Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Love it

After years of getting the free phone that comes with the plan, I got a Blackberry last night, and despite initial frustrations (loading the drivers for these things and getting the I-Tunes to work is not particularly fun) because I apparently know nothing about electronics, my life is changed forever.

And, it's gorgeous outside to boot. What a great day.

Upon working to input all of my calendar into the phone, I realize that Holy Week is really going to take some good planning and a lot of liquor when it's all over. It really is going to be a "kill me now" kind of week. So, besides all the regular services, I have gone and scheduled myself for an additional service at another church, and an audition in Philadelphia on Saturday.

But the good news is, this weekend, we go to Florida for my cousin's wedding. Staying in a condo with my family and all my cousins will not be for the faint of heart. We do have our own bathroom, the lord be praised. Relaxing weekend? Not quite. But VERY fun.

I just bought my ticket for the Baltimore Concert Opera's next show-- I'm psyched to go with Ms. N and listen to a little Puccini!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Last night, we went to MyThai, and of course my mouth was burning for hours. It was SO good, though. The grilled beef salad makes me want to slap my ex-wife. Worth the burning mouth by far.

Then a few of my favorites dropped in, and by midnight, the wine had been drunk and all the problems of the world had been solved, and then I remembered I had to get up early this morning. Oy.

Driving to Washington is never the best of fun, but wow, today I wasn't in the mood. But G. and I got a lot done, and I sang through "Donde lieta" for the first time ever with proper accompaniment. I'm telling you I think I am in love.

I went to work tonight wearing leggings and and attitude to match: kind of daring anyone to think I'm tacky. Working weekend concerts can be a real drag, so they're lucky I show up-- leggings or no. Coming home in the rain, I thought my purse was getting ruined, so that was stressful, and of course, since Joe is in New York, I couldn't beg him to come and get me. I am a baby sometimes, but it has been a long day. You wouldn't believe how I perked up, though, when I remembered that The Sex and the City movie was on HBO tonight. How lovely, I thought, it's the perfect way to end the week: I'll sit on the couch in my leggings watching the fabulous four and cry. And it has been. I wanted to open this bottle of champagne we have in the fridge, but all alone, being forced to drink the entire bottle, well...it's not prudent. Because, of course, champagne doesn't keep.

Oh about this time of night I could cut loose on all the leftovers in the fridge, but remembering that my cousin is getting married next week in Florida, and it would be good if I didn't look like a cow, I'm endeavoring to exercize restraint. The good news is: I don't have to sing wearing a bikini, yes, that's very good.

Friday, March 27, 2009

in bloom

Mt. Vernon is awash with pollen and I am all watery-eyed and scratchy-throated. Walking back from lunch today was not pleasant.

But it's SO pretty.


I've done several auditions in the past few weeks, and I've yet to hear back from all but one, for which I did receive an offer. So that's encouraging. But there's a sense of being kind of in limbo at the moment...

For all my talk of moving on to new rep, I've started work on a couple of new arias, but the Easter music pile is really growing, and besides my regular church job for Easter day, I accepted another solo gig for the same day as well, so I've got to get on music as well.

My sister is in town, and between working, cooking, and going out, I was able to sit down to the piano for the five minutes while she and her friend were outside on the stoop smoking to do a little vocalizing and just run through the music I will be coaching with G. tomorrow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back to your regularly scheduled neurotic obsessing

Did I mention my run is over? I've finished with Don Giovanni and am currently sitting at my desk listening to the most UNREAL Zueignung sung by Jesse Norman and some absolutely fabulous orchestra/conductor whom I really need to look up immediately if not sooner. *Ed. note: Looked it up-- conductor is Kurt Masur. He's supposed to be pretty good :)*

I'm really tired today, but last night the role went well, despite the hall being painfully dry, but I feel proud of what I did. I can put it to rest for a while and move on.

Tomorrow, another audition. And I'm wondering why the heck I'm doing this to myself...I need a break, but we have to take these opportunities when we can get them. The thought of curling my hair again, though, I must say, is nauseating.

Monday, March 16, 2009


The singer's ego. Ever heard of it? I come face to face with at least one exaggerated example of it every production I do-- and I bet you do too.

