Thursday, December 30, 2010


I really love those New Year's Eve year in review things. They always make me well up.

Here is my top ten of 2010:

* Two years of marriage: successful, blissful, lucky as hell.

* My New York debut at Merkin Hall: if you don't count my hundreds of millions of auditions. Thank god this was a paying gig!

* Seeing my mother happy in a relationship.

* My first and last Met National Council Auditions...

* The first full year I have ever been able to say that I really trust my voice, technique, and my point of view as an artist. Here's to confidence. Most of the time. Finally.

* Survived endless turmoil at my day job, lived to tell about it. Notable battle scars include a very expensive bill for a mammogram and ultrasound, after doctor found a little lump. This further proves my view that stress absolutely kills and will manifest itself in your body if you don't find a way to get rid of it. Was it worth it? absolutely not. And things are going to change. They have to!

* This was the year of fabulous, fun weddings. In my family, and with my friends. Not to say that there weren't some great ones last year, or the year before, but four in one year has got to be a record for us. Nothing says glamorously trashed like a family wedding. And nothing soothes the soul like a little tradition and some hopeful sentimentalism.

* Cooked a successful holiday meal...if you don't count the fire alarm going off about eight times because of some burning olive oil.

* Realized that nothing could possibly ever be as important as people and that being compassionate and kind is the best thing I could ever do to influence life on this planet. Realizing that I have nothing to prove to anyone, and that "standing up for yourself" isn't always the most important thing in personal relationships.

* A tweet from Deepak Chopra changed my life this year: It said that in the end, everyone is just doing the best they can. We all want to be happy, we all want to feel secure and loved. Boy did that make me look at folks differently, those few times, of course, that I could get over myself for five seconds.

Some how I now know that we are all going to be okay. Life is fun, and horrible all at the same time, fun, horrible, fun, horrible...over and over again. But it always turns out okay in the end. I can say this first hand, because after the semester from hell...I was rewarded with one of the best Christmases I've had in a LONG time! It's the yin and yang, ebb and flow that makes it interesting and keeps us on our toes. What I am SO lucky to have is friends, and a mom and aunts and sisters and cousins. I am so grateful to the people who seem to want to be in my life, for whatever reason. I can be a handful. I am well aware. They are people who have gone to lunch with me when I am no fun at all to be around (and even paid sometimes!), taken my calls, texted me, commented on my blogs, said nice things on my facebook wall, come to my performances, come to my parties, sent me cards, brought me wine, brought me soup, told me when I was acting like a jerk, told me when I was doing a good job, recommended me for gigs, listened to me endlessly complain when they know as well as I do that I have so much to be thankful for and that I should just shut up. It's because of them, really, that I have maintained having a husband and have not driven him batty, because I had other people to spread the love to.

Happy New Year! May you all have more gigs than you can possibly take, bring every audience to tears, and drink lots of wine in the coming year. Love.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Well, we did Christmas. We are about to do New Year's. And so far, despite the momentary family drama I am currently enduring in the midwest, it seems to have honestly been one of the best holiday seasons I have ever had. I honestly have rarely felt so happy, stress-free, and generally with-it for a Christmas. So it was good. And to tell you the truth, I think it had a lot to do with my friends.

I got everything I wanted, except, of course for the ever-elusive diamond bracelet. Because I would be mad at Joe anyway if he ever spent that much money, but someday maybe I can buy it for myself. Or we could go dutch.

Now, I have about one million pages of music staring me right in the face. I need to learn it. And I need to learn it immediately.

Today, I have a plan for memorizing, and hopefully can follow through with it like a good girl.

While I have mixed feeling about the idea of New Year's resolutions, I decided about a month ago to work toward making some significant changes in my life, to work toward making it really look like I want it to look. I can't settle for things, I have to work for what I want. It's easy to forget when you're having a lovely Christmas that there are things that need to be considered. When you are doing your best to stay afloat, you don't want to be bothered with things like change. You just want to go to sleep at night.

There is a lot of singing ahead for me, so how could I be anything but happy! And it's GOOD music.

Okay, so now, I better get off the computer and get to the piano.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Christmas is getting so close. I am excited for time off!

On Saturday, my trip to New York started off rough, I'll be honest. I parked in the wrong parking lot when catching the bus, and found out just before we were about to load the bus that I'd probably be towed if I parked there. Merry Christmas to me, and how about some SIGNAGE, people????? Would it kill you to put something up? Well, I had been in the front of the line, but by the time I got back from moving the car, and running the quarter mile back to the bus (augghhhhh) with luggage, mind you, I was LAST. So I ended up next to a big guy with no concept of personal space. He kept elbowing me and resting his arm on me, and I DO NOT like to be touched. I hate it. It creeps me out. But I was next to the bathroom, which is convenient when you are a water guzzler.

It felt like an eternity til we got to NYC. My back was killing me, since I had spent the three hours twisted in knots trying to avoid being touched. And I was starving, but what is new. The problem is that the bus was late, and I had to get to the east side and up forty blocks, so food was my last priority. Well, I took a cab. I was in no mood for more mass transpo.

It was a great audition. I felt so good when I walked out, that I called Joe to tell him all about it and then promptly put on my earphones and started listening to Mariah Carey's FABULOUS rendition of "Joy to the World" on repeat while walking back downtown. It was SO fun! I had the best time and I felt so in the Christmas spirit-- Madison Avenue is beyond amazing this time of year. Sigh.

Going home was not as bad, having had a great audition and good feedback from the panel. It feels good to hear nice things! AND of course I had snacks. And a more considerate seat mate.

Now, I must focus on getting all my music learned for January.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The riffing is kind of hilarious, but these two still give me chills


Getting ready for New York tomorrow. My voice is feeling heavy and horrible, so I think I had better rest it today. I will try my hardest to avoid screaming at students, I mean.

I need water. Is anyone else beyond dehydrated?

My dress is good to go. My shoes are sexy. My face is for once not breaking out from stress. I am so spoiled-- I hate having to go to the East Side for auditions. But I will do it, yes I will!

My travel time will be a good opportunity to work on rhythms and memorizing French. And I am not ashamed to admit, I can't wait to have one whole day ALONE. By myself, with myself, eating whatever I want and all on my own time line. Except for the part where I try to sing so wonderfully that I meet and yes, exceed everyone on the panel's expectations and they fall all over themselves trying to talk me into working for them.

Tonight I think I will bake cookies and work on getting ornaments on the tree. I have to do these kinds of enormous projects incrementally. :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


It's so cold out that when I arrive at work after my morning commute (walking fourish blocks), I have tears running down my face, from the cold, of course. But it's embarrassing because I'm pretty sure people are wondering why I am such a basket case.

Even though I'm not actually crying at the moment, I am more affected by the death of Elizabeth Edwards than I thought I would be. What an unbelievable woman, who endured so much sadness. Her attitude was incredible, and she never seemed like a victim. I'll never forget the interviews she did last year with Oprah about her book and the situation with her husband John.

It's made me think a lot about dignity. I have spent a lot of time flailing around trying to make sense of life, although maybe not outwardly all the time, more, maybe, on the inside. No matter how much one tries not to let it show, and to keep a stiff upper lip, if the flailing is happening inside, something's bound to surface. Is it even possible to be a dignified emerging artist? I wonder this almost daily. We jump through this hoop and that, pay this person and that person, work at one horrific day job after the next in service of a feeling that we have something to share, something to offer, something to say. And I don't I really know why, except that if I stopped, I wouldn't be happy, and living in a regretful way is not great when you get to be 75 and look back and wonder what it was really all about.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tuesday: I have to share

This blog post is fantastic!

Go to one of my favorite bloggers for a little perspective on a Tuesday morning!

Monday, December 06, 2010


This week is shaping up to be a little intense. I have to admit that this November and December, I haven't taken on a lot of the normal audition season madness, because I've had gigs. Which is WONDERFUL. Oh, and because I am poor. This weekend, however, I've got to go up to New York again. I'm equally excited and filled with dread. A day off? Anyone? please?

Last night I went over my audition arias-- which I'm sheepish to admit, I haven't sung through in a few weeks. They were great! Bless the muscle memory, oh my soul. So I'm feeling better than I thought I would about the audition.

It is time now, also for me to get to work in earnest to begin learning the new score I've received for the production I start rehearsals for in January...I am having trouble motivating myself, not because the music isn't fab, but because....well....Christmas is looming. Shopping needs to get done. The tree needs to be put up. I have cooking to do. I am pushing myself to get through the next week and a half of school, so much work to do til the end, lots of concerts to work (ugh)...but I have REALLY earned the break.

I haven't really seen my husband in several weeks, since we are both in "tis the season for insanity" mode, but maybe, just maybe, after all the musical drama, family drama, and work drama calms down, we'll get a moment. We were lamenting our plight just yesterday, and then I reminded myself that it will make us appreciate our time together that much more!

Monday music

you can thank me later.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Tuesday's child is full of grace.

Well, I'm trying to be, anyway, people.

Very excited to sing for a pretty major lady in less than two weeks... another trip to New York? Yes, please. Another excuse to wear my dress and sing? YES.

I suppose I have my arias kind of settled, but I tried out an old one that is feeling might fine these days, and somehow MUCH easier than the first time I performed it-- Mi tradi. And I think this particular lady might really like to hear that.

