Monday, June 30, 2008


I just love feedback. Sometimes. Oy.

After a particularly ridiculous audition experience, I sent my little note to the AD, as I always do, thanking them for the opportunity and asking for any feedback on my audition, if he might have the chance to provide it. My feeling about the actual singing part of the experience had been that it was okay, not my best, but partially due to a couple of the crazy things I had been asked to do in 97 degree heat and no air-conditioning. I was just really proud of myself that I didn't walk in and sing Angry Musetta and Angry Manon and then cuss everyone out. So maybe I shouldn't have asked in the first place.

Well, low and behold, I actually got some feedback. This almost never actually happens, mind you. I wish it would-- I would have been much better prepared for what I was about to read.

On first reading, a couple of adjectives stood out that left me with that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, and made me feel a little weird. On second reading, I understood what was being said and started to make sense of it. On third reading, I realized that it was overall, a pretty good review of what I had done, especially in light of the circumstances, and, hell, they asked me to come back and sing again. No part for you, but you didn't suck, so, feel free to try it again, in three years when we have our next round of auditions, and by the way, you might need to fix the following things, and here's some words that people throw around to totally freak singers out. But that no one's sure exactly what you really mean when using them.

I remember my consultation with Cindy Sadler with great fondness now, looking back, because it put me in high gear, let's kick some ass mode, and actually resulted in me really kick-starting my singing career as I know it. But while it was happening I was nothing less than mortified, freaked out, shell-shocked. And not because she wasn't perfectly nice-- but because I knew she had no reason not to be completely honest.

The hard truth about what you do, and how other people perceive your singing and your presentation of yourself is sometimes pretty hard to take...especially if you assume that none of the nice things are the real truth and all of the negative things ARE. Lots of singers do that-- including me. While I think that I have the ability to tell the difference between genuine compliments and the fake ones, I still tend to remember all the bad things way more.

Who do I actually really currently trust to give me feedback? My teacher and my coach. And should I be trusting people I'm paying? who knows. Should I trust ADs that I don't know and don't know me? who knows.

Do I trust myself? Yes. And because I do, I'll just trust who I trust, and feel my way through all of it, hoping that I'll have the good sense to tell if somebody's telling me the wrong stuff.

I got my Boheme score last week-- I was way too excited. And wayyyy too anxious to wait even a minute before playing through my part in the second act.

My last two roles have been so pleasantly linear and easy to come in at the right time that I'd forgotten just how tricky Puccini can be. After highlighting all my singing in each act, and putting little tabs on the pages, I put the score back on the piano and walked away, telling myself to just calm down, that I've got three months to learn it.

The next day, I opened it up again and turned on the metronome. My god, I said. Then I really started to freak out because the tempos are so insane, and when I listened to the Karajan recording, well, I nearly had a melt down. So I put the whole thing away and watched a Barefoot Contessa segment on the Food Network, after which I felt much better and will always be in awe of her ability to calm my soul with her Long Island-French cuisine, even though I will probably never eat any of it, or attempt to make it myself.

So the new directive is to become just a bit more confident with small sections everyday, starting from the end of an act and working forward, always beginning way under tempo, going through that way first, and then trying to get it back up there where it should be. Then is the interesting task of figuring out what's the best way to know when to come in-- taking a cue from the orchestra, the other singers, or, if all else fails just plain having to count. Counting really sucks at times. I avoid it at all costs. :)

In other news, I went dancing over the weekend, and hung out with my mom. Why is it that we're always the most fabulous chicks at the club? I tried to talk her into going to see Sex and the City movie with me again, but she wouldn't hear of it. Oh well. I'm just dying for Joe to come back from Ohio, and for our fun 4th of July weekend...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good things

There are a lot of them in my life...
But I think I found a new one!

I left work just a bit early Tuesday to get to Washington in time for my 5:00 coaching, my first with this particular person. I was driving along happily, traffic free, when I opened my planner to read what I had written about where to park. And there it was-- very clearly delineated on the page:

"Coaching at 4"

And I could feel myself starting to panic, because, well, there is absolutely no way I was going to have a chance of making it on time. Which I HATE. I abhor being late. Really I do. I think it's one of those ways I avoid feeling like I'm not perfect, and can remain convinced I am in control of my life.

As the blood is beginning to boil, I realize that I'm going to have to call and tell her I'll be horribly late. This time last year, I could have seen myself really getting into quite an abusive internal dialogue about this, and beating myself up repeatedly for being so stupid. But then I realized how absolutely un-productive it would be to start that now, in light of the fact that when I did finally get there, I was going to need to sing really well to make up for being so late.

So I called her, and while I was flying down the highway at 1000 miles an hour, I reminded myself that I'm human, and sometimes people make mistakes, even me, and I've kind of been burning the candle at both ends lately. Something was bound to fall through the cracks.

