last night after perfecting my pouty look for "O mio babbino puke-o" which I will, sadly, enough, be adding to the audition rep.
Any time spent in the closet with my clothes is time well spent, and this time, I was on a mission to find something girlier, cuter, and younger to wear for my audition tomorrow, and basically, until I can afford the time and money to find a new dress. In a color other than black...maybe blue? Everyone says I'm ravishing in blue... sigh.

So, anyway, I came up with something that will work perfectly! Oh, the depths I have not lately plumbed in that closet. There are like a thousand things I forgot I have. (In college, I used to spend hours trying on different combinations of things, and would routinely change outfits between classes, often three or four times a day) But I was happy to discover that my prowess at putting together random separates to create an interesting whole has not diminished...

For the audition: A puff-sleeved sheer georgette blouse with drapey ruffles down the front, over a black camisole and black skirt, with an adorable black belt to cinch it in and create a little peplum-looking thing (separates will make me look shorter, they tell me), and black peep toe pumps with a lower heel. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but in the end, the effect is a throw-back to the 30s kind of modern. Not stupid looking in the least. So, I was happy about that, and wore it around the house awhile until Joe got home, so I could show him.

I guess I'm not used to trying to play down the fact that I'm the real world (read: NOT OPERA) tall is good. Tall girls can gain lots of weight before people notice. Tall girls look imposing and powerful. But in opera, it seems, it's really quite a liability...if only we could grow the tenors a bit bigger, I could wear heels as high as my little heart desires. The hormones in our food and water apparently aren't having the same effect on them as they've had on me.

The other thing I've been discovering, from talking to people, and well, I guess I already knew, deep inside: If I were a dramatic, I could do anything I wanted short of throw up on stage and still get jobs. I could wear a brown business suit to auditions, I could be seven feet tall, I could wear black (sighhh), I could be forty pounds heavier. Or maybe I'm exaggerating a little.

After tomorrow's audition, we'll come home and eat canned soup probably. Because we're that poor. For real. I'm waiting for my hot air balloon with $50,000 that's going to crash in my yard. I know it's going to happen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I spoke to a consultant of sorts on the phone Tuesday night who kind of knocked me for a loop. Apparently I'm not getting any younger??? Apparently I'm not 23 any more? Oh my oh my. Which I knew of course.

So. I've had my little ass kicked and had a few things put into perspective. I am down to the very strict work of learning about 5 roles-- no more pussy-footing around with recital rep (even though I LOVE it). Roles, and audition arias, are all I'm allowed to think about, even to the exclusion of getting married for the next four months.

I will say this: I am completely one hundred percent ready for someone to drop a hot air balloon full of money, like maybe 50, 000 dollars, right in my back yard. In fact, I'm putting in my order for it right now. Oh the coachings and the traveling to competitions and the lessons I could pay for!!

Tonight, I brush up my music for an audition Saturday, and continue to wonder, what, if anything I have to wear that isn't black. That's another thing...I'm not allowed to wear black any more. I have to focus on looking young and pretty. When, after all this time, I've been trying so hard to appear worldly and sophisticated.

In other news, we've got a horse race coming up...just a little over a month away. I have a hat, now all I need is a Preakness dress, and I'll be set. Oh I am so excited. Gambling and eating and drinking all day in a pretty tent by the finish line. That's my kind of Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Motivation Station

I love rhyming things sometimes because it remind me of my horrifingly hilarious stint in Schoolhouse Rock. Yes. Me. I was in it. And I was the Adjective Girl. Yet another stellar example of the embarrassing things singers are willing to do for money.

Last night was a productive lesson, if only because, well, I sang, and because I was able to kind of make up a plan for the roles I need to know NOW. It was interesting note, too, that the vast majority of what I'll be singing as core rep is Italian. And beyond my year of Italian in grad school and actually going to Italy, I feel my knowledge of the language is less than great. I can order dinner, coffee, and get by, but I want to be betttttterrrrr. So, people, I'm getting on the Rosetta Stone bandwagon, and this white girl is setting out to become VERY proficient.

Then, we talked about what I'll be singing in five years. It was so much fun to think about the big girls-- Gilda, Manon, Micaela, and Amina. Yes, I realize that for some of you, those aren't big girls, but for me...sigh. Love.

Mimi is someone I'm going to start getting to know now, however. Good to learn now, good to live with for a long time, unlike Violetta, who I feel even working on right now is perhaps not a great plan. Basically, I start working on that woman when God comes down and tells me to (and by god I mean James Levine)'s such a big undertaking vocally. And for a truly mature singer who really knows how to use her voice.

In other news, people: I'm dying! Being good is so hard! Losing weight is really a bitch. And tonight I'm going to the gym (the last place I want to go) to work off yet more calories so that I can be a hot opera singer and skinny bride. The muffintop is disappearing, so I guess it must be worth it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

So today is Monday. And I'm back at work, wondering where the weekend went.

Church yesterday went by quickly. The first service especially, and then for the second, I sat in the choir loft reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, thanks to S, who loaned it to me like a month ago. I love a book that makes me thankful that I have everything I have, even if it's a church job that I think might be driving me slowly crazy...

After the wedding, I keep telling myself. After the wedding, I can quit one. Yes.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It worked.


I won something, got some money, and now get to give another performance.

It's small, but even small things are big in their own way. If for even one day you have an excuse to feel reallllly good about yourself, then it was worth it.

So today, I go on. What next-- a trio of Handel arias, Sibelius, and I think CC and I have a deal-- the soprano stuff from Messiah?

And, I've decided to forego a trip to Vegas for an audition. Ridiculous? Yes, probably.

Tonight: drinks and a cute outfit. If I can put one together.