But then, I think you are always doing the wrong thing by singing something not terribly secure just because you think somebody would prefer it over the things you sing really well and can always count on. I think she would agree.

I always have to remind myself: I am the artist. They are the audience. I choose what I will share with them even in an audition.

This little reminder keeps me from worrying too much about how to please everyone. Because I've learned that the way to engage most people at least is to do what YOU want to do and fully commit to it with everything you have.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I am not sorry to say I still get choked up over music. There is always a new, wonderful thing that surprises me, or an old familiar piece that reminds me of something that happened once.

Or else it is just so purely amazingly good that it squeezes the tears right out of your eyes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday= Hafiz c. 1320-1389

Why Not Be Polite?


Is God speaking.

Why not be polite and

Listen to


**I am stunned sometimes at how very relevant to my life poetry from the 14th century can be.**

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Yesterday was a disaster. I'm not sure why except that lately, work has been very tough, and I am feeling particularly drained by it.

This always frustrates me, because I always try to remember that while I am committed to my work during the 8 hours a day I am there, singing is my focus, my purpose, my reason for needing a day job in the first place. Therefore, anything that puts me in a place that keeps me from being able to practice effectively is not okay. But I am decidedly, and almost detrimentally conscientious, and have a hard time just blowing something off that I feel I could help with at my job, so I've been coming home every day this week wanting to kill myself. I take on too much. That is my Achilles heel.

I wish I could say Thanksgiving break was looking like a relaxing time to recuperate, but family dramas continue, and it's looking like more of the same.

Last night, after work, I rushed to my hair appointment, which I usually really enjoy, but this time, I left looking like a drowned rat-- my bangs had been dried all wrong, and I was like "F**k it."

Joe was working late so I took myself out to dinner. And I had bread pudding for dessert.

And it was good.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I want a dining room table. But I am very picky about things like this, so it is kind of making my life hell because I do not have a good sense of perspective in life, obviously, because truly horrible things are happening all over the world.

I thought all hope was lost until yesterday picking up a catalog only to realize that my dream chairs do in fact exist, and in real leather, and at an affordable price. Now, to try to figure out a way to pay for it.

I shall need some more gigs. Like tomorrow. Anybody?

Also, I have just discovered that I am swell at a very hard aria I thought I could never sing, so it is bound to be a good day. Even though it is Monday, I had almost forgotten.

Friday, November 12, 2010


At lunch with Mr. S a couple of days ago, he made the observation that I haven't blogged about cooking in a while, so singing must be going well! It's hilarious, and sadly true. When I have finished a gig, all I can think that I would want to do is go home and make dinner, and have a glass of wine. During rehearsals there is no time for such things, and I end up eating a lot of crap I shouldn't, and begin to long for real home food like brisket and roasted chicken.

So last night, since there is a break in the action until I am feeling better and until, well, next week, I made fajitas and red rice and took a minute to rest. It was so great.

Joe teases me because I am usually not great at days off, and time with nothing to do. I can ALWAYS find something, and since my tolerance for TV is low, a couple hours is my max. I could always do laundry, bake something, learn a page here or there for the next singing gig, or look at new music for a recital or audition.

Even though I am under the weather, I still had a great high E flat last night, so I thought to myself...maybe it's time to look at Violetta?

YES, just yes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Our performance at Merkin Hall last weekend was grueling but wonderful. It taught me a lot about myself as a performer.

It becomes clearer to me everyday that energy and focus and commitment can make a performance sparkle, even against the odds. With less than adequate rehearsal time, a barely tonal piece and little access to a piano (I am so spoiled at home, I realize) except for an hour each day at Nola, I was scared to death, but the performance turned out well. I was sure when I arrived in New York I had memorized carefully, each interval, and the feeling that each note had in my voice. For these kinds of works, it can be a scary situation, because I was almost totally leaning on muscle memory to find each pitch, with next to no help in the piano part. Then, I was suddenly onstage to rehearse and it was like my whole vocal center of gravity had shifted, and suddenly things weren't feeling the same. Joe told me that what I was singing was right, and I had to rely on him that everything would be okay. The lovely thing is that the audience would never know...but I would know, and the composer would know, and god knows I am good at beating myself up over these things.

There is so much to be said, however, for just willing it to be right, and giving it everything you vocally and dramatically.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010


We are off an running for a wild weekend of singing! I've noticed an interesting difference between my life and most other people's: they can't wait for Friday-- I can't wait for Monday! That's the night I finally get to have a drink and yell and scream and talk on the phone! Hurrah!

We haven't even carved our pumpkins yet which is depressing. Last year Joe did a lovely intricate one depicting a cat in a window. It was impressive to say the least, and even when we let it sit out on the stoop all night, no one vandalized it. You have to respect an amazing jack o' lantern, no matter what kind of a houligan you are.

Yesterday night, my mother asked me to meet her for a little shopping outing, and since I haven't seen her in a while and I am on schedule with my secco recits, I said, YES I need to shop, people.

Well, can I tell you I almost spent the rent on a VERY major bag that I saw last night. Sometimes it is good to shop with your mother, especially when she is a bit more frugal, because she will keep you from doing these kinds of things. But then that is also the bad thing, because I could have been walking down the street today carrying an incredibly sick handbag that I've *always* wanted.

It's better this way. It is technically more productive and respectable to squander one's money on application fees rather than purses.

But is it really? Excuse me while I log on to ebay...

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Last night's activities included an hour rehearsing the songs for the upcoming New York concert, after which I realized, oh man my voice is in shreds! Which I think is probably what extreme register shifts at forte every five beats will do to you. Then I went and made dinner (I highly recommend Cook's Illustrated's recipe for pan roasted potatoes, P.S.). Ahhhh cooking is relaxing and makes me feel so good.

Shreds or no, I still had a lot of recit to nail last night, and when by 9:30 I was starting to zone out, I thought to myself...self, let's go watch TV. Then, I decided to try going over everything before bed to see if it will cement itself in my mind while I'm sleeping. After looking at the same passages again this morning, I don't know if it worked. People say it does. Maybe I am doing it wrong.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Live in rooms full of light. - Cornelius Celsus

Light exposes the true character of everything. - Ephesians 5:13

The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun. -John Greenleaf Whittier

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Can anyone please explain to me why in the world I had never experienced Sassy Gay Friend until today?

It was a revelation.

Also, I learned how to make perfect onion rings last night, complete with deep-frying.

I am so much more than just a singer. I am an expert deep-fryer.

Monday, October 25, 2010


All I can think about is chicken noodle soup. That is either because I am getting sick, or have spent so much time at the synagogue lately.

But I am happy to report that I have the ingredients and will be making some tonight.

Isn't my life supremely riveting?

I was in the paper yesterday, though, a promotional picture from a performance I just did was used with an article about the growing opera scene here in Charm City. It was lots of fun.

Then I had church. Then I had rehearsal. Then I came home and had in-laws. Almost had to call in sick, but I'm here, people, loud and proud that I survived.

Today, I intend to take a full day off from opening my mouth except if necessary and rest the voce. The poor little thing has earned it. I feel like I wasn't so good to her yesterday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Yes, I am fine. Sorry for yesterday's suicidal post that got hijacked by Jersey Shore I am not sure how.

I think I just need a nap.

And a trip to a third world country so I can be reminded of what a stupid, selfish person I am for complaining about what is really a fantastic life I am lucky to live. Will I never learn?

Friday, October 22, 2010


It is Friday, as if I ever have to remind anyone of that. I am tired. I have PMS. I went to the most wonderful wine tasting last night with a fabulous friend, and then came home and ruined it all by eating pasta and ice-cream, so now I feel bad about myself. I got rejected from an audition. Actually 2 auditions. I am a reject AND I can kiss that $35 goodbye. A double-whammy. My in-laws are coming this weekend. I have Shabbat at 8 am tomorrow. So it is a good thing we are having lovely weather because if it weren't I might do myself a harm.

I am weepy and cried over Audra MacDonald and Judy Garland singing on Youtube last night too.

It is an emotional mine-field, people. I would say there are grenades blowing up everywhere, except that ever since Jersey Shore, the word grenade has a strange and different meaning.

But thinking about Jersey Shore and grenades did just make me smile. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


So there it is. I've applied for several million things. I've polished up my arias, and we're ready to go. I have the perfect dress. I have the perfect shoes.

It is scary to think that because I have prepared so well for this year's auditions, if I don't get hired, the only thing that could possibly be to blame if I don't get hired, is well, ME.

Me, freaking out and forgetting to be fabulous
Me, freaking out and forgetting to be the character
Me, forgetting to bring the select grouping of arias the company asked for
Me, being too vocally exhausted because of another gig to sing well
Me, not being able to sleep
Me, having a bad hair day

Okay. Enough of this. Now let me get back to work on another freaking application.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Joan Sutherland.

What can I say that everyone else hasn't already said?

You and Leontyne and Pav were my first loves. That recording of "Casta Diva" blew me away-- I think it might have slightly changed my life, actually. The way you made the hardest role for a soprano sound one hundred percent effortless...sigh, it set a standard for me in my own head that is going to be very hard to attain. :)

And about the whole diction issue. I just don't care. I never did. I actually get frustrated when a coach or a teacher mentions you because I had a moment of horrifically muffled pronunciation-- I feel offended on your behalf. You sing with such ease, such facility, and phrasing that I'm not ashamed to admit I stop caring about the words.