I had a hell of a time finding a place to park the car, and then lost my bearings completely trying to find my way back to her apartment from the far away land where I'd been forced to park. I must have looked like I'd been ridden hard and put away wet when I finally arrived at her doorstep, panting, and really needing to pee. She welcomed me smiling, even though I was a full 20 minutes late, offered me a glass of water and showed me to the bathroom, and then immediately forgot about all of that, and we got down to business. When she said the words "opera mafia" about ten minutes into our "getting to know you" conversation, I knew it was meant to be-- I thought I was the only person who said that...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


What a whirlwind this weekend has been! And I guess I'm kind of including yesterday too, as it seemed to flow from Sunday right into Monday.

Saturday night's performance was great. The orchestra sounded good, I was so inspired by some of the singing, and the acoustics in the hall are a singer's dream. The other really great thing is that my cast mates are very normal, down-to-earth people-- nary a diva in sight. We had a FUN time together. And I made some friends too. Of course, there were the occaisional dramatic moments backstage, but what's the use of doing this unless you have some stories to tell...

Oh how I wish I could risk my professional reputation to repeat them. You guys would die.

New York was short, and Joe was fabulous. We went off to celebrate afterwards with my aunt and uncle and cousins.

Last night, a long rehearsal, and lots of screaming of high d flats and other notes too. Ow. I am SO sick of driving. After tonight's coaching in Washington it will be over for a few days, and I'll be able to just sit around a bit.

I've noticed, however, that when I sit around I get I don't know why I'm looking forward to it so much!

Friday, June 20, 2008

weekend? really?

No. Just going over everything I have to do in my head makes me tired.

Tomorrow is going to be interesting...I put Joe on a train to NY for his performance, then hair appointment (practice run for wedding and trim). Then, I driving to Schicchi rehearsal, from which I will leave slightly early in order to get to Trovatore performance. Then, I'm driving to my Aunt Nancy's to spend the night and pick up my mom so we can drive to New York the next morning and arrive in time to hear Joe, and meet my family for dinner after!!

I'm looking forward to the singing part, and the New York part. But the drivinngggggg....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Run through

We're doing a run through tonight. I hope I remember my words.

I took out the Countess's arias last week for the first time since, well, back when I was laboring under some very interesting false pretenses about the kind of voice I had.
I was pleased to discover that they feel easy (I use this term loosely) and the tessitura is good...

Is that because I'm getting used to singing in my painful passagio (Ines)? Or is it because I'm not totally comfortable with my middle voice?

Who the hell knows.

I need a drink, and I need to party. And I need to memorize my words.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Time for an update, beeyotches

I haven't written in forever. And it's really because there's not a lot of drama to talk about...things are rolling along with Trovatore, and rehearsals for Schicchi haven't really begun to gain momentum.

I'm looking forward to having a night off sometime soon...maybe friday? Tomorrow night Joe and I are doing a little practice run of some music for a small audience, and I'm not nervous, which is probably a bad sign.

This time last year, I was gearing up for my hundreds of trans-continental trips, and buying clothes, purses, luggage, drinks, dancing, and being fabulous.

Now, I feel like I've never been so totally focused on singing, learning music, and getting my plan of attack together. I go to rehearsal instead of happy hour. I pay for gas and save for my wedding instead of buying clothes. Having time to go to the grocery store is a real event. But I feel even more "fabulous" than I did last year. By leaps and bounds. Because, however humble the role or the company, I'm singing, and that's what I always wanted to do.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Opening night

It was way too fun. I'm really starting to get to know the people in my cast-- since I had a week off, I guess I felt a little disconnected from everyone else, and, well, I don't really spend that much time on stage with them! There are some fantastically talented people...and on opening night, I started to feel like I was really in a "show."

Maybe I can sing Verdi??

You couldn't ever say that my little role is a true test of one's ability to last through a Verdi opera in a lead role, but I like the structure of the music, and the ensembles are so beautiful. The nun's chorus in Act II...sigh... I don't think I'm really cut out for Verdi leading ladies, but I sure had fun getting to be in the general aura of Verdi-ness for the run of this show...then it's back to Puccini.

Speaking of, I was excited to learn this week that I'd landed the role of Musetta for a production in November! Words cannot decribe how excited I am that I get to go from one Puccini opera straight into another. It's absolutely my favorite stuff to sing, but for some reason I never thought that I had the vocal weight to pull it off. The true test of what you're right for, I guess, is what you get hired for, so it's a fun realization that I can now officially call myself a lyric soprano and have the resume to back it up. And to be in La bohème??? yessssss. I am so freaking lucky.

I ordered my score.

I used to miss having money and being able to go shopping and buy fabulous clothes, and somehow, all the music is making me forget about it! I have my work cut out for me.


They've never felt quite so more church job for several weeks (until the ocaisional summer cantoring gig), and tonight we're registering. I'm really excited. Tomorrow, I have an appointment to talk about china patterns at an area purveyor of fine china. :) So that part of wedding preparation is really coming along.

Wednesday night, we met with our fabulous music guy, and the ceremony is going to be wondrous. I'm beyond excited about that segment of the day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


As Paris would say-- It's "Hot." Like really hot.

