Monday, August 24, 2009

stunning new realization

that, perhaps, I am simply putting the cart before the horse. There isn't anything to worry about until there's something to worry about, and the revelation came to me in my coaching on Saturday that perhaps I'm just a little burnt out. It's been an intense summer psychologically and emotionally, and taking a week off from singing wouldn't kill me. So this week, besides church rep, I am just going to take it easy, and stop forcing myself to be such a driven girl for just a week.

It was a fun weekend. I rearranged the living room and did some girlie stuff like that, and spent time with people I hadn't seen in a while.

This weekend, I am really excited about a trip to Pittsburgh to see my family...always drama, but rejuvenating in a way, too.

Happy monday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I am soooo out of it, and not feeling particularly well. I have no idea why, but I just can't seem to get motivated to do anything-- not practicing (although I dutifully do it anyway), not applying for things, not working is a very weird feeling for me. Usually, I goal-oriented to a fault. I must just be having an off week, or maybe I can blame it on the muggy, hot weather?

While I have gigs early in 2010, at the moment, there is nothing pressing (except for the weekly church solo) and while I have finished my recording, and added four new arias to my rep this summer, I feel somehow as if I haven't accomplished much. I spent all of last summer and fall rehearsing and learning new roles, and well, there was my wedding, and everything was such a whirlwind that this summer's relaxed pace has kind of freaked me out. Or maybe this is what summer is supposed to feel like?

As silly as it may sound, it actually scares me a little that I have had so much time to cook, and that it's something I'm so into, because I feel that the opera singer side of Jessica is feeling a little jealous of all the attention the other side of Jessica is getting, and the real fun I have making new recipes. Like perhaps that's energy that would be better spent learning new rep, saving every penny for applications, going to lessons, coachings, etc. That is the small sneaking suspicion that is always in the back of my mind.

Then there is the ever looming question of YAPs. As a person who is lucky to have a job that pays the bills and provides insurance, I don't think I could just up and quit for something like a young artist program. So the very thing that makes me feel a modicum of security, also makes me feel a little trapped. While it's true that YAPs don't have a corner on creating successful careers, I guess to me, right now, and with the current state of opera in America, it kind of feels like they do. While my stated directive this year was to audition for everything humanly possible (because I finally feel that I am at least approaching vocal readiness for something like a larger YAP), it seems a bit ridiculous to think of spending the money on applications for things I couldn't forseeably just abandon my source of sustenance and pick up and move for. I do feel that having these things on my resume would be invaluable, however, and I'm just very confused as to what to do.

The great thing, and the upside of this whole story is that there are several summer-time YAP options that would work out well, and if I were to be selected for one, it wouldn't necessarily have to lead to the collapse of my entire life as I know it. So we will focus on that, and when I get my mojo back, jump back on the horse.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Not that any of your are pining away or anything, but I'm back from the beach, and back to normal life, except with an absolutely killer tan. Almost normal-- I have to get my a** back in the gym-- just couldn't bring myself to do it today, my first day back at work. Sigh. After an incredible weekend-- one of my favorites in months!! The week at the beach was good too, let me tell you, but coming home is lovely, I must say. I think I am just in love with home. It is comfortable, and my cats are there, and my pots and pans and gigantic television and piano.

I was a little worried about the fact that I hadn't opened my mouth to sing in a solid five days-- but let's just say, I should do that more often! It was like riding a bike, only better, with a completely rested, easy sound and lots of focus in the lower middle, and an easy E-flat. Wowzers. It's a little sad that I didn't have any auditions to go to or anything, but now I know. Rest is a good thing, and obsessive practicing (or recording) is counter-productive. Which, at my ripe old age, I suppose I should know.

One of the reasons this weekend was so great was that, after having just finished the book of the same name, I went to see "Julie & Julia." It was just a purely wonderful movie and a fabulous way to spend an hour an a half or so. That was last night-- after I had spent Saturday and most of Sunday cooking, was a little worn out, and a lot emotional...why? No idea. I guess there is a little wonder involved in cooking for me, kind of like singing. Just like sometimes I still can't believe it when I sing something well, I couldn't believe it when I roasted a whole chicken all by myself and it was SO good, as was the stock I made out of the bones, and the pot pie I made with the left overs. Talk about satisfying.