And we should all be such lucky sopranos as to be officially called "Dame." That and singing with Callas are the two things of which I am most jealous. The rest of us just have regular names.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Today I had a major break through.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but for about ten seconds I had the twinge of a feeling that is so foreign to me that I almost didn't know what it was.

Wait for it...

I realized that I don't care what people think.

About how I sound in my recital tonight. About what I look like. (And I'm sure this new found confidence will last all of ten minutes.)

Of course, I feel like on some level, you have to qualify a statement like that-- because I've always hated the kind of performers that don't give to their audiences and that seem to be singing to themselves. You have to want to create something for your audience, and you want to make them love you. But I think it is so different than wondering whether or not you are good enough. I have worked my tail off to prepare myself to sing in public, to sing well enough to get paid for doing it. So, I think it is about time I get up on my high horse and go out there and stop worrying so much about whether or not what I have is viable, worthy, and fantastic enough for everybody.

I've been watching the Showtime series "The Big C." First of all, Laura Linney is AMAZING. But, more than that, it's really made me think about how I should be making the choices that make me feel good about my time spent here, as short as it is. I've made the choice to be a singer, to be in a position to be judged and rejected on a daily basis. And actually, I'm very happy with my choice. If I knew I had several months to live, I think I would only want to sing more.

We have a lot of categories we have to try to fit into as singers. I'm lucky enough at this point to sound like something that fits my look...finally, my little voice has grown up a bit. As far as the look thing goes, there are those who might tell me I should lose 15 pounds. To them I say, you would hate to be around me when I am hungry. Life is short, people. Eat the french fries. Maybe some would say I am getting too old to be an emerging artist. Maybe others would say getting married is going to hold me back. I defy the belief that there's only one path to anything. Whether it's heaven or a career in singing. It used to really annoy me in high school when everyone was talking about how important it was to "be myself." Why would I have wanted to be myself, seriously? And that is assuming that I knew who the heck I was in the first place, which I obviously did not. I spent all of college trying to be thin enough for boys to like me, and all of grad school trying to sing loudly enough for the other singers to like me. It was painful, and exhausting, and such a waste of energy. Think of all the time I spent feeding my fear, when I could have been learning to trust myself and the hard work I was putting in.

Now I'm sure that all of this lovely non-fearfulness is just the result of a good nights sleep and two days off. But I'll take it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday again!

So today, it's a wonderful day off from work, and I get to pretned I am a full time professional singer, because I have spent my time doing things like learning my recits for Figaro, counting till my metronome bleeds for this contemporary piece I'm premiering in less than a month, and teaching lessons.

It's lovely.

Although I can certainly see that I would have to be very disciplined to not just spend all day long cooking and baking, which was very tempting today.

Tonight I have a lesson, for the first time in a few months, and it's time for a tune-up. Things are feeling great vocally, though, and I have to say, it is amazing to have had such a wonderful teacher that you don't need him as much any more!

Tomorrow, I am going to be in the library mostly translating, which I always dread. I have heard singers say they love this part, but for me it is really much more of an incentive to just learn top speak Italian fluently so that I will know already, and won't have to spend hours writing it in. I could try to impress you with my level of intellectual prowess and say that I am titillated by spending hours in the library writing very neatly and very small with a mechanical pencil, but it would be a big lie.

I always thought singing was the perfect thing for me to do because I love drama, poetry, languages, literature, pretty dresses, and being the center of attention. But then there are things like translating, and like paying to apply to auditions, and like riding the bus back and forth to New York eighty times in one month.

The good does out weigh the bad, however, especially Friday night at our opera cabaret. It was such a GOOD time. So much fun, and a really supportive audience.

Wednesday night, Ms. C and I are doing another recital in the never-ending pursuit of working out the kinks and polishing up those audition arias. I am spending an arm and a leg on accompanists, but it's helping me a lot to perform the pieces for an audience.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Monday, October 04, 2010


I love today. Which I can't believe I'm saying, based on the fact that it's a Monday.

Although yesterday didn't start out so strong, it became one of my favorite Sundays in a very long time.

I sang at church, came home for a very quick lunch and to change before the memorial service. The thing about singing for funerals and memorial services is that they are much more like a real performance than singing at a wedding, because at weddings, no one cares about the singer-- its all about the bride. But at funerals, the congregation is in a reflective mood and is really listening. I find it much harder to do well than weddings, because no matter whether I know the person, I ALWAYS personalize the readings and the speeches in my head and start to feel very weepy. TERRIBLE terrible for the voice.

I've found it helpful to set a specific goal for every audition or performance that I sing...something to focus on for improvement. It's also a way to keep myself from freaking out-- focusing intently on something is a good distraction from nerves. So yesterday's mantra was "I will not allow myself to cry or get in any way emotional." And I was mostly successful, and while the super-carpeted acoustics of the room felt horrible, I think I sang well. Actually, it takes more energy to not cry at funerals than to sing the music.

After, a few friends were meeting up at my house to watch the football game and eat pizza! We had all had afternoon performances and were getting together to finally have a drink. I think I had three beers. Maybe more. And it was SO good.

Now the problem is that I have a lot of leftovers, including cookies, and I keep eating them like three at a time. I do not do well at resisting temptation. But then, I don't have to tell you that.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Tonight I'm doing a little run-through of some new auditions arias with two other sopranos. It's for an audience, so I'm a little nervous, especially about Norina.

But it will be a a good thing to see how much I can hold it together singing these in public, and I'll get a really good idea of what I need to work through before I put them on my list officially.

Tomorrow, another gig and some teaching, and then a night out! I am so excited.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I have an audition on my birthday. That is so cool.

Talk about lucky.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I was not at my best last night. It was below Jessica standards, but I tried really hard not to berate myself over the whole thing. What could I expect singing in a room that was basically carpeted from ceiling to floor and wall to wall, having left any hope of vocal freshness behind after the high holidays and yesterday's taxing anthem, and hormonal drama on top of it, a fabulous audition sparkling with delight was probably not in the cards.

Tonight, however, I have vowed to leave all thoughts of singing behind and just freaking go shopping.

What I really want is a Louis Vuitton Alma bag, but since that's not humanly possible right now, I'll settle for a new eye-liner at Sephora and an appetizer at PF Changs.

It's the little things, people.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I made it through Yom Kippur...barely. I am trying to think of a Christian holiday that involves fasting...and I can't, except for the rule about meat on Fridays. It was intense...five hour long service with no food or water, and then another one in the evening.

THEN I went out and gorged myself on Japanese food.

THEN I went to bed.

I did church this morning, and now I am taking a break before finishing the hair curling portion of today's audition prep. Yes, I have an audition tonight. I pray I can pull it off after this week's singing marathon. But I did it last week, so my confidence level is uncharacteristically high.

At least for once (and hopefully am not jinxing this) it's not a downpour!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Today is already so much better than yesterday that I am starting to feel human! It is rather remarkable that based on my level of dependence on caffeine, I am feeling this way after only one cup of coffee!

Here's my pithy little quote for today:

"A charming woman is a busy woman."
--Loretta Young

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Last week was a blur. From work, to singing, to my synagogue gig, to the beginning of football season, well, I think I'm still recovering, and not, sadly because of any wild partying. Now that I've had a shot or two of vodka and am calm again, I can recount the week's adventures. JK, of course.

But I lived and it was great. They say whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I can tell you, while I am not at liberty to elaborate too much, that saying is true. I am a tough bitch and you should hear me roar. :)

One of the big questions of last week was whether or not I could really make my trip to the audition I mentioned in an earlier blog post happen. After a grueling week at the office (this job is really not supposed to be in any way grueling, mind you), I had about one zillion hours of singing at shul. All of which came after a personal set of what felt like tragedies at the time for sure, that involved me losing a job I had been counting on. But I have to say, despite everything, I was SO glad I was sitting in those services. I loved the sermons, I loved the prayers. I love Judaism. I really do. It was so soothing for me when I really felt like maybe I was about to lose it. So, I am grateful for that opportunity, to say the least.

I had scheduled an audition about a month and a half ago for the Saturday after Rosh Hashanah, partially because I think I didn't realize how tiring the whole affair would actually be, and partially because I really REALLY wanted to sing for the company. It's one of the few times I felt I had a bit of an "in," having met the General Director at the Met Competition last year, who invited me to come for an audition. So it seemed like an important thing try to make happen, despite the inconvenient timing. I should have bought a plane ticket the minute I knew I was going, but it was summer, and I was poor, and I suppose I just thought the money would materialize somehow and I could buy it then.

Well, the money never materialized, and the next time I checked, the ticket was over $400 dollars.

So that helped me decide very quickly that if I was going to go, I would have to drive the 8.5 hours to get there, and stay overnight in a cheap hotel, and then drive back afterward in time for my church job Sunday morning.

Let's just say that around about Thursday afternoon, I was starting to think that maybe this audition thing was just not going to happen, based on the shape my poor voice was in. Since it would REALLY suck to get all the way there and do the world's worst audition because your voice was in shreds. Talk about a horrific waste of time. But coming home after the evening service, I had a little phone call with Ms. S, who I know I can rely on for honesty, and the ability to always tell the truth to me without being mean about it. She helped me realize that I should just suck it up and go.