Sometimes it's just a person that seems to walk around in a daily whirlwind of heightened "it's all about me" drama, other times its a person who just can't stop talking about themselves and their endless stream of gigs complete with the name-dropping, once in a while it's the martyr type who is constantly fishing for compliments. But my personal favorite is the "older and wiser" kind who bosses you around and tells you how correct any and all vocal, dramatic, psychological or even weight (!!) problems they perceive that you have-- all unsolicited, of course.

I have found myself wondering if I'm not living up to my full career potential because I find it incredibly difficult to talk myself up and brag about everything I do-- after all, the people who are certainly have a lot going on and aren't afraid to tell you. Okay, marketing yourself and bragging are two different things. But I often feel that it's a fine line, and I have trouble knowing where it is. I just know I'm really annoyed with people who have the attitude problem...especially when you have to be in rehearsal with them for a few weeks.

So, I was excited to see a thread on the singer's forum this morning addressing this very topic. A WISE man and fellow blogger had this to say:

"Inflated egos have nothing to do with self-confidence.

I remember many threads here about the Tenor MO-FO attitude that some feel is necessary for their performances and their careers. Now a tenor, and realizing how much stamina is necessary and how much riskier it is to sing tenor, I strangely realize that I do not agree with that mindset. To sing at all requires not a superficial presentational kind of ego, but a surrender of self and a connection to the higher power that is our source of strength. To access such a source, we need to have eliminated the challenges that confront us (technical, intellectual/musical and spiritual). In such a way, we are not burdened by the worries that make us feel we need to inflate ourselves.

Performers as a matter of necessity need to be enlightened (alive in the moment) onstage and as models in real life. This enlightenment I believe is an emptying of ego, a profound humility that draws others to us, because what comes through is the greater source that is common to all of us and everything in the universe. "

and that is that.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Feeling it

My method of dealing with the recession has been to simply try to ignore as much as possible and pretend that everything is fine. For me, whose 401K will hopefully have some time to recover, I can do this more easily than my parents and grandparents. I find that focusing too much on these things can leave me with a feeling of despair that makes it difficult to go to the next audition, learn the new aria, send ANOTHER packet out to ANOTHER company, etc. I'm not blind and deaf, though, and as much as I try to pretend like things are fine, it's always in the back of my mind that the opportunities for singers are going to diminish just like everyone else's.

And this morning, I saw the article in the Washington Post about the Baltimore Opera Company's official decision to dissolve. It's very sad to me, because I've been to a couple really unforgettable performances there, and having a professional opera company a few blocks from my house was a fabulous luxury that not many people get to experience.

Baltimoreans are plucky people, though, and ESPECIALLY the singing types. We're like bulldogs around here, I tell you. At least two new opera organizations that I know of have sprung up in the wake of the loss of BOC. This one seems particularly classy. And Opera Vivente, is, by all accounts doing fabulously. So, there is hope after all, it seems.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


is my night off from the opera. I am so excited. I have big plans-- cooking this asian pork soup thing that I've been dying to try, practicing (AKA sing through Elvira and brush up audition arias), watching Survivor, of course, and reading Bethenny Frankel's book!

I adore BF. Joe surprised me with her book yesterday, and I am excited to learn how I too can be a skinny model someday.

Wow. just wow.

What a week. I keep reminding myself that I need to kind of take it easy because I have to sing DE again in a few days, but pacing yourself is hard during opera week at this particular institution. And everyone seems to be so much crazier than usual too, without even knowing it. I have a couple of twelve hour days this week, and Saturday an audition, but Sunday, thank god, nothing but church. Yay.

Isn't it a full moon, though? That probably doesn't help.

We had someone come to the window last night to buy a ticket for the show, who paid for half of his ticket in PENNIES. Not in a roll, mind you, in a big pile that had to counted. Hundreds of pennies. Just when I thought I'd seen it all.

I need to be on a reality show. It could be called: The Real Opera Singers of Baltimore and the Surrounding Suburbs. And it would feature my friends and me and all the shit we put up with on a daily basis just to try to make enough money to live! IT would be a delightful, dramatic, and particularly snarky addition to all the other fabulous things on Bravo, I think. Don't you? Except that it would catch us being honest and being ourselves, and probably ruin our chance at a career. OR MAYBE NOT???