Except that I will always prefer singing, because at the end of a performance, they clap for you, and you walk away and there are never dirty dishes.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Friday: finally

Last night I made chicken, my grandmother's green beans with bacon, spinach, and mashed potatoes for dinner. It was one of those old timey kind of meals that went sadly wrong, and I'll tell you why. The recipe for the chicken with pan sauce was down right disgusting. I should have paid attention to the warning at the bottom of the page: "The Food Network has not tested this recipe, and therefore cannot vouch for its results," or something like that. I'm starting to think I should only make recipes that my favorite food bloggers recommend, because I trust their descriptions and honest analysis of the food-- since, frankly, I can't keep wasting money like this. The chicken was edible, I guess, but I was pissed. We wouldn't have starved, though, because the green beans and mashed potatoes turned out beautifully and were really delish.

I think it may have added to my annoyance, however, that I had just done seven takes of various soprano arias for a recording, was tired, and HUNGRY. The recording is nearly done. Michaela's aria is literally killing me-- in what I thought was the PERFECT take, the recorder cut off, flashing that the memory was full. Shame on me for not checking these things. So I still need to get a good recording of that one, but the other four are done. Now for the editing, and then we're off to the YAP races, and I will be sending my CDs to the four corners of the globe. Good times.

Next week we are off to Hilton Head, and I have to say, I feel like we deserve it. It's been quite a summer of drama with my family, friends, and, yes, myself. I need a pedicure before I go, but other than that: I'm ready.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Still not done recording, and I am wanting it to be over.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009


RECORDING!!! It usually makes me very nervous, crazy, scary focused, and neurotic. "Scary focused" is a technical term, that has come to be used by my husband to describe me when I am literally unable to smile, laugh, converse or think about anything other than the thing I'm scary focused on. If it happened too often, I think my marriage would end in divorce...just kidding. But really, it's probably not that far off.

The hall I had been using to record in the past is about an hour away (the very ridiculous and ironic part is that I work literally steps from four perfectly lovely concert halls every day-- but can I use those? No.), and the plan yesterday was for me to drive up after work...RIGHT at rush hour. After thinking about that for, oh, about five seconds, I realized that it was one of the dumbest plans I've ever made. Having just assumed we should do the recording in that particular space because we always have-- but still-- to drive up 95 at rush hour, on top of how nervous I usually get about making a recording...well, it would have been a disaster.

Well, it seems, my friends, that I had completely overlooked the perfectly wonderful recording venue in my OWN living room! Wood floors, high ceilings, silent neighbors, shutters to block street noise, and the best piano around! It seemed to good to be true, but we just thought: Let's try it, and see what happens. I felt so relaxed, happy, and, well, at home in my surroundings (having silenced the phones and taken the cats bells off), that I was able to get a great version of Donde lieta and Porgi, amor in two takes each. I tried for Je dis, but by that time, I was tired, and the aria itself makes me even tired-er, so, while one of the takes had some surprisingly good things in it, there were some not quite in tune moments, and some Renee-like over emoting problems. I didn't stress about it and sing it five more times (always to my poor little voice's detriment) like I usually do, because there is always tomorrow, when you are recording in your own house. Talk about unbelievable fortune, to listen to the play back and hear that the quality was great. I have never been more thrilled.

So tonight, we will come home, eat a normal dinner (Melissa's 4 step chicken with spinach and mashed potatoes because I have some Yukon golds that are on their last legs), and get back to work on finishing up.

Monday, August 03, 2009


What an insane weekend it was! I am barely recovered even now. I had the best time with Pierce, Nat, Mel, Shan, Joe, and the precious child. I love my friends. They are truly fabulous.

It was great seeing the newly-weds last night too!

This evening, it's time for a lesson-- and tomorrow night I embark on another recording adventure. My dreaded recording session each summer...and for some reason this time I am not nearly so nervous as usual. I will drink lots of water today and tomorrow, but beyond that, and not screaming or drinking to excess, there is nothing I can do. The CD will include, in no particular order (we'll see which turns out best!):

Donde lieta
Porgi, amor
Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante
Ah! fuggi il traditor
Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém
Kiss me not goodbye

Porgi, amor is the one that might not make it onto the recording...since I need that up-tempo Mozart, and Fuggi fills the bill so well, and is so blessedly short.

One might make a case for singing Mi tradi, or Dove sono in place of either of the two I mentioned above, but my thing is-- in auditions, if I'm not singing for the roles of Donna Elvira or the Countess, why not sing the more succinct of the options, they'll still know I can sing Mozart, either way.

In other news, I find myself wanting to write more and more about cooking... which is lame I know, when your blog is supposed to be about a soprano, not Top Chef. What to do, what to do...