So I packed the car before the Friday morning service, got my book and my dress and my F-me pumps and my load of make up, went and sang the service, then got in the car and drove straight there. All 8.5 hours. AND I treated myself to some evil and delicious fast food. And some cheesy driving music that only I like. It was the best. I really did have such a good time. Even the Best Western I stayed in was really the nicest of its kind. Although really, maybe what made the trip so downright nice was the opportunity to have just a little time ALL TO MYSELF. Can you imagine?

The morning of the audition, I got up to curl my hair, not realizing that I would be fighting a losing hair battle the minute I went outside. It was a DOWN POUR. Which seems to just be happening to me a lot for some reason. Weird. But hey. We roll with the punches. I come from a large family that had cars that always broke down, so I can handle anything.

In the audition itself, I sang 2 and half arias, and my voice wasn't as fresh as I could have hoped, predictably. But it wasn't half bad! And the feedback after the singing was worth the drive. I gathered all my dignity and walked out of the building before bursting into tears. It was such a relief to be done and to have done well and to be on my way home.

I understand, of course, that you can walk outside and swing your arm and knock over eleven fabulous sopranos, but it means SO much when a panel takes the time to really talk to you at an audition and give you some ideas, and tell you what they really think. It's scary that just feeling respected meant so much to me that day. I have been feeling a little disposable lately, and it was great to hear:

"Jessica, you are singing the right things. You look like what you sing, your look is great. You have a lot to offer. The only thing we really think you need to do is SING more. [Which is why, of course, I was there, to try to get some opportunities for myself!] Stop being a singer and start just SINGING. Find your own voice."

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


It was a great weekend, complete with all manner of singing and rehearsing and a little partying into the mix.

Now, for the busiest week of my entire life, topped off by an audition trip several states away.

How does the serenity prayer go again?

How about the prayer for vocal health and not to die?

Anyway, I will probably blink and it will all be over, and I will be laying in my bed wondering how I lived through it! :)

Thursday, September 02, 2010


When God closes a door, jump out the window.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I so rarely write on Monday, because, well, it's Monday. But today I am still basking in the glow of another outrageous family weekend wedding. I am dead tired and broke and in no shape to start the High Holidays on Saturday, but oh wow was it worth it. I am so lucky to have a family that is fun and fabulous and accepts me and everyone else for who they are, and who can dance too. :)

You can say what you want about the Irish. They might be drunks but they are REALLY fun.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


This week has gone by in a flash. And has left me sitting at a desk with half the week gone and a really bad hair day. My mane is not at its best, which ticks me off, but I realize of course, there are worse things.

Monday, my first New York audition this fall, and it was nice because it was a little bit less formal, and I could ease myself back into the idea of bleeding out vocally in front of people I don't know. That sounds very dramatic, but you all know, since I have said it before, that I actually like auditioning. It is only when I stop and take time to actually think about what I'm doing that it gets dicey.

OMG. So, we got to NYC in plenty of time, and thank goodness I had my diva driver along, because he is skilled at driving in New York, having once lived there. I, on the other hand, mostly take the bus, and if I do drive, park at the first parking lot I see as soon as I get out of the tunnel, and just take the subway or a cab to wherever I need to go. The last time I tried to drive through Manhattan, I was traumatized. I decided to warm up at Ripley Grier on 72nd, which was the closest location to my audition. Lovely. Except that there are no parking garages around there at all. And it was a monsoon. When we finally spotted a garage, and pulled in, we discovered that for three hours it was going to cost us $48. So that was depressing. But I suppose that is why god made credit cards, and I didn't have time to be schlepping around looking for other options.

Mind you, I had risen that morning at 6 am so that I would have time to curl my hair and get my face on, and the weather channel was only calling for a 30% chance of rain in NYC. Well, by the time we got there and were parked, it was a down pour, a steady, windy one. With only one umbrella, there wasn't much hope that any of us would stay dry. But as soon as we stepped outside, a gust of wind blew my dress up around my eyeballs, and all the world could see my drawers. While in the same moment, the umbrella Joe was holding promptly turned inside out and snapped off. I mean it literally snapped in two.

In less than a minute, we were drenched, and running from awning to awning, looking for a trash can to throw the horrible useless umbrella away. We finally made it to a Starbucks where we could get some coffee and go to the bathroom and dry off before heading over to the studio. I couldn't stop laughing. I mean I literally thought the whole thing was so funny. Which is kind of amazing when you consider that I'd gotten up at six to do my hair that was ruined in five seconds flat.

I am one of those frustrating people that has no qualms about throwing fits in public. As we sat guzzling coffee and catching our breath, Joe confessed he was impressed that the whole scenario hadn't sent me into a screaming fit, like when we went bike riding in New Mexico and the flies kept biting me, and I was getting dirty and dusty, and I just spontaneously began screaming at the top of my lungs that I wanted to go back to the hotel and that the god damn flies keep biting me.

No, for some reason, this time it had been funny. So I got to the studio, warmed up, combed out my hair, fixed my make-up and went back out and had a great audition. Good thing I was wearing a quick drying audition dress.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I'm back. My trip was fan-F***king-tastic, I have to say. My family, with all their eccentricities, sure does know how to party. And in exotic locales, such as Indian reservations, which is what it was this time. We were in Santa Ana Pueblo at a gorgeous New Mexican resort for my cousin's wedding. We all looked like we could pass for Native Americans after the thing was over, too, with our gorgeous tans, and my new brown hair. I am no longer just a gringa. I am so much more attractive.

When we arrived, Joe and I had suffered through count them: FOUR connections to finally get to Albequerque. I could feel the dry air and the altitude sucking all the water from my body. So what did we do? Drink two bottles of water each, and instantly run to the nearest Walgreens to buy some wine. Because in NM, they are lovely and do not have weird laws about where you can and can't buy things like wine.

Sometimes it is easy to forget how lucky you are, in the frantic money-earning everyday. When I am with my family, I do remember. Also, I think I just have more fun with them than I do with anyone else. There is something comforting about being with people who have known you your whole life.

After the wedding, we packed up and relocated to Santa Fe, one of my favorite places, and Joe's first time there. For me, of course, I had hoped to catch a show at Santa Fe Opera, since I had never been there during the season. Before we left, we checked the ticket availability online, and it showed that the operas were sold out except for standing room. And nobody wants to stand for three hours on vacation. So I'd resigned myself to that missed opportunity, until the first morning, at breakfast, Joe said wouldn't it be great to see something tonight, and let's just call to see if maybe there are tickets after all.

There were!

We saw two, The Magic Flute, and The Tales of Hoffman. There was some really stellar singing, and I have to say The Magic Flute was the best production and most consistently fantastic singing I have heard in a live opera in a very long time. I actually think it's the best thing I've seen since Thais at the Met starring Renee. And I don't even really like The Magic Flute. Well, I liked this one! The Pamina was a Russian singer who was truly phenomenal, and should be singing the role EVERYWHERE. She deserves fame and fortune for that "Ach, ich fühl's," let me tell you. Sigh. It was SO memorable. The First Lady, Rachel Willis-Sorenson, was a Met Grand Finalist this year, and I loved her. She was not one of the loudest Erste Dames I have ever heard, but sensitive and well matched to the other ladies.

The Hoffman was very well sung, too, with one brave young woman singing all three of the ladies-- Olympia, Antonia, and Giuletta-- her name was Erin Wall, a Canadian soprano with a fantastic sound. There are some lovely things in Hoffman, but I think that maybe I am just not a big fan of the show as a whole. Offenbach is not really timeless in the way that Mozart and Puccini are. I can really see how the show would have been appealing to an audience of Offenbach's day, but doesn't seem as moving to me, for some reason. The sets and the orchestra were amazing, and the chorus (mostly the young artists, I believe) was really very good.

I love to watch operas, and I am really routing for the singers when I am there. You really do have to be terrible, or do something terrible for me not to like you.

Beside all the opera-going, there was a lot of sight-seeing and learning about the culture of the area, which is really as rich as anywhere I have ever been. It's such an interesting blend of things, that there is a lot to see and learn, and I got some beautiful jewelry from a Native American lady in Taos Pueblo. Also, the pool was great at our hotel, so I am very sad to be home in Baltimore again. I could have used another week or so.

But I have a photo shoot this week for The Figaro Project- fun with a few other beautiful divas, and an audition and rehearsal. So it's not like I will be bored. And I can put on lovely clothes and wear lots of make-up. Except that I will be very tan.

And that is never a bad thing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Call me a dork, but this is hot.

Olivier Latry, sighhhh...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Yesterday, I took my monthly trek to my voice lesson in Pennsylvania. It's a drive that I have come to really look forward to because of its un-congested roads, and the serene sort of novelty of Amish country, all of which contribute greatly to my being able to refocus my attention in preparation for an intense hour plus of singing.

I have to say, when Joe decided to renew our Sirius/XM radio in our cars after the free trial had expired, I thought it a bit frivolous. But NFL radio is pretty important for a football fan who drives A LOT for work, and if it's worth it to him, hey. But I think I am starting to become a little addicted myself...Metropolitan Opera Radio doesn't suck, neither does Martha Stewart Radio, and I have to say Oprah Radio is REALLY great. Between Deepak Chopra, Maya Angelou and Gayle King, I am loving driving places more than ever before.