Like so hot that we've been sleeping on the pull out couch in the living room every night so we can be closer to the window unit.

Yesterday, however was the world's hottest day, and I had an audition at an un-air-conditioned venue in Philly. And get this-- it was on the third floor and there was no elevator!!! When I had finally trudged up to the lady's room, I was too sweaty to get my clothes off to I tried to stand still and fan myself to cool off.

I had to keep wiping my face off while trying to put on my make-up, and when I finally got all dressed and beautiful, I looked like a drippy, horrific mess after about ten seconds. And I couldn't get my breath. It was starting to kind of feel like a bit of a bad situation....

So I met Joe in the practice room for a warm up, and there he was, too, basically dying of heat stroke.

"Well, babe," He said with a watery smile, "If you can sing here, you can sing anywhere."

And with those words, I decided to stop being pissed and take it on as a kind of challenge. Like, you know, the what-are-the-worst-possible-conditions-you-can-possibly-think-of-to-sing-in-and-then-still-totally-nail-it challenge.

I don't know if I nailed it, but I certainly faked like I wasn't dying and tried to focus on the task at hand, and it went pretty darn well. Then I went to my dress rehearsal and faked like I wasn't exhausted!

Long day, and tonight is the opening.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

getting up on the wrong side of the bed

This morning, I woke up feeling icky and hot. So I started drinking coffee, and that made it worse, and so did taking a shower.

Then I felt myself starting to escalate into this mental state in which I started to worry!!! gasp. about rehearsal tonight, about how I look, about THINGS in general.

And I had to just grab myself by the hair and yank myself back to being, well, thankful and optimistic...which isn't as quick and easy sometimes as I would like it to be. But it's getting easier. And even without the aid of vodka!

So guess what happened then?

I got to work, and D., who works in an adjoining office, brought me a big vase of pink peonies from his garden! My favorite flower!!! Here they are, smelling good and reminding me that I have absolutely NOTHING to be in a bad mood about. Not a thing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June 4

Looking back, I'm know this will be a summer I'll remember fondly for several reasons...

- auditions, auditions and more auditions
There is no underestimating the confidence I've gained in the past few months with the sheer volume of singing I've done, and getting good feed-back helped too. I can't believe I ever spent any time doubting whether I should pursue something I love so much. I have lots of work to do, don't get me wrong, and I'm still not convinced I've got the perfect audition dress, but it's exciting stuff, you know?

- Sex and the City Movie
Last night, in a movie theater full of women, I watched it for the first time. I'll be going back to the theater for more. All the haters can hate-- I love this movie and the message that you get from it. I cried sooooo much. It reminded me that there is absolutely no reason to tone myself down, or do anything other than exactly what I want-- to completely embrace being happy-- on exactly my terms, and no one else's. For that reason, I think I'll need to watch the movie once a month for maintenance. It also made me really miss some people...and call them last night crying! :)

- getting ready for the wedding
When I got back yesterday, I made a lunch appointment with Drew to talk about his day-of wedding coordination services, and I know he'll be as picky a bitch as I would be...then, I finalized some details of the invites, and am completely motivated to get started on all the crazy details. YAY.

- and last but not least, learning SO much about how to be a better Jessica...there are several books and people that have helped me, each a miraculous kind of next step up. Right now Eckhart Tolle is helping me synthesize all of them into a whole: a real picture of what life can be.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

where do I begin?

I'm back here again, after alllll that has happened. I wish I could say it's hard to return to normal life, but I was glad to come home to my two cat children and my comfortable, familiar bed.

Many of us have a little trouble being around our families for much time at a stretch, and I can understand that...but mine, on the other hand-- we had a fantastic time. Not that everyone's always perfectly wonderful, but when you feel appreciated and supported by a lot of people all in the same place and have had so much fun laughing and drinking with them, it's hard to leave. You don't get that feeling a lot in the real world.

In St. Augustine (the cutest town ever), I sang in a master class for a fantastic opera administrator/acting teacher/yogi who helped me immensely with a couple of my interpretation hang-ups in a particular aria. Often I think of master classes as being a little bit weird because I think, well, of course, she sang it better the second time!! But this DID actually help me, although I was as nervous as ever I had been, putting myself out there in front of all the other singers. At the end of the day, I got the courage to ask him a tough question about levels, ability, and who exactly is really ready to do certain other words, your honest opinion please? How do I measure up? **big intake of breath**


I'm ready.

Then I floated on a cloud all the way up to Savannah to spend the next day and night going on tours and eating good food. I loved my vacation.

But now I'm back, and I think I may have a show opening next week...? Yes.

Can't wait.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I'm in Savannah right now-- one of my favorite places. In the past week I've been in Indiana, Ohio, St. Pete Beach, Sarasota and St. Augustine, before landing here in Georgia.

I can't wait to write about everything...but right now, I just feel like the only person in the world who hasn't seen the Sex and the City Movie...sigh.

A good dinner and a ghost tour tonight, and home tomorrow.