But hey, I'm up for it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I am sitting on the couch and am apparently the cat whisperer, because they are both laying on top of me. I hardly have room for the lap top.

Friday night went fairly smoothly for my first time ever singing a long Mozart role! I love my cast. I'm having so much fun with everybody. My Anna has been sick, and so the other cast's Anna went on for her opening night--meaning she was singing both Friday and Saturday night's performances. Waking up Saturday morning, after having sung the night before, and feeling the state of my own cords, I have NO idea how she did it! I was thoroughly tired out. Going out after probably didn't help-- but I HAD to celebrate my first Elvira!! It's a milestone.

Besides going out for groceries and a visit to Loehmann's to look for a dress for my cousin's wedding, and church, of course, all I did yesterday and today was watch old movies and try out recipes. Right now, for instance, I'm in heaven because Henry V is on the indie film channel and I can flip over to Bridezillas during the boring bits. I had such grand plans for partying, but between the time change and the show, I didn't have it in me. I think you call this old age?? sigh...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

letting go

Tomorrow night we open. So today, I will be swilling water and trying not to talk.

Practicing last night was interesting. Joe thinks I am crazy because I am one of those people who will practice a particular passage into the ground, singing it over and over until it is perfect seventy times in a row, and there are a couple spots in this opera that I feel I could never possibly practice enough! They will always be just the slightest bit scary. But that's the fun of it, I suppose, and why singing is so fabulously rewarding when things go right.

I sang through everything, and felt fine, so now it is time to let go.

It will be important that I don't scream my head off during American Idol like I did last night, too. It was just so dramatic and I get really worked up when the wrong people get through, and then there is the parts where I try to imitate their screamy pop voices, and it is bad for my technique and very embarrassing to everyone else, so I think we will all be happier if I just shut up.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Last night

Yesterday morning I got up at 7, after a pretty not-great night of sleep. When this happens, I wake up with that heavy feeling, the kind that, if you're not careful, you know has the potential to make it a BAD day. I need my eight hours, people, and especially if I am expected to sing a dress rehearsal of Don Giovanni. So I knew it was going to be important to remain positive and not let the bitchy, pissed off part of my feelings take over. So I showed up to church, marked my way through the service, went over my blocking in my head during the homily, and spent a lot of mental energy trying to psych myself up. When I have rehearsals on Sunday, I've found it really helps me recharge after having to get up ass-early and go sing for church, if I come home, put on pajama pants, and spend at least half an hour in front of the TV gulping water and not talking or thinking. After that, I can face the world again, and usually my voice feels magically rejuvenated.

I've spoken before about the difficulty of the final stages of the show, and how weird it is to not really have anyone you can get feedback from. There are obviously people in my show whose opinion I would trust, but it feels a bit unprofessional to take out my insecurities on them when we are all working so hard to make it a great show, and have our own characters to worry about. I'll never forget a particular run of performances in which I was playing a very minor supporting role, and the leading lady frequently came to me to ask how I thought she sounded, about this note or that note, and I always felt that, while I was flattered that she would ask, it was not my place to be anything other than totally complimentary, and to try to reassure her and help her feel good about what she was doing. So I know that people, like me, would have trouble giving me honest answers, and would I really want to hear it even if they did??? Oy, it's a scary thought.

So, I brought Joe last night. I am so lucky to have a spectacular musician for a husband, and one who is quickly developing a very good ear for voices. Although I think most people have an innate sense of what sounds good and what doesn't, if they would trust their ears. I felt so good having him there, partly because there was supposed to be a major storm, and I would have been beyond stressed during my rehearsal if I had known I was going to have to drive through a blizzard to get home. But also because I knew he would tell me if there were good things, and if there were things that could be better. And he did-- I felt questionable about a couple scenes, and asked him to report back. I got the run-down, and surprisingly, nothing was as bad as I thought it was!

After singing all afternoon, I knew I was in pain, but I just didn't know where-- it was kind of an all over tiredness, with a major ache in my lower back. When we were finally on our way home, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner and I had pot roast with a double side of green beans...it was all the medicine I needed. Then home again, and it was me, Joe and the cats...back to normal life, and I TRIED to put DG out of my head. But it was still whirling around in there, and I woke up again this morning with it running through my head.