Yesterday, Oprah was on with Geneen Roth, the author of a book I haven't read yet, called "Women, Food, and God." It was such a great forty minutes of my day-- it made me stop and think.

I've spent a lot of time this summer getting things done, taking Ibuprofen (wisdom teeth), checking things off lists, practicing, planning, preparing. But as I listened to the radio in the car yesterday, tears came to my eyes as I thought about how little time I had spent in a spiritual pursuit, spending time with the real me, the me that is always there, undamaged by childhood pain, untouched by situations, circumstances, drama, the me that is part of the Source of everything, the part of me that I can never do anything to get, and can therefore never lose. God.

The problem is really that that disconnection from that essential me creates a vacuum that tries to suck in other things to fill the hole. Situations and people and phrases that never bothered you before, suddenly really get on your nerves, you need more dresses, more pedicures, more therapy, more wine, more food, more everything. Things to make you feel okay.

No, I have not gone nuts with any of the above. No, I am not checking myself into the Betty. No, I will not be on the next flight to India to report to an ashram for a month of meditation. If any of my friends are reading this, they know that I have not been significantly more nuts than usual. But I just realized yesterday that if the Source of all life was trying to tell me something, I probably wouldn't have heard her. It might have taken him a little longer to get through.

Starting to today, I'm listening, I'm watching for signs. I will open my eyes when I walk down the street, I will notice the divinity in the very frustrating bits of recit I'm trying to pound into my head. I will remind myself to BE wherever I am.

And speaking of divine goddess hood, another thing that was on the radio last night was the 1982 recording of the Verdi Requiem with Leontyne Price. Amidst lots of imperfections, and some out of tune singing, there are bits of chilling holiness, moments when you KNOW there is a God. And that perfection is not the name of his game. Actually, I am convinced she is not very interested in it at all.

As a singer, isn't that what I want? To be the voice that brings that MOMENT to an audience. The moment that gives them chills and they never forget as long as they live? Is it really just that we have to be genius singers who have a perfect grasp of theater, technique, language, etc., etc., or could it be that it has a lot to do with taking our egos out of the equation, getting out of the way, creating space for that divinity to come alive in what we do?

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I just got back from the pool, and you know what that means: time to get back to work on the countess. I'm learning La Contessa from that opera with Figaro in it. And I'd really like to have enough ready to work on in my lesson tomorrow. And enough solid so that when I come back from vacation it doesn't look and feel like I fell off a cliff.

Also, summer is officially almost over, because I have my first audition of the season in about 2 weeks. There isn't much time left to work on my tan. Or my audition arias, frankly.

I love summer. But life is so much more interesting in the fall.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Well, not that you particularly care, but OMG this weekend has done my voice in. Tonight's rehearsal will be *interesting.*

Last night, to further self-sabotage any efforts to not look like a gigantic whale, I made a miraculous pasta dish that rocked my world entirely, and frankly, reminds me why life is too short to not pretty much eat what you want. At least in small portions. I didn't over do it last night, and I had a salad, so how bad could it have been. In case you are interested and haven't seen the post on my facebook, here is the recipe!

I have a theory that if you are working hard at being very disciplined in all areas of your life, there will inevitably be just one, no matter how hard you try, that just goes completely out of control. So, I have been been productive as far as my singing goes, as I mentioned in previous blogs, I've made an effort to spend time with friends (and am SO glad I have), even though I am turning into a bit of a homebody, I have significantly upped my intake of fruits and vegetables, and am demonstrating heroic moderation in drinking wine, even though it is summer and we could all be lushes if we wanted to. So it follows that the part that has really taken a dive is going to the gym. I have to say I just really dislike sweating and feeling yucky. Even if I try to tell myself I feel better afterward, sigh... I really actually don't. Joe is so motivated and fabulous in this area and has the gorgeous physique to show for it, that I feel a bit guilty every so often, but then I remember how horrible it is to have to take your morning shower at the gym and put your make-up on at your desk, and how I basically feel sweaty the rest of the day.

I am really starting to think that maybe yoga is the best fitness answer for me. I need to look into this. Is there a cheap yoga option where girls with big hips will not be looked down upon?

I welcome your comments!

Friday, July 30, 2010


I am ready to go out to dinner. Not that cooking all week hasn't been great, but sometimes you want to be wined and dined. So tonight's the night, and I am in the mood for southern food...

Today was productive. I applied for a grant...wasn't as painful as some I have seen, so thank god for that. I got my fabulous web person to put sound clips on my website...this is very exciting indeed. Other updates are soon to come. I really need new pictures on there as well, but one step at a time. Contacted a new coach in NYC, etc., etc. Got my rep list for the cabaret and I suppose I'm equally excited and depressed that my days of wisdom teeth removal lounging around are about to come to an end. Ah well.

I have to say that the end of July is about when I start dreading the end of summer, but this year I think I need to try to have a different attitude if I can (this commitment to a positive attitudes when I look at my September calendar), and look forward to the exciting stuff I'm about to do. Also, my birthday is in September and it will a great excuse to do something fun to celebrate both that and a successful (fingers crossed) high holidays.

But for today, all I need to do is learn my solo for church on Sunday, and go to dinner and drink wine. Let's not get toooo motivated just yet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The perfect Wednesday night?

Buffalo chicken pizza, Sauvignon blanc, Joe, Top Chef, editing my recording, enjoying the sound of my own voice for the first time in my whole entire life.


Today I am working on getting schedules coordinated for an opera ensemble show that I'm organizing for March. I don't mind doing it, and I love the fact that I am able to create opportunities for myself in this way, but it reminds me why I am a singer and not a director. I like to be the one on stage, whose only job is to sing and create a character. I prefer not to have much to do with the administrative side of performances, and to focus on the music. I do a lot of administrating at my day job, so maybe this is why.

I've learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes drama of production and administration in the last five years, and I have to say, while it may not be physically demanding labor, psychologically, it can be grueling work. On the flip side-- it's taught me so much about how to behave in my life as a performer. I've learned how frustrating it can be when people don't respond, don't send bios, photos, program information on time, have unreasonable demands, etc. I wonder if performers realize we are not trying to be annoying, we are trying to HELP them? As production/administrators, we are here to make the performance work, be viable and well-attended and professional, complete with publicity and a beautiful program. And while I have learned not to take any of it personally, and I know artists are busy, over-extended, and have to work very hard for the money they make in this country, it still feels a little annoying when they don't send you what you need to promote THEM.

No one associated with my little opera ensemble has ever given me a moment of trouble like this, because I've learned to choose very carefully who to work with. And it usually includes people who are good about correspondence-- to a certain extent. We all know that it takes less than a moment to dash off an email, so being busy is rarely an excuse.

As a singer, I try to do little things to make my own life easier and more convenient, so that I can be prompt in providing info when it's asked for. Like making sure I always have a updated Word doc of my resume in my email account somewhere, and a re-sized headshot that won't put an admin's email over quota. If I were really organized, I would have one on my blackberry too...must get to that.

I am inspired every day by the friends of mine who have taken it upon themselves to create new outlets for singing here in Baltimore. I KNOW how hard they are working to pull it off. We singers are SO grateful for the care they take and work they put in to promote the art form in our town. Sometimes it's difficult to find time and money to attend performances, but I am trying harder to make it happen, and get myself out to the shows to support the enormous effort of these young companies.

Some of my favorite operatic memories of this past season include the companies I'm thinking of as I write... Sara Stewart as Nedda in Baltimore Concert Opera's I Pagliacci, and The Figaro Project's fun, fun, fun, fabulous inaugural show.

I know, because I am not living under a rock, that the arts are struggling in our economy, and I know I am struggling in our economy, but I see so many lovely opportunities springing up for singers that it give me lots and lots of hope.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'm in a great mood. I think it might have something to do with the cheesy pop music I'm enjoying at my desk today.

Or the fact that my mini-vacay to Santa Fe is looming on the horizon complete with a spa treatment that I REALLY need.

Or maybe because I am going to lunch with Stu.

Or maybe because I have High Holidays rehearsal tonight...wait...

Or maybe because my lesson yesterday was exactly the tune-up I needed in order to feel human again.

And it is no longer one million degrees outside and I do not sweat inelegantly while walking around the neighborhood.

Also I am invited to so many fabulous weddings this season that I have so many reasons for beautiful dress buying. And one of the weddings require THREE dresses in total-- Bridal Tea, Rehearsal Dinner AND Wedding! This is too good to be true. I am in dress heaven.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday: more from your girl

I went back to work today for real, which is a good thing. I have never been the type that does particularly well with a lot of free time. I start to melt down if I feel unproductive.

Of course, foremost in my mind right now is my next gig-- the Merkin Hall premier of Keith Kramer's new song cycle in New York City. I'm excited and flattered to report that he's writing it just for me! I haven't seen a score yet, though, and I'm anxious to get my hands on something to start learning pitches and rhythms.

In the meantime, there is the remaining recording session for audition season, a cabaret, rehearsals for the High Holidays, and a little recital to keep me busy. I am desperate for a lesson, to help me get my floppy vocal musculature back into shape after oral surgery. Good thing I've got one today. Geez.

In other news, ebay has been good to me, and I found a gown for the NYC concert for around 30 bucks that rocks my world. I think I'm addicted. Yikes.


I had the best time last night at a birthday dinner, drank some wine, came home late and am now ready to kill the construction workers who are listening to loud music and tramping up and down the stairs hundreds of times right outside my bedroom. WHYYYY??? Oh, and now with the hammering. And the loud admonitions about how to build a door.

Because I have a lesson today, and I would have loved some extra shut-eye.

Oh well. I guess coffee is going to have to take over from here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday : OMG

Well, lovely readers, I have triumphed (almost) over my wisdom teeth. They have been successfully yanked from my skull and in their place I have three large craters and some stitches.

I tried singing yesterday, and it was weird, to say the least. I could feel the pressure and vibration in my empty wisdom teeth holes! Which proved painful after a few minutes. My teeth hurt more today than they did on any preceding day, so I am holding out hope that my church job on Sunday will not prove to be too agonizing.

Now I am kind of hoping that my empty teeth holes will give my more resonating space so maybe I could move up a fach. :)

Never heard of it happening, but hey.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I've never had to work so hard in my life. Last night was a little concert of musical theater and some operetta for a crowd who were less than familiar with my whole thing that I do-- that is, classical singing. Don't get me wrong, I had my chest mix (okay, sometimes open chest voice, people, I admit it) going and I think I actually sounded rather convincing. They were a tough crowd. Judging by the sweet compliments I got after, I'm pretty sure most of them liked me, but a good 30% were just not feeling it. It's interesting how easy it is to feel that energy in a room. Hey, what can I say...I did my job, I did what I got hired to do pretty darn well, and now, I am very TIRED.

One discovery that has me very excited, and I can't believe I didn't think of this before...the SPRING HAUTE COUTURE COLLECTIONS are all on youtube!

The perfect thing for a tired opera singer cum musical theater siren who is also going to need something to do next week when she gets her wisdom teeth taken out. Just to really put things into perspective, my fee for last night could probably buy me a half a shoe from said shows. But I did have a good time singing "I could have danced all night."

I think I'll watch Chanel 2010 now...right after I cash this check.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday, 2

Oh, and I am really good at making focaccia. Did I mention that?

I had one other cooking disaster this week. Never try to make pizza egg rolls. It's just down right gross.


And now, on a rare completely non-singing related rant: What the hell is the deal with baking a loaf of gosh darn bread? I mean, I totally get now why until the advent of store-bought bread, women couldn't have jobs outside the home. I mean I honestly think it had a lot to do with that. Oh, and having to wash clothes manually.

I have this bee in my bonnet now about wanting to learn how to make bread from scratch, because, well, I don't know why. I just want to. So, it was supposed to be my summer project to try some recipes and perfect one that we could use regularly and didn't seem to be too intense. It's the perfect summer project, because summer is warm, and therefore good for rising bread, and I am broke in the summer, and what could be cheaper than baking as a hobby, when all you have to buy is basically flour and yeast? I wanted to sew this summer too, but, well, Jo-Ann Fabrics isn't the huge bargain it used to be, I can tell you that. Seeing as I just found a Calvin Klein dress on E-Bay for $20 and free shipping.

I think that yeast and dough and the kneading process are all the most magical things. I love it. It really gets me going to knead a ball of dough for some weird reason. Because it's aLIVE! But any way...

So, I tried one recipe, the really "easy" low stress, no-knead one from the New York Times. Twice. It turned out like a flat, tough, though good-tasting, big mess basically. TWICE. I have a friend who makes it so beautifully that I just feel totally inadequate. My bread compared to Zoe's bread. Not even in the same league. Then, I tried another recipe this week, which calls for ten minutes of kneading in the stand mixer, and well, it turned out fine, but it had to rise two different times, and for hours, and I just don't have that kind of time! It is TOO labor intensive. Also, the recipe has 3 tablespoons of honey-- and I quickly discovered that the kind of honey you use matters. I was using a fresh, local, farmer's market kind of honey, and the bread ended up tasting gamey. Like you were eating bread that had actual bees in it. So, I guess that means I need to get really generic store bought honey, but that seems dumb. So I am at a loss.

The one yeast-based success I did have was making soft pretzels. I kneaded the thing for ten minutes by hand, and it was a joyous experience. How lovely and pioneerish I felt, and it is so cool to feel the dough changing as you knead it. Once the pretzels were baked, they tasted amazing, but looked puffy and more like rolls than pretzels, but I was not too concerned by this. They tasted amazing. I think I will serve them with mustard and drawn butter for dipping at my next get-together.

And I suppose I am good at pizza dough, but even my five year old cousin could make pizza dough, so I am not so proud of myself yet. I still have a long way to go to baking mastery, however. I am entirely convinced that it is a science at which only the smartest, most patient and precise of folk can succeed. My mother made all our bread when I was growing up. So I thought I had the gene. But I must soldier on. Maybe with years of practice.

And god knows, I am very good at practicing.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Yesterday could possibly have been my favorite 4th of July in recent memory.

There was a substitute organist at church who played so well that it made my church job a total breeze, and who seemed to think I wasn't so bad either-- which put me in a stellar mood for the rest of the day. Went home, ate lunch, put on bathing suits and went straight out to my mom's marina where there is a pool. Drank beer by said pool, read tabloid magazines, and relaxed. Then, made dinner and strawberry shortcake that was SO good.

The fire works were great, and being with all the boats, it was just really beautiful and perfect.

Today, I went over all my recital rep for this sunday, baked bread and made soft pretzels! it was a very productive day. And I feel so good that I am not even worreid in the least about going to work tomorrow or rehearsal tomorrow night.

Yay for holidays.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Major discovery, thanks to Ms. Z! SPARKLING pinot noir!!!! The perfect summer wine for red wine people.

Now it really is summer. Let's party. Just until like two days before my recital next week. Uh oh. And then I have to get my wisdom teeth taken out. Oy. But then after THAT we will throw caution to the wind.

Maybe it's time to DANCE it out?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Favorite quote for a Wednesday eve

The only thing better than singing is more singing.

Ella Fitzgerald

Girl crush

It's Nigella Lawson. I admit it. Ever since this new Cooking Channel thing came on, I'm pretty hopelessly in love with Nigella. Not that I think her food even seems that great, really. Just that I love her.

I am the last person to watch the Renee Fleming rock-star music video thing. But I just watched it. Oh my oh my oh my. I love her so much, but that video is questionable at best. I don't get it at all...but I will say I am so proud of her that she is so awesome that she can truly do anything she wants without any consequences of making the wrong career move. We should all be so lucky. Yay for doing exactly whatever the hell you want and owning it.


Wednesdays are fun because of Top Chef. No other reason in particular, except that today I got to see Sally, which many of you know is a highlight of my month. Oh, and I designed a new lay out for the blog!!! You like?

This weekend's performances were so much fun, I am sad that they are over. I didn't think I would be saying that right now, since the role itself caused me such stress that I literally thought it was going to kill me! I really grew to enjoy the cast, and there was a great rapport between everyone. I have been in shows before where everyone is not so loving...or for some reason, based on rehearsal schedules, or whatever, never really has a chance to bond. Which is always a weird thing to be onstage, in such a very vulnerable kind of situation feeling like you are with strangers. It's much better when everyone can be friends. It doesn't hurt when there is some really very fine singing going on either, with a fabulous piece of music.

Trying to find ways to calm myself down every night was my little challenge in this particular role. It was so easy to let nerves get totally out of hand while waiting through the entire first and second acts. I freaked out in silence and tried not to be too annoying to my cast mates, who had big roles with SO much singing and may have really had a good reason to freak out. One mistake NOT to make is to be the neurotic person who warms up all over again every five minutes and leaves all their notes in the dressing room. Which DID happen one of the two nights and was too scary to be repeated. So I sat quietly in the dressing area, ate a gummi worm or two (even though I couldn't find any real haribo gummis and was forced to eat the very gross kind), drank some water, played with my blackberry, and didn't allow myself to go upstairs to the balcony too soon before it was time to sing. Only one warm up ten minutes before was allowed, and no obsessing over the high notes. Which actually worked very well. I was soooo much more relaxed, and didn't want to throw up after I was finished singing. So now I know.

My recording session went SO well yesterday-- I am absolutely thrilled. Money well spent, and for the first time in my life, listening to the tracks did not ruin my day. I asked Joe in awe: "Is that what I really sound like?" He replied that it was, and that they had only done a basic recording, with no magic or witchcraft involved. Maybe my hard work is starting to pay off.

And THEN! A friend asked me to do a gig with her today, and so I am a very happy little soprano.

I think wine and guacamole will make me even happier.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Tonight is opening night of my second time singing a little role in a Verdi opera. Last night's dress for the Saturday night cast was truly fabulous. The voices! Sighhhh. What a huge rush it is to hear those kinds of sounds coming from a human being.

I am happy that my white costume doesn't make me look too peaked, thanks to the daily walks to and from work in this startling heat.

Really, we are all just trying not to melt.

Next week, I'm hoping to get at least a couple of really solid tracks for the old audition recording. Anything that doesn't make it on, i will do in another session in August, so I am trying to avoid stressing about it. This year, I thought it was time to have it doen by a professional, so I saved my money, and am looking forward to having someone else make me sound good??? Okay, well...

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I have begun to save to go back to Europe again. Not sure exactly where, because although there are so many things I haven't seen yet, I always miss Venice. But I'm thinking Paris...

Yesterday was an intense one with a big work meeting that completely wore me out...two hours later, I was sitting at my desk brain-dead trying to remember my own name. So I have a lot to catch up on today. I don't know if I've ever said that in the summer before...weird. Why do I have work to do? This is annoying.

My new strategy for avoiding eating lots of snacks in the evening is to eat dinner later (brilliant, I know) so I took my time recovering from the work thing and folded some laundry like a good little wifey. Oh man, I made the best chicken fajitas last night. Wow. I have to say, Joe is a lucky man. :)

Then it was back to the grindstone, and by grindstone, I mean, I have a ton of work to do on music for an upcoming recital and my recording. It's really getting totally out of control. I started putting binders together, and have a system for learning my new aria...a long bel canto thing that still tires me out by the end. I think it's really only that I've just been tired in general, and by the time I get around to practicing, well...yes, twelve pages worth of chirping and arpeggios and high ds will do it for you. So I always start at the end when I am feeling fresh, and work my way back to the beginning. At some point I will have to start singing it in order to get my stamina going, one of these days. The good news is that I think the aria is WELL worth the effort and will be an unbelievable show case for auditions that has lots of excerpt-able bits for when they don't want to hear it til the bitter end. And it's FUN, with some comic action. Lord knows lyric sopranos have enough sad music to deal with, so you need to break it up. My teacher told me to watch Will and Grace's Sean Hayes for ideas for the character and comic timing! As if I don't already have all the episodes memorized! Oh, and is it ever wordy. So I am doing that thing now where I say the wordy bits over and over to myself at intervals all day long-- in the shower, walking to work-- yes, the crazy person talking to herself walking up St. Paul is me, people.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I have been feeling lately like maybe I don't have anything interesting enough to say to put it on the internet. But hey. I'm here because I need to vent. Which is what blogging is really about after all, isn't it?

All through April and May I kept saying that if I could just make it to June, I would be okay. And now it seems like June is not turning out to be as fun and stress free as I had hoped! I think it has a lot to do with my annual summer broke-ness, and the fact that I am working on a show, and have a recital coming up in July, and...I'm getting my wisdom teeth out in July too, which I am dreading.

I'm knocking on wood, of course, while I type that I have never had a stitch or broken a bone, and getting a cavity filled or having blood taken can ruin an entire half a week for me. I'm the biggest sissy when it comes to pain and needles, so when they explained that I would have to have an IV for the anesthesia, well, it just totally freaked me out. I know, get over it, Jessica. Please.

When you have the money you don't have the time, and when you have the time you don't have the money is how the story goes, I'm afraid, to hang out with friends and go for drinks and do all the lovely things you want to do in summer.

We are heading into tech week for Don Carlo, and I had a horrific rehearsal last night. I sang my bit at the beginning of a three hour rehearsal-- it was good, even great, by my own standards. Then, I sat for three hours in freezing air-conditioning with no where to warm up again, and had to sing it at the very end. Let's just say it totally sucked ass. I was horrified at what was coming out of my mouth. The whole cast of principals, and a full chorus were there with nothing to do but sit and listen to me singularly ruin my reputation with a two page vocal blow-out of epic proportions. Did it matter that I had sung it perfectly, even fabulously three hours before? Not to me. I was mortified. I grabbed my bag, tried to avoid eye-contact, and ran out the door, and into the car where I promptly burst into tears. It had been a long day, I was angry, embarrassed, and I was DONE. I haven't cried over singing in a while, so I suppose I was about due. Nothing like driving on the capital beltway while sobbing uncontrollably.

Okay, so the circumstances weren't great, and no one is at their best after sitting in AC for three hours cold. And as Joe reminded me, everybody has a bad day, or a bad two pages, or whatever, every so often. Well, for some reason I just have this big problem with that. When I listen to other singers, I am so much kinder to them than I ever would be to myself. Maybe they are allowed to have a bad rehearsal, but I just do not want that to happen to me. The humiliation is just too much.

One of my Deepak Chopra tweets yesterday was about being vulnerable, and how the greatest things come out of openness and vulnerability, and that until we can be in that state, good energy cannot really flow through us. Well, I am not sure what happened last night, but I certainly felt vulnerable. I think there must be a lesson in this somewhere.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I sang my little part in rehearsal this morning, had a splendid time, and came home. It may be a little part, people, but it is giving me a hell of a time with the tempo. I'll tell you why. Because it's one of those things where the whole show is just going along, and then suddenly it kind of stops, and I, ME, MY character has to establish the new tempo. Oh, and the conductor stops conducting too. And it's up to me to start it up again, and establish a new steady tempo, which may sound not so bad until you consider that I have to do it while singing soft sustained b-naturals. And it's also quite rubato, so it's easy to allow it to sound as if its all over the damn place. And I just can't let that happen. It's my moment :)

I'm excited to have a little break from things next week...and then we are right back on the horse, with rehearsal, church and an audition. And somehow, at some point I need to make a new demo CD. And learn two new arias for it.

But it will all get done. It always does.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I'm alive! I'm still alive! I lived through the emotionally intense weekend and am on the other side. Because I've been such a very good girl, we are eating at my favorite guilty pleasure tonight: Pei-Wei. Sigh.

My brother and sister-in-law and a very good friend, Pierce, were all there to keep me sane (as sane as is really possible) and grounded and remind me of what is important: drinking. :) No, I mean, being nice. And making it a wonderful celebration for my mom. The stressers leading up to the occasion were interesting. Like when I took lunch to get a pedicure, they made me wait for 35 minutes, and THEN it was still the worst pedicure I have EVER gotten ever. And that is saying something when you live in Baltimore. Okay, so I guess it's not the end of the world, but it's that kind of drama that makes the day kind of frustrating. So I wore close-toed shoes to a garden wedding. How sad is that?

We sang a pretty f-ing wonderful rendition of "All I ask of you," at my step-father's request, not bad on 5 ish hours of sleep. Yay. Check another performance off the list during which I have not embarrassed myself.

This week will be an easy one, a count down til next week's mini-vacation in FL with the in-laws. I don't really care where I go at this point, as long as it has a beach.

Friday, May 21, 2010


My mom is getting remarried this weekend, which is still feeling a little funny to me. Sitting at my desk today, I think I am tired and hormonal, and conflicted about everything that is about to happen, but this was beyond comforting.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The very very very good thing about today is that I am getting a mani-pedi. And the other things are, well, interesting.

This has been a fun week, and I am trying to remember the last time I said that about a week. I had an audition Tuesday that went well, and last night a really super fun time with a fabulous soprano who was in my studio in grad school. We were the only two girl grad students in the studio, and I always felt like Ms. E had my back. Lots of water has gone under the bridge since then, but I am so glad we have reconnected. I think there might be a joint recital in the works, too!

It's nice to be in that place where I no longer feel like I have to spend time with people that I don't really like that much or who are kind of mean...I've grown the ego strength to be choosy about who my time is spent with. When I realized, at long last, that I wasn't necessarily going to get that kind of support from my parents, I decided to start being a little more picky about my friends. And so, the level of drama in my life has drastically decreased, and I feel, interestingly, that since I've kind of put my expectations out there into the universe, new friends have come into the picture, and old ones have resurfaced. So even though, it was like I had done some weeding out, the circle has actually grown.

My audition Tuesday was because of the referral of a new friend: a conductor she knew was looking for a soprano for a specific gig. In the course of our pre-audition small talk, he mentioned that her had never had a soprano recommend another soprano ever before in the course of his career until now! And it reminded me of the warning my undergrad voice teacher gave me before I went off to grad school: "Jessica, you're going to have to make friends with some nice mezzos, because I think it is really hard for sopranos to be friends with each other." I think that as a rule, that might be true, (based on some really f'ed up audition experiences I have had) but evidently, I have found the good ones, and here we are! I am so grateful for that.

Ruth used to tell me that the voice and the performance match the person, and never have I found that to be so true as now. I am starting to notice it in every show I go to-- a certain kindness and belief and spirituality goes into true music-making, and I think that is why when you meet another singer, you can somehow anticipate what they will sound like just by who they are. My very favorite example of this are the performances and recordings of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. That is the level of art that can be created when we are willing to give of ourselves, in our lives and in our music.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I have to share another sweet tweet from Deepak!

"I make my vocation my vacation. I know that I am following my bliss when my work is an act of love and devotion. Every day is a joy to live!"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Okay, well, my weekly voice rest day was a little bit fabulous yesterday. I tried to take my mom to Pazo for a late Mother's Day dinner, but the bastards were closed for an "event." So we walked over to Cinghiale, where we polished off a bottle of chardonnay and were treated to complimentary prosecco, had an unbelievable meal, splurged on dessert, and they comped those too! Maybe they know who I AM. To quote some of our distinguished faculty.

It was lovely.

So now, it is time to get back into shape for my lesson domani, and rehearsal and audition next week. And I feel like I can do that now that I have wined and dined...I rewarded myself. :)

The Tudors was painful this week, what with the blood and gore. But we are onto the next wife, I believe. Get it, Henry.

And, in true stream-of-consciousness fashion, I have to say, I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. You know, it is like I have even less valuable things to say to the whole world in that medium than I do in this one, and I guess I find myself frequently annoyed or even downright angry at the things people sometimes tweet. However, the one person I will never regret following is Deepak Chopra. I cannot say how many times one of his tweets has changed my entire outlook on a day. Between Chopra and Puccini and Verdi and Mozart and cooking and angry hip-hop and the Real Housewives of New Jersey I am maintaining a modicum of a form of sanity. Here's my favorite DC tweet from yesterday:

"I am beneath or above no one. When I am independent of the good or bad opinions of others, I stand strong in my own divine power."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday, part deux

Can we talk about something not even slightly singing related? But nevertheless a bit dorky. I wouldn't blame you if you stopped reading right now.

The Tudors.

Every Monday, I giddily run home for lunch, throw something in the microwave, and plop down to watch as much of the previous evening's episode I can squeeze in before running back to work. Sigh. It is painful to think that the series will soon be over. I mean, Catherine Howard is about to be strung up, or beheaded or whatever, and it seems, by my calculations, we have only one wife to go. Jonathan Rhys Meyers couldn't be hotter, and the show is as titillating a way to brush up on one's history as I can think of-- applicable to my life, I suppose, because I am technically Anglican. My cousin thinks I am the weirdest one she has ever met, as I also believe in reincarnation. But hey. Henry the eighth had a lot to do with all those motets I sing every week...there I go with the singing again. Jesus.

Then, at the end of last week's riveting and extremely sexy episode, I was delighted to see that the next dynastic Showtime offering currently in the works is THE BORGIAS!!!!!! Which will be even more fun because they were infinitely more evil, were catholic, and it is set in Italy! 2011, you cannot come too soon.


It's been a whole week since I posted...whirlwind.

This weekend was busy, but somehow satisfying, with an audition, two challenging church services, and, well...mother's day. My father sent me a text yesterday reading "Happy future Mother's Day." Ummm....

On Saturday, it was SUCH a beautiful day, and it was so fun to be auditioning again, I guess I really hadn't been to one in a while-- I had a new dress and pair of shoes--so life was good. I got there and they fit me in early, sang a little Mimi (oh my, someone remind me never to sing Mi chiamano Mimi first. Donde lieta is much more comfortable to start with), it might have been a little insecure to start, but I warmed up soon enough. And learned my lesson with the Mimi arias. I finished strong with my Mozart aria, and my dress looked hot, so here's hoping. :)

The monitor was so sweet-- all audition monitors should be like him. After I had changed back into my civvies and was leaving, he said: "You did a great job. Reward yourself."

Reward myself? For a second, I almost laughed and I don't know why. But I thought about it all the way home. First of all, I think we forget how hard singing can be, emotionally and physically-- at least I do. Then, on Easter Monday, I wake up feeling like I was run over with a Mack truck. I mean, it is just singing, but still-- anyone whose sung a three hour opera knows that it's pretty freaking hard work.

Sunday, there were a couple of weird things that happened. I was feeling freaked out about singing "I know that my Redeemer liveth" at the second service, because it felt like I couldn't get my low voice to phonate with any real resonance. I was wondering why, until I remembered that I'd spent all of Saturday night talking...the in-laws are in town, and then my grandmother called, and well...another lesson learned. But it came off okay and I am still alive.

A reward is in order. I did have something like three chocolate chip cookies yesterday. So maybe that is all the rewarding I need to do.

Monday, May 03, 2010


I am not one of the many who are depressed by rain. I like it. I feel more solitary walking in the rain under an umbrella than when it is sunny, and I like to be alone. It gives me time to think about things.

Last night's performance made me really happy, actually. I felt like I was really able to be in the moment while singing, instead of editing and judging myself as I went along. It's nice to have a break from the inner judge, if only for ten or eleven minutes. And I figure, if I could do it last night, I can do it all the time, which will be my goal for every upcoming performance.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Friday, April 30, 2010


I am so thrilled to find, after going all week thinking I have to work tonight, that I do not have to work tonight! I can have a night off! I can prepare for rehearsal tomorrow (off book....eeekkkk, must keep wits about me), I can go over the score for my performance Sunday, and maybe go to dinner?

I got in a little car accident the other day, and while I am fine, my car needs some work. And it is depressingly expensive. Sigh. It's been a little bit of a downer, so needless to say, my practice session last night did not go so well. My high notes were like lead and things were just not easy at all. Heavy of mind, thick of throat, I suppose. In order to not make it worse, I am drinking every liquid in sight, except, sadly, for wine, and trying to practice constructive denial: that is, just trying not to think about it. Or maybe that is just called practicing acceptance of all things. Who knows. I just don't want it to ruin another night of practice.

But I have to say this whole idea of having a night off is kind of wonderful. And I did the laundry last night. So we are really good to go.

The little part I have in the upcoming Verdi opera I am cast in contains a very scary note for me...with a painful sort of approach, to boot. So I am always slightly neurotic about it when I go into rehearsal. The other thing is that, when you have a part that is three pages long, and is as exposed as this, you have no chances to redeem yourself. It simply has to be good right out of the gate, or you are screwed. So I stress myself out beyond all hope, especially if I haven't slept enough. Which, as we know, is called self-sabotage, and it is something I am working on getting out of my consciousness altogether. Tomorrow, I will obey the sage advice of my friend Angeli and "just open your mouth and sing." Whatever comes out is what they will get, and there is no use worrying about it now.

This is my second small Verdi role, and I love it because there is really no other way I would get to be in a Verdi opera. And they are such an experience, with such good music and exciting kinds of voices. Anyone need a shepherd in Tosca? I am so there.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Singing is such a weird and wonderful thing. My voice can feel Renee Fleming fabulous one day, then it starts to rain or the pollen count goes to hell, and my whole day is wrecked by the heaviness and immobility of my voice. Whatever happens, though, I will always like singing more than say, going to the office. That is a given, I suppose. My work is to try to become a little less volatile and a little more grounded when it comes to my emotional reaction to how the voice is feeling.

On those days when my onset is so easily clean, and all the flexibility is just there, with high Q above L, I'm very pleased with myself, and feel as though I've accomplished so much while practicing. But I have to consciously expend energy on reversing the thoughts that invade my brain on the "other days" of singing-- which, is probably when I get the most done. It always amazed me how I could walk into my voice lessons thinking there was no hope for my voice on any given day, and somehow, with some carefully selected exercises and a little concentration, by the end of the lesson, I felt like a goddess again. So I am trying to figure out how to be good to myself in those practice sessions, to move forward patiently, without a lot of judging.

I continue to torture Joe with my neurosis (he knew what he was getting into, I assure you), by asking him to compare how I sounded one day with how I sounded another. I think he is actually a little bewildered by this question, because as a pianist, it is hard to imagine how one could think they sound so different from one day to the next. Thank god he is patient with me, but the honest answer is always that there is very little difference at all.

Having started to feel like my technical prowess is really coming in for me, factors like red wine the night before, pollen, and dryness are becoming easier to sing through and have a good showing. My most dangerous obstacle is, I have found, lack of SLEEP. Without physical energy, nothing good can come out of my mouth. It is just wasted breath unless I am present in the body and mind and able to think clearly. Which is actually kind of nice to know-- it used to be such a stressful existence when I felt like the slightest thing could ruin my whole throat.

This week and next will be true tests of my stamina: rehearsals, funerals, church, work, I have to fit them all in there somewhere. It always happens, it always turns out okay, and I am so lucky to have things to sing. But it will be my focus this week to be patient with my vocal cords and have realistic expectations for the poor little things. Because, as always, when it rains, it pours.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Risen from the dead

Oh my god, I am back, people. I feel like myself again and can therefore blog. Not that anyone was necessarily waiting with bated breath. Life was getting in the way of me feeling like blogging for the longest time. Things happen, people get sick, people do and say weird things. But hey. It feels good to type some more totally unnecessary blither into the ether.

Singing is great. I am madly in love with it. And currently have many things to sing, which a singer's favorite problem-- figuring out how and when to learn everything.

Maybe you remember the tiny part I told you I was doing in Don Carlo with a small start-up company? Well, I am so proud and relieved to say that it is going to be great. These people sing ridiculously well, and I am thrilled to be in a cast with them! It has made me so happy to be a singer again.

I am ready for spring to get here, I am ready for a cocktail. I have a fresh pedicure, so let's get on with it people. Your soprano who steps out is back in full force.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Okay, so we went out in the blizzard today, and it was every bit as bad as you've been hearing. No visibility, huge snow banks, high winds. I freaking love it. I have enjoyed this snow-week more than you can imagine.

It's amazing that today, as I was watching season one of The Tudors, my new favorite show, at around 2:45 pm, my husband brought me an ice cold beer. Then I had wine with dinner. Drinking in the middle of the day is only one of the many pleasures. Cooking ridiculously decadent things because I have to use it up before it goes bad, and baking cookies and muffins. This is the best week of my life.

Is this what it's like to be rich? Drink wine from 3 o'clock on and watch opera on youtube?